What a difference a year makes. When the Farscape crew assembled in San Diego for the 2003 Comic-Con, it was a decidedly mournful affair. The show had aired its last episode only four months earlier and with no network reprieve in sight, angry fans were experiencing a serious case of withdrawal. Little did anyone suspect, however, that behind the scenes, plans were already in the works to resurrect Farscape and give the cult series a proper send-off!
Flash-forward to the 2004 Con, where fans' dreams became a reality. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, reunited members from the cast and crew (including series stars Ben Browder and Claudia Black) took the stage to present the trailer for Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars, a four-hour miniseries that will air on the Sci Fi Channel on Oct. 17 and 18 at 9pm/ET.
To say the teaser got a positive reaction would be an understatement; the minute Farscape's familiar theme song started playing, the packed room broke out in cheers. Even Browder and Black couldn't contain their excitement. Right after the lights went down, they snuck to the front of the stage to get a better look at the screen. "Farscape looks amazing cut together with music and that big announcer voice," laughs Browder, the once and future John Crichton. "You kind of go, 'Wow, I'm in that?'"
You can't blame the actors for their enthusiasm. After all, at this point last year, they had no idea if they'd ever be donning their characters' leather ensembles again. Everyone involved with Farscape credits executive producer (and Peacekeeper Wars director) Brian Henson with making the miniseries happen. "When the show was canceled, I tried to place it at other channels, but that didn't work out," Henson recalls. "I was starting to explore alternatives — including a theatrical feature — when a consortium [of investors] approached me in the early spring. They had heard about the show from fans and were interested in financing something with us. So I called [series writer] David Kemper and [Farscape creator] Rockne O'Bannon to get them started on a script. Then I contacted Hallmark about distributing the miniseries. And that's pretty much the way it came together."
After several months of preproduction, the cast reassembled in Australia in December of last year for an intense nine-week shoot. "It was enormously challenging," Henson says. "It's a movie, so the scenes were bigger and there were always more characters. We were usually doing only one or two takes of a shot with four cameras rolling, so everyone had to be on their game. There was no space for people to be forgetting lines or things like that."
As difficult as the shoot was, Kemper was stuck with an almost more daunting task: writing a script that would bring the series back in grand style. "I had a whole fifth year planned out, so I had the bare bones of where I wanted to go," he says, "but now, 22 hours had to be truncated to four. It was hard to get back into the flow again at first, but as we started to gather steam, it became Farscape again. The muscle remembered what to do." Kemper also had to find a way of satisfying the existing fan base while also roping in new viewers. "That was the hardest thing," he admits. "To make it so that all of our fans would go, 'Yeah!' and anyone new would go, 'Wow!' But we walk the tightrope pretty well, I think."
Anyone who watched the series knows that Farscape was already pretty epic, but judging from the trailer, the miniseries kicks it up another notch. Naturally, the roughly two-minute teaser doesn't give away a lot of the story, but it does hint at some big things to come. First off, everyone's favorite star-crossed lovers Crichton and Aeryn (who's pregnant with their child) are back, along with their comrades-in-arms D'Argo, Chiana, Rygel, Pilot and the living leviathan, Moya. Also glimpsed are villains like Scorpius and Graiza. As the title implies, all of the characters get caught up in an enormous intergalactic war that pits species against species. Amid the carnage, Crichton and Aeryn try to find a place where they can start their family in peace.
In addition, Kemper kindly tells TV Guide Online this exclusive plot point: "Spaceships and water don't usually mix, but in this Farscape epic... let's just say galoshes. Think water. Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink. I'm a little worried about what's going to happen if all those leather pants get wet, though...."
Although the miniseries will tie up a lot of loose ends left over from the show, don't assume it will close the door on Farscape forever. "I wanted this to be a great, epic event, not the conclusion of an 88-episode story," Henson insists. "Time will tell, but in the best of all worlds, I would hope that Farscape would become a movie franchise as well as a spin-off series." In other words, the sky's the limit.Keep an eye on Insider for our upcoming exclusive interviews with Claudia Black and Ben Browder!