Futurama Season 8 – The final season (for now, anyway) of the best sci-fi cartoon about a delivery service ever made (sorry, Kiki, but yours is more fantasy than sci-fi!) gave us some great “classic” cartoon spoofs, a happy ending for Zoidberg, and a pitch-perfect finale that turned the entire series into one big, closed loop. Upending the classic Buck Rogers formula by having the man lost in time turn out to be just as much of an awkward, slacking dork in the future as he was before, it nonetheless showed in the end that even this ostensible loser could find vindication on a personal level. Also it gave us hope that every pop-culture icon we love today will be preserved as a head in a jar 1000 years from now – as smart a satirical device about Gen-X nerddom’s inability to let go of childhood things as has ever been a running gag. Wow, that was a tortured sentence. I think I pulled it off correctly, though.
One thing that astonishes me sometimes is the people who want Futurama to keep coming back again and again while decrying The Simpsons for outstaying its welcome. Either a show dies a hero, or lives long enough to become the villain.
Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor – Okay, so apparently this is some English show that people like. Can’t say I ever heard anything much about it, though. (Psst: both minisodes are included.)
Despicable Me 2 – Anything I say about this movie leads to trouble in my household. I keep having to explain that, yes, I still love the Minions; I just think Gru and his daughters became dull once their basic conflict was removed after the first film. The girls do almost nothing in the sequel, and Gru is completely defanged by a love interest, though Benjamin Bratt’s Tony Montana-like luchador baddie (who was supposed to be voiced by Al Pacino originally) is a giddy in-joke. Anyway, with three new Minion mini-movies, I’m destined to be having to buy it and watch it again no matter what. Things could be worse.
Fast & Furious 6 – Pay tribute to the late Paul Walker and brush up on your future Wonder Woman Gal Gadot with this juiced-up, fast-car sequel that kicks the inherent absurdity to a whole new level when Michelle Rodriguez’s Lettie returns from the dead, now evil and with amnesia. Not to mention that final plane runway chase, which would have to be some 30 miles long for the finale to be remotely feasible. No matter: these movies do better the more they’re in on their own joke. Crow-reboot-star-to-be and Hobbit bowman Luke Evans is a capable villain, and Gina Carano’s acting skills improve a bit. The disc has a cargo plane-load of extras, including a commentary by director Justin Lin, and portions of the proceeds will benefit Walker’s nonprofit Reach Out WorldWide.
Mary Poppins 50th Anniversary – I think this may be the only movie in which I’m willing to forgive a truly terrible fake UK accent, because dammit, that Dick Van Dyke is always likable, even though he’ll never be Cockney. Just in time for Saving Mr. Banks to mythologize its creation, the Disney classic returns from the vault with a new transfer and all previous extras intact. Naturally, the chance to plug the newer movie is not missed – one of two new bonus features (the other being a singalong “Mary-oke”) is a conversation between songwriter Richard Sherman and actor Jason Schwartzman, who portrays him in Banks.
Man of Tai Chi – Keanu Reeves knows kung fu. But does he know tai chi? I missed this in theaters, but look forward to finding out; for once, Reeves plays a villain looking to corrupt an honorable martial-arts master by using his skills for profit. Dude, bogus.
Gatchaman Complete Collection – All 105 episodes of the first series, plus OVAs, on 14 discs. I grew up on Battle of the Planets, later saw G-Force and was confused as all hell that the names had all changed, only to learn later in life that they were both redubs and recuts of this original, sanitized in part because of depictions of death…and gender confusion issues (I’m thinking the Giant Lava Jesus might have been a tad too controversial as well). So in other words, we had the John Lennon version as kids: nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too. Well, Lennon’s no longer with us, and now I can see what I was missing. Somehow I doubt the Beatles were bigger than Giant Lava Jesus.
And those are my top picks, folks. What are yours?