Production 9
Direction 9
Characterisation 8
Storyline 9
Acting 8
Fun/Sexy/Cool 8

A Pretty good opening episode full of nervous apprehension and action. As a pilot show, this had almost everything

Summary 8.5 awesome
Production 0
Direction 0
Characterisation 0
Storyline 0
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Farscape: S01E01: Premiere

Crichton looks out over a very lovely sunset at the Space shuttle that will take him and his state of the art spaceship into orbit. I guess he is contemplating life the universe and everything (or just wondering if he’s gonna die).

At the space centre, Commander Crichton chats with his buddy, DK. He tells him that he has a feeling that something BIG s going to happen, something life-changing and he sounds worried rather than excited. DK simply tells him to take it one step at a time.

They are joined by Crichton’s dad, a wizened old astronaut who once walked in space and did all the hero stuff of the early NASA Space Programme. He strikes me as a modest but still testosterone rich fly boy that is now a bit long in the tooth,I erm, talked to Pete Maxwell and the other at Control. They’re going to take real good care of you while you’re up there. I heard that you erm, you went AWOL from the Rat Cage this morning. Man, in my day, if I’d ever broken quarantine like that they’d erm… Son you got rattlers in your stomach?

They continued chatting but Crichton didn’t seem too impressed with his fathers pep-talk as they headed for the launch pad.

Crichton told his father, “I’m not your sort of hero dad.He sounded like one of those little precocious types that have lived in the shadow of their parents glory for too long and want desperately to prove themselves. In Crichton’s case, not by simply walking in space, but to prove one of his own theories – no less than shooting his little spacecraft in close orbit, skimming the atmosphere in the hope of reaching HUGE speeds. Such an exercise would help the future missions to travel to other planets, even nearby stars.

Crichton is launched into space, after disengaging from the shuttle he begins the first maneuver. As he approaches maximum escape velocity we see one of the NASA officers concern (DK no less) when, as he looks at his operations console, he identifies an “electro magnetic wave” directly in front of Crichton’s path.

Crichton is being buffeted as his little ship reaches maximum speed and he has difficulty hearing all the all flapping about going on below. DK tries to tell Crichton to abort the mission, but with only a second or two away from maximum speed, Crichton enters the electromagnetic wave.

In a great show of graphics and cool special effects Crichton travels (screaming) through a sort of worm hole (large blue swirly thing) for a few seconds, before being ejected into the calmness of space. Crichton finds that he is not only out of contact with his buddy and family at NASA, but that there is no Earth. He is surrounded by a large number of tumbling asteroids.

Just as he begins to take this in there is a whoosh as two spaceships (almost certainly foreign 🙂 wiz past. Crichton quickly learns that he is a long way from home and has been thrust into a pitch battle between the Peacekeepers and a large but sleek Leviathan spaceship called Moya. To make things worse, his ship is clipped by one of the fighters. The fighter crashes after the encounter and Crichton is nudged towards the Leviathan.

Crichton rather doggedly continues to call the Space Centre (but he doesn’t ask for help) before noticing that he is being pulled towards the large spaceship. once in the docking bay, he notices two small robots in front of his ship. He also notices that a small fire has broken out in his cockpit and escapes to find two rather comical little robots looking at him. one of them fires at him. I don’t think it was harmful, just a warning shot to usher Crichton in the direction of the bridge.

On the bridge, Crichton is greeted with the weirdest bunch of misfits you ever saw. Worse still they all looked angry. They are desperately trying to fend off the attack from the Peacekeepers and gradually turn to look at Crichton. In a gesture of goodwill and etiquette, Crichton nervously smiles and says, “Hi. My name is John, John Cri…..

The crew were clearly unimpressed by Crichton’s introduction and one of them shaped like a cross between an elephant and a hairy dog strides over, grabs Crichton by the neck and lifts him into the air. The big hairy dude is called D’Argo and he commands Crichton to … erm…. Well we can’t tell because he is speaking in big hairy dog language. one of the little robots injects something into Crichton’sdangling ankles….

The poor sod! Can you imagine what you would feel like in such a situation. You are suddenly in a strange part of the galaxy in a ship that is under attack by loads of fighting spaceships whooshing around all over the place. Your companions look like waxwork rejects and the biggest one is holding you off the ground by your neck barking at you angrily while some little robot injects your ankle with some strange substance.

Things get mildly better (but not much) when Crichton gradually finds that he can understand what the crewmembers are saying. The injection seemed to help him translate their language. D’Argo asks Crichton again what “What type of ship is it.

The elegant blue lady (called Zhaan) mentions that they have never seen that technology and she wants to know if it s something they can use to escape. Crichton can only look at D’Argo with a sort of glazed expression. D’Argo casts him aside and strides over to a console where he orders the Pilot of the ship to give him maneuverability.

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In the following exchanges, we learn that the Leviathan they are attempting to escape in, is a prison ship with three prisoners aboard (Zhaan, D’Argo and Rygel). The Leviathan belongs to the Peacekeepers and is semi-organic. It is controlled by a Pilot which is somehow attached to the ship – permanently, and a collar which forces the Leviathan to do exactly as the Peacekeepers want. It is the collar that D’Argo and Zhaan are trying to disable. once they have done this, the ship will be under their control.

Crichton is only getting in the way, and D’Argo pushes him aside as he heads for another console and begins pulling out wires. As Crichton lies crumpled on the ground, Another crewmember, Rygel, hovers over and sounding like a dangerous weasel, tells him not to worry, “I’ll protect you. You look after me now and I’ll look after you later.

And it was at this point that I started to get interested. Within the first few minutes we are troubled by the whole story, not just because of Crichton’s predicament, but because the characters interact so badly with each other. This wasn’t going to be a show of ‘gung-ho’ macho rubbish. It wasn’t going to be a weak story of good guys fighting a bunch of evil guys. It was going to be a story where the lines of acceptability (in terms of the usual formula TV sci fi crap that we been forced to put up with over the years), would be considerably muddied.

Suddenly D’Argo manages to pull out the right combination of wires to disable the control collar. We see large structures being ejected from the ships hull and D’Argo commands the Pilot to prepare Moya (the name of the Leviathan) for immediate starburst. It is not possible for a Leviathan Transport ship to stay and fight since it has no weapons. It’s only defensive maneuver is it’s ability to starburst (a sort of short jump in and out of hyperspace).

Moya ‘Star Jumps’ and the crew are safe, for now.

Moya is big, I mean REALLY big, but the Peacekeeper Command Ship is simply monstrous. We see it’s Captain (called Crais) being briefed by a very efficient (and slightly worried) looking lieutenant. She tells him that Moya has managed to escape, she also tells him that one of the fighters that crashed was piloted by Crais’s brother.

He checks to see how he died and resolves that his brothers death was Crichton’s fault and to find and destroy the unfortunate Earth dude. Meanwhile, one of the peacekeeper ‘prowler’s’ was sucked along with Moya and is tumbling on behind.

On Moya, the unfortunate Crichton finds out just how unfortunate he really is. on the bridge, Zhaan looks towards Crichton and says, “At least WE are safe.Rygel, spits on Crichton (? – the spittle wasn’t erm… normal spittle either, it was all gooey, green, thick and there was a lot of it). Crichton is appalled and complains, “What is wrong with you people?{50Kb WAV File} But as he turns to face Rygel, D’Argo lashes out with what looks like a six foot tongue and hits Crichton in the back of the neck. Crichton is rendered unconscious.

After Crichton is taken to a cell, Zhaan approaches D’Argo on the Bridge, “I am Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan (or something like that), and you?Apparently they had not been properly introduced (what with all the spitting and tongue slapping and stuff).
Ka D’Argo.” Replies D’Argo looking a little embarrassed. He looks away before adding, “You are Delvian?
Zhaan tells him that she is a priest. However rather than look encouraged by this he is even more apprehensive, “I have heard of your kinds practices, your …. Appetites. I have heard of something known as the erm… Fourth Sensation.
Zhaan elegantly slithers towards D’Argo telling him that she has experienced this – but not lately. D’Argo tries to change the subject (aww sweet) and asks why she was a prisoner.
Zhaan tells him that on her homeworld, even among her own kind, “…even among my kind I was something of an anarchist“. In fact she was the leading anarchist. D’Argo tells her that he was imprisoned because he killed a fellow soldier – his commanding officer. D’Argo tells her that his is 30 cycles old (I guess cycles are years) and that he is a Luxan Warrior who has fought in two battle campaigns.

Only two?” replies Zhaan smiling. She goes on to tell D’Argo that she knows Peacekeeper coding because she spent three cycles on a maximum labour planet (?) working with Peacekeepers (apparently she was working on something high-fluting technology called a Cellar Interface thingy or something?!?! Why the hell can’t they just say ‘sub-space anomaly’ like everyone else?). D’Argo tells her that he was on the same planet, working in the notoriously deadly mines. Zhaan is surprised that he is still alive to tell the story. They both resolve to help each other become free.

Crichton awakes in a cell and says to himself that he hopes this is all a bad dream. But instead, he finds himself naked and being spied upon by the two little robots and Rygel. The shot ugly dude introduces himself, “I am Rygel the 16th, Dominar to over 600 billion people.. and I don’t need to talk to you!” But Crichton is more concerned with finding his clothes. Rygel goes on to explain that he was a prisoner because his throne was stolen from him by his brother Bishan, who stole it from him while he slept. (You would think that he ruler of a nation of 600 billion people would be more careful!). A mistake I will soon be correcting.” He adds.

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Crichton finds his clothes and is told that Crichton was injected with translator microbes (normally injected into people when they are very young. He is then told that he is in prison because they can no longer rust Crichton than they can trust ‘that’ pointing to a soldier dressed in black.

The soldier takes off her helmet and Crichton smiles slightly as he goes over to introduce himself. Unfortunately this part of the Galaxy seems to have a different method of introduction. She grabs his hand and swings him head first into the wall. Then she kicks him and sits on him, “What is your rank and regiment and why are you out of uniform. Rank and regiment NOW!”  Crichton doesn’t answer.

Officer Aeryn Sun, Special Peacekeeper commando, Ikarian Company, Plyzar Regiment. (My apologies to the lovely people from Ikar and the Plyzar Regiment for the misspelling). Identify yourself.” She commands. Crichton tells her that he is a scientist and not part of the military.

At this point Crichton, Aeryn and Rygel are joined by Zhaan and D’Argo. Crichton tries to tell Zhaan that he is human but Zhaan replies that she already knows he is not a peacekeeper after an analysis of his blood. As Crichton goes on to explain how he got there (or at least as best he can), Zhaan stops him and tells him that it is time to eat.

Crichton looks at them worriedly. “….. Eat what?” He asks. D’Argo smiles.

Back on the evil baddies ship (…erm.. the Peacekeeper command ship), Crais exclaims that whoever killed his brother will pay dearly. The lovely nervous Lieutenant tells him that the tech’s have managed to get a picture of the pilot of the ship that collided with his brother (Crichton).

He’s Sebacean!” She says surprised. Crais orders the ship to follow the Leviathan to the protests of his second in command.

On Moya D’Argo is explaining to Crichton that the reason he is handcuffed is that although they know he is not a Peacekeeper, they don’t know where his loyalties lie. He explains to Crichton as they head for the control room, that Moya is a Leviathan – a bio-mechanoid, a living ship!

In the Control Room, Aeryn Sun is eating Food cubes and D’Argo begins an argument with Pilot about the damage he did to Moya when he managed to release the Restraining Collar. The ship cannot go faster than warp 2 (or whatever the speed calculation is).

We need iriscentant fluid.” Implores Pilot.

Suddenly Rygel lets out a rather loud example of Hynerian flatulence. “Rygel?” exclaims Zhaan.
What just happened?” asks Crichton noticing that the crew of Moya had all started speaking like Donald Duck.
It’s a perfectly natural bodily function. And it’s odorless.” Replies Rygel embarrassed.
So your loyal subjects tell you.” Squeeks D’Argo.
You fart helium!?” Asks Crichton surprised (again)
Sometimes, when I’m nervous. Or angry!” Explains Rygel (definitely on the defensive).

A sort of pregnant pause is interrupted by Pilot, “Attention. I thought you’d like to know, we are entering planetary orbit.

Thank you Pilot.” Says Zhaan appreciative of the change in conversation. Zhaan, D’Argo and Rygel go down to the planets surface after first locking up Aeryn and Crichton.

In the market place we see a very confident Rygel bartering with the weirdest and most implausible looking creature I’ve ever seen. I mean this dude (I assume that it was a dude) was made of teeth!You know you only expose your ignorance if you deny knowledge of the Hynerian stone….. Twenty barrels of fluid! There was a time when you would have been disemboweled with a dull Laxian spade for half such an insult!

The toothy alien hisses, “Thirty five?

Crichton and Aeryn manage to escape from the cell on Moya by using a fork that was smuggled in by Crichton (yeah right! You know, why is it that even in the best sci fi stories, people escape from a cell with a hair grip or a bloody fork! It’s sci-fi for gods sake!

They head for Aeryn’s ship (called a Prowler) and once launched, Aeryn sends out a message to Crais’s ship.

Pilot had been monitoring the situation and reports to D’Argo on the planets surface. He collects Rygel from the barter session with the Dentists nightmare and Zhaan and Rygel return to Moya on the transport pod.

D’Argo on the other hand stays behind to re-capture Aeryn and Crichton when they land (he wants them as insurance in case the approaching Crais gets nasty).

But when D’Argo catches up to Aeryn and Crichton, Crais and his men (and the sexy, nervous lieutenant) are almost on top of them. They all stand facing each other. D’Argo attempts to fight but is quickly subdued despite a brave attempt to whip the soldiers with his tongue (I can’t believe I just wrote that).

Aeryn acknowledges her Captain, “Captain Crais.” She says.
Crais walks past her and confronts Crichton. “Name?” He commands.
It’s erm, John Crichton.” Says erm… Crichton
And where are you from, John Crichton?
Sir,” ads Aeryn Sun, “he claims to be a human from a planet called Erp but he’s shown himself to be….
To be what Officer Sun? A clever impostor?” Interrupts Crais. “An accomplice to a ship full of escaping prisoners? My brother’s murderer?
Your brother’s what!?” protests Crichton.
You charged my brother’s Prowler in that white death pod of yours.” Accuses Crais.
Wait a minute. You mean that near miss I had the first second I got here, that was an accident.
It was no near miss for my brother.” Says Crais. “A human? It will require some study. I will personally enjoy pulling you apart to see what you are made of.
Wait.” Says Aeryn trying to stop Crais’s men from cuffing Crichton
Yes Officer Sun? You know something of this….alien?” Inquires Crais.
Only that I have spent some time with him sir, and I believe him when he says that what happened to your brother was an accident. I don’t believe that he is brave enough or intelligent enough to attack one of our Prowlers intentionally.
Exactly how much time have you spent with this human?” Asks Crais raising an eyebrow.
Not a lot. Not much at all.” Says Crichton sensing that the direction of Crais’s question would be bad for Aeryn’s health.
Because as you know, Peacekeeper High Command has very clear parameters regarding contact with unclassified alien life-forms. You may have very well exceeded those parameters Officer Sun.” He ads
No…sir” She says quietly.
…you may be irreversibly contaminated.” Concludes Crais
No. Sir!” she repeats

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Crais orders that the prisoners (D’Argo, Crichton and Aeryn) are taken away while he and the rest of his men try to locate the others.
Warrior to warrior, I vow, one day I will kill you!” Spits D’Argo to Crais as he is taken away.

However, seemingly within minutes, D’Argo and Crichton manage to fool the guards. And yet, they have a dilemma, non of them trust each other and they are each reluctant to undo each others handcuffs. It is particularly difficult for D’Argo to trust in Aeryn but Crichton insists.

No! I will not come with you!” says Aeryn surprising Crichton and D’Argo, “It is my duty, my breeding since birth, it’s what I am.
You can be more.” Insists Crichton. They escape and return to Moya

Unfortunately for them, Crais is hot on their trail and Moya doesn’t have the energy to Starburst. After much arguing and panicking, Crichton has an idea to steer Moya across the top of the planet in the same way his ship achieved such high speeds during his experiment on earth. With Aeryn’s help in steering the Leviathan manages to pick up speed and, after skimming the top of the planets atmosphere, speed up sufficiently to escape orbit and Crais’s command ship.

Zhaan thanks Crichton, Aeryn and John. We all breath a collective sigh of relief as things seem to settle down. Until that is, D’Argo confronts Crichton in the corridor and presses point of him blade to John’s throat. “I have spent eight degrading cycles on board this ship and now I’m finally liberated.

Congratulations.” Says Crichton sarcastically.
I don’t know who you are, where you’re from or what you want. But if you threaten my freedom, I’ll kill you.” Then D’Argo walks off.

To make things worse, Aeryn tells him that Crais will not stop hunting them until the death of his brother is avenged. Crichton consoles himself by fixing up one of the broken DRD’s. He turns on his Dictaphone, “Hey, dad, it worked. DK’s and my theory, it actually worked. Sort of. Look, I know this is crazy, I mean you’re never going to get this message, but I just… wanted to let you know that I’m alive…… Don’t know where I am. Technically, I don’t know how I got here but I’m not going to stop trying to get home.

Then Rygel appears and arrogantly takes away his Dictaphone. “Hey! What
the hell are you doing!?” Asks an indignant Crichton.
Your equipment may be worth something in trade.” Says Rygel
My equipment. It’s mine.
Are you a sound sleeper?” Ads Rygel smiling as he hovers away on his personal hover buggy thingy.

Crichton continues his recording, “And there’s life out here Dad. Weird, amazing…psychotic life. And uh, in Technicolor. Hey Dad, you know those rattlers in the stomach we talked about? Well I got ‘em now.

And there the show ends. A Pretty good opening episode full of nervous apprehension and action. As a pilot show, this had almost everything. I was a little worried about the plausibility of some of the creatures encountered, but what the hell, it’s probably this fact that will make it cult viewing in the future.

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This episode review is ©2000 – 2019, Tony Fawl
and not for reproduction without the authors express permission

The FARSCAPE names, characters and everything else associated with the series are the property of The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Entertainment, Nine Network, and in association with The Sci-Fi Channel and the BBC.

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