Astronaut is catapulted halfway across the universe into uncharted territory.
1999 - 2003.
'Farscape', a co-production by the Jim Henson Company in the U.S., Hallmark Entertainment in the U.S. and Nine Films and Television, part of Nine Network in Australia, began shooting in Sydney on 25th September 1998. The series was created by Rockne S O'Bannon and was originally earmarked for the US Fox Network but was ultimately green-lit by the Sci-Fi Channel. Blending state-of-the-art animatronics from the Jim Henson Creature Shop, CGI and live action, the series was described in British Sci-Fi magazine TV Zone as "the boldest, brightest and most mind-boggingly brilliant Sci-Fi saga currently on the air."
The basic idea for 'Farscape' originated in 1993 and came from Brian Henson, who had just assumed control of his late father's company. However, the series that finally came to the screen was a lot different from Henson's original outline, and that was down to Rockne O'Bannon. "Brian wanted to do a ship show," O'Bannon recalls. "He wanted to do a show with a lot of alien characters led by a blind alien woman. It was interesting but I don't think it would have worked as a TV series." So O'Bannon, who had previously created the TV series' seaQuest DSV and Alien Nation, went away and developed a series that he felt would be far removed from previous sci-fi shows such as Star Trek.
Astronaut John Crichton is on a test flight of his module, Farscape 1, when a spatial wormhole opens directly in his path. Unable to avoid the phenomenon, Chrichton is shot halfway across the galaxy into an uncharted (by man) part of the universe, arriving in the middle of a pitched space battle, and directly in the path of a Peacekeeper vessel. In an attempt to avoid collision with Farscape 1, the Peacekeeper attempts evasive action, but is destroyed. The Peacekeeper was waiting to take a group of transported prisoners that had revolted aboard a Leviathan, one of a group of 'living' vessels that the Peacekeepers had managed to take control of using collars that force obedience. Crichton becomes unwillingly involved with the revolution when his vessel is taken aboard the Leviathan, named Moya. Here he encounters strange looking creatures and robotic devices of whom he is unable to understand. However, one of the robots injects a translator microbe into his foot and, now able to communicate, Crichton soon discovers what is going on. The prisoners are re-captured; John Crichton amongst them, and the astronaut soon discovers that he has become Peacekeeper captain Bialar Crais's worst enemy. Crais's brother was on the destroyed Peacekeeper vessel.
With the aid of another Peacekeeper, Aeryn Sun, who witnesses the punishment of an innocent prisoner, John and the other prisoners escape back to Moya, Aeryn being branded a traitor in the process. The crew of the Moya now consisted of Crichton, Aeryn, Zhaan (a blue-skinned Delvian), Ka D'Argo (a Luxan warrior framed for the murder of his own wife) and Rygel XV1, the Dominar (ruler) of Hyneria, a planet from which his own family ousted him. Later travelling companions that came along were Chiana, a Nebari thief, pleasure-seeker and troublemaker; Stark, a man with unexplained powers and Jool, a spoilt being from another world. Zhaan, who was already dying after attempting to return Aeryn Sun's soul to her frozen body, was eventually killed in an explosion whilst saving the Moya from destruction.
Crais was eventually overthrown by fellow Peacekeeper Scorpius, forcing him to join forces with his enemies, although he always intended to work towards his own ends and, knowing that Moya was pregnant with a Leviathan child, genetically enhanced by the Peacekeepers to have weapons of great destruction, he struck a deal that allowed him to escape. Scorpius, meanwhile, captured Crichton and under interrogation discovered that the astronaut had vital information lodged in a dormant part of his brain. In order to acquire it Scorpius implanted a microchip in Crichton's brain that contained a neural clone of himself with the purpose of discovering the knowledge that could create wormholes. The effect made Crichton schizophrenic, and he turned against his friends before the chip was removed. The after-effects, however, was that Crichton now had his own version of the Scorpius clone that he could control.
Originally dubbed "Star Trek's evil twin" in some quarters soon after its premiere, 'Farscape' has grown and matured into one of the most imaginative and creatively ambitious examples of the current crop of high quality television science fiction series. Sharp, witty, stylish and most crucially, creatively risk-taking, Farscape has successfully transcended needless comparisons with the mighty Trek franchise, and emerged to consolidate its reputation as superior televisual science fiction of the very highest order.
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