|DVDs - Region 2 Double DVD Box Set 3.3 (Deluxe)|
The third season of Farscape continues on DVD, with continuation of the twin story arc! The Region 2 set includes two discs featuring the next four season 3 episodes completely uncut: "Incubator", "Meltdown", "Scratch 'n Sniff" and Infinite Possibilities, Part 1: "Daedalus Demands". The extras include deleted scenes, Stark info-pod (including Paul Goddard interview), Chiana 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 a hand painted replica of D'Argo's Qualta Blade and two more lithograph prints.
by Dani Moure
This set of episodes begins with a story on the Moya crew's side of things; however, the focus of the episode is not about the crew, but rather the show's villain, Scorpius. "Incubator" begins on Scorpius' Command carrier, as he continues his wormhole research using the results from the neural chip he installed in Crichton's brain. But the research has hit a snag, and the key to uncovering it is John himself. So Scorpius decides to take a trip into his own mind via the neural chip, and attempts to reason with the personality of the Crichton that resides in the chip (who has the personality from around the season premiere, when the chip was removed). In his efforts, Scorpius tells Crichton of his origins, and as such, this episode is all about Scorpius' backstory. While it's somewhat disappointing in quite how far it goes, in that Scorpius perhaps seems all the more intriguing because his past is so mysterious, the execution is pretty good and for the most part highly enjoyable. One of the key points of this episode, since Scorpius' backstory is told within his own mind so it's not revealed to any of the crew, is to give the viewer a reason to empathise with and understand him. To that degree it works extremely well, because we find out his motivations for doing what he does and the hard life he had. The b-plot concerning Linfer and her visit to the crew is rather peripheral to things but manages to advance the John and D'Argo problems enough to lead in to the next Moya-based story.
Unfortunately "Meltdown" takes the crown as the worst episode of the season, with its poor dialogue and unsure comedy proving to be nothing less than boring drivel. It can be fun through the first time, where some of it is amusing, but it's really only the amazing chemistry between Claudia Black and Ben Browder that keeps the episode from becoming a complete and utter mess. The problem is the script never seems quite sure whether it's doing comedy or drama, and when it radically jumps from one to the other in the blink of an eye, the results are less than stellar.
Perking back up is an episode that few shows would even dare to attempt, the "vacation" episode "Scratch 'n Sniff". Pilot throws D'Argo and John off of Moya after growing tired of their bickering, so Jool and Chiana take it as an opportunity for a holiday. Sadly, they end up in trouble at the centre of a drug creator's schemes. The episode is told from the point of view of John, who takes control of the narrative. As such it becomes something of a mix of the directorial style of films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and a pop video. At times it seems a bit too much, but the episode only seems to get better with repeated viewings. The performances are fantastic all round, and the episode gives the entire Moya crew a chance to shine. Also most notable is the reappearance of Francesca Buller, this time playing Raxil. Again she puts on a fine performance and really helps mould the episode's style.
The final episode in the set returns to Talyn for the start of another ambitious two-parter. "Daedalus Demands" is a blast from the past, bring back both the Ancient and Furlow, both characters from season one. Furlow has been doing some bad things with the copy of John's module she made, and this leaves the Ancients most unhappy. When John explains himself, they have little choice than to return to Furlow's planet, Dam-Ba-Da, to stop her. However, things are not clear cut as a new race, the Charrids are involved, as are the ever looming Scarrans. This first part really sets things up well for what's to come, with some fantastic character interactions, and the advancement of numerous plot threads. It really is an epic and to say more would spoil the fun. If there's one episode on this set you need to see, it's this one.
Unfortunately, the extras on this set take a dip here, as they become more standard fare (lacking the commentary and documentary respectively of the two previous volumes).
We do however get two (yes, only two) deleted scenes. Fortunately, they're both gems. One is from "Incubator", fleshing out some of the story in a nice scene with Braca and Co-Kura Strappa. The other is the original ending (tag scene) to "Scratch 'n Sniff". This is fantastic and quite different to the ending we finished up with. Here instead Pilot is a lot more forgiving in his discussion with Crichton and D'Argo, which goes in a different direction entirely to the ending used. In addition, we get to see a final scene with Raxil where D'Argo and Crichton end up throwing her off the ship, and are on friendly terms again. In the final ending used, of course, D'Argo and John end up arguing. These are really nice and enjoyable to have, it's just a shame there's only the two of them.
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 Stark and Chiana. The Stark one includes a short (approximately five minutes) interview with Paul Goddard, which is informative and interesting, but again leaves one wanting more. 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 a little frustratingly we get one or two fifteen-second versions, and one is just ten seconds long. They really should all be the thirty-second ones, because they're the main promos used. Alas, while the change in narrator isn't jarring anymore, the lack of it is. The narration, even if it is a different voice (for licensing reasons), should still follow what was said in the original. Although it's moaning about something so little, these promos really hold a place in my feeble heart!
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.
Well, this was the Deluxe Edition I was waiting for, as the extra sounded really good – a hand-painted, scaled replica of D'Argo's Qualta Blade. Unfortunately, mine is problematic. The design and mould itself is fantastic, but the painting really does look like it was done by either someone in a real rush taking little care over their work or a small child. The paint, to a ridiculous extent, doesn't follow the indents and spills over onto the main section, and it's the paint that ruins it. What makes it all the more annoying is I've seen pictures of other people's and theirs are fine, so it looks like I just got one of a bad batch or something. But I found it really annoying mainly because this is the first set where I've really been looking forward to the "personal item", and it was disappointing.
Also included are two more lithographs. Again, these are stunningly designed and a real collector's piece. They're just lovely and personally I'd finish the deluxe sets just for these.
Video & Audio
The video becomes harder and harder to talk about as the Farscape discs have one of the most consistent and best transfers of any TV show. The picture is crisp and smooth with not artefacting that I could see.
The audio is good as always, and on par with the rest of the discs, and again there's little else I can say.
Packaging & Presentation
Another superb package, with the box using the cover art from DVD 3.6. This cover is gorgeous and uses one of the promotional pictures in the series of "sexy" Ben Browder and Claudia Black poses that made their way around last year. It really is gorgeous and I'm glad they used this cover. That's not to say the cover for DVD 3.5 is bad, far from it. With "Incubator" on the disc it features a looming picture of Scorpius in the foreground, with Crichton in the background and then Aeryn another layer into the background. The covers really are striking, and quite superb, fitting perfectly with the tone of the show. Contender deserve big props for these covers.
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.
Again popping back to the Deluxe edition, the individual DVD 3.3 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. Unlike the difference last time, I couldn't even see a difference in hue so it looks as though this box is an exact copy of the box for Deluxe Edition 3.2.
The episodes on this disc are generally good. While "Meltdown" is dire, "Incubator" is very promising and the innovative "Scratch 'n Sniff" is riveting. Likewise, "Daedalus Demands" is the start of an epic story, and thanks to the content of these episodes, this set is pretty vital to the show. The DVDs are well presented, although the lack of extras is slightly disappointing given how spoilt we've been this season so far.
Buy from Amazon UK (Regular) (Click to view their website)
Item: Farscape Season 3 Double DVD Box Set 3.3 (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: 1 x DVD9, 1 x DVD5
Total Running Time: 183 mins (approx.)
Episodes: "Incubator" (44:06), "Meltdown" (44:06), "Scratch 'n Sniff" (44:06) and Infinite Possibilities, Part 1: "Daedalus Demands" (44:06)