Farscape

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For the Klaus Schulze/Lisa Gerrard album, see Farscape (album).
Farscape
Farscape Logo.jpg
Series 4 logo
Format Science fiction
Created by Brian Henson
Rockne S. O'Bannon
Starring Ben Browder
Claudia Black
Virginia Hey
Anthony Simcoe
Gigi Edgley
Paul Goddard
Lani Tupu
Wayne Pygram
Jonathan Hardy
Country of origin Australia
United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 4
No. of episodes 88 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Robert Halmi Jr.
Brian Henson
David Kemper
Rockne S. O'Bannon
Running time 50 minutes (season 1)
44 minutes (seasons 2–4)
Production company(s) The Jim Henson Company
Nine Network (season 1)
Hallmark Entertainment A&E
Broadcast
Original channel Nine Network (Australia)
Sci-Fi Channel
Picture format 1.33:1 (Season 1–3)
1.78:1 (Season 4)
Original run 19 March 1999 (1999-03-19) – 21 March 2003 (2003-03-21)
Chronology
Followed by Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (miniseries)
External links
Website

Farscape (1999–2003) is an Australian/American science fiction television series, produced originally for the Nine Network. The series was conceived by Rockne S. O'Bannon and produced by Jim Henson Productions and Hallmark Entertainment.[1] The Jim Henson Company was responsible for the various alien make-up and prosthetics, and two regular characters (the animatronic puppets Rygel and Pilot) are entirely Creature Shop creations.

Although the series was planned for five seasons, it was abruptly cancelled after production had ended on its fourth season, effectively ending the series on a cliffhanger. Co-producer Brian Henson later secured the rights to Farscape, paving the way for a three-hour miniseries to wrap up the cliffhanger, titled Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars, which Henson directed himself. In 2007, it was announced that the creator was returning for a web-series,[citation needed] but production has been repeatedly put on hold. A comic book miniseries was released in December 2008 that was in continuity with both the series and the hoped-for webisodes.

In February 2014 it was reported that former series writer Justin Monjo had begun working on a screenplay for a new Farscape movie.[2][3] At WonderCon 2014, Rockne S. O'Bannon confirmed to Nerdacy[4] that a Farscape movie is in development but the movie is in very early stages.

Overview[edit]

Farscape features a diverse ensemble of characters who are initially escaping from corrupt authorities in the form of a militaristic organisation called the Peacekeepers. The protagonists live inside a large bio-mechanical ship called Moya, which is a living entity. In the first episode, they are joined by the main character, John Crichton (Ben Browder), a modern-day American astronaut who accidentally flew into the entrance of a wormhole near Earth during an experimental space flight. On the same day, another stranger is picked up by Moya: a stranded Peacekeeper named Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black). Despite his best intentions, John does make a few major enemies; the primary of these is known as Scorpius. There are a few stand-alone plots, but the show gradually unfolds progressive arcs beginning with their recapture by the Peacekeepers, followed by John’s search to find another wormhole back to Earth, and an eventual arms race for weaponized wormhole technology. Secondary arcs explore the way in which the characters change due to their influences and adventures together, most notably John over his obsession with wormhole technology, his relationship with Aeryn and the neural clone of Scorpius that haunts him in his brain.

Production and broadcast[edit]

The series was originally conceived in the early 1990s by Rockne S. O'Bannon and Brian Henson under the title Space Chase. The series is told in a serialized format, with each episode involving a self-contained story while contributing to a larger storyline. Nearly the entire cast originates from Australia and New Zealand, with the exception of Ben Browder, who is an American actor.

Farscape’s characters frequently make use of slang such as "frell", "dren" and "hezmana" as a substitute for English expletives.

Farscape first ran on the Australian TV Channel Nine Network and the Canadian YTV channel, then in the US on the Sci-Fi Channel and on BBC2 in the United Kingdom. The series’ original broadcast on Sci-Fi was noted for its erratic scheduling, with hiatuses lasting months often occurring mid-season. For example, the final four episodes of Season 1 aired beginning in January 2000, nearly four months after the broadcast of the preceding episode; the final four episodes of Season 3 were separated from the rest of the season by a gap of more than six months.

Plot[edit]

Season One[edit]

Earth astronaut John Crichton is unexpectedly hurled to a distant part of the galaxy via a wormhole. He is dropped into the middle of an escape attempt by Moya, a living spaceship, from the militaristic Peacekeepers, who had been using it as a prison transport. In the chaos he has an accidental collision with a Peacekeeper fighter, resulting in the death of its pilot. Although the escape is successful, the Peacekeeper Captain, Bialar Crais, fixates on Crichton as the murderer of the pilot – his brother – and begins a campaign to chase Crichton down.

The various crew have no common goal, each only wishing to go home. Unfortunately to avoid Crais’s pursuit they have to travel into the Uncharted Territories, and thus have no idea how to get home. The other crew also have little respect for Crichton, seeing him only as a "primitive hoo-man" who does not understand even the basic tenets of life in space.

Various episodes explore the characters’ back stories. Aeryn begins to learn that the Peacekeepers are not always as correct as she had believed. Zhaan is forced to bring up the dark side she had worked to suppress. D’Argo admits he was framed for his wife’s murder and has no idea where his child is. Rygel confronts his former jail keeper and torturer. A new character joins the crew – Chiana, a teenage thief on the run from her own repressive culture. And Moya herself becomes pregnant after a Peacekeeper experiment is accidentally activated.

Meanwhile, Crichton continues to research the wormhole that brought him here. He is forced to sell what little progress he has made to an alien mechanic as payment for repairs on the Farscape module. He is also lured into a wormhole that seems to lead directly back to Earth, only to find the entire situation is a construct created by mysterious aliens called the Ancients who are testing to see if Earth is suitable for colonization.

Towards the end of the season, Aeryn is injured and the crew is forced to go to a Peacekeeper base to seek medical help. Crichton disguises himself as a Peacekeeper to gain access, but the base’s commander, Scorpius, instantly sees through the ruse and imprisons Crichton, calling Crais to come and get him. Under torture Crichton discovers that the Ancients placed specialized knowledge of wormholes in his subconscious mind – knowledge that Scorpius is particularly eager to access. The other Moya crew launch a rescue attempt.

Meanwhile Moya gives birth to her baby, discovering that the child – named Talyn – is a volatile hybrid warship designed by the Peacekeepers instead of the usual peaceful Leviathan. Upon Crais’s arrival, Scorpius takes over his command. Crais defects to Moya to save himself, accepting along the way that Crichton had not meant to kill his brother. But this is only a cover to steal Talyn and escape on his own. Having grown much closer over the course of the season, the crew work together to escape Scorpius – a plan which ends with Crichton and D'Argo floating in space, running out of air.

Season Two[edit]

The crew of Moya are now on the run from Scorpius, who wants the wormhole knowledge locked in Crichton’s brain for his own purposes. To avoid him the crew are forced into some unwise decisions and alliances, which often result in wacky, mind-altering hijinks for the crew.

Moya encounters a non-military Sebacean colony (Sebaceans being the race of which Peacekeepers are made), where the princess has been genetically poisoned so that she cannot procreate with any Sebacean male. Recognising Crichton as a possible substitute, the Queen insists he marry the Princess, or else she will hand him over to Scorpius. Terrified of Scorpius after his experiences on the base, Crichton is forced to agree. Aeryn, who has been growing attached to Crichton, finds herself jealous.

Despite various plots by Peacekeepers and an agent of their enemies the Scarrens, the Moya crew manage to wheedle their way out once again, although the Princess is indeed left pregnant. Meanwhile, D’Argo and Chiana begin a relationship based mostly on sex, and Zhaan is tasked with protecting Moya by the Leviathian’s creator-gods. Crichton has a chance to kill Scorpius, but finds himself unable to do it, blocked by some unknown cause.

That cause is revealed when Crichton is kidnapped by Scarrens – during his torture on the base, Scorpius had implanted Crichton with a neural chip that contains a clone of his personality, designed to track down the wormhole knowledge and protect Crichton and Scorpius both until that knowledge is found. Crichton nicknames the clone Harvey.

The half-crazed mystic Stark – whom Crichton had met while jailed at the base – returns with information about D’Argo’s son, Jothee. The boy is one of a lot of slaves, and they can rescue him by buying the entire lot. To afford to do that they will need to rob a bank. The crew put a plan into action, which is complicated when Scorpius arrives. Scorpius has captured the slaves, but promises to give them Jothee if Crichton will turn himself in. Under intense pressure from the neural clone, Crichton does so.

D’Argo is reunited with his son, and the crew move into action to save Crichton. Even Crais and Talyn return to assist. The rescue is successful, although Moya is severely damaged and Crichton is nearly insane from the effects of the neural clone. At the medical colony to fix them both, the clone takes control of Crichton, seemingly killing Aeryn just as she admits her love for him. With Aeryn dead, Crichton wants the chip removed once and for all. At the same time, Scorpius catches up with them again, killing the doctor and announcing that the chip has completed its work and found the wormhole knowledge. He removes the chip and leaves Crichton incapacitated at the hospital.

Season Three[edit]

Having survived Scorpius’ attack, the doctor saves Crichton using biological material from a suitable donor – an alien called an Interon. Scorpius fools Crais into thinking he is dead to cover his escape with the neural chip, and Zhaan revives Aeryn, but at the cost of her own life. Feeling guilty over the death of the Interon, Crichton has his still living relative brought aboard – an arrogant scientist called Jool.

Investigating another wormhole, Moya crashes into a ship belonging to a race called Pathfinders, experts in wormholes. Zhaan sacrifices the last of her life to separate the ships, adding more guilt to Crichton’s conscience. He also discovers that despite the chip’s removal, the personality clone Harvey remains in his mind.

Due to an encounter with another escaped prisoner, Crichton ends up twinned – a duplicate created so that there are two Crichtons, both equal and original. Talyn is attacked by the new Peacekeeper Commando chasing the crew – Xhalax Sun, Aeryn’s mother. To escape her, Moya and Talyn starburst in opposite directions, splitting the crew, with one Crichton on each ship.

On Moya, tensions rise over D’Argo’s breakup with Chiana, Jool’s grating personality, and Crichton’s increasing obsession with wormholes. An encounter with an alien Energy Rider also instils precognitive abilities in Chiana (or possibly only activates already present abilities). Meanwhile Scorpius tries to access the wormhole data, but finds that the chip now contains a neural clone of Crichton, who refuses to allow Scorpius access.

On Talyn, Crais explains that Xhalax wants to recapture him as a renegade Peacekeeper, and to recapture Talyn as a powerful warship. After a vicious battle, Aeryn allows Crais to kill her mother. Crichton discovers that the mechanic, Furlow, has been working on the wormhole data he gave her in the first season, and intends to sell it to the Scarrens. With the help of the Ancients, Crichton unlocks the wormhole knowledge just enough to destroy the Scarren ship, but suffers radiation exposure and dies in Aeryn’s arms.

When the two crews finally reunite, Aeryn cannot face the remaining Crichton, and Talyn is becoming increasingly violent and uncontrollable. Crichton resolves to destroy the wormhole information that Scorpius has by pretending to help him and then crippling the project from within. In return for his help, Scorpius grants the Moya crew leniency for their crimes. But high-ranking Peacekeeper Commandant Grayza interferes, claiming that the Moya crew’s continued freedom is an embarrassment and Scorpius’ own obsession with wormhole tech does not outweigh their criminal record.

Crichton finally decides that the only way to end Scorpius’ project is to destroy the ship. Crais orders Talyn to starburst inside the ship, killing them both and destroying the entire Command Carrier. Believing they are finally free from pursuit, the crew buries Talyn’s remains and splits up to go their own ways. But at the last second, a strange old woman informs Crichton that Aeryn is pregnant, and Moya is sucked into a wormhole, leaving Crichton once again alone in space.

Season Four[edit]

Alone for months, Crichton has had nothing to do but obsess over Aeryn and wormholes. He finally makes a breakthrough on the latter when he meets a supposed Leviathan specialist, Sikozu, on the run from her employers. When Chiana and Rygel also return, they go together to Arnessk, where Jool, D’Argo, and the old woman – Noranti – have joined an Interon archaeological dig. They find artifacts that suggest a connection between humans, Sebaceans and Interons. Commandant Grayza interrupts, having taken Scorpius prisoner, and "kills" him to show good faith to Crichton. Crichton, however wants nothing to do with her, and escapes.

Crichton finds that Aeryn has made a deal with Scorpius to let him on Moya after he saved her life. Crichton keeps Scorpius imprisoned, but remains paranoid that his former enemy is planning something. Despite Aeryn’s desire to reconcile, he pushes her away, even going so far as to suppress his feelings with drugs. A Scarren agent invades Moya, since the Scarrens and Peacekeepers are in an arms race to acquire Crichton’s wormhole knowledge.

Crichton is instead kidnapped by an Ancient whom he nicknames Einstein, who explains to him the catastrophic danger if wormhole tech falls into the wrong hands. Returning from that meeting, the entire Moya crew accidentally ends up on Earth, providing humans with their first confirmed contact with extraterrestrials. Crichton is finally home, but finds that the world is too paranoid and distrustful to accept his alien friends. He has also been so affected by his experiences that he cannot relax there – a situation not helped when an agent of Grayza attacks and kills several of Crichton’s friends. He decides the only thing he can do is leave again.

The crew comes across a secret meeting between Grayza and a Scarren minister, at which Grayza sells out D’Argo’s people in return for peace. In disrupting the meeting Aeryn is captured. Desperate to rescue her, Crichton promises to give Scorpius the wormhole tech in return for his help. They successfully infiltrate a Scarren base and rescue Aeryn, but Scorpius is captured in the attempt. Crichton is happy to leave him there, but the neural clone Harvey informs them that Scorpius already has the wormhole tech, and may reveal it to the Scarrens under torture. The crew of Moya are forced to launch yet another attempt to either rescue or kill Scorpius.

To do so, they walk into another meeting at the Scarrens’ most important base, claiming to want to sell the tech to the highest bidder. Instead they start a riot between the Scarrens’ various servant races, blow up the base using a nuclear bomb and escape again. In revenge, the Scarrens launch an attack against Earth. Crichton’s only option to save his home world is to destroy the wormhole that leads there, leaving him stranded in space forever.

That done, Scorpius returns to the Peacekeepers and the Moya crew go to the ocean planet Qujaga to recover. While there, Aeryn reveals that the pregnancy – formerly kept in stasis – has now been released and they are going to have a baby. Crichton proposes to her, and she agrees. However, at the last second they are attacked by random aliens, who appear to kill them both.

The Peacekeeper Wars[edit]

Thinking that Crichton is dead and the wormhole tech gone with him, Scorpius deliberately starts a war with the Scarrens in the hope that the element of surprise will be on their side. The tactic is unsuccessful, and the Scarrens are on the verge of overwhelming the Peacekeepers. When the Peacekeeper Grand Chancellor considers surrender, Grayza kills him and takes over to make sure the war continues.

On Qujaga the aliens, called Eidolons, realize that killing Crichton and Aeryn was a mistake and reanimate them. Scorpius instantly realizes this and abandons the war to track him down, hoping to acquire the wormhole tech once and for all as the only way of stopping the Scarrens. Crichton again refuses. Meanwhile the crew discover that the Eidolons are in fact a lost colony of the people of Arnessk, and have an innate ability to bring peace to others. If they can find more of their people, they will be able to stop the war.

Moya, with Scorpius and Sikozu in tow, heads back to Arnessk, where the ancient people have been revived and are working with Jool. They agree to help, but Scarren Emperor Staleek attacks, destroying the base and killing Jool. Staleek doesn’t want peace – he wants victory. Only one Eidolon remains, who is able to transmit the ability to Stark, and the crew escape the Scarrens with the help of D’Argo’s son Jothee.

They return to Qujaga to find that the Peacekeeper-Scarren war has reached the planet. Crichton and the others must get through the battle to reach the remaining Eidolons on the planet and pass the techniques of peace to them, all while both sides are still after him for wormhole technology. Once there, Crichton and Aeryn are finally able to marry and Aeryn gives birth, but D’Argo is killed offscreen in the escape.

Realising that neither side will take no for an answer, Crichton returns to Einstein and convinces him to unlock the knowledge, which Crichton then uses to launch a wormhole weapon – a black hole that will grow and grow until it destroys everything in the universe. Both Grayza and Staleek finally realise that this weapon is too dangerous for anyone to possess, and they agree to a ceasefire. Crichton is able to stop the black hole, but falls into a coma as a result.

With the war finally over, the Eidolons help to broker a peace treaty between the two sides, but Crichton is still in a coma. He is finally brought out of it when Aeryn places his new baby in his arms. The new family looks out onto the now peaceful galaxy, naming the baby D’Argo in honour of their friend, and promising the universe belongs to him.

Characters[edit]

From left to right: Bialar Crais, Rygel XVI (front), Chiana, Zhaan, Aeryn Sun, John Crichton, Ka D'Argo.

Main characters[edit]

  • John Crichton (Ben Browder) – An astronaut from present-day Earth. At the start of the series, a test flight involving an experimental spacecraft of his own design dubbed Farscape I goes awry, propelling Crichton through a wormhole to a distant part of the universe. He quickly runs afoul of the Peacekeepers and is recovered by the crew of Moya, a living ship which is the main setting for Farscape.
  • Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black) – A renegade Peacekeeper officer. At the start of the series, she is stripped of her rank and marked for death for spending too much time near a (culturally) "contaminated" being. This decision is further backed later after protecting Crichton. Trained as a soldier since birth, she initially seems to lack any emotions or empathy. Her severance from the Peacekeepers allows Aeryn to discover her compassionate nature.
  • Ka D'Argo (Anthony Simcoe) – An ill-tempered Luxan warrior of impressive stature. He was imprisoned by the Peacekeepers for killing his wife, a crime for which he was falsely convicted. He carries a weapon called a Qualta Blade, a broadsword capable of transforming into a rifle.
  • Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan (Virginia Hey) – A bald, blue-skinned female who belongs to a plant species, named Delvians. Once a Priestess of her religious order, Zhaan murdered her lover after discovering he was a Peacekeeper collaborator. Regarded as an anarchist by her captors, she was jailed along with D'Argo and Rygel. Like other members of her species, Zhaan is an empath; she can share "unity" with other beings (two minds in one body, they can share thoughts, sensations…) and also, as a Pa'u, she is able to share pain with another being.
  • Moya – Moya is a Leviathan, the fifth generation of these living ships. She was born in freedom, captured by Leviathan Hunters and sold to the Peacekeepers for them to use as a prison transport. She is a great and powerful ship, with no weapons. In communication with and taken care of by Pilot, the enormous living entity that is symbiotically fused to her, Moya has adjusted to her new inhabitants and has been able to trust them enough to become their home. Like Pilot, she is anxious to serve her crew, but not at the expense of her own agenda. Her natural instincts to protect all life, however, do override her personal fear of pain and suffering.
  • Dominar Rygel XVI (operated by John Eccleston,Matthew McCoy, Dave Collins, Sean Masterson, Graeme Haddon and Tim Mieville, voiced by Jonathan Hardy) – A diminutive creature who was once ruler of the Hynerian Empire. He was deposed by his treacherous cousin and handed over to the Peacekeepers. Rygel is one of two puppet characters who regularly appear on Farscape. When nervous, Rygel expels helium – often causing his annoyed crew mates to complain in high-pitched voices.
  • Chiana (Gigi Edgley) – A mercurial thief and con artist. She is a Nebari, a grey-skinned species whose society is heavily-regimented by a governmental body called "The Establishment". Chiana’s rebellious nature made her a leading candidate for reprogramming (euphemistically known as "cleansing").
  • Pilot (operated by John Eccleston,Matthew McCoy, Dave Collins, Sean Masterson, Graeme Haddon and Tim Mieville, voiced by Lani Tupu) – A multi-limbed creature who acts as the ship’s pilot. He is biologically connected to Moya’s nervous system and also serves as her voice to the crew. Pilot is portrayed by an animatronic puppet.
  • Stark (Paul Goddard) – A Stykera, a specialized subrace of the Banik, who was first encountered by Crichton at the end of the first season. Stark wears a half-mask – strapped to his head by two separate buckles – of an unidentified metal, covering an incorporeal area that glows dark orange when uncovered, on the right side of his face that he only reveals when he is taking away someone’s pain or "crossing over" a soul – aiding or comforting a person in the moments prior to their death. He is also mentally unbalanced, a trait that gets on the nerves of many on Moya.
  • Bialar Crais (Lani Tupu) – The initial antagonist of the series, a Peacekeeper Captain who relentlessly hunts Moya and its crew. He is driven by the death of his brother, a prowler pilot who accidentally collided with Crichton’s ship when it exited the wormhole. At the end of the first season, Crais is usurped by Scorpius. Crais mentally bonds with Moya’s offspring Talyn, and becomes something of an ally to the crew in later seasons.
  • Scorpius (Wayne Pygram) – A commander of the Peacekeeper forces. Scorpius is a hybrid created from the DNA of a human-like Sebacean and a reptilian Scarran. He is obsessed with extracting the secret of wormhole technology from Crichton, believing it to be crucial to an unavoidable war between the Peacekeeper and Scarran races.

Recurring characters[edit]

As the series progressed, a revolving cast of characters joined the crew of Moya.

  • Captain Meeklo Braca (David Franklin) – Captain Meeklo Braca usually serves as a subordinate to most of the series' villains, acting as second-in-command for both Scorpius and Grayza. As once described by Crais (although it was clearly intended as an insult), Braca is "a consummate Peacekeeper", performing his duties to the very best of his abilities for whomever is his commanding officer, although his loyalties remain with Scorpius due to a shared view of relations with the Scarrans and contempt for Grayza’s misplaced hopes for peace with them.
  • Commandant Grayza (Rebecca Riggs) – A new antagonist that debuts in Season 3. She is a manipulative Peacekeeper who aims to put an end to Scorpius' wormhole research. Ruthless and ambitious, she has a gland implanted in her chest that secretes a substance which bends men to her will.
  • Jool (Tammy MacIntosh) – Jool is an orange-haired academic who appears sporadically throughout seasons three and four. When frightened or enraged, her hair becomes red and her screams can melt metal.
  • Sikozu (Raelee Hill) – Sikozu is a brilliant Kalish who joins the crew at the beginning of the fourth season. Hard-edged and dangerous, she gradually allies herself with Scorpius. In "The Peacekeeper Wars" she is discovered to be collaborating with the Scarrans.
  • Noranti (played by Melissa Jaffer) – The Noranti (Utu Noranti Pralatong) debuts in "Dogs with Two Bones". where it suddenly appears amongst the crew as a mysterious and eccentric refugee that escaped to Moya along with an unidentified group of others as a Peacekeeper Command Carrier was being destroyed. The "Old Woman", as she is called, is a Traskan, and little is known of her past before she joined the crew. Initially appearing to Crichton and Chiana as a grateful cook, she later describes herself as a "doctor, instructor, and among many other disciplines … negotiator". She is basically portrayed as an accomplished herbalist. Although her skills are sometimes not quite as successful as she would like, she does manage to come to the crew’s rescue with odd potions and powders on many occasions. At times, she seems to have her own agenda, although what that agenda may be is never quite made clear. At 293 cycles (years) old, she sometimes appears to the others as being slightly senile, and is often referred to as "Grandma" by Crichton. She was featured throughout Season 4 of Farscape, as well as being in "The Peacekeeper Wars", where she realizes the existence of more Eidolons and convinces Crichton to seek to reawaken their powers to help end the war. An alternate reality version of Noranti appeared in the Season 4 episode, "Unrealized Reality", and was portrayed by Gigi Edgley.

Reception[edit]

Between 2000 and 2002, Farscape won two Saturn Awards for Best Syndicated/Cable TV Series and Best TV Actor (Browder). Additionally, in 1999, it received nominations for Best TV Actress (Claudia Black as former soldier Aeryn Sun) and Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress on Television (Virginia Hey as the Delvian Priestess Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan). In 2002, it received nominations for Best TV Actress (Black), Best Supporting TV Actor (Anthony Simcoe as the Luxan warrior Ka D'Argo), and Best Supporting TV Actress (Gigi Edgley as the Nebari rogue Chiana).

On 14 July 2005, Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars received an Emmy Nomination for "Outstanding Special Visual Effects For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Special." In 2004 and 2007, Farscape was ranked #4 on TV Guide's Top Cult Shows Ever.[5]

In 2012, Entertainment Weekly listed the show at #22 in the "25 Best Cult TV Shows from the Past 25 Years," calling it "one of the trippiest space sagas ever, with portions of some episodes taking place in Crichton's subconscious" and remarking, "Before Battlestar Galactica popularized frak as geek slang, there was Farscape’s very liberal use of frell."[6]

EmpireOnline ranked it #45 of "the 50 greatest TV shows of all time" in February 2013.[7]

Cancellation[edit]

In September 2002, the Sci-Fi Channel (then-owned by Vivendi Universal) opted to withdraw its funding of the fifth season, canceling the show, just before the fourth season was to air. The Sci-Fi Channel concluded that the series was too expensive to renew, as ratings had declined during the third season.[8] According to the DVD featurette "Save Farscape", Henson, Kemper, and Ben Browder announced the cancellation during an online chat with fans, and within hours fans had mounted a campaign to restore the show or transfer it to another network.[9] Early plans to scrap the sets after production were postponed after news of the cancellation broke, partly as a result of the fan campaign. The sets were put in storage pending a possible future revival of the show.[8][10]

Cartoonist Bill Amend, creator of the syndicated comic strip FoxTrot, addressed the series' cancellation in an 8 October 2002 strip wherein the character Jason Fox petitioned to have the Sci-Fi channel renew Farscape. Soon after the strip ran, Amend remarked that it "generated more e-mails from readers than anything else I've done in the past. I had no idea that so many people owned computers, even I shudder to think what the mail boxes at the Sci-Fi Channel must be like these days."[11]

The 2010 DVD release of the series on A&E Home Video includes footage of producer David Kemper addressing the cast on the final day of shooting, in which he read a draft of a column for TV Guide by critic Matt Roush, who wrote that, in his opinion, the premature cancellation of Farscape will be looked upon by future generations in the same light as science fiction fans look upon NBC's cancellation of the original Star Trek in 1969.[12]

Farscape's cancellation received considerable notice by news media.[13] Thanks to the attention generated by the fan campaign, various financial backers in Europe offered their support to Brian Henson, and in 2004, The Jim Henson Company produced a three-hour mini-series to wrap up the series storyline entitled Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars.

Stargate SG-1 parody/homage[edit]

Following the series' cancellation, Ben Browder and Claudia Black were both cast as series regulars on Stargate SG-1 during its final two seasons.[14] In the 200th episode of the series, which was entitled "200", Black's character Vala Mal Doran, an alien who develops a skewed interest in Earth pop culture, pitches an idea for a movie to a producer, who immediately recognizes it as The Wizard of Oz. She then pitches a second idea the producer recognizes as Gilligan's Island. He advises her that if she is going to rip something off, it should be something more obscure. This leads into a parody of Farscape, with Black reprising her role of Aeryn Sun, and various SG-1 characters dressed as D'Argo, Stark, Chiana, and Rygel. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) stands in for John Crichton, an in-joke referencing the sexual tension between Vala and Daniel on SG-1 as well as the fact that Browder and Shanks look very similar, a joke made before in the series. Shanks was originally intended to play Stark, with Browder reprising the role of Crichton, but the parts were switched the day before filming at the behest of the actors.[15] The scene also parodies the wide array of invented swear words used in the show. When the scene switches back to the real world, the producer (Willie Garson) replies that he has "no idea what that is", likely referring to Farscape's relative obscurity. Coincidentally, the announcement of Stargate SG-1's own cancellation was made shortly after this episode ran.

The first time that Claudia Black's character came to the Stargate Command she looks at Ben Browder and says, "I know we haven't met. That I'm sure I would remember" Ben Browder responds, "Nice outfit."[citation needed]

Multimedia[edit]

DVD releases[edit]

For Region 1 releases, AD Vision originally issued Farscape in a series of 2-disc volumes, five volumes per season, which were later collected into full season box sets. They later re-released the series in larger 4-disc volumes under the "Starburst Edition" moniker, three volumes per season with additional extras not available on the original volume sets. All of these sets are long out of print.

Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars was released to DVD in January 2005 by Lions Gate Entertainment.[citation needed]

A&E Home Video released a Farscape Complete Series Collection and individual season sets.[16] It includes a two-disc collection of featurettes, most of which were recycled from ADV's old DVD sets but notably adding Farscape Undressed, a Farscape special that was created between the second and third seasons to catch up fans on the events that had happened up to that point.[citation needed] The Peacekeeper Wars is not included in the complete series set because Lions Gate still retains the rights to the mini series[17] although upon its release, US retailer Best Buy had a limited number of complete series sets which did include The Peacekeeper Wars as a store exclusive. The two miniseries discs were identical to those of the normal Lions Gate release and were included in the last DVD case along with the two discs of bonus material that normally come with the complete series set.

The Region 2 and Region 4 box sets contain Seasons 1–4 as well as the Peacekeeper Wars television movie.

Blu-ray release[edit]

All four seasons were released on Blu-ray in North America and Europe on 15 November 2011 by New Video/A&E. The four seasons were released in a choice of complete boxed set or individual seasons in North America, and as a boxed set only in Europe. As the original 35mm prints used to create the series are missing, 576i/25 frames per second PAL master videotapes were used as the source material to create the transfer. State of the art software algorithms were used to upscale the standard definition image to Blu-ray's 1080p resolution specification. The PAL master tapes used were the highest quality source of the series in known existence. As a result, while the release is not sourced from HD negatives, it is widely accepted[by whom?] to be a significant improvement over all previous standard definition releases. The audio on the Blu-ray release is uncompressed DTS Master Audio, again improving on the previous compressed Dolby Digital tracks on DVD.

Like the previous DVD release, owing to licensing issues, the set does not include Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars.

As with the U.S. DVD reissue in 2009, there are 31 commentary tracks and all the special features were carried over from the previously released DVD editions. The Blu-ray release also includes a recently filmed exclusive HD featurette, "Memories of Moya", featuring interviews with the cast and production staff as they reminisce about their time on Farscape.

Other releases[edit]

In January 2008, seasons 1 and 2 were made available for download through Apple's iTunes Store for customers in the United States. Season 3 was added in March 2008, with Season 4 following in May. The episodes can be purchased individually or as entire seasons. The "Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars" mini-series has yet to be made available through iTunes.

Beginning in January 2011, seasons one through four were also available on the Netflix "Watch Instantly" service. As of 1 January 2013, seasons one through four were no longer available on Netflix, as they unexpectedly did not renew. However, as of 11 November 2013, all four seasons were once again available for online streaming. The mini-series "Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars" is also available from Netflix on DVD. As of February 2, 2014 HULU also offered two of the 4 seasons on their streaming service as well.

Webisodes[edit]

On 15 July 2007 it was announced that Farscape would return in ten webisode installments. The episodes are expected to be a few minutes long each and may eventually be broadcast on the Sci Fi Channel. The webisodes were to have been launched as early as fall 2007.[18] In an interview with TV Guide, Brian Henson stated that the webisodes will be 3–6 minutes long and may feature D'Argo Sun-Crichton. TV Guide also reported that Ben Browder is in talks to appear in the webisodes. Sci-Fi Wire reported that Brian Henson and Rockne O'Bannon would pen the episodes.

Several news sources have reported that the web series may lead to an on-air revival of the series,[19] but Sci Fi general manager Dave Howe said that there were no plans to revive the show.[20] Brian Henson has stated that he hopes the webisodes would lead to a TV sequel.

At the Farscape Convention in November 2007, Rockne S. O'Bannon stated that the webisodes would likely be released in 2008. Farscape star Ben Browder told SCI FI Wire that he looked forward to reprising the role of astronaut John Crichton in the webisodes.[citation needed] The 2008 writers' strike put a damper on the plans, and Browder said that it was too early to figure out to what extent he would be involved. Browder said that he had a brief discussion with Henson about the Web series at last year's Comic-Con International in San Diego:

At Comic Con 2008,[citation needed] Rockne O'Bannon announced that the ongoing Farscape comic series would tie into the upcoming webisodes. The first comic was scheduled for release in November 2008. On 4 December 2008, O'Bannon told MTV "There's a new character that you'll meet in the very first comic book who ends up a significant player in the webisodes. Villain or hero? I'm not saying!"

On 10 June 2009, Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune announced via Twitter, "Farscape webisodes are 'still in play.' they're still being developed but not yet at script stage."[22]

At the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con,[citation needed] Brian Henson stated that the webisodes were "ready to go" but that they were still looking for financing on the project.

At the 10th Anniversary Farscape Convention in Los Angeles, 2009, Brian Henson again stated that they are still waiting for funding. Ben Browder was asked how the fans could help with funding, and said he wasn't sure what could be done[citation needed].

The "Final Frelling Farscape Convention", was held on 17 November 2011 at the Marriott LAX hotel in Los Angeles.[23][24]

Chris Hardwick of The Nerdist Podcast announced in March 2012 that The Nerdist YouTube channel would host re-released Farscape minisodes.[25] The first minisode, hosted by Ben Browder, went online on 14 July 2012.[26]

Literature[edit]

Boxtree in the UK and Tor Books in the U.S. published three Farscape novels: House of Cards by Keith R.A. DeCandido, Dark Side of the Sun by Andrew Dymond, and Ship of Ghosts by David Bischoff. A fourth novel was commissioned to be written by DeCandido but did not surface after the show's cancellation.

Scott K. Andrews' Uncharted Territory: An Unauthorised and Unofficial Guide To Farscape (Virgin Publishing 2002, ISBN 0-7535-0704-8) covered Farscape's first three seasons exhaustively. Paul Simpson wrote The Illustrated Farscape Companion series for Titan Books, one book per season (Book 1 with David Hughes; Books 2 and 3 with photographer Ruth Thomas) with exclusive official content.

The Creatures of Farscape: Inside Jim Henson's Creature Shop, released in 2004, offered a colorful look inside the famous creature shop that created the stunning array of creatures and make up effects. It includes previously unseen and behind the scenes images, exclusive contributions from the show's stars and make-up artists, and a foreword by executive producer Brian Henson.

Farscape Forever!: Sex, Drugs and Killer Muppets released 28 September 2005; in which Science fiction and fantasy authors analyze every aspect of the innovative, action-packed, and always surprising science fiction TV series in this innovative and irreverent essay collection. Contributors include Martha Wells on characters Crichton and D'Argo's buddy relationship, P. N. Elrod on the villains she loves to hate, and Justina Robson on sex, pleasure, and feminism. Topics range from a look at how Moya was designed and an examination of vulgarity and bodily functions to a tourist's budget guide to the Farscape universe. Included is an "expert's" advice to the Peacekeepers who, despite their viciousness, never quite seem to pull it off.

Shortly after season 3 began airing, Titan Magazines released a Farscape magazine. Available bi-monthly, the magazine ran from its April/May 2001 issue through to its 12th issue, April/May 2003. The magazine had a lot of in-depth material, including interviews with the cast and crew, behind the scenes information on many episodes, original fiction (by O'Bannon, DeCandido, Greg Cox, John Kenneth Muir, and others), and a regular column by David Kemper. There were two versions of the magazine produced each issue, with the only difference being the front cover, and the magazine also had two special issues – a season 3 special (issue 7), and the final issue (issue 12) containing an episode guide for the four seasons to date, as well as sketches for ideas and the Horizons fiction.

"Horizons" fiction[edit]

In the final issue of its run, the Farscape magazine published a piece of fiction written by series creator Rockne S. O'Bannon. Set a long time after the end of the fourth season, this details some of the adventures the Moya crew has had since and what has happened to them all. Since "Horizons" was written before the Peacekeeper Wars miniseries, there are some plot inconsistencies between the two, which could be resolved at some later stage.

Comics[edit]

Farscape: War Torn first issue

During 2002, Wildstorm Productions produced a two-part Farscape comic entitled "War Torn", with the first part available in April and the second in May. The comics featured two stories, each spanning both issues. "War Torn", the main story, featured the Moya crew becoming ensnared in a war between two planets over a third, and took up roughly three quarters of the comic. "Fourth Horseman – featuring Chiana" was a Chiana-only story as she came across old friends and foes on the run from the Nebari. Both stories seem to have been set during Season 2. The second issue also included a double-page spread of some of the preliminary sketches.

Farscape returned to the comic form in 2008 through a partnership between The Jim Henson Company and BOOM! Studios in a series of mini-series that fit into established Farscape canon. BOOM! published several four-issue mini-series that expand and explore the Farscape universe, and were later collected into trade paperbacks, under the direct supervision of series creator Rockne S. O'Bannon.[27] The first two miniseries, The Beginning of the End of the Beginning (which debuted December 24, 2008) and Strange Detractors (which debuted in March 2009) are written by O'Bannon and Keith R.A. DeCandido, author of the Farscape novel House of Cards. Art is by Tommy Patterson for the first miniseries, Will Sliney for the second. A new arc "Uncharted Tales" was created with the third miniseries, D'Argo's Lament (set during the events of Season 3), being published concurrently with Strange Detractors. Two further miniseries were announced: Gone And Back (which started in July 2009 and concludes the arc started with the first two miniseries) and D'Argo's Trial (which started in August 2009 and is the second installment of the "Uncharted Tales" arc). In November 2009, an ongoing Farscape series was launched; volumes published so far are "Tangled Roots", "Red Sky At Morning" and "Compulsions", with "War For The Uncharted Territories" coming up. The "Uncharted Tales" arc was rounded off with a third volume "D'Argo's Quest", and a new ongoing series entitled "Farscape: Scorpius" was also started, with volumes "Let Seeping Dogs Lie" and "Glorious Basterds". As well as the main titles, BOOM! are also publishing the scripts of these stories separately. The comic published its final issue (issue 24), after a two-year run, in November 2011.[28]

Games[edit]

A video game based on the television series was produced by Red Lemon Studios and released mid-2002 for Microsoft Windows. Set during the first season, the game featured voice acting by the original cast of the television series. Reviews of the game, however, were generally negative, with many reviewers citing poor gameplay mechanics.[29]

A Farscape table-top role-playing game was released by Alderac Entertainment Group in 2002. It uses the d20 System and includes creatures not appearing in the established television universe. The game also features an original short story by Keith R. A. DeCandido set during the first season, after the episode "The Flax" and entitled "Ten Little Aliens". The game was nominated for ENnie awards for Best Graphic Design and Layout and Best d20 Game in 2003.[30]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ryan, Maureen (2005-10-10). "Why the frenzy over 'Farscape'?". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2008-11-06. 
  2. ^ "Monjo pens HBO pilot, Farscape movie". If.com.au. Retrieved 2014-06-07. 
  3. ^ "'Farscape' movie "not out of the question", says Rockne S O'Bannon - US TV News". Digital Spy. 2013-04-04. Retrieved 2014-06-07. 
  4. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: ‘Farscape’ Movie Confirmed, But is in Very Early Stages". Nerdacy. 2014-04-19. Retrieved 2014-06-07. 
  5. ^ "TV Guide's 25 Top Cult Shows – TannerWorld Junction". Forums.tannerworld.com. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  6. ^ "25 Best Cult TV Shows from the Past 25 Years." Entertainment Weekly. 3 August 2012, p. 42.
  7. ^ "Empire Features". Empireonline.com. Retrieved 2014-06-07. 
  8. ^ a b "Farscape F.A.Q.". Sci Fi Wire. Archived from the original on 1 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-22. 
  9. ^ "Save Farscape" DVD featurette, Farscape: The Complete Fourth Season (also Farscape: The Complete Series box set), A&E Home Video, 2010. According to interviews on the featurette, the first "save Farscape" website was online within three hours of the chat's conclusion.
  10. ^ "Farscape cult Web site, 8 January 2003 from article "Farscape cancellation facts"". [dead link]
  11. ^ Sun, 8 December 2002 from article "Sci-Fi Network vs. the "Scapers"" By JULIO OJEDA-ZAPATA, Pioneer Press Newspaper
  12. ^ "On the Last Day" DVD featurette, Farscape: the Complete Fourth Season (also in box set: Farscape: The Complete Series), A&E Home Video, 2010.
  13. ^ "Web support for 'Farscape' out of this world". CNN. 18 September 2002. Retrieved 4 February 2007. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Black, Browder Talk New SG-1". Sci Fi Wire. 2006-05-05. Retrieved 2008-09-22. [dead link]
  15. ^ Ryan, Maureen (16 August 2006). "200 laughs in a memorable 'Stargate SG-1' episode". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 23 August 2006. 
  16. ^ "Farscape Comes to DVD from A&E Home Video". 
  17. ^ "Farscape DVD news: Update about Farscape – The Complete Series Megaset". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  18. ^ "SciFi Channel Press Release". 
  19. ^ Owen, Rob (17 July 2007). "Tuned In: New NBC exec says he's landed dream job". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  20. ^ Hughes, Mike (16 July 2007). "'Farscape' returns online, Sci Fi readies 'Galactica' TV movie". Gannett News Service. Retrieved 2009-06-06. [dead link]
  21. ^ "Browder Eager For Web Farscape". Sci Fi Wire. 2006-03-14. Archived from the original on 19 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-25. 
  22. ^ "Twitter / Mo Ryan: Scapers, a bit of news for". Twitter.com. 2009-06-10. Retrieved 2012-02-08. 
  23. ^ Manning, Richard (22 December 2011). "Ricky’s Farscape CreationCon Report and Picspam". Froonium.com. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  24. ^ "We Are The Scaper Army: The Final, Final Farscape Frelling Farewell Con Report". BenBrowderOnline.net. 28 December 2011. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  25. ^ "Chris Hardwick's Nerdist Channel Press Conference". YouTube. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  26. ^ "PREMIERE: Farscape Minisodes: Season 1 – Episode 1". YouTube. 2012-07-14. Retrieved 2012-11-25. 
  27. ^ "CCI: Rockne O'Bannon on BOOM!'s "Farscape" Comics". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved 25 July 2008. 
  28. ^ "Farscape Ends Again – Ongoing Comic Series Reaches Its Finale". FrontTowardsGamer.com. 22 November 2011. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  29. ^ "Farscape: The Game (pc: 2002): Reviews". metacritic.com. Retrieved 2009-06-06. 
  30. ^ "The ENnie Awards- 2003 ENnies Archive". Archived from the original on 19 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-04. 

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