TV Zone Main This issue's contentsReview of 2001: The TV Zone AwardsExtra feature: Farscape season reviewSelected feature: Mark Gatiss on Randall & HopkirkBuy it
This issue's contentsReview of 2001: The TV Zone AwardsExtra feature: Farscape season reviewSelected feature: Mark Gatiss on Randall & Hopkirk.

reviews • television 2001

TV IconTV IconTV Icon from TV Zone Special #43
farscape Farscape cast montage
season three, The Sci-Fi Channel
Reviewed by
Paul Spragg

Also in this issue: overviews of the
2000-01 seasons of Andromeda • Angel • Buffy the Vampire Slayer • Doctor Who • Stargate SG-1 Voyager and The X-Files

Farscape is, undoubtedly, the most impressive piece of Sci-Fi television around at the moment, with no other show willing to take the kind of risks this one is, whether it be killing characters or creating a duplicate of one (Crichton) who isn't immediately disposed of, but rather used to create further drama.

The latest season has continued the character evolution we've come to expect while providing many high quality stories. It has shaken up the constantly turbulent world of the Uncharted Territories still further by pitching the crew of Moya into the middle of a war between the Peacekeepers and the Skarrans.

A series of bold moves on the part of the producers has helped keep things fresh for the year. Realizing that the enlarged cast would be difficult to deal with on a weekly basis, the decision was made to split Moya's crew in half, one set continuing on their original vessel and the other on Talyn, Moya's child. This enabled a variety of story types to be told, with gritty realism being offset by quirky comedy.

The theme of the day on Moya has been that of frustration: Crichton by his lack of success with wormholes, D'Argo because his dreams of settling down and living a quiet life with Chiana and his son were shattered by the pair's infidelity, Chiana through not having enough fun and Jool because of never wanting to be stuck on a ship with a group of escaped convicts in the first place.

While one Crichton plays lover to Aeryn on Talyn (see panel), the Moya version becomes like a drinking buddy for D'Argo, the pair going in search of good times together and behaving like teenagers. Their still fractious relationship provides Pilot with some wonderful moments as he becomes increasingly frustrated with the `children' on board treating him and Moya with contempt, and leads to one of the best episodes to date in the shape of Revenging Angel.

It's the female cast who have been somewhat underused this year. It seems that by separating her from D'Argo, Chiana doesn't have much purpose on board the ship, although she is fast becoming the most mature member of the Moya crew even if she is spending a lot of her time arguing with Jool. This latest addition, meanwhile, has also been getting short shrift. While there's plenty of potential in her character, and Tammy Macintosh is playing the role wonderfully, it has been difficult to build the character over alternate episodes and she still comes across as a poor replacement for Zhaan; her medical training, for instance, was awfully convenient on a ship that had just lost its doctor.

While frustration has been the watchword on Moya, on Talyn it's been trauma. Dealings with a Peacekeeper retrieval squad led by Aeryn's mother have complicated Aeryn's life even further as she has been forced to face up to the embittered woman Xalax Sun has become. Taking on a squad without Talyn being properly equipped to handle attacks and getting roped into a war that Crichton inadvertently caused has led to the stories of this crew being grim and gritty, and making a welcome contrast to tales of Moya's passengers living the high life, or at least trying to.

The expansion of both Stark and Crais's characters has, particularly in the latter case, given them both a new lease of life, and each has developed further shades of light and dark that keep them interesting. Of course, we shouldn't forget the efforts of Wayne Pygram as Scorpius, who has enlivened every scene in which he appears, cropping up in Crichton's mindscape in an incredible array of wonderfully unlikely locations and gaining viewer sympathy when we had a glimpse into what made him the person he is today.

With this kind of concentration on characters and variety in storylining, it looks as though Farscape's glory days are set to continue for a long while yet. And who knows where the last four episodes of the season will send it? We await with bated breath…

Love in the second degree

Needing a new approach to the John Crichton/Aeryn Sun relationship for the third season to stop things getting too cosy, the producers came up with the inspired decision of creating a duplicate Crichton. With the pair having declared their love for each other at the end of Season Two, it was necessary to prise them apart again somehow for fear of things getting too routine.

Crichton and Aeryn

The start of the season saw Aeryn returned to life by Zhaan, and Crichton and Aeryn deciding to keep their passions in check, at least for the time being. The split in the crew, however, resulted in one of the Crichtons building a relationship with Aeryn, a relationship abruptly ended when this Crichton died, leaving Aeryn devastated, even more so on returning to Moya and being reunited with the remaining John, with whom she is now unable to relate despite him being the exact same person.

It's a neat twist in the tale, having to compete with the memory of someone exactly like you, and Crichton now finds himself a pale imitation, a man with the face of Aeryn's lover but not quite the man she loves and watched die. It has also enabled an expansion of her character as she has gradually let go of all her repressed emotions with Crichton, only to bottle them back up again on his death. Where next for the Far-crossed lovers?

Paul Spragg

TV Zone Special #43, Yearbook (Farscape cover)

Seven more season overviews in TV ZONE #Special 43