Our reviews of Farscape Season 1, Collection 1 (Starburst Edition) (published January 12th, 2005), Farscape: Season 1, Collection 3 (Starburst Edition) (published June 22nd, 2005), Farscape: Season 2, Collection 1 (Starburst Edition) (published September 7th, 2005), Farscape: Season 2, Collection 2 (Starburst Edition) (published October 19th, 2005), Farscape: Season 3, Collection 1 (Starburst Edition) (published April 26th, 2006), Farscape: Season 3, Collection 2 (Starburst Edition) (published June 7th, 2006), Farscape: Season 3, Collection 3 (published August 20th, 2003), Farscape: Season 4, Collection 1 (published January 12th, 2005), Farscape: Season 4, Collection 1 (Starburst Edition) (published September 4th, 2006), Farscape: Season 4, Collection 2 (published January 19th, 2005), Farscape: Season 4, Collection 4 (published January 26th, 2005), Farscape: Season 4, Collection 5 (published February 2nd, 2005), Farscape: The Complete Series (published December 7th, 2009), Farscape: The Complete Series (Blu-ray) (published December 15th, 2011), Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (published March 23rd, 2005), Farscape: Volume 1 (published August 23rd, 2001), Farscape: Volume 2 (published August 23rd, 2001), Farscape: Volume 3 (published August 23rd, 2001), Farscape: Volume 4 (published August 23rd, 2001), and Farscape: Volume 5 (published August 23rd, 2001) are also available.
We're already destroyed, Aeryn. It's just that some of us don't know it yet.
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"
"Suns and Lovers"
"Self Inflicted Wounds, Part 1: Could'a, Would'a, Should'a"
"Self Inflicted Wounds, Part 2: Wait for the Wheel"
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.
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.
Not guilty! A great show and a nice DVD package from ADV.
We stand adjourned.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
• Claudia Black Commentary for "Wait for the Wheel"
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