FAR GONE

March 21, 2003 From TV Guide Online's Today's Review

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After viewing the series finale of Farscape, I retrieved my stomach from my throat, scratched my head and thought, "What was that?"

Frustrating finales of great shows are common. Boffo ratings aside, M*A*S*H's "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" was uneven, cloying and cumbersome. Soap ended with Jessica Tate (Katherine Helmond) before a firing squad. As for The Prisoner, nobody ever solved "Fall Out." In a finale that was beyond cryptic, Number Six (Patrick McGoohan) shot up the Village with a Carnaby Street hippie (Alexis Kanner) in tow as "All You Need Is Love" played in the background. In the meantime, Number Two (Leo McKern) was cross-examined in a kangaroo court, his face obscured by shaving cream.

Farscape's swan song isn't that bizarre, but as cliffhangers go, it's a corker. Perhaps executive producer David Kemper and company believed the show would be renewed. If not, Kemper and his scribes are fiendish indeed. Mind you, Farscape is a realm where the unexpected is the norm. Nothing about this show surprises me anymore, except the myopia of the Sci Fi Channel executives who took it off the air.

The episode begins with All-American IASA astronaut John Crichton (Ben Browder) trying to save Earth from an invasion of Scarrans, a sadistic lizard-like race that craves a plant that's abundant on Earth. Desperate to stop them, Crichton hits on the idea of trapping the Scarrans inside the wormhole. Trouble is, he may trap himself and Aeryn (Claudia Black) in the process.

Like many Farscape tales, the plot of the finale acts a springboard for spirited interaction between the main characters. The Machiavellian Scorpius (Wayne Pygram), Crichton's cadaverous archenemy, offers to help with the Scarrans, but the astronaut wants no part of him. Crichton's seductive, unscrupulous crewmate Sikozu (Raelee Hill), now Scorpius's ally, begs the Earthling to reconsider. "Goldilocks, it's a bad choice," Crichton warns the curly redhead. "When you figure that out, call 1-800 for counseling." Throughout the series' run, the sarcastic Crichton made pop-culture references that confused aliens but delighted viewers. Only Buffy the Vampire Slayer balances hip humor, butt-kicking action and aching poignancy as deftly.

Speaking of poignant, Crichton's on-again, off-again relationship with Aeyrn is resolved with one of the most unforgettable perhaps infamous TV scenes since the shooting of J.R. Imagine if the writers of The Fugitive decided to end that series with Richard Kimble (David Janssen) confessing to his wife's murder, and you get an idea of what's in store for fans.

I'm hoping all the loose ends will be tied up with a feature film. If a camp curio like Lost in Space can make it to the big screen, why not Farscape? Until then, fans can only review the episodes and marvel at the imagination, nerve and talent that went into a series that surely ranks among TV's greatest science fiction. Any frustration I have with the finale is due to the affection I have for Moya's incredible crew. In addition to Crichton, Aeryn and Sikozu, there's Anthony Simcoe's noble, leonine D'Argo; Gigi Edgley's sexy and mercurial Chiana; and deposed monarch Rygel (voice of Jonathan Hardy), a sharp-witted hybrid of ALF and Henry the VIII. Even though most of Farscape's characters were aliens, they possessed strengths and weaknesses that were all too human.

With any luck, we will see them again. Farscape could return from the dead (Aeyrn did). Still, George Harrison got it right all those years ago when he sang "All Things Must Pass." If this is indeed the final chapter of Farscape, I want to thank the Moya crew for one helluva ride. G.J. Donnelly

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