Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Goodbye to All That

Last night I said a temporary goodbye to Farscape with the final installment of The Peacekeeper Wars, the big, loud, messy, sprawling mini-series that winds up all the loose threads (and gives them a pounding for good measure) left hanging when the series was canceled.

No doubt the Sci-Fi network wanted something more actionful and less cerebral than the original series, and that is what Brian Henson (Jim's kid), Rockne O'Bannon and David Kemper served up. Spiny spaceships breathe fire and guns blaze at every turn. Blam! Boom! Enough already. Farscape was many things, but it was never boring, and the mini-series teeters on the edge of that precipice just for being so packed with running, punching and shooting.

The time could have been used much better and more imaginatively. The plot elements that need to be covered were originally meant to play out across the entire fifth season -- having to compress it all into just three hours puts a strain on the proceedings.

And yet, it's still Farscape, warts and all. One of the things I always liked about the series is that they clearly subscribe to Lester Dent's theories of Pulp Fiction. No matter how bad you think it is now for our heroes, don't worry, it's about to get much worse. "Make sure the hero gets it in the neck at every turn," quoth Dent, the man behind Kenneth Robeson and the creator of Doc Savage.On Farscape, the crew of Moya doesn't just get it in the neck -- they get full-body Trouble by the wagonload.

There's something soothing about this, in a perverse way. It's the same draw that a good Soap Opera has: the troubles that the characters experience make what you're going through seem petty by comparison.

The Peacekeeper Wars continues that trend with things like John and Aeryn birthing a child under heavy gunfire, and an alarming number of Major Series Characters who don't make it to the end.

For all the sound and fury that precedes it, the final third is actually near-perfect. Everything that the series has been hanging itself upon is contained in John Crichton's head, and we finally get to see what that looks like. It doesn't disappoint. Even Scorpius, who has spent three seasons doing every dirty thing in the villain's playbook to get that information, is suitably impressed.

And the ending is wonderful. All this time, we've been asking the Dorothy in Oz question: "Will John ever get Home?" It turns out to be the wrong question entirely. Home is not the place you go to. Home is where you make it.

Now I have to find something else to fill my Monday nights for a while. With all the packing I still have ahead of me, I've promised myself not to buy anything, not even a single DVD, until after I am moved. So it'll have to be a re-run. Y'know, I kind of have a hankering to spend some time with my old friends John Steed and Mrs. Peel. It's been years.

-- Freder

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