Farscape is an acquired taste. Honestly, it took me a few viewings to get hooked. It is unlike any sci-fi show ever produced, with stories that are often too complicated to follow with a casual viewing. It requires your full attention or you can become hopelessly lost. The characters are never cut and dried good or evil, and the stories do not always end on a happy note and seldom with all of the loose ends brought together. The Henson creature creations are the most outstanding examples of puppetry I’ve ever seen in television or the big screen.
The Sci-Fi Channel relied on Farscape for the first three years to anchor its original programming. Having a smart and totally original program elevated the once repeat wasteland to the ranks of a premier program outlet. After the third season Sci-Fi committed to a fourth and fifth season of Farscape. Unfortunately, Bonnie Hammer, the president at Sci-Fi, decided not to honor her commitments. Near the end of season four the station abruptly decided to end the show. Fans were angry and “save Farscape” campaigns began to pop up like Hynarians at a buffet. It seemed that Farscape was doomed to end with a cliffhanger fans would never see resolved. That was until Henson and his crew pushed hard enough to secure financing and eventually an airdate for a mini-series that would conclude at least this incarnation of Farscape.
Enter: The Peacekeeper Wars. When last we left the crew of Moya, Astronaut John Crichton (Bowder) was proposing to former peacekeeper Aeryn Sun (Black). They were peacefully afloat on a tranquil sea when an alien fighter blew them into a zillion pieces. The Peacekeeper Wars begins with Rygel gathering up the sunken pieces of the couple.
During this time the long anticipated war between the Peacekeepers and the Scarens has erupted and fan favorite baddie, Scorpius (Pygram) is right in the middle of things. It just so happens that the native people of the planet Moya’s crew has visited are descended from a race with capabilities to end the conflict. The crew must bring out this potential while the battle rages around them.
Farscape is presented with a fair Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. You won’t find as much separation as the epic nature of the material appears to suggest. Still, the range is quite dynamic. The roars of fighting ships and the booming explosions that result come across with wonderful use of sub and mains. Dialogue is ever prevalent and centered appropriately. Gross’s unusual score is more complicated than the series usually featured it. That wonderful music is presented well in this mix. Much of this mix is loud as it should be.
The mini-series is presented in its original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which is the typical broadcast for 16×9 sets. The presentation contains elements of sheer brilliance at times. Colors are extremely vivid and blacks are particularly impressive. The huge problem here is that they just crammed too much on one disc. There’s a ton of compression artifact that really does distract from the incredible visuals of the feature. It’s obvious that some care and attention to detail was given to this transfer, only to be offset by placing the entire mini on one disc. I guess I’ve been spoiled by the ADV releases of the original episodes. Those transfers are so beautiful that this version pales in comparison.
“The Making Of The Peacekeeper Wars: The Battle Behind The Wars” is not as long as its title. Clocking in at under half an hour it is none the less a nice feature. The feature begins on a low note indeed, the cancellation notification to the cast and crew of Farscape. The feature gives appropriate due to the fan driven efforts to bring back Farscape. There are some emotional clips here that might bring a tear to the eyes of the die-hard fan base.
There are four galleries with plenty for every fan’s taste. You’ll get tons of production stills, storyboards, conceptual art drawings, and hardware stills.
While I was very pleased with the return of Farscape, and the resolution of the cliffhanger, I feel this particular effort was too hastily put together. I can’t completely explain it, but the story just seemed to have too many rough edges, and I didn’t get a feel that some of the actors were comfortable with how their characters played out. Scorpius, played by Wayne Pygram, seemed particularly out of step with the incredible performances I’ve become accustomed to seeing. The final scene between Chiana and D’Argo was very moving and was the closest to the emotion of the series I witnessed. Fans of Farscape have already watched this at least once. If you’re happy with your dub from Sci-Fi, I’m not sure this DVD will offer you anything more. If you don’t know Farscape, this is definitely not the DVD to get acquainted. You simply must start from the beginning. Viewers new to the Farscape experience will probably feel a bit “frelled”.