Farscape is everything that Star
Trek has forgotten to be. I have a confession to make; I was a closet Star Trek fan. I saw
all the movies on opening day, and I never missed an episode until Deep Space Nine showed
up. The show just wasnt very fun. I thought that Voyager might rekindle my love of
the franchise, but I gave up on the series after about the first season. Enterprise lost
my interest after the first episode. I had never actually seen an episode of Farscape
until Sci-Fi started running all of the older episodes this past fall. I have to admit
that I was hooked from the very first episode. Even my wife, who had given up on Star Trek
long before me, started getting angry with me when I didnt tape the latest episode
of Farscape for her.
The premise of the show is pretty simple: Human astronaut finds
himself stranded on the other side of the galaxy with a group of alien escaped convicts.
At the heart of the show is John Crichton, an astronaut who has grown up on a steady diet
of Spielberg and Star Wars and is able to take everything in stride. Not only is he adept
at dealing with new situations, but hes able to crack jokes that no one but the
audience gets. He works as the perfect everyman, but with a personality. The rest of the
characters consist of a blue priestess, a deposed despot, a disgraced police officer, and
a living space ship.
There are two great things about this show. The first is the chemistry that is apparent
between the cast and crew. The second is the shows sense of humor. It is very
difficult to make science fiction funny without it becoming a parody of itself or canon
stalwarts. Farscape is one of those rare science fiction projects that is able to enjoy
its characters and situations without ever diminishing the suspense or drama.
The first DVD release of the show includes the pilot and the second episode. As with
any new series, the show is still finding its rhythms and personality, but the episodes
work very well. The first episode introduces us to all of the major characters of the show
while executing a fairly engaging story. The second episode has the characters crash land
on an earth like alien planet, Chricton gets to experience alien role reversal for a
little bit. Its great to watch the characters get to know one another through the
first episodes and watch the show find its tone.
Although not teeming with extras, the bonus material that theyve included on the
disc gives some valuable insights into why the show works so well. You really get a sense
of the camaraderie that exists among the cast as you listen to the commentaries on the two
episodes. Its obvious that the cast likes one another. Its a little thing, but
when a cast actually enjoys one another, it affects every aspect of the production. Also
included on the disc are a short promotional documentary, conceptual drawings, and a video
profile of the character of John Crichton. I would have preferred to have seen the series
released by season instead of in 2 episode chunks, but fans of the show are probably
richer for the delayed releases. The cumulative extras for an entire season rival any of
the box sets on the market.
Another nice bonus on the disc is the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. While not the most
aggressive soundtrack, it does have a nice execution of surrounds. The video transfer is
good. Some of the shots seem a little dark at times, but Im sure that had more to do
with the lighting than the transfer.
Farscape Disc One is a great introduction to the series, and I cant wait to see
what the future holds. If you havent seen the series yet, you need to rent or buy
these discs. Its an engaging and imaginative romp through space that never ceases to
amaze and entertain.