I was told I was the most face value SubGenii they have met -- ironic, seeing as how I'm the one in the mask

I have One word for you -- FARSCAPE

FARSCAPE – How can such a unique treasure like this be such a hard sell? Is it the name? I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “Fire Escape? Is it a show about firemen?” Yet, such a unique show would require an equally unique name. Google the word “FARSCAPE” and that’s all you get – nothing but FARSCAPE.

Is it the production team? Quite a few people automatically think it’s a kids show since it was made by the Jim Henson Company – and yet everyone has such fond memories from their childhood involving Muppets, and with the JHC having such a distinguished record for quality projects, it’s difficult to understand why folks won’t give such a unique show a chance.

Is it the fantastical science fiction elements? With most of the highest grossing films of all time being science fiction, it should be a given that folks would enjoy such a unique program – although televisions track record of sci-fi shows leaves something to be desired, I guess it’s understandable.

Could it be the heavily involved story arcs? With the massive popularity of shows like 24 and LOST with deep plots and interweaving story lines, it’s hard to fathom anyone not being able to follow the unique stories and situations the characters find themselves in.

Maybe it’s the characters? When so many people tune in to six thirty-something, whiny losers sitting around a coffee shop week after week, pissing and moaning about how much of a mess their life is, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would not find the depth of character growth on FARSCAPE entertaining and compelling.

I grew up with the best (and worst) that television had to offer. I was raised on programs dating back to the Golden Age with Jackie Gleason and Jack Benny, all the way through to the insipid birth of reality TV. I’ve watched brilliant and not-so-brilliant programs come and go. I’ve had my favorites, and I had those I detested – yet I gave all of them a chance. You never know when you might find a gem amongst the clutter.

But for a while there, my interest in TV began to wane. It seemed to be the same archetypes and scenarios with the same laugh tracks and the same clichés over and over again. And with the sudden popularity of reality TV (which has nothing to do with reality) I would find myself channel surfing robotically, bored with the blah and bland and the ever increasing inanity of commercials.

That is, until that night…

Working late, I arrived home in the middle of a snowstorm – pissed off and chilled to the bone, hungry and just wanting to relax. I eventually found myself in front of the TV, flipping through endless channels with no hope of anything grabbing my attention, much less holding it much past the next commercial break.

Suddenly, something caught my eye. Was that a bald, blue chick? I flipped back and realized it was the Sci-Fi channel (a channel known at the time for reruns of Quantum Leap and Mystery Science Theatre) and there before me was this beautifully statuesque, bald, blue woman with some of the most fine detailed makeup work I’d ever seen. Then, this strange beast of a man appeared who looked like a cross between a cat and a squid – and yet, his features brought to mind a warrior wearing a helmet. I was curious to say the least. Was this some late night Sci-Fi original movie? It had to be – the makeup and prosthetics were far more advanced than your typical “Human with funny forehead” aliens – i.e. Star Trek.

Whatever it was I was watching was almost over, and I watched until the end, when the credits rolled across the screen and I saw that this program was produced by the Jim Henson Company. I was awestruck! I am such a huge fan of the man Jim Henson. His imagination and creativity, both in front of and behind the camera, was simply the work of genius. As a child I studied puppetry and dreamed of becoming a Muppeteer. When he died was the only time I have ever cried over the death of a celebrity. By now, my curiosity was enough to kill a dozen cats. The title of the show finally flashed across the screen – FARSCAPE. Weird name for sure, but it sure made it easy to Google. What was this show all about? And when will it be on again? It wasn’t long before I had my answers –

The next Friday I set aside time to check out just what the Jim Henson Company had came up with. It turns out this episode was the season one finale. During the next hour I experience the most exciting and exhilarating television I ever had. As the end credits began to roll I found myself giving the show a standing ovation. I can’t really describe the feelings I had. But I thought that television had finally changed for the better. Not only had it raised the bar for what could be done on TV, but for me it became what I would hold all past and future programs up against as a measure of quality. They just don’t make shows like FARSCAPE. And they never will again.

Over the next few years I enjoyed this strange and irreverent show and its amazing cast of characters. Eventually I acquired the complete collection of the series on DVD, and began hosting viewing parties, slowly turning a few friends and family on to the wonders I had experienced. Some of the best fun I’ve had hanging with friends were during these viewing parties, which could occasionally be mistaken for Super Bowl parties with how rowdy we would get. The show affected my viewing habits so much that when the series was unceremoniously cancelled, I cancelled my cable, and have barely watched TV for the last decade. I still give programs a chance, and they continue to disappoint. Even the ones that have grabbed my attention still do not hold a candle to FARSCAPE, and I can’t even bring myself to watch these shows as they air – I have to pick up the sets on DVD and watch them in one sitting. I just can’t be bothered to make time for TV anymore.

So when I saw so many of my friends making such a big deal about the show LOST, which to me feels like one big jerk off session – sure it can be entertaining, but you’re still just getting jerked off. I want to scream to the world “No! There is something more satisfying and marvelous out there – if you’d just give it a chance!” I wish I could send copies of the series to every one of you so you could share the wonders I’ve seen. To share in something unique in the universe – and unique is always valuable.

So please – if you are willing to find time to watch a show like LOST, I’d like to ask for you to find just a little bit of time to enjoy this strange and irreverent, unique and groundbreaking show.

For more information – SPOILER FREE – check out “The Newbie’s Guide to FARSCSAPE” written by Mary Wood for FARSCAPE WORLD.

1 comment:

ClintJCL said...

Hmmm.. When you put it that way, maybe I should check out this "Farscape" show you speak of....