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DVD Review: Farscape: The Complete Series

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Written Pirata Hermosa

In the early ‘90s the Jim Henson Company wanted to embark on a new endeavor and try something it had never done before. They were looking to take their unique skills at puppeteering and their Creature Shop and do more than just special effects in films. They were looking to create a television series where they could bring all of their creations to life.

After bringing on Rockne O’Bannon, who was known for creating Alien Nation and SeaQuest, to head the series, it still took them several years for it to hit the airwaves. It wasn’t until after the FOX network had passed on the series and they were about to make it out of their own pocket for syndication that the Sci-Fi Channel stepped up and said that they would use it to head Sci-Fi’s new original-programming format. But even then, the series was a huge expense on any network, so the Henson Company used a multi-national approach for funding. It was supported by three different agencies: one in the United States, one in Britain, and one in Australia. In return they each got broadcast rights in their respective country. This is also the main reason why all of the filming was done in Australia and ended up with only the lead role being cast with an American actor.

John Crichton (Ben Browder) is a modern-day astronaut/scientist who is conducting some experiments while orbiting the Earth in a single-man spacecraft. At the most critical juncture of the experiment, something goes horribly wrong and he finds himself and his small craft hurtling through a wormhole that deposits him on the opposite side of the universe. If this wasn’t enough of a problem by itself, he finds himself in the middle of a battle with a squadron of fighter ships that are attacking a much larger vessel.

But before Crichton can think, let alone act, his ship collides with one of the fliers, destroying it. This accident forces him to align with the ship under attack as the smaller fighters are targeting him as an enemy combatant. Once aboard the giant ship and after managing to escape from the battle, John discovers that he is aboard a prison ship filled with prisoners who have just completed a daring escape from their captors. Not only does John find himself with a group of possibly dangerous criminals, but also he quickly learns that in this part of the universe the race that looks like human beings are called Sebaceans, whose powerful military organization known as the Peacekeepers rules all the other races with an iron fist..

Somehow he must learn to get along with his new shipmates and find a way back home; all the while they are hunted by Crais (Lani Tupu), one of the Peacekeeper captains whose brother perished in the earlier collision with John’s spacecraft. He must also avoid capture by a creature called Scorpius (Wayne Pygram), who is only half-Sebacean and is hunting him down to learn the secrets of wormhole technology in order to create the ultimate weapon..

As both Jim Henson and Rockne O’Bannon said, they were looking for something completely new that had never been done before and wanted a more adult show, and in that they succeeded. The characters were all completely different from one another and their true motivations were not always apparent. If you are a science fiction fan and looking for something fresh and new, this would certainly be something worth having.

The extreme range of aliens created for the show is amazing. Some of them are so realistic that you wouldn’t believe they are animatronic. And then there are those like Rygel (Jonathan Hardy), looking like a cross between Yoda and a bullfrog, who at first glance seems silly but as the series progresses totally pulls you in.

The biggest problem I had with this show is that it’s not quite serialized enough. That’s not a bad thing when you’ve got the entire set in front of you to watch from beginning to end, but when it was originally airing and you would only catch an episode here and there, it made for some completely confusing television as everything always appeared to be in flux. Allegiances would change as well as cast members, plotlines carried over multiple episodes and a number of them were two- and three-part episodes, so if you weren’t regularly following the series it was easy to get lost.

Some of the more interesting story arcs involve their ship Moya, who is a living creature and gives birth to a male ship named Talyn; Scorpius implanting a chip in Crichton’s brain in order for it to discover his secrets and the chip becoming its own personality that John is constantly at war with, and finally his love affair with former Peacekeeper Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black).

It’s truly a wonderful thing that they have finally released Farscape as individual seasons and this giant Megaset. Up until now, you were forced to buy them in volumes, which are not only much more expensive, but it was difficult to find each of the volumes, leaving gaping holes in your personal collection. The Megaset includes 26 DVDs featuring all 88 episodes with two discs filled with extras such as:

"Making of a Space Opera" is a basic overview of the entire series and goes into detail of its creation and details of the special effects and the inner working of the animatronics used.

"In The Beginning: A Look Back With Brian Henson" is a sit-down interview where he discusses the basic concepts of how Farscape came into existence from the initial concept, how the show was financed, why they picked Rockne O’Bannon as creator, why season four ended as a cliffhanger, and even how the fans and their "Save Farscape" campaign brought the show back and allowed for the mini-series Farscape: The Peace Keeper Wars (not included here) to be made.

"Farscape in the Raw: Director’s Cut Scenes" takes original scenes and compares them to the Director’s cut, which doesn’t have the sound effects, music, special effects, or even the correct actor’s voices dubbed in.

"Farscape Undressed" was filmed just before season three aired and hosted by Ben Browder and Claudia Black. Essentially, it is a recap of the first two seasons in order to jog the memories of current fans and to help new viewers catch up to the current storyline.

“Listening In with Composer Guy Gross" reveals the musical side of the series as you get to observe him creating. Not only does he pause to add his own commentary, but it’s shot looking over his shoulder as you watch him play the synthesizer while he watches the scene on a television in front of him. This is certainly different than what you get from most DVD sets and there are 12 of these features, each from different episodes.

"Behind the Scenes Interviews" are with nearly every member of the cast except for the two main stars Ben Browder and Claudia Black.

"Video Profile: Creator/Executive Producer/Writer Rockne O’Bannon and Executive Producer Writer David Kemper" which are both very similar to the interview with Brian Henson, but these two have much more video clips mixed in and less information.

There are also 31 commentary tracks, deleted scenes from 33 episodes, a blooper reel, TV promos, and so much more for fans to explore. If you are a fan of the series, pick up this set.

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  • Odo

    Page 1: The race was Sebacean. Peacekeepers are the galactic military organization.

  • Odo

    Page 2: Scorpius was half-Sebacean and half-Scarran, not half-human.

  • Odo

    Great review, great show! Buy your copy today!

  • Scaper

    A good show with bright colors and vivid imaginations ! Well done to everyone who worked on bringing Farscape to life!

  • Steve

    Are the DVDs themselves better quality than the original DVD releases? (Which seemed to have been burned via the DVD-R drive on someone’s personal computer – half the discs wouldn’t even read)