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Farscape the series ends; star sees movie possibility

From the Ventura County Star by Dave Mason

March 18, 2003: 

After being the only human among bizarre aliens for four years, John Crichton is back on Earth. And he's thinking about what might be the most important thing in the universe, at least for the moment: the ocean.

"What's the surf like up there?" Ben Browder asks in a phone interview from his Los Angeles home. The star is as easygoing and as quick to laugh now as he was when he started playing Crichton, the ultimate stranger in a strange land, four years ago on "Farscape."

The series, easily the best show on TV, will end Friday despite the efforts of fans across the nation to save the show at the 11th hour. The series finale airs at 8 p.m. and midnight on the Sci Fi cable network. (There's a plot spoiler near the end of the story.)

Browder praised "Farscape" fans for their efforts.

Groups united through bought their own commercials in cities across the nation to promote the show. But it wasn't enough to boost ratings to the point of the show being saved.

"Farscape" varied from a 1.1 to 1.3 rating share, Browder said. Fans had hoped to raise the ratings to a 2.0 share.

Filming wrapped up last fall and, after four years shooting the show in Sydney, Australia, Browder is readjusting to life in Los Angeles.

He joked about producers having to blow the dust off his head shots. Browder, 40, is reintroducing himself to Hollywood and is auditioning for pilots.

"I have to find a job before Fran (Bueller, his wife/actress), kicks me out of the house. Then I'd have to call you up and say, 'Dave, can I crash at your place?' " he said, laughing.

In addition to Browder, "Farscape" stars Claudia Black as Aeryn Sun, former Peacekeeper and Crichton's lover; Gigi Edgley as rebellious alien Chiana; Anthony Simcoe as D'Argo, a Luxan warrior; Jonathan Hardy as the voice of the Rygel and Lani John Tupu as the voice of the Pilot. Virginia Hey, who did a great job as Delvian priestess Zhaan, has been busy on the sci-fi convention circuit. And many other recurring characters have served on the crew, from the insane but spiritual Stark (Paul Goddard) to this season's Sikozu (Ralee Hill) and Noranti (Melissa Jaffer).

Browder praised "Farscape" for taking risks for the sake of the story and for being more concerned with creativity than market research. He praised the cast, creator Rockne S. Bannon, and the mix of Australians and Americans.

"Our directors were not bound by the normal rules of television. Our writers were not bound," Browder said.

"We were Icarus. We flew up to the sun, and it melted our wax (in the wings)," he said, laughing.

"Farscape" took all the characters in unexpected directions. And last season's villain could easily become next season's hero, which is why Scorpius (Wayne Pygram) is now helping the crew of Moya, the living ship of Crichton and his friends. Everyone has their own agendas on "Farscape," but they know when to sacrifice their own interests for the greater good. Just don't expect them to act like saints in the process.

Crichton is now the most hunted person in the Unchartered Territories because of his knowledge of wormholes. Everyone close to Crichton is in danger because of that knowledge, and that's why Crichton had to leave Earth after finally returning to his native planet this season.

"It's like you have a gun and all the bad people want your gun, but you don't know how to use the gun," Browder said. "Just take it out of my hand; I don't want to be part of your army!

"Going to Earth shows what the audience already knew: Crichton didn't belong on Earth," Browder said. "Earth is boring compared to the Unchartered Territories, and this is how much this guy has changed. He's no longer human in some aspects.

"He's little more loose and edgy," he said.

Browder said he would have liked "Farscape" to have gone into a fifth season so that Crichton, who's been driven crazy by Scorpius and others messing with his brain, could put himself back together.

He said he likes the fact that Crichton is an average guy.

It's been anything but an average journey, though. Browder said his favorite episodes included Crichton being "twinned" -- that's similar to cloning except for the fact that each person is the "original." The "twinning" allowed the writers to actually kill one Crichton, the one who got a happy romance with Aeryn, and continue the show with the other one.

The epic stories are continuing to the series' last minute. There's a plot spoiler in the next paragraph for the series finale.

This Friday, Crichton learns of the Scarrans' plans for Earth. (I haven't seen a preview tape, and that's all I know.)

Browder said the cancellation of the series isn't a matter of "Farscape" losing viewers. He said the series actually needed to gain viewers to keep up as the Sci Fi network went into more homes.

As the Sci Fi network saw itself going from 50 percent of homes with televisions to 80 percent, it realized it needed shows based on movies, such as "Stargate SG-1" and the upcoming "Tremors," Browder said.

He said he doesn't know how or when "Farscape" will return. He would like it to return as a theatrical movie with a big budget.

"I would love to see what the creative team could do with more time and money," he said.

Syndication and the move to another network are also possibilities, but Browder said he doesn't know what will happen. "There's been discussions since the moment we got canceled," he said.

" 'Farscape' will come back because enough people will watch it, and because the people who invested in it will want to make a return on their money," he said.

In the meantime, Browder has the surf. For now, Earth isn't such a bad place to be.

Farscape is owned by The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Entertainment, Nine Network (Australia) and the Sci-Fi Channel. No copyright infringement is intended and no financial gain has been made by any of the staff of this web site.