ADV Films // 2001 // 400 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Ryan (Retired) // June 7th, 2006
Okay, kids -- by now you should know the drill. ADV is re-releasing all their Farscape collections in new, cheaper "Starburst Editions." This is the second of three third season discs. The show still rules. Any questions?
(Fair warning -- as usual, spoilers will abound in this review. Sorry, but it's unavoidable.)
The middle stanza of Season Three features two completely separate plot threads, following the two identical Crichtons that were "twinned" into existence back in the "Eat Me" episode. For the extremely attractive list price of $25, you get three discs (and a fourth with extras) containing eight quality episodes of the best thing to come out of Australia since Men at Work, as follows:
* "Green Eyed Monster"
Talyn is swallowed by a budong, a gigantic (and I mean gigantic) space...whale. Or something like that. Crais (Lani Tupu), Aeryn (Claudia Black, Pitch Black), and Crichton-B (Ben Browder) must figure out a way to get out of the belly of the beast -- but is there a love triangle forming here?
* "Losing Time"
Everyone on Moya is, as the title says, losing time. Big gaps of time, during which Moya's video records reveal them all to be unconscious. Turns out there are these living-energy creatures flitting about, and they're possessing people. One of them may be crazy, and the other may be a murderous liar. In any event, they've got to go...
Still injured from his run-in with the Peacekeeper recovery unit, Talyn sets down on a jungle planet to do some healing. Unfortunately, the Peacekeepers are hot on their trail, and soon find him. And guess who's leading the hunt? Aeryn's mom!
Scorpius finally gets his own episode. Having obtained the neural chip with the wormhole tech from Crichton's brain, Scorpy is having problems actually putting the technology into practice. Thinking that he might be missing something, he attempts to enlist HIS "neural echo" -- of Crichton -- to help him. Along the way, we get to see Scorpy's bad childhood and worse young adulthood. No wonder he's got issues.
Talyn wants to fly straight into a star. Sensing that this is, oh, a very bad idea, his crew convinces him to reconsider. However, his close encounter has injured him (again -- man, this is one fragile living battleship), and he's leaking drexim, a neural fluid that's making the crew a bit loopy -- especially Crichton-B and Aeryn, who are randier than a pair of teenagers at the prom. Stark (Paul Goddard) finally discovers what's going on: an alien is beaming out a signal that attracts Leviathans to the star, destroying them. It's up to the increasingly loopy crew to stop him.
* "Scratch 'N' Sniff"
Crichton-A, D'Argo (Anthony Simcoe), Jool (Tammy MacIntosh), and Chiana (Gigi Edgley) take a little R&R on LoMo, a pleasure planet, after Pilot kicks them off the ship for a week. The girls get themselves into trouble with a local Casanova, the boys get rolled by some space hookers, and there's a lot of fighting. Told in a creative, non-linear way, this is very much a love-it-or-hate-it episode.
* "Infinite Possibilities Part 1: Daedalus Demands"
The Ancients -- well, actually, just the one Ancient who visited Crichton in the form of his dad Jack (Kent McCord, Adam-12) -- are back, and they're angry. They've spotted a Charrid piloting what appears to be Crichton's Farscape 1 module through a wormhole, and naturally assume that John sold them out. (This is a Crichton-B episode, by the way.) Obviously he's innocent; and after some contemplation, he figures out that the actual culprit must be Furlow, the mechanic who fixed his module back in Season One. They trek back to Dam-Ba-Da (wasn't that a song by Three Dog Night?), only to find a bunch of angry Charrids holding Furlow hostage. Things prove to be a bit more complex than they first appear, though -- especially when the Scorpius neural clone in Crichton's head tries to take control again.
* "Infinite Possibilities Part 2: Icarus Abides"
Things that need to be dealt with: Scorpius clones, angry Charrids, angry Ancients, wormhole tech, deceitful mechanics, dune buggies, blindness, solar flares, Scarran warfleets, and a partridge in a pear tree. But at least we cleared up that "two Crichtons" problem.
Although I had heard of it before, the first time I really watched Farscape was, of all places, on a cross-country plane trip, as part of the in-flight entertainment. I think I got the headphones free, because I normally don't watch that stuff. But there I was, a captive audience; and there it was, the Farscape pilot on one of those tiny airplane LCD screens. Forty-odd minutes -- and several internally-generated-but-unexecuted plans to cause the sudden and conclusive elimination of particularly noisy co-travelers -- later, I was hooked. That, said I, was a fantastic pilot episode for any show, let alone a partially puppet-based scifi show out of Australia.
As I came to learn after chasing the show down, first on the Sci Fi Channel, then on DVD, Farscape's quality never let up after that first episode. This batch of episodes, from midway through the third season of the show, are as fresh, daring, and robustly entertaining as any from the show's too-brief run. Farscape is one of the most reliable pieces of entertainment in all of science fiction. It's witty, clever, thoughtful, and fun. The cast works together like a Swiss watch -- it's impossible to see anyone else in any of these roles. (Including the puppets, who are better-realized people than many actual people on television.) It's impossible to overpraise this show. If you enjoy the genre at all, you should find something to like.
As always, my advice to a new Farscape viewer is to start from the very beginning -- although not strictly linear, the show does have long-term plotlines that will make a lot more sense if watched in order. And as always, I'll note that these Starburst Editions are functionally identical to the original boxed Farscape releases from ADV. This set appears to be exactly identical; ADV does not list any of the extra features as being "new" or "extended," as they have done with the other Starburst releases. I don't have a copy of the original Season Three box for comparison, but given ADV's past practices, I think we can assume that all the extras here were contained on the original release. That's not a knock against this set, just a warning for those who already own the original release. For new fans, this is, like all the Starburst Editions, a great package at a very attractive price.
As mentioned, this cycle of episodes explores the "twinned" (cloned) Crichton extended plot that was introduced earlier in the season. Earlier in the season (on Collection 1, to be specific), the two Crichton clones split up. One -- whom I've dubbed Crichton-A -- stayed with Moya to work on wormhole tech. The other (Crichton-B) accompanied Crais and Aeryn on Talyn, who had to flee the Peacekeepers chasing him. If you watched these episodes without knowing this, you'd be very confused by Crichton's apparent ability to be in two places at once. But now you know, so all is well. This dual Crichton structure is actually handled very well by the show. Browder plays them ever-so-slightly differently -- but not so different that we can tell which one is the "real" Crichton (i.e. the original). Could this plot have been a catastrophe? Absolutely. The Trek shows would dabble in it occasionally, but only for an episode. (Tuvix, anyone?) But here, it serves a practical purpose: it gives the show the flexibility to explore the Crichton/Aeryn/Crais dynamic in isolation without compromising the season's overall plotline (the battle to keep wormhole tech from Scorpy). Speaking of Scorpy, we also get a great Scorpy-focused episode thrown into the mix, and learn that Scorpy has his own version of Harvey inside his head. So much richness; so much plot. And this is only the middle stanza of Season Three!
Picture and sound quality continue to be outstanding on these sets. I noticed a tiny, tiny bit of edge enhancement on the picture, but nothing distracting. Sound is very solid; the surround mix is well done and adds quite a bit to the show's presentation. The extras are fun and informative. As with all of these Farscape extras, the one thing that comes through loud and clear is how much this cast really loved working with each other. A lot of casts say they're "like family"; this cast acts like it. That familial atmosphere really comes through in the show's acting as well, which is top notch. That extends to the guest cast as well. Apparently many of the show's guest stars are big names in Australian television. They aren't big names here, but a lot of them are really good.
I hate to repeat myself, but there's really only one thing I can say about this show: if you consider yourself a science fiction fan, you need to watch it at least once. It is, by far, the best show of the modern science fiction generation. Case closed.
Review content copyright © 2006 David Ryan; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 400 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Commentary for "Green Eyed Monster" by Ben Browder and Director Tony Tilse
* Commentary for "Relativity" by Lani Tupu and Director Peter Andrikidis
* Behind-the-Scenes Interviews: Ben Browder (Crichton), Wayne Pygram (Scorpius), Gigi Edgley (Chiana), and Paul Goddard (Stark)
* Deleted Scenes
* Cool Farscape Facts by Paul Simpson
* Alien Encounters
* Updated Character Histories: Chiana, Crais, Jool, Stark, Scorpius, and Scorpius Neural Clone
* Production Design Galleries
* TV Promos
* Official Site
* Review: Season 3, Collection 3 (original release)
* Review: Season 3, Collection 1 (Starburst Edition)