Futurama was canceled by FOX four years ago, but thanks to the online agitation of its fan base, the show has been resurrected as a series of four feature-length direct-to-DVD releases. The first of these, Bender's Big Score, hits the market today, and boy, does it essentially suck. OK, feature-length money plus feature-length production schedule means stunning animation. Too bad a dynamic, richly colored look is paired to the usual gag pile-up that, for plenty of under-obsessive viewers, doomed the original series to poor ratings. Why tell one great joke when five in a row will do?

After a brief intro during which the retards at FOX are merciless slagged, killed and ground into a fine pink powder, the real action begins. Creator Matt Groening's old cast is fully revived, but the plot is built primarily around 20th-century refugee Fry, one-eyed love-interest Leela and, of course, Bender the alcoholic misanthropic robot. A time-travel storyline pushes everything forward (and back, and forward, and back-back, and... well, sometimes you just want to slap a guy like writer David X. Cohen), as a trio of nudist aliens enslave Bender and use him to raid the treasure-chest of human history. A subplot involves Leela, Fry, a guy who works at a museum of preserved heads, and a narwhal in a romantic quadrangle.

Thankfully, it all culminates it a magnificent battle sequence in which the Futurama crew takes to space and puts a hurt on the nudists aliens' fleet of solid-gold, jewel-encrusted Death Stars. Unfortunately, a late time-travel joke involving an infinity of Benders kicks off a cascade of temporal paradoxes and, we guess, initiates the obliteration of the space-time continuum. Har har!

Futurama was always kinda fun, but its was weighed down by show-offy writing, as if its staff needed to prove that they could be oh-so smarter and somehow more Harvardy than The Simpsons staff. Its overall ideology of humor had worn thin when it got the axe. Now, revived and strung out, it verges on embarrassing.