Batman The Brave and the Bold – Season 2

  • Series Title:  Batman the Brave and the Bold
  • Season:  2
  • Episodes:  25
  • Discs:  2 (Blu-Ray)
  • Cast:  Diedrich Bader
  • Original Network:  Cartoon Network
  • Production Network:  Warner Brothers (Animation)

The second season of Batman:  The Brave and the Bold was extremely uneven. There were some very high points and some very low points, and some episodes could have been great but they just fell flat. Again, the series is a team-up show, however, rather than having the shorts, followed by the main story – several of the shorts in the first half of the season feature Starro – the psychic starfish from outer space. Starro also gets his own 2-part story at mid-season. The Starro story did work, though it wasn’t quite as effective or as psychologically scary as the character’s appearances in Justice League Unlimited or Young Justice (as Starro-Tech). I kept wondering where Superman was – because there’s nothing scarier that Supes being controlled by an outside force of evil. Still, considering how much lighter in general Batman:  The Brave and the Bold is as a series, the two-part story did work, and the League’s eventual win against Starro did come at a cost.

“Chill of the Night” was not only my favorite story for this season, but, so far, for all of BtBatB. It was just awesome. First (other than the short) it felt like a Batman: The Animated Series episode – not only does it show That Fateful Night (which, yes, we’ve seen before) and had red skies and dark background, like B:TAS – but Phantom Stranger and Spectre – the spirits of Justice and Vengeance (respectively) were played by Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill. These two spirits were fighting over Batman’s soul (it was very, um, is existential the right word?). AND to top it off, in the flashbacks Thomas Wayne was voiced by Adam West and Martha Wayne by Julie Newmar. Yeah. Nothing like three generations of Batman in one. Color me impressed.

“A Bat Divided” felt very much like a similar episode of Farscape, where Moya (the living ship), was split three ways – each having it’s own effects on the crew. The episode featured Firestorm, and Batman is split in to three Batmen – Action/Battle Batman, Scientist Batman, and Loafing/relaxing Batman.  I liked it.

“The Super-Batman of Planet X” has Batman sucked through a wormhole in space to a planet where he has Superman-like powers. To Batman’s credit, it doesn’t go to his head, and he helps that planet’s version of Batman, until he can find a way home. The only problem with the episode, is it highlights one major problem of BtBatB which is Batman is completely alone – no Alfred and seldom any Robin/Nightwing. Guy Gardner has to rescue Batman, after putting him in danger in the first place.

“The Knights of Tomorrow” I also liked. Told from the point-of-view of an unseen narrator, who turns out to be Alfred (in only one of two appearances – the other is “Chill of the Night”), and shows the Mantle of the Bat being passed from generation to generation. Bruce Wayne eventually retires from being Batman and marries Selina Kyle. He turns the cape and cowl over to Dick Greyson. Meanwhile, Bruce and Selina have a son, Damien, whom they train in self-defense and fighting. When Bruce and Selina are killed – Damien joins Dick as Robin, and eventually grows up to be Batman, with his own Robin. This does play a bit with established continuity, for example, in the universe where Bruce and Selina retired and married – they had a daughter, Helena (who become Huntress) not a son. Damien Wayne, is the son of Bruce and Talia Al-Ghul. And the story skips Jason and Tim altogether, as well as cutting out one of my favorite characters – Terry McGinnis (truly, watch Batman Beyond, it’s awesome!) Terry’s a lot like Dick – whom I’ve always liked. The one bit I found almost frightening was Alfred repeating Amanda Waller’s line, “There must always be a Batman.”

“The Masks of Matches Malone” is the story which features the Birds of Prey singing, “No One Does It Better (Than the Birds of Prey)” which is simply marvelous. The story itself is a bit weak – Batman goes undercover as Matches Malone, and gets hit on the head and thinks he really is Matches Malone – a gangster and thief. The Birds of Prey are left to stop crime in Gotham, and to try to get Batman back to his own self. It’s fun, and the video is definitely awesome. You can watch the music number here.

On the negative side – two more Batmite storys (ugg), “Cry Freedom Fighters” which was just dreadful, and just several so-so, not terrible, but not bad stories.

Batman the Brave and the Bold: Season 1

  • Series Title:  Batman the Brave and the Bold
  • Season:  1
  • Episodes:  26
  • Discs:  2 (Blu-Ray)
  • Cast:  Diedrich Bader
  • Original Network:  Cartoon Network
  • Production Network:  Warner Brothers (Animation)

I originally dismissed The Brave and the Bold when I saw an episode here and there on Cartoon Network. The production design reminded me very much of the 1960s Batman (starring Adam West) and the attitude of the show seemed extremely campy and silly, and I’m just not a fan of silly Batman.

However, I have a friend who basically nagged me to give this show a chance, so I finally purchased Season 1, and on Blu-Ray no less. It a way, it is nuts – very campy, and funny, but it’s to the point of such ridiculousness at times that it actually becomes very enjoyable to watch. If modern animated or even live-action Batmans are too much for you, give this series a try. The series is pretty much set in DC’s Silver Age (thus the campy style of Batman) but occasionally features heroes from the Golden Age (Jay Garrick’s Flash) and the Modern Age (Jaime Reyes’ Blue Beetle). Most of the episodes consist of two stories, a short piece with Batman and another hero teaming up against a villain, followed by a different unconnected story of Batman and a different hero teaming-up against a different villain.  Because the focus is on team-ups, we get to see several different characters from DC’s Silver Age, which one seldom sees in a TV Series or film.

Some notable episodes:

In “Invasion of the Secret Santas”, Batman and Red Tornado go up against Fun Haus, who’s brought flying saucers from a B Movie to life, as well as evil Santas, and other oddities. The story is very silly, which makes it fun.

in “Day of the Dark Knight!” Batman and Green Arrow, who are revealed to be competitive rivals, are brought back in time to Camelot by Merlin. One of them must take Excalibur from the Stone to defeat Morgaine, who has the demon, Etrigan under her power. Yes – this is as fun as you might expect. The opening sequence has Batman and Guy Gardner (Green Lantern) on Oa on jail duty.

“Dawn of the Dead Man” proper starts with Batman being buried alive by Gentleman Ghost. He astro projects himself to London, where he meets a ghost who will become the hero, Dead Man. Dead Man works with Green Arrow and Speedy to rescue the Caped Crusader. I loved this story, from a nearly dying Batman seeing his parents in a tunnel of light, to the whole tracing of Dead Man’s story (which also has a connection to Haly’s Circus), it’s actually just a great story.

In “Fall of the Blue Beetle”, there isn’t the standard stand-alone opening, rather the opening with Batman and Silver Age Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) proves to be a prelude to an adventure between Batman and Modern Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) who wishes to learn more about how he became a superhero and where his scarab came from – Jaime journeys to Science Island, Ted Kord’s secret base and meets “Ted Kord” – yet it isn’t Ted, it’s his evil brother Jarvis, who had caused the explosion that killed Ted. This is a brilliant back story piece, and the animation is actually very good.

In “Trials of the Demon” Batman is transported back in time to 19th century London, where he meets Sherlock Holmes and Watson, as well as Jason Blood (Etrigan the Demon), who’s been unjustly accused of murdering a series of women. The world’s two greatest detectives work together to clear Jason Blood, and discover the real culprit:  Jim Craddock. This serves as an excellent back story piece for the Gentleman Ghost. Batman is also upset that he can’t change history.  This story also features in the opening bit Batman and the Golden Age Flash, Jay Garrick, taking on Scarecrow and Scream Queen.

“Mayhem of the Music Meister!” has no opening story – instead the Music Meister has a dastardly plot to turn the whole world into a Broadway Musical – both villains (Black Manta, Gorilla Grodd, Clock King) and heroes (Batman, Aquaman, Black Canary, Green Arrow). So yes, and all-singing, all-dancing episode of Batman the Brave and the Bold is just as much fun as you might think. Music Meister is voiced (and sung) by Neil Patrick Harris, who even gets a “special guest villain” credit.

I can honestly say that I enjoyed Batman the Brave and the Bold, and I’ve ordered Season 2. The show is fun, and light, and at times it’s so out-there it’s basically crack-fic. And, though I must say, I still prefer more serious versions of Batman, this series, obviously in it’s own pocket universe of silliness, is fun and enjoyable to watch – and I don’t regret purchasing the Blu-Rays. By the way, when I bought the series from Amazon, the Blu-Rays were a better deal than the DVDs.

Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future DVD Review

  • Title:  Max Headroom:  20 Minutes into the Future
  • Original Network:  ABC (US)
  • Original Airdate:  1987 – 1988
  • Cast:  Matt Frewer, Amanda Pays, Chris Young, Jeffrey Tambor, George Coe, W. Morgan Sheppard, Concetta Tomei
  • DVD Format:  3-4 episodes per disc, 5 discs total (final disc is special features only)
  • Number of Episodes:  14

Max Headroom is an  excellent SF program, that was way ahead of its time. This program originally aired when night time soaps like Dallas and Falcon Crest were popular, as were formula action series such as The A-Team, MacGyver, Miami Vice, and Magnum, PI. Max Headroom was completely different. Following the adventures of a crusading, caring tele-journalist and his “computerized” alter-ego in a dystopian future – each episode addressed futuristic issues that seem even more relevant now than then. The look of the show mixed the old and the new – antique typewriter keyboards hooked up to sophisticated computer screens. The effect of the mix was that nothing was shiny and new, everything was old, dirty, and re-used. In one episode, Edison Carter (Matt Frewer) tries to get some information from Sully in the “Fringes” (the bad section of the sprawling metropolis) who remarks, “Nobody makes nothin’ new anymore. We just recycle the old ones.” – He’s specifically talking about cars, but it seems to apply to everything.

Corporations rule this world, and television is everywhere – taking over every aspect of life. Not only is the Japanese Corporation, Zik-Zac the top advertiser and client of Network 23 (where Edison works) – but at one point they actually manipulate a crash in Network 23 stock – a comment on Sony’s acquisition of ABC at the time the series was made. In the world of Max Headroom, television is how people vote, educate their children, shop, attend church, are entertained, and how people are informed. Television is literally everywhere, even in fancy restraurants – and the sets cannot even be turned off. There is also no video tapes, no movie theaters, no books, and no other form of entertainment – just television.

The show commented on television network politics, instant ratings, violent extreme sports, genetic engineering, pervasive private security, televangelists, censorship, and consumerism. And always, always, always – the series mocked the very medium that created it, which is why it didn’t last. Max Headroom predicted many things we now find commonplace, more if you substitute the word “computer” for “television”. For example, Edison and Theora both carry “credit tubes” – these are used to make all payments, as ID to enter Network 23 or any place that requires it, even as the way to unlock their (respective) apartment doors. These days it’s becoming very common for people to not carry cash or checkbooks but to pay for everything with debit or even credit cards. Both Google and Apple have launched payment apps so that in the US, people can start to pay for things using their cell phones (something that’s been common in Europe for years). Personal security companies are creating “smart home apps” that allow you to do everything from program the optimal temperature to lock and unlock the front door. Is it hard to imagine a time when your smartphone is all you need to carry and it becomes the device for personal ID, unlocking doors, and making all payments?

In the episode, “Lessons” (or Project:  Fringes Literacy) it’s revealed that free public education no longer exists – and well-to-do parents pay for subscription paid educational TV. In the episode, Edison meets a Blank (non-registered) person whom the cops think is pirating educational TV tapes. In reality, she’s printing illegal books to teach children in the Fringes how to read. That is also the episode that takes place during the annual “Sky Clearance” festival – where old satellites are shot down to make room for new ones. Today, Earth’s orbit is getting so full of various pieces of space junk, the idea of cleaning it up by destroying bigger chunks isn’t that far-fetched.

Whereas, in the episode, “Dieties” (Vu Age Televangelists) it’s revealed traditional religions more-or-less no longer exist, and have been replaced by Televangelists hosting their own TV religious hours.  Even movie theaters are gone, as shown in the episode, “Dream Thieves”, when Edison does a brief nostalgia piece at a worn out, empty theater – the blanks and fringers he interviews, man-on-the-street style don’t even know what a movie or movie theater is.

Max Headroom was an intelligent, smart, show. The dialogue was frequently snappy and ironic. The characters were great, and had excellent relationships with each other. It was a show that called attention to being television – much of it took place in the newsroom control center, where Murray (Jeffrey Tambor) would decide what stories air and what don’t (though he could be over-ruled by the Network 23 board of directors, or even by the Censor computer.) The room was filled with multiple TV screens, smoke, and streaky blue lighting. Many episodes would start or end with Edison’s “What I Want to Know” program – but at times, rather than filling the screen and being the focus for the audience, it would play in the background, and other characters would talk over what Edison was saying – just as today, TVs play in the background all the time and no one pays attention to what is being aired.

The DVDs in this set look fantastic – the copy quality is very good, and the episodes have been cleaned-up and restored beautifully.

I highly recommend this show. If you haven’t seen it, rent or buy the series on DVD.  If you like Cyberpunk, or dystopian SF – this show is for you.

Farscape The Peacekeeper Wars DVD Review (Spoilers)

Wormhole weapons – the only way to win, is not to play.

  • Title:  Farscape The Peacekeeper Wars
  • Format:  Miniseries (241 minutes) 2-DVD set
  • Cast:  Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Anthony Simcoe, Wayne Pygram, Gigi Edgley, Paul Goddard
  • Creative Team:  Rockne S. O’Bannon, Jim Henson Productions (Brian Henson)

I actually watched the entire mini-series two nights in a row, all the way through.  It seems the original production was a two-night event, on the DVD it’s edited into a single long movie, which is fine.

The first time I watched this, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.  Not only because it’s a very intense, action-packed mini-series, but because I honestly expected them to “Blake’s 7” the show, in other words, I expected all the main characters to die, especially John Crichton.

The second time through I was able to enjoy the story more, knowing that, despite even the hints dropped during the mini-series itself, that John would survive.

The mini-series opens two months after the last episode of Season 4, with Rygel swimming underwater picking up something in his mouth.  It turns out what he is doing is capturing the bits and pieces of John and Aeryn from the ocean floor.  I loved seeing Rygel in his element so to speak, and his swimming was rather elegant.  John and Aeryn are quickly re-assembled.  They are fine, but to her shock Aeryn is no longer pregnant.  It’s quickly discovered that Rygel is now carrying Aeryn and John’s baby.  The Hynerian will do so until after the first quad-mester and the large enough baby can be transferred to Aeryn.

Aeryn and John decide to get married by the priestess on the non-quite uninhabited water planet, only to have the ceremony interrupted.  This will be a theme, as their wedding on Moya with Rygel officiating is also interrupted when the Leviathan is attacked.

Things happen.  Essentially, the Scarrans and Peacekeepers are now at all-out war with each other.  The natives of the water planet are the descendants of a famous race of peace-making diplomats, who have lost their genetic ability to influence people into a state of calm and rationality.  John agrees to ferry two of these people to the temple planet (from Season 4’s “What Was Lost”).  They are attacked en route, and “reunited” with Scorpius and Sikozu (sporting a new “punk” haircut).  Moya, damaged, manages to get to the temple.  At the temple, they are reunited with Jool, and it’s John who convinces the 1200-year-old diplomatic race to train the guy from the other planet, so he, in turn, can train his people.

However, a Scarran vessel turns up.  The ship destroys the temple, including Jool.  John, Aeryn, Rygel, Stark,  the head priest/diplomat from the temple, the acolyte from the other planet, and the acolyte’s guard, as well as Sikozu and Scorpius are taken prisoner by the Scarrans.  The Scarrans want John’s wormhole weapons knowledge, and hold the pregnant Rygel (as well as Aeryn and the others) hostage against John.

Meanwhile, D’Argo and Chiana are in D’argo’s invisible spaceship.  Chiana, who had been blinded at the end of Season 4, has had her eyes replaced, with a few upgrades.  She’s able to read energy signatures on the ship and tell D’Argo how to disable it.

John, knowing the threat to his unborn child (and Rygel’s life) is real, and fearing for Aeryn, and with no place to turn after the Scarrans have killed the head priest, finds he has no choice.  He takes the Scarran in his module down the wormhole to meet the ancient alien, “Einstein”, who still looks like Simon Pegg”s “Editor” in the Doctor Who episode, “The Long Game”.  The Scarran is convinced that John can sense and navigate wormholes, even cause them to appear, but he cannot create a worm-hole weapon, and to do so would be a really bad idea.

The Scarrans meanwhile, destroy D’Argo’s ship.  The Scarran general’s chief assistant and war minister, meanwhile intends to kill Rygel.  The general and John return just in time to prevent it.  Aeryn tells John, D’Argo and Chiana are dead.  The Scarrans attempt to kill everyone, flooding the room they are being held in with deadly gas, while Rygel’s to the point in his pregnancy that the embryo needs to be transferred to Aeryn or he’ll die.  Sizozu creates an explosion so they can escape, as a group of Luxans arrive to attack the Scarran vessel, having rescued D’Argo and Chiana.  The Luxan attack squad is headed by Jothee, D’Argo’s son, who is now a military commander.

Everyone is rescued.  Stark is more bonkers than normal from having absorbed the high priest’s essence.  They return to Moya and high-tail it back to the water planet, because John and the others know that the Peacekeepers and Scarrans know of the location of the planet, and it’s a target.

Arriving at the planet, a major battle ensues.  Braca is there with a few troops, though most of his men have been killed.  The Luxan assault force is there.  Moya’s crew lands, with the intent of rescuing the diplomatic race and trying to end the war.  Aeryn’s child has been transferred to her from Rygel successfully.

On the planet, in the midst of the  chaos, John and Aeryn are finally married by Stark while Aeryn is in labor.  The child is born in the midst of a battle.  D’Argo is stabbed with a pike, and, dying, agrees to cover their retreat.  With some help from Jothee (who’s primary, and successful mission was to rescue as many of the descendant-race diplomat-priests as possible), and Moya (who has finally recovered, after a time on the seabed under repair) John’s crew escape the planet, with some of the diplomat-priests.

Arriving on Moya, in command, John sees the wormhole weapon device. He had gone down a wormhole a second time, and obtained the knowledge necessary to build it.  And he had discussed it with Pilot.  Though Pilot had many misgivings, and sounded like he was going to say “no”, he had changed his mind and had the DRDs construct the device while John and Aeryn were planetside.

John sends out a message, giving the Scarrans and the Peacekeepers one last chance to make peace.  The Scarrans and Peacekeepers instead continue to fire intensely at each other.  John ignites the weapon, which produces an expontentially-growing Black Hole.  The hole’s gravity captures and destroys everything close enough to be caught in the gravity well, and as it grows, doubling each time, that gravity well also increases in size.  The planet below is destroyed, ripped apart by gravity.  John points out, Moya is next, then each of the battle fleets, and who knows what next – the galaxy, the universe?  The Scarrans and Peacekeepers stand down.  John gets them to agree to have the diplomat-priests broker a lasting accord, which they do.  He goes back into his machine to reverse the black hole.  He succeeds but collapses, looking like he’s dead.

However, Aeryn brings their child to Crichton, where his “body” lies on a bed, Crichton wakes. He and Aeryn have a formal naming ceremony for their child, looking out among the stars, and name the boy, “D’Argo Sun Crichton”.

The Peacekeeper Wars is busy and intense.  It’s obviously a compressed version of what Season 5 would have been.  However, the story also works.  Surprisingly, the second time around, I caught a certain amount of foreshadowing that I didn’t even notice the first time. That means the foreshadowing was used correctly – it prepares you for what’s going to happen, without spoiling the fun.  The only obvious “spoilers” or “foreshadowing” was Aeryn and later Crichton’s voice-overs, which clarify the plot.  But the subtler ones really work.

The action scenes are very intense – which often means character suffers.  And, though, their would have been more character-stuff in a full 22-episode season (or even a shorter season of 16 or 13 episodes) the mini-series still works.  When D’Argo’s ship was destroyed and D’Argo and Chiana were assumed dead — I believed it.  I was expecting everyone to die anyway, so I believed it.  And that scene, Aeryn’s reaction to it, and later John’s reaction when Aeryn tells him what’s happened, is no less intense when you know that at that point D’Argo isn’t really dead and Chiana survives ‘til the end.

One of the most difficult plot points for the story to sell is John actually triggering the wormhole weapon device.  Yet, when he does, it’s totally believable.  John’s rant on how everyone – Scorpius, Rygel, the Peacekeepers, the Scarrans, wanted the weapon – is brilliantly played by Browder.

And Aeryn and John’s attempts to get married, which are finally finished with Stark marrying them while Aeryn gives birth is beautiful (as is Aeryn’s water birth of her son, and Crichton’s pure joy at becoming a father).  Though, for their story, I think the naming scene… with their child being told the stars are his playground, and John saying that he hopes that his child will never know war was the most beautiful scene in the mini-series.

I enjoyed the mini-series very much.  I think they did an incredible writing and editing job to get a season’s worth of material into between three and four hours.  All of the cast were terrific as always, especially Ben Browder and Claudia Black.  There were references to events, people, and characters from throughout the four years of Farscape, which I felt were there for the fans, but they worked and didn’t stand out like a sore thumb, the way “inside” references sometimes can.  The only person I would have liked to see or at least referenced was John’s father, Jack. But other than that tiny detail, I loved the mini-series, it was really well-done, and it gave a satisfying conclusion to the Farscape television series.

Farscape Season 4 DVD Review (Spoilers)

  • Title:  Farscape Season 4
  • Format:  ADV Video  (22 eps, 10 DVDs) 
  • Cast:  Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Gigi Edgley, Anthony Simcoe, Wayne Pygram
  • Creative Team:  Rockne S. O’Bannon, Henson Productions (Brian Henson)

Season Four of Farscape starts off a bit slow, Claudia Black isn’t in the first four episodes, and she’s sorely missed.  Also, the first half of the season felt very disconnected, as if they were producing left-over episodes from previous seasons, perhaps slightly re-written to fit the current cast.  But all that changes with “Unrealized Reality” and the season is a rocketing steam train from that point on.

Jool is dropped early in the season, fortunately.  I never liked her.  Actually, she’s one of the most disagreeable fictional characters I’ve ever come across – whenever the character was in danger, I kept hoping she’d die.  The screaming was just too much.

She’s replaced with a character, Sikozu, who at first seems a toned-down version of Jool.  She has red hair; she’s smart with plenty of “book-learning”, but unlike Jool – she has practical skills too.  She doesn’t just tell Moya’s crew she’s an expert in Leviathans and in medicine – she shows it, which puts her miles above Jool.  However, she also gets her own storyline, which sneaks up on you and proves fascinating.

The season really picks up with “Unrealized Reality”, where John falls down a wormhole and meets an ancient alien who looks like Simon Pegg in the Doctor Who episode, “The Long Game”.  This alien taught The Ancients about wormholes, and is trying to figure out what John knows, exactly.  Over the course of their conversation, John learns that wormholes aren’t just short-cuts through space, they can lead to different times.  But if John were to travel to a different time, the repercussions could be catastrophic.  John “travels” to several alternate realities, each worse than the one before.  Finally, he learns that by concentrating – he can travel home.  Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, he concentrates on home, and finds himself floating above Earth.  In “Kansas” – John discovers he’s arrived on Earth in 1986 – and he must prevent his father from being on the Challenger, while guaranteeing that his younger self will be positioned to create the Farscape Project.  In “Terra Firma” John and his crew arrive on Earth in 2003 and make the existence of aliens known.  Kent McCord again plays John’s father, but it’s not a flashback or an alien pretending to be Jack Crichton.  The scene at the end of “Terra Firma” when they say goodbye to each other was heart-breaking.

From that point on, the season really moves.  I’d say that the “Unrealized Reality” trilogy was one of the best of the series.  And once John and Moya’s crew are back in Tormented Space the series just moves like a freight train.  John finally admits to Aeryn why he’s been so cold to her.  He’s not angry at her – he’s protecting her from Scorpius who’s now traveling on Moya. Sikozu proves to be an agent working with Scorpius, though we’re still unsure of motivations of both characters.

In “Bringing Home the Beacon”, Moya’s crew tries to get a camouflage beacon for Moya to throw off the Scarrans and Peacekeepers pursuing them.  They get the beacon, but Aeryn is captured.  To rescue Aeryn, John and company must go directly into a Scarran base in Scarran space.  The final trilogy is awesome!  Definitely some of the best work of the series, and watching John become slightly unhinged is again some of Ben Browder’s best work.

In the final episode of the series, it opens with a montage of “previously on Farscape” that includes the entire four years in a few minutes (yeah, I need to re-watch that in slo-mo) and opens with Crichton’s voice, “Finally on Farscape…” which just tears into your heart.  John, knowing that the Scarrans now definitely know the location of Earth, and the Peacekeepers may know the location of Earth, decides to collapse the wormhole to Earth.  He, Pilot, and Aeryn, in one of Moya’s transport pods, travel there. John lands on the moon, and calls his father, leaving his tape recorder next to the American flag at Serenity base.  The conversation between John and his dad (again, Kent McCord) is incredible, heart-breaking, and made me cry.  John leaves, knowing he can’t ever go back to Earth or see his family again.  He, Aeryn, and Pilot are to collapse the wormhole as they leave near-Earth space.

(SPOILERS) It works, and as everyone on Moya recovers (including Pilot who is now re-installed back in his den, and reconnected to Moya, and the living ship herself) – John and Crichton are in a boat on a planet.  Aeryn finally tells John she’s pregnant, she’s OK, and it’s his child.  John gives Aeryn his mother’s wedding ring, proposing marriage.  From Moya,  D’Argo is describing what he sees to a temporary-blind Chiana.  It’s Chiana who realizes that far from being angry, John has proposed to Aeryn.  Aeryn and John kiss and hold each other.  Then from nowhere a ship appears and blows them up (into a pile of little pieces).  D’Argo screams in agony.  And the series ends with “To Be Continued”.  It’s devastating.

Farscape really is a unique, well-made, incredible SF series.  It’s unique.  The aliens really look alien, in no small part due to the work of the Jim Henson Creature Shop and Brian Henson.  John Crichton is a point-of-view character for the entire series – we see this incredible journey through his eyes.  And, by the third season it’s like Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, or Neverwhere – having landed in an incredible universe, John wants to go home.  Yet, when given that chance he chooses to stay with his friends on Moya, in no small part because he is in love with Aeryn and he feels a responsibility to his unborn son.  Aeryn and John’s relationship, builds during each season.  By the end of a season, they can say “I love you”, to each other.  Yet, something then happens to pull them apart, and the following season, they again need to find that sense of love and trust.  This is especially true in Seasons 3 and 4.  But both also deal with the death of the other.  At the end of Season 2 – Aeryn dies, and it’s a Scorpius-controlled John who kills her.  It’s Zhann who trades her life for Aeryn, bringing her back.  In Season 3, John Two (Talon John) dies in Aeryn’s arms – after they had fallen deeply in love.  Its no surprise that she can’t immediately accept John One – she even disappears for a while at the beginning of Season 4.  But Season 4 really picks-up as John and Aeryn begin to reconnect.  The saddest thing about the last five minutes of “Bad Timing”, is that John is finally, completely and totally happy.  He experiences a brief, shining moment of pure happiness – then is killed.  Aeryn too is happy, and in love.  So their story becomes a tragedy, which gives even more weight to the entire series.  The entire brilliant series.

My only regret is that I missed this show when it was on.  It’s still effective, brilliant, unique, fun, romantic, adventurous, and an incredible science fiction series.  And even ten years on, it doesn’t look dated – if anything, the filmed look is just gorgeous.  But it’s less fun to watch a show like this in a vacuum.  Highly recommended!

Farscape Season 2 DVD Review


  • Farscape Season 2
  • ADV Video Releases
  • 10 Discs / 22 Episodes in set
  • Cast:  Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Anthony Simcoe, Virginia Hey, Gigi Edgley

I didn’t enjoy the second season of Farscape as much as the first; however, there were some excellent episodes.  I’ll discuss what I didn’t like first, then get on to the specifics of what I liked.  Whereas in the first season, John Crichton had been a scientist and explorer, someone who’s innate curiosity often allowed him to see situations differently than the rest of the beings on Moya, in the second season, John is much closer to becoming just another soldier.  No longer wearing parts of his IASA uniform, John now dresses like a Peacekeeper.  And as good as Ben Browder looked in the floor-length black duster, by halfway through the season – I wanted the old John back.  There are also far less creatures in season two, and more humans, or human-like aliens. I missed the creatures!

However, I did really like “Look to the Princess” — John’s willingness to sacrifice everything because of the situation was refreshing, and showed his, I hesitate to say moral, but his moral thinking and upbringing.  When he’s told an entire star-system’s well-being depends on him marrying the princess – he does so.  And when he finds out he’s the father of the princess’s child (thru’ in-vitro fertilization, basically) he’s willing to give up everything and be frozen for 80 years to raise his daughter.  However, the re-set button is pushed (Crichton won’t survive the freezing process again).

The four-episode finale’ — “Liars, Guns, & Money” parts 1-3 and “Die Me, Dichotomy”, were truly, truly, awesome.  And, it explained why Crichton had been acting so strange throughout the entire season. He was slowly going insane due to a neural chip implanted in his head by Scorpius.  Scorpius being a half-Scarran/half-Sabacean hybrid who is, himself, obsessed with obtaining “worm hole technology” from John.  The problem is, John accidentally fell through the worm-hole.  Though he has some theoretical knowledge of the subject – he truly doesn’t understand worm-holes, and he certainly can’t control them. It’s a bit like asking Dorothy to re-produce a tornado on the spot.

However, I’d challenge anybody who thinks Ben Browder isn’t a good actor to watch the end of Season 2 of Farscape.  Browder has the ability to play a man who is truly going insane without overacting or making fun of the character.  It’s something to watch.

I have the ADV DVD version of Farscape.  The DVDs for the most part only put two episodes per disc. This is annoying — I’m used to three or four.  Also, for the last set, the episodes are out of sequence on the discs.  I watched “Die Me, Dichtomy” before “Liars, Guns, & Money” and was extremely confused — I ended up having to re-watch it in it’s proper sequence as the last episode in the season.  Also, stretching the show to ten discs takes up a lot of space (especially in the double-wide cases).  I ended-up re-packaging the discs in slim-line cases, but the more compact season 1 is a much better design, and still protects the discs.  OTOH, I received sets 2-4 as a gift from a friend, so I can’t really complain.  I’d just recommend not buying this version, but rather the more compact “complete season 2” version.

Overall, since the season both explained John’s odd behavior, and ended on a cliff-hanger leading into season three, even with the changes from season 1, I still think Farscape is an unusual, highly watchable, and excellent series.  Recommended!

Farscape Season 1 DVD Review


  • Series:  Farscape
  • Season: 1
  • Format:  DVD
  • Creative Team:  Rockne S. O’Bannon, Brian Henson, Henson Productions
  • Cast:  Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Virginia Hey, Anthony Simcoe

Farscape was a series that frustrated me to no end when it originally aired, running first in first-run syndication, where it was impossible to find, and later on the Sci-Fi channel (which I didn’t have access to at the time), Farscape was a show I wanted to watch but couldn’t.  Farscape also had bad luck for it’s first DVD release – it was sold by episode, not by season set.  This made the show prohibitively expensive to buy – and collecting it would also take up too much space.  In short, the only series I’m willing to buy that way is original (classic) Doctor Who – and that only because the original stories were movie length.

Farscape is one of the most unique SF programs I’ve seen.  The only analogies I can compare it to are:  Blake’s 7 and a role-playing adventure game like D&D but set in space.  Like Blake’s 7, the characters are all fugitives, thrown together, who don’t trust each other – and may even sell each other out for the right price/motivation.  Like a adventure game, the characters are a priest, a warrior, a thief/deposed king, a warrior/romantic interest, and The New Guy ™, however, the setting isn’t medieval Europe, or a hidden cave system, but deep, deep space.

In the pilot, John Crichton, an astronaut and scientist is performing an experiment in Earth’s orbit in a one-man capsule.  It goes horribly wrong, and John is shot through a worm-hole.  He’s picked up by a living ship, called Moya, with it’s convict crew who are in the midst of an escape attempt.  John’s shot up with translator microbes allowing him to understand his very strange, alien shipmates.  His shipmates include:  D’Argo — a Lexan Warrior, who’s still young for his species, although at first he seems the tough “shoot first” type, later he turns out to have a heart and to be completely innocent of his accused crime of murder.  Zhaan is a priestess, though her encounter with Moya’s crew is already turning her down a darker, more violent path.  Zhaan is also a living, breathing, thinking, talking plant – who’s bright blue.  Rygel the 16th, Dominar, is a deposed despot and thief – he’s also small and green, and normally gets around on a floating throne chair.  Though he looks Yoda-like and cute — he can be nasty.  Pilot is built into the ship and pilots Moya – translating between the ship’s needs and the crew’s commands.  Finally, Officer Aeryn Sun looks Human but she is a Sabacean, and a Peace-keeper (law officer).  In the pilot, she’s accused of desertion and “irreversible contamination” and has no choice but to join John and Moya’s escape prisoner crew.  At first the others see Aeryn as an enemy (they all were, after all, at some point prisoners of the peacekeepers), but Aeryn proves her mettle and loyalty.

Farscape has a very unique look, in part because of the work of the Jim Henson creature shop (now run by Brian Henson).  The aliens, both regulars and the many varied guest creatures are very different.  This show does not, like Star Trek or Stargate, merely stick funny ears or a funky face mask on an actor – and call them alien.  The aliens all look very different and have different reactions to things.  Aeryn is extremely sensitive to heat – prolonged exposure can even produce ‘the living death”, a condition of mental debilitation like Alzhiemers.  Zhaan is a living plant – who even experiences “photogasms” when exposed to high levels of radiation or sunlight.  These types of examples make the universe of Farscape feel strange and alien.

John Crichton, in the first season, is shown to be a scientist, not only with the ability to figure things out or build stuff, but with an intense curiosity about the new world he finds himself in.  Where one or more of his shipmates might want to shoot something, John often asks questions and tries to figure out what something that looks like an alien or monster might want.  He has, in a strange way, a “Doctor-ish” quality.

Overall, I enjoyed the first season of this show that I missed the first time around.