How long to stick with Farscape?

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Eric C D, Sep 17, 2004.

  1. Eric C D

    Eric C D Second Unit

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    Hmmm, Short answer or long? Guess I’ll write both and let you decide what you want to read. Anyway, thanks for the info. I’d watched the first run of the pilot, then blew it off. After all the Farscape touting I wanted to give it a fair try before forming an opinion.

    Short:

    I’m with Rex. If I go back to watching it, it will be more of a sign of the lack of quality material available than anything else. I certainly don’t see me purchasing or recommending it to another person.

    Long:

    “Pop” sci fi” says it exactly. This is fantasy in a futuristic setting. There’s certainly no science involved - science is repeatable, science is predictable. Science allows you to form hypotheses from observations and then test them. Farscape science is whatever sounds cool to someone, invented from week to week with no concern about what it changes, what came before, or where it is going. This kind of approach really gets me outside the series looking in, rather than investing belief in it.

    Just to pick a couple that get to me. What science allows Rygel to fart helium? Is the little bugger changing matter at an atomic level? Or in their universe, does helium bond more easily than it does here. Why is Scorpius obsessed with Chrichton – because John may know something about wormholes. Why? How are people getting around now? Is it ‘cause Leviathans are the only ones that can Starburst? Why aren’t they studying Leviathans - they are apparently so plentiful they are used as prison transports?

    And I don’t buy the whole “lost” concept - maybe for John, but not for the rest of them (and then only if they are in another galaxy). They are close enough to Peacekeeper space that they (as well as their secret stations) keep showing up and people are afraid of them. And it’s pretty hard to get lost in space if you have enough tech to be able to do interplanetary travel. For example, if you’re anywhere in the Milky Way galaxy, I’d think you could do a pretty good job of finding yourself using the Andromeda galaxy, the Greater and Lesser Magellanic Clouds, and the galactic center. OK, I’d want graph paper, a protractor, and a straight edge too.

    I’m more than willing to suspend disbelief for the purpose of a plot, but once the author has done that I expect them to be consistent, and even to explore that crux for what it may reveal about us. I’ll use Highlander (the TV series, not the movies) as an example. Plenty farfetched enough that I’m willing to accept anyone’s declaration of “yah, right…” as they walk away shaking their head. But I found it to be completely satisfying and even replete with lessons to be learned from studying the implications of immortality in a world filled with mortals. Joe-Bob says check it out! (BTW, Adrian Paul for 007!)

    But back to Farscape. I’m really let down when any work of fiction - science, fantasy, or other - doesn’t have enough respect for their own premise to be consistent - it doesn't have to be science. Why would the hyper-xenophobic Peacekeepers even have Scorpius around, much less put him in charge of anything. Can you say “irreversible contamination?” And amongst the main characters, why the frell do they ever keep Sparky around? He tried to sell them out! If I’m a good guy, I probably don’t kill him (but Dhargo and Aeryn should – heck, they’d rip off the limbs of Pilot just to try to get a map!), but I’d certainly drop him off at the next backwater with no way to contact the Peacekeepers.

    Basically, if someone asked me to write a critics column about Farscape, I’d start with the caveat that I’ve only watched 1.4 seasons (1 season plus 4 episodes). Then I’d describe it as an updated “Lost in Space” with a crew full of Dr. Smiths (or is that Drs. Smith?) Better production values, darker, maybe some better plot lines, but IMO still cheesy and arbitrary. For those who are fans, feel free to enjoy the series for whatever you make of it. I may go back to it once I exhaust other material to try, but my Netflix queue is over 200 titles long already so don’t hold your breath.

    Enjoy!
     
  2. Andy_Bu

    Andy_Bu Supporting Actor

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    If you continued to watch, these questions (and some that you have not even understood to ask yet) will be answered.

    This is like giving up at start of season 2 of B5. If you want episodic, stick to episodic. If you want an arc story, you have to expect that some questions are not meant to be answered until later.

    I enjoyed B5, Farscape and DS9. All 3 had their good to great moments but in terms of over all quality, Farscape and B5 are very close in my book (with B5 slightly ahead), and DS9 lagging behind because they had too many throw away episodes for my taste.

    Farscape could pull closer to B5 should the mini series be what I hope it can be.

    Andy
     
  3. Eric C D

    Eric C D Second Unit

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    Cynicism off: That’s what I was trying to ask. So, it it’s a great arc, how long do I need to stick with it for it to pay off? I thought the answer is that they have some multi-episode stories, but the setup isn’t going to change from what I’m seeing now.

    It’s OK anyway, I also gave up on “Andromeda” and “Earth, Final Conflict”. So I’m obviously not a sci fi fan. [​IMG]
     
  4. Rex Bachmann

    Rex Bachmann Screenwriter

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    Nicodemus wrote (post #18):



    I think Babylon Five is, rather, driven more by its themes than by mere plots, but I take seriously what you say and will be considering it for an upcoming discussion thread on the subject of all these kinds of shows. Perhaps we can come back to this at that time.
     
  5. Simon Massey

    Simon Massey Cinematographer
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    Agreed. This show has far more in common with say Star Wars. "Pop-scifi" may be as good a term as any and the show is all the better for it. I dont think the intention was for it to be anything else. The shows biggest asset for me are its characters, the interplay between them and their development, both as individual characters and as a group. Its hardly original but the actors and the writers sell it. If you are not convinced by that, then it is probably not the show for you. Personally I rarely find the characters do anything unbelievable within the context of the show (Note I said "rarely" not "never" before I get bombarded with examples [​IMG] ).
     
  6. Simon Massey

    Simon Massey Cinematographer
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    Looking past your cheap shot here, its the manner in which these characters, their motives and driving forces are presented and developed which makes the show popular and preferable to a lot of earthbound action adventure or soap opera shows and not the strangely made up people and puppets. Andromeda and Earth Final Conflict are examples of shows which are similar in nature but are badly executed IMO, with little character development and poor writing.
     
  7. Kevin Hewell

    Kevin Hewell Cinematographer

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    Terra Firma


    One of the things I love about the show is how it doesn't really delve into the "science" all that much. It doesn't fall into the Star Trek trap of relying on technobabble and I feel the show is stronger for it.
     
  8. Rex Bachmann

    Rex Bachmann Screenwriter

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    Eric C D wrote (post #21):


    And then, too, maybe you are ("sci-fi", "sf", whatever)!
     
  9. Rex Bachmann

    Rex Bachmann Screenwriter

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    Kevin Hewell wrote (post #27):


    There's a whole lot more to "delving into science" than "relying on technobabble". Star Trek does the latter, alright, but, in its heyday, at least, it did far more (and better).
     
  10. Eric C D

    Eric C D Second Unit

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    Please understand that I welcome multiple series, and would never devolve the discussion to such things as which is faster: Starburst, Warp 8, or Gate Technology. I'm just trying to get Farscape for what it is. But I do agree with Rex on all counts there, with the use of B5 in comparison solely to illustrate the point - not to say I don't like Farscape "because B5 is better". His talking points are just to

    (but of course everyone knows that a lightsaber would totally trash Dargo's edged thingamajig.. [​IMG] )



    Actually, I laughed the first time. But I was just using it as an example of them giving up science. Here's another: Implant DNA - Aeryn knows how to run the ship. Hmmm, I gotta get me some of that Eistein or Gates DNA, stat! But mostly, it's the whole "lost" thing. To use the same DNA episode as an example, he needs DNA to tell you your home planet - she's a frickin' Sebacian, or Luxan, or the Dominard of however many frickin planets. I don't need my DNA checked to have someone point me towards the U.S. or California. Hey, the Peacekeepers always come from that direction - that should tell you something! "Oh the pain!" indeed.

    I also just finished "Taking the Stone." People from all over come to this planet to bury their kings. And yet many of the spacefaring scavengers we've met at other times don't know about this place!?! I can enjoy humorous episodes - even ones that strain credulity for a joke - once in a while. But as an ongoing method it loses me.

    But really - to all taking part - thanks! I felt like there was a dearth of info on Farscape that those of us not into it could use to decide whether or not it is for us. I may try to stick with it through the "Look At The Princess" trilogy to see if it turns around IMO, but I'll probably give it a rest before setting out on that journey. Now that they've resolved the first season cliffhanger, this is probably as good a place to take a break as any. But I'll keep some of the later season 2 in my queue.

    enjoy!
     
  11. Joseph Bolus

    Joseph Bolus Cinematographer

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    I would definitely add Season 3's Infinite Possibilities - Part 1 and 2 to that list. I thought, in particular, that the acting in the last five minutes of part 2 (Icarus Abides) was some of the best I've ever seen on episodic TV.
     
  12. Eric C D

    Eric C D Second Unit

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    [​IMG]
     
  13. Simon Massey

    Simon Massey Cinematographer
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    Agreed Joseph - I was about to add that to the list as well as Unrealized Reality from Season 4 which is probably Farscape's one effort to put "science-fiction" into a "pop-scifi" show.

    Here are what I consider Farscape's poorest episodes

    Back and Back and Back To The Future - Season 1
    Rhapsody In Blue - Season 1
    Jeremiah Crichton - Season 1
    Bone To Be Wild - Season 1
    Vitas Mortis - Season 2
    Taking The Stone - Season 2
    Home On The Remains - Season 2
    Self Inflicted Wounds - Season 3 (except for the ending)
    Meltdown - Season 3
    Mental As Anything - Season 4
     
  14. PhilipG

    PhilipG Cinematographer

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    Major sin? Sigh. It is called Entertainment.

    You keep harping on about about the science while you forget that it's science fiction. In fiction one makes things up! It does not matter whether those things are credible or incredible, as the principal purpose of fiction (esp. in TV/film) is to entertain.

    Just what level of realism do you want? Sub-light-speed travel? Aliens that are completely unable to interact due to different tolerances to radiation, air composition, lighting, gravity etc? Communications (where possible) via a handheld translator, slowing down any conversation to a crawl? Go on, write a pilot for the perfect SF show, see if it gets picked up. I double-dare you.

    Some of you are unable, or unwilling, to suspend disbelief, and accept a show by its own logic (however mutable). That's a shame, because Farscape at its best is an incredibly imaginative show, intelligently written, with engaging characters and plots. It started off so-so and ended up so-great, must-see TV.

    Do people really want to know how Rygel farts so much helium? Come on, be serious!

    Why is Scorpius so interested in capturing Crichton? Well, heck, take a look at what William Shatner might call "real life" for a moment - do people immediately reveal their motivations? Explain their thoughts? Do you?

    To summarise: there is absolutely nothing wrong with "Pop sci-fi" - don't blame an orange for not tasting like an apple.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] (the above said with all due respect) [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  15. Nicodemus

    Nicodemus Stunt Coordinator

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    What "character-driven" means, as I understand it, is that the stories rise from the character motivations more than any ready laid plos elements. All the twists and turns are caused by the characters making good or poor decisions rather than by ready-laid plot. "Taking the Stone" is a very bad episode but it still rises from Chiana's need to belong and to find her brother.

    If you can't stand the fact that the aliens act a lot like humans in Farscape (and almost in any other scifi show), that's too bad. It's just necessary for the drama. I personally don't want to see completely alien aliens: I want to see good drama and original (and sometimes even intelligent) writing. I also belive that the stories Farscape has told couldn't have been told in any soap-opera (or other) series, as you implied, not even character-wise. But we are free to disagree, no harm can be done.
     
  16. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    I keep scratching my head at the critisims of Farscape being "pop" sci-fi and "humanizing" aliens. Well, guess what, that describes most sci-fi on TV, including most of Trek. As much as I love B5, it is guilty of the same thing. To say that Farscape is somehow MORE guilty of this is mindblowing.

    To be honest, I've come to expect this from TV sci-fi, and I don't expect deep explinations on how things are supposed to work. I accept the reality that they give us, and the rules they seem to follow.

    I love the show because the cast has great chemistry with each other, and the plots are interesting. They even manage to make some of the most overused plot devices (body switching, time travel) almost seem fresh.

    I'm sorry about the people who don't seem to get it. I guess it isn't for everyone. (Hey, I never really got Buffy or Smallville...)

    Jason
     
  17. MichaelGH

    MichaelGH Stunt Coordinator

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    Interesting comments here about Farscape's aliens...I always thought Farscape did an excellent job of NOT making the aliens seem overly human (Star Trek's major sin of 'Everyone is really human inside, they just don't know it'). I do think that, more often than not, motivations probably run more universal than human vs. alien. Cricton is shown fairly often in a position of not quite understanding the actions of various aliens he encounters in deep space (and conversely of their not understaning him).

    Babylon 5, another well oved show by me and on this forum, has aliens that are shown to be different from humanity but do share many of humanity's motivations. I also think that show does a pretty good job of making aliens seem alien.

    As far as bad Farscape episodes go, episodes I thought were poor the first time around ('Taking the Stone' as mentioned earlier), I found I liked better the second time around. While not the best of the series by any means, I still greatly enjoyed them.

    I think shows like Babylon 5 and Farscape are closest to bridging the gap between so called "Thinking person's" Sci-Fi and "Pop" Sci-fi. Sure, the science can be questionable at times, but guess what, so can much of the sci-fi found in the literature as well (often found to be downright implausible years after it was written).

    Michael
     
  18. Eric C D

    Eric C D Second Unit

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    My point exactly - I just don’t “get” Farscape so far. I stopped watching it in its live run because I lost interest and it wasn’t worth my time. I just put forth the effort to watch it through the first season (plus a couple into the second season to resolve the season 1 cliffhanger). I’ll probably give it a run through the Princess trilogy now based on what I’ve read here. So thanks.

    But I still think they should space Rygel! [​IMG]
     
  19. Eric C D

    Eric C D Second Unit

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    re:



    I agree wholeheartedly re Star Trek technobabble. I've had many a giggle over Star Trek's crutch in this regard.

    And Bruce Boxleitner himself has brought up one of Babylon 5's crutch - solve everything with Nukes. Guess those spacefaring, dimension-twisting alien races near or beyond the point of evolving "beyond the rim" never thought of that one! [​IMG]

    I understand that many here don't or won't be able to hear description of Farscape's flaws. So let me just say that I'll forgive all if they can even get single episodes close to "Waiting for Gethsemene" or "The Inner Light" (chosen to stay witin the ST and B5 area and not bring in other shows), much less build any meaningful story arcs.

    I do find true joy in a well-crafted short story, and SF has a rich tradition of them. For those of you who haven't read much older SF, I'd suggest looking up the short stories by Asimov and Clarke.

    enjoy!

    "To Serve Man," chortle....
     
  20. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    Second season shows like 'The Way We Weren't' and 'The Locket' come to mind (Tho 'The Locket' is guilty of pressing the reset button.)

    Jason
     

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