Out of the myriad of SF shows that I've watched in my day,
the main one that never received the respect it deserved was Farscape. Sure, Firefly
had a much shorter run, but if you mention that great show to even a
fan, they'll list it's cancellation as the most bone-headed decision in
history (and they'll be right.) Star
Trek has a slew of spin off series,
is well respected by anyone who ever saw the series.
Bring up Farscape
however, and people will make a joke about "Muppets in Space" just
alien character effects were generated by Jim Henson's Creature Shop. (Why is that?
Other Henson productions like The Dark Crystal aren't dissed for
cool puppet creatures.) Don't get me
wrong, the show has a solid, and vocal, fan base, but it's not nearly
as it should be. That's because Farscape is easily in the top 10 SF
shows ever, and it probably breaks the top 5.
Now this creative and exciting show has been released on Blu-ray
wonderful collection that includes all four seasons and some wonderful
though the final mini-series is sadly missing.
Commander John Crichton (Ben Browder) is an astronaut
testing a new shuttle-like spacecraft (dubbed Farscape) when he
up a wormhole in space and is transported to a far-off part of the
galaxy. There he finds an immensely huge
Moya, that happens to be a living creature.
Upon docking with Moya he discovers that he's walked in on a
prison break. Moya was being used to hold
a group deemed undesirable by the Peacekeepers, an interstellar
mercenaries that dominate much of their part of the galaxy. They've escaped and taken Moya, and they're
really not looking for any hitch-hikers.
The crew includes: Ka D'Argo
(Anthony Simcoe) a very tall, muscular and aggressive Luxan warrior,
Zhaan (Virginia Hey) a blue-skinned humanoid plant creature who killed
lover once she discovered he was collaborating with the Peacekeepers;
Rygel XVI (voiced by Jonathan Hardy) a very small being who was once
an empire before being betrayed by his cousin; Chiana (Gigi Edgley) a
from Nebari; and Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black) a Peacekeeper who was
retake Moya but was captured. He
commanding office has decreed that she's been contaminated by coming
contact with the prisoners and she's now an outlaw too.
Then there's Pilot, member of a race that has
a symbiotic relationship with Leviathans.
He is bonded with the ship and can communicate with it and relay
The early episodes deal with Moya's crew (for want of a
better term) getting away from the Peacekeepers. A
Peacekeeper officer, Bialar Crais (Lani
Tupu), blames Crichton for the death of his brother and wants his head
pike. He relentlessly tracks the giant
ship (which has no offensive weapons, by the way) and is constantly
pressure on the group.
In the second season Scorpius (Wayne Pygram), a hybrid
between a human-like species and a reptile, starts after the renegades. He's a Peacekeeper, but he doesn't care that
there's a group of convicts on the loose... he wants the secret to
technology that is trapped inside John Crichton's head.
The first thing that strikes viewers about this show is the
complexity. Most SF programs have good
guys and bad guys and leave it at that, but this show is covered in
grey and moral ambiguity. The beings
traveling and living in Moya are not a plucky band of rebels who have
brought together by a common goal, just the opposite.
They all have their own agendas and sometimes
those come into conflict, not to mention that the Peacekeepers are more
willing to give one member what they want if they'll just betray their
partners. If you can imagine a version
of Star Trek where Captain Kirk was
more than willing to stab Spock in the back you'll start to get the
idea. This adds a lot of suspense and
drama to the
show, not to mention suspicion, and it also sets it apart from most
Another thing that sets this show apart is the group
dynamics. They don't like each other at
the beginning, much less trust each other.
This can make for some tense situations when they're under
attack. It's also part of the show's story
arc. As the program progresses everyone
respect and eventually trust each other, and its great watching the
There's a lot of continuity in the show, which is nice, but
the writing is really what sets this apart from many other SF programs. The story is tightly woven together and they
add a good dollop of humor (the show is often hilarious) to lighten the
mood. It's a dram first and foremost,
and there are some very moving sections.
The programs where Rygel talks the rebellion that cost him his
when Pilot reveals just what he had to do to become bonded with Moya
I've been a huge fan of Farscape since I accidently stumbled
upon the show in the latter half of the first season and it's an
program. All four seasons are enticing
and enjoyable, and it's a shame that it couldn't go on another year. The show was schedule for a fifth season, but
the Sci-Fi Channel pulled the plug at the last minute and canceled
five. The show deserved better treatment
This set collects all four seasons in a nice, compact
box. Each season comes in its own
multi-disc case, and these are housed in a nicely illustrated slipcase. There are 88 episodes in all spread across 20
Blu-ray discs. Notably missing however
is the final two-part mini-series that aired a year and a half after
episode from season four. Another
company owns the rights to that series, but hopefully that will be
HD soon too.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track sounds great! This
really brings the show to life and
immerses the viewer in a wonderful field of sound.
The rears are used extensively throwing
incidental music cues and audio effect behind the viewer and there are
lot of cool audio pans across the whole soundstage.
The dialog is crisp and clear and the music
if full and dynamic. There's a good
amount of information thrown to the subwoofer too.
Overall I was very, very happy with the way
this set sounds.
I wish I could say the same thing about the video.
First the good news: I've never
seen this show look better, either
when it was originally broadcast or on DVD.
Now the bad news: the 35mm film
elements could not be located and this is an up-conversion from the
PAL tapes. That means that this doesn't
look great for a Blu-ray disc, but it's still an improvement. The image (with a 1.33:1 ratio for the first
three seasons and a 1.78:1 ratio for the final year, as they were
broadcast) has a lot more definition and detail than the SD
counterparts. Unfortunately there is some
mosquito noise in
the image and some of the blacks are crushed in the darker scenes. The colors are okay, not horrible but not the
strikingly vivid hues we get in the best HD presentations.
Overall it's an okay looking set, but fans
will want to upgrade anyway.
Wow. Just wow. There
is an immense amount of extras... over 15
hours in total and that's not counting the commentaries.
There is some great stuff here, much too much
to discuss it all individually, so I'll hit the highlights and just
The brand new documentary, Memories of Moya:
Journey Explored was probably my favorite.
This 37-minute featurette is a nice look back at the series,
what it was
trying to do, and how everyone felt about it.
There are also some interesting pieces on the show's
cancellation, On the Last Day - Farscape
Wrap Speech from David Kemper is less than 4 minutes, but it was an
interesting, raw look at a horrible point for most of the cast and crew. Inside
Farscape: Save Farscape is a half-hour look at how fans rallied and
to save the show.
In addition to those featurettes there's a wealth of Farscape
information: 31, count 'em, 31 audio
of deleted scenes; a Listening In With
Composer Guy Gross series where the guy behind the music for the
talks about his contribution (there are about a dozen of those); TV
behind the scenes interviews with the cast; Farscape
in the Raw, comparisons between the original cut of several shows
final versions; and featurettes both vintage and recent on the special
the cast, and the show. It's a very
This is a really great package. While I'll
be the first to admit that it's
disappointing the video comes from an upgraded SD PAL source, the show
better than it ever has. Add to that the
excellent DTS HD audio and the amazing extras, and this is a nice
collection. Of course all of that would
be meaningless if the show was lacking, but it's not.
Farscape is an excellent SF show, with a
creative group of characters, a lot of humor, and some excellent
writing. Any SF fan who doesn't have this
run out and buy this now. Highly