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Category:    Home > Reviews > Science Fiction > Action > Adventure > Aliens > TV > Farscape: The Complete Series (1999 – 2003/A&E Blu-ray Set)

Farscape: The Complete Series (1999 – 2003/A&E Blu-ray Set)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: A+     Episodes: B+



The sci-fi genre adapts well to series television.  Strong ensemble casts and exotic settings prove ideal fodder for telling very human stories -- this formula bears out over time with shows like Star Trek, Star Trek: Next Generation, StarGate (and all of its offspring), Andromeda, and many others too numerous to mention here.  Farscape fits neatly into this ensemble sci-fi mold, and over its four amazing seasons the show earned a loyal following that still inspires a lot of Internet and convention love.  With the arrival of the Farscape: The Complete Series boxed set for Blu-ray, A&E TV delivers perhaps the greatest holiday present any fan of the show could want.


Fantastic high-definition transfers render the exquisite action and drama of these episodes into crisp detail.  Four packs of Blu-ray discs cover eighty-eight episodes, and also include a whopping fifteen hours of bonus features.  For the uninitiated, Farscape tells the tale of displaced U.S. astronaut John Crichton (Ben Browder), who gets blown into a strange part of the galaxy by an experiment gone awry.  He quickly finds himself mixed up with a crew of alien fugitives and ne’er do wells.  These beings include the warlike Ka D’Argo (Anthony Simcoe), the mysterious priestess Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan (Virginia Hey), the renegade pilot Aery Sun (Claudia Black), the deposed king Dominar Rygel XVI (voiced by Jonathan Hardy), and the enigmatic Pilot (voiced by Lani John Tupu).  The last two main characters in the list of principals are puppets developed under the influence of series producer Brian Henson, son of the legendary Muppets creator Jim Henson.


These puppets became one of the show’s unique claims to fame--eschewing the then nascent CGI technology in favor of traditional puppets for these creatures was a bold move at the time.  That is not to say that the series uses no CG effects; it does so, and as it matures, it uses them more and more, but only where and when it seems appropriate.  The show and its creators rely more on the strength of characters and the actors who perform them than the quality of the effects. Again, this is not to suggest that Farscape looks cheap; it almost never does.


The series writers and producers realized from the beginning that sci-fi action would bring people in to watch, but the strength of the relationships between the characters would keep them coming back.  The slow growth in the trust of the characters for each other, their eventual maturation into a sort of weird family of rogues travelling on a stolen, semi-sentient ship ( her name is Moya) through deepest reaches of space develops into a winning formula. This familial bond does preclude bumps in the road.  These characters are not perfect.  They possess dark secrets.  These things come out over time.  Dynamics change as well when new characters show up and join the crew.  Chiana (Gigi Edgley), a thief and confidence person fleeing “re-programming” from her planet’s government adds a bit of fun and tension to the mix.  Her almost cat-like mannerisms and sense of personal anarchy make her a great foil for the militaristic Aeryn Sun and Ka D’Argo.


The plentiful extras include: Memories of Moya (a brand documentary including interviews with cast and crew), Farscape Undressed (a behind the scenes look at the show), three older documentaries on the show--In the Beginning, Making of a Space Opera, and Farscape: the Story so Far, a trio of Inside Farscape featurettes (Villains, Visual Effects, and Save Farscape, thirty-one audio commentaries, numerous deleted scenes, and alternate version of the Season 2 premiere episode, numerous video profiles of cast and crew, original TV promos, and more.  This cache of extras will be pure gold for long-time fans of the show, and newly won fans will find them incredibly informative, bringing up to speed with the most dogged longtime supporters in no time.


Ultimately, Farscape’s amazingly human approach to sci-fi alien drama could not save it from the headsman’s axe.  Its devoted fans railed against the injustice, but the show was a cancelled after four seasons.  This boxed set will stand as the ultimate monument and catalog of this amazing show, a seminal piece of the history of the sci-fi genre on television.



-   Scott Pyle


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