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How long to stick with Farscape?


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#41 of 87 OFFLINE   PhilipG

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Posted September 21 2004 - 06:35 AM

Quote:
I understand that many here don't or won't be able to hear description of Farscape's flaws.

Who here has said it's a perfect show? "Pop sci-fi" isn't some lame cousin of hard-SF, it's something completely different. I'd love to see a hard-SF show on TV (despite what you might infer from my previous post) - but it would be extremely difficult to do well.

And nobody is disputing that Farscape has its share of clunker episodes (I hate the one where the ship splits into three; others seem to like it though).

I should point out that Farscape, in every season, IMHO, starts off badly (or slowly) and gets really good by the end.

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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"

There are plenty which are as good as TIL, mainly from latter seasons 3 & 4. OTOH Gethsemene is pretty wretched; most of Farscape is better than that. Of course YMMV, and probably will.

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much less build any meaningful story arcs

You really do need to watch more episodes!

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For those of you who haven't read much older SF, I'd suggest looking up the short stories by Asimov and Clarke.

!! Isn't that the equivalent of me suggesting people should go and see Star Wars and The Matrix?


#42 of 87 OFFLINE   Andy_Bu

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Posted September 21 2004 - 06:51 AM

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You really do need to watch more episodes!

This has been my ongoing thought while reading 99% of his Eric C D comments.

This thread is no different than many threads I have read on other sites where people gave up on B5 because of Londo's hair or because season 1 had some clunkers.

Andy

#43 of 87 OFFLINE   Nicodemus

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Posted September 21 2004 - 07:35 AM

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There are plenty which are as good as TIL, mainly from latter seasons 3 & 4. OTOH Gethsemene is pretty wretched; most of Farscape is better than that.

I agree: Passing Through Gethsemane is not that good episode, there's far better even in B5 itself. But Inner Light is a bit tougher to beat. Farscape has some extraordinary episodes which have shaked by world just like Inner Light did: ...Different Destinations, Infinite Possibilities, The Choice, Dog With Two Bones and John Quixote. But this is a matter of opinion, I just wanted to share some of my biggest favourites, sorry. Posted Image

I believe The Princess Trilogy won't change Eric's mind: instead he gets a real scientific kick (and a new chance to mock to show) out of John's "leap" in part 2 of the trilogy.

#44 of 87 OFFLINE   Eric C D

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Posted September 21 2004 - 08:17 AM

Quote:
Quote:
For those of you who haven't read much older SF, I'd suggest looking up the short stories by Asimov and Clarke.
!! Isn't that the equivalent of me suggesting people should go and see Star Wars and The Matrix?

Why yes it is, if you're making the suggestion to someone who hasn't ever watched a SF action movie. I *was* trying to make recommendations for those who may not have tried SF short stories - not make new recommendations for those who *already have.*

[sigh...]

#45 of 87 OFFLINE   Eric C D

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Posted September 21 2004 - 08:46 AM

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This has been my ongoing thought while reading 99% of his Eric C D comments.

This thread is no different than many threads I have read on other sites where people gave up on B5 because of Londo's hair or because season 1 had some clunkers.

In reply, I can only offer this from my thread-starting post:

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How long should I stick it out before it's fair for me to decide it's not my cup o' tea?


I'm not asking for this to be another B5 or anything else for that matter. All I'm asking is for it (feel free to gag at the saccharine sentiment!) to be the best Farscape it can be! Posted Image

For example - just because it's one I can relate to, not because of any comparison between shows - is that for B5, people should watch at least until "The Coming of Shadows." If you're not hooked, then by all means quit watching, or just to watch some specific episodes if you want to see how the parts interesting to you play out without wading through the rest.

When I started the thread, the first replies seemed to suggest that through the end of S1 was enough. Then people said through the end of the princess trilogy. Now it seems to be through the end of S2. That is/was the point of the thread - that I couldn't find suggestions like this explicitly or decipher from in other discussions without risking learning more than I wanted to about what happens later. The point was not to enter into some "my show is better than your show" contest.

I can only reiterate my thanks to those Farscape fans who have contributed. I don't know that I see consensus, but there is interpretable info from which maybe even more than I can deide how far to go. Your passion is my motivation to explore the series further.

#46 of 87 OFFLINE   Andy_Bu

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Posted September 21 2004 - 11:15 AM

Quote:
When I started the thread, the first replies seemed to suggest that through the end of S1 was enough. Then people said through the end of the princess trilogy. Now it seems to be through the end of S2. That is/was the point of the thread - that I couldn't find suggestions like this explicitly or decipher from in other discussions without risking learning more than I wanted to about what happens later. The point was not to enter into some "my show is better than your show" contest.

When the thread started, I agreed with most of the first few posters who said if you did not find it interesting by the end of season one then maybe the show was not for you.

However, as you provided more and more information on why you did not like the show, it became evident to many that you simply may need to watch more (almost every question you asked a "why" to is answered eventually.)

So my recommendation now would be to watch until the end of S2. If you do not find it interesting enough to see where the arc is going at that time, then safely say you gave it a fair shot and move on to something more to your taste and speed.

Andy

#47 of 87 OFFLINE   Rex Bachmann

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Posted September 21 2004 - 01:05 PM

PhilipG wrote (post #41):

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You really do need to watch more episodes!

Even though this comment is addressed to Eric C D, it applies to me as well, and I'm trying, as I've said, to catch up on what I've missed to get a better picture of how the overall program is qualitatively.


(post #34):

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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?

You're on track here and this will be addressed anon.


(post #34):

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. . . . 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.

Well, now here's where, for me, the gross hyperbole enters into the discussion. It could just be that I haven't seen Farscape "at its best", which I realize. Hence, the attempts to catch up. I don't have a lot of time to do it, so it's by no means systematic. What I have noticed, however,---unexpected to me--- is that I've seen more episodes of this show than I thought I had seen, and, from what I see, it is NOT particularly "intelligently written" (ha!) and neither the characters nor the plots particularly engage me. (Is this "princess trilogy" not the one with the statue angle for the lucky bridegroom? Yeah, I saw that one. "Great" plot and "intelligent writing" that one had!) And, though Farscape's not awful most of the time by any means---except for those weekly "Crichtonisms"---, "must-see tv" it ain't! Hyperbole, hyperbole, hyperbole!


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

Do people really want to know that Rygel farts at all?!? And why leave that activity to only a puppet character? Why not distribute it among the crew? Why doesn't Crichton or Zhaan ever lay a big one? [hardy-har-har!] (I'm serious!)


Jason Birzer wrote (post #36):

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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.

They're all guilty, as I said.


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To say that Farscape is somehow MORE guilty of this is mindblowing.

Well, blow away. Unlike most of the other shows, Farscape's stories are unfolding in an environment which is populated almost totally with nonhumans ("aliens") (except for the "back-to-earth" stories, another turn-off for me). So, most of the characters we get to see in the stories are not supposed to be human (even if humanoid). The more we, the audience, get to experience such creatures, ideally the more contrast with humans should also manifest itself. Not so here, however.


MichaelGH wrote (post #37):

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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.

If you're speaking of its supersentients, I agree with you. The rest---i.e., most of them---, no!


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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.

You know, I think you're half right. Babylon Five does, indeed, bridge the gap pretty well between so-called "thinking man's" sf and "pop sci-fi".

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(Star Trek's major sin of 'Everyone is really human inside, they just don't know it')

"Brothers under the skin"


Nicodemus wrote (post #35):

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On the other hand, do we know how aliens should act?

"Anything's possible . . . . "


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If they have two arms, two legs and the same body build as we do, isn't it likely that they would be acting a lot like us?

Yes,
yes
. Ah, but the sword cuts (at least) two ways on this. I will go into other aspects of this expected parallelism in a forthcoming thread.


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I think the alien aspect in Farscape comes from the alien motivations of the characters - D'Argo is a betrayed warrior, Zhaan is an ex-priest, Rygel is seeking to get back into power and acts like a royal all the time, Aeryn's been raised as a Peacekeeper all her life and she acts that way, and tries to learn new ways.

"Alien motivations"? "Betrayed warrior"? "ex-priest"? power-hunger, etc.? Nothing unhuman about any of these. They're all thoroughly pedestrian motivations ("Menschlich, allzu menschlich."), in fact.


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I understand your need to see some TRUE aliens with completely alien ways but that isn't really that important to me . . . .

Obviously you don't:

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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.

This has been claimed. I don't buy it.

"Delenda est . . . . "

 


#48 of 87 OFFLINE   Nicodemus

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Posted September 21 2004 - 04:55 PM

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For example - just because it's one I can relate to, not because of any comparison between shows - is that for B5, people should watch at least until "The Coming of Shadows." If you're not hooked, then by all means quit watching, or just to watch some specific episodes if you want to see how the parts interesting to you play out without wading through the rest.

That's true. When I started watching Babylon 5, I was turned out after the first couple of episodes: it was just constant gunfight on one corner of the station or another. I watched occasionally, but the season 2 finale was the one which made me a fan.

Farscape starts extremely slowly (and I, E.T. isn't a very good second or so episode) but it starts to build towards the end.

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When I started the thread, the first replies seemed to suggest that through the end of S1 was enough. Then people said through the end of the princess trilogy. Now it seems to be through the end of S2.

I'm still saying that you should've liked the last four episodes of season one, if you're gonna be our new Farscape convert. I was quite amazed by Hidden Memory and especially Family Ties. Then the second season started and it was slow and boring again with episodes like Vitas Mortis and Taking The Stone. Cracker Don't Matter was hilarious, but The Way We Weren't was the first really excellent episode after Mind The Baby. The Princess Trilogy is okay, there's some very good moments with John and Braca, but otherwise I think it's a bit bland but entertaining nonetheless. For me, Farscape truly came to it's own with Won't Get Fooled Again, after that I was completely sold.

So it can take time, at least it does with me - with Farscape it took about 1,5 seasons. To me, Farscape is really one of the best tv-shows ever with very good characters and excellent dialogue, which are to me probably the most important aspects of a good tv-show. Plots don't really matter that much although I naturally enjoy good and original storytelling.

#49 of 87 OFFLINE   PhilipG

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Posted September 21 2004 - 04:57 PM

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"must-see tv" it ain't! Hyperbole, hyperbole, hyperbole!

It's subjective, of course it is. For me, however, it certainly is must-see tv.

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"intelligently written" (ha!)

The Princess Trilogy was very witty, and good wit requires intelligence, but I was actually referring more to episodes like season 4's Unrealized Reality.

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It could just be that I haven't seen Farscape "at its best", which I realize.

Yes. Posted Image

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So my recommendation now would be to watch until the end of S2.

I agree.


#50 of 87 OFFLINE   Kevin Hewell

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Posted September 21 2004 - 09:57 PM

Rex,

This is totally OT but what do you think of "Firefly," and do you consider it true "SF?"

#51 of 87 OFFLINE   Simon Massey

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Posted September 22 2004 - 01:40 AM

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Is this "princess trilogy" not the one with the statue angle for the lucky bridegroom? Yeah, I saw that one. "Great" plot and "intelligent writing" that one had!)

I mentioned Eric holding out until he has seen the Princess trilogy, not for the quality of the episodes, which is ok for Farscape, though I find it quite funny in places, but the conclusion is the hook for the rest of the season, and beyond, and deals with one of the questions which he felt had not been addressed in the series. Its also the marks the start of Farscape's shift from episodic series with some small arcs to large series arcs with a few standalone episodes.

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It's subjective, of course it is. For me, however, it certainly is must-see tv.

Absolutely! Shame it had to end with Season 4, but with the Peacekeeper Wars miniseries coming up, you never know...

And Rex, I would be interested to hear what you think of Unrealized Reality from Season 4 given that it is probably the single episode in the entire series where the focus is more "science-fiction" than "pop-scifi". Just dont watch the following episode which resolves it as I expect you will hate it Posted Image
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#52 of 87 OFFLINE   Eric C D

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Posted September 22 2004 - 02:27 AM

Let me lead off by saying you've all got me to continue on with Farscape. Hey, I was ready to stop watching B5 after the first episode I watched for exactly the Londo hair problem. I had to be chivied back into watching it. I promise, that if I change my mind from ho-hum to Wow!, I will post it.

Quote:
So, most of the characters we get to see in the stories are not supposed to be human (even if humanoid). The more we, the audience, get to experience such creatures, ideally the more contrast with humans should also be manifest itself. Not so here, however.


I suspect good Rex is a Niven or Clement fan (as am I). Hmmm, or is it Brin or Cherryh? Forward? ... Posted Image

#53 of 87 OFFLINE   Michael St. Clair

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Posted September 22 2004 - 02:47 AM

Farscape is, and always has been, more Space Opera than Sci-Fi. Any 'analysis' of it as Sci-Fi is moot.

If you like a good Space Opera, it is must-see TV. If that isn't your cup of tea, it doesn't make the show bad, it just makes it 'not your kind of show'.

This thread has become pointless.

#54 of 87 OFFLINE   TheLongshot

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Posted September 22 2004 - 03:57 AM

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I'd love to see a hard-SF show on TV (despite what you might infer from my previous post) - but it would be extremely difficult to do well.


I don't think it would be difficult to do well, but I think it would be difficult to find an audience for it. Being unconvetional on TV is usually a death sentence.

Quote:
I should point out that Farscape, in every season, IMHO, starts off badly (or slowly) and gets really good by the end.

This is a good point. With no exception, each season starts off with some pretty weak episodes, which is why you should see whole seasons, instead of a part of a season.

Quote:
Well, blow away. Unlike most of the other shows, Farscape's stories are unfolding in an environment which is populated almost totally with nonhumans ("aliens") (except for the "back-to-earth" stories, another turn-off for me). So, most of the characters we get to see in the stories are not supposed to be human (even if humanoid). The more we, the audience, get to experience such creatures, ideally the more contrast with humans should also be manifest itself. Not so here, however.


I understand that, but when you get right down to it, having "alien" aliens can hinder the telling of a story, because of the limitations you are under. It is the reason why we have "Universal Translators" and "Translator Microbes", because while the language differences would be more realistic, there would be too much time spent on stuff that gets in the way, and ultimatly, telling the story is what is important in TV Sci-Fi.

Course, I think Farscape does have one of the most "alien" aliens that is a regular character, and that is Moya. A huge, living space creature that has been adapted over the years to carry other creatures. We have also come across wild Leviathans, and other Leviathans with pilots, and the symbiotic relationship between these two races. Personally, I think that's neat, and makes for interesting plot complications when the ship doesn't always agree with the crew, and has its own emotions.

Jason

#55 of 87 OFFLINE   Paul McElligott

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Posted September 22 2004 - 04:53 AM

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Passing Through Gethsemane is not that good episode, there's far better even in B5 itself.
I'll disagree here. I think PTG was one of the best non-arc episodes of the series. However, I have to grit my teeth and ignore the inhumanely bad acting by the guy who played the leader of those who

killed Brother Edward.


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#56 of 87 OFFLINE   MikeMcNertney

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Posted September 22 2004 - 05:23 AM

Maybe I just haven't read enough sci-fi, but I rarely if ever see motivations which are totally un-human. I guess I just don't really understand this criticism. If you have a story driven my motivations which make no sense to humans, then the story itself tends to make no sense.

Similarly, it is hard to imagine a motivation which it completely unhuman. Can you give me an example? Maybe then I would better understand this sort of criticism which I see a lot when discussing so-called "pop sci-fi"

#57 of 87 OFFLINE   Eric C D

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Posted September 22 2004 - 05:31 AM

Quote:
Farscape is, and always has been, more Space Opera than Sci-Fi. Any 'analysis' of it as Sci-Fi is moot.

If you like a good Space Opera, it is must-see TV. If that isn't your cup of tea, it doesn't make the show bad, it just makes it 'not your kind of show'.

This thread has become pointless.


Oh, I'd wouldn't say it has been pointless. Some of the banter has elicited additional information toward my original question. And I do think we've missed some of the usual "my show is better than yours" and just discussed the show on it's own merit - not ALWAYS - but fairly successfully. You might want to tune out this conversation if it's lot any point to you.

I want to address some more of the matter of consistency. I don't care if something is hard SF, space opera, fantasy, or even normal drama. What I'm looking for is internal consistency, both in its characterizations; and for speculative fiction of any kind, it's reality (and the "science" they've chosen to posit).

In speculative fiction, I'm looking to "suspend my disbelief." to make that mental leap into whatever world the writer has setup, whether it's Middle Earth, Sunnydale, the Known Universe (Posted Image), Watership Down's rabbit warrens, the present/future of the Terminator, or the Farscape mileau. When a book, TV show, or movie fails to either show you the reality shifts they posit, or seemingly (to me!) makes them up each week arbitrarily, or breaks with a decision they seemingly made earlier, I get taken "out of" their realm.

I'm not analyzing Farscape against the standard of science in the books of Robert L. Forward - I'm looking at it in as space opera, or fantasy, or whatever the writers of Farscape are trying to do. Space opera that posits a LOT of technical advances, because it departs so much from what we know now, has a particular challenge. And as such, there are really three different reactions I tend to have. First, if it seems to me to be consistent in and of itself, then I process the story for what it is. Next, if they set up their science well and use it to illuminate a point or to instruct me, especially when small things foreshadow later large events, I admire that part of their effort. However, when changes are introduced willy-nilly for the purpose of the current episode or small arc, I have no reason to believe that anything I think I know has any kind of truth.

Here’s another moment that took me “out of” Farscape, spoilerized for those who haven't watched through the end of S1:

Zhaan turning out to be a plant was a rather sudden reveal. If it was hinted at earlier, I certainly didn't catch it


So to me, there’s no way to know this isn’t all a dream John is having in a coma after crashing his shuttle in the pilot episode. Maybe he wakes up and finds Bobby in the shower…

No, I don’t think I’m going to change Farscape. But I do hope to standards are raised in whatever we watch – More West Wing, less - nah! I won’t say it as I’ll offend a random someone…. Instead, I'll risk offending the core audience here by stating, unequivocally, Farscape is my second favorite space opera starring muppets, ever!

Enjoy!

Eric.

P.S. Pigs….. in…. Spaaaace! Posted Image

#58 of 87 OFFLINE   Eric C D

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Posted September 22 2004 - 06:07 AM

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I'll disagree here. I think PTG was one of the best non-arc episodes of the series. However, I have to grit my teeth and ignore the inhumanely bad acting by the guy


Well Paul, this probably belongs in it's own thread, but...

The acting may be a downcheck – heck, although I liked much of how Brother Theo was played, there was always some notes in that performance I didn’t understand. And I don’t have a high opinion of any of the acting in the whole of the series with the exceptions of “Flounder’s” Vir and the (IMO) award-worthy performances of Peter Jurasik and Andreas Katsulas.

But IMHO the basic story of PTG rises to the category of one of a very few perfect SF short stories I’ve ever seen or read – on par with the very best of Twilight Zones, Night Galleries, or Outer Limits or my earlier statement about the some of the stories of Clarke and Asimov. And this has NOTHING to do with any comment about the overall story arc.

And as to it’s moral – well I think the episode should be used in bible-study classes… Rarely have I been so philosophically and ethically challanged by material. Hmmm, you know, that phrase just reminded me of the memorable debates on ethical quandries that took place in the closing arguments each week on Picket Fences by David E. Kelly - there's another source for making you think (I wonder if that's coming out on DVD).

I have hopes that some of the Farscape episodes people have chosen to list earlier in this thread can be similar. I'd say that is probably my primary motivation to watch on.

There - that ties it back into Farscape....

#59 of 87 OFFLINE   Nicodemus

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Posted September 22 2004 - 07:24 AM

Quote:
Here’s another moment that took me “out of” Farscape, spoilerized for those who haven't watched through the end of S1:


Zhaan turning out to be a plant was a rather sudden reveal. If it was hinted at earlier.

I believe it was hinted only in one episode before revealing the fact. In Till The Blood Runs Clear she enjoyed the sunlight enormously on two occasions. Okay, it's a small hint but anyway, had to say it.


About Farscape episodes compared to Passing Through Getshemane and others alike... I don't think Farscape has any high concept (is this a correct expression?) episodes like Inner Light; instead it takes the characters and pushes them to their extremes very efficiently as seen towards the end of season 2 and again in season 3 of Farscape. Different Destinations might be the closest to match that kind of philosophic writing that can be usually found in The Next Generation. It seems my English isn't good enough so that I could make my point more clearly - but maybe Farscape should just be watched as it is, without comparing it to any other show because I really think it's quite unique in it's style and substance, in the way it looks at things.

#60 of 87 OFFLINE   Kevin Hewell

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Posted September 22 2004 - 10:18 AM

I'm not putting this in spoiler space because, if someone is in this thread more than likely they've seen the show until at least the end of the first season.

Eric C D wrote:

Quote:
Zhaan turning out to be a plant was a rather sudden reveal. If it was hinted at earlier, I certainly didn't catch it.

Nicodemus replied:

Quote:
I believe it was hinted only in one episode before revealing the fact. In Till The Blood Runs Clear she enjoyed the sunlight enormously on two occasions. Okay, it's a small hint but anyway, had to say it.


Also, in "Throne For a Loss" (Season 1 ep 4), Zhaan cut into her wrist and she bled a sap-like substance. This was done to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms of the young kidnapper.

I believe the PTB planned on Zhaan being a plant all along.


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