Farscape: Through the Eye of the Needle   Rewatch 
July 3, 2015 4:14 PM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

Present day human John Crichton is unexpectedly sucked through a wormhole and flung to "...some distant part of the universe on a ship, a living ship, full of strange alien life forms", where he becomes trapped with a group of escaped prisoners after he accidentally kills one of the local law enforcements. [via]
posted by [insert clever name here] (24 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
We're watching episodes Fridays and Tuesdays. Netflix has the wrong order, we're doing it in the air order. Sorry for the thin post, I won't have a chance to watch until later tonight and I wanted to get this up for everyone else. The fanfare talk thread.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 4:17 PM on July 3, 2015

I recently viewed all of the episodes to follow along with the AV Club's rewatch (full season here, episode one here), so I don't intend on watching along with every episode, but I will be looking forward to reading the comments posted here. And maybe popping in with my own if I come up with something to say.

I do envy those of you who haven't seen this yet and who are meeting John and the crew of Moya for the first time. Enjoy the ride. It will be bumpy, with lots of unexpected corners, but oh so worth it.
posted by sardonyx at 5:04 PM on July 3, 2015

Random thoughts! I just watched this pilot and the first few episodes of The X-Files and guys, the sound on 90s shows was so much better! I watch a lot of tv on my laptop and frequently have to jack the sound way up on current shows, but both of these were sharp and nicely mixed.

I was also musing that space-based sci-fi on TV almost always meant aliens, up through Farscape, until Battlestar Galactica and Firefly. I remember those shows intentionally moving away from make-up and prosthetics which were seen as dated and uncool. It would've been difficult at the time to top Farscape, anyway.

It's a good pilot, well-paced, holds up well. I never had the bad reaction to the puppets that seemed to be a stumbling block for people back in the day, and I continue to admire the alien make-up, especially all the lovely layers on Zhaan. The alien that Rygel negotiates with on the trade planet was pretty creaky and unconvincing, though.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:20 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh awesome! I missed that this was coming, but any excuse to watch Moya and her crew again is fine by me. I was surprised at how well the pilot held up. I remember not being particularly impressed at the time, and only continued watching because my ex husband was into it. It's totally worth sticking with it for a while even if it didn't grab you off the bat. Such a great show.
posted by gemmy at 7:50 PM on July 3, 2015

posted by humans are superior! at 9:57 PM on July 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Oh man, I have such fondness for this show! Love love loved it, even through its ups and downs.

One thing that really save some of the weaker episodes was listenign to the cast and crew commentary; they are merciless about "Jeremiah Crichton" and I found that so honest and hilarious and endearing.

As for the pilot: John using a pencil on the floor to figure out the formula for the slingshot manuever was when I fell in love with the show.
posted by TwoStride at 9:32 AM on July 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

Even at the slow points there's still Rygel.

"You look after me now and I'll look after you later."

i think that little frog dude just made a pass at that astronaut
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:33 AM on July 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

That line makes a lot more sense when you consider the crew as being just escaped prisoners. Rygel is operating with a prison mindset, so to speak, but that aspect of it kind of quickly vanishes as the first season progresses.

One of the moments I love about the pilot is the initial sense of "WHAT THE HELL" that John experiences when he finds his way to the bridge and everyone is talking in an alien language, everything's bizarre, and out of any frame of understanding. Even after John gets the translation injection, he remains our grounded center for the rest of the show. (I can't wait for the reference to the great warrior Yoda...)

One weird quip. It bothers me that they couldn't just use NASA. IASA? WHAT IS THAT? ARGH. STUPID NASA FOR NEEDING SCRIPT APPROVALS.
posted by Atreides at 9:44 AM on July 4, 2015 [3 favorites]

There are some great character establishing moments in the pilot. You get a feel for just about everyone, and also that this show is so not Star Trek. John is not your average 'all-American hero', the aliens are not your average aliens, and it's going to be a real fish out of water ride for everyone, including the audience. The pilot really demonstrates how vulnerable John is, how dependent he is in the beginning on the tolerance of total strangers, and that he's smart and good-hearted. Crichton is probably my favourite SF hero aside from the Doctor.
posted by along came the crocodile at 1:55 PM on July 4, 2015 [5 favorites]

I enjoyed this, though I still have to wonder what happened to the space program, such that John Chrichton is their "best and brightest".
posted by happyroach at 3:08 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

One thing that always bothered me is that the motivation for Crais' revenge seemed so thin. It was obvious even in the video of the incident they viewed on the command carrier that Crichton's Module was not a warship and that it was an accidental collision.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:57 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

I still love this show SO MUCH. I am honestly still bummed that TV SF has mostly abandoned alien-looking aliens; having non-humanoid characters, even when the puppets weren't perfect, was one of my favorite things about it. And frankly the puppets were pretty damn good-- I often forget that Rygel and Pilot weren't played by real actors.
posted by nonasuch at 5:09 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

One thing that always bothered me is that the motivation for Crais' revenge seemed so thin. It was obvious even in the video of the incident they viewed on the command carrier that Crichton's Module was not a warship and that it was an accidental collision.

The backstory of Crais reveals he and his brother are essentially provincials, outsiders who claw their way into the highest Peacekeeper ranks, and then his brother is killed in a pointless accident with this lost, inferior human flying the equivalent of a Wright flyer. And Peacekeepers are basically sociopaths to begin with.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:09 PM on July 5, 2015 [3 favorites]

Yes, but do you think Crais acts like he's just making an excuse for whatever he wanted to do anyway? I know he's described as "insane" but to me he doesn't actually act insane except in the first half of this episode..
posted by ob1quixote at 5:59 PM on July 5, 2015

I just rewatched this with someone else on their first watch. I forgot how much of the like the best of the series this is for a pilot, especially given how long it takes the first season to really get going. Personally, my favorite moment is probably Crichton screaming "What is wrong with you people!" in command right before D'argo tongue slaps him, closely followed by "You can be more", which is probably the thesis statement for the whole show.

I also really like the way everyone is pretty much a jerk to Crichton in the last scene, telling him to look out for everyone else, given that he saved them all around the commerce planet.
posted by hobgadling at 6:04 PM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

The Crais vendetta also always bothered me. I think it can best be attributed to the fact, accidental or not, John is responsible for the death of his brother. That's enough in a world where his brother was pretty much the only thing Crais had beyond his job.

Also, kudos, for making a group called 'The Peacekeepers," the bad guys. When I first started learning about the show, this one tidbit completely took me back.
posted by Atreides at 6:28 PM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

Crais totally loses his shit over the death of his brother, but I think there's also an implication that the Peacekeepers are as interested in the wormhole technology as the Zhaan and D'Argo were on Moya. I'll have to watch with an eye towards that, but Crais might also figure he can get huge status points if he brings new tech to the Peacekeeper bigwigs.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:57 PM on July 6, 2015

Oh, yay! I loved this show possibly more than any show before or since. It's so great: funny and tragic and brutally true to its characters, for the most part.

I'll drop a few fannish resources here.

Exodus from Genesis provides episode transcripts into season 4, where it then peters out.

The Leviathan archive is an all-inclusive fic archive for Farscape.

Farscapeworld has episode guides and commentary.

The Snurcher's Guide (a play on the Lurker's Guide to B5) has credits, synopses, transcripts, etc.

Here is an episode-appropriate (spoiler-safe) fic rec: Outcast by Thuvia Ptarth. And, for the hell of it, two of mine: Crais, at the beginning. And Rygel, at the beginning.

More fic recommendations can be found at Bright Shiny Objects (some of the links may be dead now, sadly), Polyamorous Recs (the name does not refer to the content of the fic, just to the reccers' multifannishness), and the Crack Van for Farscape. Again, no promises about whether a given link is live. Anyone who hasn't seen the show should tread carefully, though, to avoid spoilers.
posted by suelac at 10:51 PM on July 6, 2015 [5 favorites]

Oh yay, Farscape!

Rewatching the entire first season is a little odd for me, because I love everyone SO DAMN MUCH, including Crais, and it's odd to see them as the flatter characters they were early on.
posted by a hat out of hell at 6:27 AM on July 7, 2015

"I still love this show SO MUCH. I am honestly still bummed that TV SF has mostly abandoned alien-looking aliens; having non-humanoid characters, even when the puppets weren't perfect, was one of my favorite things about it."

I can't agree more. This is in my top five SF/Fantastical tv shows of all time. And I really think that even though I have some reservations about it, this might just be my favorite space SF show. I'm hesitant to place it above DS9 or my sentimental favorite TOS or the (partly) great BSG (ver. 2), but I think that I might be okay with that judgment because it really was a very good show and it was also a show you could also really love, as in having a great deal of affection for it and the characters.

But, yeah, it will always have enormous credibility for me for the very reason that some other people don't like it -- the puppet aliens. I mean, sure, those are (Henson) puppets and even though they are very, very good, they are still noticeably puppets. But that's more than made up for me by the fact that they're not those stupid ubiquitous forehead bump humanoid aliens, which has annoyed the shit out of me for my entire adult life. Aliens should be alien, dammit. And, anyway, as puppets they're still extremely expressive puppets and the voice acting is very good so the end result is that after awhile they're just regular characters. I wish more space SF shows had the courage to do this.

I just went through a re-watch a few years ago, so I'm not really up for a rewatch again. I wish I were. I've wanted to participate in the DS9 and Buffy rewatches, and began to a few weeks ago, but I'm already behind. Adding this to my schedule would just make things worse. But I'm bummed about it because, gosh, I love this show.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:34 AM on July 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Definitely, Ivan. Plus, the aliens played by human actors were still notably more alien than your average Star Trek bumpy forehead. I'm still super impressed with how Gigi Edgely made Chiana's body language so weird, and the show consistently did unusual, elaborate, and lovely things with makeup and prosthetics.
posted by nonasuch at 1:31 PM on July 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

I came to Farscape later in no small part because the puppets put me off. I probably could have forgiven it in almost every place except Rigel's arms; those really annoyed me.
posted by phearlez at 11:33 AM on July 8, 2015

Watched this last night for the first time. I know absolutely nothing about Farscape - I didn't have cable when it originally aired and I was vaguely aware of it as 'hip Star Trek'. I think I'll ride along on this rewatch!

The pilot was very... pilot-y, and it had some clunky bits (like "gosh friend, why are you so nervous before a routine mission?"/"gee son, I know this is just a routine mission but one day you'll make your ol dad proud!", and "I h-h-hear you b-blue ladies like to have... SEX!"). But overall I liked it, and from what I understand, it mostly gets better from here?
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:24 PM on August 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yep! It's not a straight line upward, but it gains elevation the further you watch.
posted by Atreides at 3:00 PM on August 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

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