Farscape rewatch

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by AntonyF, Oct 4, 2009.

  1. AntonyF

    AntonyF Official Tahmoh Taster Administrator

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    I recently gave in to the urge to rewatch Farscape, and have blown through the entire four seasons and Peacekeeper Wars in just a few weeks.

    I'm now in withdrawal... it's bad when any TV show goes, but one you watch in such a short space of time and up to 5 episodes a day (I'm unemployed, so sue me) leaves a gap.

    Sometimes shows get better or worse with rewatch, and opinions can change (what was good isn't so much etc). Farscape for the most part held up well, and I still love that show to bits.

    First things first: Ben Browder is sex on legs.

    Now for my compilation of thoughts...

    Season 1: Still possibly my favourite season. While I love all the high-octane stuff later, I do love the stories of the most of season one with just four cast members. There's something about it that I can't quite put my finger on... but it's just fresh, magical, great fun. To the point when Scorpy came along I was kinda sad. Don't get me wrong I love what was to come... but Farscape lost its innocence with the Aurora chair, and felt 'off' for a while after that.

    Season 2: Started off a bit slow, and a bit 'off', and lacked some of the character of season one. But it gradually picked up over the course of the season. I don't think the 'Princess' Trilogy is all that, but it does continue to grow to the amazing episodes towards the end of season two. The whole final trilogy and season finale are just top class TV, and when Farscape firmly cemented itself as a confident sci-fi action series.

    Season 3: I said I love season 1 most... maybe it's season 3. The split of Crichton felt contrived, almost like they wanted to split the two crews but couldn't have their leading man in one one place. Seeing an interview with David Kemper, I see that it was actually a reset switch for the romance. I think the split worked well, and gave great dynamics, but I always couldn't help but feel it was created because the writers needed to do it rather than it happening and leading to great stories. I love Talyn and his storyline, and love Crais... just love the whole growing arc over the season. And the final episodes of the season may be Farscape's best.

    Season 4: I am surprised how poor I found this on this rewatch. It's okay, better than much TV, but it lost its soul and sparkle a lot. A lot of the great character interaction seemed to go. The John/Aeryn thing was pushing Clark/Lana levels. Pilot and Moya felt sidelined (and I've always felt them integral to the show). I don't think there was one fantastic episode. Kansas was fun, and the best of the season though. The final episodes felt a bit unimaginative, even if they were kicking off some great story elements. All in all, just not Farscape at its best this year.

    Peacekeeper Wars: last time I watched it with a 18 month gap... this time I could watch it straight away. It showed so many bits that would have made a probably excellent fifth season, so is rather sad. But they packed a lot in, and it worked well. Just hated that Lani forgot how to do Pilot's voice!

    Favourite episodes:
    1) Liars, Guns and Money (trilogy)
    2) Into the Lions Den (two parter)
    3) The Way We Weren't (Shankar brought a very DS9 quality to this).

    Worst episodes:
    1) Taking the Stone (awful)
    2) Scratch 'n' Sniff (I know what they tried to do, but it failed)
    3) Meltdown (not awful, but I choose it only for Stark as a pilot... cringeworthy)

    Favourite character:
    Crais

    Worst character:
    Neranti (I wanted to airlock her so much with her damn dust slowing down so many stories, and ruining the What Was Lost two parter).

    And finally...
    I love 1812 more than words can say!
     
  2. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    I've actually found that Season 4 is a helluva lot better on rewatch. There are so many subtle things going on that you don't really notice unless you've watched it several times.
     
  3. Pilot Ace

    Pilot Ace Captain Captain

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    Oh, I'm excited for the new complete series DVD to come out so I can hopefully re-watch the whole show come winter.
     
  4. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    I might actually have to pick that up. I already own the whole series, but a couple of my discs don't work too well anymore.
     
  5. Mr Light

    Mr Light Admiral Admiral

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    Season 1... meh. Season 2... great. Season 3... the greatest. Season 4... starts meh but ends great.
     
  6. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Heh. So did I, I finished just a couple of weeks ago. Loved it to pieces - I wasn't sure if the show would hold up as well as I remembered it to be, but the combination of cliche mashing, humour, strong character development and the wonderful nuances of the Crichton/Scorpius relationship (also the great production design & muppets) make this easily still one of my favourite space operas, and TV shows, ever. I just know a few years from now I'm going to rewatch Farscape all over again, I love it so much.

    Anyhow, my worthless two cents and some more:

    I agree that I like the episodic wackiness of season one a great deal. More than any other season it emphasizes the idea that each week, some sci-fi cliche is going to be rammed into something else or twisted into some weird contortion and then picked at by our irritable, rag-tag group of extraterrestial convicts.

    Even still, have nothing but love for the arrival of Scorpius at the end of the season and the whole arc there. In some ways, the first season ending arc actually held up the best for me.

    Yeah, season 2 begins very unevenly, with a number of poor and/or forgettable episodes after an initial strong start. I actually liked the Princess arc a great deal, although the titular Princess and the other royals aren't terribly interesting by themselves the writing's quite strong and it further the Crichton/Scorpius relationship nicely. I loved the end of the season arc originally because of its slapdash use of continuity and the piling upon piling of plot twists, but knowing all of this in advance seemed to lessen its effect somewhat. Still, Rygel's solution to the Durka plotline is very satisfying.

    I found the Crichton split blatantly contrived in retrospect, but inspiredly so.
    Still, it's hard for me to care about the death of Talyn Crichton and Aeryn's soul-searching over her loss when I know full well there's a spare lying around. This was my attitude on both times of watching the series - really, we all knew one of them was going to kick the bucket eventually.

    Blasphemously, I've never considered "Into the Lion's Den" the high point many do - it's a high point, but not the high point of the series. As arcs go I guess I've been ticked it's shorter than all the others. Even still, I was surprised how powerful I found Crichton and Scorpius' final scene here upon rewatching, I don't remember being so affected originally. (There is a consistent theme here, isn't there?)

    That said, easily my favourite season.
    I liked season four, and still do. I have major problems with it - Grayza for starters is a lackluster villain and I can't make heads or tails of the dire Arnessk arc - but I honestly think it's got a number of above-par episodes like "Unrealized Reality" or "A Constellation of Doubt", and the final season four arc is a real tour de force comparable to the past three years. In fact I'll go so far as to say that Crichton parading into the room to meet the Emperor and Grayza is one of my favourite moments of his from the entire series.

    I'm not defending it overmuch - some definitely weak episodes mean it's nowhere near as consistent as, say, season three - but it's got enough going for me not to condemn the whole season.

    I thought they had a synthesiser problem, but... yeah. Every single time Pilot speaks in the Peacekeeper Wars I'm jolted. Aside from that it's a pretty good way to end the series, though I too would have liked a fifth season (and more of that Hynerian plot, damn it!)

    Hm. 'The Way We Weren't' was my favourite episode prior to rewatch but now doesn't seem as strong - good, but not my top drawer. I've got to go with 'Incubus' this time around. Favourite trilogies would be the first and then I'm not sure - maybe the fourth.

    I don't hate 'Out of Their Minds' as much as I used to anymore, actually liked it (and oddly, didn't love 'Revenging Angel' as much either - comedy is funny like that), so I'd go with 'Taking the Stone', 'A Perfect Murder', 'Coup by Clam'. That's sort of at random glance episodes I recall being particularly boring, incoherent and/or pointless - nothing stands out as wretchingly awful, to be honest.

    Scorpius. Followed by Crichton. Prior to rewatch it would have been Harvey, and while I still love the bastard Scorpius is the real deal. Crais really is one of the best characters on the show, though.

    Hmm. I dunno. I'll just go with Grayza because I felt her actress performance was consistently off (she's perpetually monotone and oddly distant for some reason) and she wasn't half the person either Crais or Scorpius was.

    Anyway that's my incoherent rambling superimposed onto your thoughtful and insightful views. Enjoy!
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2009
  7. AntonyF

    AntonyF Official Tahmoh Taster Administrator

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    Not at all! I did quick glimpses of thought to summarise (effectively) 92 episodes of TV.

    And now a few random responses, as it's nice to talk about Farscape after watching it in seclusion these last few weeks.

    You bring up things I didn't mention.. like the puppetry. I found Rygel/Pilot hard at first, when I first watched it (my first ever episode was Through The Looking Glass). Now I wouldn't have it any other way... I adore them. It's about suspension of belief. I see reviews on Amazon accusing it of being Puppets in Space, or Australian Puppets in Space. But that's like saying "Lost is American actors on an Island". If you're going to break the third wall, then you can't target Farscape when doing it.

    I've seen other people not like the Crichton death on Talyn, but I actually *do* buy into that. If you had a loved one, that you spent a lot of time with, and had special moments with.... they die and you could be told you could have a copy, and old backup if you will, it's not the same. It's not the person you had a connection with. Running into the arms of the other Crichton wouldn't be right.

    Also I like Graza... I like her cold style, but of course she'd never be as good as Scorpious etc.

    I guess with into the Lions Den, the moment that got me was Crais and Talyn sacrificing themselves. As Crais was my favourite, but also I loved Talyn. I imagine many wouldn't be able to get into the emotional investment of a ship, but I do... hell I consider my car to have a personality and it has a name, so I think I'm okay with liking inanimate objects. But I adored both Crais and Talyn's arc, so when they sacrificed themselves it's the point that got me most emotionally.

    And the whole scenes of the water, and slow mo, and Scorpious betrayed... and then we learnt Scorpious is a bastard, but not necessarily as bad as you think with the ensuing stories of his.

    I also think the show jumped the shark with that episode. I don't mean the show was crap after that, as the phrase has almost come to mean... but I take its literal sense: the tension dropped after that point, and never quite got to the same level again. And I do reiterate that Farscape was still good until the very end. It's all relative.
     
  8. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's even more ridiculous when one doesn't apply the same standard to Star Wars. With Yoda and especially the various denizens of Jabba's Palace in Return of the Jedi, they did puppets in space first. How is it we all buy Yoda so readily but many scoff at Rygel?

    Anyway, I have a problem with some of the guest-star puppets, which vary in beleviability, and the puppet/actor hybrids, like the Scarrans (it's not until they're just actors-in-makeup aliens by S4 that they really work for me as a species).

    However, the puppet-work for Rygel and Pilot was consistently top notch. The readiness I accepted them as people is quite startling and a testament to the people at the Henson company. It's the little details that are particularly notable - Pilot's furrowed brow, patiently listening to another madcap and likely suicidal plan, that sort of thing.

    I agree it makes dramatic sense for the characters, but it's something they care about which we don't. That's something of a disconnect for the audience.

    Eh. I still think the fourth end-of-season arc is plenty tense, but it's true the consistent tension that season three had is no longer present. Scorpius's schemes are an overarching concern of that entire year, and the business with Grayza and the Scarrans in S4 just shows up at the end to give us something to go out with a bang on. She's not half the persistent pursuer Scorpius or even Crais had been before her.

    So yeah, I'd agree in terms of sweep and scope Farscape never got that driven again. Which only makes one wonder what a fifth season might (hopefully) have brought...
     
  9. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I miss Ben Browder on TV. :( Someone give him an interesting role on a good show! :klingon:

    Gotta disagree with AntonyF, tho. When Scorpy joined the fun, that's when the show made a leap from fun fluff to a truly memorable space opera with a unique character all its own.

    And splitting Crichton was an astonishingly bold move - the original Crichton died, remember. How many shows kill off their lead character mid-stream (even if they also contrive to keep the actor and the character in some form)? Those two halves were new characters, neither the original. And the emotional fallout was extremely well handled.

    Favorite character: Crichton, one of the best TV characters of all time.

    Least favorite: Probably one of those disposable late-season additions like Shikozu or Granny.

    Plotline most in need of follow-up: that frakken Nebari virus!
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2009
  10. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager. Okay, okay, Chief O'Brien and Harry Kim weren't lead characters, and their deaths and subsequent replacements were never addressed after the episode...

    It goes without saying that I love Farscape. It may not be the best space opera I have ever seen, but it is certainly my favorite. I recently (at long last) finished the fourth season, which I had literally put off watching for four years, and for the most part, I really enjoyed it. Not every episode is a home run, but Farscape always had a few clunkers per season. And dare I say it, but none of the clunkers in season four (or three) are unwatchable.

    Unlike, say, Jeremiah Crichton from season one. But the producers and actors are in on the joke on that episode, too. The "When Good Shows Go Bad" commentary track they recorded for it for the Starburst Edition DVDs is nothing short of a MSTK-3000 job on the episode--and it's from the people who actually made it. That level of honest reflection (and the ability to laugh and poke fun at ones mistakes) leaves me to hold the creative team behind the series in a much higher regard than, say, the producers behind the ever self-congratulatory commentary tracks of the Stargate franchise.
     
  11. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Which is my point - a lead character being treated that way is a rarity. I was also amazed that both the copies survived for many episodes, another rarity. One of Farscape's best qualities was its willingness to subvert the usual way of doing things.

    I've never listened to any commentary tracks for either show, but the Farscape team have about a million times more right to congratulate themselves on their creativity and daring (if not their coherence and discipline, which was often lacking ;)) than the stale hacks of Stargate.

    Anyone know wassup with the S1 DVDs? Netflix has everything in stock but S1.
     
  12. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    Indeed. It was certainly something I haven't seen done since. Completely splitting the cast up and having them alternate episodes--neat idea.
     
  13. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The bold move was splitting up the cast. Killing off the original Crichton by 'twinning' him was just the latest in a long line of oddball twists on sci-fi convention in the series' history - and both Chiana and D'Argo 'die' in that episode as well.

    But making the show essentially two different but concurrent shows set on two different spaceships? Well, that was a little out there. The twinning of Crichton is simply a device to allow Ben Browder to be in two places at the same time and ensure that neither one is the 'fake'; they're even sort of coy in coming out and saying the old Crichton is dead, that's the obvious inferrence but the wording to describe the process is deliberately ambiguous.

    Frakken? Frell that dren, it's utterly farbot! :p

    I still say the Hynerian plot. I want to see Hyneria! I want to see Rygel on the throne! I want to see his numerous wives - er... well look, I want to see that resolved.

    It particularly bugs me as they hint at a resolution in the Peacekeeper Wars and then throw it away - would it have killed them to have one or two measly lines of dialogue at the end stating Rygel got his crown back offscreen?

    Because while that's anticlimactic it is superior to the 'nothing' and pure cocktease I actually got. At least the Nebari plot had the dignity to be forgotten and stay as such.

    Speak for yourself. Not defending that episode, but it's not excruiating to me like "Taking the Stone" is, which is just a painfully, painfully boring hour. I found that episode the most difficult to rewatch... and watch the first time, as I recall. Also, I like Rygel's scenes in "Jeremiah Crichton", but then, Rygel! Wooo!

    Damn, I need a space opera. And not this 'West Wing in space' or 'western in space' stuff, either. Aliens and temporal anomalies and alternate universes and mind-bending galactic absurdities.

    And maybe some puppets.
     
  14. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    I must be one of the only people in the world who actually enjoys "Taking the Stone." It's not one of my favorites by any means, but I never had a problem with it. And I love the ending.

    Chiana: "Hey, old man."
    John: "Hey, little girl."
     
  15. AntonyF

    AntonyF Official Tahmoh Taster Administrator

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    I have watched the extra features on the discs... which for me is unusual, I always forget extras. This time I watched and enjoyed them. But I did forget the commetnaries! I must go back and listen to them... although I don't think there's many.

    Oh that one was so bad... the acting from the guest cast was truly hideous. But I like Kegg I enjoyed the Rygel humour.

    I find it horrid. And The Choice was similar, and should have probably gone in my bottom three. It went for the Battlestar Galactica attempt at grieving... people drink, act odd, stand in dangerous places, act suicidal, look moody... then get on with their lives next episode. I hate this type of contrived episode so much.
     
  16. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    Really?! "The Choice" is one of my favorites!
     
  17. AntonyF

    AntonyF Official Tahmoh Taster Administrator

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    Aside from Claudia getting to do a bit of acting.... why?
     
  18. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    I don't know. I just really enjoyed the story. Aeryn grew up a soldier and finally learned what it was really like to love. Then she lost that love and went into a deep depression. I don't think it was contrived for that to happen. In the end, however, she knew she couldn't just go on living like that, so she retreated (or tried to, for the next couple episodes) back into her soldier role.

    I also liked how Stark was hearing Zhaan and then went off to find her, and had there been a Season 5, I bet we would have learned more about that. As it is, I enjoy the mystery.

    Plus there was that really neat baby puppet thing.
     
  19. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    My fundamental problem with "The Choice" is pretty much what I've already said: I don't care. I get Aeryn is having severe difficulty getting over Crichton, but I'm not. Yeah, yeah, you're sad, but there's a very much alive Crichton who's solving his personal problems using cartoons, can I watch him instead? That said I didn't find it too poor an episode and it was a pretty decent coda to the Talyn arc.

    While we probably would have got resolution to this in a fifth season, as-is it was just a way to write Stark off the show. And if there's one thing Farscape didn't need to do, it was get rid of Stark. He was the last really good addition to the Farscape ensemble.
     
  20. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    I guess it helps that Aeryn is my favorite character. I definitely cared about what she was going through.

    Yeah, but it's kind of his thing. He shows up...then he leaves...then he shows up again...then he leaves...

    Hell, the first time he left they didn't even give us an explanation until the middle of Season 2!

    I do love Stark, though. He's my second favorite character behind Aeryn.

    Honestly, Crichton is probably #4 or #5 on my list.