Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Farscape Rewatch Review #0

Now I'm going to start something.

I've been meaning for a long time to go back and re-watch my favorite sci-fi series (indeed, my favorite TV series) of all time—Farscape—front to back, not skipping any episodes.  Many a time, I've binged my way through the whole series as quickly as possible.  Sometimes I skip the slower episodes, if they're not hitting me; although, I do notice that if I don't skip any episodes, I still enjoy watching the series' poorer offerings.  But never have I slowly watched my way through it, one episode at a time, thinking critically, analyzing.  Others have, but I haven't taken a crack at it yet.  I want to, and hopefully I'll (a) have the time and (b) manage to use this as an excuse to actually write something interesting.

But first.

I always start of a Farsacpe re-watch these days by first watching the Stargate SG-1 episode "1969".  Call it a neurotic little quirk if you want, but I find that it makes a truly marvelous segue into the series.  Especially if (like myself) you were a Stargate fan first, and in some little headcanon-dominated corner of your mind, you're determined to imagine these two wildly different stories still somehow taking place in the same universe (even though they really can't, strictly speaking).

"1969" is the second-to-last episode of the second season of Stargate SG-1.  It first aired on March 5th, 1999.  Meanwhile, Farscape's first episode, "Premiere", aired a mere two weeks later, March 19th, 1999.  What happens in these two episodes?

In "1969", the classic team, SG-1 (Dr. Jackson, Col. O'Neill, Capt. Carter, and Teal'c), gears up for a routine mission through the stargate.  Carter has to make some adjustments to the dialing program, though, because their wormhole is going to take them a little close to the Sun—during a time of the year when solar flare activity is higher than normal.  Well, as you might expect, a flare goes off just as they dial their outgoing wormhole, and this winds up sling-shotting them right back through Earth's stargate, but thirty years in the past.  And so our heroes have to navigate the year 1969, not reveal anything about their identities or the future, find the stargate, and dial the same address during a solar flare in order to get back to their own time.

A pretty ordinary sci-fi plot, and not a particularly great episode of SG-1, although it's of course groovy to see everyone dressed like hippies (especially Teal'c), to say nothing to Daniel doing his Dieter impression (posing as a German national when he goes to meet Catherine Langford, thereby kicking off in closed-timelike-loop fashion the events of the original Stargate movie, where Catherine is the one who will eventually recruit Daniel onto the team that first figures out how to make the gate work).

Now consider "Premiere", in which astronaut and cosmologist John Crichton will pilot a craft of his own design (the Farscape module) in order to test a theory—if he flies a close orbit that just skims the upper atmosphere, can he overcome atmospheric friction and still get enough of a boost from the gravity slingshot to reach unheard-of speeds and maybe reach another planet in the solar system faster than just rocket-power would allow?  A baby-step towards interplanetary exploration, in other words.

But what happens is, hot dog, a solar flare strikes just as Crichton is executing the maneuver, and the weird interplay of gravitational and electromagnetic forces opens a wormhole and sends Crichton to far side of the galaxy.

Think about that for a moment, from a fannish, crossover-writing perspective.  (Thanks to Marvel movies, this is the big thing to do, these days, in nerdish fandom.)

It could've been SG-1's fault.  It could've been the same flare, even the same damned wormhole.

Some alternate-universe version of Sam Carter could very well be unwittingly responsible for John Crichton's subsequent four years of torture, misery, trauma, heroism, high adventure, and true love.  At least, I like to think so, anyway.

This is the kind of thing that inspires epic-level fanfiction (and believe me, I'll get right on that someday, when I have time for truly self-indulgent pursuits).  But in the meanwhile, I'm going to content myself with just watching through all four seasons of Farscape at a nice, leisurely pace and reviewing each episode as I watch it.  (I guess I'm kind of bored talking about gaming these days—I seem to have everything pretty much well in hand and where I want it with Risus.)  So, next time, Farscape season one, episode one: "Premiere".

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