Matttttt's Unpublished Article (Continued)


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III.

     From the Sci Fi Channel Web site:

Dear Scapers:
Thank you for your tremendous efforts in support of Farscape. We have received the many phone messages, e-mails, faxes, letters and flowers that you have been sending. And they are appreciated. (Unfortunately, we will have to return the check for $60 that was sent to help pay for a new season.) Your dedication and devotion to the series make us all proud to have worked on such a beloved show.  You can also read the F.A.Q on Farscape's cancellation at http://www.scifi.com/farscape/faq/

Thanks again.
SCI FI Channel

    It would appear that the fan movement is having some effect.  This most recent change in the Sci Fi Web site -- which at first addressed the cancellation in only the sparsest of terms, then displayed a terse statement directing complaining viewers to call their Viewer Line seems to take less of a nakedly defensive stance.  Certain parts of its text almost acknowledge that Sci Fi realizes that the program they're dismantling is in fact more beloved than they realized.


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    This is one of the topics of discussion that pop up during our small group meeting.  Four of us -- Linda, Carlos, new group member Tomas, and myself -- have gathered at Linda's apartment.  While her husband tucks the children into bed, we discuss our upcoming strategy and how best to deploy the group.

    Of course, as is typical of fan conversations, all topics turn inevitably towards the object of affection.  Linda's two small boys, she says, love Japanese-produced cartoon shows such as Pokemon; suddenly we're talking about the proposed Farscape anime series.   Carlos tells us that he played the role of the show's major villain, Scorpius, in a small play called OklaMoya, a send-up of both the musical Oklahoma and an extended episode of Farscape.  Linda mentions that the word Moya is the name of the sentient starship that carries the heroes of Farscape around the galaxy, is also the Croatian word for mine.  And, naturally, our conversation is peppered with words like frell and dren and yotz -- alien pseudo-profanities uttered by characters on the show.

    But what we've really gathered to discuss, on this mid-October evening, is our next move.  Tomas, it turns out, is a marketing savant, and takes charge of the conversation with some fantastic ideas for selling ourselves.  Hence, we develop ideas such as movie-preview advertising slides, print ads, raffles and auctions, and outreach programs to other fan groups.  Tomas feels that, since we're the largest city in the Midwest, and the third-largest Neilsen market in the country, we should also assert ourselves as the regional hub for the national movement.  We're not entirely sure that this last point will work, as the Minnesota-based "Midwest Scapers" organization might not agree to hand over "authority" in these matters to us.

    An idea we do agree upon is the necessity of cultivating the existing science-fiction community, and a great way to do this is by visiting SF conventions.  The season for cons is just about to begin, and the one called WindyCon is right around the corner.  WindyCon is the Chicago area's largest SF convention, with a total of about 1500 confirmed guests this year.  This seems to us like a perfect breeding ground for new recruits to the cause.

    Tomas suggests that we offer free giveaways (i.e., trinkets) that provide data on our Web site and our movement, to be given away at a fan-staffed information table at the convention.  He also tells us that, at these cons, people often throw large parties with food and drink, which most of the convention-goers attend.  The past few years, he mentions, the parties have been somewhat lame.  We think we can cater a party that will knock the WindyCon participants' socks off.
And so, that Tuesday night, over linguine with shrimp and a superb home-cooked marinara sauce, we begin to hatch a cunning plan.


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   There is some contention as to which is the Best Show On TV.  As is to be expected, the major broadcast networks usually provide most of the fodder for these debates.  The West Wing, on NBC, has been mentioned most frequently the past two years, with little dissention.  But I would beg to differ, judging solely from what I think are the most important parts of any television program:  dialogue and character.

    The characters on The West Wing are clever, urbane, quick and elegant of speech, and even when they conflict with each other, they still manage to keep the flow of wit running smoothly.  Itís fascinating to watchóbut itís also the showís major weakness.  ALL of the characters are these super-geniuses, all talking circles around each other, all opening little asides and jumping tracks and making snide pokes and quirky jabs before ending the conversation in a haughty victory or, more often, a shaky compromise.  After a few minutes, the dialogue becomes so homogenous that, if one were merely reading the text and all proper names had been excised, one might forget which character is speaking.

    By contrast, the dialogue in Farscape can be somewhat crude, but itís much more effective at defining the characters.  Rygel XVI, a deposed monarch, speaks in the officious tones of a solipsistic aristocrat.  Ka DíArgo, a huge barbarian-like warrior, is often gruff, surly, and pessimistic.  The priestess Zhaan draws upon reservoirs of motherhood, fused with Zen Buddhist calm and Taoist acceptance.  Chiana the flighty, promiscuous runaway is a hormone-besotted teenager, exuberant and giggling one moment, exploding with foot-stamping petulance the next.

    But the dialogue does not freeze these characters in their basic archetypal modes, as happens on so many other shows (such as Star Trek, where Kirk is always Kirk, Spock remains forever Spock, and heaven forfend if Dr. McCoy should be anything other than ìBonesî).  Over time, and through many dangers, toils, and snares, the characters have evolvedóand so has their dialogue.  The Officer Aeryn Sun of two seasons ago is markedly different from her counterpart in recent episodes, and yet still recognizable as the same no-nonsense military trooper we meet in the showís premiere.  The difference lies in the layers of emotional resonance that the writers have infused into the charactersí speech, brilliantly and subtly brought to life by the committed actors assigned to those roles. 

    I am not necessarily advocating the notion that Farscape is the Best Show on TV.  Such distinctions are subjective, and thus largely meaningless.  But with the current playing field dominated by limp ER retreads, cop/vigilante shows, ìrealityî programs galore, and the seemingly endless variations of the Law & Order franchise, there is no other contender that has yet to assert itself.


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The free trinkets are ready to be given away
Pens, postcards, and bookmarks are surrounded by pins depicting various Farscape characters.  All are arranged and ready to give away.