Home > Uncategorized > Don’t Read This Post. It Is Dorky.

Don’t Read This Post. It Is Dorky.

Wow, looks like people are actually…reading this site again. Must be because of all the new posting I’ve been doing.

Guess that makes me honor bound to post something interesting today, huh?

Sadly, my brain’s bandwidth has been pretty well absorbed with a new client I’m working with. I’m not going to let that stop me from writing mind you, though it will stop me from saying anything interesting.

You’ve been warned.

So I’ve been watching a lot of old Farscape episodes lately…

Warning! If you don’t dig on science fiction in general, Farscape or Battlestar Galactica in particular, you’re probably not going to get much pleasure out of this post. Even if you do happen to like both those shows, you’re probably not going to like this post very much. It’s not going to be very well written.

[Ed: What are you doing?]

[Auth: Shh. I read about this in a book. It’s called ‘managing expectations’]

[Ed: You’re…a dick of enormous proportions.]

Everyone gone? I’m talking to myself now?

Good.

So yeah, Farscape.

Man, I used to love this show. It came out my senior year of college. You know, once you’ve taken all your really hard courses and you can just dick around taking your fourth class on Dante’s Inferno, which you’ve already written a thousand papers on. Yeah, senior year was like that. And my girlfriend was in California. And I wasn’t cheating on her.

[Ed: Really? Two state rule?]

[Auth: I know, enormous proportions.]

And there was this show. With muppets. Not just a few muppets. Some of the main characters were muppets. Some were cute and farted helium:

Others were big and scary and wanted to eat you.

It was like Fraggle Rock for grownups, with hot chicks and explosions and weird shit. Jim Henson even did all the creatures.

But I didn’t expect the show to hold up that well over time. It’s been about ten years since it debuted on Sci-Fi. Science Fiction television has gotten a lot more serious since then. Now it addresses stuff like genocide and rape and terrorism. Or…well, whatever existential question Lost was on about. Shows like Battlestar Galactica and Caprica have no problem being relentlessly grim, dark, political thrillers that have no good guys, many bad guys and are often about the extinction of the species, that have minimal special effects and absolutely no alien monsters that want to eat your face off.

Farscape had muppets. They did an animated episode that took place inside a character’s head, in the style of a Road Runner cartoon.

They did one episode that I’m pretty sure was riffing off of Guy Ritchie’s directing style.

It was Australian. It was fucking ridiculous. Sometimes the writers got bored and just loved having muppets play the drums or stuck them in hipster golf wear to fuck with your head. No one would watch it today. Not that many people watched it at the time, even.

Netflix recently put the first three seasons up on their Watch Instantly queue, and I’ve been slowly making my way through the series.

Ah yes, the light-hearted fun. The muppets. The pulse pistols. Claudia Black in a bikini. Oh, Claudia. Someday I’ll make you the next Mrs. Vagabond, you wait and see.

Fun times.

But, as I enjoyed taking a break from today’s dark, foreboding, September 11-informed self-important Scifi I realized…Farscape was kinda hella dark.

It was kinda…Battlestar.

I know all the serious Battlestar fans are falling out of their chairs right now and snorting. “Farscape has muppets and magic. Battlestar has people.” Well, yeah, fair point. They’re totally different stories. But there’s a lot more similarities than I’d realized at first. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Ron Moore or one of the SF development execs had let it seep into their subconscious.

[Ed: This is the dorkiest thing you have ever wrote.

Auth: Dorkiest thing I’ve written…so far.

Ed: I quit.]

Follow:

They’re both based on very very old myths. Battlestar is among other things, a retelling of the story of the Israelites journey to the Holy Land. Twelve tribes, twelve human colonies, dying leader who doesn’t make it past the final episode, the whole thing.

Farscape was based on the Odyssey. Except instead of hopping around the Aegean, John Crichton is bouncing around the Uncharted Territories, trying to land his dream girl, getting laid by a lot of weird nymphs and demi-gods, and running afoul of the local deities. Through a lot of dumb luck and some quick thinking, he manages to become a legendary outlaw known for blowing up things that should not be blown up. He gets a reputation for fighting gods and monsters. Finally, he stops a war. Yeah, very Odyssey.

Both shows are pursuit shows, harkening back to earlier programs like The Fugitive and The Hulk, where the hero or heroes are always trying to stay one step ahead of their pursuers.

Both love killing off their main characters. I did a tally, and a full three and a half (the half is a long story) of Farscape’s original characters are dead by the finale. I lost track of how many Battlestar characters got killed off in the finale.

Guest stars usually…do not fare well. If you only die, well, you’re doing okay. By the end of the episode, the crew usually survives, but only after inadvertently getting a few people killed.

There was a weird, post-Vietnam quality to the show. Unlike the usual Star Trek plot, where the American-flavored humans stick their nose into some local trouble, and at the end of the day everyone’s learned an important lesson about the need to share and treat others with respect, on Farscape when the American-flavored hero stuck his nose in some local trouble, civilians got eaten.

It was awesome. Battlestar would later take that formula up to 11, with characters making decisions that often wipe out half the human race. That was also awesome.

Farscape also used an extremely weird plot device I don’t think I’d ever seen before, but which Battlestar (kinda) aped. The bad guy implants a copy of himself in one of the main characters’ head. This is a great device, which lets you dress your bad guy up in various outfits that can be ridiculously silly:

Pizza! And Margarita Shooters!

Or ridiculously..well, you know:

Gah.

Sorry. Where was I again?

Oh, right. Fun costumes. And all without suffering villain decay cause, hey, not really the bad guy.

So that’s my pitch for Farscape. It was a goofy show with some low budgets and too many bad standalone episodes, and a terrible ending that rushed the finale due to Syfy fucking the show over. But it had a good overall arc, some good acting, and instead of mimicking the Star Trek model, like every other space opera since 1968, it did its best to stab it in the heart. The heroes fucked up and got people killed. A lot of the aliens actually looked fucking weird and alien, rather than pointy-eared humans (though it had its share of those, too). Despite its goofiness, I’m convinced it served as a stepping stone to the more adult, complicated storylines television science fiction is enjoying today.

If you’ve never seen it, it’s worth checking out from the beginning. If you have seen it, the episodes have been restored to the 46 minute running length, which we never got to see here in the US (I don’t think Australia has as many commercial breaks as we do, so the US version often lopped off a good five minutes of plot that left you going ‘wait, they’re doing who-what with the where-now?’) They also left in a lot of gore that got cut out of the original American broadcast, and it’s always cool to see weird aliens getting their faces melted.

That’s it. Told you I didn’t have anything interesting to say today.

If you’re still reading this…really, why?

I promise, next time I’ll blog about Glee or How I Met Your Mother.

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