Dec 072009

Farscape probably wins my award for the best science fiction series I’ve seen in the last couple decades. It doesn’t win this because its special effects are particular greater than any other show out there (sometimes they’re decidedly average), or because its actors are unusually talented (though they have some hefty chops). It’s because the stories and environment the show presented were so full freakin’ throttle. Farscape rarely bothered to slow down and explain itself. The premise flew up your nose at light speed, genuinely alien aliens landed on your face, and it never, ever turned a soft edge towards you on impact when it could smack you with something hard. As a GM, Farscape taught me how to go for the pain and for the fun at the same time, and how to get everyone’s pulse racing right out the gate and never let up. If you hear Rob talk about how I run a game, Farscape is how. If you leave the other side of a Don’t Rest Your Head game panting and frantic and exhausted and satisfied, it’s because I wrote that game to feel like I GM it, and I GM games so they feel like Farscape did.


The entire flippin’ series is on sale at Amazon right now for less than $60, which is about 40% of the regular price. You should maybe really urgently buy it, or get it for someone this Christmas.


  8 Responses to “Farscape Sale”

  1. Dang good price! I am also a huge fan of Farscape. Good post.

  2. I almost bought it last month, at $100. I couldn’t resist when I saw it at $58 last week. BTW, the MSRP is actually $150, so even Amazon’s “regular” price is a good deal for 88 episodes of an excellent series.

  3. I have the entire series in my backpack next to me right now. Farscape is my muse, and since I got the discs 4 years ago it’s been the only series that I’ve watched regularly each year. Farscape taught me how to make villains who could survive multiple encounters with player-characters without being superhuman. It taught me how the typical disfunctional group of PC’s can work together without being forced-to. It taught me that the best villains are the ones that you can sympathize with even as they’re trying to eat your brain.

    Farscape set things up so that the core group was important to the setting and the story while still maintaining the feel that they were small beings in a big universe. But the best parts of farscape were when the characters succeeded. Occasionally they would succeed beyond their wildest dreams but it never broke the format or the story. It was just good storytelling.

  4. It’s amazing to think it’s been 10 years since the first season came out.

    • I always felt justified in my suspicion of Australians that in the distant reaches of space, they were the dominant bad-guy race.

      Also, look! Twin Cam.

  5. I’ve actually just started watching Farscape. I think I’m up to the season 1 finale.

    I have to confess that I am merely “meh.” I can see why some people are really fanatic about it. But, I can also see why it never got wide appeal. Especially because you almost have to watch it straight through to really understand several of the plot threads. When it was actually on TV, I only caught occasional episodes, and was generally lost. I think it was ahead of its time for the kind of serial drama that Whedon and Abrams have now made ubiquitous.

    The one thing about the show I do like, especially from an RPG standpoint, is that the protagonists are not stereotypical good guys. They are often selfish, occasionally ruthless, and prone to temper tantrums and irrational behavior. Much closer to Firefly than to Star Trek. And, yet, as Helmsman pointed out, they manage to work together.

    I’m also with you on the “really alien aliens” thing. Even the Sebaceans manage to avoid being “humans with funny foreheads.” I wish I could put my finger on what it is about the writing that maintains that “otherness” without pointing at it.

    • Farscape is, admittedly, an uneven show — and no season’s more uneven than the first one. That said, the investment over time really pays off as you move into the later seasons. I’d encourage you to stick with it. I can’t guarantee that you’ll get past the “meh”, only that there are many good (for me) episodes in the seasons past the first one.

      You’re absolutely right about the protagonists being atypical. They’re escaped prisoners; they didn’t choose each other, they were thrown together. That makes things pretty delicious.

      I think the alien aliens thing happens in great part because the show never (or rarely) stops to explain itself. It’s not just that many episodes start in media res — it’s that the aliens simply are plainly bizarre without any attempt to explain the intricacies or reasoning for it. I think that lends itself to giving the viewer a little bit of culture shock, in a positive way.

    • Way back when, my then-girlfriend-now-wife borrowed the series from some friends because I had raved about how wonderful the show was.

      She was underwhelmed by season one–but as soon as she saw the season finale, she called me–and raved about how wonderful it was. From that point on, she loved it.

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