BINGE WATCHED: Farscape – Telenova in space with Muppets!!!
Sci-Fi was really the first network to show a realistic gritty sci-fi piece on tv. One that caught what a constant war in space would be really be like. One that showed the terrible human toll on a man constantly paranoid that things were not what they seem. No, I am not talking about your Fracking Battlestar Galactica and its’ shaky CSI in space style. I mean Frelling FarScape. Better in my opinion and it had Muppets!
Farscape launched in 1999 by Australian TV it featured a lot of work by the Jim Henson Creature shop. The effects were superior to many of the other shows on TV, better then Next Generation or Stargate, which were the main competition. Part of this may have been the fact that the Sci-Fi network was already looking for content and helped in funding the shows production. However, more than really interesting practical and digital effects, the true fun of the show was it straddled the line between serious sci-fi (Star Trek) with it’s pseudo scientific explanations for every odd happenstance and Space Opera (hot aliens, weird weapons, and weirder evil aliens) better than any show I have seen.
The trick it used was to hang it all of your expectation s on one lone earthman, Captain John Crichton. Acted decently by Ben Bowden, Crichton had been testing an experimental space module when he was accidently sucked into a wormhole. The plot does revolve around him in many episodes, but Crichton usually wins as much as by stubborn good luck as intelligence. It is not by some unique heroic or special attribute of humans, but rather because he is a rather clever human who gets tied up in the lives of the aliens he is stranded with. I am not going to give away more plot than that. Let’s just say when he initially teams up with other species, the writers actually let you know how alien it is by telling having Crichton’s new associates tell him his breath stinks and give him a worm to put on his teeth that will eat the bacteria off them (a dentite).
That gives you a sense of what this show is; a fantastic mix of the mundane and the bizarre. If you are going to meet aliens yes they are going to need to brush their teeth and what’s more why their tooth brushes be one of the grossest and weirdest things you have ran into? Do you spit out the worm? No you try and take care of your stinky breath, because these weird creatures are the closest things to friends you have for about 2000 light years. Farscape nailed for me a very human response to the idea of being stuck in an Alien world.
Yes Crichton is a PHD on his planet, but he has no clue what is what on the other side of the wormhole. Even the people he is with run across something they have no idea what it is or what it does all the time. Their attitude is “In the end it probably doesn’t matter if you can’t eat it or as long as it doesn’t try to eat you”. (Which normally was not the case.) That attitude of “yes this is a space but your breath still stinks and getting along, even if your shipmate is obnoxious”is what gives Farscape its special take on Sci-Fi.
Humans are no more special on the other side of the universe then they are at home. No matter what your training your not ready for what is out there. Faced with the fantastic everyday your going to be holding onto your sanity by your nails. The writers wrote and Ben Browder acted John Crichton as a man, who was walking the fine line of losing his mind on his best days. On his worst, it was a question if he cared if he came back to whatever passed for sanity or if he was even capable but sane men can’t eat and sane or not, aliens were still people he needed or who needed him.
Farscape can be streamed on HULU and AMAZON. There are four seasons and Mini-series: FarScape the PeaceKeeper Wars.