Chris Walsh (chris_walsh) wrote,
Chris Walsh
chris_walsh

Gonna get myself, gonna get myself, gonna get myself connected (Farscape Season 1)

Farscape may be my new Kate Bush.

That assuredly needs to be explained.

People I know and trust love/loved the work of musician Kate Bush, and I listened to some of Kate Bush's work -- mainly a tape of her album The Dreaming -- and I kept listening. And kept listening. And not 100% "getting it." And taking a long time to "get it."

I was compelled to listen without completely liking or loving what I was hearing. Her music had an edge of something, an edge I was trying to latch onto, that would make me more fully appreciate the work.

Eventually I did. It took listening to Bush's collection The Whole Story, including her song "Wuthering Heights," but at that point it was like a switch in my head flipped. Or I grabbed the edge, got a handhold in her music, and had a grip on what it was about her work that people responded to. And now I could listen to a whole Kate Bush album and much more thoroughly "get it."

I think I'm not quite yet to that "get it" point with Farscape. But I think I'm close.

Today I finished watching Farscape Season 1 on DVD, and I've been catching glimmering glimpses of what made friends of mine such fans of it. And I can appreciate the show's bold, opulent look, making heavy use of make-up and puppetry (the show was produced by the Jim Henson Company) to create truly alien aliens and environments; its willingness to have world-shattering story events and cliffhangers (even something as simple as a character's arm being cut off is the sort of plot point that not even the brutal Battlestar Galactica would have had); heck, even how wet the show is. Farscape is a show with bodily fluids, as well as messes. It's organic, which makes sense for a show set on a spaceship that is, in fact, alive. (Summary for those who've never seen it: a human astronaut is knocked through a wormhole to some insanely distant part of the universe -- this galaxy? Another galaxy? Not clear yet -- and immediately gets thrown in with escaping prisoners on board a spaceship called Moya. He's orienting himself to this other reality while trying to see if he can get back to Earth's corner of the universe. Which I know he does, eventually, briefly, just not in the way he'd hoped. And I know enough about what happens in that part of the story that I want to see more of Farscape.)

And there's a hell of a lot of sex appeal, and not the "less actual sex than you'd expect" vibe one often gets from Joss Whedon's shows. (I watch those and, as much as I enjoy them, think Why isn't every character happily getting it on? Many fans, of course, think much the same thing and write their own fiction that compensates for that. I do not actually wish to read that. ESPECIALLY if you're writing about the sex life of, say, Badger. But I really digress.)

Still, so far my appreciation of Farscape is more an intellectual appreciation -- a different kind of appreciation than what I'm used to with the TV shows I fall in love with. I like to get an emotional-plus-intellectual connection to a good show; makes me more likely to care.

Also, I'm so used to the length of American episodic television, where each hour-long TV show has 42 to 44 minutes of actual story in it, that this Australian-produced show with each episode getting to be 50 to 52 minutes has a different structure and flow. There's more story, and each story's beats and turning points don't happen when I expect them to. Farscape can (well, could, as it's no longer being produced for TV) take unusual and unexpected paths through its stories. It's a variant experience. And I'm not 100% used to that. Viewers of much British television, which has no commercial breaks, have their own variant experiences with how their stories are told on television.

I'll admit that, for the most part, I'm not a fan of Farscape's music (by Subvision), though I heard that the musical approach changed later in the show's run. Not much episodic television gets the level of scoring Battlestar got. I'll see if the other style hits my ear better.

I like connecting with stuff. I like saying "Oh, I get it." Another example: as I've said before, because I didn't completely grok the appeal of Anna Paquin until Finding Forrester, when a lot of guys had crushed on her since at least the first X-Men, I wanted to write a Finding Forrester review just so I could have a single paragraph that said "Anna Paquin. Now I get it." (If you were crushing on her back at The Piano, I don't think I really want to know you.)

I will watch more, but I think I'll wait. I have plenty of other shows I'm working through on DVD (just started the first half of Battlestar Season 2, plus I have several seasons's worth of Lost waiting). Figure I'll look up a Wikipedia entry summarizing the first season, to refresh my memory, and then try Season 2 of the 4-season show. And I hope I get the full grip on the show's appeal.
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