14 June 2007 | mstomaso
Thanks to Sci-fi and the Henson Company for this wonderful contribution to the TV science fiction canon.
Farscape is one of the most visually compelling shows ever to grace the medium, and its gorgeous sets , effects and cast are all matched by the show's completely original blend of humor, camp, perspective, action and drama. The Henson Company's creative genius really shines through and makes this the truly great series it is. And the Gross/Subvision soundtrack is also worth owning.
Ben Browder plays John Crichton, an American astronaut and genius who has - quite by accident - created a wormhole by conducting an experiment involving the slingshot effect. Sucked into the wormhole, John is whisked away to ... where? His craft collides with a small war ship which then spins off and crashes into a meteor, killing its pilot. John, head spinning, is then rescued (seemingly) by a large ship which is under attack from ships like the one which crashed into his. Aboard the large ship, he almost immediately meets the lovely humanoid Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black), who introduces herself by beating him up and demanding his name, rank and serial number. Aeryn, who will become both the love of his life, and the most difficult relationship of his life, is just the beginning... Soon, John will learn that he is aboard a Peacekeeper Leviathan (Moya) - a living ship - which has been taken over by the prisoners it was being used to transport. Aeryn is the prisoners' only surviving peacekeeper prisoner, and, since John looks exactly like a Peacekeeper, Moya's new crew is not inclined to trust him.
The relationships between John and his new-found friends that develop over the succeeding four years of Farscape provide a great context for the many adventures they share. Through death, betrayal, birth and rather massive cultural dissonance, Moya and her crew see and do it all as they flee the pursuing Peacekeepers in more ways than one. Each character has his or her own arc and backstory, and even in the most plot-heavy and action packed episodes of the series, it is the characters that give the show its structural integrity.
The acting is - across the board - spot-on. Browder and Black are superb and have great chemistry. Anthony Simcoe, Gigi Edgley, Virginia Hey, Lani Tupu, Rae Lee Hill and Paul Goddard were all excellent. I am going to single out Wayne Pygram, however, for his amazing interpretation of one of the most ambiguous and memorable villains (?) in the history of sci fi entertainment - Scorpius - a tortured hybrid between two warring species (Scarrans and Peacekeepers) who, apparently, hates everybody and has an insatiable lust for power. Scorpius is a complex, contradictory, brilliant, and utterly unpredictable character, and along with many of the other obstacles the crew encounters will keep you guessing to the very end.
Farscape also features some of the best TV scripting and directing I have seen in recent years. Be forewarned, however, that the dialog and plots generally move along very very quickly and require undistracted attention. This is especially so from the latter half of season two to the end of the show's regular run. The first season is excellent episode-based sci fi, but in the second season, the writers began exploring complex, layered, multiple-episode story arcs. The story arcs were generally very good, but their complexity requires a serious commitment, and in general, the show is not recommended for non-consecutive viewing.
So hooked was I that I have saved searches for Claudia Black, Wayne Pygram, Ben Browder, Lani Tupu and Gigi Edgley on TVTome.
If you want to dive right in, get the boxed sets. They are loaded with special features, deleted scenes and interview which are all worth watching if you like the show. In fact, there are almost as many special features as there is show time in the boxed sets.