Farscape: The Complete Series
Studio: A&E Home Entertainment
Original Release Year: 1999-2003
Rated: Not Rated
Running Time: 4086 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 pillar-boxed (seasons 1 thru 3), 1.78:1 (season 4)
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Movie: 4 out of 5
My name is John Crichton, an astronaut. I got shot through a wormhole in some distant part of the universe. I’m trying to stay alive aboard this ship. This living ship of escaped prisoners, my friends. If you can hear me, beware. If I make it back, will they follow? If I open the door, are you ready? Earth is unprepared, helpless, for the nightmares I’ve seen. Or should I stay, protect my home, not show them you exist? But then you will never know the wonders I’ve seen.
It is this voice-over from the title sequences for season three that best sum up the main storyline for Farscape, a serialized science fiction drama that ran for four seasons on the SciFi Channel from 1999 through 2003. Ben Browder plays John Crichton, a test pilot who is launched into orbit around Earth and encounters a wormhole, catapulting his module into another galaxy, right smack in the middle of a space fight, and collides with a fighter, killing the pilot. He is picked up by Moya, a Leviathan, a living prisoner transport ship that has been hijacked by its inhabitants. Moya’s crew consists of Ka D’Argo (Anthony Simcoe), a Luxan warrior wrongly accused of killing his mate; Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan (Virgina Hey), a blue-skinned Delvian Priestess who murdered her mate for collaborating with the Peacekeepers; Dominar Rygel XVI (voiced by Jonathan Hardy), a deposed Hynerian ruler; and Pilot (voiced by Lani Tupu), a crustacean-like creature physically and psychically-linked to Moya. Also picked up is a Peacekeeper, Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black), who is eventually exiled to Moya when she is deemed contaminated by her interactions with the other species on Moya.
Most of season one concerns Captain Crais (Lani Tupu), the older brother of the pilot accidentally killed in the collision with Crichton, and his vengeful quest to find and kill Crichton. The first season plods along, and it does not help much that these episodes run 50 minutes each. Near the end of the season, though, is when the series begins to get really interesting, with the introduction of Scorpius (Wayne Pygram), a Sebacean/Scarren hybrid obsessed with extracting the secrets of wormhole technology that an alien race implanted inside Crichton’s brain. It is this plot that propels much of the remaining three seasons as well as the mini-series, The Peacekeeper Wars. (Due to rights issues, the miniseries was not included, but rumor has it that Linosgate may be preparing that for an eventual release). Pygram really chews the scenery as Scorpius, and you can sense that he is really enjoying playing this character. Also introduced late in season one is Chiana (Gigi Edgley), a “monochrome” con artist and thief who escaped from her planet to avoid reprogramming.
What set Farscape apart from other series on the SciFi Channel at that time was that it was one of the first truly original series on that network. Most of the first-run series on the network were shows that had previously aired on other channels (Sliders came from FOX, Mystery Science Theater 3000 from Comedy Central, and Stargate: SG-1 from Showtime). The series was developed as a showcase for what the Jim Henson Creature Shop was creating for movies and what they could potentially bring to television on a weekly basis. Eventually created by Rockne S. O’Bannon, no stranger to science fiction having written Alien Nation (both the theatrical film and television series) as well as creator of SeaQuest and a contributing writer to CBS’ 1985-1986 revival of The Twilight Zone, Farscape had more drama and depth than most of the other series on the network at the time, as well as an eventual epic story arc (including the love story between Crichton and Aeryn) that stranded the series in a cliffhanger when SciFi pulled the plug shortly after production on season four ended. It was mostly due to fans’ reaction to the cancellation that allowed Executive Producer Brian Henson to raise the funds to bring closure the the series with the miniseries, The Peacekeeper Wars.
Video: 3 out of 5
Unfortunately, as Executive Producer Brian Henson has stated publicly, the original source materials for the series have gone missing, with only the original broadcast masters surviving. Since the series was never intended to be broadcast in high definition, the producers have decided to take the PAL 576i masters, clean them up and upconvert to 1080p and compress them with the AVC codec, maintaining the original broadcast aspect ratio. The result is an acceptable image with slightly improved color and detail over the prior DVD releases, but also introduces an overall softness and some occasional black crush, plus some interlacing issues. In addition, along the very far left and right edges of the frame during seasons one through three, there is some occasional artifacting that could have been masked by ever-so-slightly cropping the sides of the image. It is only mildly distracting if you are looking for it.
Audio: 4 out of 5
While the set lacks a true high definition image, it makes up for it with its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. This is a very aggressive mix for a television series, and never sounds like a simple upmix from 2.0 surround to 5.1. Dialogue is clear and centered. Discrete effects and LFE are used where appropriate, and Subvision and Guy Gross’s scores envelope the soundstage.
Special Features: 4.5 out of 5
Nearly all of the special features from the previous ADV and A&E DVD releases have been included here (in standard definition).
Season One, Disc One:
Audio Commentary with Rockne S. O’Bannon, Brian Henson, and Ben Browder on Premiere
Audio Commentary with Claudia Black and Anthony Simcoe on I, E.T.
Audio Commentary with Brian Henson and Virginia Hey on Exodus From Genesis
Audio Commentary with Ben Browder and Claudia Black on Throne For A Loss
Audio Commentary with Ben Browder and Rowan Woods on Back And Back And Back To The Future
Season One, Disc Two:
Audio Commentary with Rockne S. O’Bannon and Anthony Simcoe on Thank God It’s Friday... Again
Audio Commentary with Ben Browder and Claudia Black on DNA Mad Scientist
Audio Commentary with Rockne S. O’Bannon and David Kemper on DNA Mad Scientist
Season One, Disc Three:
Audio Commentary with Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Rockne S. O’Bannon, and David Kemper on Jeremiah Crichton
Season One, Disc Four:
Audio Commentary with Ben Browder and Claudia Black on A Human Reaction
Audio Commentary with Ben Browder and Claudia Black on Nerve
Season One, Disc Five:
Audio Commentary with Anthony Simcoe on Borne To Be Wild
Audio Commentary with Ben Browder and Claudia Black on Family Ties
Audio Commentary with Rockne S. O’Bannon and David Kemper on Family Ties
Making Of A Space Opera (22:26): Brian Henson, Rockne S. O’Bannon, and the cast discuss the series from this archival featurette created during the first season’s production.
In The Beginning: A Look Back With Brian Henson (38:10): Executive Producer Brian Henson reflects quite candidly on the series, including the several years of development, working with the SciFi Channel, the casting process, and fans reaction to the cancellation just prior to the airing of the fourth season.
Farscape In The Raw: Director’s Cut Scenes For The Flax and Through The Looking Glass (42:00): This featurette is a fascinating look at selected scenes from two episodes before and after post production (such as effects and final mixing).
Behind The Scenes Interview: Anthony Simcoe (D’Argo) (29:18): It’s a bit of a shock to see the actor who portrayed D’Argo sans makeup and costume, but Simcoe reflects on his experience playing this character.
Behind The Scenes Interview: Jonathan Hardy (Voice of Rygel) (20:45): Even more shocking is getting to see what the voice of Rygel looks like (they apparently share the same eyebrows). Hardy is a very proper Australian actor, and discusses his take on the character.
Behind The Scenes Interview: Lani John Topu (Crais and Voice of Pilot) (23:35): Topu discusses how he had originally read for the part of D’Argo, but eventually was cast not only as Crais, but as the voice of Pilot as well.
Season Two, Disc One:
Audio Commentary with Claudia Black and Ian Watson on Crackers Don’t Matter
Audio Commentary with Ben Browder and Claudia Black on The Way We Weren’t
Deleted Scenes for Mind The Baby (3:19)
Deleted Scene for Taking The Stone (0:37)
Deleted Scene for Crackers Don’t Matter (0:45)
Listening In With Guy Gross: The Way We Weren’t (9:20): Composer Guy Gross discusses scoring his first episode of the series.
Season Two, Disc Two:
Deleted Scenes for Dream A Little Dream (3:59)
Listening In With Composer Guy Gross: My Three Crichtons (11:28): Gross discusses the challenge of creating a human-sounding score electronically.
Season Two, Disc Three:
Audio Commentary with Rowan Woods and Richard Manning on Won’t Get Fooled Again
Deleted Scene From Look At The Princess Part I: A Kiss Is But A Kiss (1:40)
Deleted Scenes From Look At The Princess Part III: The Maltese Crichton (1:30)
Season Two, Disc Four:
Audio Commentary with Ben Browder and Claudia Black on The Locket
Deleted Scene From The Locket (0:57)
Deleted Scenes From Liars, Guns, And Money Part II: With Friends Like These... (1:34)
Listening In With Composer Guy Gross: The Locket (9:50): Composer Gross discusses the romantic, syrupy score he wrote for this episode.
Season Two, Disc Five:
Audio Commentary with Ben Browder, Claudia Black and David Kemper on Die Me, Dichotomy
Listening In With Composer Guy Gross: Die Me, Dichotomy (10:49): Composer Gross discusses the score for the season two finale.
Season 2 Blooper Reel (6:38)
Farscape In The Raw: Director’s Cut Scenes
Farscape Undressed (44:02): Ben Browder and Claudia Black host this special designed as a primer for viewers prior to the beginning of the third season, summarizing the major plot points from the first two seasons.
Behind The Scenes Interview: Wayne Pygram (Scorpius) (22:07): The actor discusses the complexities of the series main villain.
Behind The Scenes Interview: David Franklin (Braca) (16:56): The actor discusses his career prior to Farscape and playing Scorpius’ second in command.
Season Three, Disc One:
Audio Commentary with Claudia Black on Self Inflicted Wounds Part II: Wait For The Wheel
Deleted Scenes from Season Of Death (2:25)
TV Promos: SciFi Channel Promos
Audio Commentary with Guy Gross on Eat Me
Audio Commentary with Ben Browder and Tony Tilse on Green Eyed Monster
Audio Commentary with Lani Tupu and Peter Andrikidis on Relativity
Deleted Scene from Thanks For Sharing (0:27)
Deleted Scenes from Losing Time (2:52)
Listening In With Guy Gross: Eat Me (10:33): Gross discusses many of the odd instruments he used in the score for this episode to increase the creepiness factor.
TV Promos: SciFi Channel Promos
Deleted Scene from Incubator (1:20)
Deleted Scene from Scratch ‘N Sniff (1:50)
TV Promos: SciFi Channel Promos
Audio Commentary with Claudia Black on The Choice
Audio Commentary with Rowan Woods and Justin Monjo on The Choice
Deleted Scene from Revenging Angel (0:35)
Deleted Scene from The Choice (0:52)
Deleted Scenes from Fractures (4:17)
Deleted Scene from Into The Lion’s Den Part I: Lambs To The Slaughter (0:43)
Listening In With Guy Gross: Revenging Angel (8:20): Gross discusses how Carl Stalling and Chuck Jones were inspirations for the score for the animated sequences for this episode.
Listening In With Guy Gross: The Choice (11:14): Gross discusses the haunting score he composed for this episode.
TV Promos: SciFi Channel Promos
Audio Commentary with Rockne S. O’Bannon and David Kemper on Into The Lion’s Den Part II: Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing
Audio Commentary with Ben Browder and Claudia Black on Dog With Two Bones
Deleted Scenes From Into The Lion’s Den Part II: Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing (7:44)
Deleted Scenes from Dog With Two Bones (7:10)
Listening In With Composer Guy Gross: Into The Lion’s Den Part II: Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing (9:00): Composer Gross discusses his score for this episode and using a 20-piece choir.
TV Promos: SciFi Channel Promos
Behind The Scenes Interview: Claudia Black (Aeryn) (35:28): Claudia Black discusses her acting background prior to Farscape, the challenges of working on the series, and the character arc of Aeryn.
Behind the Scenes Interview: Anthony Simcoe (D’Argo) (27:12): Simcoe discusses his career background and his character of D’Argo in this more recent interview.
Season 3: A Look Back (44:37): David Kemper hosts this featurette that takes a look behind the scenes of Season 3, with help from the writers, creature designers, production designers, and directors.
Behind The Scenes Interview: Ben Browder (Crichton) (5:24): Browder discusses writing the script for Green Eyed Monster.
Behind The Scenes Interview: Wayne Pygram (Scorpius) (24:20): In this second, more recent, interview, Pygram discusses his music background and how he got into acting, how the makeup and costume helped to gel the character of Scorpius, and the evolution of the character working closely with the series’ writers.
Behind The Scenes Interview: Gigi Edgely (Chiana) (17:56): Edgley discusses her family’s background in performing arts, reading for the role of Chiana, and working on Farscape.
“Zhaan Forever” With Virginia Hey (30:16): Hey discusses the various aspects of her character Zhaan, as well as the sensitivity of the make-up that caused her to leave the series for health reasons.
Behind The Scenes Interview: Rebecca Riggs (Commandant Grayza) (29:15): Riggs discusses her background in Shakespeare, her love of science fiction, what drew her the the character of Grayza, and the somewhat revealing costume.
Behind The Scenes Interview: Paul Goddard (Stark) (4:22): Goddard discusses his character of Stark.
Season Four, Disc One:
Deleted Scenes From Crichton Kicks (3:11)
Deleted Scene From What Was Lost Part I: Sacrifice (1:59)
Deleted Scenes From Promises (3:04)
Listening In With Composer Guy Gross: Crichton Kicks (7:08): Composer Gross discusses the use of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture in the episode.
Season Four, Disc Two:
Audio Commentary with Ben Browder and Claudia Black on John Quixote
Deleted Scenes From Natural Election (2:16)
Deleted Scenes From A Prefect Murder (2:19)
Listening In With Composer Guy Gross: John Quixote (8:06): Composer Gross discusses the difficulties scoring this episode, with varying styles of music.
Season Four, Disc Three:
Audio Commentary with Ben Browder, Claudia Black, and David Kemper on Kansas
Deleted Scenes From Kansas (2:28)
Deleted Scenes From Terra Firma (4:28)
Deleted Scenes From Twice Shy (1:55)
Deleted Scene From Mental As Anything (0:27)
Listening In With Composer Guy Gross: Terra Firma (9:23): Composer Gross discusses the thematic developments of his score for this episode.
Season Four, Disc Four:
Deleted Scene From Bringing Home The Beacon (0:53)
Deleted Scenes From A Constellation of Doubt (16:49)
Deleted Scene From We’re So Screwed Part II: Hot To Katratzi (1:19)
Season Four, Disc Five:
Audio Commentary with Ben Browder, Claudia Black, and David Kemper on Bad Timing
Memories of Moya (HD, 36:51): Brian Henson, Rockne S. O’Bannon, David Kemper, Ben Browder, Claudia Black, and Virginia Hey reflect on the series, what it meant to them, and what it meant to the fans in this newly produced featurette for this Blu-ray set.
Deleted Scenes From Bad Timing (2:48)
Listening In With Composer Guy Gross: Bad Timing (9:12): Composer Gross discusses scoring the series finale.
Farscape: The Story So Far (26:32): Essentially a montage of clips, priming the viewer for season four.
From The Archives: On The Last Day - Farscape Wrap Speech From David Kemper (3:37): Executive Producer David Kemper addresses the cast and crew on the final day of shooting, reading an email from TV Guide critic Matt Roush.
Inside Farscape: Save Farscape (30:44): The cast and crew reflect on the final days of shooting, their reaction to the cancellation, and reaction to the underground movement by fans to try to rescue the series.
Inside Farscape: Villains (15:09): This featurette looks at the villains from the series, and how every villain had a “justifiable” agenda.
Inside Farscape: Season 4 Visual Effects (9:36): Benita Carey provides commentary from pre-production to editing on several effects shots, and Eve Harrison provides commentary from edit lock to delivery, while Grant Everett and Ben West provide commentary on a case study of effects sequences for episode 321.
Video Profile: Creator/Executive Producer Rockne S. O’Bannon (19:37): Rockne S. O’Bannon discusses the long development of the series, first at FOX and eventually at SciFi.
Video Profile: Executive Producer/Writer David Kemper (12:07): Kemper discusses what attracted him to the series, how it was different from other series he has worked on, etc.
Overall: 4 out of 5
Fans of the series who own the previous DVD releases will likely find themselves on the fence regarding this Blu-ray release (much like fans of Firefly did), having to decide if the superior audio and upconverted video, as well as the new documentary, are worthy of an upgrade.