Since the Sci Fi Channel announced that the 11 new episodes of Farscape that begin airing Friday (at 8 pm/ET) will be the cult hit's last, the critics have spoken, the producers have spoken, and Lord knows, the fans have spoken. (Although Jim Henson Co. is developing a Farscape feature and anime project at starburst speed, and looking into syndication options, alienated viewers are nonetheless calling for a boycott of the cable network that shot down their favorite space opera.) In fact, just about the only entity that hasn't put in its two-cents' worth is Sci Fi... until now, that is. "We really tried to take the high road," says the cabler's president, Bonnie Hammer. "Instead of going out there and in any way belittling our partners, we kind of remained quiet." However, at last she is ready to break her silence and, in an exclusive interview with TV Guide Online, explain why the intergalactic castaways' star trek had to come to an end.
TV Guide Online: So, what gives? Why would you want to cancel such a rad show?
Bonnie Hammer: We never wanted to cancel it. What we were trying to do was do 13 more episodes, not 22. The ratings had softened, and it was getting increasingly expensive to produce. We just couldn't make the financial deal. But we never wanted it to end when it ended. We had all intentions of doing 13 more episodes [beyond these 11] — we wanted to keep it in '03 and end it in '03. But financially, it was just too difficult to do.
TVGO: In that case, why not at least do a proper wrap-up, a TV movie or something?
Hammer: We looked at all the options. But with the speed in which it would have had to be done — because the set had to be broken down and the cast had to come back [from Australia, where shooting took place] and the scripts weren't written — [the cost] would have been enormous. [It would] have been almost as if we were doing [the upcoming epic miniseries] Children of Dune — and with less potential upside. We love the series... and would have liked nothing more than for it to have had a little bit more of a broad appeal. If all of those incredible fans who wrote in and sent notes and flowers and [whatnot] had actually watched it every week, we would have been able to do the 22.
TVGO: You mean to tell me that Farscape doesn't have the numbers to merit a fourth season, but Stargate SG-1, which you just renewed, is attracting a big enough audience to deserve a seventh?
Hammer: Yes. Take a look at our numbers on Monday nights just for the Stargate repeats. It's crazy! Before we ended the season on Stargate, we were getting a very high 1 [rating] and peaked at, I think, a 2 or a 2.1. That was for new, original episodes. [Now] our average for Stargate repeats has been unbelievable — 1.7 and 1.8 [ratings]. When Farscape was repeating, we were lucky if we got a .8. So there's a huge difference.
TVGO: But Farscape is so cool. How can that be?!
Hammer: Even though Stargate is sci fi, it's very broad sci fi. It's not serialized. Every episode, you can come to it whether you've watched the one before [or not]. They are self-contained. My husband is kind of an absentee watcher, and he would tune in every fifth or sixth episode and have absolutely no issues [with following the plots]. Farscape, on the other hand, got very, very serialized. It got very "in."
TVGO: And that's a bad thing... ?
Hammer: They had brilliant and sophisticated writing, but it was so narrow that it basically was an invitation to not tune in if you weren't totally familiar with the show. It was brilliant when you got it, and some of the characterizations were truly amazing, but it took a little too much work.