Farscape: The Complete Fourth Season DVD

Film:
DVD:

Created by Rockne S. O'Bannon
Starring Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Gigi Edgly, Viginia Hey, Anthony Simcoe, Paul Goddard, Lani Tupu, Jonathan Hardy, Rebecca Riggs, and Wayne Pygram.

Features:

  • "Story So Far" featurette
  • Interviews with Rebecca Riggs, Lani John Tupu, Wayne Pygram, David Franklin, Jonathan Hardy
  • Season 4 SFX featurette
  • Season 2 and 3 bloopers and outtakes
  • Alien Encounters featurette
  • Deleted scenes
  • Farscape Facts
  • Early make-up tests
  • Villains featurette
  • "Revenging Angel" animatics
  • Set, prop, and costume gallery

Released by ADV Films
Region: 1
Rating: NR, suitable for audiences 12+
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Die-hard 'Scapers already own it. Others should rent.

Having become separated from his shipmates, long-suffering John Crichton (Browder) finds himself aboard a dying Leviathan, where he makes a new ally (Raelee Hill), fights some space pirates/scavengers, and eventually gets reunited with his friends, plus one old enemy cum ally in the form of Scorpius (Pygram). This final season encompasses all that was best, and unfortunately worst, about the series, and threw out some new ideas that were just a little too late to liven things up and bring more viewers into the program.

As ever, Farscape is hugely ambitious. After using the first quarter of the season to reunite the scattered crew, Crichton starts to begin to crack the secrets of wormholes and can seemingly somehow intuit their appearance and destination. How exactly he pulls this off is never satisfactorily explained, though it varies from being treated as some sort of quasi-superpower to being some sudden mathematical savantism on Crichton's part. The idea of Crichton as a wormhole-detector is a fascinating one, and would have actually justified all the earlier persecution of him by Scorpius, but it's inadequately developed and feels like a rushed gimmick to allow the writers to get Crichton home and launch their finalé story arcs so that closure can be obtained in the show's final outing.

Of course, this show wouldn't be content with one massive paradigm-shifting storyline per season, so in addition to Earth making contact with alien races via Crichton and his pals, we've also got Aeryn Sun pregnant with Crichton's child, her kidnapping, subsequent rescue, D'Argo's final confrontation with his wife's killer, and the crew disrupting a Scarran/Peacekeeper peace conference with a nuclear weapon. Nobody could accuse the show of moving slowly in its final season. Unfortunately, after three seasons of sometimes agonizingly slow plotlines, it's too little, too late. If the first three seasons had moved at the kind of clip this one did, we'd still be getting new episodes. Unfortunately, in places things are just a little too fast...stories seem rushed and some significant issues (like Crichton's wormhole-detection) just don't get the sort of attention they need.

The real standout episode this season is "Terra Firma," which is one of the finest first-contact stories that sci-fi television has produced. The writers managed to work in a little post-9/11 paranoia social commentary without coming across preachy, but it certainly hoses up Crichton's hopes of warning Earth about the Scarrans and the Peacekeepers before things turn ugly on his own home world. The late-season three-parter "We're So Screwed," involving the aforementioned raid on the bad guy peace conference, is insane fun, but also serves as another example of one of the show's weaknesses -- over-reliance on multipart stories, which can make it hard for the casual viewer to stay engaged.

The performances are fantastic from pretty much everybody involved here, and the show is as well-crafted and visually stunning as ever. Production values are tremendous in every regard. Browder has come a long way from the somewhat flat portrayals of the earliest season, or perhaps the writers have just grown to trust him with the scripts and throw him better lines...in any event, he brings the character of Crichton so sharply to life that it's pretty much impossible to see him in his new role on Stargate SG-1 without constantly expecting the character to react as Crichton would to situations.

The features list on the set is truly impressive. Deleted scenes, outtake reels, tons of interviews, galleries, FX featurettes, you name it. Pretty much everything except commentary tracks (a tragic exclusion, especially since the region 2 release has several). Fans of the show should be well-pleased by the obvious care ADV has been putting into these sets, and they send the show out with a bang. For those less invested in the show, it merits a rental to see the best episodes, though the continuity will be something of a barrier to entry for some.

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