|DVDs - Region 2 Double DVD Box Set 4.3|
The fourth season of Farscape continues. This Region 2 set includes two discs featuring the next four episodes from season 4 completely uncut, in anamorphic widescreen: "Unrealized Reality", "Kansas", "Terra Firma" and "Twice Shy". The extras include deleted scenes, Wayne Pygram interview, never before seen make-up tests, Moya's menu, behind-the-scenes episode facts and gallery of stills featuring concept artwork, character and prop photography.
by Dani Moure
Hitting the mid-season mark with a bang, "Unrealized Reality" is an awe-inspiring, high-concept episode that gets deep into the series' core and attempts to explain the concept of wormholes in terms of the series. It works magnificently, with the difficult concept of several "unrealised realities" being brought to the screen in increasingly bizarre ways, taking the viewer out of their comfort zone and giving them a kick up the backside while shouting "look at what could have been!" It's all building, of course, to what will come later. The revelations in this episode are a lot to take in, and it's easy to miss things on the first time round. This is definitely an episode I'd recommend any fan watches several times over.
Following straight on with an episode that is extremely self-indulgent, yet manages to walk the fine line between cheesy and good fun. "Kansas" sees Crichton and the crew back on Earth, this time for real. Only there's a twist – it's 1985. This leads to several amusing scenes, as Noranti, Rygel, Aeryn, Chiana and D'Argo have to use Halloween to their advantage, pretending they're dressed up. It also leads to some sweet scenes between Crichton and his younger, troubled teenage self, as well as his younger father. In another awesome scene, much like that in "Won't Get Fooled Again" in season two when they were reunited, the scenes between John and his mother steal the show, and are just heartbreaking. "Kansas" is a fun romp if you don't take it too seriously most of the time, and ignore some of the clichés you get in an episode such as this.
As if one amazing episode wasn't enough for this set, this trilogy concludes with another of the series' finest hours. "Terra Firma" is quite literally the episode you probably never would have expected to see. Most shows would save this kind of episode for the last ever episode, to resolve the plot nicely once and for all. Instead, Farscape takes it in its stride and returns John to Earth for real, present day, to deal with the repercussions since he was whisked down the wormhole over three years before. As if John returning wasn't a big enough deal, the episode also tackles the issue of first contact with aliens, and how humans would react (a theme which is explored in more detail later in the season). It truly is a joy to behold, as the episode crams in so much story and so many events, yet never feels to rushed. Certainly, it may have even been better with the extra breathing room a two-parter would have provided, but it'd be hard to pick holes in "Terra Firma" as it is – a triumphant episode in every sense of the word.
It would always be hard to top "Terra Firma", especially given the impact if Earth is gone, and indeed "Twice Shy" fails to live up to its predecessor. It's not that it's bad, more that it's pretty average. The story sees Chiana take another strange alien woman under her wing from a group of traders, who seems to emphasize certain characteristics in the crew. When they notice the strange occurrences and track down the trader ship, they find everyone dead – it's been harvested. There's some interesting imagery scattered throughout "Twice Shy", and BBC viewers will notice several scenes in this episode (and indeed, many of those from here on out) that were chopped from that broadcast, including a much more graphic depiction of a limb-less Sikozu. While "Twice Shy" is relatively enjoyable, it's let down by a lack of a Farscape "oomph", and an ending which sees a certain point rammed down our throats in a way that Farscape doesn't usually do so, which takes away from the impact of the revelations that accompany it.
This set carries another nice interview, this time one that runs just over ten minutes, with Wayne Pygram. As always, it's fascinating viewing, as he is extremely forthcoming with his views on Scorpius, and it's also very interesting to listen to how he feels everything clicked with the character, and why. The interviews on the sets so far may be a tad short, but they really have been good.
The deleted scenes this time round are back in the eight minute range, and span three of the four episodes available here. The first two from "Kansas" are basically a bit of fluff that add little to the story but are slightly amusing, with the third being a nice character scene between Leslie and Jack, about her asking him to stay for a little longer. On to "Terra Firma", and we begin with possibly the longest deleted scene yet, clocking in at almost three minutes, which presents an extended version of the opening sequence, with a little more banter between John and Jack, plus introductions and some English from Aeryn. This is followed by a short scene with Rygel, Noranti and Chiana, just before the part where he knocks over the burgers, in which Rygel compares Christmas to a Hynerian event. Rounding out this episode is a short scene with Grayza and the Skreeth, where the Commandant makes it clear that’s he won't be underestimating Crichton or his planet. The two remaining scenes are again amusing little scenes from "Twice Shy", one with Aeryn being even more over the top with emotions, and the other an extended version of the scene with Rygel and D'Argo eating Noranti's soup. This is a pretty good batch of scenes.
A wonderful feature, never before seen, are some of the original make-up tests for the characters. Since no dialogue was recorded, they're accompanied by some subtle music, and a short explanation that highlights some of the changes in the final/later versions of the make-up. Also scattered about are some original concept drawings. These sorts of extras are always really nice to have, and give that extra insight into the show from behind the scenes. The early Zhaan make-up was particularly interesting (I don't recall seeing that particular variant before, though I may have just forgotten), as were Chiana's teeth and hair.
Things are rounded out with the latest instalment of the Farscape Dictionary, this time based around Moya's menu. As always, you get a definition of what a food item is, and an example of its use. The behind the scenes episode facts return for more off-set snippets, and the standard gallery is present, showcasing several pieces of concept art and photos of props and the like.
Video & Audio
Though it may seem repetitive, the transfer on these discs really does look absolutely gorgeous, and during regular playback I couldn't find any faults at all.
Again, I don't have a 5.1 surround capable system, but the down-converted stereo mix sounds nice enough; about as you would expect.
Packaging & Presentation
This time the box goes for the slightly brighter look, using the cover of DVD 4.05, which features Aeryn in her Earth outfit prominently on the left, with Aeryn as Chiana from "Unrealized Reality" on the right. The central image in the background is of John carrying his younger self out of the house. This is a really nice cover and definitely stands out on the shelf from the rest of the season's covers (as good as they all are). The cover for DVD 4.06 prominently features Talikaa, as she looks at Crichton, who is ready to be harvested. In the background is an image of the Skreeth. Again, it's a nice cover, though the first definitely wins my vote as the best of the two.
Rather than reiterate the point about un-skippable logos (as it's a little redundant given the whole series is out now), I'll just mention that the menus are exactly the same as the past releases this season. Which means they're good.
There's simply no reason anyone remotely interested in Farscape should pass up this set. Out of the four episodes, you get two of the best the entire series has to offer, which is saying a lot, but deservedly so. While "Unrealized Reality's" concepts may be a bit hard for the casual viewer to grasp (since they relate to the serialised aspect of the show), "Terra Firma" should be able to catch anyone with its genre-busting charm. With some great extras, and a fun episode in "Kansas", even the slightly mediocre "Twice Shy" does little to mar this set overall. Pick it up, if you haven't already.
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Item: Farscape Season 4 Double DVD Box Set 4.3
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: 1 x DVD9, 1 x DVD5
Total Running Time: 202 mins (approx.)
Episodes: "Unrealized Reality" (44:05), "Kansas" (44:05), "Terra Firma" (44:05) and "Twice Shy" (44:05)