Yesterday’s excellent Late To The Party about the classic late 90s/early 2000s sci-fi series Farscape reminded me of one of my longstanding goals: to rewatch and review every episode of the show. I don’t really have time right now, but you’re all a bunch of nerds here, and like hell am I going to let one of you get to it first. Farscape is mine.
For those unfamiliar, you could do worse for an introduction than reading the Late To The Party linked above. (Just the article, not the comments, though—those are spoilery.) But allow me to reproduce some effort.
Farscape was a space opera that aired on the Sci-Fi Channel, several years before they made the leap to become SyFy. It stars Ben Browder as John Crichton, an astronaut who… oh, fuck it, I’ll just give you the opening narration from the show’s credits:
“My name is John Crichton, an astronaut. A radiation wave hit, and I got shot through a wormhole. Now I’m lost in some distant part of the universe on a ship, a living ship, full of strange alien life forms. Help me. Listen, please. Is there anybody out there who can hear me? I’m being hunted by an insane military commander. Doing everything I can. I’m just looking for a way home.“
Farscape was a coproduction with the Jim Henson Company (several of the main characters were Muppets) and was also, notably, an American/Australian co-production; the writers and most producers were based in America, but the series was filmed in Australia, and the majority of its cast was either Australian or New Zealander. (The major exception was the American Browder.)
Perhaps because of the 24-hour flight between pre-production and production, or perhaps just because of its general sensibility of doing whatever it wanted in the weirdest way possible, Farscape was a much more director- and actor-driven show than its sci-fi contemporaries. Directors shaped the look and sometimes the emotional story of individual episodes, especially early-season episodes, much more significantly than they did on all but a very few Star Trek episodes; the camera is significantly more obtrusive than on most space opera of the time, swinging hectically through Moya’s corridors; actors made a regular habit of ad-libbing, and Browder would eventually write several episodes.
Out of this creative anarchy—multiple production companies; two countries; a game of telephone between writers, directors and actors; a general shared attitude of “fuck it, let’s do something fucking weird”—was born something magical. And occasionally, something dire. As beautiful as Farscape was capable of being when it was great—and it was capable of being so, so great—when it failed, it failed hard. There are some truly terrible episodes in its first season, and some nigh-incomprehensible episodes in its fourth.
But, in an almost thematically perfect statement, Farscape‘s wonders make up for its depths. Taken as a whole, it is a strange, beautiful, epic, hilarious, heartbreaking, thoughtful, grubby little show, and I love it. It’s my favorite thing that has ever been on television.
So let me take you through the wormhole, to a galaxy of Muppets, leather pants, pop culture references, trauma, romance, and just. So many bodily fluids. This is The Wonders I’ve Seen: An Avocado Farscape Rewatch.
Because, as I mentioned, I don’t strictly speaking have time for this right now, The Wonders I’ve Seen will update biweekly, on every other Monday. Each post will cover one episode, except for multipart episodes, which will be covered together. (For those of you watching for the first time, Farscape has several three-parters, so those should be fun.) Hopefully I’ll eventually get less busy and be able to speed up my pace, because otherwise, I’ll be reviewing Farscape for a long time. But you guys don’t mind, right?
The reviews proper will be spoiler-free, but I will have a hidden spoiler section for my thoughts on the show’s longer-term arc. Spoilery comments should be tagged as well.
Farscape is available to stream on Prime, for those who wish to follow along. For this rewatch, we will not be following Prime’s episode order, but the original production order. That means that in season one, the order of the first seven episodes is:
- I, E.T.
- Exodus from Genesis
- Throne for a Loss
- Back and Back and Back to the Future
- Thank God It’s Friday, Again
- P.K. Tech Girl
(Seriously, who puts “P.K. Tech Girl” before “Thank God It’s Friday, Again”?)
The Avocado is unprepared, helpless, for the nightmares I’ve seen.
But then you’ll never know… the wonders I’ve seen.