Farscape: The Complete Series Blu-ray Edition
by Jef Burnham
Now available from A+E Networks Home Entertainment.
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This cult classic science fiction space opera fuses live action with state-of-the-art puppetry, prosthetics and CGI. Created by Brian Henson of The Jim Henson Company and Rockne S. O’Bannon, writer of Alien Nation (1988), Farscape originally aired in the U.S. on the Sci-Fi Channel from 1999 to 2003. And being produced by The Jim Henson Company, the series notably featured the Company’s brilliant puppet designs as regular and incidental alien characters throughout. The series opens on U.S. astronaut John Crichton (Ben Browder), who is caught in a wormhole during a test of his experimental spaceship, the Farscape. Rocketed across the universe, Chrichton finds himself in unfamiliar territory, surrounded by hostile aliens, and caught in the middle of a confrontation between a crew of escaped convicts and the forces of the militaristic Peacekeepers. Ultimately, Crichton is forced to join the escaped convicts aboard the living space vessel Moya if he is ever to return home. His cohorts include ex-Peacekeeper Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black), Luxan warrior Ka D’Argo (Anthony Simcoe), the priestess Zhaan (Virginia Hey), Nebari thief Chiana (Gigi Edgley), and two phenomenally crafted puppet characters: Dominar Rygel, the deposed ruler of the Hynerian Empire, and the ship’s symbiotic pilot, Pilot (my absolute favorite of the series’ puppet characters in design).
What keeps me returning to the series time and time again is not the science fiction side of the series, or even the amazing puppetry (which in no small way originally drew me to the series), but the arcs of the characters and their relationships with one another. We see Crichton evolve so much throughout the series as he comes to terms with his new situation and finds his foothold among the crew of Moya. Moreover, we see that the remainder of the crew too, who are at first thrown together by chance during the escape from the Peacekeepers, grow as individuals and come together as something of a dysfunctional family unit. It’s character-driven, science fiction serial writing at its finest to be sure.
This 20-disc Blu-ray set features the complete 88-episode run of the series’ four seasons, unedited and remastered. This stunning HD presentation of Farscape was transferred from the highest quality existing source elements, which were apparently the European PAL masters (being an Australian-American co-production), and the HD visuals look absolutely incredible throughout. Even the series’ CG animation, which I had worried would look exceedingly dated in HD, looks great. And the collectible, hardcover packaging for the Blu-ray set features all-new series artwork. Unfortunately, this set doesn’t include Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars, a feature-length tale that wraps up the series, which had ended on a cliffhanger at the conclusion of its fourth season as a result of its sudden cancellation. Even still, this is unquestionably the collection of Farscape every fan will want to own with its superior visuals and incredible wealth of supplemental content.
The 15 plus hours of special features in this Blu-ray collector’s set include:
-Memories of Moya: An Epic Journey Explored, an insightful, brand-new documentary featuring revealing new interviews with the cast and creators, including Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Rockne O’Bannon, Brian Henson and writer Richard Manning;
-29 Episode Commentaries, including “Premiere” with Rockne S. O’Bannon, Brian Henson and Ben Browder; “Jeremiah Crichton” with Claudia Black, Producer/Writer David Kemper, Browder and O’Bannon; “Bone to Be Wild” with Anthony Simcoe; “Relativity” with Lani Tupu (Crais/Voice of Pilot) and Director Peter Andrikidis; and, “Bad Timing” which features Browder, Black and Kemper discussing the series’ final episode;
-Multiple featurettes and documentaries including “In the Beginning: A Look Back with Brian Henson”; “Making of a Space Opera” and “Inside Farscape: Save Farscape,” in which fans, cast and crew discuss the fate of their beloved series;
-Video profiles featuring archival clips and cast/crew discussing their characters and roles on Farscape;
-Over 90 minutes of deleted scenes;
-Slideshows and archival photo galleries, including character concepts and promo photos;
-Production design galleries featuring screenshots, rough drafts and concept slide shows;
-Behind-the-Scenes interviews with Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Anthony Simcoe, Virginia Hey, Gigi Edgley, Paul Goddard, Wayne Pygram and others;
-and original TV promos and trailers.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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