I love this show. Farscape is a big mix of a lot of the things a science fiction fan like me love to see. You get the visceral stuff like cool sets and special effects that move from neat to full on spectacle. You get the science stuff like explanations and effects of alien physiology and various advanced and imaginative technologies. You get the story driven stuff with scripts going from drama to action to comedy (sometimes all in one episode), dealing with complexities of alien cultures and governments, to straight up space opera type fair complete with villains in black and scary monsters to fight. There is a reason why Farscape was considered by critics and viewers alike to be one of the best science fiction television shows ever made.
You have a modern day Earthling astronaut who is the main character in the series. His is a fish out of water kind of story as he is thrust into this alien part of the galaxy by a wormhole with absolutely no clue regarding his new surroundings. This isn't your normal fish out of water character. This is an intelligent, wise cracking fish who not only takes his new challenges with relative stride, but also with a note of sarcasm. The supporting cast is just as interesting... and interestingly enough all escaped convicts. There is the human female looking plant organism of mediation and empathy (convicted of murder). There is the aggressive tentacle-headed alien with a warrior's rage (also convicted of murder, but is innocent). A blue pixie-like skinned party girl who plays thief and spy at times (convicted of non-conformity). A froggish-like alien with a superiority complex (imprisoned after a coup against him). And last, but certainly not least the tough as nails female Peacekeeper soldier who is a strictly by the book type (ironically on the run for being socially exposed to said convicts). The cast changes a bit later on, but this is pretty much the core group and shows a taste of the interesting developments based on characters alone.
The series has varying story arcs much like what you have seen on Deep Space Nine, Babylon 5 and other such shows. What seems to be the main premise of the show slowly morphs into something else. This is done in a way flows smooth and feels organic. What surprises they do pop up on you make sense and aren't just to shake things up. Most episodes have a good mix of the things I mentioned earlier, but sometimes they go off on tangents. Especially on the third season. One example is an episode done entirely animated and ran like an old Warner Brothers cartoon. Even in the odd episodes the show is pretty good.
So good characters and good stories are nice, but science fiction for many lives of dies by the visuals. This is where Farscape shines. Sets are intricate and the CGI scenes are dynamic. Special effects can be found all over the place from laser blasts to animatronics to computer generated space battles. As a matter of fact Farscape has the distinction of being the television series with more special effects on average per episode than any other science fiction show to date. So you want flash and style in your substance? We got you covered.
I think it's fair to warn you the series ended on a cliffhanger, but was finally concluded with the made for TV movie The Peacekeeper Wars (which creator Brian Henson refers to as episodes 4:23-4:26). Sadly you will have to get this separately on DVD (there is an import Blu-Ray out there too).
Aside from two minor details the 15th Anniversary Edition is essentially a re-release of the Farscape: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] repackaged in a more minimalistic cover (first detail change... cool look though). Like the previous release you won't get 1080p high definition. Technically it can be called high definition because it's going to be more than 480p in resolution. However not by much. You see the original 35mm film used to film the episodes are pretty much lost so there is no remastering of the source material. Even if they had the original film the CG effects weren't done on that resolution so remastering would have been difficult. Best they can do is use the European PAL video master tapes, which should be at 576p resolution. While this isn't truly high definition it is the best these shows have ever looked, and the end result even has Brian Henson's approval on it.
This Blu-Ray set will have 20 disks covering all 88 episodes (minus the mini-series of course) plus all of the extras from the previous Blu-Ray release (including the extras from the Starburst Edition DVDs). Here is a breakdown:
Peacekeeper Wars Collectible Comic - This is the second thing different from the previous release. It is a 16 page comic written and drawn by award winning Ramon Perez. It's called Backyard Barbecue and it takes place at the same time of the Peacekeeper Wars (the mini series that Lionsgate still refuses to allow to be added to the collection). At 16 pages it's going to be short though. The comic will also include an interview with creator Brian Henson and some images from the Henson Archive. No idea if the interview and images are going to squeeze away at those 16 pages or are considered an addition to.
Episode Commentaries - The packaging says 35 commentaries covering the spectrum of all the major cast and crew throughout, however it seems you are still only getting the same 31 commentaries found in the 2011 Blu-Ray. These are the original commentaries from the DVD collections.
Memories of Moya: An Epic Journey Explored - New documentary exclusive to the Blu-Ray releases chronicling retrospective interviews from cast and crew.
Farscape Undressed - This was a one hour behind the scenes feature shown on the Sci-Fi Channel to help prime new viewers for the third season. This feature wasn't released on the Starburst or DVD sets before it (it is in the new DVD series collection though) and was big in demand back in the day.
In the Beginning: A Look Back with Brian Henson - A very informative interview with Brian Henson that was made in 2004. It runs about a half and hour and was on the Starburst release and up.
Making of a Space Opera - A 22 minute documentary on the making of the series. Not quite as informative as Brian's interview, but makes a good promotional piece for the series.
Season 3: A Look Back with Executive Producer David Kemper - Basically David's take on season three and how the show has matured so far.
Farscape: The Story So Far - This is a 22 minute catch up feature for people to get familiar with Farscape up to the fourth season. This featurette was in previous collections.
Inside Farscape: Villains - 15 minutes of interviews with the actors who make up the major villains Scorpius (Wayne Pygram), Crais (Lani Tupu), and Commandant Grayza (Rebecca Riggs). Cool to see Wayne out of makeup.
Inside Farscape: Special Effects - Animal Logic was the visual effects company that worked on Farscape. This feature shows before and after images of various effect pieces along with a commentary explaining what you see.
Inside Farscape: Save Farscape - Pretty inspiring piece on the efforts by fans and crew to revive the show enough for it get a proper send off.
Deleted Scenes - There have been 90 minutes of deleted scenes previously released, and we are getting them all.
Farscape in the Raw: Director's Cut Scenes - Compares the final scenes with the director's print. Keep in mind these scenes are without special effects, music, or sometimes even proper dubbing.
Alternate Version of the Season 2 Premiere
Listening In with Composer Guy Gross - Focuses on Guy and the process he goes through composing the music for the series. You get to watch him at work pretty much while he gives a commentary on what he does.
Behind the Scenes Interviews - I am thinking this may be the interviews from the previous collections from actors Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Anthony Simcoe, Gigi Edgley and Wayne Pygram.
Zhaan Forever - A more in depth interview with Virginia Hey. Runs about ten minutes.
On the Last Day: Wrap Speech from David Kemper - A goodbye speech from David to the crew. Recommended viewing once you finish watching the series.
Production and Design Galleries - archival photo galleries, character concepts, promo photos, design gallery screen shots, rough drafts, and concept slide shows.
Original TV promos and trailers
Farscape is a sci-fi TV series that ranks right up there with the best of them. Every fan of the genre should get familiar with this show. This release has little to add to the table since the previous 2011 Blu-Ray. So if you bought the original you can breath happy unless you really need that comic. Although it seems at least at the time of this review be cheaper than the 2011 Blu-Ray, and you get the new cover art, a tiny bit more content and the 15th Anniversary moniker. If you haven't already made the plunge it looks like you are getting a better opportunity now.