Froon’s Farscape Watch, s1e08

“That Old Black Magic” (season 1, episode 8)

• Written by me, directed by Brandon Maher •

In which Crichton visits the House of Lego and must deal with two shouty men, Zhaan almost gets lucky, and Rygel suffers from a Hynerial disease.

My second Farscape script! With the marvelous Grant Bowler guesting as a Man in Magenta. He’d later go on to star in another little series of Rockne’s entitled Defiance.

The two-headed Trelkez! An amazing Creature Shop critter, made (like so many other terrific Creature Shop creations) just for one episode. At least I figured out a way to use the little bugger later on in the ep so we at least got our money’s worth from it.

John’s mom’s maiden name is McDougall. What an amazing coincidence, because current wife Cheryl’s maiden name is the same thing.

Karen Shaw! Whom Justin Monjo would so brilliantly retcon much, much later. No, that wasn’t planned. Just a name I came up with because I needed the bad guy to Prove His Powers to Crichton with the old “How Could Anybody Possibly Know This” trick.

And here’s Haloth, whose speeches are all in iambic pentameter… very Shakespearean. I seem to recall DK suggesting early on that all the bad guy’s speeches should be in iambic pentameter, which I thought was a swell idea. (In television, we don’t get a whole lot of opportunities to write iambic pentameter, more’s the pity.) In teleplay, though, given the amount of yakking the bad guy had to do, I felt iambic pentameter would get old fast, so I decided that only the Old Wizard Haloth identity of Maldis’s would speak thus.

A Command Carrier bridge! Our genius production designer Ricky Eyres sure built a lot of cool stuff for us.

Doubtless Crichton figures out Maldis is a life-force vampire because Crichton has seen Star Trek… y’know, that ep where the glowing whatsit makes Kirk & crew fight a buncha Klingons over and over…

Virginia does Particularly Excellent Work in this ep, as do Ben and Lani. But I don’t think I’m alone in finding Chris Haywood’s Maldis (and his costume) just a tad too broad…

Ah, Rygel’s Ceremony of Passage. (Hear it in this post about Jonathan Hardy.) That was fun to write, and even more fun to watch, given how the puppeteers and Jonathan Hardy utterly nailed it.

Oh, that frelling tape recorder tag. As originally conceived, a dictated “letter home” from Crichton was supposed to end every episode, but… it didn’t. Sounded good in theory, but it’s a device best used sparingly, lest it gets predictable. (And “predictable” was high on the list of things nobody wanted Farscape to be!)


Comments 9

  • I sorta felt sorry for Lt. Teeg but totally loved Rygel’s “rite of passage” it was so him.

    • As I said, it was great fun to write, so much so that I went a little nuts in my very first draft and let Rygel ramble on for an entire page.

      Oh, heck, why not share it:

              INT. RYGEL'S QUARTERS - MOYA 
              Rygel, feeling a bit perkier, eyes Crichton's "corpse." 
                        I don't know, Crichton... While I
                        don't pretend to be an expert in these
                        matters, I must say: you certainly
                        look dead to me.
              Rygel gives Crichton a nudge.  No response.
                                    RYGEL (cont'd)
                        I don't know what your customs are for
                        situations like this.  Perhaps you'd
                        like to be set adrift in the Great
                        Void.  Perhaps your heirs can sell you
                        as meat.  Who knows?  All I can do is
                        give you the Hynerian Ceremony of
                            (clears throat)
                        "Crichton, our valued friend" -- all
                        right, "valued friend" is a stretch,
                        who are we kidding here?
                            (starts again)
                        "Crichton, our at-times-tolerable
                        acquaintance, we gather today" --
                        that's the royal "we", you're not
                        exactly drawing a crowd of mourners --
                        "to demonstrate our sincere grief" --
                        Let's drop "sincere", I think --
                        "demonstrate our grief at your
                        premature passing" -- not a moment too
                        soon to suit me -- "and entreat the
                        heavens that your immortal soul" --
                            (eyeing him skeptically)
                        -- if you have one -- "be given safe
                        transport to the hallowed realm" --
                        wait, not our hallowed realm, it's
                        just for Hynerians, go find your own
                        hallowed realm.  There's a lot more,
                        but you get the gist.
              Rygel makes a vaguely benedictory gesture with one hand.
                                    RYGEL (cont'd)
                        And now, with the Ceremony of Passage
                        complete, I declare you officially
                        dead, and claim all your possessions.
              Rygel tugs at Crichton's shoes.
      • And WordPress mucked up the formatting, but you get the idea.

        ETA: I figured out how to fix the formatting! “Markdown” is now enabled for all comments.

  • Well, now we’ve got Maldis out of the way, shall we Never Speak Of Him Again? What? Seriously? Again in Season 2? Why?
    And yes, poor Lt Teeg. She should have paid more attention to the state of Crais’ hair, plus did no one ever tell her that when asked “And nobody else knows about this piece Thing That I Want Kept Secret?” You never, ever answer “That’s right, if I were to die your secret would die with….. “

    • Would you believe “by popular demand”?

      (No, I wouldn’t either.)

      Lt. Teeg Didn’t Know the Tropes. You can’t survive in the Farscape universe if you Don’t Know the Tropes. Crichton figured out Maldis’s schtick because Crichton Knew the Tropes.

  • can you do the next Farscape rewatch entirely in iambic pentameter??? :p

  • Retconning Karen Shaw was one of the best Farscape consistency ploys ever because it brought in one of those cool time loop paradoxes.

    Giving Rygel a cold was a great way to avoid having to put him on the planet.

    Having John finally loose it after trusting Crais who turns on him was wonderful character building. I think is was the first intimations that John had a dark side.

    And yeah, Maldis was played way too broadly. He definitely had read the Bad Guy’s guidebook. Gotta not follow the tropes. And how did the recorders batteries last so long?

  • Yay! You have resumed your re-watch. Thank you for sharing Rygel’s original speech. Hi-larious! I love reading first drafts. Now I need to go back and pickup where I left off with your other ones.

C'mon, say something, you know you want to

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