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Feature: Farscape

Family Ties


Series creator Rockne O’Bannon offers a few 'final' thoughts on the series…

It was widely regarded as one of the most innovative SF series in recent years, but critical acclaim couldn’t save Farscape from an untimely end. At the end of Season Four, the Sci-Fi Channel suddenly pulled the plug, citing a decline in viewing figures as the reason. Not surprisingly, their decision stunned the show’s cast and crew, most of whom had been planning to return for Season Five.

Among those affected by the cancellation was series creator Rockne O’Bannon, who first began developing the series in the early Nineties under its original title ‘Space Chase’. After shopping the property around for several years, the producers finally found a home at the Sci-Fi Channel, where it quickly became the cable network’s top-rated show. Several months after Farscape’s cancellation, O’Bannon is surprisingly pragmatic in discussing the various economic issues that came into play.

“I think we’ve always walked a very fine tightrope in terms of the cost of the show,” he reflects, “and the structure of the financial deal that had to be put in place initially. That involved the Australians and Channel 9 down there, and continued in this fluid arrangement that has changed and shifted to huge degrees, and in terms of the Sci-Fi Channel’s financial commitment, which increased well over 50% over the years in terms of licence fees that they paid. The initial licence fee was already hefty for any cable outlet, let alone Sci-Fi. I don’t quite know what they hope to do with that, but we obviously hope to go into syndication after the run on Sci-Fi, but I really don’t know. It’s not unlike the shows that HBO produces, like The Sopranos or Sex and the City at least in that their content in incredibly adult, so where do you syndicate Sex and the City? The same thing with Farscape: it will be interesting to see how the show fares in syndication.”

Casting his critical eye over the past four seasons, O’Bannon says Farscape has evolved in a number of ways since its original conception. “The character of John Crichton obviously changed significantly over the years,” he points out. “Looking back in my view of the show, I was totally on board with the notion that John Crichton wouldn’t continue to be this kind of fumbling, unfamiliar, always awe-struck, always uneasy in this part of the universe that he was at the very beginning of the series. There came a time by the end of Season Two and absolutely into Season Three, where Crichton became a little too alien, a little too familiar with that other world. By the time you got to the beginning of Season Four, new viewers tuning in might have been a little confused about John Crichton, not really getting any sense of a man who had ever been on Earth. He looked just like Aeryn, and there were other characters such as the Sebaceans, who looked like John Crichton. He would make the Earth references in dialogue, but in terms of his character and view of this other place in Space, most if not all of that was gone. I felt a certain loss about that, because to me, one of the tones in the first season that appealed to me so strongly was the sense of being so far from home and adrift in a place with no idea how to get back to there.”

Get the full interview and much, much more on Farscape in
TV Zone Special #51

Image © Visual Imagination Ltd, Farscape © Sci-Fi Channel
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

Taken from
TV Zone Special #51, see below for ordering options
TV Zone Special #51
Farscape 2003
ships from May 15 2003
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