What Is It?
Farscape was an American-Australian show which aired from 1999-2003. It’s the story of John Crichton, an astronaut who gets flung across the universe while testing a theory. He ends up on an escaped prison ship called Moya, with a small band of prisoners and the accidentally-kidnapped Aeryn Sun, a Peacekeeper. He’s also gained the enmity of a Peacekeeper captain after killing his brother.
Rather than go the CGi route, Farscape features aliens created by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop. Namely the minute, helium-farting Rygel, and the beautiful Pilot, captain of Moya.
The show ran for four seasons. After its cancellation, and due to fan support, the remaining story was told via a direct-to-TV movie titled Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars.
Why I Love It
It’s weird. Like really, really weird. As in, there’s an episode that’s mostly cartoon weird. Crichton makes pop culture references that absolutely no one gets other than the audience. There’s an alien that farts helium. The spaceship is alive and gives birth to a baby spaceship. WEIRD.
That aside, it’s just brilliant. It does lose the fabulous ensemble plotting after season 2, where it turns into The John & Aeryn Show, but that comes back somewhat for seasons 3 and 4 (from what I gather – I haven’t seen S4 for Reasons.) It has stunning sets and great characterisation. It feels alien in a way shows like Star Trek and Doctor Who don’t.
Captain Bialar Crais. That his character arc is the best in sci fi is the hill I’m willing to die on. He goes from the cold commander through a manic pursuit of Crichton which results in his losing his command, his ship and, had he not defected, his life. He then goes on to steal Moya’s baby, Talyn. Yet what is initially the cruelest blow is what saves Crais. He finds a purpose in raising the baby spaceship, though he’s still very much playing his own game.
It’s season 3 where he goes through the most change. Talyn becomes home to half of Moya’s original crew. Having to work with others instead of ordering them around means Crais has to learn diplomacy. Trust and friendship. It’s a hard road, complicated by his own attraction to Aeryn, but even Crichton sees his potential for good. It’s fulfilling Crichton dictate to be a better man, coupled with his love for Aeryn, that leads him to make the ultimate sacrifice, along with the ailing Tayn.
Sci Fi Connections
Ben Browder (Crichton) and Claudia Black (Aeryn) went on to star in Stargate SG1 as Cameron Mitchel and Vala Mal Daran respectively. They reprised the roles in movie spin-offs The Ark Of Truth and Continuum. Browder also appeared in an episode of Doctor Who (A Town Called Mercy) and had a cameo in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Claudia was in the movie Pitch Black. She’s a regular sci fi actor, having roles in Haven, The Originals, Containment, and Roswell, New Mexico.
Gigi Edgley (Chiana) appeared in Star Trek Continues. Wayne Pygram, who played the creepy Scorpius, is Governor Tarkin in Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Lani Tupu (Crais and the voice of Pilot) appeared in Robotropolis.
Should You Watch It?
YES. Farscape is like no other sci fi show. It’s weird and beautiful, creepy and occasionally horrific (trigger warning for needles and eyes *shudders*), and an utter trip. You’re also going to miss the politics that dogged the show from mid-season 2. You can also watch Peacekeeper Wars. For me, though, the show ended with Crais’s “Talyn… Starburst.” and my broken heart.