selected from TV Zone #117

Featured reviews below are: Futurama and Doctor Who.

Also reviewed in this issue – the final three episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, plus new episodes, books or videos of:
3rd Rock From The Sun • Babylon 5 • Crusade • LEXX • Highlander: The Raven • Star Trek: Voyager • The Flumps & Fingerbobs


Ending with a song...

The last episode of Futurama's first season, Hell is Other Robots, has been condemned by the Space Pope, possibly because it kicks off with the crew visiting a Beastie Boys concert, in which the rappers’ heads manage to bust mad rhymes with an 80% success rate, thereby qualifying them as ‘ill’. When Bender meets old friend Fender, he heads off to “drink till I reboot”, little realizing that deep in the bowels of the stadium a group of whacked-out robots are ‘jacking on’ with powerful jolts of electricity.

Joining in, Bender likewise becomes addicted, resorting to jacking on in the bathroom of Planetary Express headquarters. To stop his addiction, Bender joins a Robotology sect, but breaking their rules will result in his being sent to robot Hell forever.

There’s pretty much something for everyone in this season finale, with music not only from The Beastie Boys but also the Devil in robot Hell, who plans to make Bender endure “tortures, most of which rhyme,”and force the robot to sit through uptempo singing and dancing. It’s not a particularly fantastic song, but the special guest appearance of Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, but you knew that) helps a little.

There are also more robot jokes as the viewer discovers robot pornography and Hookerbot 5000, alongside the superb Robotology slogan: 10 Sin 20 Goto Hell.

Episode A9
First Aired: 18 May 1999 (Fox Network)
Reviewed by Paul Spragg
More Futurama reviews in this issue:
Episodes A7, A8
(My Three Suns, A Big Piece of Garbage)

If this kind of clever, fun and witty writing continues, the second season of Futurama is going to be as good if not better than the first, and a worthy follow-up to The Simpsons.


They’re back, and it’s about Time…

Sirens of Time, or The Three Doctors?

Any reservations I had about this new series of BBC-licensed audio Doctor Who dramas were blown away when a thrilling prologue led directly into – wonder of wonders – the proper Doctor Who theme. Oh yes, I thought. This is going to be all right.

The Doctor (Sylvester McCoy) lands the TARDIS on a jungle planet, where he rescues a damsel in distress and meets an exiled war-criminal. Meanwhile, Gallifrey, the planet of the Time Lords, is under attack from a seemingly invincible enemy. Elsewhere in time, the Doctor, in an earlier incarnation (Peter Davison), materialises on a British naval vessel in the First World War. A third incarnation of the Doctor (Colin Baker) arrives on a spaceship near a galactic phenomenon called the Kurgon Wonder. But who is controlling and directing the Doctors? And to what purpose?

The Sirens of Time is a quintessential Doctor Who story with something for everyone. There are Quark-like service-robots, a race of Warrior Knights whose bodies are corrupted by a decaying disease, giant mutated bacteria and the Temperon, a legendary time-travelling creature of enormous power. When all three Doctors are brought together, they work superbly, and there’s a tidy little re-enactment of the “Contact!” mind-melding scene from The Three Doctors.

McCoy and Baker create a lot of fun with their bickering, making a fine double act (more please?) while Davison plays the elder statesman to great effect.

The supporting cast is excellent too, not the sorry gathering of the producer’s mates that populate other fan-audio efforts. The result is as good as a BBC radio play and a good deal better than Slipback or the recent Jon Pertwee serials. Music and sound effects play an important part but they are never overpowering, and the musical flavour of each Doctor’s ‘era’ is recreated.

Story written and directed by Nick Briggs
Reviewed by David Miller
Big Finish Productions
Price: £13.99
Out 19 July 1999
More Doctor Who reviews in this issue:
The Massacre (BBC Audio),
Interference 1 & 2 (BBC Books)

Perhaps there is one continuity reference too many (artron energy, etc.) and maybe it is a little early in the run to invade Gallifrey, but the team have captured the spirit of Doctor Who perfectly. If they keep producing stories like this, I hope the range runs for another 26 years. At least.

selected from TV Zone #117
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