Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Farscape The Complete Series|
Actors: Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Anthony Simcoe, Lani John Tupu, Gigi Edgley
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television
John Crichton. Astronaut. Flung through a wormhole and lost in a galaxy far from home. He finds himself in the middle of a prison break, surrounded by hostile aliens, soaring through space inside a glorious living space sh... more »
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A Fantastic Show With A Fantastic Makeover
K. A. Walsh | Eatontown, NJ, USA | 11/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I first started watching this program somewhere in the Second Season during its initial run on the SyFy Channel at the urging of my wife, who had been an avid viewer since day one. I had seen the Pilot when it was first broadcast, but never watched with regularity (at the time I was working a lot of overtime on Friday nights). I did come away from the Pilot very impressed by what appeared to be a great premise, excellent special effects, and potentially some great characters. Eventually my Friday evening schedule cleared up and once I started watching a couple of episodes I was completely hooked.
There is a definite 4 year story arc here; most of the episodes do tie together as the later seasons demonstrate. I won't elaborate on all the details of the program, mainly because there are many reviews here that do just that. What I will discuss is the quality of the box set that A&E has released, and has done an outstanding job of packaging and remastering the episodes. I had collected the old ADV releases over the years, and they did a good job of reproducing very good audio and video for the most part. What this set has done is go WAY beyond anything that has been on DVD previously. I don't know if this is the case, but it certainly looks as if A&E did a complete makeover on the video and audio on this set, and it is nothing short of SPECTACULAR.
Some quick notes about this wonderful package:
VIDEO: These episodes are presented in their original aspect ratios of 4:3 for Seasons 1-3 and 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen for Season 4. Do not be mislead by other reviewers who claim that the final season of the show (which was indeed the only one filmed in widescreen) is not in its proper format. The quality of the video is STUNNING: details of all levels of color jump out at you, and the detail in close-ups and special effects are truly amazing. (A note here: I watched this on an Oppo BD-83 Blu Ray player which upscales standard DVDs to 1080i). The video is so good, I would swear I was watching a Blu Ray at times; THAT's how good it is. It is a remarkable improvement from the ADV releases of a few years ago (which up until the release of this set, were fetching a hefty price on eBay). I truly was stunned at the video...I don't think this show ever looked this good.
AUDIO: One word: phenomenal. The 5.1 mix totally immerses you in the story. All speakers and the sub-woofer are used perfectly and to to any extremes. The ADV releases had a very good 5.1 soundtrack, but the new A&E version has absolutely jaw dropping audio. Yes, it is THAT good.
PACKAGING: 5 "sets" of DVDs gathered in one glossy box keeping them all together. Each Season has its own "set" with the final set being reserved for a number of special features ("making of" documentaries, mostly). The other Special Features as promised in the description of the set here, are scattered throughout the various discs. I wish the glossy box was a bit more sturdy and easier to access the sets (do you open from the left or right? you decide). A minor quibble though compared to the overall satisfaction I've gotten so far from this new A&E release.
BOTTOM LINE: "Farscape" is truly an incredible show with excellent writing and some fine acting throughout its 4 year run. It would have been nice to have the final 3 hour installment "The Peacekeeper Wars" (which somewhat neatly ties up and concludes the series) included in the box, but rights issues prevented that from happening. You can certainly buy it separately on Amazon (and you REALLY must do so in order to see the conclusion of the show) and keep it next to this on your shelf. Speaking of which, the amount of shelf space saved with this package compared to the original 2 disc ADV volumes is incredible. Even if you own every ADV release like I do, this set is more than worth getting. The video and audio are markedly improved (even though it is never mentioned that the episodes are remastered, one look and you will be able to tell in an instant); and it truly does make a HUGE difference compared with the original ADV releases. The aforementioned amount of shelf space saved is indeed a plus.
Overall, 5 stars for the quality of the show, and this incredible new release with remastered video and audio. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!"
Not just a great Sci-fi series, but a great series
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 08/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A year or two ago, when I heard that the rights to FARSCAPE had been sold and would be rereleased on the A&E imprint, I was delighted. I bought the entirety of the series on the way-too-expensive Starburst edition, which was, as expensive as it was, vastly cheaper than the original DVDs. FARSCAPE as originally released was one of the most expensive series ever sold on DVD. I've lent my DVDs out to several people as part of an effort to help more people learn about this wonder series. Now I can recommend that people buy it.
FARSCAPE is, after only BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and FIREFLY, my all time favorite Sci-fi series. It is unique in that women tend to love it as much as men (or perhaps I should say younger male viewers, who usually form a huge percentage of the Sci-fi demographic), largely because of the great character development that occurs on the show, and the main romance, which I honestly think is as grand and epic as any romance on any mainstream or nongenre series. To this day, when TV Guide or Entertainment Weekly or other such mainstream publications do lists of the great TV romances of all time, people who do not know FARSCAPE are surprised and baffled to see John and Aeryn make the list.
In a way, it is amazing that I love this show so much. It contains many of the things I most detest about Sci-fi series, such as aliens (in fact, the aliens in FARSCAPE are more extreme than usual because it was produced by the Jim Henson Company as a platform for putting some of its more extreme puppet creations before the public eye), pulse weapons, shields ("Shields down to 20%"), and what I call "magic science," where something extraordinary takes place that beggars the laws of physics and some equally extraordinary scientific solution is proffered to set things right. I hate these things! But I forgave them in FARSCAPE because it got so many other things right. Like what? Well, primarily character development. My complaint with all of the STAR WAR franchise series is that on all of them (with some exceptions like 7 of 9 or some of the characters in ST:DS9) there is no character development. I love Jean-Luc Picard, but he is pretty close to the same character on the final episode as on the first. Contrast that, say, with BUFFY, where every character has undergone an astonishing journey of transformation (e.g., just look atCordelia Chase in Season One, then where she was in Season Three, and then where she ended up in Season Three of ANGEL -- we'll just ignore Season Four of the latter). D'Argo may be a huge alien with tentacles hanging from his head, but he becomes a rich, wonderfully nuanced character. Aeryn Sun -- one of the great female heroes that TV has produced -- stars off as essentially a space nazi, but ends a complex, caring, passionate (despite herself) human being. Scorpius is one of the great, most complex villains that television has produced, original in ways that only a few character in television have ever managed to be. Moreover, the show tells a great story over the course of its four seasons. The first two seasons it stays close to a standalone format, even while developing a longer term arc, but Seasons Three and Four develop a great long story arc.
Season Three. What can you say about it? On the Internet you often see lists of the greatest seasons of shows in TV history. Season Three of FARSCAPE almost always makes such lists. I don't want to give anything away by explaining why it is so great, since much of the joy is in the way the wonderfully original plot twists, but beginning with the wonderful resolution of the great cliffhanger ending Season Two through the heartbreaking twists and plot shockers from the middle of the season, to the new cliffhanger that ended the season, it was a season for the ages. I've told friend that even if you don't like the first two seasons of FARSCAPE, it is worth watching just for Season Three. Definitely one of the great seasons I've ever seen.
A lot of people did not give the series a shot because they were repulsed by the use of two animatronic puppets in the show. I can understand this feeling, but it is not supported by an actual viewing of the show. I never came to enjoy the smaller of the two main Muppets in the show, Rygel. He was actually the more complex of the two Muppets, largely because his face was more expressive. But I personally vastly preferred Pilot, a staggering huge puppet who nonetheless is enormously endearing in a way the small, unhuggable Rygel is not. There are a few other animatronic puppets on the show, but these tow are the main ones. I won't say everyone who gives the show will come to like Rygel, but I do think that Pilot is different, and I don't think even Rygel will alter how one feels about the show overall. In other words, if you don't like this show, the Muppets won't be a factor.
One other thing that I very much love about this series is that it, like FIREFLY, features a nonmilitary ship. All other space operas focus on military vessels or military installations. The Star Treks, BABYLON 5, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (both the brilliant new version and the stinky old one), the Stargate franchise, SPACE: ABOVE AND BEYOND, and many others, even RED DWARF. Ka D'Argo is former military and even towards the end of the series Aeryn Sun comes across like a military officer, but the structure of the crew is that of civilians.
The main ship on the show, Moya, is one of the most delightful ships ever in Sci-fi. A living ship who is symbiotically bonded with Pilot, she often has a mind of her own. She is also as depicted on the show one of the most beautiful ships we've seen on TV, with the interiors of a gorgeous organic appearance. The series was perhaps the first to benefit from advanced CGI. Previous series such as BABYLON 5 had used CGI, but it was low resolution with flat surfaces and simply not very impressive. In the second episode of FARSCAPE we see Moya rise from a lake to fly off into space, and it was, at that point, without question the most breathtaking use of CGI up to that point. The show did not have an unlimited budget, but they managed to make the most of the show they had. Filmed entirely in Australia, it is unquestionably the finest Sci-fi series ever made outside Hollywood or Vancouver. And being set in Australia, they use a host of Australian actors not seen in many American productions, though they are seen in films and TV series made in Australia and New Zealand. The result is a string of unfamiliar actors and filming locations. Sometimes the wretched American accents of some of the actors will wear on you, but by and large the whole series has a great feel to the cast and guest stars.
If you love quality television, you really need to see this series. If you love Sci-fi, you need to see it several times. And if you just love a great romance, you can't do better than this. And luckily you can now own this great series without having to take out a mortgage on your house or condo."
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 08/10/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
""My name is John Crichton, an astronaut... a radiation wave hit and I got shot through a wormhole... now I'm lost in some distant part of the universe on a ship -- a LIVING ship, full of strange alien life forms..."
From the very first episode onward, it's pretty obvious that "Farscape: The Complete Series" is no ordinary sci-fi series -- the characters are outlaws, the ship is alive, and distant galaxies are full of Muppets. Fortunately, it's not just unusual but brilliant -- full of irreverent humor, strange alien species, heart-pounding action and eerie sci-fi.
Astronaut John Crichton is planning to slingshot his experimental craft, Farscape One, as a one-small-step into interstellar exploration. Instead, he gets thrown through a wormhole, and ends up drifting in a firefight between a vast living prison ship called Moya and the hypermilitaristic Peacekeepers. Obviously, he wants to go home, but isn't sure how.
So he begins a journey with a gang of escaped criminals -- the priestess Zhaan, the bombastic warrior D'Argo, deposed dominar Rygel, and the prickly, surly ex-Peacekeeper Aeryn Sun. They gain a few new members of their crew (including Moya's weaponized baby and the seductive, rebellious Chiana), but also lose some valued friends and allies along the way.
As the series unfolds, the Moya crew encounter countless alien planets, where they deal with bizarre problems, individuals (mad scientists, vengeful Peacekeepers, and Ancients), and alien life-forms (shapeshifting space bugs!). And they must constantly dodge the Peacekeeper Forces, and later the cruel Scarrans -- including the Sebacean/Scarran Scorpius. The Scarrans want the wormhole secrets locked inside Crichton's head, and ancient beings are even more determined to keep his knowledge secret....
"Farscape: The Complete Series" smashes apart the space opera mold, and puts it back together in its own style -- flying Muppets, an alien pilot grafted into Moya, squeaking insectile robots, Leviathans, and blue-skinned telepathic plant people. Yeah, it DOES sound cheesy -- but instead the Farscapeverse just ends up feeling colorful, diverse and sometimes horrifically dark. And fortunately, its promise is fulfilled by brilliant writing.
The series has lots of overarcing storylines twined with clever, intricate one-off episodes and solid personal subplots (mostly involving romance and revenge -- though thankfully it rarely gets soapy). And the dialogue is beyond awesome -- it's crammed with snappy dialogue, pop culture references ("How Batman was that!"), and alien slang words ("frelling" and "mivonks" among others). Every episode has loads of clever, irreverent and wonderfully quotable lines ("I'm not fast enough, I am not alien enough, and you know what, there are people in the universe who don't like me!").
And the cast is simply brilliant, especially since their characters evolve gradually through the series, revealing tragedies and hopes in the process. Ben Browder is great as the "alien" one, a seemingly ditzy astronaut with plenty of brains and sweet kookiness; Claudia Black's Aeryn makes a great love interest for him, as a hardnosed, disdainful ubersoldier who changes into a strong, passionate woman. Virginia Hey, Gigi Edgley, and Anthony Simcoe all give stellar performances as well -- and while Rygel and Pilot are technically played by Muppets, they are gloriously three-dimensional and expressive.
One thing to note: "Farscape: The Complete Series" ends on a massive cliffhanger because the Sci Fi Channel unexpectedly cancelled it, and "The Peacekeeper Wars" (the conclusive ending) apparently won't be included, since the rights belong to two different companies.
Thankfully, it has bucketloads of extras -- twenty-nine commentaries with actors, directors, Brian Henson; TV promos, slideshows, archival photos and clips; assorted conceptual scripts and art; deleted scenes; archival clips; and chitchats with the cast, crew, and fans. Also a whole bunch of featurettes and documentaries including "In The Beginning," "Making of a Space Opera" and "Inside Farscape: Save Farscape." Whew!
"Farscape: The Complete Series" is a cult sci-fi series that deserves to be watched again and again, especially with the new extras. Too bad the final miniseries isn't here."
A nice set, but it won't be replacing my ADV discs
David Jerrard | Burbank, California, United States | 01/18/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, this is a nice, and very convenient set, well worth the money. If you've never bought any Farscape episodes before, or you have limited space to store a collection, then this set is probably for you. That said, there are some caveats. I did a back to back comparison of the original ADV discs and the newer ones in this set. There's three things that jump out.
1. The bit rate is about 2/3 of the ADV discs. I expected this to be lower since A&E is squeezing about twice the number of episodes onto a disc - ADV put two episodes while this set piles on four per disc. The only way to do this is to compress the programs more. Quality-wise, the image is still remarkably good, and I didn't hear any differences in the audio quality.
2. Unlike the ADV discs, these are not progressive scan encoded - the video is interlaced. Some players don't handle interlaced video properly when they try to convert it to progressive scan output, and jittering can appear in motion. This drops the image quality on players that are outputting a progressive video.
3. For some reason, A&E didn't bother using the original source material, and instead, used their broadcast edits. At the beginning of each episode, they have the "Dolby Surround Where Available" bug in the lower right corner, which is unacceptable to me. This just makes it look like they recorded it off TV.
On the bright side, the set takes up about a tenth of the space of the entire ADV set does (the main reason I even bothered to buy this set), and has some extra features the original doesn't. It also costs about as much as about 10 of the ADV episodes did. The cases also use the new Bluray style clips that hold the discs in place, so there's much less risk of getting a set with loose (and thus, scratched) discs.
If you're not a big stickler for quality, then this set is for you - the price is just amazing, and most people won't care about the lower bitrate or encoding method. Videophiles, however, should probably steer clear and stick with the ADV sets, or wait until a new set is released with higher quality.