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Futurama: Bender’s Big Score Review

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The return of the sci-fi animation

★★★★★

When Futurama, Matt Groening’s non-yellow animated show, was cancelled, fans immediately began trying to resurrect it. They complained on the internet, watched the re-runs in huge numbers and bought every DVD copy in the known universe. Eventually, Fox realised that this golden goose could keep laying, and commissioned four new feature-length DVD adventures.

The first of these, Bender’s Big Score, marks a welcome return, but one that’s not quite glorious. The story is the usual wonderful Futurama mix of perfect logic and unapologetic silliness: nudist aliens take over Earth via a convoluted email scam that also puts a virus-infected Bender (the show’s cantankerous alcoholic robot) under their control.

Where the extended length hurts, however, is in exposing the show’s often flimsy character work. Bender is a terrific creation, as are Fry, the pizza boy from the past, and Leela, his one-eyed crush. But the rest are generally just filling screen space. There’s none of the instant characterisation that The Simpsons excels at, and funny voices are too often substituted for personality traits.

This isn’t Futurama at its best and the gag-rate feels uncharacteristically slow, but there’s enough Bender in here to make it worth watching. Still, less Hermes Conrad next time; he should have been left in limbo.

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