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Guest Editorial
On the Matter of Crackers: Saving Farscape

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  [Editor's note: Every so often, Crescent Blues yields the reins to our editorial page to someone with something interesting or important to say. Shortly after his interview, author and actor Tee Morris asked us to take up the cause of the SciFi Channel's ground-breaking series, Farscape, but the staff agreed he made his case quite well enough on his own.]

When something comes along that challenges your imagination and pushes the boundaries of the familiar, the last thing you want to say is "goodbye." Nevertheless, fans of science fiction television learn to expect these farewells. Star Trek, the Next Generation alluded to this by calling their final episode "All Good Things" -- a reference to the saying "All good things must come to an end." Fans, actors and crew members acknowledge that some goodbyes -- such as the finales of Quantum Leap and Babylon 5 -- come at the right time, but the sense of loss remains, even when all parties involved agree.

But sometimes "goodbye" arrives without warning, angering series creators and cast members who believe in the show's vision, and drive fans to write letters of plea and protest to the show's host network.

Such a premature goodbye now brings people of different professions together -- fans, actors, writers and more -- to voice their support for a show that in its first three seasons changed the rules of science fiction television and continues to challenge the rules it redefined. This show raised the intelligence bar for its network, questioned what we expected in science fiction, and provides reliable entertainment on a consistent basis. The SciFi Channel now tells this ground-breaking show's fans: "Time to say goodbye, premature as it may be."

The television show is Farscape, the SciFi Channel's flagship series, which the network decided to remove from its schedule after announcing the series' renewal.

If you never tuned in to Farscape, the series opens with astronaut John Crichton and his experiment to use the Earth's gravitational field to propel his space module from Point A to Point B. The experiment unexpectedly creates a wormhole that sends John to the other side of the galaxy and into the middle of an alien jailbreak on board a living prison ship named Moya. Commandeered by the prisoners, Moya makes a mad dash for the Uncharted Territories. Before John can get his bearings, turn his ship around, and return to his own Point A, Moya brings him aboard and suddenly leaps into a "lightspeed-esque" jump called a starburst. John finds himself on the run and in the company of criminals and outcasts.

Then his life gets really complicated.

Farscape served as the cornerstone of the SciFi Channel's original programming, a taste and a symbol of what the cable network intended to offer its viewers. The show not only attracted a new audience to the SciFi Channel, it brought in ratings the network never before experienced and credibility the network desperately wanted. Critics praised the show as: "The best science fiction on television…" (TV Guide) and "A grungier, sexier take on the space frontier…" (The Los Angeles Times). In 2002, Farscape and actor Ben Browder won Australia's Saturn Awards for "Best Series" and "Best Actor in a Series," respectively. Directly following the awards, SciFi Channel's Bonnie Hammer proudly announced that the actors signed for two more seasons. While the third season pushed the show's boundaries still further, cast and crew began shooting Season Four.

Then, to the surprise of cast, crew, and fans, Ben Browder and Farscape's producer David Kemper appeared CNN and the Internet announcing the SciFi Channel's decision to cancel Farscape immediately following the conclusion of its current production schedule. This announcement hit cast and crew shortly before the shooting of Season Four's final episode -- an episode ending on a cliffhanger -- wrapped.

Executives labeled the show too expensive, regardless of the fact that Farscape's production costs remain less than Enterprise and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. The SciFi Channel then argued that Farscape lacked not only ratings but also a fan base, yet www.SaveFarscape.com and www.SaveFarscapeCentral.com went online less than 48 hours after the cancellation announcement, and e-mails bombarded the SciFi Channel. This electronic outcry prompted SciFi.com to implement a pop-up window that asked protestors to stop sending protests. SciFi's executives also claimed Farscape's story arc spanning across seasons alienated potential fans, but that flies in the face of other networks' experiences, most notably with Buffy and Fox's real-time drama, 24.

But we fans need to move beyond asking why. We Farscape fans need to respond with action. It rests with the fans to rescue Farscape. The rescue could mean another season, a mini-series event, or a series of feature-length films. Farscape's future rests with you and me and what we can do.

You may think, "Can one fan really make a difference?" Fan protests brought back Star Trek for a third season. Fan petitions reunited the cast of NBC's critically acclaimed Homicide (another show suddenly cancelled) for a two-hour movie that brought together cast and crew for one last hurrah. Stay positive. Think of how massive an outcry it would be if every person who reads this article wrote just one letter each.

Sit down behind a word processor or a typewriter and pen your thoughts on Farscape. Keep your thoughts concise, positive and constructive. Ask SciFi Channel to reconsider their decision. Then, once you finish your letter to the SciFi Channel, write to other networks. Ask for their consideration in picking up the best science fiction show ever offered to audiences in the United States.

And know that Farscape fans remain vigilant and speak online and around the world for Moya and her crew. Science fiction and fantasy authors such as Julie Czerneda, Patricia Bray and Will McDermott speak out on Save Farscape panels. Websites such as SaveFarscape.com, SaveFarscapeCentral.com, and FarscapeWorld.com provide surveys, petitions, flyers, and events to get the word out to the world. Finally, you can find even more support at both literary and media science fiction and fantasy conventions across the country where posters, flyers, and fans raise consciousness and support for the show.

The SciFi Channel probably expected a quick and clean "goodbye" from Farscape, but instead discovered that their "flagship show" -- and its fans -- will not go quietly into "The Cancellation Territories."

Who am I? I am Tee Morris, a science fiction and fantasy author. And I am a Scaper. Crackers still matter to me. Do your part. Save Farscape.

 

Tee Morris

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