Discuss Farscape

Let me preface with three things:

  • I love sci-fi

  • I love situations where an ordinary guy finds himself in an impossible situation.

  • I love exploring new worlds

Farscape seemed to fit all three, that's why I initially started watching it in mid-2011. And I finished it a few days ago (with PK Wars). So why did this take so frelling long for me? It's simple: I did not like this show.

Let me break this into paragraphs.

Problem 1: Alienation of the audience.

Yes, I know it's sci-fi, and it's supposed to be weird and all. But weird has to be done right, and for me Farscape was weird in a bad way. I loved some concepts, like a living ship in symbiosis with a Pilot is a brilliant thing. The way it was presented though was not to my liking. Everything was jumbled and random, and while I know what the creators intended to do (project Chrichton's confusion to the audience), the writing style and plot structure of the episodes confused and alienated me. And that brings us to...

Problem 2: Consistency.

Now this is something Farscape writers seldom employed while writing episodes. So many "problem of the week" episodes were concluded with a random deus ex machina solution or a wildly out of character action of a crew member. And what's worse than plot inconsistencies, the character inconsistency hurts Farscape much more in the long run. The hot & cold relationship between Chrichton and Aeryn seemingly changed according to the temperature of the writing room or something - for a viewer like myself it came off as totally random. In one moment D'Argo was a fierce warrior, in the next, he was scared and helpless. There were no complete character arcs, everyone behaved erraticly many many times. This hindered my ability to view this show as a character-based experience. Speaking of characters, when characters appear/disappear/reappear at a whim, the whole universe of said work suffers (HOW IN THE FRELL DID NORANTI GET ON THE SHIP???). Which brings us to the third problem...

Problem 3: World Building.

I love myself a good 'verse, and Farscape at times looked like it can provide that. But the various cultures, races, species were only used as plot fodder in various "problem of the week" episodes, and they were never really developed. There were intriguing details, weird worlds, and I found myself longing for much much more information on a planet that the creators thought of only as a backdrop for a filler episode. Only the Scarrans and the Peacekeepers were developed, and they were not that interesting.

Problem 4: Production value, acting and all-around silliness.

There were numerous times during the series when I found myself embarrassed and asking "why am I watching this again?" after a particularly silly scene. Take for example the episode where Chrichton voluntarily accepts to stand as a statue for 80 years. I know it was explained, but the explanation was so silly I simply couldn't believe this was written, approved and filmed. Or take the episode where the entire crew gets sick, and they end up operating D'Argo's ship with his vomit. It was a clever idea, but man, it was so wacky, I questioned myself again on why I watch the show in the first place. The series never took itself too seriously, but there is humor, and there is stupidity - a fine line Farscape crossed on many occasions. In other words: anyone can do random & wacky, but few can do random & wacky well. It was just wacky for the sake of being wacky lots and lots and lots of time, creating an overall inconsistent, alienating tone.

Things I liked

Yes, there were such things. For example, I liked Scorpius in general, he was an intriguing and opportunistic villain. I loved Harvey, his mental clone in Chrichton's head (although the creators numerous times went overboard with the silliness when doing Harvey scenes), the Time-guy (aka Einstein), who embodied a much more sinister aspect of the universe (and on whom I also wanted more informaiton), the advanced aliens who put the wormhole knowledge into Chrichton's head, Chrichton's ongoing shtick of popculure references, the presistence and loyality of Braca, the masterful use and quality of puppets, etc.

A few words about Peacekeeper Wars

I liked the tone and setting much more than in the series, I loved underwater Rygel (that was great). I did not like that the peace-inducing race was pulled out of the writer's sleeve so late, but given that it was a condensed version of Season 5, it's understandable. In PKW, everything more or less connected, the production value was much higher (did I mention underwater Rygel?), and there were fewer inconsistencies this time around. If only the whole series was like this, I would have rated it much higher.

All in all, it wasn't all dren, but it could have been soooooooooooo much better. For this, I rated it 5/10. It left me cold so many times, that a few moments could not save it from mediocrity. It's a pity for me, because I really hoped it to be someting special...

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Unlike you, I'd rate it by giving it a 10.

It was extremely UNIQUE and innovative.

And it also contained more than just the story of the week, because there was also the arc where John is dealing with the death of the brother of the PK commander (the one who also eventually ends up as the pilot for the baby ship named Talon).

And the reason why there's the on and off love story between John and Aeryn is because they come from 2 completely different cultures.

On Earth she'd be more like someone who'd been raised in a communist culture where individuality is discouraged.

So when she meets John she's still a hard ass bitch who needs taming.

And that's also what happens over the course of their relationship as she SOFTENS UP and eventually sees the reasons why his culture is a better and more compassionate one than her former Peacekeeper kind of existence.

So of course there's also going to be lots of SNAGS along the way as she absorbs his lifestyle and his views of the way life should be lived.

HOW IN THE FRELL DID NORANTI GET ON THE SHIP???).

She's what's called a STOWAWAY.

Remember the MAGIC DUST she used?

She would have it in the PALM of her hand and blow it into the face of someone.

She does this to John after Aeryn leaves so he'd be able to forget her and wouldn't be so depressed.

And she also does it to other enemies so that they're able to escape when they're threatened with captivity.

Think of her as being like a MAGICIAN.

She's got a bag full of MAGIC tricks that she uses, and she also used one of them as a way to get onto the ship.

And Blowing that MAGIC DUST into the face of someone could also be the trick that she used to get onto it.

It's also interesting the way you enjoyed Rygel swimming around to collect all of the shattered body parts of John and Aeryn yet never say anything about how ABSURD it was to find a culture that was able to put them all back together again and bring them back to life again.

Except for the big BOO BOO where the baby ends up being inside of RYGEL.

So one of the most unlikely scenes of all in the show also turns out to be one of your favorites?

:wink:

Perhaps the problem was also the way that you watched the show?

Because when it's watched weekly or nightly (whenever they use to air reruns of it) then maybe it also makes more sense than if one BINGE watches it in one BIG GULP or by taking in several different BIG GULPS of it at a time?

@Invidia said:

It was extremely UNIQUE and innovative.

It was unique, I'll give you that. Innovation - there were some nice ideas, yes. But not all of those ideas were good.

And it also contained more than just the story of the week, because there was also the arc where John is dealing with the death of the brother of the PK commander (the one who also eventually ends up as the pilot for the baby ship named Talon).

Many other shows have arcs. None of the arcs really interested me besides the deal with that Time-guy (Einstein). Everything else was kind of "meh" for me.

And the reason why there's the on and off love story between John and Aeryn is because they come from 2 completely different cultures.

Yes, I understood that aspect - however, I still think this could have been handlet way better by the writers.

HOW IN THE FRELL DID NORANTI GET ON THE SHIP???).

Think of her as being like a MAGICIAN.

OK, this is one of the minor problems for me, I just used it to highlight how absurd it was for me that this was never-ever addressed by the writers. I accept your hadwave-y explanation.

It's also interesting the way you enjoyed Rygel swimming around to collect all of the shattered body parts of John and Aeryn yet never say anything about how ABSURD it was to find a culture that was able to put them all back together again and bring them back to life again.

Absurd is not always bad! In this show there are many times when something absurd happens, and it's bad, since it doesn't make sense plot-wise, or it's a wildly out of character action. But I knew the context of the underwater Rygel scene and it was a clever way from the producers / writers to bring them back after the cancellation. I liked how they previously basically said "f*ck you for cancelling our show" - which brought us to the moment of Aeryn and Chrichton falling apart. So I liked that moment.

So one of the most unlikely scenes of all in the show also turns out to be one of your favorites?

Again: something in a movie / series being unlikely or not unlikely is never the problem in itself. If handled and executed well, it will give you a good experience. That you're watching something coherent and believable. And believable does not equal realistic! Otherwise, you could throw your hands up and switch the show off the second Chrichton winds up in a different galaxy in the pilot episode - as that is clearly an "unlikely" event, eh? If it fits into the plot, adds value, and executed well, then no matter how absurd or unlikely the scene is, I will enjoy it.

Perhaps the problem was also the way that you watched the show?

Because when it's watched weekly or nightly (whenever they use to air reruns of it) then maybe it also makes more sense than if one BINGE watches it in one BIG GULP or by taking in several different BIG GULPS of it at a time?

Irrelevant, as for more than a decade now, I don't watch any series weekly, I only binge-watch - and I liked many-many series I binge watched and hated some others. The interesting thing about Farscape is that it never really urged me to continue (save for the last few episodes of the last season), so I mostly watched it weekly :-) Still did not like it that much overall.

In summary: the problem is not with the absurdity itself. The problem is with the execution (ranging from horrible to passable) the inconsistent tome of the series (wacky VS serious - changing way too often and in an unpredictable fashion), and the lack of coherent writing (plots and characters were all over the place).

Have you seen Firefly? If so, did you like that show? Because it's basically the same situation where you've got a group of people on a ship who fly around to different places hoping to be able to find a way to feed themselves.

The one wacky part of Farscape that I didn't care that much for was the cartoon part of it.

And the first time that I ever saw the show it was also airing the last episodes in the final seasons.

So perhaps that could be still another reason why I like it more than you?

Because of having watched the last episodes first which you also say you liked more?

And maybe if you had also watched it in REVERSE (watching the last seasons before the first Seasons) , you would like it better?

@Invidia said:

Have you seen Firefly? If so, did you like that show? Because it's basically the same situation where you've got a group of people on a ship who fly around to different places hoping to be able to find a way to feed themselves.

Yes, saw it, a couple years before Farscape. How did I like Firefly? It's is my favorite show ever, that's how!

But apart from minor similarities (spaceships, rag-tag crew, different planets - these are widely used tropes anyways) these are completely different shows - I was tempted many times to compare this with Firefly, but I reminded myself that it would not make sense to do that. What works in Firefly would not work in Farscape and vice versa. In general, comparing shows rarely makes sense. It's fun, but ultimately pointless - you cannot lift elements from good shows and put them into mediocre / bad shows and expect them to work. That's a typical case of the Detached Lever Fallacy.

This is why I don't really like when people comparing Dark Matter, Killjoys and The Expanse to Firefly. These are all completely different shows. Of course for me the Ur example of "small crew flying around on a small spaceship to make ends meet" will always be Firefly, but Farscape, Killjoys, Dark Matter & The Expanse doesn't have to beat Firefly at this game. Killjoys is focusing on character interaction, The Expanse is focusing on an underlying mystery, Dark Matter is focusing on the identity and the journey of the characters, etc. They don't have to be better than Firefly. They creators just have to be good at what they want to focus on, so they can create a show that stands on its own.

And maybe if you had also watched it in REVERSE (watching the last seasons before the first Seasons) , you would like it better?

I think the influence on my final rating would have been very minor. Moreover, it would have been all the more disappointing to see more interesting episodes first, then to be thrown into that drag that is the first half of the series.

BTW my overall favorite episodes of Farscape are the episode about the backstory of Pilot, and the one in which Chrichton is back on earth, and all shorts of crazy things are happening which makes him realize it's all in his head. That episode reminded me of my favorite episode in a different favorite series of mine: "Restless" from Buffy. It was a wacky episode, but there was narrative consistency behind all the wakcyness so I didn't mind it.

Farscape just did not find the balance between serious / funny / wacky / stupid for me, and on top of that it did not have a strong enough narrative backbone. I think it boils down to this.

John isn't the official captain of Moya like the other guy is in Firefly (who also purchased and owns his ship), but John is just as much of a leader as Malcolm is, and he also cares just as deeply for and about the rest of the crew on the ship.

And just like John has a thing for Aeryn, Malcolm also has a thing for Inara.

And just like John goes above and beyond the call of duty whenever one of the crew is in trouble, Malcom also does the same thing.

When Chiana thinks her brother's dead and is on the planet where they jump off the cliff (sometimes to their deaths), John goes there to rescue her.

When River is in trouble, Malcolm does whatever he can do to protect her.

Both crews usually have each others backs, but both Jayne and Rygel are also backstabbers at one time.

Imo, there are many similarities between the 2 shows.

And I also don't see there being the kinds of problems with Farscape as you see.

In fact I enjoyed watching it just as much as Firefly.

But if that's the way you feel about it, you're certainly also entitled to your opinion.

And all one can do is express their disappointment that you didn't also enjoy watching it as much as I did.

@Invidia said:

John isn't the official captain of Moya like the other guy is in Firefly (who also purchased and owns his ship), but John is just as much of a leader as Malcolm is, and he also cares just as deeply for and about the rest of the crew on the ship.

And just like John has a thing for Aeryn, Malcolm also has a thing for Inara.

And just like John goes above and beyond the call of duty whenever one of the crew is in trouble, Malcom also does the same thing.

When Chiana thinks her brother's dead and is on the planet where they jump off the cliff (sometimes to their deaths), John goes there to rescue her.

When River is in trouble, Malcolm does whatever he can do to protect her.

Both crews usually have each others backs, but both Jayne and Rygel are also backstabbers at one time.

Imo, there are many similarities between the 2 shows.

And I also don't see there being the kinds of problems with Farscape as you see.

In fact I enjoyed watching it just as much as Firefly.

But if that's the way you feel about it, you're certainly also entitled to your opinion.

And all one can do is express their disappointment that you didn't also enjoy watching it as much as I did.

Exactly! Fair enough then.

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