Despite being one of the best sci-fi television shows ever, Farscape is still not a terribly well-known show outside of the geek community. The sci-fi show followed the adventures of stranded astronaut John Crichton (Ben Browder, long before he became “the new guy” on Stargate SG-1) as he traveled on a living spaceship with a crew of escaped convicts. It was a landmark program, both in terms of the tone and approach it brought to the genre and its special effects – Farscape was created partially as a vehicle for Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Unfortunately, though, Farscape was plagued by erratic scheduling and probably just being too far outside the mainstream at the time to really succeed. It can’t be too niche, though, the full series (minus the concluding mini-series) just got a goody-laden Blu-ray release this week.
Carl Holt at HamptonRoads.com gives a pretty good layout of what’s included in the release, and even goes so far to say it “is a solid contender for Blu-ray box set of the year”. The box set includes most of the additional content from earlier DVD releases – deleted scenes, alternate takes, a behind-the-scenes special called “Farscape Undressed”, etc – and 31 audio commentaries from cast and crew.
The real test of a Blu-ray release of a pre-high def show, though, is how it handles that disparity and what new high-def features it brings to the table. According to most reviews, the Farscape Blu-rays excel here. Not only is there a purportedly great 37-minute high-def documentary called “Memories of Moya” that reunites much of the original creative team and actors for a retrospective. The audio and visuals have been remastered to make them crisper, cleaner, and richer. I don’t mean “remastered” in the Lucas sense of tweaking and playing with things, either. The original video went through several passes through a digital system that resulted in what Holt says is the best picture the program has ever had (although Blu-ray.com was less impressed). Blu-ray.com did give kudos to the audio, though, saying it “crackles with intensity, some fantastic LFE and relatively consistent surround activity”.
The box set lists at $199.95, which is pretty steep but may be worth it if the audio, picture quality and extras are as good as the reviews suggest.