A Debt of Gratitude to Blake's 7
Since many of you who read this column - actually, the both of you (Hi, Mom... and Chuck!) - are smart people, I know answering this question will come easily. What is the television show that features
a crew of near criminal ne'er-do-wells in a morally ambiguous universe
created by a highly regarded television writer
an unusually shaped star ship
a fight against a slightly repressive regime
was canceled prematurely...but later revived; and
a title beginning with the letter "F"?
I'm talking, of course, about Farscape (what show did you think I was talking about?), which made its way onto the Sci-Fi Channel in the 1990s. Created by Rockne S. O'Bannon (who wrote for the 1980s Twilight Zone and Alien Nation), the show featured astronaut John Crichton (Ben Browder), who flies an experimental ship through a wormhole, and finds himself....well, in a whole different sector of the universe. The show was a Whedon-esque mix of action, witty pop culture quips, flips on traditional science fiction cliches (like the noble warrior, the exiled ruler, the "living ship"and the spiritual guru), and...the best way to describe it is "Star Trek on acid." (Thanks to the Muppet Creature Shop, the aliens truly looked alien - they weren't just guys with funny foreheads). It also was one of the few serialized shows that didn't seem forced - character development occurred naturally, but in extremely unpredictable ways.
And then, in its fourth season, it was canceled by the Sci-Fi Channel for...well, dubious reasons. However, rather than do a formal wrap-up, the production team allowed the series to end prematurely....on a cliffhanger...that would never get resolved...at least, until The Peacekeeper Wars, a mini-series that wrapped up all of the hanging plotlines, and proved that you can't keep a good series down.
However, Farscape - much like Firefly and the nobody-seemed-to-like-it-but-me- Andromeda all owe a great debt of gratitude to a little known British show...called Blake's 7.
B7 was the creation of Terry Nation, who wrote for a relatively obscure British science fiction television show, and who would later write for a relatively obscure 1980s adventure show with Richard Dean Anderson. It featured a crew of near criminal ne'er-do-wells in a morally ambiguous universe travelling in an unusually shaped star ship fighting against a slightly repressive regime. It was one of the first shows to utilize the story arc (having plots develop across several episodes), served as an "adult" space opera counterpart to Doctor Who, and had a series finale that beat David Chase to the punch twenty-some years earlier.
(However, although I won't spoil it for you...it's hard for you to seek out yourself. B7 is not available on DVD in North America for various rumored reasons. These range from complicated rights issues to BBC America believing that there is "no market" for the series on DVD here on these shores).
So what's the point of this column, you may ask? Many of us who enjoy comic-related and other genre shows have those that we love...that very few people know about. Consider this my Valentine's Day present to you - two series that should have received a wider audience, but for some reason, never did. These are shows that I would heartily recommend either tracking down on your local station...or putting on your Netflix queue.
But enough of my writing - do you have a series that you think more people should see? Have any recommendations of your own? Then check out the TV Party Forum - where like-minded people engage in like-minded conversations!
Read More! For more of Gordon's writings, insights, and
general information, please visit his blog at blogthispal.blogspot.com.
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