Froon’s Farscape Watch, s1e04

[caption id="attachment_9259" align="alignleft" width="300"]Zhaan flashes Kyr Farscape s1e04: Keeping our painters busy[/caption]

"Throne for a Loss" (season 1, episode 4)

Written by me, directed by Pino Amenta Now, where were we...? Oh, right. 104! This was my first script for Farscape. I'll save the long, boring behind-the-scenes stuff for another day, but here's the short, boring behind-the-scenes stuff: I pitched Rock & DK some story ideas, and one that they liked included the notion that Peacekeeper "armor" injected the wearer with a strength-enhancing (and addictive) drug to "improve" their soldiers. Rock & DK didn't like that the soldiers were Peacekeepers, so the three of us tossed around variations on the concept, making it an alien species instead and adding in other elements such as Rygel getting kidnapped and D'Argo, Aeryn, and Crichton all having to wear the "glove weapon" and having it mess with their heads. In an hour and a half of fun and frenetic brainstorming, we sketched out a rough story, and -- once Sci-Fi approved it -- off I went to write it. And now I'm off to watch it, for the first time in yonks! Love Jonathan Hardy's Rygel voicework in this ep (and in all eps). Gotta say nice things about our guesties as well; Jeremiah Tickell (Kyr) and John Adam (Bekhesh) not only gave terrific performances, they did so under pounds of alien makeup -- and John Adam could barely even see out of his getup. Tavleks! D'Argo loses another fight. Oh, well... "Tracterbeem!" Yup, John's seen Star Trek, but nobody else on Moya has. We don't do tractor beams here; we do Docking Webs. [caption id="attachment_9258" align="alignright" width="300"]"Oh, no, not THAT hack!" Farscape s1e04: Pilot's appalled by the credit[/caption] My first Farscape writing credit falls over a shot of Pilot looking horrified! Can't ask for better than that. (Here begins a Farscape tradition of my credit winding up on a shot where a character doesn't look happy. I don't think it was deliberate.) D'Argo gets nasty! Go, Anth! Zhaan gets nasty! Go, Virg! "Soft, yes; weak, no." This script was written so early in the scheme of things that "Zhaan" was still named "Zenn" in my first draft. Blue foliage! If I recall, it was the brainstorm of Craig Barden, our marvelous DP, to key in on a specific range of green tones and replace 'em with blue. Works great. The Consortium of Trao. My favorite early-seventies progressive band. Crichton gets clocked with a Panthak jab and Aeryn perfectly delivers "Tavleks" as a button. And that's Act One. Ah, the Zhaan flash. This caused some consternation at the network; many arguments ensued, and (if I recall) Bonnie Hammer, head of Sci-Fi Channel, had to step in and declare the butt view "harmless." Let's overload the Peacekeeper gun. Hey, that trick worked on Trek's phasers, so... why not? The ability to turn a gun into a grenade got us out of more than one plot difficulty over the course of the series... Did Crichton just say “shit”? Sure sounded like it, though Ben swears he never pronounced the "t." I dunno; I'm more surprised we got away with this than with naked Zhaan... Zhaan bleeds white! It's a Clue! Sometimes we did, pardon the expression, "plant" things for payoffs way down the road. Other times we just retconned like bandits. (Truly, I don't remember which this was...) Aeryn belts Crichton again! Take another drink. [caption id="attachment_9257" align="alignleft" width="300"]Funny Foliage Farscape s1e04: Brows and Blue Leaves[/caption] (But don't they make a nice Action Couple in this ep? Look at those intense poses, those open mouths, those furrowed brows...) Also surprised we got away with D'Argo saying "lumpy blanket" re Aeryn atop him. Props to puppeteer Tim Mieville who was also the voice of Jotheb. Perfect alien contrast to Rygel's down-to-earth gruffness. When DK & Rock sent me off to write the script, they told me not to stick blindly to the story outline but to go ahead and toss in a new idea or three along the way. "Surprise us," they said. I took them at their word -- and killed Rygel at the second act break. He Got Better, thanks to Jotheb's tentacle-to-mouth resuscitation skills, but DK & Rock loved that I'd been brash enough to Go For It. My draft ended Act Two like this: "Bekhesh lifts his boot. Rygel's dead. END OF ACT TWO." Rock suggested that I amend that to "Rygel's dead. Really." ...just to give everyone heart failure that we were killing off a million-dollar animatronic in the fourth episode. Kyr doesn't want a "damn" sermon. (The Translator Microbes are still working out which swear words to translate and which to leave alone...) Nice but rather talky and off-point D'Argo & Aeryn scene here, which I suspect is a "Euro scene" added to pad out the episode for the BBC version. Ah. The Qualta Blade Expansion. (Sounds like a Big Bang Theory episode title.) First time we see it, too, which messed up continuity when these early eps were aired out of order and therefore Aeryn in a "later" ep didn't seem to know the thing was also a Qualta Rifle. We're running around Middle Head! That's a Sydney location we used more than once, because -- well, look for yourself, it's a Way Cool Place to Shoot. D'Argo takes out three baddies! Finally the lad gets to win a fight. Aaaaand then he gets shot. O, well. The writers giveth and the writers taketh away. The Gauntlet works via willpower, "like Green Lantern's Ring." I can't tell you how refreshing it was to write for a character who knew all this geek stuff and could reference it when needed. This not only made writing easier -- if an alien looked kinda like a Klingon, Crichton could beat the viewer to the punch and remark that it looked like a Klingon -- but also, per Rock & DK's plan, reinforced the notion that Crichton was from our universe and not Yet Another Fictional Universe Where Nobody's Ever Watched Television or Seen Movies or Read Comic Books. Zhaan has a temper! Rock & DK had also told me that the alien characters' various traits (serene peacenik, angry warrior, etc.) were merely starting points and that we should all feel free to deepen the characters and add other levels as the stories progressed. I thought that perhaps Zhaan's saintly patience ought not to be inexhaustible and that she should just plain lose it now and then when provoked. So I went for it; everybody liked it -- and lo, Zhaan now had a temper. This Crichton-running shot somehow reminds me of The Six Million Dollar Man, which is kinda fitting as Ben later played Lee Majors in a TV movie... The Gauntlet's out of gas! "Let's call it a draw," says Crichton, because of course I was thinking of Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the Black Knight always triumphs! I wrote Rygel's "I'm unloved, unwanted" line, but I didn't write him perfectly capping it with “unconscious”... and I wish I knew whose idea that adlib was so I could thank them. John Adam is so good in this post-standoff scene. It's no wonder we brought the actor and the character back in later seasons... Crichton holding the unbagged Rygel is such a lovely two-shot. We discovered early on that the puppets really came to life when the actors touched them in some way, shape, or form. And Crichton calls Rygel "Fluffy," and another Farscape running gag is launched. Fluffy, Spanky, Little Camper, Buckwheat... D'Argo in black satin pajamas? He looks like he's just stepped out of the Playboy Mansion. (Great idea, though, to give all the characters some changes of clothes, so they aren't just wearing their One Alien Outfit constantly...) Rygel craps the gem! Yup, it's not Farscape without some body fluid and/or function playing a crucial role. Kyr, back on the planet, holds up his arm to show that he's not Staying Straight after all but is in fact wearing the Gauntlet again... except that isn't 100% clear when we see Kyr on the viewscreen, so... we dropped in an added line, recorded later, of Kyr saying "...now that I have the Gauntlet back on.” Sometimes you need a bit of what I call "remedial dialog." We all agreed going in that Zhaan's attempt to Talk the Kid Out of Doing Drugs wasn't going to work, because those sort of easy answers just weren't Farscape, and Zhaan underscores the point in the last line of the ep, "No sermons." AND FINALLY: The (crummy) working title of this episode was "Gauntlet," so when I handed in my first draft, I also gave Rock & DK a list of alternate titles. Never thought they'd pick the one they picked. Here's the list; see if there's one you like better! A Royal Pain Forearmed and Dangerous Delusions of Royalty Shuttle Diplomacy Throne For a Loss Bagged Double Bagged Jungle Dance In Arm's Way Forewarned is Forearmed Mutual Disarmament Invincible You The Invincible Man King For Sale Rygel Goes to Camp Fit for a King Unfit for a King Hissy Fit for a King Bungled in the Jungle The Royal Mistreatment Where There's Swill, There's a Way Fits Like a Glove Penalty for Early Withdrawal Symptoms No Sermons The True Enemy I'll Take Rygel You Take Paris, I'll Take Rygel Call It a Draw Rygel the Conqueror Net Worth Unloved, Unwanted, and Unpopular Unloved, Unwanted, and Uncouth One More Skull for the Collection The Royal Snatch

Another chance to get a piece of Moya!

[caption id="attachment_8903" align="alignleft" width="300"]Farscape script + piece of Moya (Not the actual Moya piece you'll get, but yours will be similar in size & paint.)[/caption] And it's not just an actual piece of Moya, but also a signed (and personalized, if you like) Farscape shooting script! Once again, those wonderful folks at Con or Bust, which helps people of color/non-white people attend SFF conventions, are holding their annual fundraising auction of all kinds of amazing stuff! And once again, I've descended into the Froonium catacombs to grab a couple of Farscape scripts and clip a couple more pieces off the chunk of Moya that I smuggled home from Australia! (Specifically, two pieces of hand-painted foam from a much larger piece that formed one of the 'scales' covering one of Moya's interior 'ribs.') And you get to choose which script you want, from any one of these episodes that I penned:
  • "Throne for a Loss" (Ep. 104)
  • "Nerve" (Ep. 119)
  • "Mind the Baby" (Ep. 201)
  • "Won't Get Fooled Again" (Ep. 214)
  • "Season of Death" (Ep. 301)
  • "Incubator" (Ep. 311)
  • "Terra Firma" (Ep. 413)
Once again this year, the top two bidders will each get a script & Moya piece, so we'll have Double Winners! Bid on the Farscape script & Moya piece via this link! Bidding is now open, but hurry — the auction ends Sunday, May 7, 2017 at 1pm Pacific Time. (Oh, and if absolutely nothing in the entire auction strikes your fancy, or the bidding's too rich for your blood, you can simply make a donation via PayPal to help this most excellent cause.)

Froon’s Farscape Watch, s1e03

[caption id="attachment_9238" align="alignright" width="300"]Kabuki Peacekeepers Farscape s1e03: On weekends, we're a KISS cover band[/caption]

"Exodus from Genesis" (season 1, episode 3)

Written by Ro Hume, directed by Brian Henson This'll be a truly fresh rewatch, because literally the only thing I remember offhand about this ep is "Kabuki Peacekeepers." Roll it... Dentics! Ah, I do remember Dentics. And here we begin the Farscape tradition of Putting Yucky Things in your Mouth. Crichton calls Aeryn "Miss Sun" here! And pronounces it "Soon!" Is this the one and only time in the series he calls her that? Zhaan touches Rygel! Is this the first time one of our actors touches one of our animatronics? We quickly discovered that "manhandling the puppets" really helped bring the latter to life as Actual Beings, so watch to see how much more often everybody "gets physical" with Rygel and Pilot as the series goes on... Zhaan as Flash Van Gogh. A cool notion that we never played again, as I recall. Not much plot use for superspeed painting, although maybe we could've used it in "I, E.T." ("Quick, Zhaan, as soon as Moya touches down, hop out and paint her in camouflage colors!") Critter! Love the Draks. Love Crichton jumping up on the table just as any sensible person would do. Crichton gets beat up by Aeryn*. Take a drink. Crichton gets beat up by Zhaan*. Take another drink. *Okay, it's not the real Aeryn and Zhaan, but still. Poor guy... Jonathan Hardy truly gets to shine with his Rygel voice work in the ep. Wonderful stuff. Rygel has a great Face of Shock and Disgust when he sees Mama Drak churning out eggs. Kudos to our outstanding puppeteers John Eccleston, Sean Masterson, Dave Collins, Graeme Haddon, Tim Mievelle, Mario Halovvas, and Damian Bradford for all their outstanding work. And here come the Kabuki Peacekeepers! I kept expecting them to break into a Gilbert & Sullivan tune. And D'Argo actually wins a fight! Go, Anth! Took out the slowest PK commando. Virginia does a nice job playing Drak Queen Possessed. Add this to the Drinking Game list: take a sip whenever any of our people plays someone other than their character; that's gonna happen a fair bit throughout the series. (But let's not take a drink for all the silent Drak clones in this ep, lest we die of alcohol poisoning.) While we're adding to the Drinking Game list, let's add "take a sip whenever Aeryn... ...wants to die, tries to die, asks someone else to kill her, or variant thereof, and... ...forces Crichton to promise her something outrageous." Ah, the Terrace! Great idea: a transparent 'bubble' outside Moya where we can stand and get amazing views of space. Except, natch, it's ridiculously expensive to shoot there because every shot is a visual effects shot... so don't expect to see a lot more of the Terrace. Aeryn smiles! Good heavens, the Crichton/Aeryn relationship is working so well already. Ben & Claude's chemistry is pure gold. Love Crichton's last line (on the Terrace, eyeing the view) that "there are worse ways to end a day." Cheryl & I quoted that line quite a bit while sipping excellent Australian wine and watching gorgeous sunsets from the balcony of our Sydney apartment. (Thank you, Farscape.)

Froon’s Farscape Watch, s1e02

[caption id="attachment_9221" align="alignleft" width="300"]Moya lifting off Farscape s1e02: At least Moya looks pretty[/caption]

"I, E.T." (season 1, episode 2)

Written by Sally Lapiduss, directed by Pino Amenta And to forestall a bunch of "what is the 'correct' episode order?" questions: I'm calling this ep 2 because it was production number 10102, so I always thought of it as ep 2. Yes, it actually was filmed "third" (well, in a block with "Throne for a Loss," ep 4), and it originally aired seventh on the Sci-Fi Channel and fourth on BBC2, but still. The fact that neither Sci-FI nor BBC2 actually aired it second might be taken as a hint that it wasn't one of our stronger episodes, so let's see how it holds up in the rewatch... We begin with Crichton doing an eye twitch that's as annoying to us as it is to him, in response to an even more annoying alarm sound that takes waaaaay too long to get shut off. Not the most inviting way to start an ep. Last ep, we had D'Argo saying "damn," and in this ep, we've got Crichton saying "What the hezmana is it?" Feels a bit early for Crichton to be echoing the local profanity... I don't know why D'Argo has to look in the Niche Where the Beacon Lives, and then Aeryn has to take a look, and then Crichton has to take a look. And now Aeryn says "I'm new to all this escaped prisoner crap." Everybody, get your swear words sorted out! Moya lands in a bog. Good golly, our CGI was fantastic. Still looks amazing. Props to the terrific artists of Garner MacLennan Design for their superlative work. If there's a drinking game for season one, we should down a shot any time somebody asks "How's Moya?" Aaaaand now we're on the planet surface looking at -- guys apparently wearing baseball caps and holding rifles. Cheryl enquires if Moya has accidentally travelled to Earth and landed in Louisiana. This is a charming little scene between Zhaan and Pilot, but it has zilch to do with the story. Must be one of our infamous season one "Euro scenes." Sci Fi wanted 43-minute episodes, but BBC2, having no commercial breaks, wanted 50-minute episodes. Those aren't the exact numbers -- networks specify delivery lengths to the second -- but close enough. So we needed to add about seven minutes to each ep for the BBC2 version... and yet our budget was already strained to the limit producing 43-minute episodes. What to do? Solution: write two or three rather lengthy talk scenes between two characters that could be easily shot and dropped into the BBC2 version to get it up to 50 minutes. We dubbed those extra yakfests "Euro scenes" in-house. (Thankfully, from season 2 on, BBC2 relented and allowed us to give them the same length eps as we gave Sci Fi, so the Euro scenes were solely a season 1 phenomenon.) For me, the Euro scenes in this ep stand out even more than usual because the rest of the ep is, let's face it, kinda talky already. Sometimes a Euro scene could be a nice breather from the mad action and weird goings-on of an ep, but... this time, not so much. Don't Get Me Started on the logic of how Translator Microbes work... yet in this ep, I was bugged then and am bugged now by the fact that the inhabitants of this planet, who've never left their planet, can nevertheless understand Crichton as if they all had Translator Microbes installed regardless. (Or that Lyneea, a scientist who's looking for extraterrestrial life, doesn't even seem to wonder why it is that she can talk to this 'alien' being...) It's not that this is a bad episode; it just doesn't much feel like Farscape to me. Though it's a cool idea to turn the tables on Crichton and make him the 'alien' outsider, this ep feels like it could very easily be rewritten to be a Star Trek ep or a Stargate ep or a you-name-it ep. And ep 2 feels way too soon to go to an Earthlike (much too Earthlike, if you ask me) planet. We saw the Premiere; we're on board for ALIENS! CREATURES! LIVING SHIPS! WEIRD CULTURES! SPACE BATTLES! And in our very next ep, we get guys in hats, driving cars and toting rifles. Not surprising that Sci Fi and BBC2 shuffled the airing order a bit... Ah, and now Rygel takes a big bite out of Aeryn's arm and then swallows the chunk of flesh he bit off. Now that, for better or worse, is Farscape! But then we're back on Planet Bog and D'Argo, our fierce Luxan warrior, has somehow let himself get captured by a bunch of Guys With Rifles, despite his superior weaponry, soldier's training, and his Stun Tongue. Yeesh. Poor D'Argo's 0 for 2 on fights in just two eps. Crichton suggests that (alien kid) Fostro shake hands with (alien) D'Argo. Cheryl, watching, suggests the kid probably wouldn't know what "shaking hands" was even all about, and points out that shaking hands isn't even a universal custom among humans on Earth. And off Moya goes, looking gorgeous. As Bogart once said to Bergman, "We'll always have CGI."  

Froon’s Farscape Watch, s1e01

[caption id="attachment_9208" align="alignright" width="300"]Ben Browder in Mambo shirt Farscape s1e01: Florida Man in Australian Shirt[/caption] It's 19 March, aka “Farscape Day”, and that strikes me as the perfect time to (finally) crack open the Blu-Rays and rewatch the series from the start... something I haven't done in, well, ever. I probably haven't watched most of these eps since they first aired, so this should be... interesting. (Well, interesting to me, anyway.) Gonna post some random reactions and thoughts for each. Nothing thorough, nothing of Deep Import, just some musings upon re-viewing something I worked on a Long Time Ago. My current wife Cheryl will be at my side for extra added snark, at least for ep 1. Off we go!

Premiere” (season 1, episode 1)

Written by Rockne S. O'Bannon, directed by Andrew Prowse And in our Very First Shot of the series, here's Ben wearing a Mambo Loud Shirt, an Australian brand that became the unofficial Official Shirt of the series. Most of us Yanks who had the privilege of working in Sydney got hooked on these shirts, but I think I claimed the record by buying somewhere around forty. (And I'm still wearing them, much to the puzzlement of my UCLA Extension students.) IASA, the International version of NASA. If I correctly recall, the show was trying to get permission from NASA to use the name/logo, but time ran out before it did (or didn't) happen, so IASA it was. (Which kinda bumps with a much later episode “Terra Firma” where the “IASA” folks are trying to keep all the alien tech that Crichton brings back to Earth for the U.S.A. only...) Oh, Lord, that darned “space” helmet. Made me wince then, makes me wince now. “Uh... Canaveral?” I'm going to be praising Ben's brilliant work A LOT, but never quite enough. I just love the way he throws that line away... Wow, I forgot that the first ep doesn't have Crichton's voiceover on the main title. Makes sense that it's not there, but it's weird not hearing it. (The first ep of the original Star Trek series didn't have Kirk's “boldly go” voiceover either.) No episode title either. We didn't start putting the episode title onscreen until season 2, if I recall right. Props to Rockne for titling ep 1 “Premiere” instead of the usual “Pilot.” Maybe it's because we had a character named Pilot? Folks might've thought it was all about him. Nice that Rockne's writing credit falls on a shot of Crichton saying “Oh my God.” One-Eyed DRD! First little yellow Roomba to make an appearance. Typical Rockne to give even a little skittering robot a distinguishing feature and a personality. Good heavens, Moya looks gorgeous, as does the Peacekeeper Command Carrier. Kudos to Ricky Eyres and his amazing designs. Seeing it after all this time, I marvel anew at just how astounding and alien both D'Argo and Zhaan look... and how wonderfully Anth and Virg brought the characters to life. And Farscape's fondness for bodily fluids manifests itself right from ep 1 as Rygel spits on Crichton. D'Argo says “This damned Leviathan has no idea where we are.” Whoops. One of the few instances of alien swearing that the Translator Microbes actually translated into English. (Hey. There's at least one time that Data used contractions in Star Trek: The Next Generation. These things happen.) Andrew does a lovely job of teasing each alien's first appearance; we and Crichton at first see Zhaan and D'Argo from the back, so we save the Full Alien Reveal for when they turn around. And here's Aeryn! Another nice reveal. Andrew loves to dolly the camera while shooting through foreground stuff. It's only Act Two and we're into helium farts. Yup, the series took a little while to settle down and find its best groove, but SO MUCH was right there in the first ep. Aeryn Has Attitude. I'm going to be praising Claudia's brilliant work A LOT . . . Ah, Rygel and the Proprietor. Every time I watch this scene, I give extra thanks to the late Jonathan Hardy, the amazing Voice of Rygel, because... well, I already told that story here. And D'Argo loses his first fight. That's gonna become a recurring theme, alas. Erp! Here's D'Argo's first vow. Sure had a lot of those. “Little yellow bolts of light” still gets a laugh out of me and Cheryl. Hmm, Crais is pronouncing Aeryn's surname as “son” rather than “soon” in this ep. Crichton fixing the DRD... ah, That's So Rockne. Lovely little character moment that quietly says a lot about our hero and his situation. The end! Wow. Gotta say, that's a pretty amazing pilot, and I think it holds up remarkably well after almost two frelling DECADES... One down, 87 to go...

Ricky Talks About… Fountain Pens!

Write Gear logo"Speculative fiction author and bad influence" (her self-description) K. Tempest Bradford hosts a podcast entitled The Write Gear in which she examines and chats about "all the gear, gadgets, writing implements, paper, and other tools writers use to get the job done." Everything from laptops to backup systems to distraction-blockers and more. Tempest's latest installment is something called "Episode 9: From Farscape to Fountain Pens – A Conversation with Richard Manning" in which she and I yak about "which TV star inspired him to buy his first fancy fountain pen, which pens are his current favorites, and where you can find all the info you need to get started with fountain pen nerditry." Have a listen!

Reflections on the 19th of March

(And yes, I know my tenses are inconsistent.)

“Liz Tells Frank” Gets a Foreword by Me

[caption id="attachment_1424" align="alignleft" width="187"]"Liz Tells Frank . . ." cover Click to embiggen.[/caption] For eight years on her blog, Liz Shannon Miller has been telling her friend Frank about TV series, movies, and books that he's missed, helping him catch up on the good stuff and avoid the less-good stuff. Two ebook collections of this noble work have already amused and thrilled countless readers around the globe. I was amused and thrilled myself when Liz approached me to write a foreword to her third "Liz Tells Frank" compilation, though I couldn't fathom why she chose me. (Perhaps because the book includes Andreanna Ditton's "Skip It/Watch It Guide" to Farscape, and writing a foreword would give me an opportunity for pre-rebuttal?) In any case, I leapt at the opportunity, and the result follows. Enjoy the foreword, and then go buy the ebook of Liz Tells Frank: The Skip It/Watch It Guides on Amazon! FOREWORD, by Richard Manning ((I write for television. I never get to use footnotes in scripts. I like footnotes. You've been warned.)) Tens of years ago, when typewriters ((Devices comprising a keyboard and printer but lacking CPU or storage; pressing a key imprinted a character directly onto a sheet of paper.)) still walked the earth and “personal computers” were clunky, cantankerous contraptions that could only beep annoyingly and display glowing pus-green text, when television was still in its infancy—well, okay, out of its infancy but still wetting the bed and refusing to eat its vegetables, when there were no InterNets and people had to walk miles in the snow ((Uphill both ways, naturally.)) to newsstands ((Retail outlets where one could purchase printed “newspapers” (daily or weekly compilations of advertising, comic strips, classified advertising, editorials, horoscopes, advertising supplements, and occasionally news) or “magazines” (weekly or monthly volumes of glossy advertising, fashion photos, gossip, or porn).)) to acquire their porn, the concept of “fandom” was all but unknown to We Who Work in Television. In those innocent yet rococo times, when “cutting a film” meant exactly that—chopping up and pasting together long strips of perforated celluloid, when broadcasters still respected their programming enough not to deface it ((The truly important portions of their programming, of course, remain pristine and untouched to this day; it's only the trivia in between the commercials that gets defaced.)) with logos and animated promos, and when the Great Viewing Public was only dimly aware that creatures such as “television writers” actually existed, WWWiT labored in a vacuum. ((Not literally, of course, because we'd've died, but there's a decent analogy rattling around in there somewhere about the lack of sound in a vacuum.)) Back then, the Creators and the Consumers ((Or, as I like to describe them, the “pushers” and the “junkies.”)) were twains that never met. ((Probably because they were on non-intersecting twacks. I agree that's awful, but the only other metaphor I could come up with was something like “shippers that pass in the night,” which seemed both too esoteric and not apt enough.)) WWWiT would conceive our ideas, birth our teleplays, nurture our episodes, and set them free ((Were this an audiobook, I would likely be singing “Born Free” at this point. Count your blessings.)) into the ether, to be met with a resounding silence. ((“Resounding silence” is a goofy phrase when you think about it, kinda like “a blinding darkness,” but folks keep using it, so who am I to defy the zeitgeist?)) No applause. No boos. No thoughtful exegeses. ((Nor even thoughtless exegeses.)) No floral bouquets nor shrieking groupies. In short, no feedback whatever. Sure, critics would review the pilot and perhaps a subsequent season opener or two, but beyond that? The audience may have been listening, ((As proclaimed by THX™.)) but its speech, if any, rarely reached the ears of WWWiT. However, when the mighty transcontinental series of tubes was completed ((The final connection, of course, took place at Promontory Summit, Utah and was commemorated with a Golden Power Spike. (This joke isn't quite as labored as it might seem; go look up “Golden Spike” and read about the U.S.'s first nationwide media event.)) and the World's Widest Web lurched to life, feedback sprouted everywhere. ((Like mushrooms... some edible, some poisonous. Now there's a nice metaphor. I could do something with that.)) We could now peruse countless discussion boards and discover that viewers had caught the obscure Monty Python reference we'd slipped into an episode... or that they'd mercilessly nailed us on some dubious plot logic we'd thought would pass unnoticed. We could lurk in chatrooms as our episodes aired and revel in real-time gasps and screams when characters kissed and/or killed each other. Some of us rebelled, not wanting feedback that was anything less than absolute worship. Some of us didn't react well, scolding our newly-voiced critics with accusations of “[writing] crap from behind the safety of anonymity” ((JMS v. Cronan, 1998. When they build the Fandom Hall of Fame, my first nomination will be Cronan Maliki Jamel Thompson... and my second will be Emily Salzfass who, like Cronan, left us far too soon.)) or “interrogating this text from the wrong perspective.” ((Rice v. Negative Voices on Amazon, 2004. Yes, it's from the world of literature, not television, but it's too delicious to leave out.)) However, most ((Well, many. Quite a few. Lots. Several. A not insignificant number. Well, me, anyway.)) of WWWiT ((Yes, I know, in this context it should be UWWiT.)) were (and still are) utterly delighted to sample the sprawling internet buffet of reaction and criticism. Some of it's tasty; some of it may be hard to swallow; ((But good for us anyway, like broccoli.)) all of it (yes, even the short and pointed reactions such as “YOU'RE SHOW SUCKZ”) is appreciated. We made something; you took the time to watch; you liked it or you didn't, and you made the effort to say why. Which, at long last, brings me to the motley and prolific Liz Shannon Miller, who's been serving up her own breezy brand of commentary since 2005. ((Good lord, that's a long time. As the Bible sort of says, “Greater love hath no fan than this, than a fan lay down and scan endless sludge so her readers don't have to.”)) Liz's critiques are packed with humor, taste, intelligence, plus a genuine love for the media she surveys—and the results are not only glorious to behold but also a hell of a lot of fun to read. So sit back, relax, ((Or stand up and be tense, if that's how you prefer to read.)) and enjoy Liz's third compilation of The Best of “Liz Tells Frank,” ((Okay, honestly, I don't know if it's really “The Best Of.” It might just be “Whatever Stuff She's Churned Out Since Volume 2.” You be the judge. (And then blog about it! “[Your Name Here] Tells [Some Other Name Here] About 'Liz Tells Frank!'”) )) as she and her outstanding sisters-in-snark Whitney Bishop and Andreanna Ditton ((Apparently they get to cover the stuff even Liz won't touch, like that weird frelling Fire Escape show.)) interrogate the text from the right perspective and separate the soaring eagles from the plummeting turkeys. ((Yes, this is a reference to “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly”—one of the finest punch lines in the history of television.)) If this book saves you from wasting that hour on that “Very Special Episode” that isn't so special after all, ((Or prompts you at long last to go try out that book/series/movie/videogame you've never seen—and fall madly in love with it.)) the tireless labors of its valiant authors will have borne fruit, ((Were this an audiobook, I would definitely be singing “Borne Fruit” at this point, to the tune of “Born Free.” You are SO lucky.)) and I hope you'll join me in rewarding them with a hearty chorus of “YOU'RE BOOK ROCKZ!!!!1!”

I saved the receipt…

[caption id="attachment_1271" align="alignright" width="254"]Receipt of Joy As they say, it's not the initial investment, it's the upkeep.[/caption] ...but I can't seem to find the warranty. Probably expired anyway. Three decades ago today, Cheryl and I tied the noose knot in a lovely restaurant garden in Corona del Mar (and I'm told that, to this day, no grass will grow on that spot). It was my second marriage and her first, which of course means that she had an excuse but I should've known better... and yet here we are. One Valentine's Day when I was in Sydney and she was in Los Angeles, I faxed (yes, children, this was a very long time ago) her a homemade Valentine which I signed "Your first husband." She promptly faxed me back a Valentine of her own, signed "Your last wife." Amen to that.

Top Ten Other Ways Farscape’s Last Episode Could’ve Ended

[caption id="attachment_1194" align="alignright" width="626"]Farscape Episode 88's Last Shot Last shot of Farscape's "Bad Timing" Episode 88[/caption] A little over ten (!) years ago, Farscape aired its last* episode, "Bad Timing." SPOILERS TO FOLLOW: The episode, written by the sadistic genius David Kemper,  concluded, shall we say, not very well for our heroes, with yet another OH MY GOD season-ending cliffhanger, and yet another "To Be Continued" card at the fadeout. And then... we found out that the season-ending cliffhanger was going to be the series-ending cliffhanger, because Farscape had been canceled. Which posed a question: should we change the ending of "Bad Timing"? Should we leave the "To Be Continued" on there or not? The overwhelming sentiment among the Farscape crew was to leave it just as it was, and so the ending of the episode aired without changes, "To Be Continued" and all. However! We did discuss a drenload of other ideas for the last shot other than "To Be Continued"... and here are the top ten!

10.) HA HA THEY'RE TOAST

9.) We Tried to Talk DK Out of This... Okay, Actually, No, We Didn't

8.) Th- th- th- th- th- that's all, Folks!

7.) That's How the Nookie Cookie Crumbles

6.) The Fans Said They Wanted Crichton and Aeryn Together, Forever and Inseparably. DONE!

5.) To Be Rebooted

4.) NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

3.) Had We More Budget, Moya Would've Gotten Zapped Too, so Count Your Blessings

2.) Go Thou and Do Likewise (and Thanks for Watching)

1.) And the number-one alternate Farscape last shot (CLICK TO ENLARGE):Farscape Episode 88's Alternative Last Shot

*P.S.: "To Be Continued" did, indeed, turn out to be prophetic; "Bad Timing" was Farscape's "last" episode only until the astonishing "Save Farscape" fan campaign helped make possible a four-hour Farscape miniseries which concluded the story...

...temporarily.