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ADV Films presents

Farscape #5 (2001)

"You are making a phenomenal contribution to the approach of sentient life towards perfection, and you want me to stop it?"- NamTar (Julian Garner)

Stars: Ben Browder, Claudia Black
Other Stars: Anthony Simcoe, Virginia Hey
Director: Ian Watson, Andrew Prowse

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild violence, some language)
Run Time: 01h:39m:12s
Release Date: 2001-07-24
Genre: sci-fi

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- A-AA C+


DVD Review

ADV's Farscape keeps chugging along here in Volume 5, featuring the two episodes DNA Mad Scientist and They've Gotta Secret. Now in the 9th and 10th episodes, we've seen enough time go by that the series begins to play with the characters and explore their darker sides. We live through some interesting times for the crew of Moya, and some new changes to the future of the series.

In DNA Mad Scientist, Crichton and his comrades contact a mysterious scientist in a distant space colony. The scientist, NamTar, can create extremely accurate, genetically-enhanced maps to anyone's home by sampling their DNA. The price for these maps is rather extreme: one of the arms of Moya's pilot. D'Argo and Zhaan, possessed by the idea of finding their way back to normal, show no mercy and brutally take the pilot's arm without his consent. After this brutal deed, Crichton and Aeryn are astonished that the crew has become so ruthless, but figure that all will be over in time. Aeryn decides to give her DNA to NamTar in order to locate a save haven from Peacekeeper Command, but she is double-crossed and NamTar begins manipulating her genes for his own purposes. Meanwhile, a vicious political battle has broken out between D'Argo, Zhaan, and Rygel back on the ship, as they fight over whose home planet they visit first.

Although this is generally a good episode as it shows a much darker side to the characters' ambition to get home, it also has a slightly weak edge to it. The "mad scientist in the stars" theme is a little too Star Trek-ish for me, and makes the episode rather double-sided. On one end, it's a really good character study; on the other, it's fairly derivative sci-fi. That aside, there's still good entertainment here and Farscape moves on, even if in a somber tone.

Rating: 2 Moyas out of 5.

They've Gotta Secret sees Moya's crew searching throughout her structure to locate any additional security devices hidden by Peacekeepers. In the search, D'Argo happens upon one and in his haste to remove it, causes a serious malfunction and manages to get himself blown outside the ship, where he goes into a state of interna-thermia. He is rescued, but begins violently hallucinating and re-living elements of his past life, thinking that his friends are actually members of his family. The destruction caused by the shoddy removal of the Peacekeeper device has also caused malfunctions to Pilot, who can no longer interface with ship systems. Aeryn Sun decides to try working Pilot's console, and with her struggling to learn a lifetime's worth of Pilot skills, the rest of the crew must deal with the life-support problems and D'Argo's hallucinations.

In general, this is a good, entertaining episode that moves us past the grim tone of the previous one. It also serves many future purposes, mainly to establish information about D'Argo's family, which becomes a major factor later in the series, well into the second season. Another element, however, also appears at the end of this episode; one that winds up becoming a huge plot factor for the entire show, right up until present.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Moyas.

I think it was at this point that people originally started really taking notice of the show; the quality of the production and the obvious hard work to create a believable world began catching eyes. Farscape started setting the bar pretty high for television sci-fi, and no one has really been able to match it—during these first season episodes, I think it amazed a lot of people that such a program existed. The producers, directors, and creators should be proud that they can look back and see the birth of something that's really gone beyond the imaginations of its creators. I get the feeling we might see a major feature movie soon. Or am I getting ahead of myself?

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: There is no difference between previous volumes and this disc; the video quality is still top-notch. All details are extremely fine and well-rendered, with no signs of transfer difficulties. All around superb work that brings out the natural depth and resolution of the show, which is extremely high quality to begin with.

Image Transfer Grade: A

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 5.1 audio is very active and filled with tons of split surround effects and directional material. DNA Mad Scientist has some particularly impressive sound work, well above what I would have expected from the mix. The sound is actually one of the more interesting things about these home versions of the episodes, since it really adds such a dramatic upgrade to the broadcast Dolby 2.0 Surround tracks (which are also included). I would actually call these reference quality tracks, especially because of the constant multi-channel activity.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 8 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Spriggan, Shadowraiders, Sin, Samurai X
Packaging: other
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
  2. Conceptual drawings.
  3. Profile: Rygel XVI (head puppeteer John Eccleston)
Extras Review: Unlike previous volumes, there are no commentary tracks here. Instead, the most prominent extra feature is an 11-minute profile of the character Rygel XVI, mainly consisting of interview material with John Eccleston, the puppeteer who manipulates Rygel. It's an interesting segment with some behind-the-scenes material.

There is a very short photo gallery of Rygel XVI along with a conceptual art gallery that, again, is themed around Rygel, with some other work thrown in. The work all seems to be related to the episodes on the disc. The absence of the commentary tracks is a bit of a downer, especially since many Farscape fans really enjoyed them.

Extras Grade: C+

Final Comments

Farscape marches on, but it would seem that we might start seeing a reduction in extra features, thus reducing the collectable level of the shows. I also think fans would really like to see more episodes per volume, especially when we look at arrangements like X-Files. I admire the high quality, but I think people will grow less and less tolerant of this scheme.

Dan Lopez 2001-07-12