|DVDs - Region 1 Season 1 Volume 11|
The first season of Farscape reaches is dramatic climax with the final two episodes on DVD. The Region 1 set includes: "Bone to be Wild" and "Family Ties". Extras include previously un-broadcast footage (never before released in North America), audio commentary for "Bone to be Wild" by Anthony Simcoe, audio commentary for "Family Ties" by Ben Browder and Claudia Black, video profile of executive producer David Kemper, video profile of series creator Rockne S. O'Bannon, video profile of Jim Henson's Creature Shop, conceptual drawings.
by Dani Moure
Things kick off rather low key with the first episode on this disc, Bone to be Wild, which while continuing the four part story arc started in disc 10's episodes, takes a more stand-alone approach for the main story, which has D'Argo, Zhaan and Crichton going down to an asteroid (in the asteroid field they're hiding in), following a distress call from a mysterious alien down there, called M'Lee. M'Lee is a character brought to life magnificently by Francesca Buller, in her first guest role in the series, and the interaction between her character and the three main cast members provides some interesting moments. Likewise, a few key revelations take place, particularly to do with Zhaan, which will likely having you go "ah, it all makes sense now!" if this is your first time through these episodes. But the meat of the story is definitely what's happening over on Crais' Command Carrier, as it becomes apparent that he is losing control of his ship to Scorpius. Lani Tupu and Wayne Pygram play this power-struggle out beautifully, and David Franklin deserves a nod what with this being his first appearance as future-sidekick Braca. All in all, while enjoyable, the main story seems a little bland in comparison to the pieces on the Command Carrier, and the constant "you're the bad guy", "no, you're the bad guy" does get tiresome.
In complete and utter contrast, the first season finale Family Ties is an utterly superb epic that became the first example of how well Farscape can do cliffhanger endings! A true character romp through and through, the episode brings the characters around full circle. Rygel begins the episode by going to sell out the crew, who were hiding in an asteroid field along with Moya's newborn baby. He tries to persuade Crais and Scorpius that he can give them John Crichton for his freedom. But Crais, at his whit's end, persuades Rygel that Scorpius will kill him once he gets what he wants, so after Crais does a bit of sweet-talking with the now all-powerful Scorpius, they leave, and Crais joins the crew on Moya! After many touching scenes filled with proclamations of "we are family", "this is the end" and "goodbye", the crew begin an amazing plan to destroy Scorpius' Gammak Base. A stunning episode, fuelled by emotion and some gripping action, this was one of the first season's best episodes. Stellar performances all round from the entire cast; this episode showcased just how good the show can be.
The meat of this release has to be the extras. This disc is pretty packed with them, and in the words of Anthony Simcoe, "extras rock!"
The best extras are the two commentaries. The first, for "Bone to be Wild", is done by Anthony Simcoe, who is an extremely funny person, and provides some great humour mixed in with a nice amount of facts about various things, often speaking in terms of the show as a whole as opposed to just referring to the episode itself. The balance between the facts and humour is just right, and coming away from this commentary you'll have a great insight in to production. The only reason this commentary suffers, like many others of a similar nature, is that it's Anthony going solo. With just one person doing commentary, you often get long silent spots. While there are silent spots in this track, kudos to Anthony for minimising them, as there are surprisingly few. But all in all it's a great commentary track, and well worth a listen.
The commentary for "Family Ties" doesn't suffer from the solo syndrome, in that it has both Ben Browder and Claudia Black following through the episode. As always, the chemistry between the two really shines through, as they bounce comments off each other very naturally. This track flows extremely well, and again has a number of interesting behind-the-scenes style facts mixed in with much humour. Such snippets as the crew only finding out about the renewal of the show for the second season part way during filming of this episode, and that 98% of dialogue is now done in ADR, because of the sound difficulties at the current location. With both commentaries being recorded during the break between season three and four filming, they take something of a retrospective style, and it's fun to hear the actors compare and contrast how things were done on the show, and what their characters were like back in season one.
The other extras take the form of three video profiles. The first is with executive producer David Kemper, talking about various parts of the show and how things were working back in season one. As always it's informative and insightful; it's always nice to hear the thoughts of the day-to-day show-runner.
Series creator Rockne O'Bannon's profile is another interesting interview where he gives his thoughts on where things were at in season one, and where he wanted to go with the show in general. My only beef with this profile, like the one for David Kemper, is the annoyingly high amount of lengthy clips from the show interspersed between them. Since they're on the DVD profiles on both the UK and US DVDs, I'm guessing it's Henson that add these to the interviews, but I wish they'd stop. If clips must be added, they could at least be shorter. Two minutes of clips breaking up an interview is quite frustrating, especially when often the clips aren't relevant to what is being said. Still, I had the same grievance with the interviews for the UK DVD profiles, so I don't want to dwell on it too much.
The final profile is for the Creature Shop, as we take a quick tour around the place, looking at various parts of the alien makeup and designs. Again, it's quite informative, but relatively short.
You also get a gallery of conceptual drawings, with some nice artwork in there showing the original designs of characters and props.
Video & Audio
The audio is presented in either 5.1 or 2 channel Dolby Surround, and it sounds great with no distortions or dropouts.
The video is pretty exemplary. There are no noticeable problems with the transfer, and the image always looks crisp and clean. Quite frankly, the Farscape discs show just how good TV shows can look on DVD, and this is the best picture you're likely to find (other than for a widescreen release, which is the format of shooting for season four and beyond).
Packaging & Presentation
The cover art continues in the same style as the previous season one releases, and looks really nice, with Zhaan and Talyn in the foreground and a looming image of Scorpius and Crichton in the background. The back provides all the usual information about the show, the extras and so on, although one glaring omission is the lack of commentary listings under "Bonus features". The discs are also close-captioned, which is nice to see (although I can't check them out on my setup).
The menus are, well, a bit bland. I'm hoping this is one area that ADV can improve upon for future releases. ADV have done some great menu designs in their time, but these not only look a little bland but also lack some functionality. As has been noted by many fans, you really should be able to select which episode to watch from the main menu, as opposed to having to go to the scene selections sub menu to do so.
This is about as packed a disc as possible for a TV series release, with an excellent array of extras, including commentaries for both episodes which are well worth the asking price alone, plus a number of other video interviews. "Bone to be Wild" is a good episode worth watching, and "Family Ties" simply rocks, so the episodes coupled with the extras leave me little choice but to wholeheartedly recommend this disc. Heck, I already have these episodes on DVD, and I bought them again and am extremely glad I did.
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Item: Farscape DVD Volume 11
Recommended Retail Price: $19.98
Distributor: ADV Films
Region: 1 (NTSC – US, Canada)
Picture Format: Pal 4:3
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Number of Discs: 1
Format: 1 x DVD9
Total Running Time: 282 mins (approx.)
Episodes: "Bone to be Wild" (50:18) and "Family Ties" (50:10)