|DVDs - Region 2 Double DVD Box Set 4.4|
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: "Mental as Anything", "Bringing Home the Beacon", "A Constellation of Doubt" and "Prayer". The extras include deleted scenes, Gigi Edgley interview, Peacekeeper biographies, alien slang, technical terms, behind-the-scenes episode facts and gallery of stills featuring concept artwork, character and prop photography.
by Dani Moure
Things kick off on this set in perhaps the most under-whelming way, with "Mental as Anything". I must admit I find this episode difficult to talk about, mainly because it's one of the worst Farscape episode's I've seen. All the finesse, excitement, unpredictability and fun that I've come to expect from Farscape is so noticeably lacking here it's almost unbelievable. The plot sees the men of Moya training with an alien called Katoya, who also taught Scorpius mental training way back when. Things are shook up by the presence of Macton, the man who framed D'Argo for his wife's murder (Macton being D'Argo's wife's brother). This appearance leads to lots and lots of trite discussion and dull flashbacks, as D'Argo struggles to remember what he used to do to his wife, in the most contrived way imaginable. As if to make the episode even more dull, the parts which focus on the "training" are less than riveting, with perhaps the most ridiculous session going to Crichton, whose training is so inane it's a wonder those pages of script didn't get thrown out of the window.
Thankfully, the next episode follows the women of Moya, and picks up in most grand style. "Bringing Home the Beacon" has the women on a planet, wanting to buy a device to mask Moya from sensors. However, Grayza soon arrives and they find themselves spying on secret peace talks, between Peacekeepers and the Scarrans! This episode really brings the Scarran threat to the forefront of the series, which is great as you know it'll be the driving force for the remainder of the series. Francesca Buller reappears as her fourth character, this time in the much larger recurring role of the sinister War Minister Ahkna. All the ladies turn in some inspiring performances, and the twist that comes when they reunite on Moya at the end of the episode is inspired. In fact, my only problem with this episode is that the dialogue at the end is definitely unclear, and if you listen to it properly, gives the completely wrong idea. Nevertheless, this is immense fun.
What follows is another of Farscape's most inspired episodes yet. Crichton has to figure out where he's heard of the Scarran base Katratzi before, and does so in fine style. "A Constellation of Doubt" takes the form of an documentary show that Moya intercepted from Earth. Entitled "Alien Visitation", it analyses the effects the aliens had on Earth when they visited. It's a truly inspired offering, with a totally unique take on things. Both hilarious and disturbing at the same time, it really is awesome to watch. Not only is the documentary itself fun, and a most interesting take on how we might react to aliens visiting Earth, the reactions from the crew on Moya really put things in perspective, and the discovery of where John heard the word before is wonderful. The final scene sees Scorpius pretty much steal it, without a single line. This is a great performance all round, and a truly wonderful episode. To say anymore would be to spoil one of the season's best.
Once again, the next episode after such a great one always had its work cut out for it. "Prayer" takes place on the Scarran freighter where Aeryn is imprisoned, and doesn't reach its predecessor's lofty heights, but is good nonetheless. The Scarrans want to use Aeryn to get to Crichton, and do all they can to break her, right up until they discover that she is with child. This makes things all the more interesting, as they decide then to try to use the foetus to extract Crichton's wormhole knowledge from its DNA. This episode is another good display of Claudia Black's dramatic range, but something just doesn't fit. The implications of the episode are high but, sadly, are never really followed up on. The subplot with John and Scorpius returning to the unrealised reality is definitely different, and works well, but the pieces overall just don't quite seem to fit.
Yet another interview is presented here, this time with Gigi Edgley. She talks for just about ten minutes about her great experiences working on Farscape and how it has all affected her. She also discusses Chiana and her changes in season four, and the interview is well worthwhile, if, as always a tad short. These always seem to leave me wanting more.
This set's deleted scenes really crank things up. Beginning with a brief, but ultimately throwaway scene from "Mental as Anything" between D'Argo and Lo'La, they get far better, with an extended version of the scene with Chiana asking for services in "Bringing Home the Beacon". These are then followed by a further seven scenes cut from "A Constellation of Doubt", most of which are extended versions, clocking in at well over 15 minutes in total. These range from the superficial to some great character moments, which really give a great look into how the various alien characters reacted on Earth. This is easily one of the best selections of deleted scenes, that would certainly have been more than worthy of inclusion in the episodes had there been time.
Things are rounded out with the latest instalments of the Farscape Dictionary, this time based around alien slang and technical terms. As always, you get a definition of what the word is, and an example of its use. The behind the scenes episode facts return for more off-set snippets, there are a few Peacekeeper character profiles, 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
The box itself utilises the cover of DVD 4.07, featuring the altered Chiana from "Beacon" in centre stage. The striking image is complimented by a picture of Macton standing over a dead Lo'La from "Mental as Anything". This cover really looks nice. The cover of DVD 4.08 takes the unrealised reality approach, this time featuring D'Argo-Jool as the main image in that every so amusing pose, with the fearsome image of Captain Jenek interrogating a bound Aeryn from "Prayer" slightly in the background.
The menus are the same as has been standard for this season, which is a consistent "good".
While "Mental as Anything" is probably the lowest point this season, this set also features one of the show's most inspired efforts in "A Constellation of Doubt", and a great story in "Bringing Home the Beacon". Given that "Prayer" is a good episode too, and you should hopefully quickly forget about the first episode's downfalls. Even with "Mental" present, the set is still well worth owning, especially given the good interview and excellent selection of deleted scenes.
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Item: Farscape Season 4 Double DVD Box Set 4.4
Recommended Retail Price: £24.99
Distributor: Contender Ltd. (under Kult-TV label)
BBFC Rating: 15
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: 220 mins (approx.)
Episodes: "Mental as Anything" (44:05), "Bringing Home the Beacon" (44:05), "A Constellation of Doubt" (44:05) and "Prayer" (44:05)