Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars

· culture ·

Thanks to a kind 'heads up' by Saltation, I managed to catch Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars on Sky One. We both got all excited when it was announced that the mini-series would be shown on the Sci-Fi channel, only to find that it wasn't shown on the Sci-Fi channel in the UK.

Thanks to a VCR-Telewest related bodge up, I didn't catch the first airing on Sky One, but managed to watch (and tape it) on Tuesday. I'm very happy to say that it didn't disappoint at all. The plot is as twisty and gasp-inducing as ever, and the dialogue and characters are as sharp as a scalpel. Despite all the prosthetics and animatronics, all the characters seem like real, bickering, affectionate, selfish people/frog-creatures/tentacled things. Even the effects are far better than anything I've seen on a TV sci-fi series. The people at the Sci-Fi channel must be blithering idiots to cancel such a great series.

If you haven't seen the first episode and want to, you might not want to follow the 'Read more' link below, as there might be mild spoilers within. And I'll probably watch part 2 next Tuesday, so if anyone else sees it on Sunday, don't give the the game away!

One of the many things I love about Farscape is the way in which it manages to subvert some of the sci-fi clichés, while simultaneously celebrating them in a geeky way. There are many examples of this, but there was a particularly nice example in Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (PKW).

Have you ever noticed the oddly formal language evil alien leaders use, even when everyone else speaks normal, colloquial English? They are prone to uttering leaden phrases like, "You shall pay dearly for your insolence", and "It seems that I now have mastery of this realm". Cut to a scene in PKW; The evil alien dude (Emperor Staleek, looks like a big ugly lizard) and John Crichton are sitting in Crichton's tiny two-seater module, getting ready to go through a wormhole and visit a place which is more or less the source of time. Crichton is patiently going through his pre-flight checks.

[Emperor Staleek, getting tetchy]: I grow weary.

[Crichton, without missing a beat]: We'll grab a coffee on the way back.

Now, maybe you have to see it in context, but I found that hilarious and brilliant at the same time. They take the rip out of a classic 'formal evil alien-ese' line, while revelling in it at the same time. Crichton makes comments like that all the time, and while I'm sure the writers mean them to be a kind of shared joke between us as viewers and Crichton — none of the other characters have a clue what he's on about — it's also a rather touching part of his character. He's billions of miles away from his home, and it's as if his constant references to old TV shows, films and Earth culture are an attempt to keep a kind of security blanket around him in the face of constant danger, new worlds and new beings.