“Farscape” was one of those shows like “Star Trek” or “Homicide: Life on the Street” that, despite top-notch critical response and a dedicated fanbase, was doomed to poor ratings (I admit, rather mortified, that I’ve still never seen a full episode). Part Wizard of Oz
, part Quantum Leap
and part Star Trek
(more like Galaxy Quest,
come to think of it), “Farscape” was the story of an astronaut by the name of John Crichton who is sucked through a wormhole into another galaxy where the bellicose Scarran Empire is embroiled in a Cold War with the tyrannical Peacekeeper Empire – sort of like Star Wars
with no good side.
Stuck in the middle are Moya, a sentient spaceship, and her crew of outcasts and rebels, as well as Crichton. Crichton, and thus the entire crew, is being chased by Scorpius, a Peacekeeper commander who wants him to make a wormhole weapon to finally end the war. Much like the aforementioned “Star Trek” and “Homicide”, “Farscape” was revived after cancellation by a final film to tie up loose ends. Enter: Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars.
It has always been a point of personal shame that I have still not seen a full episode of the show. It always seemed like a fascinating show, and the word-of-mouth was very positive, but I never could catch it. So when Lion’s Gate Entertainment asked me to review the three hour finale to the show, I was hesitant at first. After a little bit of research into the characters, I accepted, and popped in the DVD. I was promptly blown away.
What sucked me immediately into Peacekeeper Wars was not the special effects, which range from good on the CGI to stunning on the Henson-shop animatronics. Nor was it the story which, albeit fascinating, was a little convoluted for my Farscape-virgin brain. It was the characters. The noble warrior, the posh royalty, the villain-turned-ally, the love interest, the cynical adventurer – none of this is new, but it is all handled invariably with style and attention. No roles are wasted and the three hours never once seemed too long, even when I wasn’t sure of what was going on.
Also included on the DVD is a collection of concept art, storyboards, spacecraft gallery, and props that give an idea of the film’s path from inception to filming. A great 30-minute behind the scenes featurette: “The Making the Peacekeeper Wars” does the same. It’s worth watching to get a sense of how much labor and, indeed, passion went into both the film and the series.