|DVDs - Region 2 Double DVD Box Set 4.5|
The fourth season of Farscape concludes! This Region 2 set includes two discs featuring the final four episodes from season 4 completely uncut, in anamorphic widescreen: We're So Screwed, Part 1: "Fetal Attraction", Part 2: "Hot to Katratzi", Part 3: "La Bomba" and the season finale "Bad Timing". The extras include "Farwell" featurette, series outtakes, deleted scenes, terms of the Uncharted Territory, behind-the-scenes episode facts and gallery of stills featuring concept artwork, character and prop photography.
by Dani Moure
The final DVD box set, for now, opens with a trilogy that held much potential, but felt like a slight letdown. We're So Screwed, Part 1: "Fetal Attraction" sees the crew head to a Scarran Border Station in pursuit of Aeryn, following the discovery of the location of Katratzi in "Prayer". Unfortunately, they have to act fast, because the freighter transporting Aeryn is about to leave for Katratzi, so they pull off a plan to have it locked down under quarantine, leaving Rygel having been infected with a virus, and the Scarran Captain Jenek time to carry out some invasive procedures on Aeryn and her offspring. While by no means a bad episode (in fact it's quite good), "Fetal Attraction" is nonetheless something of a let down. It also has to be said that I found the overall premise of this episode (and the trilogy as a whole) somewhat similar to the big finales in the past two seasons. When I first saw the episode, it didn't sit all that well with me, but watching it on DVD without any expectations or misconceptions, it was more enjoyable than the first few times. Back then, perhaps I was expecting to be blown away, so was disappointed when I wasn't. The story isn't the greatest, but the performances and certain character pairings and scenes really help matters, and at the very least, "Fetal Attraction" is an enjoyable opener to the trilogy.
Part 2: "Hot to Katratzi" fairs far better than the first part, delivering a change of pace that ups the stakes and steers the series in an even more interesting direct. The episode sees the crew arrive at Katratzi, the secret base in the heart of the Scarran Empire. They are there to prevent the Scarrans from gaining wormhole knowledge from Scorpius, but it just so happens that Grayza and the Peacekeepers are there negotiating with the Scarrans even more. This is a great episode in almost every sense. It has all the makings – a good, interesting plot, some fantastic new characters and the return of some great old ones, and Moya's crew manipulating events to their advantage. It also works extremely well as the characterisation is spot-on. In a season where this is one aspect that has been questioned several times, this is a great advantage. Aeryn and John, in particular, are clearly not in the best frame of mind. I mean, they walk into a secret Scarran base with a nuclear bomb attached to John... there are obviously some issues there! But the episode is a triumphant return to form that tells a good story, with intrigue and plot threads left hanging, and provides a great cliffhanger to lead in to the concluding part.
"La Bomba" concludes the trilogy, and unfortunately is, again, something of a disappointment. Scorpius denies that he's actually a Scarran spy, and he works with the crew to escape from the base. Of course, Emperor Staleek and Minister Ahkna attempt to thwart their plans, leading Sikozu to reveal some of her secrets to save everyone. The biggest disappointment here is that "La Bomba" takes the easy way out of most of the choices that are presented. The way out itself is actually quite predictable, and again bears a fair amount of similarity to the big conclusions in past seasons. Not only that, but having allegiances constantly in question is somewhat overused here. And of course, there's the almighty scream of "plot device" from the elevator that can conveniently drill anywhere on the base. Not to mention the flowers. I could rant on and on about the flowers, and how this u-turn in story, shifting focus from wormholes to flowers, was rather ludicrous and disappointing, but I'll leave it be, since it's done now. Despite all its pitfalls, "La Bomba" is still enjopable. The performances and pairings are again a lot of fun. Rygel, Noranti and Stark make a great threesome, while its nice to see John, Aeryn, Scorpius, Sikozu, D'Argo and Chiana all in one place, working together the whole time. And the downfall of Graya was well done.
The final episode in this set is of course the season finale. And also, in terms of the TV series, the series finale: the last ever episode. "Bad Timing" sees the events of the season come to a head. With the crew safely back on Moya, the Scarrans are now threatening to invade Earth, leaving John to come up with an attempt to sabotage their plans. Braca also demands the return of Scorpius, while Aeryn is finally ready to talk about the baby. "Bad Timing" works well as a season finale, but it strangely works as a series finale on many levels, too. It really returns to the core of what Farscape is. All the main characters were utilised in some way, which was especially nice for Pilot, who had been underused in this season as a whole. The episode continued the Scarran story that's been built up, and also brought a sense of conclusion to the baby storyline that's been somewhat dragging in some ways for part of the season. The characters all felt "right", and the story was good. As it moved along, and the crew worked together, you could feel it building to the final moments. John and Aeryn, in a boat, moments of happiness, and a lifetime of despair. In some ways it's a cruel way to end the show. Some people cried out that the ending wasn't changed. That idea was discussed, and thankfully rejected. I actually really like the way things end in this episode, mainly because it's just so Farscape. Things never turn out how you expect. It doesn't all just go right. And that's how this episode is. Like a good season finale, it brings some closure yet opens up a whole realm of new possibilities.
For what was potentially the last DVD box set of Farscape ever, Contender went all-out with the extras, and they are corkers.
First off is the "Farwell" documentary. This 17 minute piece is made up of the four cast members interviewed this season (Claudia Black, Gigi Edgley, Anthony Simcoe and Wayne Pygram) talking about the end of the show, the last days filming, and what they hope for the future. Interspersed is one of the most touching pieces of Farscape I've seen, and that's David Kemper reading a piece that Matt Roush from TV Guide wrote about his disappointment at Sci Fi cancelling Farscape. It's a very intimate moment, watching the cast and crew listening and reacting. It's so very touching and I'm glad we had the opportunity to see it. It just cements how much the show meant to everyone involved. There's also some footage shot at the 2002 New York convention, featuring comments from some SaveFarscape.com staff members. The whole piece is put together really well, and is a nice coda to have on the final set.
Not only that, but this set also contains the most highly sought-after Farscape DVD extra – the series outtakes. Seen by only a few at various conventions and gatherings, the outtake reels are now present and available to view any time you want. There're two reels here; one comprises of outtakes from the first two seasons, the other comes from the third season. Unfortunately, no outtake reel was created for the fourth season because of the abrupt end (something to hope for in the future, perhaps). The outtakes are truly some of the most hilarious moments you will ever see. Anything involving Anthony Simcoe or one of the puppets will probably leave you in stitches, and the rest are hugely enjoyable, too. This is such a great extra that means a lot to the fans, and I'm so glad it was put on this DVD, it really was worth the wait. The only bad thing is that watching it just reminds me how much I'll miss watching these people at work, which is quite upsetting.
Also making their obligatory appearance are the deleted scenes. This time there are just three, and they run just under four minutes in total. The first is an extended version of the scene with Sikozu, Vakali and Zukash in "Hot to Katratzi". It contains a little more exposition, but isn't really an important scene. The next is an extended version of the Scorpius, Sikozu and Braca scene on the Command Carrier in "Bad Timing", which is mainly notable for Scorpius' comments about Braca deserving his command. The final scene is an amusing one with Aeryn and Crichton on the transport pod (also from "Bad Timing"). Again, it's nice, but nothing essential.
The extras are concluded with the final instalment of the Farscape Dictionary, this time on "Terms of the Uncharted Territories", with the usual definition and example usage setup. The behind the scenes episode facts also make their final appearance, with some hilarious inclusions (like the BBC's suggested title to replace "We're So Screwed"). The standard gallery is present, though quite short, mostly made up of shots of the sets used in the final four episodes.
Video & Audio
Once again, 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 good.
Packaging & Presentation
The box this time uses the cover of DVD 4.09, which is interesting as it's the less obvious choice. This cover has a serious shot of John in the foreground with Scorpius holding a gun (amusingly, from "La Bomba") just to the background right. It's a nice, dark cover for the final box that fits quite well. The final cover is also very nice, appearing on DVD 4.10. This has a shot of Aeryn and John in the boat in "Bad Timing", with faded shots of Ahkna, Staleek, and a Charrid and Kalish from "La Bomba" just above them. This would've been more obvious for the last box, and it is a lovely cover, but I quite like the choice that was made.
This season has seen yet another step up in quality for the DVD sets, and is just gorgeous overall. It's very hard to find fault with the packaging.
The menus are the same as the rest of this season, which is nice. My only grip is still the ridiculously long set of unskippable logos on loading the discs.
This is a great set, and a must-buy for any fan. Not only are the episodes, on the whole, very very good, with two particularly great ones, but the extras are really worthwhile. The long-awaited outtakes are as excellent as expected, and the "Farwell" documentary is a wonderful addition that shows Contender going the extra mile with these releases. Everything comes together to form a great package. The only area Contender could've improved in their Farscape releases is with more cast and crew commentaries, but aside from those, the UK releases of Farscape (the first in the world) are awesome and contain some fantastic bonuses. The care and love put into them shines through, and with this last set, there's really nothing to not recommend.
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Item: Farscape Season 4 Double DVD Box Set 4.5
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: 229 mins (approx.)
Episodes: We're So Screwed, Part 1: "Fetal Attraction" (44:05), Part 2: "Hot to Katratzi" (44:05), Part 3: "La Bomba" (44:05) and "Bad Timing" (44:05)