Today’s Art (17th December 2015)

Well, today’s fan art painting has been a surprisingly long time in the making. Sometime last year, I tried (and kind of failed) to make a painting of Claudia Black and Lena Headey after realising that, for some bizarre reason, they’ve never actually both been in the same sci-fi/fantasy TV show.

Anyway, I was thinking of re-visiting this idea recently, but I’d been watching the final season of “Battlestar Galactica” too. So, I decided to make a painting of several badass sci-fi/action heroines (Aeryn Sun, Sarah Connor, Starbuck and Ellen Ripley) instead. Plus, it gave me a chance to draw a xenomorph/cylon/terminator/pilot hybrid too.

Since this is fan art, this painting will NOT be released under any kind of Creative Commons licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Fan Art - Someone Needs To Make This Movie" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Fan Art – Someone Needs To Make This Movie” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (16th January 2015)

Well, the final instalment of my 1990s fan art/parody series (expect some more original art tomorrow) is based on an absolutely brilliant sci-fi show which started in 1999 called “Farscape“. I saw a few episodes of this on TV when I was a kid, but for some wierd reason, I didn’t really rediscover this amazing show until about two and a half years ago.

Annoyingly, I forgot to include one of the coolest characters from the show (Chianna) in this painting because I’d erroneously thought that she only joined the show in the second season (which started in 2000) rather than in the first season.

Anyway, as a blog exclusive, I’ll also provide the original lineart for this painting.

Since this is fan art, both pictures in this post will NOT be released under a Creative Commons licence of any kind.

"Fan Art - Farscape" By C. A. Brown

“Fan Art – Farscape” By C. A. Brown

And here’s the lineart:

"Fan Art - Farscape (Lineart)" By C. A. Brown

“Fan Art – Farscape (Lineart)” By C. A. Brown

Review: “Stargate SG-1” Season Nine (TV Show)

2014 Artwork Stargate sg-1 season nine review sketch

Although I’ve watched quite a bit of “Stargate SG-1” over the past few months, it just suddenly occurred to me that I haven’t reviewed any of it yet. So, I thought that I’d start with season nine because it’s the season that I’ve watched most recently.

At the time of writing this review, I haven’t seen season eight yet – so I have no clue how some of the characters ended up in the situations they are in at the beginning of this season. But, annoyingly, I now know pretty much how season eight ends. So, don’t watch this season before you’ve watched season eight.

Talking of spoilers, I should also point out that this review will contain some SPOILERS for season nine. You have been warned.

Generally speaking, this season marks the beginning of an entirely new plot arc for “Stargate SG-1”.

Whilst previous seasons have focused on ancient Egyptian mythology, this season focuses a lot more on traditional English folklore – and, as well as searching for Merlin’s ancient treasures and inventions, SG-1 also find themselves up against a brilliantly chilling new foe called The Ori.

The Ori are an absolutely brilliant parody of the Medieval church (and evangelical religions in general ) and they send eerily disfigured fanatical monks called “priors” to various worlds to either convert the inhabitants to their faith or kill them with plagues and curses if they refuse.

Not only that, the priors of the Ori often quote vaguely biblical passages from their “book of origin” before they do something evil. I don’t know why, but this is both deeply chilling and absolutely hilarious at the same time.

So, yes, they’re a lot creepier than the Go’auld ever were, but just as hilariously theatrical. And it’s up to SG-1 to stop them….

One of the other main changes in season nine of “Stargate SG-1” is that Colonel O’Neill has been replaced by another character called Colonel Mitchell. The cool thing about this is that Colonel Mitchell is played by none other than Ben Browder – who played the main character in another excellent sci-fi show called “Farscape“.

But, the really cool thing is that one of the new recurring characters (called Vala, who I believe also appears in season eight too) is played by Claudia Black – who starred opposite Ben Browder in “Farscape”. Seriously, it’s like a “Farscape” reunion.

Not only that, Vala is one of the best characters I’ve ever seen – she’s witty, she’s eccentric and she’s completely amoral in an absolutely hilarious way. It’s difficult to describe her here, but she really is the best character in the entire show.

Going back to what I was saying about a “Farscape reunion”, the very first episode of season nine features something which is slightly similar to the “I-yensch” bracelets from Farscape.

Seriously, if you’re a Farscape fan, then you are probably going to be literally trembling with geeky delight when you see the first couple of episodes of season nine.

Talking of things that are similar to other things, this season seems to take a surprising amount of inspiration from other sci-fi shows and movies.

For example, episode eighteen involves Mitchell and Carter being stuck “out of phase” from our reality in a very similar way how to Geordie La Forge and Ro Laren do in an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation”.

Yes, something similar to this also happens in season six or seven of “Stargate SG-1” too – but it reminded me a lot more of “Star Trek” when it happened this time for some reason.

Likewise, the plot structure of episode four bears an eerie similarity to the plot structure of part of the “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” season five episode “In The Cards“.

But, since both episodes are absolutely hilarious and very well-plotted, then this isn’t exactly a bad thing. In fact, episode four is probably the best episode of season nine of “Stargate SG-1”.

Episode seventeen is another great episode, where SG-1 find themselves up against a horde of flesh-eating beetles whilst escorting an international diplomatic mission around a US research base on another planet.

Since these beetles tend to burrow underground and can be distracted and/or scared away by loud noises, the episode quickly becomes vaguely reminiscent of an absolutely excellent monster movie from the 90s called “Tremors“.

If you’re a sci-fi fan, you’ll probably love seeing “Stargate SG-1″‘s unique take on most of these familiar storylines. But, as cool as it is, it can make a few episodes slightly predictable at times. Even so, I cannot fault their choice of inspiration for this season.

All in all, this season is different from the ones that came before it. Yes, it’s a little bit derivative at times – but in the best possible way. And, if you love sci-fi, then you will probably love this season of “Stargate SG-1”.

If I had to give it a rating out of five, I’d give season nine of “Stargate SG-1” four.

Review: “Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars” (mini-series)

Although “Farscape” never got the fifth season that the Sci-Fi channel apparently promised them, a sustained campaign by loyal fans ensured that the show was given a good send-off with this three-hour mini-series. I would like to start this review by thanking all the people who campaigned to ensure that this amazing show actually reached it’s proper conclusion.

I should also point out that this review may contain some spoilers, both for the previous seasons of “Farscape” and possibly for this mini-series too, but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum.

“Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars” begins sixty days after the events of the ending of season four of “Farscape”. Thanks to Rigel’s diligent searching, Crichton and Aeryn are able to be re-assembled and revived by the inhabitants of the ocean planet which Moya is resting on. However, in the meantime, Scorpius has managed to single-handedly ignite a full-scale war between the Peacekeepers and the Scarrans and, of course, both of them want the wormhole knowledge in Crichton’s brain more than ever……

The first thing I will say about this mini-series is that it is epic. In the space of less than a fifth of a typical season of “Farscape”, this mini-series manages to pack as much drama, comedy, plot-twists and action as you would find in a typical season of the show into just three hours. In many ways, it’s what TV Tropes would refer to as a “big damn movie” – except, of course, that it isn’t technically a movie (it’s split into two episodes on the UK DVD, although apparently some versions of the DVD edit it into a single giant episode).

But, if you haven’t watched “Farscape” before, then you’ll probably find “Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars” to be fairly confusing. However, if you’re a fan of them show, then you’re in for a treat….

I cannot praise the pacing of this mini-series enough, the story never feels rushed even though it moves at a slightly faster pace than the average episode of the show. Naturally, there are a lot more space-battles and gunfights than you would expect from the average episode of the show, but these are as expertly-directed, dramatic and suspenseful as you would expect from a series of this calibre. Seriously, I cannot praise the special effects in this mini-series enough.

Yes, a lot of film-makers like to dazzle their audiences with lots of flashy special effects, but “Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars” has a suitably complex and interesting story to back this up (unlike, say, “Transformers” or anything like that). Likewise, the characterisation in this mini-series is even better than usual (considering the short length of it) and you can expect to see a few familiar characters return and a few familiar characters leave too.

For such a short series, it has a surprising number of sub-plots which are all expertly resolved by the time the end credits roll. Even though “Farscape” didn’t get a fifth season, this mini-series is certainly a very good replacement for it. I’d love to say a lot more about “The Peacekeeper Wars”, but I don’t want to give away any major spoilers.

Yes, it was made for the fans and, yes, you need a good understanding of what has happened within the past four seasons of “Farscape” to get the most out of this film (and, let’s not pretend any more, it is a film). But, if you’re a “Farscape” fan, then you certainly won’t be disappointed.

As with any “Farscape”-related thing, I will end this review with the formality of giving “The Peacekeeper Wars” five out of five.

Review: “Farscape” (Season Four) (TV Show)

Well, since I finished watching the fourth and final season of “Farscape” recently, I thought that I’d write a review of it.

Before I should go any further, I should probably point out that there were originally supposed to be five seasons of “Farscape”. However, the Sci-fi Channel, in their infinite wisdom, decided to cancel the show at the end of the fourth season. I don’t know why great sci-fi shows have this problem (“Firefly” springs to mind for starters…), but it is something to be aware of before you watch this season of “Farscape”.

Why do the good shows die young, when crap like “Big Brother” and celebrity talent shows end up lurching eternally through the TV schedules like some kind of zombie?

Saying this, a three-hour mini-series called “Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars” was made a year later to wrap up the series (expect a review of this sometime in the future) – so make sure that you have a copy of this nearby before you start watching season four.

On the whole, season four is probably the most dramatic and serious season of “Farscape”. It picks up sometime after the cliffhanger at the end of season three and, although the first episode is slightly strange, it carries on going at a reasonable pace. Many of the episodes in this season revolve around wormholes and the cold war-esque tensions and political machinations between the Peacekeepers and the Scarrans. As usual, new characters are introduced, some characters leave and you may see a familiar face or two again too. The rest of this review will contain some spoilers (nothing too major hopefully), so you have been warned.

***Spoilers ahoy!***

One of the most interesting things about this season is the fact that Scorpius ends up becoming part of Moya’s crew – although Crichton is understandably antagonistic towards him during the early parts of the season, they eventually develop an uneasy trust in each other. This adds a lot to the show, since you never quite know what Scorpius is planning, whether or not he’s on John’s side or his real reasons behind helping John out. Just when you think that you understand Scorpius, something or other happens which makes you think again.

Being a fairly serious and dramatic season, there aren’t really that many whimsical or light-hearted episodes in this season although there are a couple. “John Quixote” is an episode where Crichton and Chianna end up being trapped inside a bizarre virtual reality game which they can only escape from by either finding a green door or ‘kissing the princess’. Naturally, this game is populated by surreal versions of the crew of Moya (including former members of the crew) and it is presided over by an (even more) eccentric version of Stark. This episode is absolutely hilarious, completely insane and filled with clever plot twists and “Monty Python” references. Basically, “John Quixote” is what you would get if “The Crystal Maze”, Terry Gilliam and “eXistenZ” somehow had a baby together…..

“Kansas” is another interesting episode, although it’s slightly more of a serious episode, it involves time travel in a vaguely “Back To The Future” kind of way. The crew of Moya end up on Earth in 1985 and they must ensure that the timeline remains intact. Since it is conveniently Halloween, most of the alien characters can easily (well, sort of…) fit in on earth and there are lots of funny scenes about their observations of Earth and interactions with the people they meet. This episode also contains an absolutely brilliant, albeit subtle, reference to “The X Files” which caught me totally by surprise too.

Although most of the episodes of this season deal with wormholes or the Peacekeeprs/Scarrans storyline, there are a few classic sci-fi -style episodes too. One of the most outstanding episodes of this season is probably “A Constellation Of Doubt”. Revealing too much about this episode would probably give away too many spoilers, but it is a brilliantly cynical comment of American politics and the media in general. Yes, it was probably a “bottle episode“, but as bottle episodes go, it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen.

As usual, the characterisation in this season is absolutely superb from the first episode to the last one and even the new characters are fairly well-developed (possibly except for “1812” who is more of a novelty character).

Likewise, almost every episode of this series is very watchable too (except for “Coup By Clam”, which is a fairly cheesy episode with a few parts that will make anyone who is even vaguely transgender reflexively cringe with awkwardness and/or vicarious fear. Not to mention that some of the other characters in this episode [the political group on the planet] are fairly cliched too. Even so, the main plot mechanic of this episode is fairly intriguing).

All in all, this is a great final season for a great show. Yes, there was supposed to be a fifth season and, yes, you should have a copy of “The Peacekeeper Wars” ready for when you finish watching this season. But, even on it’s own merits, season four of “Farscape” is astonishingly good.If I had to give it a rating out of five, then it would definitely get a five.

Review: “Farscape” (Season Three) (TV Show)

Well, since I finished watching it a while ago, I thought that I’d write a review of season three of “Farscape”. This season is fairly different from the first two seasons but, this works surprisingly well after you get used to it. I should probably point out now that this review may contain some spoilers both for this season and the previous two seasons, but I’ll try to keep them to a minimum.

For starters, season three is a lot darker in tone than the past two seasons. Whilst this kind of thing can be annoying in other TV shows (eg: season three of “Angel”), this season of “Farscape” never gets overwhelmingly bleak or depressing and the series still retains it’s trademark tongue-in-cheek humour in quite a few episodes. But, saying this, expect a few poignant moments.

The other main change with this season of “Farscape” is that there is a lot more focus on story arcs and, although there are some stand-alone episodes, the whole season must be watched in order. Whilst I quite like series which have self-contained episodes, this move towards a more continuous storyline is pretty much a natural evolution of the show.

Plus, there are some interesting structural elements of this season too, such as the fact that for quite a while, the episodes alternate between an episode which is set on Moya and an episode which is set on Talyn. This works extremely well and, in some ways, it’s almost like watching two different TV shows.

Plus, listening to the interview with David Kemper on the (old version of the) DVD, the first Tayln-based episode (the one with the Budong) was actually written by Ben Browder too. Oh, talking of DVD special features, be sure to watch the deleted scenes from the final episode (since, for some reason, they deleted some of the best moments of the whole episode).

In addition to this, a new character called Jool is introduced. Although she starts out as an intentionally annoying character (with a high-pitched scream which can literally melt metal) who is very vaguely reminiscent of Chiana’s personality in the first season of “Farscape”, she develops surprisingly quickly into a more complex and interesting character.

Although this series mostly follows a single storyline, there are some extremely inventive and impressive stand-alone episodes. The most inventive one of these is probably an episode called “Revenging Angel” which mostly takes place inside Crichton’s mind whilst he is unconscious. Since it takes place inside Crichton’s mind, things quickly get strange and it isn’t long before Crichton finds himself in an animated Loony Tunes-esque cartoon world featuring cartoon versions of himself, D’Argo, Scorpius and Aeryn. This episode really has to be seen to be believed (especially the absolutely hilarious part with Aeryn), but it is absolutely brilliant!

Seriously, this episode is a cartoon… Of Farscape!

“Scratch ‘N’ Sniff” is another outstanding episode. Although this starts out as a comedy episode where the characters visit a recreation planet for some shore leave (after Pilot banishes them from Moya for a week), Chiana and Jool quickly go missing and it becomes clear that there is something siniser about the planet. The tone and editing of this episode is very different to every other episode of the show and it’s fairly difficult to describe, but it has a very 1990s “Cool Britannia” kind of feel to it.

“The Choice” is another astonishingly amazing episode too. Although “The Choice” is a fairly sombre and depressing episode, it’s also extremely atmospheric and dramatic too. Plus, the set design was fairly heavily inspired by “Blade Runner” and the episode is worth watching for this alone. Basically, everything looks like a slightly gothic version of “Blade Runner” and this is reason enough to consider this episode to be one of the best of the season.

There are a quite few other astonishingly amazing episodes, but these are probably my three favourite ones from this season.

All in all, season three of “Farscape” is a lot more serious and character-based than the previous two seasons. If you’ve seen the first two seasons (and you’d be a fool not to), then this season might surprise you. Yes, it’s different. Yes, you should watch it.

If I had to give season three of “Farscape” a rating out of five, then it would get a solid five.

Review: “Farscape” (Season Two) (TV Show)

Well, after finishing season one of “Farscape” (you can find my review for it here ), I moved on to the second season.

Whilst there are many stand-alone episodes of this show, the whole thing is ideally watched in order (since things in the background often carry over from episode to episode). So it’s probably a good idea to watch season one before you get started on season two. This review may contain some spoilers for season one too.

Season two of “Farscape” begins directly after the shocking ending of the first season and it covers a range of storylines, as well as a few plot arcs before ending in an equally suspenseful way.

One of the things I really love about this season is the sheer variety of different episodes and storylines that they manage to fit into just twenty-two episodes. There are some very “classic” old-school sci-fi episodes (such as “Home On The Remains”, “My Three Crichtons” and “Dream A Little Dream”).

There are some heavily character-based episodes ( such as “The Way We Weren’t” [although this episode gets slightly melodramatic], “Taking The Stone”, “The Locket” and ” Out Of Their Minds”).

There are also some genuinely creepy episodes too (such as “Crackers Don’t Matter”, “Picture If You Will” [probably the most disturbing and visually innovative episode in the season] and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” [which somehow manages to be both absolutely hilarious and disturbing at the same time]).

In fact, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is probably the most innovative episode in this season and, yes, it gets very very very strange. If you’ve got a suitably twisted sense of humour, you’ll probably be rolling around on the floor with laughter during the second half of the episode (and you’ll never think of Crais or Rigel in quite the same way again either…)

In addition to this wide range of storylines, there are also two longer storylines (“Look At The Princess” and “Liars, Guns And Money”). Unlike in most TV shows, these longer stories last for three episodes rather than two. Surprisingly, this works really well and both stories keep going at such a pace that it will still only feel like you’ve watched a two-part episode.

“Look At The Princess” is mostly set on an independent Sebacian colony planet, which is ruled by a monarchy. After a party on the planet, Crichton accidentally discovers that he is the only person on the planet who is genetically compatible with the princess. If she does not marry and produce a heir within a set time, then her treacherous brother will take the throne instead. As such, Crichton is strongly encouraged to marry her. Of course, Aeryn isn’t very happy about any of this and, surprisingly, Scorpius has arrived on the planet too. Although this description may not sound that interesting, this three-part episode is surprisingly compelling.

“Liars, Guns And Money” is basically a bank heist storyline. Since the crew of Moya urgently need a large amount of cash to rescue someone (saying who it is would gave away some spoilers), they plan to rob an illicit no-questions-asked “shadow depository” where literally anyone can deposit their ill-gotten wealth. Of course, things don’t exactly go to plan. This is probably the best one of the two longer storylines and all three parts of it are extremely compelling, suspenseful and thrilling.

Like with “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine’s” “Badda Bing Badda Bang” episode (from season seven) and one of the early episodes of “Firefly”, I absolutely love sci-fi bank heists – so it’s absolutely great to see that there’s one of these storylines in “Farscape” too.

Being something of a censorship geek, it was quite puzzling to see that one of the DVDs in the UK edition of this season had an 18 certificate. It’s always amusing when a whole season of a TV show (like season one of “Angel” and season two of “The X Files”) gets this rating due to literally one episode. Looking around online, the one episode of “Farscape” that the BBFC gave an 18 cert to was “Home On The Remains”.

In all honesty, I can see why the BBFC might have possibly given “Home On The Remains” this rating back in 2000/2001 due to a couple of (fairly unrealistic and obviously theatrical) gruesome/violent scenes and a rather loud head-butt (the BBFC used to be fairly strict about head-butts, although there are loads of them in season one of “Farscape”). However, by modern standards, this episode would probably just get a 15 certificate.

In terms of character development, this season absolutely excels itself. Although there isn’t a gigantic amount of new information revealed about the main characters, you’ll get a much better sense of who they are (including side characters like Crais, Stark and Scorpuis) over the course of the second season.

All in all, this season is even better than the first one and an absolute must for sci-fi fans. Now to get started on season three…

If I had to give season two of “Farscape” a rating out of five, then it would get a solid five.