Case Number 02876

FARSCAPE: SEASON 3, COLLECTION 1

ADV Films // 2002 // 210 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Erick Harper (Retired) // May 16th, 2003

The Charge

We're already destroyed, Aeryn. It's just that some of us don't know it yet.

Opening Statement

Hands down, Farscape stands as the most enjoyable, most creative, and all around best science fiction program ever to appear on American television. Until its recent untimely demise at the hands of the primitive screwheads running the Sci-Fi channel, Farscape spent four electrifying seasons following the adventures of John Crichton, an American astronaut lost in a distant part of the universe, traveling with a crew of escaped alien criminals, and just trying to find his way home while spouting witty pop culture references and thwarting evil plans for domination of the universe.

Facts of the Case

Farscape: Season 3, Collection 1 includes the first four episodes of the season on two feature-packed DVDs:

"Season of Death"
When last we saw Moya's crew , Aeryn was dead, Crichton had gone under the knife to get Scorpius's neural implant removed, and Scorpius in turn had overpowered the surgeon and left Crichton without the ability to speak. In this episode, the rest of the crew faces the moral dilemma of sacrificing an unknown alien donor to repair Crichton's brain. When he comes to, he's not a happy camper for a couple of reasons -- first, that someone else was sacrificed to save him, and second because a residual trace of the Scorpius neural clone remains in his mind. Meanwhile, Zhaan senses that Aeryn's spirit may not have totally departed, and expends her considerable spiritual energies in an attempt to bring her back. As if all this, Crichton and D'Argo have to face a Scarran assassin who has been hidden at the medical facility, and they also face the possibility of destroying Scorpius once and for all.

"Suns and Lovers"
The crew stops at a commerce station for a little R&R and to purchase some essential supplies. What seems like a lull in their adventures quickly becomes a dangerous situation as a violent magnetic storm threatens to destroy the station and Moya along with it. Aeryn sets out to rescue a group of children stranded on one of the lower levels of the station, while Crichton learns that the storm may not have found its way to the station by accident. Meanwhile, back on board Moya, D'Argo's plans to marry Chiana are disrupted by his discovery that she has been sleeping with his son Jothee. Finally, it's up to Crichton and D'Argo to free Moya from the station's docking cables so that they can divert the storm and save the station.

"Self Inflicted Wounds, Part 1: Could'a, Would'a, Should'a"
Zhaan is still critically weak from reviving Aeryn, and will die unless Moya's crew can find a suitable planet where she can be planted in the soil and allowed to regenerate. Pilot finds a planet that might work, but Crichton delays their approach so that he can investigate a wormhole that has appeared the region. Great plan, until an alien vessel shoots out of the wormhole, impaling Moya. The alien crew, led by Pathfinder Neeyala, must work together with the Moya gang to determine which ship can be saved. If all this weren't enough, one of the cryopods that Crichton saved from the medical facility opens up, revealing an arrogant yet attractive alien woman named Jool. Finally, while gathering wormhole telemetry data necessary to separate the ships, Crichton gets his first sign of Earth -- a transmission of the Three Stooges.

"Self Inflicted Wounds, Part 2: Wait for the Wheel"
As the crew prepare to abandon Moya and join Pathfinder Neeyala's crew aboard the alien vessel, they discover that Moya's injuries are not as serious as they had previously believed; someone from Neeyala's crew has been sabotaging Moya, making the damage look much worse than it actually is. Once the crew decides to save Moya instead of the alien vessel, they come to the realization that they will have to leave one of their friends behind to activate a crucial piece of equipment. This leads to a touching moment as one of Moya's crew makes the supreme sacrifice to save the ship and their friends.

The Evidence

One of the great strengths of Farscape is the constant focus on character development and complex, ongoing plotlines that can take multiple seasons to unfold. No detail, no matter how small, can be dismissed as insignificant in a Farscape episode; little things have a way of coming back to haunt the crew later in their adventures. The four episodes beginning Season 3 are no exception; in the first episode alone Aeryn comes back from the dead, Crichton experiences intense guilt over living at the expense of another sentient being, and Zhaan sets the stage for her own eventual demise. In later episodes, Aeryn feels remorse over Zhaan's sacrifice, and distances herself from Crichton in an effort to make sure that no one sacrifices himself on her behalf again. D'Argo's love/hate relationship with Chiana takes a turn for the worse, and even Rygel develops a close bond with Pilot. There is a darker side too, with Rygel betraying Crichton to Jool, revealing that one of her cousins had to die in order to keep Crichton alive. More than the technology, more than the mystique and allure of space, it is the all-too-human relationships among the characters that make Farscape so eminently watchable time after time.

Of particular note is the loss of one of the regular cast in the episode "Wait for the Wheel." Coming so soon after Aeryn's apparent death and revival, viewers (like this one) were concerned that this character might be brought back through some cheap, standard science fiction plot mechanism. The writers of Farscape, however, had other ideas, and made it very clear that this character was not coming back. Sure, there was an excessive and overdone farewell scene, but at least the show was honest this time around and killed the character off for good; many other shows would not have had the courage to make so permanent a decision.

After producing some Season 1 discs that varied in quality and the amount of extra material, ADV has really done an excellent job with their more recent Farscape releases. Picture quality is absolutely outstanding. Every detail of Moya's semi-organic interior stands out, providing a wealth of new visual information that simply wasn't visible when the episodes were initially broadcast. Colors are rich and vibrant, much more so than when these episodes are broadcast on Sci-Fi.

Audio quality is excellent as well, with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that shows a lot of life in the surround channels and some excellent directionality. This is especially apparent in the area of background ambient sounds; in particular, the bar on the commerce station in "Suns and Lovers" comes to life with a full sound environment that envelops the viewer.

Where this set really shines is in the amount and variety of extra content packed onto each disc. The two biggest pieces of extra content involve Claudia Black, the actor who plays Aeryn Sun. Black provides a full-length commentary track for "Wait for the Wheel" on disc two, as well as a behind the scenes interview on disc one. In both cases, Black is a wealth of information on the production of the series, providing interesting background anecdotes as well as an insider's perspective on developments in Aeryn's character and the overall arc of the series; she seems to genuinely relish her involvement with Farscape. In particular, she is proud that the series is produced in Australia, and states her belief that labor costs and other factors would make it impossible to do in the United States for a reasonable budget.

Aeryn is also one of three characters for whom a history is provided, detailing their background and relevant developments in seasons two and three. Scenes previously deleted from "Season of Death" show Rygel at his scheming, self-serving best. Also included is a behind the scenes interview with Paul Goddard, the actor who plays Stark. Both discs feature text screens of "Alien Encounter" information, which also provide relevant video clips. "Farscape Fact" segments provide text information on a number of interesting behind the scenes factoids; these are interesting, but in some cases lack depth and can raise more questions than they answer. The "Set, Prop, and Costume" galleries on each disc provide a look at various elements o the series in different stages of pre-production; these are nicely done, showing each picture for a few seconds and then advancing automatically, all the while set to music. Rounding out the extra content are Farscape trailers, the promo spots that aired on the Sci-Fi channel prior to each episode, as well as a collection of trailers for other ADV DVD releases. The ADV trailers feature a lot of anime titles, since that is the company's forte; I found them quite interesting. Also provided are trailers for such offerings as season two of Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda. All told, this is a big-league collection of extra content from a lesser-known studio.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

As good as the video transfer on these discs is, it is not flawless. There is a bit of edge enhancement that seems to pop up from time to time; however, it is minimal, and if you aren't looking for it you aren't likely to notice. Colors are maybe a bit oversaturated at times, especially in the red end of the spectrum, but when traveling through various alien environments it is hard to tell. In any case, the few flaws in the video are minimal and sporadic, and unlikely to detract from your enjoyment of this otherwise excellent package.

Closing Statement

Farscape: Season 3, Collection 1 is a DVD presentation worthy of this outstanding and consistently fascinating show. It's clearly a must-have for the fans; more casual viewers or newcomers to the series may want to start by checking out some of the earlier episodes instead.

The Verdict

Not guilty! A great show and a nice DVD package from ADV.

We stand adjourned.

Review content copyright © 2003 Erick Harper; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Video: 90
Audio: 93
Extras: 82
Acting: 92
Story: 92
Judgment: 92

Perp Profile
Studio: ADV Films
Video Formats:
* Full Frame

Audio Formats:
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)

Subtitles:
* None

Running Time: 210 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks
* Claudia Black Commentary for "Wait for the Wheel"
* Behind the Scenes Interviews
* Deleted Scenes
* Character Histories
* Farscape Facts
* Alien Encounters
* Set, Prop, and Costume Galleries
* Farscape Trailers
* ADV Trailers

Accomplices
* IMDb
http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0187636/combined

* Home Page at the Sci-Fi Channel
http://www.scifi.com/farscape