|DVDs - Region 2 Double DVD Box Set 2.5|
Farscape's final season 2 box set brings us the breathtaking climax for the year, and leaves us hanging by a thread with one of the most shocking cliffhangers ever. The Region 2 set includes two discs featuring the final four season 2 episodes completely uncut in UK broadcast order – Liars, Guns and Money, Part 1: "A Not So Simple Plan", Part 2: "With Friends Like These...", Part 3: "Plan B" and the season finale, "Die Me, Dichotomy". The extras include a 30 minute profile on Bialar Crais (and a little Pilot), featuring Lani Tupu, a 10 minute profile on Scorpius, featuring Wayne Pygram, three deleted scenes, the season three title sequence and a gallery of 30 stills featuring concept art, make-up and set photography.
by Dani Moure
The first three episodes in this set form a trilogy of episodes that are quite frankly a huge departure from anything else we've seen, and provide quite possibly the most scrumptious episodes of Farscape up to this point. But then, the best follows. The "Liars, Guns and Money" trilogy is a simply huge story, and the cast and crew pulled out all the stops to make it absolutely superb, with stunning visuals, awesome acting, a huge pool of guest stars and a tight and extremely intricate plot. The story begins in "A Not So Simple Plan", as Stark returns with a plan to rob a Shadow Depository (like a thieves bank) to gain currency to buy D'Argo's son, Jothee, from a slave auction. From here, great tensions arise within the crew as not everyone thinks the plan will succeed. Particularly the relationship between John and D'Argo is put under great strain. The episode is great fun and simply a joy to behold, as we get to see Zhaan acting as a space pirate with Chiana as her aide (and some great lines exchanged between the two), the debut of Claudia Karvan as the Depository's chief Natira, and what appears to be an awesome final showdown between John and Scorpius. Part two, "With Friends Like These..." picks up directly where the first left off, with the stolen money eating away at Moya. Arriving at the slave auction, they find the lot containing Jothee has been sold – to Scorpius. No, he didn't die, and his latest devious plot causes further friction between John and D'Argo. Whilst part two doesn't quite hold up to part one, and is the weakest part of the trilogy, it nonetheless succeeds in setting things up for the stunning conclusion. John, feeling guilty, hatches a plot to pick up some old mercenary friends (a Vorcarian, Sheyang, Tavlek and the Zenetan pirates) to help them carry out the plan. It doesn't go to plan though, and with Moya being burned to kill the ship-eating creatures and no money to speak of, John makes a touching exchange – himself for Jothee. Seeing the reunion between D'Argo and his son after so long is wonderful, but the reaction to John's exchange from Aeryn is frightening, and the final scene delightful. The climax, "Plan B", sees John in the hands of Scorpius, and the mercenaries and Moya's crew agreeing to go and rescue him and steal money at the same time. As the climax to the trilogy there is bucket-loads of action, with fights and shooting galore. However the plot is not left behind, and after much double-crossing, more fighting, and some awesome set pieces and exchanges, John is rescued, but left somewhat emotionally scarred. By the end of the episode Crais and Talyn have returned, the crew is rich, the Depository destroyed and Scorpius is again left apparently dead. Oh, and John is pleading for D'Argo to kill him. A gripping episode from start to finish, "Plan B" is up there with the best of them.
But, overshadowing everything else (I didn't see how that could be possible) is the emotional rollercoaster that is the season finale, "Die Me, Dichotomy". The crew seek out a Diagnosan to heal Moya, and remove the chip from John's brain. But the chip is starting to take over John, and throughout his personality is switching between himself and that of the neural clone of Scorpius. Again, the episode is visually stunning, but the story that drives it is nothing short of amazing. So much happens, all the relationships between the characters are brought to the fore, some awesome and heart-breaking set pieces take place and it all leads to one of the most stunning conclusions to a TV season I have ever seen. By the time the credits roll, you know nothing will be the same. A main character is dead, a funeral has taken place, the characters all appear as if they're about to disband and the chip in John's head is removed, but Scorpius returns to retrieve it, and leaves him quite literally speechless with his brain sprawled across the operating table. Tears will be shed, hearts will be moved, and you will be shocked, but "Die Me, Dichotomy" comes out trumps as the best episode ever up to the end of season 2.
Finally Contender were able to coerce Henson into providing them with some superb extras, providing this set with by far the best value for money this season. Kicking things off is a superb profile on Crais, running a little over half an hour. In it, Lani Tupu begins by briefly discussing Pilot and the differences and problems in playing both him and Crais, and then spends the majority of the rest of the time talking all about Crais and how he has evolved and changed over the course of the first season. The only thing against it was that I did feel that occasionally the clips from the episodes ran a bit too long (but that will be down to personal preference), and that it focuses mostly on season one. Nevertheless, it's very interesting, particularly to see what Lani himself thinks of the characters (and the way he is; he speaks completely different to either of his characters), and also kudos to him for also briefly generalising season two (and even mentioning the season three episode "Green Eyed Monster"). Its running time alone makes this an excellent extra.
Next we have another profile, this time on Scorpius. This one runs just over ten minutes, mainly because it again focuses on season one (in which Scorpius only appeared four times), and although much of it re-iterates what you may have read previously in interviews in books and magazines, it's definitely a nice addition and well worth watching.
Personally, I love the season three title sequence. It's simply epic in scope, and the remixed theme is a real grower, and has me humming along every time, so having it as an extra on this DVD is a very nice touch, and I thank Contender for its inclusion.
The deleted scenes, which I'm not particularly fond of on any DVDs, film or TV show, started out as a novel extra on the first set this season, have become more and more worthless as time goes on. Of course, it's great to have them here anyway, but they're nothing particularly special, and all three come from the trilogy. It almost makes you wish that more footage was cut just so you could see more on DVD! What is definitely interesting, and related, is seeing the four episodes uncut. You get all four as they were meant to be seen, which means a few slightly extended scenes in most episodes where the BBC cut briefly for time or content. Most interesting is definitely "Plan B", as this contains over three minutes worth of footage that the BBC cut for content (much of it is gruesome, such as more eye removal, blood and of course a man on fire).
There's also a gallery of 30 stills, but personally this is another feature of DVDs that while I think is a nice inclusion, I fail to really get excited about. The pictures are production photos with concept artwork, make-up and set photography. Worth a look, and it's nice they're there, but like with other DVDs that include them, it's unlikely that you'll revisit the gallery again.
Video & Audio
Well, I admit I don't have the best set up (I have to watch on my PC for surround sound!), but the Dolby Digital 5.1 track is as good as you're going to get for a TV show, and excellent use is made of the different channels really helping immerse you in the action. The audio is clear as crystal, and I generally have no problem whatsoever. The music continues to sound absolutely awesome as well, and the DVD presentation simply emphasises Guy Gross' wonderful music.
The video is again superb. Thankfully Contender don't opt to use single layer discs for every disc, as the ones with three episodes or a lot of extras are always dual layer DVD9s (the second disc is here), which obviously allows the video quality to be sustained throughout. The video is very clear, with no noticeable artefacts, even when the scenes descend into dark blacks. Generally, the transfer is very high quality, and each disc this season has been superb.
Thankfully, this box has plenty of room for the keepcases to fit in, and they can be removed with relative ease. I still don't like the triple hub design of the keepcases (I preferred the Amarays), as I feel like I'm bending things when removing the discs.
As for the artwork used on the packaging, I am very happy that they chose to break with the tradition of using the first disc's cover for the box art and put Scorpy on the front! Nothing against Stark, but it would have been criminal to put him on the cover when much of season two was focused on Scorpius. The cover has him in a menacing pose, with a nice action shot in the background. Contender really out-did themselves with fantastic designs for their season two covers, and the consistency and style has been great. At this rate, I can't wait to see what they do for season 3! There's some great potential there. Anyway, this box looks great!
Honestly, this set could have no extras and would still be recommended, as it contains four of Farscape's finest episodes to date. But couple those with by far the best extras this season, and in fact the most extras of any of the DVD box sets so far, and you have a fantastic package. Kudos to Contender for continuously trying to get more extras for us from Henson, as it's really paid off here with a great set. I have absolutely no problems with this set whatsoever, and it's by far the best yet with not a dud in site. Every episode can be enjoyed again and again, and I wholeheartedly recommend you go out and buy it. Excellent.
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Item: Farscape Season 2 Double DVD Box Set 3
Recommended Retail Price: £24.99 (£16.99 from Play247)
Distributor: Contender Ltd. (under Kult-TV label)
BBFC Rating: 12
Region: 2 (PAL - Europe, Australia)
Picture Format: Pal 4:3
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Number of Discs: 2
Format: 1 x DVD5, 1 x DVD9
Total Running Time: 223 mins (approx.)
Episodes: Liars, Guns and Money trilogy: Part 1: "A Not So Simple Plan" (43:57), Part 2: "With Friends Like These..." (44:05), Part 3: "Plan B" (41:55) and "Die Me, Dichotomy" (44:05)