If there was ever, ever a series to snag all in one place, it’s Farscape. Well, Farscape and Lost, where one’s appreciation of the show is absolutely dependent upon enjoying it sequentially, and understanding why the hell the show is happening in the first place. Finally, I can enjoy Farscape all in one place with Farscape: The Complete Series on DVD.
I’ll be the first to admit that I had a really, really hard time getting into Farsape during its initial run between 1999 and 2003. The stories can be a bit complex, the characters are complicated and the circumstances of the show are politically charged. This can either be a rich and fulfilling experience, or it can be frustrating for the casual viewer. I recall one particular college day when I was invited to watch some Farscape VHS tapes on a dorm couch and I could barely contain my plethora of questions that were inherent to my enjoyment of the show. Refusing to be a TV talker, I endured in bewildered silence.
The sleepy-eyed, smarmy, externalizing-every-internal-monologue hero represented by character John Crichton may a bit too much to sympathise with, but when you see him a guy who needs to act around giant, terrifying puppets with weirdly cartoonish personalities, it’s probably the only way he can keep his head above the metaphorical water and not fade into the scenery. It’s just right, once you get used to it, and the same can be said for every exaggerated character in the show. It’s extremely experimental, extremely human science fiction about a bunch of weird escaped convicts who have hijacked an enormous, living space monster-slash-spaceship and are on the run from the law. Some of them just happen to look like greasy puppets, and one is a severely displaced human.
While the digital special effects are all the best that the early 2000s had to offer for a cable science fiction show, much of the makeup and monsters were created and managed by the incredible Henson Studios. It’s almost impossible for them to make something that isn’t completely mysterious, fun and beautiful. Even brief sojourns onto alien planets are full of amazing costumes and aliens that rival anything you’d find in Star Wars. In short, it’s a far more entertaining show than I’d ever experienced before, now that I can watch it from the beginning. This approach is important.
This new DVD set completes the entire series, which consists of four seasons across 26 DVDs and over 68 hours of wild science fiction. The series was suddenly cut short after season four, so the rest of the narrative was quickly tied up in a four episode miniseries that cannot be included here due to ownership by a different company (but can be purchased for ten bucks, if you want everything in one place). This set has a suggested retail of $150, but can be snagged for under $80 – much less expensive than what these sets used to cost as I ogled then in the old Suncoast.
Five plastic cases are housed in a thin, but attractive, cardboard box. Each season contains six discs in a regulation sized DVD case, and a 5th case contains a 2-disc set of ‘archives’, which comprises tons of extras not icluded with the original seasons. Anything at all that incorporates ‘behind the scenes’ stuff relating to the Henson Creature Shop is always worth the investment (and this includes the rarely seen stuff included on the various Muppet Show DVDs). The DVD episodes themselves also include many commentary tracks and isolated score tracks, interviews, cut scenes and alternate scenes, so this handsome set is genuinely an archive of all things Farscape – a boon to hardcore fans and a blessing to people who want to step on into this whole Farscape thing which was previously a bit inaccessible. And yes, there are Farscape conventions – that’s how huge four seasons of a TV show can become if they’re done well. You don’t see any ‘The Hills’ conventions – and if you do, please tell me where they are so I can disperse them accordingly with fire.
The whole set was released this month, and with the plummeting cost of DVDs, it’s an awesome, enthralling buy to complete your cult sci-fi TV collection.