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Guide to the Save Farscape Auction Collection

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1999-2002
Creator: Save Farscape Auction Collection (1999-2002)
Extent: 3.50 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0371
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Collection of items assembled for a fannish auction to help fund the campaign protesting the cancellation of the science fiction television series Farscape.

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: These materials were donated by Constance Callahan in 2009. They were processed in September 2010.

Preferred Citation: Save Farscape Auction Collection, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman
Email: lib-spec@uiowa.edu
Website: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/sc

This collection contains a small group of materials that were brought together as auction items to fund an ongoing fan effort to prevent the cancellation of the science fiction television series Farscape (1999-2003).

The materials in this collection are less important for their inherent value, perhaps, than for the fan phenomenon they represent. The Save Farscape movement was a major grass-roots campaign by concerned fans to influence the broadcasting decisions of a television network. It was not the first of such campaigns, by any means. Fan campaigns to save beloved shows date back to 1967-1968, when an unprecedented effort of protest letter-writing and phone calls by an organized group of fans influenced NBC to renew Star Trek for a third season. In 1984, the group Viewers for Quality Television was founded, initially to "rescue" the series Cagney and Lacey from cancellation; its advocacy was successful and CBS retained the show, which gained subsequent popular and critical acclaim.

The 1990s saw the introduction of the Internet as a weapon that fans could utilize to mass popular support for pressing networks and production companies to retain beloved shows. Fans created message boards and websites to spread the word and direct protests to the appropriate authorities. Some of these efforts over the years have been temporarily successful (i.e. Once And Again, Jericho), while others have not (i.e. Mystery Science Theater 3000, Roswell). Some efforts, from galvanized fannish communities, have helped influence networks to revive shows that have been cancelled for years (i.e. Family Guy, Futurama).

The Save Farscape campaign represents a significant, large-scale effort in this regard. Following the September 2002 announcement by the Sci Fi Channel that it was rescinding its renewal of Farscape for a fifth season, angered fans leapt into activity with a multi-tiered effort. Besides the now common tools of phone calls, letters and e-mail messages, fans broadened their responses to call more attention to their cause. Many of them sent Sci Fi Channel executives packages of crackers, in homage to the title of a favorite Farscape episode, "Crackers Don't Matter." They actively worked to recruit new audiences to the series, including an attempt to find enough "Nielsen families" to visibly boost the show's ratings. In a more media-savvy age, the Beyond Hope Fund (later retooled as Where's My Riot?) was created to supply press kits for the media, purchase ad space in newspapers, and fund other publicity efforts (these include the auction of which the materials in this collection were a part). Some fans even attempted to locate funding that would free Farscape from the financial restraints of network television and make it a purely viewer-funded series. All of these actions represent a new type of multi-faceted media campaign that both built on lessons learned from similar fan protests in the past and evolved new forms of attack.

In the end, the campaign was partially successful. Although the Sci Fi Channel did not renew the series itself for a new season, it did agree to air a four-hour miniseries that would wrap up unfinished storylines from the series. Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars was broadcast in October 2004.

Unless otherwise noted, all items are autographed by Richard Manning, who was Farscape's consulting producer (1999-2000), co-executive producer (2000), and executive producer (2000-2003).

Historical Note

Farscape was a science fiction television series that originally ran from 1999-2003. It was a joint American and Australian production, broadcast on both the Nine Network (Australia) and the Sci Fi Channel (USA). Farscape was the creation of TV writer-producer Rockne S. O'Bannon, an SF veteran also responsible for the series Seaquest DSV and the film Alien Nation. The show was produced by Jim Henson Productions, which was responsible for the elaborate alien makeup, prosthetics and puppetry that were hallmarks of the series. It was filmed in Australia and made wide use of a large stable of Australian actors (with the notable exception of the main star, American Ben Browder).

Farscape is notable for its prolonged story arcs, deep interpersonal relationships between characters, snappy and frequently tongue-in-cheek dialogue, and a wide variety of unusual alien species (both among the main characters and those encountered by them in the course of the show). It is also remembered for its frequent use of alien slang, thrown into the regular dialogue. Most of this slang consists of made-up swear words or sexually suggestive expletives.

In brief, the series details the adventures of American astronaut John Crichton (Browder) who, while piloting his experimental probe Farscape 1 in orbit around Earth, is accidentally shot through a wormhole to the far side of the galaxy. On the other side of the wormhole, Crichton boards a massive "living' spaceship (a "Leviathan") named Moya. Moya is a prison ship for an oppressive military force called the Peacekeepers; Crichton arrives just as the prisoners - representing different alien races - on board have escaped and are attempting to pilot Moya to freedom. He allies himself with and befriends these prisoners: the Luxan warrior Ka D'Argo (Anthony Simcoe); blue-skinned Delvian priestess Pa'u Zotoh Zhaan (Virginia Hey), and deposed Hynerian overlord Dominar Rygel XVI (a puppet, voiced by Jonathan Hardy). Also among the allies is Pilot (a puppet, voiced by Lani Tapu), Moya's alien pilot who is biologically linked to the ship.

At the same time that Crichton arrives, Moya's new crew captures Peacekeeper warrior Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black), whose superiors declare her a renegade, contaminated by her contact with the "alien" Crichton. Aeryn becomes a member of the crew, and one of the more important story arcs in the series is her gradual rejection of her Peacekeeper upbringing and a developing romantic relationship with Crichton.

The course of the show is driven by ongoing Peacekeeper pursuit of Crichton and his friends after their escape from Peacekeeper-dominated space into the Uncharted Territories. In the first season, Moya is chased by Aeryn's former commander Captain Bialar Crais (Lani Tapu), who believes Crichton responsible for the death of Crais' brother. As the series progressed, the show's primary adversary became the Peacekeeper Scorpius (Wayne Pygram), who wants the knowledge of wormholes that is locked inside Crichton's brain. Much of the show after the first year was dominated by an ongoing duel of wills between Crichton and Scorpius. Another key story motivation in the series is Crichton's ongoing attempt, while trying to avoid capture by the Peacekeepers (or death at the hands of any number of aliens on any number of worlds), to locate a method of returning to Earth.

The cast of the show evolved over time. Although Crichton, Aeryn, D'Argo, Rygel and Pilot were featured during the entire show, other characters were introduced periodically to round out the cast and produce widely differing personalities that contributed to the series' dramatic and emotional depth (as well as frequent bursts of humor). The first new character brought into the main cast was the sprightly, sexually adventurous Nebari fugitive Chiana (Gigi Edgley). Other regular or recurring characters included psychic and former Banik slave Stark (Paul Goddard); Jool (Tammy McIntosh), an Interion woman of great intelligence and a supercilious attitude; mysterious herbalist Noranti (Melissa Jaffer); and the brilliant, impatient Kalish woman Sikozu (Raelee Hill).

The series was widely acclaimed during its run. Between 2000-2002, Farscape won two Saturn Awards for Best Syndicated/Cable TV Series and for Best TV Actor (Browder). Other members of the cast - Claudia Black, Virginia Hey, Anthony Simcoe, and Gigi Edgley - received Saturn nominations for their acting over the course of the show between 1999-2002. On a less formal front, the show developed a passionate following among a fervent community of fans ("Scapers"). Scapers were outraged when the Sci Fi Channel decided, in 2002, not to renew the series for a fifth season, citing declining ratings and the overall expense of production. The series ended on a cliffhanger in March 2003, but a concerted, organized campaign by fans persuaded the network to greenlight a miniseries, Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars, that would wrap up the loose ends from the show. The miniseries was aired in October 2004, and with it, the broadcast story of the Farscape saga came to an end. The cast, crew and fans received at least a bit of emotional payback in 2007, when TV Guide named Farscape #4 on its list of "Top 30 Cult Shows Ever", behind only Star Trek, The X-Files, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
For other fannish collections, many of which contain materials relating to Farscape, please consult the Fandom-Related Collections subject page, at http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/sc/resources/fandomresources/.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: GENERAL
Series 2: T-SHIRTS

  • Series 1: GENERAL
  • Box 1:
  • Farscape Roleplaying Game - 2002
  • Scripts: "Bone To Be Wild" - Season 1, Episode #21; David Kemper and Rockne S. O'Bannon, auth. - 1999
  • Scripts: "Family Ties" - Season 1, Episode #22; Rockne S. O'Bannon and David Kemper, auth. - 1999
  • Scripts: "A Human Reaction" [Season 1, Episode 16; Justin Monjo, auth.] - 1999
  • Scripts: "What Was Lost (Part I): Sacrifice" [Season 4, Episode 2; Justin Monjo, auth.] - 2002
  • Souvenir Picture Cards [not autographed]: Anthony Simcoe as D'Argo
  • Souvenir Picture Cards [not autographed]: Ben Browder as John Crichton
  • Souvenir Picture Cards [not autographed]: Claudia Black as Aeryn Sun
  • Souvenir Picture Cards [not autographed]: Gigi Edgley as Chiana
  • Souvenir Picture Cards [not autographed]: Virginia Hey as Zhaan
  • TV Guide Collector's Issue: Cover with Claudia Black - July 29-August 4 - 2000
  • TV Guide Collector's Issue: Cover with Gigi Edgley - July 29-August 4 - 2000
  • TV Guide Collector's Issue: Cover with Virginia Hey - July 29-August 4 - 2000
  • Box 2:
  • What The Frell Is That? Foodscape: Unofficial Recipes from the Uncharted Territories - 2002
  • Series 2: T-SHIRTS
  • Box 3: Two t-shirts - not autographed
  • John Crichton
  • "Women of Farscape": Aeryn, Chiana, Jool
  • Box 4: Two t-shirts - not autographed
  • Zhaan
  • Scorpius

This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.


Browse:
Fandom-Related Collections
Film & Television Writing and Directing
Study of Theatre Arts and Popular Culture