|Books - Illustrated Season 3 Companion|
This volume in Titan's best-selling series is the official guide to the show's daring third season. Once again compiled with unprecedented access to Farscape's stars and production crew, it's packed with exclusive interviews and photos, and of course includes a comprehensive episode guide. Farscape: The Illustrated Season 3 Companion is a must for all Scapers – no plok.
by Dani Moure
With the format for these yearly releases now pretty much set in stone, we have the third volume of the Official Illustrated Companions. While it's still not perfect (mainly due to the limits placed on the format), it does improve over the last volume in one way which makes a lot of difference (and was a gripe I had with the last book) – it includes colour photos!
While there are in fact only eight pages of colour photos, it's quite amazing the difference they make. A blend of promotional, behind-the-scenes and design shots, these add a flavour to the Companion series that we haven't seen yet. The pictures are high quality prints, on glossy paper, and generally just look lovely. I was particularly overjoyed to see the three colour photos from one of my favourite episodes, the animated extravaganza "Revenging Angel." Given that it was a gripe I had with this book's predecessors, I was extremely pleased to see the inclusion of colour photos.
The book proper begins with a foreword, as per usual, this time from executive producer, head writer and all round show-runner, David Kemper. If you've ever read his regular comic in Farscape: The Official Magazine then you'll know what to expect: a funny, well-written and extremely witty three pages. He has such a fantastic way of getting his point across that I find myself enjoying anything like this that he writes.
The episode guide is much the same as the past years. Starting with the episode credits, followed by a short half-page or so basic outline of the episode (that is generally kept spoiler-free), with the remainder of the three pages dedicated to each episode going on some behind-the-scenes snippets. As always, the behind-the-scenes comments are top notch. Authors Paul Simpson and Ruth Thomas do a lot of Farscape writing, and know the show very well. They get comments from most of the key cast and crew involved in a particular episode, and the quotes they choose are always funny and insightful. While this format is relatively good, and I do enjoy reading it immensely, there are several downfalls. I won't complain about the fact all the pictures bar the one centre-piece gallery are black and white, since they have tried hard to improve this year by giving the colour gallery, but what does annoy me a little, as a matter of personal preference, is the size of the photos. I'd prefer them to be a little smaller to fit in more behind-the-scenes text. There's also a really thick margin, which limits the width of a paragraph too; all of which takes away from space that could go to more behind-the-scenes stuff. If you hadn't guessed, my point is I love the interviews and would really like to see more in any way I can. Unfortunately for us, while the authors pack the space as much as they can, they too are limited by the format set by the publishers. One gripe I'll probably always have with this book is just that – I'd like that little bit more. That's not to diminish what we do get in any way, indeed it's because what we have is so good that I want even more.
Once again, we have one exception to the usual rule of three pages per episode, and this season that honour goes to "Revenging Angel." Obviously, this makes me happy (given my aforementioned fondness of this episode), and I had a real blast reading in-depth comments from all those involved, from the problems they were having, and the way everyone seemed to think it wouldn't work to the birth of the final episode. This is truly a great piece, running ten pages (eight if you take away the two full-page pictures). The pictures themselves are all very interesting, with several fantastic conceptual pieces (and a few more in the colour gallery). The great thing, too, is that the whole section is devoted to the interviews and behind-the-scenes snippets, and as such, it works really well.
Following that feature, we have the usual character profiles. One full page photo, and three more with a bit of character analysis and the cast members commenting on their characters, and generally how they progressed through the year. Again, it's informative, as always, with the cast offering the usual creative insight that otherwise we might not get to hear. Again, like anything, it's a shame they can't talk for pages and pages, but obviously that is implausible. Things are definitely helped this year, since the main cast is increased to ten (including Jool, even though she remains credited as recurring), and all of them get their own section. This definitely helps flesh out certain characters, noticeably Scorpius, Stark and Crais, who previously only had brief mentions. Also, with less recurring cast members, Zhaan, Braca and Xhalax Sun get a decent amount devoted to each of them.
We're also treated to a fourteen-page feature on the Jim Henson's Creature Shop. This is another excellent piece, with some fantastic comments from the people that bring the aliens to life each week. They comment on some of the creations used this season, and it really is insightful. I'd recommend that anyone who is awed as much as I am by some of the creations read this piece; it's always nice to hear from Dave Elsey and company.
Finally we have a short brief with Guy Gross, which is a quick but enjoyable read, with a few of his thoughts on how he composes some certain material and so-forth. This isn't too deep, but given the space it's pretty good, and finally an "Into Season Four" section, where the authors look at the future of the show and get a few brief snippets from the crew about what season four has in store.
Another highly enjoyable volume, really given a bit of "umph" with the addition of some colour photos. By now, you'll probably know whether to buy this or not. If you hate the format, this book probably won't change your mind, but if you accept it (as I have) you'll find it far surpasses its predecessors, with the features going into that little bit more depth beyond what the original two volumes did. While I won't hide the fact that I'd still love even more room for more depth, given the format the authors have done a great job of getting some of the most interesting things and including them here. Definitely a good read, pushed to a slightly higher score just for listening to the suggestion and adding some much-needed colour.
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Item: Farscape: The Illustrated Season 3 Companion
Recommended Retail Price: £9.99
Authors: Paul Simpson and Ruth Thomas
Publisher: Titan Books
Length: 160 pages