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January 13 2006

Battlestar Galactica is not comparable to the "more fanciful" series Firefly and Farscape according to Matt Roush. The 8th question down the page.

I agree with Roush, which isn't to say Battlestar Galactica is necessarily a better series because it's "less fanciful". I would have a difficult time comparing the two, in fact. One is a military saga - about the elite of a civilization - and the other is about the exact opposite kinds of people, the downtrodden.

Another major difference is their execution. Firefly is more light-hearted, with jokes peppered throughout each episode. BSG is not without humour, but it's somehow more grim. That makes the comparison really interesting, actually - the elite (with their ships and their comforts) are doing it harder than the downtrodden (with their falling apart ship) who can amuse themselves.

Personally, I think BSG is the superior series. Firefly just didn't have long enough to build - although it came out of the gate almost fully formed, so did BSG whose mini-series/pilot is one of the most accomplished first episodes I've ever seen. (As is Serenity: The Pilot, btw.)

BSG, due to the fact it's still on the air and will be for another season, has been able to build and build on its premise - taking it in very complex and exciting directions. Firefly, being cruelly killed so early, wasn't allowed a chance to evolve into something greater (ie. like Buffy was able to do in its second, third, etc seasons)

Farscape, on the other hand, was like this wacky live-action cartoon that desperately wanted to have gravitas, but didn't and shouldn't be mentioned in the same paragraph as BSG and Firefly. Let alone the same sentence. D'oh!

I bought into the promotion Universal was doing and picked up season 1 of BSG when I bought my copy of Serenity. I really enjoyed it and I had to remove the remote from my husband's hand to prevent him from watching "just one more episode" late into the night. I think there are a lot of ways you could compare the two (large ensamble casts, documentary style of filming, spaceships/colony settings) but they are very different shows. Firefly, to me, was first about the characters and second about their place in the larger struggle, whereas BSG seems to be first about the struggle, told through the eyes of the characters. I was physically stressed out watching BSG, especially the miniseries and the first few eps, thats how affected I was by the story. But I LOVE the BDHs in a way Starbuck and co. just can't touch.
hee, I've always thought that BSG was far more comparable to 24 or The Shield -- shows in which suspense is the main source of emotion. It's SF done like Saving Private Ryan in space! I also think that's the reason why it gets more respect in the mainstream press than traditionally done fantastical shows -- i.e. it's not as "silly" as say Buffy the Vampire Slayer, even though I think BtVS is as close to art as TV gets, while BSG seems like a very flashy and technically superb show without much substance. (of course, my own opinion)

Of course, this is one of the reasons I don't like/enjoy the show: it's one constant aim is to elicit big emotions from me, and I don't enjoy the feeling of being manipulated. I tried to watch it, but I got tired of being jerked around. This is also why I don't enjoy 24, horror movies (except for zombie movies, b/c zombies rock hard) and melodramatic tear-jerkers (or, "chick flicks").
Well, I tend to agree with Roush too: you can't compare BSG with Firefly. Because Firefly is so much better. And I DO like BSG, don't get me wrong. It's not a matter of quantity, it's a matter of quality. BSG may have had the time to grow, that's true, but Firefly didn't even need it, it was already "grown" starting with the pilot. Starbuck and company could never get to be as complex and interesting characters as Mal's crew... even though they're sure more interesting than most, or at least some, Star Trek crews, I guess 8)
PS: That's because that's all I'm interested in: characters. Character development. The rest is not as important as characters, for me.
BSG is ok but... Well, let's just say that BSG S2.0 has come out and I haven't bought it yet. Coming from me (the one who was at Walmart at midnight when each of the Buffy & Angel DVDs came out, pestering the stock people to put it on the shelf so I could have it, and once waited a whole hour while the manager looked through several pallets of stock because Buffy S5 wasn't in the right place) that's saying something. I enjoy it when I watch it but I don't feel the need to see it like I do with Joss' shows.
I'm not sure 'more fanciful' is the best phrase to use (BSG and Farscape both have Faster Than Light travel for example which Firefly doesn't have - in fact tho' some of the science in Firefly is, err, not, there isn't too much in there that we couldn't do now given sufficient funds and motivation) but the series are certainly different.

BSG is massive in scope. They're effectively dealing with the survival of the human race (one memorable episode from season 1 shows them keeping a running total of how many of the species are currently alive - that's pretty grim, even tho' it has an uplifting ending). I guess it asks 'Given that humanity is noble, can we stay noble when everything is on the line ?'.

Farscape is also large in scale tho' from the more personal viewpoint of one fairly average Joe just trying to get home and certainly had its wacky moments (in one episode it was an actual cartoon - not a live-action one) but I can't agree about the lack of gravitas. When it wanted to it could really ramp up the tragedy and always had bags of moral complexity (once you got past the initial 'muppets in space' issue). Not really sure about the overarching theme tho' maybe 'Love conquers all' or 'You can never go home again' or 'We're all stoned out of our gourds, want some ?' ;).

Firefly is very personal and, tho' often light in tone, still has serious themes at it's core about loss of faith and the cost (and worth) of freedom. As we all know it didn't have a chance to show us what it was going to do but it basically seemed to be saying 'We're not usually noble, and you can't really rely on us to do the right thing, but every now and again we might surprise you. Cos we're wiry' ;).

Farscape, on the other hand, was like this wacky live-action cartoon that desperately wanted to have gravitas, but didn't and shouldn't be mentioned in the same paragraph as BSG and Firefly. Let alone the same sentence. D'oh!

Uh what? Did you actually watch any episodes? Like, oh, say Won't Get Fooled Again?, the Choice, Relativity, Icarus Abides, Die Me Dichtomy, Terra Firma, Dog with Two Bones, Wolf in Sheeps Clothing (part 1 and 2), pretty much anything that wasn't from the first half of Season One?

The only science-fiction show that can hold a candle to Farscape is Firefly, and even then it's mainly because they're so completely different it's not fair to say one's better.
Gouki: Or 'The Way We Weren't' (early season 2). Very powerful Aeryn episode about past sins and redemption..
What about Galaxy Quest? Never give up, never surrender...

Anyway though, Firefly ended up being far from grounded in reality (I think the western part was pushed a bit too far in the TV series since it's cheaper) but I'm not sure that BSG really counts in that ground either... Still, it's a nice attempt to keep people from doing petty comparisons that pale in comparison to the big damn arguements (oddly enough, it's entirely unrelated to Firefly/Serenity)
Saje: Yes! I was watching that last night, I can't believe I forgot it! Technically it was covererd by being not in the first half of season one though.

And the Peacekeeper Wars. You know what I mean.
Well, I know a lot of people weren't impressed with it but I didn't think it was too bad. That said i've only seen it once so I think i'll need to get the DVD and have another look (my happiness at getting any kind of resolution might have coloured my perception a bit).

Personally, if the end of season 4 had been it, that would've been OK with me. It was the kind of show that could end on a tragic note and be entirely consistent. If they just hadn't put 'To be continued' up at the end I could've let it lie ;)
I must confess that Battlestar took awhile to really draw me in. I appreciate it for how well done it is, but I cannot list it among my top favorite shows - it's just not the type of sci-fi that I *really* love. I enjoy it, and eagerly await each episode, but it doesn't hold a candle in terms of story content to Firefly, Farscape, or Babylon 5.

Keith G - I totally disagree with your assessment of Farscape and call into question how much of the show you actually watched. I checked it out on the Starburst DVDs (finally decently priced) due to overwhelming recommendations, and have not been disappointed. It has really grown to be an amazingly strong series (I've seen a little over two seasons). It occassionally has bad episodes, usually the ones that feel like you've seen that plot 20 times already on the various Treks, but when it's good it's absolute perfection. Character interaction, slightly offbeat humor (Joss isn't the only one that knows how to inject humor into serious shows), thrilling action... and Scorpious is the best villain of any series EVER bar none. I've still seen just over half of what there is to see, and I can safely say that, after Firefly, it is my second favorite series (and I'm pissed about the cancellation, even though I haven't finished watching all that there is yet).
Firefly is more light-hearted, with jokes peppered throughout each episode.

Yep, and this is one of the things I like about Joss' work. Not just that there's jokes, but the jokes make things more real. I don't know about anyone else, but I'd be miserable without humour, jokes and what-not. Dealing with difficult situations works best when you use a little humour or just joke around a bit. It's what friends and family do. So this aspect of the writing draws me into the world a whole lot more and makes the characters feel like people I might actually know.

Now I do love me some BSG. It's the best genre-show on the air right now and it's better than whole heaps of other genre-shows. I'd even call myself a fan. But to me, it could never be as good as Firefly. Not because the storytelling is better or worse (I adore the moral complexity of BSG, the way that there's no clear right or wrong in any given situation), and that's because of the character work. It's fine in BSG, no complaints whatsoever, but I know of no single writer who paints better characters than Joss (and his fellow ME-writers, obviously).

In the end, Roush is right though: the shows are too different to be compared in a lot of aspects. But that doesn't mean we can't do it. There's no question that BSG and Firefly are both great series. But preferring one over the other has its reasons and I always find it interesting to see what they are.
Whoever paired BSG's attitude with that of The Shield is right on. They're the two best shows on right now, for their intensity, artistry, and ability to accomplish so much with actors who embody their characters even when silent. Lost and 24 are way up there on my list too, though I'm a bit skeptical as to how well 24 will hold up on a fifth season.

And Project Runway, but, you know, slightly different genre there.
I agree with Roush here. Apples and tomartomorts!

In my opinion, BSG and Firefly are *both* character dramas - but where Firefly thrives on humour, action and adventure, BSG thrives on introspection, paranoia and intrigue.

Both shows explore bonds of family, friendship, loyalty and love. They both encourage us to question authority, and to find our own faith in the universe. But where Firefly chooses to explore these questions by splashing colourful paints on a smaller canvas, Battlestar gives us a darker, minimalistic view of an epic journey.

They're both completely valid approaches, and IMO both shows are entirely successful at what they're trying to be. It would be a mistake to 'choose' one over the other, because they both offer someting completely unique. In that sense they both stand with the greats of scifi/fantasy, such as Star Trek (TOS), Babylon 5, Buffy, Angel and Farscape. (And since I'm an anime fan, I'll mention Neon Genesis: Evangelion as well.)

It just so happens that in terms of style, BSG is much closer to the mainstream. I happen to think that's a very cool thing - not only because blurring the lines is fun, but also because it might encourage folks to give the more 'fantastical' stuff a try.

Now, despite being a huge Buffy fan, I tend to connect more deeply with BSG than I do with Firefly. I'm not sure why that is. It wasn't a conscious thing. Maybe it's because BSG reminds me so much of Voyager (which is a show I really liked, in spite of the fact that it never followed through on its boundless premise).

But no matter the reason, I hope geekdom is wise enough to tolerate such diverse tastes. Hell, we need all the geeks we can get. :D
Well, I love Firefly, Farscape and Battlestar Galactica. Frankly, I love it that they're all so different from each other. One of the things that really sunk the Star Trek franchise had to be the unutterably banal sameness of each show. Somehow the ST producers never figured out how to do a different kind of show, so they just made the same fracking/frelling/go se show over and over again, with different casts. Whoop-di-do.

BSG is riveting stuff and they have some great characters, but I don't love any of the characters as much as I love the BDH or the Farscape crew, at least not yet. As for great villains, Commander Cain (played by Michelle Forbes) has managed to scare me more than Scorpius or the Reavers, mostly because she's frightening realistic.

Overall, yeah, apples and oranges and kiwis, not fair to compare them. When good storytellers are allowed to follow their story's own internal logic, instead of filling in the blanks supplied by the network suits, we all benefit by getting great shows.

Gotta go, BSG is on soon!
I finally got the chance to see “Battlestar” on DVD a few days ago, and I’m really digging it. Unfortunately, I don’t have the Sci-Fi Channel so it’ll be many long, painful months of spoiler temptation before I can see the rest of Season Two. However, I can weigh in on this discussion.

I find this comparison thing so funny because the first time I watched BSG I kept thinking “This is so much like ‘Firefly!’” The documentary-style cinematography both in live action and in the Zoic-riffic special effects, the efforts to avoid science fiction clichés, to keep this futuristic world grounded in the present, the attention to even minor continuity details, the complex characterization--the miniseries opens with a fraking four minute one-er, for heaven’s sakes. I’ve been listening to the commentaries on the DVDs and I swear Ron Moore is simply quoting Joss when he talks about trying to a realistic, ‘you are there’ feel as a reaction against the more traditional, Star Trek-esque model of space opera.

It seems to me that both shows had largely the same goal in mind, but went down different paths in trying to achieve it (ex: Moore tried to make the Galactica more like a realistic warship, while Joss skipped the notion of his heroes being important players entirely; in both cases to get a better sense of realism). Because of this, the two shows can and *should* be compared and contrasted. If you wander over to the Wikipedia entry on Naturalistic Science Fiction, the two shows that are given as primary examples of this emerging subgenre are “Battlestar Galactica” and “Firefly.” They are meant to be compared, because they spring from some of the same ideas.
I agree with Roush - I love both Firefly and BSg and any comparisons I make in terms of which I like better would be meaningless. Firefly is funnier, lighter, and more sharply written, and I don't think I could watch BSG episodes over and over again the way I can Firefly episodes. On the other hand, BSG works the serialized format brilliantly, I think, and (this is just my experience - I can see how other people can have the opposite one) I find myself connecting with the characters as real people more than I did in Firefly. I think both shows have first rate casts.

StakeTheLurk, did you know you can download BSG episodes off iTunes the day after they air?
Keith G - I totally disagree with your assessment of Farscape and call into question how much of the show you actually watched.

All of the first three seasons and select episodes of the 4th - and the wrap-up mini-series. I only watched select episodes of the 4th because the show had deteriorated so much from the mildly diverting show it was to something I found myself suffering through. The writers were lazy and fell back on a similar structure every season - let's split up the crew, let's make a former enemy an ally, Crichton/Aeryn on again off again, wormhole wormhole wormhole

Farscape never evolved, it devolved. In the first two years there were times when I was very well entertained. Occasionally I was moved. But mostly it felt like a bit of confectionary that was enjoyable and never filling.

Yes, there were innovative episodes - like the one that was half-animated. But, really, does that make it a great episode or merely a good stunt? It's comparable to "Smile Time", I suppose - but as enjoyable as that was, nobody thinks it is Angel's best episode.

Scorpious is the best villain of any series EVER bar none.

If you like your villains to wear black hats and twirl their moustaches...

(and I'm pissed about the cancellation, even though I haven't finished watching all that there is yet)

The only terrible thing about the cancellation was that Sci-Fi renegged on the two-year deal - that was just unfair to the creators and actors and crew. What it did allow was the creation of Peacekeeper Wars, which is basically season five squeezed into a few hours - certainly a highlight for me, who would never have bothered with a full fifth year.
Even though I feel like everything on this topic has already been said, I had to weigh in. It seems to me there's a little bit of misinterpretation going on here. Roush isn't saying that BSG isn't as good as Firefly and Farscape (in fact, he might be implying that it's better in some ways). He says it's a top ranked show, someone wrote in to disagree saying it wasn't up to par with Firefly and Farscape, and he said they're so different you can't compare them.

I have to agree. If someone forced me to rank my sci-fi shows I would have a very, very hard time. Just because they're all sci-fi does not mean they're highly similar. I think of BSG more as a drama that just happens to be set in space. It's sci-fi that you don't have to be a sf fan to watch and enjoy. Farscape is heavier on the sf elements, simply because of all the aliens and strangeness of the world but it still doesn't have any techno mumbo jumbo of the Treks. And Firefly, though it has no aliens or techno mumbo jumbo, in some ways I think it's a harder sell than even Farscape was/is. The western element throws people, and many people just don't get Joss's humor and style.

Ultimately, though, Farscape would take the top spot on my list. It's just so different, wacky at times (yes with a few bad eps, but any show with more than a season to its name has some of these), emotional, touching, and... well, it sort of defies description. Then it'd be BSG, then Firefly, followed by shows like SG-1 and other more mainstream lighter sf shows.

I look at it this way. I convinced my sister, who hadn't watched a second of sci-fi in her life, to sit down and watch Farscape with me. By the end of the first season she was wanting to watch 3 episodes in a row, and we polished the whole series off in about 3 months. But I couldn't get her to touch Firefly with its measely 13 episodes, far less daunting than Farscape's 88 and 4 hour mini-series.

[ edited by sbz on 2006-01-14 06:59 ]
All of the first three seasons and select episodes of the 4th - and the wrap-up mini-series. I only watched select episodes of the 4th because the show had deteriorated so much from the mildly diverting show it was to something I found myself suffering through. The writers were lazy and fell back on a similar structure every season - let's split up the crew, let's make a former enemy an ally, Crichton/Aeryn on again off again, wormhole wormhole wormhole

Season Four was meant to be different. The best way to describe it is Buffy Season Six in space. It was a metaphor for his mind. He's become so desperate and emotionally detatched from the world that all he wants is to be happy. To be selfish. Which is why Peacekeeper Wars is important. Or even the end of Season Four, (from Terra Firma, or even Unrealised Reality), where he realises just how much eh truly cares for Aeryn and risks everything to track her down--even going tinto Katratzi. Which is why he proposes to her. He has a child, a soon-to-be-wife, all the knowledge in the world, and Earth (although for the time being he cane not return) us safe. He's becoming emotionally open again. And more comfortable with his new place in the world.

They split up the crew once. For one season. That plot ran it's course, so they brought them back together. Occasionally they got seperated for a multipart episode or if they each had different goals (like the Mental As Anything/Bringing Home the Beacon semi-two-parter). And with Talyn crazy and dying it's not they had anywhere to go besides Moya.

Which other enemies became allies besides Scorpius--who only actually became an ally in season 4? Technically, Sikozu was never an enemy. Had he had to, John would have sided with the Scarrans in Peacekeeper War, but the Peacekeepers were the better bet at keeping his family safe.

Chriton/Aeryn on-again-off-again? Well of course. Never give the audience what they want at first. I mean, it's not like they didn't have obstacles. In season one, there was Gelena and Chriton not really knowing what was happening, but there was an attraction (see: A Human Reaction).

Season two: Aeryn isn't used to these sorts of feelings she doesn't know how to cope, but after the mess with Katrala she accepts them and wants to move on. Then dies.

Season Three: She comes back to life and tries to resume their relationship which is fine until Chriton is cloned and she gets stuck on Talyn with the clone and alls deeply in love. Sbe can't watch Chriton die a second time and have her heart that vulnerable again.

Season Four: She doesn't tell Chriton she's pregnant. They feel they can't trust each other. But. They get over it when she admits it is her baby and that she loves him deeply. They get married.

They were certainly a lot more on than Buffy/Angel ever were--or most rpimary chracters in a drama even.

Wormhole's became a focus because they represented Chriton's chance for an escape. To show that there was something about him and to give the show a stronger focus than "find a way home." And it worked. Everyone wanted them because thy represented ultimate power.

Farscape never evolved, it devolved. In the first two years there were times when I was very well entertained. Occasionally I was moved. But mostly it felt like a bit of confectionary that was enjoyable and never filling.

Never evolved? We are talking about the same show yeah? Starred Ben Browder, filmed in Australia, created by Rockne S. O'Banon?

How did it not evolve. Season One was about getting home. Fairly episodic, it had no real focus, besides introducing the chracters. Then in season two, the chracters plots became interwined as new chracters appeared, old ones changed completely and the game was pushed up to the next level. Season three saw the crew split up unable to contact each other, re-evaluaintg their relationships. And Season four saw everything crumble as John accepted things could never go back the way they were.

To say it didn't evolve is like saying the characters of Buffy or Angel or Firefly (although, so be honest, being only fourteen episodes long there isn't as much) never evolved.

If you like your villains to wear black hats and twirl their moustaches...

You mean a sadisitc, intelligent, dangerous, socipath with a love of black leather? Who does that sound like.

Scorpius has a very simple goal: Destroy the Scarrans. He will do everything he can to stop them, because they represent not only a threat to him or even the Peacekeeper's but everything. At a glance he does not appear to change, but it's a subtle change. He grows from the perfect cruel bad guy, into someone who is willing to accept help, make amends and change his ways to achieve his goals.

There is no way Scorpius in Season One would have simply allowed himself to stay in a cell on Moya and rescue Aeryn. He did them for selfish reasons, yes, but he did them. He could have easily not and tortured what he wanted out of Chriton, killing all of his friends and family. But, he deicded to go the other way.

I should say now, that I did enjoy Firefly. Quite a bit. Mostly the latter episodes. But I didn't enjoy it as much as everyone said I would or even as much as I thought I would. The main part was the Western Element. I understand Joss wanted to do a Western in Space, but I just couldn't get into it. Whereas, the scenes on Serenity I couldn't get enough of. I know ther were story reasons for it, but I just couldn't buy into the idea that everything had gone back to the 1800's, only with space ships and lasers. That said, I did love Shindig.

[ edited by Gouki on 2006-01-14 07:13 ]
I know two totally addicted Firefly fans who have now seen 11 Season Two eps of Battlestar and speak of BSG with awe. I haven't seen them, only the first two eps this week (they're not being shown in Canada yet, and probably never will . . . I don't know that but I have no faith in CTV). The eps were works of beauty. If Firefly were on TV again, I'd be watching it. No question. BSG is on TV now and I'm watching it because it is a brilliantly realized TV series, not because it is better than FF. I have such simple needs . . .
Dear Gouki,

Re: Farscape

Season 4 -
The best way to describe it is Buffy Season Six in space.

Except the characters were never that complicated to begin with, so such a radical shift in tone could not be supported or justified. That change in tone didn't work perfectly on Buffy. On Farscape, well, I never thought to look that deep because I was never expected to before. I feel like this is a justification for inconsistent writing more than anything.

Which other enemies became allies besides Scorpius

Crais, for one. And Sikozu.

Chriton/Aeryn on-again-off-again? Well of course. Never give the audience what they want at first.

I understand the desire to do that on television, but an on again-off again romance done without style becomes tiresome. Okay, you can't always have your Angel leave for his own spin-off series, but find a way to satisfy the audience rather than frustrate them.

They were certainly a lot more on than Buffy/Angel ever were--or most rpimary chracters in a drama even.

To which I would argue that the plot twists to tear them apart just made it more maddening.

Wormhole's became a focus because they represented Chriton's chance for an escape.

One plot stretched across four seasons which again became painful to watch due to repetition.

You mean a sadisitc, intelligent, dangerous, socipath with a love of black leather? Who does that sound like.

Scorpius, not Spike as you seem to imply. Spike was fully layered in Buffy and had interesting differing relationships with all the characters in the ensemble. Scorpy was evil, evil, evil - until he became their ally. But mostly he was just a cackling madman.

The writers seemed to think he had depth because of Harvey. Uh, no.

"Battlestar Galactica" and "Firefly" are much more accomplished television series because there is a consistency in characterisation and the series' tone. But putting "Firefly" aside (because of early cancellation), BSG is superior because it is a character driven series where the ongoing stories seem to evolve organically rather than at the whim of a producer with a few plot twists up his sleeve.

And no one can tell me there's even an argument to be made that Benjamin Browder is a better actor than Edward James Olmos. Or even in the same league.
I like all 3 shows. I could do without Farscape if I had to drop one of them. Comparing any of them seems so odd to me because they really have little in common aside from being set in space. This is the reason I have problems getting some of my friends to give a genre show a chance. They just don't realize how diverse genre shows can be. When I try to get them to watch I generally get quickly dismissed with "I don't like space shows". Uggh...
"Firefly was a show about wit, and how principles shape a person's path in life.
Farscape was a show about love, and the value of a little perversity in the world.
BSG is a show about karma, and what it means to be human."

This describes their differences better than anything else I've come across. I, personally, feel that all three are awesome in their own right.
Sorry Keith G, I know you were addressing Gouki but if I can stick my oar back in ... ;)

I'm not going to address all your points cos a lot of them are just opinions we don't share (don't get me wrong they're perfectly reasonable and well thought out opinions but we just differ on e.g. complexity of characters and could go back and forth til the cows come home with no gain either way ;).

Spike famously became an ally in BtVS but (AFAIK) no-one minds as it was a natural progression and well done. Similarly for Crais, Scorpius and Sikozu (who was arguably not really an enemy) the change in status was entirely consistent with their previous actions and motivations coupled with the natural change of personality traits that we associate with character development.

I do agree that Farscape was more uneven in tone but (as someone said above) this is because BSG is basically a human drama that happens to be set in space. Farscape was, in its way, more conventionally sci-fi with familiar tropes (e.g. body swapping, clones, future/culture shock) being put through the Farscape wringer (Crichton's hilariously natural response to ending up in Aeryn's body is an example of what made it different to other shows). I think there's a fine line between consistency of characterisation and just not developing them. Crichton went from an easy going happy go lucky pacifist to a dark, to some extent deranged, killer who treated his gun like a security blanket and was willing to destroy himself as well as an entire space station in order to achieve his aims (noble tho' they may have been) over the 4 year run. You may call that inconsistent but to me it's a fairly natural repsonse to being far from home, repeatedly attacked, tortured and generally pushed around by everyone. Everyone on the show had their own arc and internal motivation and (IMO) they were all similarly believable (Stark for instance went from being really incredibly annoying to just being incredibly annoying and it only took the entire run to accomplish ;).

Also, have to agree that Olmos and McDonnell especially (tho' the entire BSG cast are excellent) just have more range and (here's that word again) gravitas than Browder et al. but I think that the Farscape cast were fine for Farscape and within that context had the chops to pull off some fairly heavy drama as well as broad comedy (not sure I can see Edward James Olmos doing pratfalls or acting stoned believably).

Re: organic development. I have to say that one of the things that started to bother me a bit in BSG is the plot and character development can be a little slow (e.g. Season 1's Helo arc) tho' i've only just started watching Season 2 (first 2 episodes have been brilliant) so hopefully that will change.

Finally (cue collective sigh of relief;), I really enjoy all 3 shows and couldn't pick any one over the others. They're differently wonderful and tho' Farscape was the first show who's cancellation bothered me enough to write protests, sign petitions and pledge money to try to save (partly as you mention due to the unjustness of it), well i'd've done the same for Firefly had I watched it when first broadcast and i'd certainly do the same for BSG now.
I'm not going into detail, simply because most of what i would say has been rised already, but of the three shows there is no doubt that Farscape is my favourite, not to mention the only show that has ever come close to matching my love of Buffy and Angel (with the now possible exception of Lost).

Farscape was a show that played by it's own rules. It is extremely hard to ever compare it to other series, even those within it's own specific genre. It did have something of a cartoon'esque flavour about it but it used that flavour to it's own advantages.

I will grant that Farscape is certainly not a show that will suit the tastes of every scifi fan. It is far too unique for that to be possible, but that does not mean that it is any less great because of that.

I adore Battlestar Galactica and i obviously hold a very special place in my heart for Firefly but there is no science fiction series that has ever matched Farscape. Certainly not in my opinion, anyway.

Oh, and Ben Browder is an extremely underrated actor that does not get anywhere near the credit he should get. He was at least 50% of what made Farscape the success it was. Comparing him to Edward James Olmos is the same as comparing these three shows in the first place. Two totally different styles of acting.
Excellent points all. Figures my favorive shows would be compared to another. I'll sit this one out.
I haven't seen BSG yet but with all the buzz around it I am definitely going to watch it when season one heads this way.

In regards Firefly being 'fanciful', I agree to some degree. The thing with all Joss' shows is that just because they contain some element of fantasy or sci-fi doesn't mean they can be more insightful into human nature than many other shows.

Buffy and Angel were definitely very firmly planted in the fantasy genre, with stuff that just couldn't happen in our world, like vampires and demons and magick (at least I haven't experienced any of that yet). But they always worked within the rules set up in that universe. People could die. There were consequences for their actions. If Buffy fought someone stronger than her, she would get beaten.

But I felt Firefly was much more realistic. Just because sci-fi exists in the future doesn't mean it can't be realistic, because it can present a potential future of our world. It also abides by the rules it sets out for itself, like Buffy and Angel did. But I also feel that it is a much more gritty and realistic sci-fi future than Star Trek, and even more so than Star Wars, which was one of the most prominent examples of a more realistic future. The characters have to get money to feed themselves and keep their ship flying. There are no aliens or faster-than-light travel. And for that reason I think Firefly is certainly a lot less fanciful than Farscape, which I also like.

[ edited by Razor on 2006-01-14 17:30 ]
Just adding my 2 cents to the Farscape thing: I bought the first half of season one sometime back, but I just couldn't get into it at all. I'm sure the show is great (which is annoying, because I'd like to 'get' it). Just taking a look at the complex arguments made in favor of the show in this topic, shows that Farscape is a complex show which is undoubtedly interesting to watch.

What instantly put me off, though, was first and foremost Ben Browders acting. I know there's lots of people who feel he's natural and great, but his performance falls completely flat. I tolerate him in SG-1, but that's mostly because that's a "leave your brain at home and enjoy" show for me. I also didn't go for the puppets. I like my characters identifyable and I like to get their emotions. Farscape had some characters I very much disliked (Rygel for one) and watching them simply made my toes curl.

Watching characters I dislike is just not something I do for fun, so despite the fact that people keep telling me the show gets better after the first season, I simply disliked the first half way too much to give it another chance. This alone proves to me that BSG, Farscape and Firefly are not comparable. I somewhat get the BSG and Firefly comparisons, but apart from the 'they're on a spaceship on the run' premise, I see no parallels between Firefly and Farscape.
GVH, given that i've already stated my undying love and adoration for both Farscape and Ben, you might be surprised to hear that i felt exactly the same as you did about the first half of season one. I enjoyed the pilot episode but by the tenth episode i was pretty much ready to give up on the show altogether. It felt fragmented, the acting and line delivery seemed second rate and the stories were too predictable. Also, more importantly for me, i was having trouble becoming attached to the various characters. Aeryn, D'Argo, Rygel and even Zhaan were all just too hard to like, due to their abrupt natures and bad attitudes. I really didn't think i was ever going to gel with the series.

However, it was on BBC2 on a Monday evening and there was very little else to be watching at the time so i stuck with it. Am i ever glad that i did! By the end of season one the series had become second only to Buffy and Angel for me. It was absolutely unmissable. The main storylines kicked in, Scorpius arrived, and the main cast actually started to like each other, making them all open up and giving the viewers the chance to see new depths, even to Rygel eventually, who became one of my favourite television characters ever by the end of the show.

It may be too late for you to change your opinion but if there is any show that i would recommend giving a second chance to, it would be Farscape. Even if you just watch until the end of the first season. I think you might be very surprised with what you see.
In comparison to BSG or even Serenity, Firefly seems like a cartoon. I haven't even watched it since Serenity, it seems like it's going backwards.

[ edited by dingoes8 on 2006-01-14 21:27 ]
It may be too late for you to change your opinion but if there is any show that i would recommend giving a second chance to, it would be Farscape. Even if you just watch until the end of the first season. I think you might be very surprised with what you see.

Well, maybe I will, some time in the future. It's pretty low on my priority list though, and given the fact that there's plenty of great television I'm still watching or catching up on, it'll probably take a while before I have 'room' for Farscape. By then the bad taste of the first half of the first season may have lessened somewhat, so who knows. At least you comment makes me somewhat optimistic of my chances for liking the rest.

Oh, and dingoes8, I can't even tell you how much I disagree with your statement :-).
OK, I've sat on the sidelines long enough. As I understand it, this is comparing 'Firefly' to 'Farscape' in terms of a rightful resurrection of a series and, why is BSG just a success when the other two were not. Oh, is that all? (Hears someone shout,"What's the meaning of life?".) Ah, still working on that one. Could be a lifetime story. Anyway, I fail to understand how 'Farscape' can be compared to 'Firefly' in the first place. And, how did BSG get mixed into that equation? The truth is, a lot of these questions just give me a huge laugh.
Of course, the real best sci-fi genre show on TV right now is Dancing With the Stars. :P
Madhatter: Well, you may have been sat on the sidelines but i'm not sure you were watching the game ;)

The linked article has a question about BSG, the answer to which specifically mentions Firefly and Farscape. The columnist goes on to say that you can't really compare the three shows just because they're in the same genre. Most of the comments here are along those kind of lines.

Any talk of second chances etc. is just to people that didn't like one or other of the shows on their first viewing so some folk are suggesting they give 'em another chance.

Hope that helps.
I remember watching Farscape when it first aired, and enjoying it, but I missed a bit and eventually kind of stopped watching it, but I have been on the lookout for the DVDs so I can watch it all. However, is it just me or have the releases been really strange?

For a start they decided to go down the "one season in two seperate boxsets" route, which really annoys me, and even since they've released full season boxsets, they seem strangely overrpriced. The RRP of Buffy and Angel sets started at about £80 but they would usually go down to £40 or so after a few months. And sets like Alias and Lost are coming out now for about £40 for a full season. So why should I pay £85 for Farscape season three on Amazon??!

So you see I have really wanted to get Farscape on DVD but I'm not willing to spend that much, when I didn't even get Buffy and Angel sets right away when they were that price. Then a few months ago had a full series box set listing that disappeared, so I assume that was a mistake or something and they were never made.

I just wish they would release a full series box set like they did for Buffy and Angel, at an affordable price, and I will definitely check it out.
Razor: The full boxset did really exist (saw one in HMV a while back) but I think numbers must've been pretty limited. has a used one on sale at the moment but it's £290 ! Ouch. I really enjoyed the show but don't have any on DVD for exactly the reasons you mention.
I've a new friend. Welcome, Saje. Point well taken.
No problem, glad to help (and to be here, ta ;).
I happen to be a fan of all three shows and love all three shows for their uniqueness and well written plots and character arcs. I think if Firefly had been allowed to continue on it would have been the best of the the three but that's besides the point. All three shows were/are wonderfully written and acted.

GVH, I did not get into Farscape when it first aired, caught an early episode once and thought it looked like garbage. I had a friend praising it constantly but I still never watched it while it aired. I then caught an episode here and there and it started to intrigue me so I took the plunge and bought seasons one and two from Ebay. I had read some reviews on Amazon and many people mentioned that they absolutely loved the show but didn't become hooked until somewhere in the middle of the first season. So, when I started watching it, and wasn't that impressed with the first half of season one, nor impressed with Ben Browder as well, I kept watching because I had already bought the first two seasons and because I was hoping it would get better as people on Amazon had stated. Then all I know is I was completely hooked and loving all the characters, especially Browder's Chricton. It is now up there in my list of greatest shows ever, along with Joss' shows of course (which still are above everything else).

BSG is a show that definitely intrigued me from the beginning but I wasn't sure if I really liked it or not. It kept me wanting to watch to see what was going to happen and it just keeps getting better and better. I absolutely love EJO as Adama and he is by far my favorite character on the show.

Starbuck was a character that I was sure I was never going to like and hated almost instantly while watching the miniseries and I now love her character. I basically love all the characters and how much they taken them in their stories.

As for a show deserving to be on the air more than the other, well, I just don't get that type of thinking. I think they all deserved to be on the air. Firefly is the most tragic because it never had a chance to blossom and show us it's full potential. The movie helped heal that wound a bit but there will always be this scab gnawing at me because, although great, the movie could never delve into the complexity of the characters that we were sure to get seeing the story develop over several seasons.

Farscape should have gotten it's last season to be able to wrap up the story but we did get the miniseries which was better than nothing and did wrap up the story but not as neatly as it should have.

And BSG is successful enough that it doesn't appear to be going anywhere and will have it's chance to tell it's story and hopefully it will be a complete series arc and not cut short by shortsighted tv execs who want to move on to the next "hit" that most likely won't be one.

So my motto is to celebrate all these great shows, enjoy what they have to offer and hope there are more to follow.
bl!! Where ya been? Glad to see you, I was wondering what was up...knew you'd have to weigh in on this thread, though. ;)
If you want experience Farscape (because if you have watched it but couldn't mkae it past the first half of season one--all you need to watch is Pilot and then Durka Returns and everything after that) cheaply, import he Australian boxsets which are $44AU now. Or, get the American Starburst versions.

At the very least try it out because it is different to everything you've seen.

Keith G, I don't want to keep arguing, but, I actually meant Angelus, not Spike. Still, you've made some good points.

I personally love Browder's acting, because the style fits Farscape so perfectly, he comes across as incredibly human and he has great comic timing. He does excellent torture scenes.

At the very least we can all agree that Claudia Black and Anthony Simcoe are amazing.
Keith G, I don't want to keep arguing, but, I actually meant Angelus, not Spike. Still, you've made some good points.

Well, I suppose it could be argued that Angelus himself was just evil, evil, evil :-)

I don't particularly want to continue the argument either - as someone else said, a lot of it is personal opinion. But given my soft spot for Firefly and my adoration of BSG (2x12 was amazing television), I personally can't take Farscape seriously.

But I'm glad of this discussion :-)
GVH, I did not get into Farscape when it first aired, caught an early episode once and thought it looked like garbage.

Heh, it would seem my opinion of the first half of season one isn't that odd at all. I'll push Farscape to a slightly higher spot on my list, but the DVD prices'll keep the chance of me seeing it soon reasonably low. I still think the price differences in TV show DVDs are pretty surprising sometimes.
DVD Pacific are selling the Starburst Editions (seven episodes to each set, roughly) for $15US a pop. There's three to a season and they're worth the money. Packed with extras and the video and sound is gorgeous.

They're up to season 3, collection one now.
Ok, so exactly how good is this Farscape show? ;-) Honestly, y'all have made me want to buy it but I'm balking at the price. Same reason I haven't bought any of X-Files. Not sure I'd like it anyway. I hate talking aliens (which I think Farscape has). Demons, I'm ok with.

Also wanted to weigh in & say that this last episode of BSG was really great, best one in a while in my opinion. Still doesn't even put it close to Firefly in my book.
Try Netflix for Farscape first. I think it is just as good as Firefly or BSG although I agree that the three shows are really nothing like each other at all.
I tried to fall for Farscape. I watched quite a bit before deciding, for me, that it just didn't have 'that thing'. You know, the hard-to-define 'thing' that makes you fall in love with a show? Not there for me.

Plenty of my fellow Whedonesquers adore it though, so I've decided that it must be a flaw in my make-up. A brain cell that I just don't have... maybe even a gene that I lack? Oh well. :P

I'm sure that all of you folks that haven't seen it will have no trouble with the enjoyment, regardless of my opinion. I'll stick with Deadwood (if the interminable wait for season 3 ever ends), and I got BSG for xmas and I've been checking it out, so hey! There's hope for me yet!
Willowy, weirdly enough, I tried to resist "Farscape", too. I initally invested time in "New Sci-Fi Shows", only to find myself involved in *Gasp* Firefly- How can these people survive?
Can i just say as well, regarding Farscape, that once you have found yourself addicted and have watched your way through the whole show, you will suddenly find a whole new appreciation of the early season one episodes.

I've watched the whole series now about four times through and there is no doubt that the early episodes are given a whole new light once viewed in the broader scope of the series. Basically, put up with them first time through, get to the good stuff and then view them again. It's amazing how much better they seem once you know what they were building to.
Farscape along with Angel and the original Star Trek are my favourite shows of all time.

Firefly probably would have made that list had it lasted a few seasons and really got into rich arc-based storytelling ala Buffy and Angel.

Battlestar Galactica is a good show; but at the moment it's all hardcore marines in space, and other than testosterone and shock value I haven't grown emotionally attached to any of the characters.

PS - Farscape season 3, Angel seasons 1&5 and Star Trek seasons 1 & 2 are the best seasons of episodic television I've ever seen!!!

[ edited by The Host on 2006-01-15 16:25 ]
Great discussion, folks :) Not sure whats to be said that hasn't already been.
Vampire with a Gun, that's very true about going back and rewatching the earlier episodes after seeing the whole run. I did appreciate them much more. I felt the same way about BSG too when I rewatched season one on dvd and was able to see how far the characters had come in such a short time and you can also see that with Farscape, especially with Aeryn and D'Argo.

Willowy, been around just not posting much! And I know what you mean about "that hard to define" thing with a show. I really enjoy Veronica Mars but I don't love it like so many others seem to do. I think it's a very good show and has it's great moments but it just doesn't give me the same awe inspiring feelings that the Whedonverse shows, Farscape and BSG do. Haven't seen Deadwood yet but am hoping to nab that on DVD someday.
Karen Shaw in the 4x4, anyone?
Battlestar Galactica is a good show; but at the moment it's all hardcore marines in space, and other than testosterone and shock value I haven't grown emotionally attached to any of the characters.

Now I feel like somebody has been watching a different show to the one I'm in love with. Not that I'm trying to pretend it isn't partly hardcore-marines-in-space but there are so many other aspects to the series that make it way more interesting than that premise; Dr Baltar for one and President Roslyn for another - two characters that aren't marines at all.

Admittedly I'm enjoying the series' take on our post-9/11 world and it is a show about a war, too. And an apocalypse (or more rightly, genocide). And the post-Apocalyptic survival of the species.

And it's not always about the action or the shock value - witness this week's episode "Resurrection Ship, Part 2" where the giant battle plays mostly off-screen and when on-screen is off in the distance. Great choice, Ron Moore - because the show is about the characters not about the FX.

And attachment to characters? I find them all compelling and would be upset to lose any of them.
We were lucky that Firefly popped out of Joss' head so fully formed, but most shows aren't like that. I'm another one who saw some of S1 Farscape and then stopped. But then I caught more episodes in S2 or S3 and became totally hooked. It had all the elements from the start, but the storytelling needed some time to build and that it did. It's very accomplished storytelling. And as for the animatronic puppets, Pilot and Rygel are among my favorite characters in all of scifi. Those two are better "actors" than most of the live action types on many primetime shows. Browder is rather underrated, but he did a fine job with a tough role. Claudia Black is amazing. And the entire cast can do it all -- comedy to drama, action to accents, soup to nuts.

I got hooked on BtVS in a similar way. Saw a S2 ep, didn't get it and then a couple of seasons later, BAM, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Love is like that sometimes ;)
This is, indeed, a good discussion. How can I put this into words? I'd very much enjoyed 'Farscape' and there are several episodes that touch my heart. But, something was lacking. I wanted to feel what the characters were feeling and it just wasn't there. Not like Buffy or Angel when you could feel each character, their thoughts and their minds. That's was wonderful. I'm finally getting that same feeling with BSG. The interactions of the characters, the....I'm rambling again. Sorry. I'll hush now.
I find that a little strange to hear, Madhatter, simply because i was able to connect to the crew of Moya so easily, especially from season two onwards.

Crichton was, on the surface, such a straightforward character but as the show progressed you really started to see deep into his soul, and i don't just mean his conversations with Harvey. Of all the space type heroes that i've ever watched, he is probaby the one that i understood the most, because he was one of us, a basically regular guy, thrown into a situation that was absolutely nuts and expected to deal. His progression from out of place astronaut to edge of insanity saviour of the galaxy was one of the most thrilling developments of an individual character i ever had the pleasure of watching, partly because i could totally understand why he was doing what he was doing and feeling the way he felt.

The rest of the crew, Aeryn and D'Argo in particular, had incredible journeys also, but it was John that i really connected with because he truly was a human lost in space, rather than a soldier in an SG Unit or a member of Starfleet. He made it very easy for you to put yourself in his boots.

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