|DVDs - Region 1 Season 2 Volume 2.2|
The second season of Farscape hits DVD with the first four episodes. This Region 1 set includes: "The Way We Weren't", "Picture if You Will", "Home on the Remains" and "Dream a Little Dream". Extras include Deleted Scenes, Farscape Dictionary: Technical Terms, Alien Encounters, Weapons and Ships, Actor Biography: Claudia Black, Character Backstory: Aeryn Sun and Conceptual Artwork.
by Dani Moure
This set starts with on of Farscape's best episodes of all time, The Way We Weren't. When Chiana finds a Peacekeeper vidchip on Moya and shows the crew, they are shocked to witness the murder of Moya's last Pilot, and to see that Aeryn was involved. A real emotional tour-de-force, particularly for Aeryn, whose character moves forward leaps and bounds in this episode alone; "The Way We Weren't" is really a masterpiece of storytelling. The revelations are shocking and damning for all involved, and it's great to see more of the past of not only Aeryn, but also Crais and Pilot. This episode really portrays how the past can come back and hit you in the face when you least expect it (or don't even know the full story), and with some outstanding acting and an awesome script, it's easy to recommend this brutal episode. It's worth getting the set for this episode alone; it's that pivotal, and that good.
Sadly, the corker is followed up by a far from stellar outing in Picture if You Will. Bad things start happening on Moya, and it's all so mysterious that the crew is just baffled. As they gradually die deaths foretold by a mysterious painting, Zhaan discovers the truth behind it and tries to stop it. This episode tries to bring Zhaan somewhat back in to the centre of things, and does so quite well, but in most other aspects it falls pretty flat. While the first act is intriguing, it really gradually nosedives after that, particularly when Maldis' involvement is revealed. The final showdown between him and Zhaan is nothing to shout about, and it really suffers from just being a little dull. There are however some really nice character moments in there that make the episode worth watching, but ultimately a great performance from Virginia Hey and inspired showing from Gigi Edgley can't save what is ultimately a dull script.
The next episode, Home on the Remains, sees the crew starving, and Zhaan becoming critically ill and budding toxic pollen because of it. They visit a mining colony situated on a dead Budong, where Chiana apparently has some friends; only things don't go according to plan. "Home on the Remains" is quite gruesome, and was really Farscape's first attempt at delving into some more disgusting than the norm. Thankfully, it's quite good fun, and seeing more about Chiana's past is always welcome. Certain aspects of the story aren't that captivating, particularly the involvement of the beast, but nonetheless this episode is visually interesting, and has a decent story. It won't rock your world, and some things just didn't seem to mesh very well, but it's worth watching.
Dream a Little Dream on the other hand is rather drab. Originally the season premiere, "Re:Union", it was shunted back to eighth in airing order and repackaged into a flashback episode, because it was felt that it wasn't a strong opener. And the sad truth is, it's weak wherever it goes. The story goes that, with Moya having Starburst away with only Zhaan, Chiana and Rygel left on board, the three go down to a planet, where Zhaan is framed for breaking the law – originally a traffic violation, and then murder. Part of the reason this story suffers is you know the outcome, so the suspense is immediately erased. It was nice to see the focus of an episode on three characters who haven't ever really been the focus as a group before, and there's some good characterisation for all three; with Chiana and Rygel both having some great scenes. Unfortunately, once again this season, the story falls flat, and as such recommending this episode is difficult. Amusingly, my favourite parts of the episode are those that were cut to add the flashback teaser and tag scenes, but they do appear on the deleted scenes here.
While there's no commentary on this disc, there is another batch of deleted scenes. There are three on this set, all on disc 2. The first is a scene originally shot for "Re:Union" (and cut from "Dream a Little Dream"), and is a real gem. Zhaan is comforting Pilot over the loss of John, Aeryn, D'Argo and Talyn, when things turn around and it's Pilot that ends up comforting Zhaan. It's a really sweet moment between the two characters, and it's a shame it was cut. The following scene was again shot for "Re:Union", intended to be the final scene for the episode. Pilot contacts Rygel and Chiana to come aboard, and ask about Zhaan's chanting – she's going back to being a priest. Again the beauty is in the character nuances, notably Rygel leading Zhaan off by the hand. The final deleted scene is a brief conversation between Aeryn and a starving Zhaan, but because of the length there's really not much to say about it.
The other extras are again mainly text extras with accompanying video clips. "Farscape Dictionary: Technical Terms" defines a series of "technical" words as used in the show, with the optional accompanying clip showing their usage. "Alien Encounters" describes the aliens in the episodes in question, who played them and shows a brief clip of them in action. The actor biography for Claudia Black and the character biography for Aeryn again do much what you'd expect – provide a textual summary of both. There's also a "Weapons and Ships" feature, which contains text based descriptions on several of the weapons and ships in the show, and has clips of them from the show, and not just from this batch of episodes, but dating even back to season one. There's also another nice gallery of conceptual drawings.
Again, with limited materials to work with, ADV have done a decent job on the set with what they had.
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 I have no problem at all with the transfer.
Packaging & Presentation
This cover sees Aeryn take centre stage, with Chiana, Rygel and John in the background. It's generally nice and continues the style for the season two releases, although I still think the season one covers were more appealing.
The menus are decent, and again follow in the style set by the last volume. They are bland compared to others though, and probably is the main area where these disc could be improved. The functionality is there, although one thing they could do with is the ability to select an episode from the main menu without having to enter the scene selection menu first.
This set is a very difficult one; on one hand I have no quibbles recommending it purely on the basis of "The Way We Weren't", an episode that is pure magic and positively needs to be seen by all Farscape fans. The only trouble is that "Dream" and "Picture" are really quite disappointing, and so value-for-money on these episodes is questionable, much like the first season. So long as you keep in mind that "Weren't" is a corker, and the rest aren't you can't go too wrong with it (and really, it's so good it almost negates anything negative about the other episodes). The discs themselves are as well produced as always, and hard to fault. Yes, the lack of extras is disappointing, but that's not ADV's fault; they did what they could with what they had.
Buy from Amazon US (Click to view their website)
Item: Farscape Season 2 Volume 2.2
Recommended Retail Price: $39.98
Distributor: ADV Films
Region: 1 (NTSC – US, Canada)
Picture Format: Pal 4:3
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0
Number of Discs: 1
Format: 2 x DVD9
Total Running Time: 210 mins (approx.)
Episodes: "The Way We Weren't" (46:01), "Picture if You Will" (45:59), "Home on the Remains" (46:00) and "Dream a Little Dream" (46:01)