Futurama continues to be "back" in Futurama: Volume 6, now available. The crew from Planet Express continue their spoof on all manner of science fiction and popular culture, which admittedly is a difficult pairing. And with Volume 6, we see the writers struggle a bit with how to properly balance the needs of both. Although the show has always been a safe haven for those more inclined to nerd culture, some of the references in these episodes reveal a tension with how to both pump up the geek while overall just keeping things funny and moving briskly.
In fact, this volume is almost split in half between episodes that are more all-purpose (such as "The Silence of the Clamps" and "Benderama") and those that are trying a bit too hard to force a theme ("Mobius Dick" comes immediately to mind). Things are still overall positive, and even the episodes which labor a little too much are enjoyable, simply struggling when held up to better examples. But at the same time the show feels like it's growing. With episodes like "Overclockwise" and the finale "Reincarnation," we see the animation and ideas both branching out and trying new things. Some hit better than others, but it's this growing phase that hopefully means the series is trying to find new ways to expand, in order to further its longevity.
Bonus features on Futurama sets have always seemed like an afterthought, and Volume 6 is no exception. They are requisite and forgettable (and fairly brief — not counting the episode commentaries). Of most interest will probably be the episode commentaries for all episodes in the set, delivered by a revolving round-table group of cast and crew. Deleted scenes (14:54) are broken up between the two discs of the set. A few are actually in finished form, but most are storyboard animatics extended on to portions of final scenes to provide some context. Several are quite good, but also heavily favor certain episodes which just seemed to run long.