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Why Hasn’t Farscape Been Rebooted Despite its Rabid Fanbase?


Why Hasn’t Farscape Been Rebooted Despite its Rabid Fanbase?


Summary

  • Farscape, the Australian Sci-Fi TV show, follows John Crichton’s intergalactic adventures with aliens and advanced technology in space battles.
  • Despite its popularity, Farscape was canceled due to high production costs and lack of funding, preventing any official reboot or continuation.
  • Plans for webisodes and a potential movie adaptation have fallen through, but hope remains for a return to TV in the future.



Launched on the SyFy channel on March 19, 1999, Farscape is an Australian Science Fiction TV show produced by The Jim Henson Company and Hallmark Entertainment. The premise concerns an eclectic group of astronauts led by John Crichton (Ben Browder) engaging in various intergalactic missions while fighting an authoritarian regime called The Peacekeepers. Farscape remained on the Nine Network for four seasons and 88 episodes, gaining a rabid fanbase before the show was canceled in 2003.


Despite being off the air for nearly 20 years, Farscape has flirted with a small-screen continuation and a movie adaptation in the interim. However, despite the show’s popularity, Farscape has lingered in development hell due to a lack of funding and has never been considered for an official reboot. With the show celebrating its 25th anniversary, it’s worth analyzing why Farscape was canceled and why it’s never received an official reboot despite its massive popularity.


What Is Farscape About?

farscape

Farscape

Release Date
March 19, 1999

Cast
Ben Browder , Claudia Black , Virginia Hey , Anthony Simcoe , Gigi Edgley , Paul Goddard , Lani Tupu , Wayne Pygram , Jonathan Hardy , Tammy MacIntosh , Raelee Hill , Melissa Jaffer , David Franklin , Rebecca Riggs

Main Genre
Sci-Fi

Seasons
4

Writers
Rockne S. O’Bannon , David Kemper , Justin Monjo , Richard Manning

As alluded to, Farscape is a highly rewatchable sci-fi TV show that follows the intergalactic exploits of commander John Crichton, an American astronaut who inadvertently travels into a wormhole during an experimental space mission. Crichton is picked up by a bio-mech spaceship called the Moya, where he meets fellow survivors. Among them are Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black), an enemy Peacekeeper, and Scorpius (Wayne Pygram), Crichton’s primary foe.


As Crichton and his cohorts evade capture by the Peacemakers, the protagonist attempts to find a wormhole to return the crew safely to Earth. Among the main reasons Farscape gained such a big fanbase are the FX-driven alien creatures and advanced alien technology used as weapons during intergalactic battles. The characters also incorporate unique slang curse words such as “Dren,” “Frell,” and “Hezmana,” personal affectations that vivify world-building and make the characters hard to forget.

Farscape’s high-quality production and storytelling were recognized with several awards and accolades, including winning three Saturn Awards for Best Syndicated Cable TV Series and Best TV Actor (Browder). In 2005, the conclusive miniseries Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars earned a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Miniseries, Movie, or a Special. In 2012, Entertainment Weekly named Farscape #22 in “The 25 Best Cult TV Shows from the Past 25 Years,” noting how the usage of “Frell” clearly inspired the slang term “Frak” on Battlestar Galactica.


Why Was Farscape Canceled?

Given Farscape‘s accolades, fanbase, and popularity, it seemed as though the classic sci-fi TV show would continue on television indefinitely. Alas, in September 2002, The SyFy Channel withdrew funding for a fifth season of Farscape and decided the show was too expensive to continue producing. Also citing a ratings decline in Season 4, Farscape was officially canceled before the first half of Season 4 completed airing. Meanwhile, The Jim Henson Company was acquired by EM.TV & Merchandising AG, a company suffering financial problems in 2002 and couldn’t afford to continue producing the pricey, FX-driven show.


On the Farscape DVD extra “Saving Farscape,” it was revealed that Brian Henson and Ben Browder announced the show’s cancelation during an online discussion. Within hours of the announcement, the rabid Farscape fanbase started a movement to keep the show on the air or move it to another network. While the fan campaign did not prevent the show from being canceled, it was successful enough to postpone plans to destroy the show’s sets and props and keep them in storage until a potential return took place. Despite the show’s cancelation anyway, this underscores the series’ popularity and how far the Farscape fans were willing to go to ensure its continuation.

2007 Webisodes Hinted at a Reboot


Four years after Farscape was canceled in 2003, Brian Henson and series creator Rockne S. O’Bannon promised the show’s return as a 10-part web series. The webisodes were planned to be 3–6 minutes long and feature John and Aeryn’s child, D’Argo Sun-Crichton. At the time of the announcement, other outlets presumed the web series would lead to an official Farscape TV revival. However, Sci-Fi executive Dave Howe stated that there were no official plans to reboot Farscape. Instead, Henson hoped the web series would gain enough funding to produce a Farscape sequel rather than a reboot.

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In 2009, after promoting the web series at various movie and TV conventions, Henson finally stated that he could not secure funding to complete the 10 episodes as planned. As such, the web series was scrapped. At this point, the creative motivation was changed from rebooting Farscape from square one to continuing to tell the pre-established story of Crichton and his crewmates. By 2014, Henson and O’Bannon believed the best way to bring Farscape back to the audience would be on the big screen.


Why Has There Never Been a Farscape Reboot?

In February 2014, it was reported that a movie adaptation of the alien invasion TV showFarscape was being written. By April 2014, O’Bannon confirmed the news, but in 2017, he told Paley Matters that the script still needed work. The last update about a Farscape movie came from Henson in 2018, in which he addressed the large fanbase and challenges of securing funding for the project. According to Henson in a Den of Geek interview in August 2018:

“I’ve been trying really hard with
Farscape
. And I’m going to keep trying. It’s just not quite right still. It’s one of those instances where it’s us, the creators, who need to keep working on it. And feeling no: that didn’t work that time. No, it’s still not quite working. It’s really down to us.”


In September 2018, Henson spoke at length about a potential Farscape movie relative to the fanbase, stating (via Bleeding Cool):

“The fan interest has been huge, but it’s a little harder to sell. BUT—I’ve been trying to make it as a movie for a long time, and everybody is tired—OK I’m tired—of hearing me say that I really want to make a feature film of
Farscape
.”

After spending years thinking of a movie adaptation, Henson pivoted and considered returning Farscape to television following his experience making The Happytime Murders, adding:

“I’m just coming off of making this movie [
The Happytime Murders
] and it really took all of my attention for 16 months. I’m reconsidering that, and it may be that the movie length is too short to tell the story. So that might mean, I may consider doing something on TV instead.”

Henson went on to cite the reimagining of The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance as a potential inspiration for a Farscape revival, stating:


“Sort of exactly like what we’re doing in London right now with Dark Crystal…. So there is the potential of doing something like that with
Farscape
. Honestly? I’m still very enthusiastic about
Farscape
, and I have been trying to make it into a movie, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to succeed.”

Although Henson is unsure if he’ll succeed, Farscape’s fate has come into sharper focus. The main reason Farscape was never rebooted relates to the high cost of production and lack of funding from The Sci-Fi Channel. Another reason is Henson’s desire to continue to tell the original tale of Crichton and his crew after the stellar space-set show was abruptly canceled in the middle of Season 4.

For Henson, there was more value in continuing the original story and retaining the original cast than rebooting the show from scratch. When Henson sought to continue the story through 10 webisodes, he ran into the same funding problem and couldn’t complete the series. Following the failed webisodes, Henson and O’Bannon tried to adapt Farscape as a feature film and continue Crichton’s arc on the big screen.


Rethinking the format after his time on The Happytime Murders, Henson has shown the most recent interest in returning Farscape to TV where it began. Until the project has adequate financing and the right creative direction, Farscape is not bound for a reboot or revival anytime soon despite the show’s large fanbase.

Farscape is available to stream on Fubo & Peacock.

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