|DVDs - Region 2 Double DVD Box Set 3.2 (Deluxe)|
The third season of Farscape continues on DVD, with the beginning of the show's boldest storyline yet! The Region 2 set includes two discs featuring the next five season 3 episodes completely uncut: "Eat Me", "Thanks for Sharing", "Green Eyed Monster", "Losing Time" and "Relativity". The extras include audio commentary for "Relativity" with Lani Tupu and Peter Andrikidis, deleted scenes, John Crichton info-pod (including Ben Browder interview), Jool info-pod, behind-the-scenes episode facts, original SciFi episode trailers, gallery of stills featuring concept artwork, character and prop photography. The limited Deluxe edition also includes Aeryn's chip, ten pieces of specially commissioned framable artwork, an exclusive mousemat and two more lithograph prints.
by Dani Moure
The first of the episodes in this set, "Eat Me", is not only one of the show's most gruesome tales yet, but it is also a pivotal episode in the show's overall story arc, in that it sets the tone for the rest of the season. It all begins with John, D'Argo, Jool and Chiana having to land on a Leviathan floating in space after their transport pod is damaged. Here they find a one-armed Pilot who is being eaten, one very insane prisoner and a group of Peacekeepers eating the ship. It sounds weird, and it is. It sounds gruesome, and it is. It's not the most horrific thing ever, but it does err on the disturbing side at times. But although it sounds silly it's actually a very good episode, with some great characterisation in there, particularly for Jool, who is still trying to adjust to life on Moya, and is now thrown into this scary situation, and Chiana, who has plenty to deal with. D'Argo gets a pretty good showing, and of course Crichton has some very good stuff. Saving the best till last though, it's the final few scenes on the dying Leviathan that should be savoured, and if this is your first time seeing "Eat Me" let's just say it'll probably leave you in awe. It's a love it or hate it episode, but it's also a pivotal piece of Farscape history, and really does change the face of the show.
Not quite as good, but still above average is "Thanks for Sharing". This episode has a fairly decent plot, but is really a transitional episode that gets us from one point in the plot to another, and brings in another arc that proves to be important. Basically, it serves to split up the crew, sending one half on to Talyn while the other half remain on Moya. Of course, this means that the return of Crais and Talyn in "Eat Me" has significance, and indeed it brings along the threat of a Peacekeeper retrieval squad, coming after Talyn, and their involvement with Aeryn's mother. There are some great lines throughout the script and Ben Browder does a stellar job playing two characters at once. It's not a fantastic episode, but serves its purpose well.
Following on from the split of the crew, we are treated to the first of the season's adventures with the crew of Talyn, and also the very first script from series star Ben Browder, in "Green Eyed Monster". This episode has Stark and Rygel out on recon, while Talyn is swallowed by a Budong, with just John, Crais and Aeryn left on board. The great thing about this episode is that it is almost entirely a character piece, and focuses entirely on the ensemble cast, with not a guest actor in site. It really exposes and plays upon John's insecurities when it comes to Aeryn and her relationship with Crais, while detailing more of the relationship between Crais and Talyn. It avoids slipping into your standard love triangle thanks to the rich characterisation and their motives, as well as throwing Talyn's feelings into the mix. By the end of the episode, the characters' relationships have all been altered, and some further plot points exposed. This is excellent Farscape.
Switching to Moya for the following episode, "Losing Time", we have an interesting story in which a diseased energy rider invades Moya and possesses one of the crew's bodies, and following that another energy rider possesses Pilot's body in order to find the diseased rider. With the story in place, the main plot concerns finding the rider, with some nice twists on the way. The early part of the episode concerns the crew "losing time", and it's here that music is used to magnificent effect. But we get another plot in this episode, which shows us how Scorpius' wormhole project is advancing following him obtaining the chip from Crichton's brain at the start of the season. While the episode is not earth-shattering, it's highly enjoyable, and Gigi Edgley puts on a stunning performance, with Wayne Pygram also doing a marvellous job as Scorpius.
My personal favourite of the bunch though, just edging out "Green Eyed Monster", is Rockne O'Bannon's first script since season one, "Relativity". This story has been a long time in the making, and features the return of Xhalax Sun and the retrieval squad coming to hunt down Talyn, and it's the first time that Aeryn and Xhalax meet. Their meeting is not pretty, but this episode is superb on an emotional drama level. There's a near death experience for one of Talyn's crew, the huge threat of Xhalax, and a nasty revelation concerning Crais' true motives. Truly, this episode actually answers a few questions first raised way back in season one, and features magnificent performances from the entire cast, with Linda Cropper, Claudia Black, Ben Browder and Lani Tupu standing out in particular, as the two pairs take things to the extreme. The outcome of this episode is absolutely tragic, and pulls at heartstrings, but I will refrain from spoiling anything by just saying that this episode is awesome.
Once again I have to give kudos to Contender, as for this release they were finally able to get their first commentary track for the UK releases. Lani Tupu and Peter Andrikidis talk us through "Relativity", and all in all it's a very interesting track. I wouldn't say that it's the best commentary track I've heard, but I consider us lucky to get any track at all, and this is certainly above average. Both Lani and Peter provide some interesting facts, although it did seem at a couple of points as though it was the first time they'd seen the episode in a while (and it probably was) and were stumbling over their words, but that's easy to get over. They sounded like they had a good time and refrained from spending too much time talking through the on-screen action, although a fair amount of what was said were more general comments (but then, that's probably to be expected since to my knowledge, it's the first commentary track either have done). Nonetheless, there is plenty to dig your teeth into, and some quality facts like the information that this was the first episode shot on the new Talyn set, and why the vines look so much like topes, that it's well worth a listen, and I pray that Contender can get more commentaries for future releases, as they really add to the package.
Next up is the return of the deleted scenes. There are five or six, but rather oddly, one very short one is from "Thanks for Sharing" while the remainder are all from "Losing Time". Presumably there were no deleted scenes from the other episodes, but the ones for "Losing Time" are mostly very interesting, adding a little to the characterisation. The one I found most interesting was the first one for "Losing Time", in which John talks to Pilot about the other John, which is one of the few times the John's have addressed each other.
Then come the "info-pods". These are very informative, and are presented in a similar way to the character profiles at this site. They detail the character's history, in text form, then follow with a gallery of a few images of that character. Here we get ones for Crichton and Jool. The Crichton one includes a short (approximately five minutes) interview with Ben Browder, which while short actually contains some fascinating behind the scenes shots from "Green Eyed Monster", and provides some brief insight into both the actor and his character. Thankfully, the episode clips that usually pad these were cut down.
Next up are the behind the scenes facts. These present a number of snippets from various things that went on during an episode's production, similar to the "Did you know?" portion of the reviews on this site, with a set of ten or so facts from each episode in this set. Some of the facts are very interesting, so they're well worth a read.
Again we get the SciFi promos, and thankfully this time they're all the thirty second versions (SciFi also produce shorter fifteen second versions, a couple of which were on the last set). This set happens to include my favourite of the SciFi promos – the one for "Relativity". It's a great promo, I feel, and I just thought I'd point that out. Strangely, this promo has next to no narration, whereas the others all do. The way they're re-voicing these is a little odd (in that some retain all the narration from the originals, whereas others don't), but like I said last time, I'm really glad to have these.
Finally there are the obligatory galleries of concept artwork and character and prop photography. While these are nice to have, I don't really get excited about them, although they are well presented.
Being a huge fan, I just had to get myself a copy of the Deluxe set of DVD 3.2, and so I'll give my thoughts on this here.
Included is a "personal item" of Aeryn Sun – the data chip that Crais gives her in "Thanks for Sharing". Unfortunately, this is rubber, and it's nothing stellar at all. If you were getting the deluxe edition just for this, you may want to consider saving the extra £15 or so. But then you'd be missing out on the other extras.
My favourite extra in this deluxe set was the specially commissioned framable art. There are nine different pieces, roughly postcard size, with one for each of the crew. These are absolutely gorgeous, using a mixture of stand out colours, promotional art and stills, all superbly blended together. They just look wonderful and are well worth the asking price in my opinion. Whoever designed these really deserves credit.
We also have the next two excellent lithographs, which again are extremely well-presented, and I will definitely be buying the rest of the deluxe sets just to fill up the album included in 3.1.
There's also an exclusive mousemat with a nice design, and if you're after a new mousemat then I guess it's for you!
Video & Audio
There's little I can say to expand upon what was said in the past. I had no problems whatsoever with the video, and it all looked crisp and clear. Another great transfer.
The audio is good as always, and on par with the rest of the discs. It's worth noting though that these disc do feature Dolby Digital 5.1 Sound, but the bitstream for the audio was incorrectly flagged as 2 channel stereo. This is simply a "misprint" of sorts, as the sound itself is 5.1.
Packaging & Presentation
Another superb package, with the box using the cover art from DVD 3.3. This cover is really nice with a shot of Chiana posing and Crais looming in the background. The 3.4 cover is the one I prefer, featuring Jool in the foreground and a nice capture of Xhalax and Aeryn's scuffle in "Relativity". Both look really nice and continue with the style set out in box 3.1.
The menus are again fantastic, with looping clips from season three in the background. They are just wonderfully designed, look really great and professional, and really surprised me. Everything is well laid out and access times are minimal, and the style of the menus really fits with the feel of season three. A big "thumbs up" in this department, particularly the way you are given the choice of commentary for "Relativity" once you've selected the episode from the main menu.
Again popping back to the Deluxe edition, the individual DVD 3.2 box set is included inside this hefty black box. The deluxe box looks beautiful and dark, again, really fitting with the theme of the show. It's exactly the same as box 3.1, except it has a slightly lighter hue. I'll be really interested to see if they plan on just changing the hue and not the design for each of these sets this season.
The episodes on the disc are mixed, with two "goods", one "very good" and two outstanding episodes. On the merits of content alone, it's a more than worth set. The DVDs are again superb, with Contender outdoing themselves at last by providing a commentary track, something that will hopefully appear on more discs in the future. It's superb value in terms of extras. This time I think the deluxe edition is much better, but then I was sold on the framable art. If you don't want that, and don't care if you have empty places in your lithograph album, then you're probably better off with the regular version. But if you appreciate exclusive art, featured on the framable art, the lithographs and the mousemat, then don't hesitate to buy the deluxe version.
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Item: Farscape Season 3 Double DVD Box Set 3.2 (Deluxe)
Recommended Retail Price: £24.99, £39.99 for Deluxe edition
Distributor: Contender Ltd. (under Kult-TV label)
BBFC Rating: 15
Region: 2 (PAL - Europe, Australia)
Picture Format: Pal 4:3
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Number of Discs: 2
Format: 2 x DVD9
Total Running Time: 227 mins (approx.)
Episodes: "Eat Me" (44:06), "Thanks for Sharing" (44:06), "Green Eyed Monster" (44:06), "Losing Time" (44:06) and "Relativity" (44:06)