Friday, 5 February 2010

Retro sci-fi #1

Watching a twin pack DVD of Farscape: Peacekeeper Wars (2004) confirms my suspicions about this rather lacklustre TV series, despite having seen only a handful of earlier episodes from its 1999 - 2003 run. An obvious Flash Gordon / Buck Rogers clone with genre junk-DNA from Blake’s 7 spliced into its humans and aliens (quite terrible muppets!) scenario, it remains terminally derivative, stuck in a space opera limbo – lost somewhere between universes epitomised by Star Trek and Star Wars. The 1980 movie version of Flash Gordon was directed by Mike Hodges in such a way that was creativity amusing but ultra campy; and everyone knew it, and so didn’t bother trying to be anything else. The same goes for similarly trashy TV shows like the formidably absurdist Lexx (1997 - 2002).

However, Farscape - great title; shame about the show! - was not content to be a ‘guilty pleasure’. It quite brazenly attempts a level of seriousness (stealing the surrealism of its finale from the uncanny deathbed closure of Kubrick’s 2001!) and fails miserably; often with dismal ‘acting’ from its main cast which struggles even to be considered as wooden, and several interactions between muppet ‘characters’ and regular actors that inject a distracting tone of pantomime farce, especially unwelcome during the scenes of ‘heightened drama’, into the space fantasy. The world of 21st century sci-fi deserves better media entertainments than this cursedly unimaginative, ultimately disposable, nonsense.

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