ADV Films // 2001 // 200 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Jonathan Nelson (Retired) // August 20th, 2003
"Hey, you know what? It's a weird universe out there, man. You don't
know that 'cause you're spending all your time indoors."
-- John Crichton, "Scratch 'N Sniff"
ADV brings us back to the cancelled-before-its-time Farscape for another go. If you are not familiar with the Farscape series by now, I'd suggest you check out some of the other fine reviews from earlier in the series.
This edition of the Farscape series contains four episodes from the middle of the third season:
The Peacekeeper Retrieval Squad lead by Aeryn's mother, Xhalax Sun, traces Talyn to a jungle planet where the gunship is recuperating. When Crichton, Aeryn, and Crais divert the squad away from the gunship, they surmise that Talyn might not be the Peacekeepers' only target. Aeryn realizes that the pursuit of Talyn will not stop until Xhalax is dead.
With his wormhole research stalling, Scorpius inserts the original "neurochip" into his own brain. He shows the "Crichton Clone" his own brutal upbringing at the hands of the Scarrans hoping to persuade him to decode the wormhole equations. Meanwhile, a defecting Peacekeeper scientist offers the real Crichton the secret of wormhole travel in exchange for Moya.
Talyn draws dangerously close to a star, pulled by a mysterious force. Two alien beings appear on board: the timid Sierjna and her captor, Mu-Quillus. Mu-Quillus is responsible for the radiation pulses that are compelling Talyn to fly into the sun. Stark makes a pact with Sierjna to free her spirit from Mu-Quillus, but his quest puts the rest of the crew in peril.
"Scratch 'N Sniff"
Crichton, D'Argo, Chiana, and Jool alight on a pleasure planet for some rest and recreation. When Chiana and Jool go missing, Crichton and D'Argo are approached by Raxil, a wily alien with information on their whereabouts. Raxil leads them to Fe'tor, a notorious maker of Freslin -- a drug Fe'tor extracts from sentient beings, including his captives, Chiana and Jool.
It is getting harder and harder to add to the plethora that has already been said in Farscape's defense. It was a great show that was killed before its time. Where else on television could you see Muppets in space without renting Muppets in Space?
By a stroke of luck one night I happened to see a rerun of the very first Farscape episode, so I at least knew the bare minimum of the story and some of the characters. But due to story developments, by the time these four episodes aired the characters had radically changed and evolved, some new, some gone, some still Muppets. Unlike some shows on television in which every episode is self-contained and events in one do not leak into subsequent episodes, it is easy to tell that Farscape's writers were definitely following story arcs that can last a season or longer. This leads to much better character development, plot reveals, and a host of other devices that are extremely more difficult to produce on an episode-by-episode basis.
Of the four episodes on this release, two are character development pieces, one is a classic good vs. evil spot, and the final is nothing more than a pop-up video of frivolity. Guess which is the most fun to watch?
"Relativity" and "Incubator" both look into motherhood and childrearing, although in two very distinct ways. Of the two, "Incubator" is much more poignant, but also much higher on the gross-out factor. Those with weak stomachs or aversions to child cruelty should turn away or be prepared.
"Meltdown" is an episode that fanboys were probably waiting to see for a long time, in which Crichton and Aeryn finally hook up, and keep on hooking up, until long after the episode is over. The metaphors are too in-your-face to be subtle, but they move the plot along as needed. As a plot device, it's trite, but it works within the time constraints.
"Scratch 'N Sniff" is nothing short of a MTV Spring Break special. The crew goes clubbing, they hook up with weird and exotic lifeforms of dubious nature, they get rolled, they have hangovers on the beach with barely clad lifeforms, and everything else that happened to me back when I was in college happens to them, except they knew beforehand that they were being filmed. The editing is creative and starkly different than every other episode I've seen. It's highly reminiscent of old mystery shows and 1980s beach movies. Where else can you see D'Argo getting his groove on at a rave and John Crichton in black lace stockings on display in a window? Okay, Club Med, but were else I ask you?
The DVD presentation is just as good as its predecessors for the season. Color levels are rich with little to no bleed and crisp delineations between wildly colorful and organic sets. The low levels of edge enhancement are not worth mentioning, but I have anyway. The sound mixes are above adequate as well for a 5.1 mix, better than most TV shows have been treated.
The supplementary material is again above average in quantity. Updated character histories are especially useful for those who have missed many of the earlier episodes, but while they cover a relevant selection, unfortunately not every character is included. A smattering of deleted scenes is thrown in, and the creators made the correct decision in removing them from the final cuts. There is one commentary track for the first episode, "Relativity," done by Lani Tupu, who plays the character Crais, and by the director of the episode, Peter Andrikidis. Other behind the scenes interviews are given separately by Wayne Pygram and Gigi Edgley, who play Scorpius and Chiana respectively, and also by the composer of the new score, Guy Gross. Miscellaneous other Farscape facts accompany the two disc set, as well as picture galleries and the usual trailers for other ADV releases.
If you haven't seen any other episodes, these four episodes taken together can leave the viewer disoriented and confused. Are there two ships or one? (Two, Talyn and Moya.) How and where does the crew change ships, and why? Where is the rest of the crew in some of these episodes? Obviously it helps to know the background before you jump into the middle of a season, so look before you leap.
Unless a box set is released of the entire season three, this collection of episodes is a good buy for any fan of Farscape. Even the uninitiated will enjoy "Scratch 'N Sniff," which alone is worth the price of a rental.
Not guilty. ADV does it again with another good release. Court adjourned.
Review content copyright © 2003 Jonathan Nelson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 200 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Actor and Director Commentary for "Relativity"
* Interview with Composer Guy Gross
* Behind the Scenes Interviews with "Scorpius" Wayne Pygram and "Chiana" Gigi Edgley
* Alien Encounters
* Deleted Scenes
* Updated Character Histories
* Farscape Facts
* Set, Prop and Costume Gallery
* Official Site
* Sci-Fi Channel Farscape Site