Farscape: The Peacekeepers Wars
There are times when a television series exhibits the qualities of great writing, excellent casting and a storyline that is unique and imaginative, something fans love. When this rare event occurs there are many studio executives know only one course of action to take, cancel the series immediately. It is even a greater shame when the studios pull the plug on a series after the season cliff-hanger has been aired. Fans that have invested a lot in the show are left with many unanswered questions. Such was the case with the very popular cult hit Farscape. It was one of the better series on the Sci-Fi channel and right after the forth season finale the series was not renewed. For once the fans revolted, letter campaigns where started, phone calls made en masse, the fans that have helped the Sci-Fi channel become one of the most popular on basic cable fought back. The result was a four hour mini-series Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars. The mini-series picks up the pieces, quite literally, a brief time after the above mentioned cliff hanger. Earth astronaut John Crichton (Ben Browder) and his alien future wife Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black) had been crystallized and blown to bits. The pieces have been recovered from the bottom of a sea and reconstituted. Now back among the living the pair is told by friends D'Argo (Anthony Simcoe) and Chiana (Gigi Edgley) that a lot has transpired in the two months they were dead. For one there is now an intergalactic war going on between the benevolent Peacekeepers and their racial foes the nefarious Scarrans. Locked away in the brain of Crichton is the secret of a technology to harness wormholes. If that is not enough Aeryn insist that she was pregnant but the baby is no longer in place. It seems that another alien Rygel (voiced by Jonathan Hardy) brought the crystals up from the ocean in his stomach and now he is pregnant. All the themes and complex story lines of the last four years collide in this series to the delight of Farscape fans everywhere.
The series itself did not introduce much that was original. Science fiction fans have encounter such things as living ships (check out Anne McCaffrey’s Ship that Sang or even another Sci-Fi Channel show Lexx), black leather clad villains or over sexed female aliens, but Farscape took these familiar devices and gave novel twists to them. The ultimate battle between good and evil has been done in almost every genre imaginable but here there is a touch of class and humor that will hold your interest. That is if you are a true fan. This is not really a suitable way to be introduced to the series. Too much depends on what occurred in the last four years for the beginner to piece together from what is presented here. That is not necessarily a bad thing, after all this mini-series was in response to the public out cry of those die hard fans. There are just too many characters with pre-existing back stories and complex relationships for a newbie to just drop into the mix at this point.
While most of the cast are seasoned veterans there is no doubt that Farscape will follow them for the rest of their careers. In this case it’s not so much that is there most notable exposure, which to date it is, it is the commitment to providing excellent performances they each give. Ben Browder plays Crichton as almost a homage to the Buck Rogers of old, a man’s man that is tossed into an alien environment, force to survive. He is the new breed of rugged yet sensitive hero, capable of action and romance. Claudia Black is the natural extension of Sigourney Weaver’s Rippley in the Alien saga. She is tough and always ready for a fight when necessary yet every inch a woman. Wayne Pygram as the half Peacekeeper, half Scarran Scorpius has fantastic stage presence. He is commanding yet can add the right touch of comic relief to keep the plot perfectly balanced. One of the most popular characters is Chiana as portrayed by Gigi Edgley. With her almost innocent face and seductive gray body she is more than eye candy, she can really act.
The series is the product of the fertile imagination of Rockne S. O'Bannon. He is the go to man for intelligent science fiction. Among his previous work were episodes of the new Twilight Zone and the brilliantly executed Alien Nation, both the original movie and the television series. He has a knack of humanizing the aliens and placing the humans in alien situations. O'Bannon has the talent of great pacing. He tells his stories gradually, exposition comes only when the audience absolutely needs to know something, he never forces the facts that make up the worlds he creates. He doesn’t pander to the lowest common denominator. He expects his audience to be able to reason, pay attention and appreciate a good story. The Peacekeeper War was directed by Brian Henson, son of the famous muppet creator Jim Henson. Henson has inherited his father’s sense of wonder and magic. He treats the many puppet characters as real people, directing them as he would any other actor. Part of what makes this series work is the integration of alien muppets filling out the cast. Together O’Bannon and Henson create a world that we want to believe in. Sure, puppets are not the most realistic way to present a character but the production is of such high quality that we don’t care.
Lion’s Gate knows how to treat a DVD release. The mastering of this mini-series is above its peers in almost every respect. The anamorphic 1.85:1 video is crisp, the color palette realistic throughout the feature, no edge effects or break up of the blacks. Every detail of the imaginative sets is evident. The audio is presented in a dynamic Dolby 5.1. The space battles boom through all speakers, the rear speakers reverberating and the sub woofer shaking the room. The best of the extras is the half hour long making of featurette. The cast and crew are notably happy to be back in this world. There is also an artwork gallery, storyboards and special gallery of the space ships used in the series. For the fans this is a must have, for the rest do yourself a favor and pick up the DVDs of the four seasons and top it off with Peacekeepers.