Friday, February 3, 2012

Farscape: Strange Detractors (2009)

     Farscape (1999-2003) was a good, if underfunded, space opera show that ran on the SciFi Channel.  It had several hiccups during its four season run (including an ongoing one because the producers wanted to show a particular bad guy was a threat even when he wasn't there), but it was entertaining and engaging.  It had heart, humor, handled the action much better than its contemporaries, and managed to be internally consistent.  Because it didn't get its promised fifth season (though Executive Producer Brian Henson makes the case that SciFi cannot be faulted for this in the DVD commentaries because Farscape was a show they always lost money on), many fans felt cheated.  I know I was one of them (see my very first post – as mothygamer – on IMDB).  But the two part mini-series Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (2004) left me feeling the story had been wrapped up.  If there was anything more to be handled in the story, it would have to be big enough to justify it.
     Seems that was not the case for creator Rockne S. O'Bannon.
     Like Joss Whedon resurrecting his dead television shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer () and Angel (), O'Bannon turned to comic book/graphic novel format.  It is here that I want to take issue with most people who believe that the graphic novel is as legitimate a source of storytelling as actual prose, because the shortcuts are almost always out in full force in illustrated storytelling.  I'm getting off topic.  Like Whedon, O'Bannon does not seem to want to let the story be over.  One could callously assume that this is like George Lucas re-releasing the Star Wars (1977-2005 for live action films) movies – now in 3D – because there is always more money to be made from them.  At least Whedon and O'Bannon are putting something new out there for fans, even if it means messing around with the presumed end of the programs.
     Strange Detractors (2009) is essentially an episode of Farscape told over the course of four issues (in comic book form) or chapters (in graphic novel form).  It follows shortly after the first collection of Farscape comics (which I have yet to read), which means that it is mere months after the official old ending.  Part of this really bothers me.  Farscape was over for me when D'Argo got killed and the threat of Scorpius had been eliminated.  The story was complete, with just enough wonder left for there to be the possibilities of future adventures.  For some reason – though it is entirely consistent with how the show was done – O'Bannon decided that those possibilities had to become eventualities, and eventually always means now.
Sikozu in comic book form.
     Worse, O'Bannon feels the need to bring back as many recognizable characters as possible.  In the case of Sikozu, I didn't mind; I felt that she had been badly handled for the second half of Season Four and reduced to a means for exposition to be spoken at, and then had her backstory scrambled for the miniseries (to be fair, apparently all of that was planned from the beginning and would have played much better over a whole season rather than in a few scenes).  For most of the other returning secondary and tertiary characters, it felt like pandering.  Come see the characters you saw on TV.  Rygel, who had been returned to his throne – and thus should be largely absent from all future Farscape adventures, gets dragged into the story.  Note to O'Bannon: you don't have to put the puppet in the comic book if there isn't a compelling reason for the character to be involved.
     The story is rather simple.  Something is making people go crazy and attack those around them.  Farscape did an episode with a similar theme ("Crackers Don't Matter"), but on a smaller scale.  Crichton once again finds a way to keep it together well enough to find a cure for the plague and save his shipmates (including his wife and child).  The artwork isn't bad; one can easily recognize all of the characters because they look very much like the actors or puppets that portrayed them.  But there isn't enough of a story here to make it worth while.  I certainly don't want an episode played out over four issues, nor would I want to pay the cover price of the graphic novel ($24.99).  I would want something bigger and more considered if O'Bannon wants to keep Farscape alive, but what I really would prefer is for one of his new projects to be picked up so he can let Crichton, Aeryn, Chiana, and Pilot be undisturbed for a long while.

No comments:

Post a Comment