Thursday night, Fox threw a redcarpet hootenanny at the Arc Light in L.A. for its first direct-to-DVD feature release of Futurama. "Bender's Big Score," which comes out November 27, marks the sporadically amusing franchise's return to grandeur. The occasion was celebrated, of course, by making voice-over artists pose for paparazzi shots and trotting out a guy in a Bender suit. Klaatu barada nikto! Gallery and spoilers after the jump.

Boy, does that Futurama crew ever think Fox is a band of imbeciles! The first ten minutes of the movie is an attack on the network suits, with retribution for premature axing of a show that never had good ratings to begin with meted out in classic, knee-jerk gag-writer fashion: The execs are ground into a fine pink powder that has a multitude of uses, from weaponization to soothing jock itch.

The plot exerts, overexerts, and then overexerts some more. It's a time-travel conceit, with the Bender the alcoholic robot sent back and forth across the continuum by nude aliens to steal Earth's most lucrative treasures (the Mona Lisa, the Guttenberg Bible, heaps of precious metals). The head nude space alien talks like Paul Lynde. Fortunately, the animation is awesome, culminating in a legitimately thrilling space battle in which the Futurama cast wins back the planet by decimating the nude aliens' fleet of solid-gold-and-jewel-encrusted Death Stars.

The best part of the whole evening was when the projector went haywire and the actors, led by voice-of-Bender John DiMaggio and Groening himself, were forced to do some improv group standup. Afterwards, our correspondent fled before they turned on the booze spigot for fear that Katey "Voice of Leela" Sagal would have one too many Heinekens and want to start feeding him miniature chocolate merlot cupcakes.

Not surprisingly, almost everyone involved with Futurama thinks citizens of the future will study the show. "This show get more right than previous depictions of the future," said Phil "Voice of Hermes the Jamaican Bureaucrat" LaMarr. "They're gonna say 'Those guys were pretty close,'" said Maurice "Voice of Morbo" LaMarche.


Head writer David X. Cohen was a tad overawed by the bright lights. "This is return in style!" he said of the release, which is the first of four full-length Futurama DVDs to be produced. He also tossed props of a haughty sort to the Internet faithful: "It's a great example of the DVD age and rabid fandom coming together."

Rabid indeed.

Groening rolled up late to the carpet in a stretch limo and, not noticing that he had missed a button on the fly of his jeans, said that if he could go back in time like Bender, it would be the Disneyland of the Eisenhower Era, when creative geniuses of immense net worth such as himself could get in and not have to wait in line for 17 hours to check out the new Nemo ride.