Of all the cancellations this season, the one that came as the biggest shock was that of Farscape. Having reached a third season with nary a second glance, a green light for a fourth and fifth year was pretty much a given. However, this was to be rescinded by The Sci-Fi Channel late in the day, cutting the show off in its prime. While never experiencing mass appeal (of which more later), Farscape was the Sci-Fi fan's Sci-Fi show. It may not have brought the genre more into the public eye, but it certainly set a new standard for others to follow. 

Jeremiah Crichton

Representing the very worst of what Farscape was capable, this story is the first one where Rygel's puppet status works against the show as he is involved in a series of ludicrous events. Crichton's comedy beard becomes indicative of poor quality.

Crais

Most of Season One's Crais-centric episodes are rather poor, resulting in a delight from viewers when he is ousted from his command at season's end by Scorpius, Thankfully, the writers realized there was far more potential in the character than was seen in this year.

TVZ51SeasonOne03.jpg (26985 bytes)It was clear from the beginning that Farscape was something a little more 'out there'. Season One had a lot of difficulties to overcome, particularly two major stumbling blocks that would continue to be a burden on it as the years went by. The first of these was the casting. Not the casting of the leads as such, but the plaster casting of two of the show's stars, namely Pilot and Rygel. With the series made by the Jim Henson Company, what better way of playing to its strengths than integrating puppets with the live-action stars?

It was quickly apparent that this annoyed as many people as it pleased. Critics were swift to latch onto the 'muppet' presence in order to run the series down, while those paying closer attention quickly realized that Pilot,

Rygel and other rubber-based life forms added a certain je ne sais quoi to the show that no other Sci-Fi production could match. It might have taken some getting used to, but in the end it could pay handsome dividends, especially as puppet characters could get away with so much that the living, breathing actors couldn't; after all, would it have been reasonable to have Ben Browder or Claudia Black's character fart helium instead of Rygel? Probably not, although quite possibly just as funny.

The second issue viewers had to deal with was the show's Australian provenance. We all love the Aussies, but so far our main imports from that country have been Neighbours, Home and Away and Prisoner: Cell Block H. All have their fans, of course, but it's more than likely that images of these programmes crossed the minds of many potential Farscape watchers, who decided it wasn't for them. Again, however, those who did tune in were rewarded. Yes, it does take a while to get used to aliens speaking with an Australian accent rather than the American one we're used to, but, like the puppets, it adds a degree of otherworldliness to the show that makes it stand out from the crowd.

Despite these awkward beginnings, Farscape bloomed. The first year itself was a pick and mix batch of good and bad episodes as the show gradually found its feet. Some stories proved vital in the long run, introducing plot strands that would be built on and revisited over the years, while others were throwaway nonsense. Most notable, however, was the introduction of Scorpius in 19th episode Nerve, which brought in a more threatening villain and laid the foundations for a journey that would last until the show's end. 

Design 

Farscape clearly has a look all its own, from the constantly shifting camera movement that suggests Moya travelling, to the vibrant colours to make us feel as if we really are on a living ship. Okay, so LEXX got in slightly ahead on that one, but who cares?

The theme 

Further enhancing the feeling of being something different, Farscape's theme tune is simply breathtaking. Layers of sound, distortion and a freakish choir chanting make it a piece that, even after its Season Three remix, still sends a shiver down the spine every time it's heard. 

New additions 

One thing Farscape excels at is adding in new characters when the producers feel the need for a shake-up. Season One's arrivals bore the most fruit, with Chiana and Scorpius providing vital roles and Stark bringing romance, tragedy and insanity in almost equal measure. 


Cliffhanger Conclusion

The season begins by resolving the previous t year's cliffhanger. ..by skipping ahead several weeks to a point when everything's okay again. Although we find out what happened in between, it's an irritatingly simplistic start to the year, and a trick that'll be used again.

Talyn

No one seems to have thought out quite what to do with Moya's newborn child throughout the season, as Talyn and Crais tend to keep cropping up then vanishing again, leaving destruction in their wake. Luckily, their time is coming...

TVZ51SeasonTwo01.jpg (16652 bytes)By Season Two, Farscape's producers were getting cocky. The first season, while variable at the start, had  quickly matured into something to be proud of, and thus they began the next step in evolving the show. As such, the regular cast was bolstered by Chiana's permanent presence on board Moya, a clever addition in the way she became the only person on board who truly was an unrepentant criminal. Her unpredictable nature gave the writers a new outlet for stories in which someone less trustworthy was required, not to mention providing Rygel with an accomplice in some of his more underhand dealings.

Most notable, however, was the expansion of storylines. The season saw a subtle arc unfolding as we are gradually made privy to the truth of what Scorpius did to Crichton in the Aurora Chair at the end of Season One.

The perfect example of 'the enemy within' Crichton becomes a liability to his friends and crewmates, as a neural clone of Scorpius, digging about in his brain in search of wormhole knowledge, makes him increasingly unpredictable and insane. At the end of the season the full extent of this tragedy becomes  known, when Crichton, under the clone's malign influence, causes the death of Aeryn, shortly after admitting his feelings to her. This wasn't the only example of the show's increasing scale, however. Look at the Princess was Farscape's first three- part story, containing two fantastic cliffhangers, one of which featured the truly 'how do they get out of that' moment of Crichton's head being severed from his body. What impressed the most was the producers' ability to tell a tale over this amount of time without it getting tedious, as intrigue piles upon intrigue and new elements are introduced to the story to keep things rattling along.

However, Look at the Princess was a fairly self-contained and character- driven story. To truly show what they could do, Farscape's Powers That Be kicked off a second three-parter, Liars, Guns and Money, as the year drew to a close. This brought many of the series' ongoing plotlines to a head, setting Crichton on the road towards a mental breakdown and bringing back many old friends and enemies in an awe-inspiring all-action blast-a-thon which saw Moya's crew going head to head against Scorpius with negligible success. It proved a point: Farscape could do introspective character pieces and full- on war stories without pausing for breath, while still keeping things simple enough for most viewers to be able to follow what was going on. This would change... 

Won't Get Fooled Again

Everything Farscape does best: outlandish visuals, great comedy and strong drama, plus the cast's obvious enjoyment is contagious. And all this in a story that explains one of the key plot points of the season: that Crichton's brain has an unwelcome visitor. ..

Harvey

..speaking of whom, although we don't meet him until late in the year, Harvey, aka neural lone Scorpius -as named by Crichton -is a fantastic idea. Able to inhabit any guise in any environment within Crichton's mind, he makes the bond between hero and villain that much closer.

Aeryn's Death

When you have no idea what will happen afterwards, this is possibly the most traumatic event in the entire series. Aeryn's death and subsequent funeral is pure tear-jerker material, made all the more tragic by Ben Browder's superlative expression of Crichton's grief.

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