|DVDs - Region 2 Double DVD Box Set 4.1|
The forth exciting season of Farscape begins, with the crew gradually being reunited. This Region 2 set includes two discs featuring the first five season 4 episodes completely uncut, in anamorphic widescreen: "Crichton Kicks", What Was Lost, Part 1: "Sacrifice" and Part 2: "Resurrection", "Lava's a Many Splendored Thing" and "Promises". The extras include deleted scenes, "The Story so Farscape" featurette, Anthony Simcoe interview, crew profiles part 1, behind-the-scenes episode facts and gallery of stills featuring concept artwork, character and prop photography.
by Dani Moure
Season four begins with a surprising episode, "Crichton Kicks". This episode opens with John on an old Leviathan in the sacred burial ground, "some time after" the events in the third season finale. He sports a beard, and looks a little worse for wear. A pod suddenly crashes into Moya, and out steps Sikozu, a Kalish who warns him of bounty hunters in pursuit. Much of the first half focuses on John and Sikozu, as they try to out-smart the bounty hunters and interact with each other. Soon, Chiana and Rygel board the Leviathan, and reunite with Crichton. The episode works well in re-establishing the current characters, their relationships, and what they've been through quite well, and the introduction of Sikozu is extremely smooth. While it's not the most amazing episode by any means, it's a whole lot of fun.
Next up is a two-parter. What Was Lost, Part 1: "Sacrifice" has Elack take the crew to Arnessk, where Interions should currently be participating in an archaeological dig. Here, the crew are reunited with Jool, D'Argo and the Old Woman, who have been here helping with the dig. It's a nice episode that sees the return of Commandant Grayza, who has now overthrown Scorpius and literally has him on a leash. While it can be a little confusing, since the scenes where Braca shows his allegiance to Grayza, and demonstrates his new rank of Captain, were deleted (but do appear on the DVD) and only appear in the "Previously on..." segment, very briefly. Nonetheless, the story is interesting, and can be quite tense at times, particularly with the crew and Grayza. Part 2: "Resurrection" sees the crew fight back, after Sikozu and D'Argo come up with a plan. However, it doesn't all go according to plan, as Crichton is supposed to work with Grayza. Scorpius is apparently killed at Grayza hand, but not before he manages to save Sikozu. The crew are forced to search for probes that are supposedly buried at the site, or else they'll die, as they're stranded on the planet. This conclusion is another good episode, in which the plot works fairly well and is intriguing enough to be somewhat suspenseful. The character interactions are interesting, with the whole Grayza situation and her humiliation not boding well for the crew. The departure of Jool is sad, but overall the two-part is worth a watch.
"Lava's a Many Splendored Thing" is rather ridiculous, but it knows it, and plays up to that by upping the comedy factor considerably. The plot sees Rygel caught by a group of mercenaries and the crew attempting to save him. Noranti (the old woman), D'Argo and John are trapped inside the lava filled cave, leaving Sikozu and Chiana outside, to attempt to free them. While the plot is mostly fodder, it's not really important because the point of the episode is in the laughs. Sikozu is well integrated, and her interaction with Chiana is wonderful. Noranti is absolutely hilarious, and her "dance" scene is one of the funniest scenes ever to appear on Farscape, with John and D'Argo's reactions being absolutely priceless. This episode is a whole lot of fun, so long as you don't take it seriously.
The final episode in the set returns sees the much anticipated return of Aeryn. "Promises" has a major twist, though, and in one of the most killer openings in the show so far, we discover that she has Sebacean heat delirium, and was saved by Scorpius, who now wants asylum. The dynamics of the crew are thrown into chaos here, as Aeryn refuses to speak about what happened while she was away from Moya, other than she was working as an assassin and someone is here to kill her. Seeing Scorpius on Moya is a chilling sight, but it's pulled off extremely well, as is the intrigue of a possible relationship between Scorpius and Sikozu. This episode is the best in the set by far, upping the angst and working very well. The ending is somewhat sad, and it all fits together very well.
Kicking off a brand new season, there are some interesting extras here.
The first extra is a "Story so Farscape" feature, which is intended to catch viewers up with the story, leading into season four. It's presented as a mixture of clips and text. Usually, a screen of text will explain something about an event or a character, then a relevant clip will play. A nice touch is that the narrative follows the theme of the narration that plays in the opening. The only problem with it is that Farscape is fairly complex, and the clips aren't presented chronologically all of the time. As such, I'm not sure whether a new viewer might be a little confused and overwhelmed, but it's definitely a welcome extra to have.
The deleted scenes make a welcome reappearance, and in this case make a lot of plot points this season that little bit clearer. Running almost eight minutes, there are two from "Crichton Kicks," one from "Sacrifice" and five from "Promises." We get to see the full scene that appears in the "Previously on..." segment for "Sacrifice," with Scorpius trying to convince Braca that he should not follow Grayza. We get an extended scene from "Sacrifice," where D'Argo tells Chiana about his ship, Lo'La, and goes on to explain that he decided not to kill Macton when he found him. This is quite a crucial plot point later in the season, so its exclusion from the episode is a little disappointing. The remaining scenes are mainly character based, with some nice little pieces between the crew in "Promises."
There's also an interview with Anthony Simcoe present on the disc. This one runs for ten minutes, and is a blast, with him revealing a lot about D'Argo and how much fun Farscape was, without rehashing much of what appeared in the interview in set 3.4.
The behind the scenes episode facts return, much the same as last season's sets, presenting some nice snippets straight off the set of the show, as well as some other facts.
The usual gallery is present, of course, and again, like last season, showcases several pieces of concept art and photos of props and the like. This is well-presented, as always, although I'm not really "in" to galleries on the DVDs.
Finally we have the character profiles, for Aeryn, Chiana, Pilot, Rygel and Stark. These present a brief character overview and history, covering landmark moments for the character in the series so far. They're presented in a similar style to the character profiles here on the site.
Video & Audio
This is how I love my DVDs presented. For season 4, Farscape moved to shooting in widescreen, and it's presented anamorphically enhanced on this set. It looks even better than before – gorgeous isn't the word. While the framing is rather conservative for the first few episodes, with most of the action centred in the picture, by the end of the set the crew seems firmly at home, making full use of the extra width available for the shots. The picture is just wonderful, and I can't find fault with it at all.
The sound is still presented in 5.1 surround; unfortunately, I don't have a surround sound system, but the mix down-converts to stereo nicely. There are no dropouts or anything of the sort.
Packaging & Presentation
For the new season, the packaging changes slightly again. The covers are darker and more menacing, and the box is smoother and shinier. The box uses the same image as DVD 4.01, with Chiana in the foreground in a nice shot, with Grayza looming just to the side, and a great image of bearded John grabbing Sikozu further in the background. It's quite busy, but looks gorgeous. Disc 4.02 is also really, really nice, with the main image being of Aeryn in the coolant suit, from "Promises." Just to her side is Sikozu, while in the background there's a small image of Grayza torturing Scorpius in the Aurora Chair. Again, this cover is superb, and Contender have outdone themselves again with these designs.
It's not just the covers, though. The menus have changed again, too, and feature clips of early season 4 episodes playing to the opening theme. They are quick to access, as always, and look just wonderful. If there's one thing I can't fault with the UK DVD releases in the slightest, it's the packaging and the menus, which are consistently superb. The menus are also encoded in anamorphic widescreen, for our pleasure.
While the first three episodes of the season aren't amazing, they are a lot of fun, and interesting to watch. "Lava" is a heap of fun for the comedy alone, while "Promises" kicks the season into high gear with a lot of drama and plot twists. The DVD is excellent, with some nice extras. Yes, commentaries would be wonderful, but are even harder to come by now that production is complete. With only the regular versions out there this season, it's easy to recommend this set. Don't expect anything quite that mind-blowing, but the episodes are fun, the discs presented beautifully, and filled with some good extras.
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Item: Farscape Season 4 Double DVD Box Set 4.1
Recommended Retail Price: £24.99
Distributor: Contender Ltd. (under Kult-TV label)
BBFC Rating: 12
Region: 2 (PAL - Europe, Australia)
Picture Format: Pal 16:9
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Number of Discs: 2
Format: 2 x DVD9
Total Running Time: 266 mins (approx.)
Episodes: "Crichton Kicks" (44:05), What Was Lost, Part 1: "Sacrifice" (44:06) and Part 2: "Resurrection" (44:05), "Lava's a Many Splendored Thing" (44:05) and "Promises" (44:05)