|Farscape Cancellation FAQ|
Several questions on the cancellation answered...
By Farscape World Staff
What the frell? Farscape was cancelled? When did that happen?
On Friday, 6th September 2002, David Kemper (Executive Producer/Writer), Ben Browder (John Crichton) and Richard Manning (Executive Producer/Writer) took part in an impromptu chat, and announced that the Sci Fi Channel had decided not to bring Farscape back for a fifth season. You can read the chat in it's entirety in our Interviews section. Sci Fi were forced to officially announce the cancellation the following Monday.
But I thought Farscape was renewed for seasons four and five? How could they cancel it?
Sci Fi did indeed proudly announce in October 2001 that they had renewed Farscape for a fourth and fifth season. However, as with all television contracts, there was an "out" clause where, depending on ratings and other factors, Sci Fi could opt out of a fifth season. They exercised this clause.
So "Bad Timing" is the last episode ever?
For now, yes.
But what about the cliffhanger?
"Bad Timing" was originally written as the fourth season finale. The production team was working under the premise that they would be returning for a fifth season, and as such the episode was written with a cliffhanger. They were only informed of the cancellation on Thursday 5th September, with filming set to finish on Tuesday 10th. "Bad Timing" had completed shooting on the Friday of the chat. Because of the lack of time, the crew got together but all decided that the ending should not be re-written in a rush with just a few days of shooting left, and so it was left as a cliffhanger.
What happened then?
After news broke, several websites, including Farscape World, put up information on who to write to and what could be done to help keep the show alive. In particular, Sci Fi were the target of heavy letter-writing. The campaign made several publications and even made the cable network CNN Headline News in the US.
Did Sci Fi ever reconsider?
Yes. Following the pressure from several quarters, the striking of sets was halted and executives from Sci Fi and Henson began talking again. Ultimately, no agreement could be reached, and the show remained cancelled.
But the sets were struck? What can we do?
Sets can be rebuilt. The crew took an extensive number of photos before they were dismantled, and key props were saved. While it would be costly, it is not a huge stumbling point for the campaign.
Did the campaign continue?
Yes, in earnest. SaveFarscape.com became the unofficial home of the campaign, and their dedicated staff continued to come up with great ideas and strategies, and are doing a fantastic job of rallying fans together. Other websites have not stayed quiet, and since last September we've seen print adverts in major publications, television adverts in the US and a group of anonymous fans purchased the front cover to industry magazine Variety. Much of the campaign has centred around advertising the final eleven episodes, which began airing in January 2003, and finished in March 2003.
What were the goals of the campaign?
The basic goal was to get the word out and advertise the final run of new episodes. Sci Fi have effectively done very little to promote them as the last episodes of one of their top shows, and as such the ratings have suffered somewhat. With continued fan support and presence, the ratings have stayed fairly steady, but the Sci Fi channel moving their focus away from space-based shows has not helped.
The aim of the campaign was originally to get close to a 2.0 rating. While that has not been achieved, the ratings (which can be seen in our US Ratings Rundown) have been respectable, and have notably stayed far steadier than most other shows in the Sci Fi Friday line-up since January.
So I've seen the last episode, what can I do?
There are several things. Most importantly – get involved! Keep visiting the various Farscape websites, including SaveFarscape.com and Farscape World for the latest news and campaign updates. You can write to Sci Fi, and express your unhappiness at the news, at the following address:
Bonnie Hammer, President
The SCI FI Channel
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020-1513
There are several more contact details and addresses on our Help Save Farscape page and SaveFarscape.com (and their forums).
I haven't seen that many episodes, where can I catch up?
We have an in-depth Farscape Primer that outlines the key characters and plotlines of the series. You can also find extensive episode coverage in our Episode Guide.
If Sci Fi have cancelled Farscape, where can I see it?
Sci Fi will begin rerunning the show from the first episode, "Premiere," on Monday 30th March. Reruns will continue every Sunday through Thursday, with additional reruns of season four Friday mornings at 5am.
In the UK, Sci Fi (who are not related to the US Sci Fi Channel in anything but name) are currently rerunning the show Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8pm, with catch up the following day at 1pm, and a mini-marathon of the week's episodes Sundays from 9am to 12pm.
So why hasn't another network picked up the show?
Several other networks, including UPN, TNT and Showtime had showed preliminary interest in the series. The big problem is that Sci Fi owns exclusive rerun rights to seasons one through four – all the episodes currently produced. They have X years in which to show each episode Y times. If they exhaust the number of showings for an episode, they no longer have the rights to air it. If they don't show an episode, then their rights to air it will exhaust after X years.
Series creator Rockne O'Bannon has stated that Sci Fi's rights expire two years after the final episode airs. So until Sci Fi's rerun rights expire, no other network can air the earlier episodes, making it an unviable pickup for a new series, especially given the show airs on a relatively small cable network.
Why can't we pay for the show?
The amount of money involved is massive, however The Viewer Consortium has been formed to explore any such possibility.
Why can't ADV, BBC or [insert company here] fund another season?
Unfortunately, again, the amount of money involved is massive. Farscape's average budget per episode was about US$1.5 million. While Sci Fi did not pay the whole amount, clearly even for a 13 episode season it would be expensive. While the DVDs sell well, neither ADV nor Contender make enough from their sales to fund a new season, and a direct-to-video option is unviable for similar financial reasons.
The BBC is a publicly funded company, with a limit to the amount of international product they can produce. Again, the production costs are just too steep for them to be able to pick the show up.
What are Henson doing? Have they given up?
The answer to that is an emphatic NO! Henson are continuing to explore several avenues. They are actively looking at the production of an anime series with ADV Films, and are investigating the possibility of movies, a mini-series and other alternatives. Henson are, and always have been, extremely enthusiastic about the show (Brian Henson in particular is a huge supporter), and they definitely see a future in the franchise.
If you have a question that you don't see answered here, please e-mail us or post on our forum.