"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."
“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...
- "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)
16 years ago (3/19/1999), #Farscape premiered on Sci-Fi! I watched it on my laptop in a Sydney hotel room. Streaming. On dialup. Not ideal. — Richard Manning (@froonium) March 19, 2015
17 years ago (3/19/1998), I first met @Rockne_S at Henson Co. re his show "Space Chase" (which he said would get a new title). #Farscape — Richard Manning (@froonium) March 19, 2015
@froonium A VERY important day in the anals of #Farscape. I mean annals. Frell. A stellar collaboration and friendship began that day. — Rockne S. O'Bannon (@Rockne_S) March 19, 2015
17 yrs ago: @Rockne_S asked if I'd be willing to relocate to Australia. I said sure, feeling 100% certain it'd never happen. #Farscape — Richard Manning (@froonium) March 19, 2015
2 months later (5/7/98), I pitched #Farscape ideas to David Kemper & @Rockne_S. 1 week later, I was hired to write "Throne for a Loss." — Richard Manning (@froonium) March 19, 2015
16 yrs 7 mos ago (8/19/98): The Henson Co. hires me as a full-time #Farscape writer, and I start work (in LA) w/DK & RSO the next day. — Richard Manning (@froonium) March 19, 2015
And, by God, on 2/6/99, I'm on a plane to Sydney, Australia (and even manage to get 2 hrs of writing done on the flight). #Farscape — Richard Manning (@froonium) March 19, 2015
3-1/2 yrs later (10/22/2002), I fly back to LA for the final time, after 4 blissful seasons working with AMAZING WONDERFUL people. #Farscape — Richard Manning (@froonium) March 19, 2015
And FOURTEEN years ago today, the most excellent Justin Monjo said, re him & me & DK, "The three of us make a good pair now." #Farscape — Richard Manning (@froonium) March 20, 2015
13 yrs ago today, #Farscape's Becky Hunt, asked if a Creature Shop critter was headless, replied "It's headless if you take the head off." — Richard Manning (@froonium) March 20, 2015
Last 19 Mar. Memory: TEN yrs ago, I was flying back from London after 3 great weeks with @ChrisChibnall & other BBC writers & whiteboards! — Richard Manning (@froonium) March 20, 2015(And yes, I know my tenses are inconsistent.)
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
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)
*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.