The suggestion that Farscape is a bit like Blake’s 7 is hardly a revelation, what with a gang of convicts and ne’er-do-wells roaming the galaxy in an extraordinary ship they stumbled across fighting a collection of S&M fascists and their own dodgy interpersonal relationships.
Crichton, obsessed with Scorpius and wormholes is reminiscent of Blake in terms of the latter’s desire to bring down the Federation, and Travis. There’s a bit of Tarrant hotshot fly-boy arrogance in there too.
The symbiotic relationship of Pilot and Moya is rather too similar to Zen and The Liberator too; and there are various other archetypes in there too: female mystic; cowardly jester; gun-wielding ball-breaking women; ambiguous leather-clad anti-heroes; and gentle giants.
There are even set pieces that seem like straight lifts: in Dog With Two Bones the Farscape crew gunned down by black-clad troopers in slo-mo in a end-of-season climax. Not unlike Blake, where the Blake’s 7 crew are unned down by black-clad troopers in slo-mo in a end-of-season climax.
What’s interesting, though, is that despite so many similar elements, the two programmes could hardly be more different. Farscape is an extremely funny show: self-aware; self-deprecating and not afraid to play with form and convention.
Blake’s 7 – despite a lot of grim humour and the odd lighter episode, generally focussed on Vila – B7 tended to take itself fairly seriously, especially in the early days.
And in spite of the odd look between Avon and Cally, or the occasional kiss between Avon and Servalan, romance – or even sex – was rarely in the air in the British sci-fi show.
In Farscape everyone is at it all the time. Chiana is, fairly explicitly, a slut who’s only a half-step removed from being a prostitute, albeit one who’s quite happy to adopt that, er, position.
Time travel, alternate universes, cosmic planes, resurrections, fantasy, animation – Farscape had a go at all of them. But Blake’s 7 was a product of its time: of Thatcher and strikes and oil shortages: it was straight-laced and po-faced.
But I love both shows, at once alike and un-alike. Divided by continents and decades and styles and tastes; sharing a set-up but taking them in radically different directions.
If only Paul Darrow had turned up on Moya.
Ten reasons Farscape is like Blake’s 7
Aeryn=Jenna or Soolin
Crichton=Blake or Tarrant