WHAT TV WAS INVENTED FOR

As Farscape catapults us through its third, action-packed season, we pay tributre to its unsurpassed brilliance. What do you mean, you don't watch it? You will after this...

Farscape - It's a love thing!

Read Ian Atkins's review of the Farscape 2.4 DVD here

Text by Scott Andrews

Selected from Starburst #278

In an age when every Autumn bombards us with new Sci-Fi shows, each clamouring for our attention, it's hard to know which ones are worth the time and effort. A common tactic is to watch all the pilots and only follow those shows whose opening effort demonstrates real originality, or a spark that seems to promise greater things.

No-one really knew what to expect from the Farscape premiere. Puppets were rumoured to play a big part in the show, and that didn't inspire confidence. Plus it was filmed in Australia, and who ever heard of a great Australian TV show, let alone great Aussie Sci-Fi? The cast were all unknowns, and the production company, Jim Henson Productions, had only had one real success, The Muppets, which didn't bode well for their ability to handle mature, adult drama. Perhaps most worrying of all, the show was devised by Rockne S O'Bannon, the man responsible for seaQuest DSV, and there's no need to dwell on the mess that turned out to be...

Stark cradles a suffering ZhaanAs it transpired, the Farscape premiere presented us with a kind of Buck Rogers redux. The main character, Crichton, was a square jawed all-American hero who seemed to promise self-sacrificing heroics, Kirk-style seductions and Gil Gerard comedy grins.

At the time, it didn't really seem up to much and many viewers consigned it to the dustbin.

However, a lot of great shows have sprung from truly dreadful pilots. Many devoted Babylon 5 fans can't watch the opening instalment of their favourite show without wanting to scurry behind the sofa to hide from the awkward amateurism of the whole exercise, yet the series went on to become, for a while at least, must-see TV.

As Farscape's first season progressed word got around that the show has graduated to the 'it's not all that bad really' level. And when the second season premiered, people started bandying around such words as 'ground-breaking', 'inspired', 'spectacular'. So what was the show, which had started in such unpromising fashion, now getting right?

Defining Farscape MomentsRygel

Thank God It's Friday, Again

Rygel's entire body chemistry is changed by the food he eats on an alien world and he finds, to his horror, that his urine is now highly explosive. Only on Farscape could the final confrontation of an episode be resolved by one of the leads extracting his member and urinating the bad guys into submission

Family Ties

When Crais admitted to Crichton, at the end of Season One, that his relentless and vicious pursuit of him had been misguided and wrong, and when Crichton responded by crying as the trauma of the past year caught up with him, it was clear this was a show willing to get right to the heart of its characters

Just two of the highlights recalled in this issue

Starburst #278Find out what the show finally began to get right in the full eight-page feature in the issue. Read on as David Kempster talks about how he tries to steer clear of any status quo in
Starburst #278.

Images © The Henson Company
Feature © Visual Imagination 2001. Not for reproduction