Saturday, March 15, 2003

Salon -- Can "Farscape" fans reinvent TV?

"Farscape's" fans (and I'm among them) consider it one of the most innovative and best-written things on TV. The show follows the adventures of astronaut John Crichton (Ben Browder), who is marooned in space after an aeronautical accident. Buff, brainy and kinda goofy, John allies himself with a band of outlaw aliens aboard a sentient spaceship that's being pursued by the military arm of a totalitarian regime.

When fans logged on in September, Sci Fi had just broadcast the first 11 episodes of the show's fourth season, with the balance to come in the spring after a short break. "Farscape's" staffers and actors celebrate the end of each season's production schedule by communicating online with the fans -- from Australia, where the show is produced -- to discuss upcoming episodes and drop "spoilers" about the season finale.

The fans received more than spoilers this session. Immediately following a phone conference with Sci Fi programming executives, "Farscape" executive producer David Kemper, along with actor Ben Browder and co-executive producer Richard Manning, informed the "Farscape" faithful (known as "'Scapers") that Sci Fi Channel had just reneged on its commitment to purchase the fifth and final season of the series. Effectively, the show had just been canceled, leaving the audience with a series finale that ends in a cliffhanger.

And more on fan struggles to continue the show on Salon.

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