As John Crichton, the lost-in-space astronaut at the center of Sci Fi's cult series, Farscape, Ben Browder has been tortured, shot at, ejected into space and twinned. But you won't hear him complain. "I've had a fantastic time playing Crichton," says the Tennessee-born actor. With the show's finale airing Friday (8 pm/ET), Browder, 40, reflects on his tour of duty aboard the living leviathan Moya, and names his favorite Farscape episodes.TV Guide Online: Farscape's fans are nothing if not devoted. But be honest: Haven't you grown a little tired of people calling you "Crichton" all the time?Ben Browder: Actually, that doesn't happen to me very often. I hear about it happening to other people. Claudia Black [who plays Crichton's longtime love interest, Aeryn Sun] gets recognized all the time. But I reckon people probably recognize me as often as they recognize Anthony Simcoe [who spends every episode hidden underneath pounds of makeup as the Luxon warrior D'Argo]. I'm always happy to talk about the show, though. Of course, talk to me in 20 years and I might start getting a little weary about it.
TVGO: What have you enjoyed the most about playing Crichton?
Most television characters don't change; what you see in the first episode is what you're going to see in the 100th episode. In the course of Farscape, Crichton goes through revolutionary changes. It's phenomenal to play a character who evolves in a consistent and interesting way over four seasons.
TVGO: What's the secret behind John and Aeryn's relationship? Their star-crossed love affair has always been one of the most compelling aspects of the show.
It's providence. It's serendipity. It's chemistry. It's those three words and many more. The pacing to their relationship has been very interesting. I've said before that it's the heart of Farscape. It isn't always in the forefront, but it plays underneath a great deal of the series. We got very lucky that Claudia and I worked so well together and maintained that fantastic relationship throughout the show's run.
TVGO: In your completely unbiased opinion, what distinguishes Farscape from most other series on TV?
Every show seems to develop a house style, so week-to-week you kind of know what it's going to be. Throughout the 88 episodes of Farscape, we never settled for a house style. One week we were doing high comedy, the next week we were doing action and the next week we were doing a lyrical dramatic piece. I think that's one of the things that holds long-term fans of the show; they follow the characters through this variable context. It's a credit to the writers, the directors and the cast and crew that we managed to pull that off.
TVGO: When you were shooting the first season, was there a point at which you realized the show was heading places you didn't originally expect?
Visually, Farscape went through a major shift in Episode 1.7, "PK Tech Girl," where we used a much more cinematic style that we were previously unsure we were capable of. In terms of storytelling, Episode 1.9, "DNA Mad Scientist," took a major left turn when all of these characters — who you were getting to know and like — cut off the arm of one of their shipmates! This was a huge departure from the more naïve quality of the earlier episodes and it set a certain pattern. You realized that these people had very strong agendas and were willing to do bad things to achieve them even though they were essentially good characters. And then we got to Episode 1.19, "Nerve," where we introduced Scorpius. That was the real turning point of the series.
TVGO: Are you satisfied with the way Farscape is ending?
I don't know, these things end where they end. We do leave a lot of threads hanging in the air that we would have tied up had we been cognizant of the fourth season being the final season. It's one of those things, you want to "finish" the show, but it finished where it finished, and it leaves some open questions and room to revisit the story later as a miniseries or a movie.
TVGO: Do you think that's likely to happen anytime soon?
It will remain a possibility [if] someone sees a financial incentive to do it. Hollywood is forever digging up old shows and franchises, and hopefully, Farscape will continue to garner new viewers on DVD and syndication. There are a lot of people that were never exposed to the show either because they were never home on a Friday evening or they didn't have cable.
TVGO: What's up next for you?
Right now, I'm doing the normal part of the actor's existence, which is trying to find the next gig and hoping it'll work out. Whether it will work out as well as Farscape is completely up in the air. I'm still grateful that I had one series I can be proud of.
TVGO: On that note, let's run through your top 5 favorite Farscape episodes. Browder: 1) "Nerve," Episode 1.19: "It's beautifully written, masterfully shot and it changes Farscape irrevocably." 2) "Won't Get Fooled Again," Episode 2.14: "A wild, outrageous piece that holds together both as comedy and drama. It breaks all the rules of television successfully." 3) "Into the Lion's Den Part II: Wolf in Sheep's Clothing," Episode 3.20: "If for no other reason than we spent an entire act blowing up a ship. It's one of our most cinematic forays." 4) "Green Eyed Monster" & "John Quixote," Episode 3.08/Episode 4.07: "Simply because I wrote them. The experience of seeing something you wrote brought to the screen was amazing." 5) "Terra Firma," Episode 4.13: "Once again, it breaks all the rules of what you're not supposed to do on a space-based sci-fi show. Our fantasy collides with reality, and it holds up."