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ADV Films

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 wasn’t 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 didn’t 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 he’s 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 show’s 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. It’s 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 they’ve 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. It’s obvious that the cast likes one another. It’s 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 I’m sure that had more to do with the lighting than the transfer.

Farscape Disc One is a great introduction to the series, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. If you haven’t seen the series yet, you need to rent or buy these discs. It’s an engaging and imaginative romp through space that never ceases to amaze and entertain.

Jason Frank   (01/15/2002)


Ups: Great sense of humor; some nice extras; excellent sci-fi series.

Downs: Only two episodes per disc.

Platform: DVD