Farscape: Soap in space

Farscape was why my spouse and I bought a TiVo. It was a show we discovered not long after we got married and that we were soon watching faithfully. But we discovered after our babe was born in 2001 that live television watching wasn’t compatible with baby minding, and we rediscovered the unreliabilty of taping shows on a VCR. We couldn’t do without Moya and her crew, and so we bought a first-generation TiVo, along with a lifetime subscription to its services. We’ve been proselytizing the joys of TiVo ever since (we’ve upgraded to a recent model and have hacked that to increase its memory). But Farscape had disappeared from our lives for a while. It went off the air, and although I’m pretty sure we own it on DVD, I don’t tend to remember to watch my DVDs. But with its appearance on Netflix Instant, nothing can come between me and Ka D’Argo again.

What blew me away when we first started watching the series was how far removed it was from the imaginative and visual universe of Star Trek. There’s no crew of brethren searching for scientific knowledge, no utterly foreign aliens, no discrete episodes with uplifting morals. It’s a sprawling soap opera in which the crew of the living spaceship constantly argue and jostle for dominance and reveal secrets and longings and shifting alliances. The villains — and, oh the evil chasing Creighton and Aeryn and the others is evil indeed — are also complex and sometimes allies in the moment, even while never to be trusted.

The best way in, if you haven’t seen the show before, is to start at the beginning. But be forewarned: the series was cancelled abruptly, so what should have been a cliffhanger was, for many years, the ending. You’ll be able to watch beyond the fourth series to the 2004 The Peacekeeper Wars mini-series that tried to wrap things up more equitably. But that sudden ending was the biggest betrayal I’ve come across in television. I’m still bitter about it. I’m actually a bit reluctant to return to the show with the full force of love I felt for it before. I’ll dip my toes in once and a while, but I can’t immerse myself anymore. You should, though. Your heart won’t get broken, I promise.

Sarah Werner has two sons, at least one job, and too many books to read. As a result, Netflix Instant is her constant companion. She blogs about books and reading and is known to a corner of the twitterverse as @wynkenhimself.

2 Responses to “Farscape: Soap in space”
  1. angie says:

    Agree! Farscape made Trek and other look “2D”

  2. Gavin Craig says:

    I adore Farscape, and it’s sad that it makes me feel old to say that my wife and I watched almost the whole series when most of it was available through Netflix just as the discs. We’d binge on three or four episodes, and then mail the disc back the next day and wait breathlessly for the following disc to arrive in the mail. It all feels so quaint now.

    In contrast to the Next Generation-era Stark Trek franchises, which seem to only find their stride in season three — it’s amazing how consistent they are that way — Farscape in some ways was at its best right from the start. I think it was inevitable that as Crichton acclimates (sort of) to his new surroundings, that he’d learn to shoot and blow things up, but I think the show lost something when Moya’s crew became known as the people who pulled off incredible jobs and destroying full-on military outposts.

    The first episodes do an amazing job of forcing John and the crew to find nonviolent solutions to their problems, and they do it in believable and compelling ways. It felt very Henson-inspired — very dark and very hopeful at once, and I’m not sure we’ve seen anything like it since.

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