Plot: What’s it about?
As this series has a basic premise, one which then spirals into a myriad of directions and subplots, I don’t want to reveal any of the twists & turns. This is true with any material really, but in this case, the storyline evolves so much over the course of this season, I simply want to make sure all the secrets remain intact for new viewers. So if this synopsis seems on the thin side, rest assured its for the good of all new Farscape fans, as well as those who might have forgotten some of the small details over the season’s run. Commander John Crichton (Ben Browder) is part of a project focused on experimental propulsion techniques, but little does he know far the latest test will take him into space. As the mission moves ahead, Crichton’s spacecraft is pulled into a wormhole and when he emerges, he finds himself embroiled in a world much different than his own. As soon as he lands, he discovers a battle between some humans and aliens, with the humans known as peacekeepers, ones trying to round up the escaped alien prisoners. These peacekeepers will serve as Crichton’s lone hope of survival, as the other side wishes to demolish all human lifeforms and of course, that means the newcomer as well. But as Crichton soon learns, this new world is filled with the same things found back home and if he wants to survive, he will need to adjust quickly and deal with all the various threats around him…
As we all know, the world of television based sci/fi is loaded with junk, but when Farscape hit the airwaves, it was obvious that it was different. Then again, with Hallmark Entertainment, The Sci/Fi Channel, and Jim Henson’s Workshop all involved, Farscape had an edge from the start, though it doesn’t rest on those laurels. As you’d expect from a sci/fi series, there’s ample special effects and makeup work, all top notch here, thanks to some good production values and good artistic talent, unlike a lot of genre shows out there. So Farscape never seems cheap or cheese laden, which are labels often slapped on other television sci/fi projects. But the series isn’t all about starships and alien costumes however, as it also packs a terrific cast, some great direction, and of course, enjoyable and effective storylines. Not all of the ideas are unique, but they’re well handled and developed in new ways, so it never seems recycled or rehashed in the least. It also helps that Farscape has some serious attitude, with sharp dialogue, brash action, and an often breakneck pace, though the traditional elements never suffer as a result. In short, this series is a revolution of sorts in televised sci/fi, the kind of series that can win back disgruntled genre fans and even bring new fans into the sci/fi fold. As this is an excellent series and ADV Films has done some great work with this collection, I am giving Farscape: The Complete Season One a very high recommendation.
So we know the show is good, but how has ADV Films handled these releases? After releasing the episodes in single disc editions, the studio has now boxed them all up and issued this complete season collection. This is sure to delight fans, as it means you can nab all the episodes in one neat, tidy package instead of having to track down each individual volume. I do think ADV Films should have released the complete season to start with, but as it was a test run of sorts at first, I can understand their release pattern logic. Now as far as overall value goes, this series is priced higher than normal mainstream television shows, but let’s be realistic, this one needs to make back more on less sales, so the price is more than fair, if you ask me. And since all the episodes look good and sound good, ADV Films has more than done the series justice, not to mention the assortment of extras found on each disc. This collection has all eleven volumes found in single editions, with two discs per case in six of the cases, then a single disc in the final one. So we have six total case spaces taken up, but eleven discs total inside of them, which helps save some much needed space for your own collection. The cases then slide inside a nice cardboard slipcover, which has Farscape images on all sides, a terrific all around package here.
Video: How does it look?
The episodes are presented in full frame, as intended. The work done here is very good, much sharper than seen on television, to be sure. The image has a clean, very slick texture and really comes across well here, which serves the show’s imaginative visuals to perfection. The prints sometimes have a fleck or two, but even close to serious and the visuals are never hindered, so no worries there. I was pleased to see the show’s vivid color scheme well represented also, so bold and intense hues dominate the screen, just as intended. No issues with contrast either, as detail remains high and black levels look well balanced. A few minor problems keep the score down a little, but these episodes look excellent, no doubt about it.
Audio: How does it sound?
Although the audio for the episodes has been given the Dolby Digital 5.1 treatment, the results are not as dynamic as one might assume. I shouldn’t say that, as the surrounds kick in when needed and even the bass kicks at times, but I expected a more consistent flow of surround presence, which isn’t found here. The action scenes cause the speakers to rise up however, with solid presence and some nice use of power, which livens up the experience. The music and dialogue come through well also, with no volume balance issues or muffled moments to mention. A 2.0 surround option is also included for each episode, should you need that approach instead.
Supplements: What are the extras?
In addition to the traditional extras I will list in a moment, each episode includes a few minutes of bonus footage, which wasn’t shown in North American broadcasts. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but I applaud ADV Films for tacking this additional footage on, as I am sure Farscape fans will be appreciative. You can also listen to cast & crew commentary on select episodes, though there’s more episodes without the tracks, which might let down some viewers. Even so, the tracks that are present are candid & informative, so make sure not to miss out on them. Each disc also includes an in depth profile & image gallery on a cast or crew member, trailers for Farscape & other ADV Films releases, and conceptual drawings from the series’ various aspects, from costumes to starships and beyond.