ADV Films // 2002 // 350 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Ryan (Retired) // September 4th, 2006
Prepare for immediate starburst!
It's the beginning of the end for Farscape DVDs (or so we would have to assume). Farscape: Season 4, Collection 1 (Starburst Edition) is the first of ADV's "Starburst Edition" re-releases of Farscape's final season. It hasn't been that long since the original Season Four discs were released, though, so there isn't much in the way of technical advancement or significant extra features here.
This collection features the first seven episodes of Season Four, as follows:
* "Crichton Kicks"
* "What Was Lost Part I: Sacrifice"
* "What Was Lost Part II: Resurrection"
* "Lava's A Many Splendored Thing"
* "Natural Election"
* "John Quixote"
This package is essentially the first Season Four collection plus half of the second Season Four collection, combined into one package with a new commentary for "John Quixote." As such, for substantive commentary I defer to the original reviews written by Judge Harper, with which I generally agree. (Links can be found in the sidebar.)
As Judge Harper (let's call him JEH for short) notes, Season Four starts off a bit slow. Frankly, it seems as if the writers of the show were beginning to run out of ideas, and were starting to stretch. It takes a couple of episodes to get everyone back together after the events in the Season Three cliffhanger, but after that, things stabilize a bit. There are some issues, though -- the new character, Sikozu (the fiery hot Raelee Hill), remains largely undeveloped in this set of episodes, and some of the plot development seems haphazard (e.g. Aeryn suddenly showing up with Scorpius). And "Lava's A Many Splendored Thing" is one of the weakest episodes of the show's run. But "John Quixote" is bizarre, wacky fun, and the new bad girl Grayza is an interesting change of pace from the departed (and missed) Crais.
On the whole, though, I have to agree with JEH: the beginning of Season Four is somewhat disappointing. One couldn't really have expected the show to maintain the intensity and high quality of Season Three, which can and should be considered one of the finest seasons of any science fiction show ever, but this set of episodes is still a bit flat. Keep in mind, though, that this is relative to other Farscape sets -- the show, even at its worst, is still far and away the best sci fi series in ages.
The sole new extra is the commentary by Ben Browder and Claudia Black for "John Quixote." The twist here is that Browder actually wrote the script for the show; ergo, he comments on both acting and writing in this commentary. As with all the Farscape commentaries, what comes through loud and clear is how much these actors enjoyed both working on the show and working with each other. The principals on this show obviously had strong personal and professional relationships, which directly and obviously benefits their performances. The banter between Browder and Black is much like the interplay between Crichton and Aeryn (without the sex and pregnancy and such), which makes for a fun and entertaining commentary. But then, you probably expected that if you've listened to any of the other commentaries for Farscape...
I didn't notice the video issues that JEH did -- which is surprising, given that there are more episodes per disc here, which usually means more compression and diminished video quality. Either ADV has started using a better compression algorithm, or my eyesight is getting poorer. I thought the widescreen transfer was comparable to those of similar television sets, and didn't notice any glaring negatives. The sound, as JEH noted, is quite good on these sets. The Dolby surround tracks are fairly well done, and make decent use of the surround effect.
There isn't a heck of a lot more to say about Farscape that I (or JEH) haven't said in previous reviews. If you're a science fiction fan, you have to watch this show. Period. End of story. The fact that ADV has seen fit to release the shows in these cost-effective, high quality Starburst Editions only makes it that much more of a slam dunk. Go! Go now! NOW!
Review content copyright © 2006 David Ryan; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 350 Minutes
Release Year: 2002
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Commentary for "John Quixote" by Ben Browder and Claudia Black
* Cool Farscape Facts
* Featurette: Farscape: The Story So Far
* Behind-the-scenes Interviews: Jonathan Hardy (voice of Rygel) and Rebecca Riggs (Commandant Grayza)
* "Inside Farscape": Villains
* "Inside Farscape": Season Four Visual Effects
* Listening In with Composer Guy Gross: "Crichton Kicks" and "John Quixote"
* Deleted Scenes
* Updated Character Histories: John Crichton, Aeryn Sun, Ka D'Argo, and Chianna
* Alien Encounters
* Production Design Gallery
* Official Site
* Sci Fi Channel Farscape Site
* Review: Season 4, Collection 1
* Review: Season 4, Collection 2