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- Published on Amazon.com
Although FARSCAPE had no bad seasons and no set in this series will be of anything less than completing enjoyable, this set contains what is arguably the ones where the show evolved into what it in fact was: the most innovative Sci-fi series in the history of television. In particular, in these episodes the story arc that would extend from the three "Look at the Princess" episodes to the final minutes of the miniseries would be in place. For it is in these episodes that John and Aeryn's romantic interest in each other, which had previously been latent, is made explicit and we begin getting the first concrete hints that something is not quite right with John's head, though we won't learn precisely what until late in the season. All we know for certain is that John has begun to see Scorpius even when he knows that he isn't there.
Like many fans of FARSCAPE, I've only now started turning in my old recordings of the show for DVDs now that we are finally getting acceptably priced copies of the show. Although there have been other TV series that have appeared in overpriced editions-THE X-FILES springs to mind-FARSCAPE was the only one in its original edition that could be said to be prohibitively so. I'm not sure about other fans, but there was simply no way that I was able or willing to pay for a set that listed for well over a hundred dollars. One could make some complaints about the new Starburst edition-for instance, I'm still not clear on why they have to dribble these out two discs at a time, instead of releasing an entire season at once-but two things one cannot carp about: the cost and the number of extras. As to the former, I've been about to find each disc in the Starburst so far from various resellers listed on Amazon for no more than $16 apiece. As to the latter, each of the three sets making up each season is stuffed with a variety of special features. Some of the special features feel a bit like filler, but a number are substantive.
As in all these sets, the final side of the second disc has many interesting special effects. Here the longest is a long interview with Virginia Hey that took place after the demise of the series, with her hair regrown and skin decidedly not blue. Even though she was 52 at the time of the interview, she honestly doesn't look as if she could be a day over 35. People talk of good genes, and she has them aplenty. As long as the interview is, it is incomplete, and will presumably be completed in another set. There is also a blooper reel (my favorite is when D'Argo bumps against a huge rock column and it moves forward-ooops!) and some raw footage of "The Flax" and "Through the Looking Glass" from Season One, which is great to see what the scenes look like on the set before special effects have been added.
All the episodes on this disc are excellent (though I cringe a bit when I see the identity-switch episode "Out of Their Minds"-why must every show employ this hackneyed plot device when it never leads to anything good, with the notable exception of the stunning two-parter on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER where Buffy and Faith switch bodies, the exception that proves the rule), the highpoint of the set and one of the highpoints of the entire series is the three-part "Look at the Princess." Although on one level it is about John's nearly being forced to become a prince (and statue) on a planet over which Scarens and Peacekeepers struggle for mastery, in reality it is about John and Aeryn. Although there had been flirtations in the first season and a half, and in one virtual reality episode apparently spent on earth a night of passion, their feelings had more or less remained sublimated. Here, however, the three-part saga begins with John and Aeryn on his shuttle, with her showing him piloting tricks, when things get more than a little passionate. Breaking off from their kiss Aeryn yells that she will not be a slave to his hormones, when clearly her hormones are every bit as guilty as his. While John seems pretty clear on how he feels about Aeryn, the former Peacekeeper, suffering from a lifetime of being taught not to have strong feelings for others, is having a difficult time figuring how to come to terms with how she feels for John. When the crew descends to a planet about to celebrate a royal wedding, they discover a practice whereby someone places a drop of a liquid on the tongue of a member of the opposite sex, briefly touch tongues, and then kiss. If they are genetically compatible, a sweet taste will result; if incompatible, a bitter taste. The ambitious prince, younger brother of the woman who is heir to the throne, has poisoned her DNA so that any Sebacean who kisses her will prove incompatible. When she kisses John, however, who being human somehow is immune to the poison, a sweet taste results and John suddenly finds himself about to become royalty.
In the end John avoids all the intrigue to either kill him or make him a regent. Back on the ship a scene occurs that demonstrates as well as any in the run of the show what makes it so special. Although it has as many or more special effects as any show ever made, a host of aliens and exotics settings, and as much action as even the most avid action nut could hope for, the most exciting scene occurs in a quiet moment between John and Aeryn back upon Moya. Seeing each other alone for the first time after their ordeal, John talks happily to Aeryn until he finally call attention to her persistent silence. Aeryn breaks off her exercise, reaches for something nearby, and then holding up one of the planet's compatibility vials walks slowly towards John. Both of them quiet now, she hands the vial to John who places a drop on her tongue and then on his own. They kiss as the music rises and then break off suddenly as it lowers. She turns around to face the camera, a blank expression on her face which holds for a second, and then breaks into a smile that barely represses the joy is obviously feels, John also breaking into a grin as she walks away. Though FARSCAPE had so much window dressing, the show in the end was really about whether two people have the right chemistry. Though the show went for four seasons and a miniseries, John and Aeryn's kiss has to stand as one of the half dozen great moments in the history of the show. From this moment on, it isn't a question of if John and Aeryn will get together, but of how long it will take. But we all know that if there is one thing that television shows love to do it is to postpone the inevitable.
The other major thing we see in these episodes is that Scorpius has a hold over John that we hadn't previously known. True, in one episode he had imagined seeing Scorpius on Moya, but in this episode Scorpius explicitly states that John hasn't even begun to understand what he has done to him, and we find that when John attempts to kill Scorpius he is suddenly unable to go through with it. Then on the final episode of this set, "Beware of Dog," John again sees Scorpius when he knows he can't be there. These are the beginning intimations of what John would later call Harvey, the inner presence of Scorpius due to the chip he inserted into John's brain when he was in the Aurora chair.
All shows take some time to mature and find their greatness. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (which, by the way, gets a mention in one of the Princess episodes, when John complains that when he awakens after being a statue for 80 years everything he cares about will be dead, even Buffy) was a very good show its first season and for the first third of the second, but in the episode "Innocence" became a great show. Likewise, FARSCAPE was a very good show for its first season and a half, but after the Princess trilogy clearly had achieved greatness.