Every so often, something “Farscape” will pop up to remind me how awesome this series was on the old Sci-Fi Channel (now Syfy).
Most recently, it’s been the comic book from Boom! Studios. Now, A&E Home Entertainment is releasing the main series on Blu-ray. They’re calling it the “Complete Series,” and while I supposed that’s technically true, be aware that the wrap-up miniseries “The Peacekeeper Wars” is NOT included. Grr. (Another company, Lionsgate, owns the rights to “PKW.”)
What? You’ve never heard of “Farscape”? Here’s the official description:
“… Astronaut John Crichton (Ben Browder), after a freak accident, finds himself surrounded by hostile aliens and soaring through the cosmos aboard Moya, a glorious living space ship. Hunted by the relentless Peacekeepers, he allies himself with Moya’s crew — Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black), Luxan warrior Ka D’Argo (Anthony Simcoe), azu re priestess Zhaan (Virginia Hey), spritely Nebari thief Chiana (Gigi Edgley), Dominar Rygel, the deposed royal ruler of the Hynerian Empire and Pilot — to search for a way out of this inconceivably alien world and return home.”
But, borrowing from my write-up of the 2009 DVD release, that just skims the surface of this ambitious, stranger-in-a-strange-land tale, which was full of rich characters and layered stories. Characters came and went over the course of four seasons, mostly for the good, and even though it had lost its spark by the end, it was still destination viewing in my household.
The show was produced by the Jim Henson Co., and their creature shop did some great things. D’Argo’s makeup was amazing, even by today’s standards, and allowed Simcoe to show great expression. And Hey was beautiful as the blue Zhaan, the heart of the show. Rygel and Pilot, both puppets, showed as much expression as any “real” characters.
After the neater worlds of “Star Trek” and “Lost in Space,” “Farscape” wasn’t afraid to go into darker places, killing and torturing its characters and leaving series-spanning ramifications. It set the stage for “Battlestar Galactica,” another series fans say Syfy mishandled. But we did get four seasons out of it, and that’s a good thing.
But as good as the acting was, the series itself did suffer from losing Hey, who had to leave, in large part because the amazing, extensive makeup was causing severe health issues. But Zhaan was the heart of the show, and future characters never filled that gap satisfactorily. But it never went down in quality enough that it wasn’t worth watching at all.
Extras, including episode commentaries, interviews, behind-the-scenes stuff, are carried over from that 2009 release. The only new addition is the mini-documentary “Memories of Moya: An Epic Journey Explored,” which includes nice interviews with the creators and some of the main cast.
So, like the cartoon sets I reviewed yesterday, the big question is whether it’s worth the money to upgrade if you’ve got previous versions. At first glance, I’d probably say no.
I don’t have the DVDs to make a comparison on my own, so I turned to the Internet, where folks familiar with all the tech specs can do better than I. It seems like there is an improvement in quality, but not that much. That’s because even though the effects are CGI, they weren’t done in more modern fashion that would translate to 1080p high-def. Also, the source material isn’t the highest-quality to begin with, so words I’ve seen describing the transfer include “soft” and “fuzzy.” It looked OK to me, but it definitely doesn’t have the crispness of, say, “Battlestar Galactica.”
But if you’ve been holding out on a complete-series set or are unfamiliar with the series, run out and buy it now. It’s a doozy.