So, that was Season One, and it was very interesting to watch it again after so long. My memory had faded and a lot of things came as a surprise, not least of which was how carefully planned the arc of the characters seemed. The process by which they moved from reluctant shipmates to a family seemed to me to have been far more considered than I had realised. In fact, all the character work on the regulars impressed me much more this time around.
Compared to the first seasons of other shows, the rise in quality is pretty vertiginous. Look at ST:TNG, for example, a show that didn’t find its voice until its second season (for my money with ‘A Matter of Honor‘) and didn’t hit its stride until its third. Whereas Farscape arguably found its voice with its fifth episode, ‘Back and Back and Back to the Future,’ and was firing on cylinders, having evolved into its adult form, by season’s end.
For my money, the biggest drag on the show fulfilling its potential this season is the inclusion of the extra minutes shot especially for the European market. These scenes, although good in themselves, were specifically designed to be disposable and really screw up the pacing of the episodes. When this practice was dumped for Season Two it removed the only obstacle to greatness the show still faced. (The Highlander TV series was also really damaged by this practice, in my opinion.)
The series also suffered from the lack of a credible Big Bad. This wasn’t Lani Tupu’s fault, but for a character whose pursuit of the crew was so important it formed the backbone of the opening narration, Crais hardly ever appeared in the show until the final run of episodes, by which point he was effectively neutered.
But the good far outweighs the bad. This was an experimental, brave, funny, clever, thrilling season of telly.
Best single moment: Rygel peeing the enemy into submission in ‘Thank God It’s Friday Again‘
Most cringeworthy moment: Every time I notice the words ‘Glass Plate Shot’ across the top of the screen during the title sequence (but at least they distract me from the shot of the football helmet that Crichton wore in Premiere)
Smartest last-minute course correction: Not killing off Chiana
So, next week we kick off Season Two, the first Farscape season where they have proper episode titles. (For Season One, they forgot to choose official titles and episodes ended up known by the placeholder names they came up with on the fly, which the producers were subsequently embarrased by). Here’s the behind the scenes info you need to know:
Season Two Episodes
- Mind The Baby
- Vitas Mortis
- Taking The Stone
- Crackers Don’t Matter
- The Way We Weren’t
- Picture If You Will
- Home On The Remains
- Dream A Little Dream
- Out Of Their Minds
- My Three Crichtons
- Look At The Princess I: A Kiss Is But A Kiss
- Look At The Princess II: I Do, I Think
- Look At The Princess III: The Maltese Crichton
- Beware Of Dog
- Won’t Get Fooled Again
- The Locket
- The Ugly Truth
- A Clockwork Nebari
- Liars, Guns And Money I: A Not So Simple Plan
- Liars, Guns And Money II: With Friends Like These
- Liars, Guns And Money III: Plan B
- Die Me, Dichotomy
This is the U.S. transmission order and the order of the R1 DVD releases and now the blu-ray. In the U.K. there was one difference on original broadcast and R2 DVD release ‘My Three Crichtons’ was shown after the ‘Look At The Princess’ trilogy.
Broadcast: In the U.S. Season One was originally broadcast on the SciFi Channel.
In the U.K. it was shown on BBC2 in an early evening slot, normally either 6 pm or 6:45. This was the BBC’s ‘Sci-Fi slot’ and housed ST:TNG as well as Buffy and Farscape. This reflected the understanding, commonly shared by all British broadcasters in the 90s, that all sci-fi was for children only because it was silly and right-thinking adults would have no truck with anything not entirely realistic. Oh, except for The X-Files, which got an evening slot, one suspects because it was so relentlessly po-faced (at least to begin with) that someone at the BBC actually noticed it was not for children. Anyway, the 6pm BBC2 sci-fi slot, which saw much-loved shows routinely bumped in favour of snooker, bowls, competitive snail-racing, extreme paint drying or any sport the BBC could buy in its desperate attempts to avoid the perceived shame of broadcasting sci-fi on its channels, necessitated some cuts for content, because, well, duh! Farscape was then re-run on the U.K. SciFi Channel, which hardly anybody had access to in these early satellite days. This means the majority of U.K. viewers only saw a sanitised version of the show.
In Australia, transmission was all over the place, with Channel Nine running a set of standalone episodes before showing 201 and resolving the cliffhanger. All narrative continuity was lost. Fans were annoyed, casual viewers alienated at the shabby treatment of the show and its ever-changing timeslot. Consequently, the shows audience withered away and it was ages before Season Three was broadcast down under.
Given the show was a three-country co-production, and Brian Henson goes to great lengths on the DVD to explain that each country had a lot of input into the show, it’s seems bizarre that two of the three countries treated it so shabbily upon broadcast. File under: WTF?
Duration: Unlike the first season, this run of episodes were shot at 44 minutes, so there is no extra European material. Any cuts in episodes shown in the U.K. or Australia were therefore only for content.
Scott K. Andrews has written episode guides, magazine articles, film and book reviews, comics, audio plays for Big Finish, far too many blogs, some poems you will never read, and three novels for Abaddon. He is, patently, absurd.