Farscape-Season 3 Box Set (Universal) (1999)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Eat Me, Revenging Angel, The Choice
Featurette-Farscape Cartoon: Revenging Angel
Featurette-Farscape Animation Art Gallery
Featurette-Farscape Animation In The Making
Interviews-Crew-Sean Masterson (Puppeteer)
|Year Of Production||1999|
|Running Time||970:12 (Case: 1008)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (6)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
Universal Pictures Home Video
Lani John Tupu
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
The third series of Farscape is very aptly named 'The Season Of Death'. Just about every episode involves, or is the consequence of, death. They explore this in quite a few different ways, some of them quite original. Death in western society is something that is never mentioned (except usually in the last episode of the season) - it is the ultimate dark boogie man. It is something to be fought tooth and nail, something very bad. It is interesting that they decided to base an entire season around death as it could have been a very risky strategy for them - people could have quickly become burnt out on the intensity of emotions that are evoked by many of the episodes.
There are two thoughts that arise from experiencing this season. In some ways, bringing death into the story and exploring it makes it seem a little less hidden in the darkness and not such a frightening thing, though I wonder if that thought was in the producers' minds; it is a consequence of their storytelling. The other is that they may have thought that it was a good powerful storyline to draw in an audience. If so, I wonder how many of them have actually experienced death out of sequence. Not the death of someone that is old, at the end of their cycle, but the death of someone young, before their time as it were. Perhaps I am reading too much into what is a science fiction series, but as with the previous series of Farscape, they dare to go where few have risked. They have reached back in time to the shamanic stories told around the fire so that those of the tribe could begin to understand the world around them.
The plot synopses for these episodes are going to be very difficult to write without the great risk of spoilers. I will try my best to avoid spoilers, but if you have not seen this season it might be best to skip the entire synopsis section. Even the inclusion or not of a character's name is a giveaway in this season.
We open this season as we left Season 2, with Aeryn dead and Crichton on the operating table with his head open and the surgeon also apparently dead and Scorpius in possession of the neural chip containing all the wormhole technology. The party warms up with the arrival of a Scaran and the rest of the Farscape crew who are now caught between a Scorpius and a Scaran.
Loaded up with cash from their little withdrawal from the ex-shadow repository, the crew heads to a commerce station for a little R&R. Unfortunately, they choose one that is inhabited by some religious zealots that seem to have the ability to attract rather strong solar storms. The station is only one more storm from destruction and the crew scramble to save the station and themselves.
While studying a wormhole from the outside, Moya is involved in an interdimensional collision that leaves her and another ship half-fused together. Moya is slowly being killed by the conjunction with the other ship and things look bleak. The other ship is piloted by a race that are exploring wormholes and Crichton is torn between sorting out the mess and learning more about wormholes. This episode sees the introduction of a new permanent crew member, one that is initially very, very annoying.
The crew discovers that Moya's condition is not totally the result of the collision and are not impressed. They set out to save her but in the end a terrible decision has to be made. While this episode has a fair wallop, I don't think that it has the same weight as the last episode of the second season.
This is what I would call an interlude episode, one that is not part of the main story flow. The crew decide to visit a war memorial, one that celebrates an heroic act by a group of peacekeepers in the past. Due to a glitch between the hologram machine that is part of the display and Stark's strange powers, a number of the crew are transported back in time to the event. On arrival, they promptly screw up the time line and have to work hard to put things back the way they were. One part of this episode echoes the spirit of the Anzacs and would not have worked nearly so well with any accent other than Australian.
This episode starts a plot line that is quite clever but that they came close to over-milking. D'Argo, Chiana, Crichton and Jool are returning from a shopping trip and run into a little trouble. They discover a disabled Leviathan and dock with her in the hope that they can find some spare parts. What they do find is a strange dying ship crewed by what appear to be primitive creatures and one very unbalanced escaped prisoner.
With Talon seriously injured, the crew head for the Kanvia to buy some Chromextin to aid in his healing. They peacefully offer to buy the Chromextin but unfortunately they have chosen a planet with a few political problems and things become complicated.
Talon, with Aryon, Crichton and Crais onboard is swallowed whole by a Budong, a very large space creature. Caught in the gullet they need a plan to get out, one that does not involve going further down the digestive track of the Budong. Rygil and Stark are nearby in the shuttle and suggest a daring plan for the rescue. While all this is going on, the jealousy between Crichton and Crais is brought to a head.
Never run through an energy storm if you can help it. Even if it looks like you have come out the other side with no damage, appearances can be deceiving. Crichton suddenly finds himself losing blocks of time; initially no one believes him but as things get weirder the others are convinced that something is not right and just maybe they are not alone.
A peacekeeper retrieval squad, the one that injured Talon so badly, is back on the scent. They see an opportunity to capture both Talon and the troublesome crew of Moya. Heading up the retrieval squad is someone that Aeryn knows, but the reality does not match her memories of this person.
Scorpius has been busy with a group of scientists trying to solve the riddle of wormhole technology using the knowledge that the chip retrieved from Crichton's brain has revealed. Things are not going well and in a switch around, Scorpius installs the chip in his own brain in the hope of solving the puzzle.
Talon attempts to fly into a sun that acts as a siren for Leviathans. Managing to avert the dive, Crais, Crichton, Stark and Aeryn are left in the gravity well in a very low orbit around the sun. There does not seem to be a way to release Talon from the grip of the siren and a creature appears to tell them to abandon Talon as there is no hope for him. Another creature appears to Stark begging for help, and in trying to help this creature Stark puts them into even greater danger. This little episode is drawn directly from Greek mythology - they have lots of fun with it as Talon releases a gas into the atmosphere that leaves Crichton and Aryon seriously distracted with each other.
Crichton and D'Argo are kicked off the ship by Pilot because he is sick of the constant fighting between the two. They are accompanied by Chiana and Jool. While partying like there is no tomorrow, strange things start to happen. The girls disappear and the boys have no idea just what happened the night before. There is a drug on this planet, a very powerful drug, and somehow the two girls are tied up with the main dealer on the planet. The boys need to work out just what is going on and come up with a workable rescue plan.
One of the ancients, the ones that placed the wormhole knowledge in Crichton's head in the first place, reappears and he is not happy. Somebody is playing with wormholes and he wants to know how they found out how to do this. The trail quickly leads to one of my favourite characters from the previous seasons, Furlow. Crichton, Aryon, Crais, Rygel and Stark head back to Dam-Ba-Da to see what she has been up to.
Unfortunately, the removal of the chip did not completely remove Scorpius from John's mind - there is a very solid residue left behind. Before the ancient can unlock the hidden wormhole knowledge from Crichton's mind, this residue must be removed. This is a dangerous procedure, but with a battle cruiser heading their way, their choices are limited.
You are either going to love this episode or absolutely hate it. The adaptation of the loony tunes cartoon style to this episode is, in my opinion, very well done. The flashes back and forth from reality to the cartoon works very well and the scene with Aeryn in it is one of the funniest of the season.
Aeryn sets down on a strange planet, one where the inhabitants have a reputation for talking to the dead. Her grief has drawn her to the planet. While trying to sort out her feelings, she is confronted by the past in a way in which she did not suspect was possible.
The two separate storylines reunite in this episode. Crichton is in for a shock and things between him and Aeryn now have a new twist. Moya rescues an escape pod with a number of prisoners on board. One of them is a traitor - the problem is working out which one.
Scorpius is getting too close to releasing wormhole technology and Crichton is out to stop him. His plan involves making a deal to join Scorpius' programme and finding a way to sabotage it. Rygel and D'Argo agree to meet Scorpius at an out-of-the-way planetary diner to negotiate the deal. While there, outside influences create a small problem.
The deal, for better or worse, has been struck and the Farscape crew, Moya and Talon are all on Scorpius' ship. The Peace Keeper high command are not impressed with Scorpius' latest venture and are out to shut him down. They even attempt assassination via a clever and unusual method. This forces Scorpius to put the pressure on John to help complete the wormhole technology now.
Twists and turns and plans within plans as various members of the Farscape crew try to sabotage the wormhole technology and the entire Peace Keeper battle ship.
The final episode for this season and they have adopted the old standard of busting everyone up and having them head off in the requisite number of directions. They also complicate things by having some of them head off involuntarily into trouble. This, of course, gives them many threads to pick up at the start of the next season. The episode itself is quite introspective and really concentrates on Crichton's problems.
Overall, the transfer is not bad. It sits somewhere in between the quality of the first season and the second, but more towards the second than the first. While the image is not bad most of the time, during fast action and in particular very bright scenes, the screen completely breaks up with both pixelization and something that looks like the whites are oversaturating or going above the digital threshold for white. It is presented at its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio.
Sharpness is excellent for still or slow moving objects. With moderate amounts of movement, we start to blur, and with quick movements, pixelate. There are no problems with the shadow detail. There is a fair amount of low level noise present in any dark scene.
There is a very colourful palette present and the saturation is very good.
MPEG artefacts are present in the action scenes such as at 5:06 and 5:10 in Episode 2 and 33:33 and 33:47 in Episode 3 and 0:14 in Episode 4. These scenes are completely pixelated and have other strobing and trace line problems. There is no aliasing or wobble in the picture and film artefacts are fairly infrequent. The episode Revenging Angel has a terrible problem with interlacing in the animated sections making it quite hard to watch.
There are no subtitles on these discs.
I noted no layer changes so have to assume that they are tucked in between the episodes.
There are no problems with the dialogue quality nor with the audio sync.
The music is excellent and continues to be a feature of this series. The range of musical styles that are drawn together and matched to the particular moment on-screen is excellent, and very skilfully done.
The surrounds are constantly active with ambience, special effects and split effects. For a weekly TV series, the soundtrack is nothing short of amazing.
The subwoofer usage has gotten even better than the last two seasons. There is now material on these discs that must go well below 25Hz, maybe even below 20Hz. It rocks, shakes and thunders its way through nearly every episode. This will really test out the depths of your subwoofer. My only complaint about the sub is that the recent practice of using the subwoofer to show tension or something bad happening on screen rather utilizing the musical score to do this has crept in and is sometimes a little annoying.
|Surround Channel Use|
A very clever menu with animation and video clip inserts. There are selections for play, which plays all episodes on the disc, chapter selection which can play an entire episode or a particular chapter via a further sub-menu. The remaining selections are audio and extras. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 and the video is presented at 1.33:1.
Each and every episode has a plot synopsis on the relevant disc. They are static text pages and obviously contain some serious spoilers. I'm not sure of the value of these other than a quick check if you can't remember a particular episode. They are accurate and much better than the usual rubbish that graces the back of DVD packages.
This is the second commentary that we have head from Guy - he also provided an audio commentary for The Way We Weren't in Season 2. Again an interesting commentary, particularly as there is some very unusual music accompanying this episode. The same frustration applies to this commentary as to the last. When Guy is talking about a particular musical phrase or effect you cannot hear it! The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0.
An interesting commentary on the evolution of the 'cartoon' episode. The difficulties of matching existing characters and other problems are discussed along with tidbits about the Loony Tune influence. The commentary does not go right to the end of the episode but finishes after the last animated segment at 32:47.
Recorded a year after the production of the episode, this is somewhat of a trip down memory lane for both commentators. At times they stray a fair distance from the action on screen, not that this is bad, as we get some great behind-the-scenes gossip to liven up the commentary.
The 'road runner' cartoon interludes from the episode Revenging Angel strung together and played as a single cartoon. While it leaves out my favourite part (where they turn Aeyrn into a cartoon character), it is still a good spoof of the Loony Tunes. It is presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.
These are a series of stills showing the artwork, storyboards and captures for the animation. Some are completed drawings that have been coloured and some are only line drawings. There are nine sections: Props (19), Backgrounds (24), Scenes (21), Story Boards (80), D'Argo (28), Crichton (31), Aeryn (22), Scorpius (10) and Rygel (7). I particularly like the character sections as they show the evolution of the character as they searched for a way to make them into recognisable cartoons. Each picture stays on screen for seven seconds unless overridden by the chapter skip function. These are presented at 1.33:1 with each picture inset within a border taking up about four fifths of the screen. There is no audio.
A series of animatics, line tests and intermediate footage for a number of scenes; Aeryn (4:56), Scorpius (3:26), Rocket Surfer (2:23), Wormhole (2:07), Enterprise (1:53), Explosives (2:12) and Canon (3:39). The video quality of the live action that they have captured to act as a guide for the animators is of very low resolution. The artwork and line animations are clear. All are presented at 1.33:1 with some having Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.
This is an interesting interview as Sean tells us about the puppet Pilot and some of his workings and the number of people involved in bringing him to life. The video is 1.33:1 and the audio is Dolby Digital 2.0. The audio has a bit of an echo from the room in which the interview was conducted.
I'm not entirely sure just what the object of this game is. You are initially shown a screen with a number of planets with arrows pointing at them. These arrows can be selected which then runs a short segment from an episode and sort of leads to another screen. These screens vary but always include more arrows. I assume that a particular sequence will get you somewhere, but I have no idea where.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Again our comparison is a little difficult. R1 does not get a box set but five sets of two discs each. From what I can glean about these sets, the differences between R1 and R4 are as follows:
The R1 version of these discs miss out on:
The R4 version of these discs miss out on:
As you can see, the extras are completely different between the two regions. On sheer numbers, R1 looks like the winner though I have not seen the R1 extras to accurately judge this.
|DVD||Skyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output|
|Display||Sony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Speakers||B&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)|