Farscape is a science fiction series produced by Jim Henson Productions and created by Brian Henson starring Ben Browder and Claudia Black that ran for four seasons with an abrupt ending to its five season contract.
Film making 21/25
Bonus Features 25/25
Farscape is a science fiction series that ran for four seasons back in 1999 to 2003 and has now been released on Blu-ray in both a full series set and by seasons. The show was produced by Jim Henson Entertainment and Hallmark Entertainment with direction and creation by Brian Henson and Rockne S. O’Bannon.
Ben Browder stars as John Crichton, an Air Force astronaut and scientist with a theory about using the gravitational pull of Earth to attain higher speeds for interstellar travel. The Farscape version of NASA called the IASA gives John the go ahead to perform the maneuver in a specially designed shuttle named Farscape 1 that is launched from the Space Shuttle.
During the experiment John’s ship encounters some sort of special phenomenon and enters a worm hole to another galaxy where aliens abound. John encounters Ka D’Argo played by Anthony Simcoe and Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan played by Virginia Hey after being brought onboard the living ship Moya.
The series stars several animatronic and highly costumed characters like Dominar Rygel XVI who is a short creature usually in a flying chair and voiced by Lani Tupu. Pilot is also voiced by Lani Tupi and an animatronic character that is attached to the space going living ship or leviathan called Moya.
Jim Henson Productions has helped to create a full universe of creatures along with the less adorned people of the show to people a universe with a wide variety of races. The variety and unique creations made for the series by Jim Henson Productions makes the series look like a Star Wars movie but it helps the theme of the show a lot.
The series ran for four seasons but was unexpectedly cancelled after the fourth even though it did have a contract for the fifth season. A miniseries called The Peacekeeper Wars was created in 2004 to wrap up the cliff hanging elements of the fourth season.
The series is typical of Jim Henson shows with a lot of human and creatures mixed in and the themes of individual episodes widely varying but usually following the theme of John trying to return to Earth. In the interim of finding his way home he has encounters with the major races of the universe of Farscape starting with the group he spends most of his time with.
D’Argo, Rygel, and Zhaan are prisoners of the Peacekeepers and when they capture Aeryn she finds herself labeled an enemy because she spends too much time with the prisoners. The group at first is just trying to survive and with the help of Pilot and Moya they tour their galaxy finding supplies and getting into trouble.
Scorpius is a Peacekeeper commander who wants to find out how John created the wormhole and entered their universe as well as the major foe of the series. Things get muddled in later seasons when Scorpius becomes an implanted foe in Johns mind from a brain device Scorpius uses on John.
Things get further complicated when Scorpius befriends the group so that he can find out about wormhole technology and help the group against even greater enemies. Farscape just went a bit overboard toward the end of the series but things are the usual odd Jim Henson world of puppets mixed with actors to create a universe all its own.
Farscape reminds me a lot of the Star Gate series but a bit more “R” rated or just an adult themed science fiction show but it also has the Star Wars flavor with its multitude of puppets. Jim Henson Productions does add a lot of science fiction creativeness to the series and in the end Farscape is a fun show.
Farscape on Blu-ray is a mixed bag of quality with occasional slips below average in video mainly due to its lower quality filming to begin with. During the Blu-ray conversion the studio could not find the original 35mm films and had to upconvert what they had to create the Blu-ray set.
This is probably one of the worst ways to convert video to Blu-ray and still hope to get a decent quality as you are simply using a software program to try to make the video clearer. Color is not as clear and the video is not nearly as crisp as you would expect from a series filmed by a major studio while aspect ratio for the first three seasons are more of a square ratio at 1.33:1.
The video quality on Blu-ray is also soft and has bad dark scenes which is a major problem as many scenes during the numerous episodes are filmed in dark parts of the large living ship of Moya. Video quality is not exactly great and would be a disappointment if you could find a better quality set of this series but this is as good as your going to find.
Audio quality is no mixed bag but a testament to the differences in quality that can be found on the same Blu-ray disc when you have a Master Audio track alongside the upconverted video. The lossless track using the DTS-HD Master Audio on all the discs comes across as clear and crisp with good use of surround sound.
The audio is a clear triumph over video and throughout the seasons and episodes you can clearly hear the great moments like gunfights alongside the quiet but equally clear small sounds. Many times during scenes I would hear a smaller sound that is more noticeable than the louder ones making the better audio quality more noticeable.
The sound quality is exactly what you want throughout the entire series and is again a testament to what is possible with Blu-ray alongside the testament of what happens when someone loses the original films. The Blu-ray set of Farscape has a lot of extras for bonus content that equals exactly what fans of the series would want and newcomers need.
Audio commentaries on several of the episodes, making of features, great specials from the composer of the score and sadly only one blooper special make up most of the bonus content. The audio commentaries and making of features abound with plenty of information about filming the show from both a cast and special effects view that makes up a lot of the better bonus content.
The look at composer Guy Gross and talks with him about the films continuing score is great alongside the other making of features for some excellent extras. There are enough extras here to keep any fan or interested viewer for hours of entertaining fun watching how the show was made and more.
Farscape is one of those series that did not make a long run but did have enough going for it to make a purchase warranted. The series is fun and even with a few odd turns in the main plot the story is interesting and keeps you engaged as an audience.
I can easily recommend Farscape on Blu-ray as a set for any science fiction fan that has not seen it before for a movie collection addition alongside other great shows like Star Wars, Star Trek and Star Gate. The problem or maybe the thing that makes it stand out is that it does not have “star” in its title but it is a good series despite video quality.