Farscape (1999-2003)

farscapeI well remember the profound sense of loss, anger and injustice I felt when Farscape got cancelled after its fourth season. There is something rather intense about how attached you can get to a tv show, and its characters, over the course of the many episodes and years it is on air. Particularly a show as well-written and challenging as Farscape was.  It was never going to get the audience figures it needed to thrive- it was on the verge of cancellation for some time. But I loved that show.

Farscape was unusual, odd. It was like nothing else on television, more Star Wars than Star Trek, but even Star Wars never pulled things like Farscape did. It was wild, action-packed, funny, shocking, huge. Once the series hit its stride mid-first season, I was hooked. It was a great show, full of surprises, mysteries, odd turns… it was wonderful. Seasons three and four were nothing short of spectacular, and I don’t think television has seen anything quite like that since.  But it was very complex, and every season suffered with the problem of trying to get new viewers in mid-arc in order to keep the network happy. Indeed, I’ll be the first to admit that the very things that fans cherished likely led to its demise. It was just a bit too complex, too wild, too different.

But when the Sci-Fi channel finally pulled the plug it was still a shock.  Farscape had a five-year arc and its cancellation prior to season five robbed its fans, its cast and its crew of the resolution the show, and they, deserved, especially having managed to tell 80% of its tale with the last chapter to tell.  I honestly, fervently believe that it was the worst network decision since the original Star Trek tv series was cancelled.  It was a reminder of how cruel and sometimes short-sighted the entertainment business can be. One more season. Maybe just a half-season. After telling a story for four years and taking up all that time and effort of the fanbase watching it, small that those audience figures may have been, surely the network at least owed something back to that audience? And surely the franchise had more legs and viability in syndication had it got a proper conclusion? Who wants to start watching a show in re-runs if they know it never gets a proper conclusion? I couldn’t figure it out. I even joined in the campaign to bring it back and sent emails to the Sci-Fi network in the US.

These things happen, of course- look at shows like Dark Angel, Dollhouse, Firefly… there are so many shows that get cancelled. Some shows deserve it, some shows deserved more. There have been a few times when I’ve been hesitant to even start watching a tv show for fear of it being cut short. I guess I’ve been lucky enough in the past- Babylon 5 got five seasons to finish its arc (albeit the doubt over season five kind of damaged what it could have been), and the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica managed to find Earth and complete its own remarkable story. Both series got their grand finale, but Farscape was the one that deserved it but never got it. An eventual mini-series/tv movie hybrid sort of summed up what should have been season five in something like three hours, but it wasn’t really what should have been It was something, and we fans, God knows, were thankful for that, but it wasn’t quite the real deal.

I have all the four seasons on DVD- they are up in the loft. Bought back when full-season boxsets were unknown and you had to buy individual DVDs as they were released, three or four episodes at a time (God knows how much they cost me overall), so the DVDs take up some considerable real estate. Of course, it makes it that much more difficult regards actually getting to watch them when you have to climb up into the loft and dig them out of storage boxes. So anyway, I noticed a sale at Zavvi on Sunday, with the complete series on Blu-ray for just £32.99. That’s an absolute bargain if only for space-saving, with the bonus of many extras/commentaries that my initial DVDs didn’t have. So when I do finally get back up the loft the redundant DVDs can finally be given away to whatever needy cause wants them, and in the meantime I have the complete series in one handy box. Frell, yeah!

So I can finally watch the show again, after all these years. It should be interesting. How far I actually get, or how long it will actually take, only time will tell. But I’m looking forward to it. May try to put short reviews here too if I can get to it. And if anybody out there has never heard of Farscape or have heard of it but not seen it, well, if you are willing to embark on a wild and crazy challenging ride in a universe that makes the Cantina scene in Star Wars seem tame, well, I’d urge you to give it a go. It might piss you off. But you might just fall in love with it. Believe me, if you fall in love with it, you’ll be in for a very special experience.

And who knows, there may be more to Farscape yet. Rumours are going around regards a reboot/continuation, set years after the last episode.  Its a strange world, after all, and if its a world with more Farscape coming, then its getting only stranger.

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