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I originally had the mistaken impression that Farscape was nothing more than a weird, silly, science fiction show with Muppets and skipped over it every time I would come across it while channel surfing. One night about three years ago while battling one of my frequent bouts of insomnia, I came across a rerun of the show’s pilot episode in the wee hours of the morning and from there on in I was hooked.

Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars
I searched out every episode on DVD I could find to rent and caught it every time it would air on the Sci-Fi Channel. After several months of getting caught up with the show’s fourth season and looking forward to the upcoming fifth season, everything came to a screeching halt with the shocking announcement of the series’ cancellation. More salt was poured into the wound when the finale to the fourth season ended with the main characters being stunningly crystallized and shattered into thousands of pieces right before the end credits. But thanks largely due to the outcry of fans around the world, the Sci-Fi Channel did something of a rarity by bringing Farscape back to television this past fall in an effort to allow the series to wrap up loose ends and thrill viewers once again in the course of the two night miniseries, Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars.

Those familiar with the series can skip to the next paragraph, but for those new to the Farscape universe here’s a quick and dirty synopsis of the show: Astronaut John Crichton attempted an experiment to pilot his small spacecraft, Farscape, at greater speeds than thought possible by using the Earth’s atmosphere as a propellant. During the initial experiment, he was sucked though a wormhole and thrown to the other end of the universe into the middle of a space battle between escaped prisoners and their pursuers, the human like Peacekeepers. Taken aboard by the alien escapees in their commandeered, living ship, Moya, Crichton soon found himself a wanted fugitive, but his troubles were far from just beginning. Soon afterwards, a strange being imbued Crichton with a rudimentary knowledge of the wormholes that brought him to the outer reaches of the galaxy and with it the possibility of creating weapons based on that knowledge. Upon learning of Crichton’s enlightenment, he was sought after and hunted by nearly every faction of this universe in flux, especially the Peacekeeper commander Scorpius, all while searching for a way home to Earth.

Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars
Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars picks up sixty days after the series finale with John Crichton (Ben Browder) and Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black), who happens to be carrying Crichton’s unborn child, pieced back together from their shattered state. While they were away, a full blown war erupted between the Peacekeepers and the Scaren Empire when Scorpius (Wayne Pygram), while on a recon mission, engaged an enemy warship. Everyone is still after Crichton for the wormhole technology that could decide a victor in the war, so in a desperate attempt to end the conflict that threatens to tear apart the galaxy and slaughter millions along the way, Moya and her crew, along with Scorpius, look to reunite the Eidolon society with their newly awakened ancestors who possess within them the inherent knowledge and wisdom to broker peace in times of war. But as often times found in the series, nothing is as easy as it seems nor as complicated as one could imagine, even the birth of a child.

As far as science fiction television goes, or their theatrical counterparts go for that matter, new viewers could do much worse than to blindly watch this miniseries. Those new to the Farscape universe will find it highly entertaining once getting a grip on who the characters are and what is going on, and thanks to clever writing in the beginning the miniseries they should be up to speed enough to enjoy the show although some of the jokes and situations will only be picked up by devoted fans of the series.

For long-time fans, they will find that miniseries contains everything that they have come to love over the past several years—action, drama, romance and humour mixed within a sometimes crazy but always compelling, unique and entertaining science fiction universe. They will also like that all of the main characters are given their due by not being glossed over in a by the numbers sort of fashion and the fact that many past characters make a welcome return engagement for the miniseries as well. This is definitely one show that when looked back upon has assembled a great ensemble cast and characters that have formed real relationships and grown as individuals throughout the course of the series, which is something that can be said of few television programs past or present. Thankfully with this miniseries these characters that many have grown to love over the years are each given a proper goodbye, and while not all of them are nice, happy endings, ones that are satisfying for each character.

Fans will also be happy to know that the miniseries doesn’t skimp on the action and visuals either as it moves with a breakneck pace, rarely letting up to take a breather. The last forty-five minutes are some of the most action packed and dramatic moments in the history of Farscape and a worthy culmination of all that has come before in the series. The visual effects are equal to and sometimes surpass those from the series in many ways and offer up plenty or surprises in and of themselves, and along with action scenes that are nothing short of epic for the show place this miniseries in a class all its own.

Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars
As a series finale, I thoroughly enjoyed Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars and I cannot think of a better way to say farewell to the series and characters; it ties up many of the loose ends from the series nicely and gives fans exactly what they have wanted for two years. Too many times a series is cancelled before its time and not afforded a proper send-off for its fans (attention Warner Brothers network) and I’m glad that the Sci-Fi Channel allowed Farscape to come back for another three hours to do just that with a return that was well worth the wait.

Video
Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars is presented in an anamorphic transfer at its televised aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and while the results are a bit mixed, the picture quality is good overall for a made-for-television film. While most of the time the picture is clear, sharp and free of artefacts, there are times when the transfer is a bit grainy, soft and suffers some edge enhancement. Other than these defects, the light and darkness contrast is well executed and the film's vibrant colour palette is displayed beautifully. That being said, having seen the miniseries when it originally aired I can state that most of the problems with the video were present in the original broadcast and not necessarily a product of the transfer on this DVD.

In keeping up with the tradition of the series, director of photography Russell Bacon's work is some of the best seen on television today with haunting shots of Moya's interior and some truly epic camera shots that give the miniseries a very cinematic quality to its look.

Audio
The audio presentation for the disc features Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 in English with optional English and Spanish subtitles. Most television fare on DVD focuses much of its audio in the front channels with minimal effects coming from the surround or LFE channels and Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars is no exception. But even though the audio isn't as immersive as most the film's theatrical counterparts, the sound is good with clear dialogue from the centre channel and the music and sound effects are nicely handled as well. The score by Guy Gross lives up to the high standards set by himself during the series' run and hits all the right notes at the right times while ranging from the bombastic to the emotional.

Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars
Extras
Lion’s Gate Home Entertainment has supplied a few extras for this DVD release of Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars that include a making-of featurette and several photo and art galleries housed on the second disc of the set.

Coming in at nearly thirty minutes is the featurette ‘The Making of The Peacekeeper Wars: The Battle Behind the Wars’ that chronicles the series return to television and goes behind the scenes with the filmmakers and actors on location in Australia. Beginning with footage from 2002 when the cast was informed on set of the show’s cancellation and ending with the last scene of the miniseries being shot, the featurette is an entertaining and sometimes quite humorous look at how the show was brought back, mainly through the hard work of fans around the world. All aspects of the production are given their due respects during the course of the piece and I only wish it were more in depth than the thirty minute running times allows for.

The next four features on the disc, found under the menu selections, ‘Conceptual Art Gallery’, ‘Storyboards’, ‘Spacecraft Gallery’, and ‘Prop Gallery’, contain roughly 250 to 300 photos of props, pre-production artwork, special effects work and storyboards used in the miniseries. These sections offer a wealth of information for the Farscape fan and allow for a closer inspection of some of the unique ships, intricate weapons and other props. Both discs also feature nice animated menus featuring scenes and characters from the miniseries as well.

While the features presented here are nice, I miss the inclusion of a commentary track for the miniseries itself. After finally beginning to purchase Farscape on DVD myself with the release of ADV’s Starburst Editions, I’ve grown accustomed to having the commentary tracks to go along with the episodes and would have especially liked to hear the thoughts of the actors and filmmakers on bringing Farscape back to television after its two year absence.

Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars
Overall
Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars may have come two agonizing years too late for some fans of the series, but this miniseries is well worth the wait; it's one of the best finales to a television series in recent memory and if this truly is the last we see of Farscape, it's every bit what the best science fiction show in the past five years deserves. Lion's Gate Home Entertainment has provided a solid package for the series' send-off with a good video transfer and sound presentation along with features that include an excellent, albeit too short for my tastes, making-of featurette. While I don't really recommend that those new to the series start with this DVD they could do much worse as there aren’t many better options available out there, but if you are one of those who have followed Farscape and Moya's crew through all of their journeys together then this two-disc set is a must own.


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