I'm hopelessly addicted to Farscape (or "FireEscape" as I sometimes dyslexically refer to it). I've watched it since the first season, and my addiction gets deeper with each new one. I challenge anyone to show me a more innovative, gripping, dark, kinky, funny and well written TV show.
For those of you unfortunate enough not to have seen it, the basic premise is this: our hero, John Crichton, gets accidentally dragged through a wormhole while test-flying a NASA space module, and ends up in another part of the universe. So far, so predictable, I hear you say. Just pipe down at the back, I'm getting to the good bit. He winds up on a living ship called Moya with a bunch of escaped convicts who are running from a psychotic race called the Peacekeepers (an inappropriate choice of name if there ever was one). What makes Farscape truly world class is the characters and the wildly unexpected plot twists. Now, I love Star Trek (in all its incarnations) as much as the next sad, obsessive geek, but all that "Oh, we wiped out war, money and sexism centuries ago, and now we love and respect one another" thing can start to really get on your nerves. The characters on Farscape bicker. All the time. About everything. And even the heroes and heroines of the show do Bad Things at frequent intervals. In Star Trek, this would inevitably be because some telepathic, evil alien race took over their minds and made them do it, but here they do bad things because they're human. Or Luxan, or Delvian, or whatever. One character, Rygel, does almost nothing but steal, lie and cheat, but that only serves to make us love him more on the rare occasion when he grudgingly does something vaguely noble.
The writers take a lot of risks, which don't always come off, but which make it genuinely thrilling to watch. One example would be the way they deal with the baddies. First (well not first, Crais was first, but this post has to end sometime this week), we had Scorpius - a truly evil genius in a kinky PVC bondage suit, a face like a desiccated mummy, and terrible teeth. He did more dreadful things to Crichton and the others than I've had hot dinners, and I really hated him for it. Then along came Grayza (or "Commandant Cleavage" as Perri and Kiki dubbed her). Apart from wondering how the heck she stays in her blouse (gaffer tape?), my jaw dropped to the ground when I saw her leading a remote-control-chipped, drooling Scorpius around on the end of a dog lead. Two things happened. 1) I felt sorry for Scorpius. I. Felt. Sorry. For. Scorpius. Incredible. 2) I REALLY hated Grayza - how dare she degrade our favourite baddie? How many TV series do anything that brave?
Part of my aim in this long, long post ("Yes, dear God, when will it end?" I hear you say) is that it IS all about to end. The Sci-Fi channel, which financed the show, and had agreed to produce a 5th season, has decided to cancel it. This leaves all us 'Scapers totally bereft, and facing an awful, plummeting, chasm of a cliff-hanger at the end of this season, which will never be resolved. There is something you can do, though. If you've never watched Farscape before, watch it now and get hooked (and probably somewhat baffled). Then visit SaveFarscape.com, and follow some of their campaigning suggestions. And remember, Crackers Do Matter!