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Feature: Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars
Farscape producer David Kemper kept the faith after the show was cancelled – and has received his just rewards. He talks to us about the upcoming mini-series…
When Farscape was suddenly cancelled at the end of its fourth season, perhaps no one was as stunned as executive producer David Kemper. Not only did the show’s head writer already have most of the major beats for season five already mapped out, but he’d just had dinner with producer Brian Henson the night before, and everything was looking good in terms of getting started. Just a day later, news of the cancellation came down, and Farscape was officially over.
So, in many ways, the upcoming mini-series Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars is unfinished business for Kemper. In addition to tying up a number of major story points from the original series, it also sets the stage for a possible follow-up project if all goes well.
“I originally figured it was a five-year show,” says Kemper, “but I was ready for six and seven, and I psychologically knew we could get through seven. I didn’t necessarily know where it was all going to go, but I had all the big marching points that I was going to hit along the way. I knew that Season Five would end with certain events and Season Six, if there was one, would end with a certain event and so would Season Seven, and wherever the show got cancelled or ended was fine. It would work either way; at the end of Season Five, Six or Seven.”
About seven months after the cancellation, Kemper got a call from Henson, who had been working behind the scenes to get a mini-series up and running. “I think it was March of ’03, and I happened to be in Australia at the time. I was having lunch with [director] Andrew Prowse when Brian called and said, ‘Start thinking’. He asked if we could do the story in four hours, and I said, ‘Sure, we can do anything!’ so that was the first phone call.
“What happened was, Brian basically said, ‘Look, it’s needs to be huge. It needs to be an event, that wraps up this chapter, and it has to get us to a place where it feels satisfying that the journey of Farscape has some closure.’ So being able to end this chapter was very appealing, because at the same time, we figured that it also allowed us a way open other doors for a potential future.”
Kemper got together with long-time collaborator and series creator Rockne O’Bannon, and together they began the laborious process of hammering out four hours of mini-series material. “I was originally going to write one hour of the first night and one hour of the second night, but we ended up switching hours. I think I was going to write hours one and four and Rock was going to do two and four, and after we switched, I wrote hours two and four. But honestly, that kind of stuff never matters because we always collaborate right up until the end, so it gets to the point where I sometimes don’t know who wrote a specific line.
by Joe Nazzaro
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