Farscape: The Complete Series
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From Jim Henson Productions comes the Sci-Fi cult classic FARSCAPE. Follow John Crichton and the crew of Moya on a journey to places they never dreamed possible. Sizzling with brilliant characters, breathtaking effects, high-stakes action, and irreverent humor, Farscape is like no science fiction before. It is a story of good versus evil, obsession, friendship, and even love. The unpredictable twists and turns of this international TV hit will keep you riveted and cheering for more.
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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!
"Farscape: The Complete Series" is, well, somewhat incomplete. While it includes all four seasons it doesn't include the mini-series "Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars" due to licensing issues with Lion's Gate (which released that title)so you'll need to keep your DVD set for that until the latter is released on Blu-ray.
The Blu-ray presentation for "Farscape" suffers a bit from the fact that it was produced prior to studios thinking of high definition. The show was shot on film but the visual effects were done in digital standard definition, that wouldn't be a problem but the show was assembled in standard video as well and the 35mm source prints are nowhere to be found.
Having said that the New Video used a number of digital techniques to enhance the SD picture and bring it into the high def realm pretty effectively.
Be aware however that "Incubator" has the dialogue slightly out of synch with the picture on the Blu-ray.
Subtitles ARE on the Blu-ray release.
If you adjust your expectations that this ISN'T going to look as good as, say, "Battlestar: Galatica" on Blu-ray or even the original "Star Trek", you'll enjoy this set. Should you buy it? That depends on how picky you're going to be about teh image quality here but this does look marginally better than previous editions.
As a result we have a Blu-ray presentation that isn't in 1080 instead A&E and New Video the distributors here had to go to the best source possible the PAL video (which has higher resolution than U.S. NTSC)thus while this isn't in high definition it DOES look slightly better than the the regular DVD's in particular because the higher bit rate for Blu-ray allows the show more "breathing" room. The show looks soft but there's no way around that. Detail is better than the 2009 DVD's but the compression artifacts that were problematic for the DVD set released in 2009 aren't as problematic here. Likewise, this is a huge upgrade over the "Starburst" editions of the series put out a couple of years back.
The audio is a big upgrade with a lossless 5.1 presentation that is quite powerful and well done.
The special features from the previous 2009 set have been carried over for this set with one new high def featurette included looking back on the show. We get mulitple commentary tracks for a number of episodes (with the first season getting the most).
Summary: -video quality: Is soft but with better detail than most of the DVDs I've seen of the show because the producers used the higher resolution PAL video masters. The encoding and use of compression here is an improvement as well helping the picture quality. It's a marginal upgrade in image quality though.
Audio: Sounds brilliant with a nice, immersive 5.1 lossless mix.
Special Features: All of the special features from the 2009 A&E/New Video release are included with one new high def special featurette.
There are 31 commentary tracks. We also get deleted scenes and TV spots.
Premiere: Rockne S. O'Bannon, Brian Henson and Ben BrowderI, E.T.: Claudia Black and Anthony Simcoe
Exodus from Genesis: Brian Henson and Virginia Hey
Throne for a Loss: Ben Browder and Claudia Black
Back and Back and Back to the Future: Ben Browder and Rowan Woods
Thank God It's Friday. . .Again: Rockne S. O'Bannon and Anthony Simcoe
DNA Mad Scientist: a) Ben Browder and Claudia Black; b) Rockne S. O'Bannon and David Kemper
Jeremiah Crichton: Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Rockne S. O'Bannon and David Kemper (this commentary bears the humorous subtitle "When Bad Things Happen to Good Shows")
A Human Reaction: Ben Browder and Claudia Black
Nerve: Ben Browder and Claudia Black
Born to be Wild: Anthony Simcoe
Family Ties: a) Ben Browder and Claudia Black; b) Rockne S. O'Bannon and David Kemper
Crackers Don't Matter: Claudia Black and Ian Watson
The Way We Weren't: Ben Browder and Claudia Black
Won't Get Fooled Again: Rowan Woods and Richard Manning
The Locket: Ben Browder and Claudia Black
Die Me, Dichotomy: Ben Browder, Claudia Black and David Kemper
Self Inflicted Wounds Part II: Wait for the Wheel: Claudia Black
Eat Me: Guy Gross
Green Eyed Monster: Ben Browder and Tony Tilse
Relativity: Lani Tupu and Peter Andrikidis
The Choice: a) Claudia Black; b) Rowan Woods and Justin Monjo
Into the Lion's Den Part II: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Rockne S. O'Bannon and David Kemper
Dog With Two Bones: Ben Browder and Claudia Black
John Quixote: Ben Browder and Claudia Black
Kansas: Ben Browder, Claudia Black and David Kemper
Bad Timing: Ben Browder, Claudia Black and David Kemper
The first season of "Farscape" is a bit uneven but the show finds its footing by the second season and was positively on fire once Scorpious was introduced as a character.
I'd still recommend this as long as you adjust your expectations on the video quality of the series particularly if you can get it at a good price.
Series: 4 1/2 stars
Image for show: 3 (translated as good)
Audio: 4 1/2 stars
Special Features: 5 stars
Overall average: 4 stars.
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