Great SciFi is hard to come by, and Great space SciFi is even more rare. Done well, they can take over your heart better than any big budget movie even. Star Trek, Battlestar Gallactica, Star Gate, Doctor Who are great examples of it. Problem is though, after BSG and Stargate bid adieu, NOTHING in this genre has given us that feeling. So what to do? I suggest that you go back to a BRILLIANT SPACE OPERA THAT YOU JUST MIGHT HAVE MISSED – FARSCAPE.
First, let’s talk about the premise. It is best summarized by the show’s Intro!
THE HEROES ( or anti-heros)
For me, It is the characters of Farscape that are MVP. They are brilliantly written and perfectly acted/voiced.
John Crichton (Ben Browder) as the hard on luck Astrophysicist lost in space in time is perfection. You feel his struggle to go back to earth and to his family. His desperation is completely convincing. He is brave, smart, fun, charming, caring, (usually) selfless, fast-on-his-feet, sarcastic and charismatic.
He makes it totally believable that he would become the leader of this group of some really smart and powerful people of far more advanced civilizations. One of the very best heroes I have seen in SciFi. And yet, he feels like one of us. He is ACTUALLY A STAR TREK FANBOY, too. He is someone I would wish to be if I was thrown in the same situation!
Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black) as the leading lady and a peacekeeper force ( This universe’s so called galactic protectors, and usually the villains of the series) officer who is marked for death due to possible contamination with unknown species (Chriton) is SPOT ON. She is someone who was trained since birth to be a peacekeeper.And shown utterly emotionless initially. But as the journey continues, we continue to see her develop into a beautiful , compassionate being – inside and out.
She is also 100% Badass and damned HAWT. Smart, ruthless, expert warrior, brilliant tactician, expert in tech, passionate and daring. She is one of my favorite female characters along with Starbuck from BSG. Especially for HOW WELL her character and arc has been developed. If I was in this journey, I sure would want her as my partner! (ps : she is not human either. 😛 )
Ka D’Argo (Anthony Simcoe) – A hot Headed, no nonsense Luxan Warrior. He is motivated across the series by what had happened to his family. Initially, he can be misunderstood as an arrogant bully with low IQ. But as the series goes on, we see a massive character development for him. “Don’t judge a book by its cover’ really applies here. When the chips are down, he is the guy you want by your side.
Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan (Virginia Hey) – This blue skinned humanoid evolved from PLANTS ( yupp). She is both a Zen Priestess and an anarchist. The most sensitive of them all. She has a heart wrenching arc and even without that, will routinely touch your heart. She is just a fantastic person to have as a friend.
Dominar Rygel XVI – 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. He is motivated usually by greed.
He usually either provides comic relief or takes over negotiations, especially at higher levels. he is the least trusted of the crew crew but every once in while he will just shock you by his good side.
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. She is literally like a mother to this rag tag group. So many of the episodes feature her prominently and she is as much of a part of Farscape as any other character, if not more.
Along with these, later on we get Chiana (Gigi Edgley) – A mercurial thief and con artist and Stark (Paul Goddard) – an unbalanced being who deals regularly with people passing beyond the veil of death.
All of these diverse character are what makes Farscape so special. And they may start as some stereotype, but every character gets so much development, gets so many facets that we never get tired of learning more about what makes them tick.
And in case u missed it, the central characters do bear a lot of resemblance to Guardians of the galaxy characters.
And they are AS LIKABLE!
A scifi is only as good as its antagonists, and Farscape has some brilliant villains. They are all smart, unrelenting and with their own motivations and troubles. Even Bialar Crais, who kinda starts one dimensional, gets an awesome development. Their cunning and relentlessness make for some awesome season arcs.
The SciFi of Farscape was excellent. AND CONSISTENT. Which led to significantly less plot holes than one would expect. Worm hole technology was even one of THE MAJOR ARCS running through it. Farscape was not afraid to go science-y if need be. Farscape S03E03-04 Self-Inflicted Wounds part 1-2 is still one of the best episodes on Worm holes I have seen. It had episodes on alternate timelines, dimensions, time loops too. Simply one of the best.
THE SPECIAL/STAGE EFFECTS
The special effects are TOP NOTCH. Seriously, this is one of the shows that I would recommend watching in 1080p, despite being a very old show. The space is beautiful. The space battles, though not as well done as BSG, are still great. Ground battles are done better. Farscape takes upon itself to take us on a different world in almost every alternate episode, and they have been created wonderfully. Even the handling of puppets and props is excellent. Majority of the show is, of course. on Moya, and Farscape lefts no stones upturned on making it look complete. The long and beautiful corridors, the perfect command center, the chair of Pilot, the internal organs, the DRD repair robots, all are great. Farscape also uses its effect to humanize the ship, which is no easy feat.
THE STORIES AND ARCS
Another point,w here Farscape shines is its individual story. The stories usually are created by the characters entering a new world. But it is the way that they make the story focus on one or more character, and thus making the story contribute to character development, or the arc, made it so good.
Farscape was quite light on villain of the week. And even then, they always contributed to characters or arc.
Farscape had clear and brilliantly written arcs. What is more, everything was always connected. The plot holes were far and very in between. Simple and yet eligant, always concentrating onthe characters, and that too on both sides, made them interesting.
Farscape starts with 5 uneasy allies with no trust among themselves. But as the show develops, so do the relationships. And it was not all about romance too. Alothough they did it VERY WELL, never letting it take over the story or characters- taking their own time.
And whatever relation we are talking about, the chemistry among the actors was simply awesome. Drama in Farscape was always top notch, as a result.
ALIEN SLANG OF FARSCAPE
While Farscape was not the only show to do it, ( Frakk from BSG, Smeg from Red dwarf) but it did it more than another show. Frell. Yotz. Dren. Mivonks. Tralk. Farbot. All used repeatedly and consistently, making them completely understandable.
For bonus – THEY HAD THEIR OWN TIME UNITS. (Microt, Ahn, Solar day, Cycle) And they were clearly not Earthen, letting them get away with lots of situations.And yes, consistent.
I personally love them, and you will see me using “frell ” a lot.
Farscape had a brilliant background score and a KILLER theme music. making the situations that much electrifying when need be.
THE OVER ALL TONE
Farscape was NOT afraid to go dark. It was not afraid to kill. Farscape was not afraid of bloodbaths. It was not afraid of tragedies. Farscape was not afraid of “what might have been”. But over all, it had a very fun , exhilarating sort of vibe running through it. Even in situations where danger loomed on everything, Farscape never forgot that it was about adventure in space. So you will always be entertained.
Farscape was a true gem. A fantastic SciFi series, with brilliant characters, great actors, excellent stories, awesome arcs, well crafted villains, superb effects and a fun adventure always. It was definitely a series on par with all time greats like BSG and TNG. If you have not seen it, you are missing something TRULY WONDERFUL. Instead of watching mediocre shows of today, BINGE FARSCAPE!