Farscape (plus Bova and dreams)

For Sci-Fi Saturday I have to post about Farscape, a science fiction TV series from 1999-2003 that (on the advice of a friend) I just started watching. I’m only up to episode 18 of season one, but I’m enjoying the series so much I thought I’d post about it. There are four seasons comprising 88 episodes (22 per season), so my opinion could change, but so far, I’m totally loving it.

I also want to mention the third Ben Bova book I’ve read recently. Bottom line, I really enjoyed it. Definitely the best of the three. It restored my faith in Bova.

Lastly, this morning I had, what even for me was, a particularly weird dream experience. Our subconscious minds are quite surprising and just plain bizarre sometimes!

Farscape is an Australian-American collaboration that is most notable for its association with The Jim Henson Company, which provided not just alien make-up and prosthetics, but animatronic puppets, two of which are major characters in the series.

Those of us who grew up with Star Trek remember how the aliens were humans with bits stuck on their faces. The Next Generation series even featured an episode that suggested the galaxy was seeded by some ancestor race, so many races shared a baseline DNA. (The Alien franchise came to suggest something similar.)

While Farscape has many humanoid races, some even entirely human (but known as Sebaceans), it also (through the use of puppetry) features some that are utterly alien. Part of the show’s charm comes from how engaging those two major characters are.

With only 18 episodes so far, I’m just a hair past seeing 20% of the series, but right now I give it a provisional Wow! rating. It reminds me a lot of the original Star Trek as well as Babylon 5 and classic Doctor Who. The special effects aren’t impressive, but the production absolutely reeks of the love and joy of the stories. For all its cheesy goodness, I’ve found it absolutely riveting.

Main Farscape characters (left-to-right, top-to-bottom): Zotoh Zhaan, Rygel XVI, Chiana, Aeryn Sun, John Crichton, Ka D’Argo. John’s spacecraft about to enter the wormhole in the upper left.

The basic premise involves a diverse group of aliens who have escaped from, and are on the run from, the Peacekeepers, a corrupt fascist military organization (think “the peace of the grave”). The initial group consists of Pa’u Zotoh Zhaan (Virginia Hey), a Delvian former priestess (blue-skinned, bald, empathic); Ka D’Argo (Anthony Simcoe), a Luxan warrior (think Klingon, but with a lot more prosthetics); and Dominar Rygel XVI, a former Hynerian ruler betrayed by his cousin. Rygel, only two feet tall, is one of the Muppets. I mean puppets.

They have escaped on (and with) a huge spacecraft that is living being, a Leviathan named Moya. Fully integrated with Moya is her pilot, a multi-limbed being known simply as Pilot (the other major animatronic puppet). Six people operate it — the same six also operate Rygel. Moya is peace-loving and carries no weapons. She was originally captured by Leviathan hunters and sold to the Peacekeepers for use as a prison transport.

Moya’s Pilot, who is integrated with Moya and speaks for her.

In the first episode, they are joined by John Crichton (Ben Browder), an astronaut from present day Earth who gets sucked into a wormhole during a test flight. The wormhole deposits him far across the galaxy — in the midst of the escape. In the confusion his ship collides with a one-man Peacekeeper ship resulting in the death of its occupant.

Which unfortunately turns out to be the brother of Bialar Crais (Lani Tupu), a Peacekeeper captain chasing the escaped prisoners. Crais swears vengeance on Crichton, who was picked up by Moya and the escaping prisoners. Crais will not rest, to the point of defying orders, until he recaptures the prisoners and kills Crichton.

Also joining the crew in the first episode is Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black), trained as a Peacekeeper soldier from birth. She makes the mistake of supporting Crichton’s story about the accident and is stripped of rank and marked for death. She is a Sebacean, the fully human-appearing race (from which all Peacekeepers are selected).

The diminutive former ruler Dominar Rygel XVI in his levitating throne.

The series has a general arc, as well as some shorter arcs, but tends to be fairly episodic without too much reference to episodes past (other than elements of the ongoing arcs). For instance, the series has no need of the “previously on Farscape” recap.

It reminds me of Star Trek in the chunkiness of its props, controls, and displays — a consequence of low budget. Control panels, especially, are almost humorous in consisting of random lights and toggle switches. Moya’s controls are especially vague. It also reminds me of Star Trek in some pretty iffy science and how I wished they had better science advisors (me! me! please, me!). They could also have used a military and weapons advisor. Claudia Black commits to her role but doesn’t seem much like a trained-from-birth soldier (don’t get me wrong, I’m totally crushing on the character).

It reminds me of classic Doctor Who in its practical effects, especially the DRDs (Diagnostic Repair Drones), which seem like beetle-backed Roombas with eyes on stalks and other attachments. There are (supposedly) hundreds of them taking care of Moya. The sets also remind me of something from Doctor Who.

It reminds me of Babylon 5 in its imaginative but somewhat crude space CGI (looks like Video Toaster work). Also, in how both shows feature decidedly non-humanoid aliens or use major make-up or prosthetics for the humanoids.

It reminds me of all three in its sheer heart, humor, and humanity. In all four cases, the love and joy behind it all shines through. It’s like a stage play in that the story and characters are central; everything else is window dressing. Contrast that with all the modern junk food that’s mostly empty window dressing.

The show was created by Rockne S. O’Bannon, who wrote the script for Alien Nation and also created seaQuest DSV, Cult, and Defiance. All four seasons, remastered, are available on Amazon Prime. I think, for science fiction fans, it’s well worth checking out, especially if you’re weary of the mass-produced modern glitz. It takes one back to the days when story and character mattered.

§ §

A while back, I posted about the Ben Bova novel Uranus (2020). More recently, I posted about the sequel, Neptune (2021). While I liked the former okay, there was much about the latter that raised my eyebrows. It seemed child-like somehow or a regression to a 1950s kind of science fiction.

They say the third time pays for all, and that’s certainly true here. This past week I read Mars (1992) and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Bova died in 2020, at the age of 88 years (and 21 days), so obviously Uranus and Neptune are from the last part of his life. It’s amazing the guy was still writing in his late 80s. We should all be so lucky and productive.

He wrote Mars at 59 (I’m not too far off from that myself), and that clearly made a difference (I can only hope I’m still writing blog posts then).

Mars concerns the first human expedition to Mars. It involves a multi-national collaboration of Russians, Americans, Japanese, and others. Bova doesn’t appear to think much of politicians; the USA is something of a reluctant player. Russia controls the mission, and Russian astronauts lead the multi-national group of scientists.

The protagonist is Jamie Waterman, a Navaho geologist who joins the mission only because the selected scientist got appendicitis. The backup scientist is voted out by the others for his abrasive personality, so Jamie ends up on the mission (causing some friction). When, upon landing, Jamie forgets his carefully scripted line and just offers the Navaho greeting, yá’át’ééh (hello, it is good), the politicians back home are upset and want him pulled back to the orbiter.

Later, his insistence on changing the mission plan to explore a canyon where he thinks he spotted ancient cliff dwellings causes even more friction. Unfortunately, a mysterious “Martian flu” that afflicts the entire crew puts everyone, and everything, in jeopardy.

The story moves along nicely, and the affliction is a neat mystery (chances are you’ll never guess what it is). As is so often the case, the technology they use is outdated (film cameras, for instance). Most SF authors have been bad at guessing future tech (many believed faxes would remain a thing).

But all-in-all, great read. Bravo Bova!

§ §

Dreams are generally weird. Mine tend to be prolonged narratives that shift and evolve in that strange — yet within the dream somehow sensible — way dreams do. When we talk about how the use of camera and, especially, editing make movies dream-like, it’s these strange shifts and evolutions that we’re referencing.

One of my goals is lucid dreaming — being fully aware one is in a dream and taking control of the dream. I’ve only been able to do this twice, although there have been many times when I’ve realized I was dreaming but was still carried along by the dream.

This morning’s dream involved a prolonged shifting narrative that, as usual, I mostly don’t remember. A few elements stuck with me, though. The strongest is that, after some sort of (outdoor?) lecture or class I attended, someone told me I should join “mutis mutandus” — apparently some sort of organization I got the impression was a cross between Mensa and the Jesuits, but with some sort of associated deadly peril (like they’d kill you if you proved unworthy).

I didn’t know what it was, so I began asking around, but when questioned people were forced to admit they had no idea. Even the person who originally said it confessed he didn’t know.

Then I was sitting at a table (in an alley?) when our teacher (apparently named Mark?) returned, so I asked him. But his explanation was vague and unsatisfying… and then I woke up.

Often, although I realize I’ve had a prolonged narrative of a dream, I only recall the last bits. For example, the narrative I had Friday morning involved people motoring away on a caravan of snowmobiles (it was winter; lots of snow; I was in a restaurant (?) parking lot watching them go; there was a feeling of job-complete satisfaction (and then I woke up)).

First thing I did this morning was look up “mutis mutandus” — or, as it turns out, mutatis mutandis, which is Latin for “with things changed that should be changed.” It’s a phrase not much used anymore, but I’ve seen it from time to time (usually in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which I’ve come to realize can be a bit pretentious at times).

Thing is, I can’t recall the last time I saw the phrase (and no doubt had to look it up then, too), so having it play a key role in a dream is some deep sub-conscious dredging!

§

I also remember the dream had two occurrences of me filling a bowl. An early one in a restaurant, where I was putting shrimp in a bowl that I suddenly realized had contained salsa; there was still some in it. Then, at that table in that alley, I was filling a bowl with metal bits, paperclips and such that I’d dumped out as part of my search for “mutis mutandus” — but now there was too much stuff to fit in the bowl, so it was overflowing.

I wish I could record my dreams. They’re so interesting and peculiar!

§ §

Thought for the day: Beepers beep, buzzers buzz, but bells don’t bell. They ring, peal, jingle, or sound. Does this say something about modern technology?

Stay dreaming, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

18 responses to “Farscape (plus Bova and dreams)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    I didn’t mention her in the post, but Chiana (Gigi Edgley) joins the crew in episode #15. She’s a Nebari, a gray-skinned humanoid. She’s a thief and scam artist fleeing the Nebari mind-control “greater good” ideal, so (thus far) she’s a bit of a wildcard in the crew (which, to be fair, are mostly themselves wildcards — Crichton is the straight man).

  • Wyrd Smythe

    I’ll also mention parenthetically that the series, perhaps because of the Australian connection, perhaps because of the era, has serious eye-candy for both men and women.

    Ben Browder is definitely a hunk, and they find excuses for him to be shirtless (as they often did with William Shatner’s Kirk). Some of the male guest stars are equally handsome.

    On the distaff side, Claudia Black, Virginia Hey, and Gigi Edgley (as well as some of the guest stars) are strikingly attractive. (As I mentioned in the post, I’m kinda crushing on Claudia Black.)

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    Both Farscape and Ben Bova’s Mars are very hazy walks down memory lane for me. I watched Farscape when it was on the Sci-fi Channel (long before it became SyFy), although I think I missed a lot of the episodes. But I remember it being pretty good. Ben Browder later ended up on the later seasons of Stargate SG1.

    I think Bova’s Mars book was the first one I ever listened to on audio, but this was back when that meant a box of CDs, which then had to be shuffled in and out of my car’s CD player. One of the CDs had issues that led to a lot of skipping while going down the road. I don’t recall much from it, but I do remember the ruins and enjoying the overall story. I also recall one of the Russian characters saying that what the third world lacked was not resources but discipline, which was Bova acknowledging a common sentiment at the time.

    I almost never remember my dreams. Which is fine, because the few I do remember tend to be disturbing, which is probably why I remember them.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Depending on your regard for TOS, Bab 5, and classic Who, you might consider giving Farscape another look (since it’s free on Prime). I know you’re not much into re-watching, but maybe enough time has passed, and now you’d see it without any cuts or commercials. It lacks the polish and expert effects of, say, The Expanse, but I’ve found it extremely watchable. (Often to the tune of several episodes at once.)

      It no doubt has much to do with my severe congenital hearing loss (made worse by years of rock-n-roll), but I’ve never had any interest in audio books. Even YouTube videos or TV without captioning are a problem.

      I do think some of Bova’s prejudices are on display. The Japanese are referred to as “Japs” and (given what happens to one of the scientists), I don’t think Bova thinks much of them. And, yeah, I noticed that crack about third world countries, too. 1992 seems late enough for Bova to know better. I did like how the spacecraft getting to Mars consisted of two tethered craft spinning to create gravity (one gee to begin with slowing down to Mars gravity over the course of the flight — the reverse on the way back). The Netflix movie, Stowaway, used the same idea, and I think it’s a good one.

      I don’t know what it says about my mind, but my dreams are always fun. I don’t seem to have nightmares or suffer from reoccurring dreams. And none of the typical ones like being naked in public or forgetting to study for a test. Sometimes I lay in bed thinking, “Damn! I’d pay to see that as a movie!” They’re usually some kind of adventure. I keep hoping for a lucid dream wherein I can try to fly.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I might take a look at Farscape, now that you’ve called my attention to it being available.

        This afternoon I watched the first episode of Halo, which wasn’t great, but has pretty good potential. (Poor audio mixing though. I had a hard time making out the dialog at points.) I also watched the first episode of the second season of Picard. Pretty underwhelming. Not sure if I’ll bother with the rest.

        1992 was just after the fall of the Soviet Union, and I’d imagine Bova wrote the novel entirely during its existence, so I’m willing to give him a little leeway. But I don’t recall the Japanese references. I probably wouldn’t have noticed back when I listened to it. But I do recall reading somewhere that Bova could be pretty opinionated.

        Strangely enough, I never had the naked dream. I do sometimes dream of things like waking up to discover the house was robbed while I was asleep, or things going catastrophically bad at work. I also sometimes dream of my parents or others I’ve lost, which doesn’t always make for a pleasant wake up.

        On the forgetting to study for a test, I once had that happen in real life. There was an easy class in college that I seldom went to. I went to the last class of the semester, expecting it to be a review for the final, only to discover that the teacher had changed the schedule and the final was right then. Thankfully my grade was good enough to withstand it, but I was never that dismissive of attendance again.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I don’t know anything about Halo, either the game or the TV series. Looking at the Wiki entry, I’d need a pretty strong recommendation to overcome what my prejudices perceive as two counts against it: The derivative nature of it being based on a video game. The connection with Steven Spielberg, who has been more miss than hit with me. (I did like Minority Report, but that might be due to the PKD source text.)

        I can’t tell which direction your leeway goes vis-a-vis the Russians. We might be on the same page, but the Russians come off quite well in Mars. The astronaut in charge of the landing team seems dour and authoritarian initially, but as the book progresses, we see that it’s the burden of responsibility for mission safety that makes him so. He turns out to be a very decent guy. The Americans, especially the politicians, come off second best (the Vice-President comes off as something of an antagonist).

        The Japanese come off worst. [SPOILER AHEAD] It’s the Japanese scientist who, along with a Russian astronaut, is flying to Deimos in their personal EVA rigs, freaks out, floors it, and flies off into space until his fuel is exhausted. By the time a spacecraft can reach him, he’s apparently died of stroke or — Bova implies — sheer dread. (It’s a bit metaphoric, Deimos being named after the Greek god of dread and terror.) I didn’t really buy it. The Japanese are notable for their courage and fortitude, and there’s no real setup about any phobias he might have had. Along with the use of “Japs” and some other vague signals, it grated on my sensibilities just a little.

        I can’t recall ever dreaming about work or school, but that might be because at work I was only responsible for my own work, and I kinda skated through school and never cared about grades or tests. I did have one where you dream you’re waking up in your own bed and thinking someone is in the house. As I recall, I even wondered if I was dreaming but decided I wasn’t. Then some aspect of the dream didn’t fit reality, and I realized I had to be. My dreams are mostly synthesized stories with only small connections to my waking life. For instance, that bowl I was filling with shrimp but realized it still had some salsa in it. My dinner last night involved a bowl of salsa (and much else, obviously), and in my dinner out Wednesday, we had a shrimp appetizer. The overflowing bowl might be metaphoric for my sense I’ve been eating too much late at night and going to bed too full.

        I seem to have a strong model of fictional reality, so dream sequences almost never fool me. The moment the story veers from the model of reality I have for it, I’m looking for the punchline. You know how TV shows sometimes try to shock their audience by having an opening sequence that’s a dream where a major character gets killed or injured. That always seems cheap to me because it seems so obvious what they’re doing. In an episode of Farscape I watched last night, there’s something along those lines, but about halfway through I stopped buying what I was seeing as real. It wasn’t.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Years ago I would have been right with you on being skeptical of any video game adaptation. But there have been enough recent ones that were pretty good (notably Arcane) that for me it doesn’t represent the automatic disqualifier it used to. I actually didn’t know about Spielberg’s involvement. Interesting. I’ve historically enjoyed the stuff he’s directly involved in, but these days his name is spread so thin it’s ceased to mean much for me.

        The first Halo episode almost lost me with the first act just being a big fight with big scary aliens. But as the episode progresses, it gradually becomes evident there are going to be many moving parts, and you get the sense that all is not as it seems. But it’s just potential at this point. I’m a long way from being able to make any recommendation. Interestingly, it’s already been renewed for a second season, so some decision maker somewhere seems to think they have a winner.

        On leeway for Bova, with the caveat that I don’t remember much from the book, I was thinking that it was understandable if he still had a Cold War mindset at that point. Although based on your description, it sounds like he also still had some of the American angst about the Japanese from the 1980s. That’s the problem with near-future fiction. It ages fast, and not always well.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Yeah, it’s true that Spielberg’s name gets spread around a lot, and the EP title in film and TV can be almost meaningless. OTOH, alien invasion stories are also something of a negative for me. The idea is one of the oldest in SF (often being more a metaphor), but it’s never made a lot of sense to me. (Martians, at least, only had to get from Mars to Earth. I just don’t buy interstellar war.) Plus, I’ve never been a huge fan of any war-based storytelling. Even at the personal level, I don’t care for stories in which squabbles between allies or co-workers or friends are a key aspect of the story. Good guys versus bad guys, sure, and especially people working together to solve problems is where my main interests lie. Another way to put it is that what I seek in fiction are the aspirational aspects.

        Mars is a good example of both, and the internal squabble elements — especially those between scientists, who should be better than that petty shit — were negatives for me, but the challenges of Mars and space travel were positives. So were the evolutions of the characters, such as our growing insight into the Russian commander. I especially like how the British physician, initially someone with selfish goals, evolves and redeems himself. (A Christmas Carol, with its evolution of Scrooge, is one of my all-time favorite stories.)

        (All that said, in part because it’s animated, in part because of many high recommendations, Arcane is on my list of possible shows to check out if I ever get through my current watch list.)

        Mars doesn’t have any of the cold war aspects such as spies, arms races, or MAD. Political relations seem quite friendly between the countries. There’s no scent of war or aggression, for instance. But there is the gamesmanship between them that exists to this day (hole is the ISS? what hole? not our hole, no way!). I got the sense Bova is more unhappy with how the USA abandoned manned exploration after the Apollo program; one of the characters even mentions it.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        Yeah, just based on the first episode, I’m not thinking you’ll find much to like in Halo. It’s about war, and at first glance, it’s not looking to be an aspirational tale. So far the impression is of an interstellar police state that oppresses colonists, with the excuse that unity is needed to fight an alien threat.

        I’m also not sure how you’d react to Arcane. It might be a far more contentious story than you’d care for.

        One of the issues with fiction is the need for conflict. It’s one of those things people can get exasperated about, but remove it entirely, and they find the result boring. But from what I’ve read, the mistake a lot of authors make is thinking all conflict has to be high stakes. The movie Apollo 13 manufactured a lot of conflict between people that didn’t exist in the real event. But none of it was internecine. It was just enough to make the scenes more interesting than polite competent people interacting politely and competently.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Thinking about it, the thing about video games into stories is that there is a different emphasis between the two. The former centers on action and player interaction — a very active emphasis — whereas stories are passive and received with a focus on narrative arc and character. Converting the former into the latter requires changes that usually either depart vastly from the game or, in sticking to the game, don’t work well as narratives. I think it’s significant that Netflix’s experiment in blending them with interactive narratives doesn’t seem to have succeeded. There were only the two that I know of and none since.

        About Arcane, yeah. It’s really going to depend on whether it’s as good as so many reviews have suggested and whether it brings anything new to the table. (And, as I think we’ve discussed, I’m more tolerant of the inherent fantasy of animation.) I rank quality storytelling, especially unique storytelling, far above my tastes. For example, despite not having much taste for war movies, I was enthralled by The Sand Pebbles and, more recently, Fury. The same is true of westerns. Not really my cuppa, but I’ve seen some that I thought were pretty great due to their quality and uniqueness.

        Quite true about conflict being an important aspect of narrative. Apollo 13 is a good example of a story where the key conflict is man versus circumstances or nature. They did feel the need to “tart it up” with some small interpersonal conflicts — Bova’s Mars is a very similar example. We’re all prone, under stress, to be irascible, and I’m fine with those small moments of drama. I think it’s more that when those elements becoming major story elements that I find it just boring. Human conflict is as old as humans, and I really do think the key to our future is rising above that, so I don’t find it attractive in storytelling.

        As I just mentioned, two things I look for in stories are quality and something unique, and an interesting counterexample to my distaste for age-old human conflict is the 2011 Roman Polanski film, Carnage. Extraordinary quality in the script, directing, and acting, but a claustrophobic story that’s almost entirely about conflict between the four characters. I happened to channel surf into it about 10 minutes after it started and was utterly captivated. The cable channel showing it aired it again immediately after, so I thought I’d watch the first 10 minutes to see what I missed and ended up watching the whole thing over again because it was so enthralling. (And because I wanted to study the blocking. I wanted to see if the character movements matched the shifting dynamics, but I got so into the performances that I kept forgetting to pay attention to that.)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    I think I have to retract what I said about Farscape being more episodic than not. I’m at the 20-episode mark, and certain long arcs are revealing themselves, plus episodes have more references to things in past references.

    Plus, episodes #19 and #20 comprise a two-part story, so #20 actually started with “Previously on Farscape…” 😀

  • Brian

    I have fond memories of Farscape; I watched it when it was first aired here in the UK.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Just started season three last night. While it’s not a perfect show, it’s earning a spot on my “Best TV SF Shows Ever” list. Some of the episodes of the first two seasons are absolutely brilliant!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Finished the four seasons (and planning to watch the movie this weekend).

    Farscape really is a very good TV SF show. I rank it up there with TOS, Bab5, and Doctor Who, and it’s clear the show’s makers were inspired by those shows (lots and lots of references).

    It’s a lot like Bab5 in how it gets better in the later seasons as the writers and directors gained experience. And in how there is a series-long story arc, but it’s not apparent until about halfway through the show.

    It reminds me a bit of Japanese anime in how unique and interesting the storylines are. Some of the episodes in the last two seasons were outstanding. The storyline gets pretty dark, too.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      The movie is very good! Bigger budget and more planning time! This is a series I’d watch again someday (if I live long enough). Same as with Bab5, it’d be fun to go back and see the seeds planted.

  • TV Tuesday 5/10/22 | Logos con carne

    […] Lastly, I posted recently about Farscape, a 1999 SF TV show a friend recommended. Have now seen all four seasons and the movie (on Amazon Prime), and it all gets a loud Wow! rating. I rank the show up there with TOS, Bab5, and classic Who. […]

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Transcribing some notes I made while watching Farscape:

    Everyone has been injected with “translator microbes” that act like universal translators, so everyone speaks what appears to be English, but we’re to understand is always their own language. The other characters hear it in their own language. But the nouns don’t necessarily have English equivalents, so those are made-up words. For one thing, it allowed the characters to swear freely. (“Get this frelling dren out of my face, you trelk!”)

    Which gave us microts (roughly a second), arns (roughly an hour), and revolutions (years on a given planet). They also use solar days, meant to be days on a given planet — the length of time between the planet’s star transiting. It tweaks me vaguely because “solar” refers to Sol, our local star. Properly speaking, there is only one Solar system, ours. Other planetary systems orbiting stars are stellar systems. But I think I’ve lost that battle to semantic shift. Small “s” solar systems, and thus solar days, fine, but it still tweaks my ear a little. (How about “planetary spins” or “turns” to go with revolutions?)

    For a long time, they referred to the “hammond” side of the ship, and I wondered what the other side was called. I think it took until season four to hear someone refer to the “treblin” side.

    The series is filled with homages and references to other science fiction (and some movies — one episode is patterned on The Shining). Lots of Star Trek references.

    The costume department used a huge variety of contact lenses. Kind of a cool way to decorate aliens. Season two used a lot of fake tears. Every episode, at least one character was crying.

    The characters are generally pretty hard on each other, there is a lot of friction and aggravation. The key is that they kind of don’t like each other a lot of the time. They’re stuck together, and have to work together, but they piss each other off a lot.

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