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Commentary Transcript
"Premiere"

By Mary Wood

This is the commentary for the Premiere episode from the U.S. DVD. The commentary was done by Brian Henson, Ben Browder, and Rockne O'Bannon.

This is the first time I've tried transcribing a casual conversation like this and the first thing I was reminded of is that we humans don't speak in real life the way we write. If I were to include every "um," "uh," every stutter and sentence shift, the thing would be highly difficult to read. Ergo, I've eliminated most of the ums, uhs and stutters leaving only enough to stay true to the conversation but without detracting from your reading it. Obviously, it helps if you've seen the episode, but it's not necessary as think I've managed to keep you apprised of what's happening in the episode, especially when it directly pertains to the conversation. Also keep in mind that the DVD contains the full 51 minute version of the show. If the only version you've seen is an edited version (e.g, episodes run in the U.S. are edited down to about 44 minutes to allow for commercials), it's possible there are scenes being referred to that you haven't seen. All I can advise is to follow along as best you can ... and now's the time to go buy that DVD!

Commentary dialogue shows up in normal font.

{Bits in stylized brackets consist of that dialogue where I'm not too sure what they're saying. If you've seen it and can enlighten me, please do so!}

Show dialogue and screen happenings are in italics.


Ben Browder: Hi, my name's Ben Browder and I'm an actor on Farscape. I'd like to introduce you to my two creators, Mr. Brian Henson and Mr. Rockne O'Bannon. Rockne S. O'Bannon.

Rockne O'Bannon: Thank you!

Brian Henson: That was very beautifully done Ben.

Browder: Thank you. That was kind of professional.

Henson: So I'm Brian Henson We ... we're going to tell you a little about the history of this series. We started in, I think it was about 1992. And as a company - as the Jim Henson Company - we wanted to do a show that showcased what we could do in feature films at the time which was really the ... our creature shop and the special effects and creature work that our creature shop was doing was really becoming world renowned and we wanted to bring that to television. And we ... at first the idea sort of initially started as something like Star Wars' bar on a weekly basis, but at that point we didn't know if we were talking about a comedy or a drama or whatever.

[John Crichton talking to DK about pre-flight jitters]

John: ... right before we started this job. Well I had that feeling last night {...}

D.K.: This experiment that important to you?

O'Bannon: We wanted to take our time with this, with the Crichton-on-Earth segment 'cause we knew that it was the last time we'd be seeing John on Earth for quite a while and we wanted to set up situations and relationships as quickly as we could that would lend a resonance to the series. At least we certainly hope so.

[John's father has just entered the room (played by Kent McCord)]

We were very lucky to get Kent McCord to come on board. We were trying to cast the role in Australia, just could not find anyone to do it, and David Kemper - the executive producer of the series - said "Look, I'm a friend of Kent's, if you ... let me call, I don't know what he's doing, I don't know if he's available..." and we said "Well call because we need him down here in a couple of days!"

Henson: It was literally a couple of days before we needed him.

O'Bannon: Yeah, I know, Kent was on a plane like within 24 hours. And I think really gives the show ... it's nice to have a familiar face, essentially the only familiar face you know in the series, and obviously met with a lot of TV history and weight. So, great way to start off the series.

Browder: Yeah, he looks like a hero and he reminds the audience that ... they all feel like they know him and they feel like they know the astronaut so he plays the hero role very well and actually gives Crichton there something to live up to.

[John and Jack Crichton walking the halls of IASA together]

Jack: I mean the guys in button-down collars and the neckties, they got to use their brains. Only thing I ever got to use was the...

John: Guts.

O'Bannon: This scene to me was one that was very, very important...

Henson: Enormously important this scene was...

O'Bannon: Yeah. The idea, you know, of trying to live in the shadow of a well-known father and having to be concerned about living up to his image and the notion of being a hero not in a con-... yes in the way you expect to be a hero. yes All of us - I feel - need to be prepared because you ... as Kent says here ... you never know how you're going to be called upon to be the hero in your life whether it's being a good parent or a good Spouse, or whatever it is. It's something you have to be prepared for and you don't know when it's going to come about. And as I watch the series, the subsequent episodes, every single one, and I see what's thrown at John Crichton, it always resonates back to this scene for me.

[Shot of space shuttle launching]

Henson: It was really expensive gettin' the shuttle by the way to do a special launch for us, for that sequence [chuckling].

O'Bannon: [chuckling] And uh, didn't you ... you operated the camera on that one didn't you Brian?

Henson: [both laughing] Yeah I did. Yeah, I was on an F-14 jet.

Browder Yeah, and one of the things the audience usually misses when they see that shuttle, because it was specially built, if you look closely on the side - run that tape back - it says "Collaroy." It's the Shuttle Collaroy. Look very closely and uh ... because it launched from Australia. [Brian and Rockne laughing] Collaroy is a suburb of Northern Beaches and Sydney Australia. I think it's where Andrew Prowse directed the {outsiders} is from. It's a fantastic little detail. It's threaded through Farscape.

Henson: That is good! I didn't even realize that!

[We've just seen the space shuttle spitting out John's module in orbit above Earth]

Browder: And there is our first real CGI sequence.

John: Canaveral, this is Farscape One, I am free and flying.

Henson: I think one of the great things about {Gardner and McClannan}, the company that ... this is ... their effects move in a very majestic way and they move with weight and there's a cinematic quality to all their visual effects which is really terrific and lends a weight and importance to the series which is really important to us.

O'Bannon: Very natural and very, very real.

Browder: And beautiful.

[Henson and O'Bannon both agreeing with Browder]

Henson: Yeah, yeah, and always beautiful. I mean, every now and then they actually make choices with the lighting and stuff that you wouldn't find in space but they do it because it just makes it just a little beautiful and a little bit exotic and uh ... it's interesting. They're a highly creative company. They're really good.

[Still in test flight sequence]

O'Bannon: The design...

Browder: And there's the helmet [all three laughing presumably at Crichton's space helmet].

O'Bannon: The design of ... the design of Crichton's module is based on a emergency reentry vehicle that NASA has plans for ... for the space station, and we saw this and said "Gee guys..."

Browder: Or the ee-ASA [IASA] has plans. International Aeronautical Space Administration.

Henson: Well I think NASA was real enthusiastic about our show but they asked us to use I.S. instead of NASA cause it just is too complicated to work with NASA on that...

O'Bannon: They actually ... well they wanted script approval ...

Henson: [laughing] Yeah, I know! yes They were real enthusiastic!

O'Bannon: ... and I just thought gee, you know, we're going to get real ... once he ... after the first 6 pages of the premiere script there's not going to be a whole lot for you guys to approve.

[Crichton's module has just been lost through the wormhole and we're now looking at the reactions of Jack Crichton and DK]

Browder: Andrew Prowse did a fantastic job building this sequence and then integrating with the CGI. And you know, like all of us, he was learning to do it at the time and uh he just did a fantastic job.

[Crichton's module is flying through the wormhole]

O'Bannon: This is actually a very complicated sequence to edit because ... had to portray that Crichton ... we see him going through this, through the wormhole. yes But when he comes out the other side, he first comes into an asteroid field and in an early edit it looked as though where he was coming out, somehow Earth had been destroyed. So we went back in and um ... just put in a tail of the father and DK after Crichton had disappeared. So we were certain to establish that Earth was still there so that there would never be a thought in anyone's mind that somehow what Crichton was seeing here was actually parts of ...

Henson: Earth.

O'Bannon: Destructed Earth, yeah.

[Crichton has just come out of the wormhole and Peacekeeper prowlers are whizzing past him]

O'Bannon: Here's our first view of...

Browder: Our first encounter with the Peacekeepers.

O'Bannon: And I just ... I love the notion of John in his white Earth NASA style ship which is, you know, truly cutting edge technology here on Earth suddenly eclipsed by these black, sleek, nasty, weapon-firing prowlers.

Browder: And here's the only main title sequence without the voiceover. [In a lighthearted tone] My name is John Crichton. I'm an astronaut. yesI got ... shot ... through a wormhole.

Henson: That's right. That's right, we didn't need to do it in this one cause we just saw it.

[all three laughing]

Browder: Well no, we're totally giving the story away, I mean ... "chased by an insane military commander" ... you know? Here it is you know. We sort of see who we're going to be

Henson: So go have some coffee, you know? See you next week.

Browder: But uh, we're not going to give away the whole story right now because this is the first time you've seen it.

[Opening credits have just finished rolling and we're watching Crichton, still in his module, still having just come out of the wormhole and trying to make sense of what he sees around him]

Browder: This was a really difficult sequence actually for uh ... for me to shoot because I'm in the module which is of course on a gimble rig and they're telling me what I'm seeing and that I have no real reference. I didn't get to see the CGI in advance and they're saying "Ok, things are flying over this way. Things are flying over that way. You've just been hit. Now you see something, what do you see?"

[Crichton sees Moya for the first time]

Browder: Ahh, there it is!

O'Bannon: Our first view of Moya.

Browder: And they're telling me that there's a really big spaceship up there.

Crichton: yes That's really big.

Browder: That's a really big spaceship.

[all three chuckling]

Henson: It's interesting actually just how difficult it was to ... in all of the pre-production and creating the sets and the looks and everything, trying to lock in the ship designs for Crichton's ship and for the prowlers, the Peacekeeper prowlers and for Moya and the Peacekeeper command. That was almost the hardest thing to get ready in time. It's an enormous amount of work that goes into designing those ships.

[Crichton's module is being pulled into Moya]

O'Bannon: yes For Crichton, I wanted to be ... to look like a classic hero, but be someone ... there are a couple things. One, um, definitely had to look like he could do the science. He had to look like he had the smarts. And the other thing was an ability to be classically hero handsome, but also be able to play the awe and wonder and essentially a level of - forgive me Ben - goofiness

[Browder laughs loudly]

... as a man outside a comfortable situation. And I gotta tell you Ben ...

Browder: yes The goofy part is the one thing that I can do...

O'Bannon: yes It's the only thing you can do, ok? yes "Classically handsome," I don't know...

Browder: yes the hansome, and the smart, but man I did goofy! Well here, just watch, you know?

[On screen is Crichton putting out the fire in his module after his first encounter with a DRD]

O'Bannon: yes So we worked with him on all the other stuff, the hero stuff and all that stuff, but the goofy, yeah, right off the bat.

Browder: yes Goofy, yeah, check it out.

O'Bannon: It was that, that triangle we were looking for in John Crichton. This was obviously the pivotal role. And um, Ben ... I first saw Ben on tape and there was just obviously something there. Ben came in and read for us and what sold us in a lot of ways and for me when I've cast in the past, it isn't the reading - the reading is part of it obviously - but it really is just talking to the guy and getting to know him and getting a sense of what he's about and what's going on behind the eyes.

Browder: The first thought of the script was basically "How the hell are they going to do this?"

O'Bannon: Or why the hell are we going to do this I guess is...

[all three chuckling]

Browder: Yeah, well, I mean, you know, you look at all the elements that have to come together and when you factor the puppetry and animatronics and the CGI and just the scope of the series, then you really can be sort of overwhelmed by it.

[DRDs leading John to command]

Browder: yes This is interesting because this is the section of the show that really, really awed me when I saw it. Right here...

[First wide-angle shot of command where D'argo and Zhaan are trying to get control of Moya]]

... this is the moment, and you know it beautifully plays out, and this is where the series really begins. This is really the scene where the audience finds out what the series is about. You get the background and you get thematic information and very important stuff, but here's where it is, where John Crichton meets aliens and ...

[Crichton says "hi" to Zhaan and D'argo]

... aliens ...

[D'argo rushes at Crichton]

O'Bannon: yes He realizes that he -

Browder: yes ... attack him! This is where it happens. This is where he realizes he's in a hostile environment and it's not going to be the "Close Encounters" of Steven Spielberg.

O'Bannon: yes Well that's the line later on you know? yes "Boy was Spielberg ever wrong" and to me that was very much an essential of the show and this scene. John Crichton is having the first encounter with alien life that anyone of his own species has ever had and instead of standing there as they do in "Close Encounters" putting their arms out and letting him look upon them with awe and all of that, they race up and try to choke the life out of him.

Browder: yes And it's a really good closed mystery here as well because it makes sense how they treat him later when you understand that Peacekeepers the are the ones that imprisoned them. At this point, everything that they do makes perfect sense in retrospect. They've been imprisoned by the Peacekeepers, he looks like a Peacekeeper. But at that moment it appears to be something that it's not - which is something that happens all the time in Farscape.

[D'argo is tearing out random wires trying to disengage Moya's control collar]

O'Bannon: yes Trying to get the balance between the fact that Moya is a living entity and as well as a ship - a metal, primarily metal ship - was something we worked very hard to accomplish. And the decisions in terms of what kind of mechanics and wiring and guts if you will of Moya was something we had many a meeting about. yes When D'argo pulls those wires out, it's ... you know ... would there be sparking? Would there be fluid? That sort of thing.

[Rygel confronting Crichton as D'argo and Zhaan struggle to gain control of the ship]

Looking for D'argo and Zhaan in particular we had whittled the list down to I think three candidates for each of the roles. And I went down to Australia and we got all six of them in a studio and just started to pair them up. We had some sides, some scenes for them to play, a Zhaan-D'argo scene that was written just for the audition process, and we got there and started to pair them up. And the minute we got Anthony and Virginia together I turned to Matt Carroll, the Australian producer of the series, and said, "If we had a 35mm camera here we could start shooting the show."" They were that clearly the choices for those two roles.

Browder: yes Then Brian said, "No, no. I want to put some prosthetics and some blue paint on them first."

[all laughing]

Henson: On Anthony, yeah, we had to. He looked way too much like a person. But I think Virginia was one of those that ... boy, she walked in and she was the part! Anthony, when you first meet him, he doesn't actually seem to you ... he doesn't actually come across as D'argo. He's the one ... he does an enormous shift when he gets into that character, he shifts so far out of his own personality it's really quite cool to watch what he does. Virginia, was just a natural. She walked in and that was, she was Zhaan.

O'Bannon: yes We were so anxious for Zhaan because she's a priest and that usually carries the baggage of being someone who keeps experience at arm's length and we didn't want that for Zhaan. We wanted Zhaan to be someone who felt the way to become one with the universe was not to hold experience at arm's length but to embrace it.

Henson: And suck the marrow out of life!

O'Bannon: yes Yes! But truly, that is Virginia!

[Moya has just Starburst away and we're seeing an outside shot of Crais' command carrier]

Henson: I like this shot. I think it's cool to see the three leviathans down there [below the command carrier].

Browder: yes And it's not...

Henson: You don't get a chance in the show to see...

[Cut to Crais inside his command carrier]

Browder: yes Ahh! And these are the bad guys. You can tell, they're in black.

[all three laugh]

Henson: And the set is all black, white and red.

Browder: yes And obviously ... first day of shooting, interesting, you see the grate here on the floor ... it made a tremendous amount of noise.

yes [Ben laughs and the other two start laughing with him]

Henson: It did! Every scene, every line needed A.D.-ing on that.

Browder: Yeah, Andrew would be shooting the scene and someone would be walking around in the background, they wouldn't be in the shot, and you've got the second AD, he was learning the job and it was the first day of shooting ... saying "Just tell that guy in the background to stop moving around cause he's talkin' all over Lani's lines!" There he is, see that guy in the background? He liked pacing.

O'Bannon: We worked very hard to get the contrast obviously between the more organic setting of Moya and the far more military and industrial look of the Peacekeeper ships. Moya's designs all come from ... Ricky Eyres, the production designer, used a Spanish artist by the name of {Gallias} as an influence and for the Peacekeeper ship, it's all kind of early 20th century, Russian, industrial look and he ... there's a real nice contrast. Also Moya, we always wanted to give a sense that she isn't only meant to carry aliens that happen to be this size, that she actually would be capable of carrying creatures that are much larger and smaller and that sort of thing. Whereas the Peacekeeper ships are obviously built for Sebaceans who are generally that one size.

[Moya has come out of Starburst with the single prowler sucked in behind her. It is decided to bring in the prowler and its pilot. yes Finally able to relax, Rygel promptly spits on Crichton]

Crichton: What is the matter with you ... people?!?

[D'argo tongues Crichton]

Henson: I like the simple little effects like, well, first the spitting was really difficult, but the... I love that moment where D'argo zaps Crichton in the back of the neck. It's probably all of a 10 frames visual effect but it's a great little thing. And it's also actually pretty funny I think.

Browder: yes Yeah!

Henson: As Crichton gets really pissed off he gets zapped.

Crichton's finally fed up. He's been beaten, he's scared, and he's finally had it.

[Finally free of the Peacekeepers for the moment, Zhaan approaches D'argo to introduce herself]

Browder: yes This is a beautiful scene, this scene.

O'Bannon: yes Also you get to see a real good example of what Virginia sold us on in her audition, that sort of playfulness and her willingness to play a priest with a real kind of fun, wry coyness which is just so important to making Zhaan not your traditional ascetic priest.

Browder: yes Hmm. It's also one of the things of this series is the tonal shifts that occur episode to episode and within the series, that we'll hit a breakneck pace and then we slow down, and it's a great {recetive} that occurs here. But you know, this scene is beautiful because what you've had up 'til now is complete chaos and you haven't had a chance to look at these characters and get a feel for these characters and you can take in the detail. The rings in [D'argo's] collar which you probably haven't noticed up to this point ... and it allows you to start to get to know these characters who are aliens and after all this chaos you finally have this scene which is just beautiful. yes And well written Rock.

Zhaan: [to D'argo] How old are you?

D'argo: Thirty cycles.

Zhaan: [smiling coyly] Ahh! You are but a boy!

D'argo: I am not. I am a Luxan warrior. I have seen two battle campaigns.

Zhaan: Only two?

... And you really can start to see the exquisite makeup on Bluie ... the detail that goes into it, you just have to see ...

Henson: The painting detail is interesting in these early episodes, we hadn't quite figured out the color temperature to the lighting and so it was turning her makeup almost gray even though it was very blue makeup. And so we quickly were making adjustments both to the lighting - the color of the lights inside Moya - and adjustments to the color blue of her makeup.

O'Bannon: yes It is interesting because it mutes this ... it works really well for that particular scene because it kind of, you know ...

Henson: It quiets the scene down.

O'Bannon: yes Yes, very much so.

D'argo: This escape. yes I doubt it will last long enough for the Peacekeepers even to note it in their log.

Browder: yes It's a fantastic voice that Anthony does. It's completely done by him - it's not digital. There's a lot of people who thought that that's digitally enhanced and it's not. yes That's all him. He's got a great instrument and he uses it beautifully.

Henson: That's wonderful. When you meet him he's actually got quite a high pitched voice. yes In one of the other episodes you think...

Browder: yes That's scary isn't it?

Henson: But this voice, he just drops it way down in his throat.

[Crichton is waking up in a cell on Moya]

Crichton: Oh please, let it all be a dream. A very bad, very twisted dream.

Browder: yes I love this scene. John Crichton is lying on the floor, he is ... naked.

[Rygel floats past the door to the cell to the control panel next to it]

... And there; Rygel takes a look.

[John is coming around and getting off the floor, squinting his eyes]

... ok, I love that. And Rock tried to convince me that he wouldn't try to put his clothes on immediately. yes [laughs]

O'Bannon: yes Well, as scripted, he didn't right away. But uh, it plays much, much better this way.

Browder: yes Look, the first script I read, there was no "He is naked." That came later ... cause I'd have asked for more money [all laughing].

O'Bannon: Ok Brian, in particular, in a scene like this with Rygel where he's pressing the buttons, this one, how many puppeteers are working him right at that moment?

Henson: Well, there's actually five but it's effectively a character that can kind of be worked by four. John Eccleston is working the head with his hand up inside the head and he's doing the lip-sync with his other hand with a cable control on his belt. Then there's another puppeteer doing the expressions on his face and the eye movements, and then there's one puppeteer on each hand. Sometimes on the face they put two on and that's why sometimes it becomes five puppeteers. Sometimes one puppeteer will just do the pupils to make sure they're maintaining the right ... correct eye lines. Because if a character misses its eye lines then it really feels dead.

Browder: Here's another great character introduction.

O'Bannon: This is a great way for a character to come in!

Browder: This is the first ... all the characters in the pilot are beautifully introduced, it's beautifully set up, it's shot, and suddenly, whoom!

[Rygel, talking with Crichton through the cell bars, points behind him and Crichton turns around to see yet another alien in his cell, obscured in a menacing looking black suit and helmet. This new alien has been unconscious and is just waking up. The alien takes her helmet off ... it's ...]

Browder: Ahh, yeah. A good lookin' girl! Hey, how 'bout that!

[Crichton approaches the alien; Aeryn]

... [in a naive tone of voice] I think I'll go over and introduce myself. You know, go have a little chit-chat.

[Aeryn starts beating up Crichton]

O'Bannon: So you should have kept your clothes off.

Browder: Yeah, if I kept my clothes off it would have been more interesting but then they'd have made another comment.

O'Bannon: It does look cool though...

[Aeryn kicks Crichton in the torso, flipping him over on his back]

Browder: Oh no! And now we know a lot about this girl.

Aeryn: [straddling Crichton's neck] What is your rank and regiment? And why are you out of uniform? Rank and regiment now!

... We also know a lot about John.

Aeryn: [getting off of Crichton and confronting Rygel] Let me out of here your Hynerian slug.

Rygel: Your efforts are wasted Peacekeeper. You of all people should know that.

O'Bannon: Talk a little bit about what you discovered in terms of the interaction with the puppets.

Browder: Well, you know, the interaction with the puppets ... see the advantage to the puppets is twofold. One is because they're not CGI you can get your hands on them. You can play with them, you can interact with them right then and there. You can hit them, they can hit you. You can, you know, you can have a scene right there on the day. And the other advantage to the puppets is that you have performers behind them which is live and so you have another creative element which comes onto the floor to help bring the words to life and to bring the images to life. And I guess they're also quicker as well. But it's just awesome what these guys do with it. And you know, Rygel and Pilot are state of the art animatronics. They're actually worth more than me, I think they're actually paid more than me. [All laughing] Is that true?

Henson: They might be more expensive than you to get on the screen.

Browder: I tell you, it cost much a lot more to get Rygel through college than it did me. What I found to be a revelation and is probably one of the secrets of working with puppets is that I discovered I think in episode four is getting your hands on them. You know, a puppeteer comes out of a long line of punch and Judy and you know that the physicality of puppets is what makes them funny, is what makes them work. And if you get your hands on them, it makes them real and it makes you react to them and all this actory stuff that you know is probably not interesting to anybody...

Henson: No, it's an action-reaction. If you touch a puppet it pushes back at you.

Browder: Yeah, but it does, it makes it real and it forces ... but it forces the puppeteer to do something as well. Sometimes they don't like it. The first time I actually hit Rygel ... [laughing] ... can you imagine, you know? Cause you know, Rygel costs like twenty million dollars [O'Bannon and Henson laugh], and if he breaks a cervo we lose a day of working. The puppeteers, they were ... Johnny Eccleston is underneath and he was like, cool. He was diggin' it cause you know ... but the guys in charge of keeping Rygel in one piece were going nuts because John and I didn't tell them. We didn't tell them it was gonna happen and then they saw ... we just sort of rehearsed it and the first time I did it, I give Rygel a nice clock on the back of the head and he hits his face on the edge of a counter and he comes up choking and gagging. "Cut!" Like, 12 people from ... "No, man! Is the puppet ok? Is the puppet ok?" But it's actually fine, you can actually manhandle them and you can work them and you can do stunts with these guys and you know, it's a fantastic interaction that they give us and that's one of the great things that the show has going for it.

[Zhaan and D'argo are leading a handcuffed Crichton and Aeryn to dinner]

Crichton: yes Damn! You know this ship is amazing. What kind of...

Zhaan: She's a leviathan. A bio-mechanoid. A living ship.

O'Bannon: In every instance, in every scene in those early days, I would tell the writers "Just put yourself in the room in each of the situations. What would you do if you were there?"

[Having their meal...]

... Here's a perfect example of a scene where again Crichton is confronting three incredibly different, very odd, very potentially ... apparently unfriendly aliens. And just, those first episodes was a matter of working very hard to establish that. That tone of what would you ... put yourself in that room with the giant 2-foot cockroach and give me your reaction to that. yes And it worked very well.

Aeryn: [talking to Crichton as she slips the fork into her sleeve] It may be the only chance we get.

Crichton: yes We?

O'Bannon: I remember Brian calling me after - I think probably the shooting of this sequence - and he called me and said, "Rygel, when he eats, looks really good, so be sure Rygel eats a lot."

Henson: [Laughing] Which drives the puppeteers now.

O'Bannon: But Rygel became a glutton after that because it really does look good when he's stuffing his face.

D'argo: [to Rygel] I've been searching for a reason not to jettison you with the next refuse dump.

Rygel: You'd dump me? I bribed the maintenance {throws} at the last checkpoint. yes I secured the cell codes at the...

Zhaan: Gentlemen,

Browder: It's interesting, we were shooting this later in the shoot schedule and this is ... Claudia starts to look for more colors in this scene so she has a different sort of facet of Aeryn that she's showing.

Henson: Yeah, I think this is where she ropes the audience in.

O'Bannon: I think she's fantastic.

Henson: Claudia in this scene ... up until then she's cool, and right about here they fall in love.

Browder: Yeah, we shot ... we'd shot a lot of the later stuff and we came back and she was concerned about it and she pulled this flavor out of the bag. And then, Rygel farts.

D'argo: [voice getting progressively higher-pitched] yes ... and this one [Crichton] is some kind of higher brain function deficient. How he escaped the genetic {seaming} process I do not know.

Zhaan: Rygel?

Crichton: yes What just happened?

Rygel: It's a perfectly natural bodily function. yes And it's odorless.

D'argo: So your loyal subjects tell you!

Browder: Another signature of Farscape; puppets who fart.

Crichton: yes You fart helium?

Rygel: Sometimes. When I'm nervous, or angry.

... Yeah, now it's interesting to listen to the people on the Internet try and figure out how an alien farts helium. They went through a whole bio-chemical analysis telling us how it was impossible when, you know...

Henson: Um, it is an inert gas.

Browder: "Well, Starburst is possible but an alien farting helium is not" you know? Nice one.

[Shot of transport pod flying through the planet's stratosphere]

... Fantastic CGI shot here.

Henson: Yeah, that's lovely.

Browder: Two suns. I didn't notice that before.

Rygel [negotiating trade with an alien on the commerce planet] You'll only expose your ignorance if you don't concede knowledge of the {herlian} stone!

Browder: I don't know if it's true or not but I was told by people in the creature shop that when they rendered the drawing of this proprietor, this creature here, that they actually got the scale wrong and that's why he ended up so big. He ended up taking up the entire set, they couldn't get him in.

Henson: Well, we wanted him real big, kind of as big as he could be so he was almost like stuck in his space. Which he was cause it took about three hours to wedge him into that space.

[Crichton and Aeryn in the cell on Moya; Aeryn at the door trying to find a way to open it and Crichton sitting in the back of the cell]

Crichton: yes Wormhole...

Browder: I love the deep-two. Right here, the deep-two shot, the ... and with foreground which is very much Andrew Prowse, he loves his foreground. But you know, using these very deep shots with a lot of depth there with a character playing in foreground and background, there's a lot of detail in the way the show is constructed and shot.

O'Bannon: Since we're uh, ... the work of Ricky Eyres, gentleman who has worked on "Saving Private Ryan" and "Phantom Menace,"

Browder: "Indiana Jones,"

O'Bannon: Yeah, and the thing that drew me to him, Pete Coogan of the Henson Company was the one who first brought his name to my attention and-

Henson: Yeah, we've worked with him a few times.

O'Bannon: But it was the fact that he'd worked on "Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" was the thing that impressed me the most because if you look at those shows there's a scale to them and a richness that for an episodic series is quite phenomenal. Plus, George Lucas used a lot of green screen set extensions and things like that to give it that scale. So he'd had a lot of experience in doing that. And obviously on "Phantom Menace," Ricky told me that there was not a single set that didn't have a green screen extension and he'd just come off of that show.

Henson: He worked with us for a long time, a lot longer than a production designer would usually work on a television series. In a television series you might bring in the production designer as late as eight to twelve weeks before shooting. And Ricky was working on this probably a good seven months prior to shooting and he basically came up with a visual language for each of the cultures. Like Moya ... the leviathans have a visual language that you can see in the ribs of the rooms and the shape of the furniture that are a part of Moya, and the Peacekeepers have a visual language in the line of their ships and the way those lines ... the heaviness. And then basically each of the other cultures as they start to appear have the same thing happening, but ... he just put in an enormous amount of work and created this great look to the show that as Rock said has that bigness ... it just has scale and power to it.

[Aeryn and Crichton have just arrived to the commerce planet and Crichton's looking at the ships coming and going]

Browder: This is {Wybay} Power Station ... it's a derelict power station - incredibly dangerous - but it's got this great architecture and we've actually gone back there a number of times using different facets of it. We still haven't shot in all the areas that we can there, but it's a wonderfully rat-infested, derelict, dangerous building which we use for ... we used here and we used in other places. And it's got fantastic detail in it.

[In one area of this rather run-down alien strip mall, D'argo fetches Rygel. In another area, Aeryn fetches Crichton]

Aeryn: Come on. I've relayed our rendezvous point. We can get off this wastehole of a planet.

Browder: Claudia is ... is everything. She's uh ... I was ... they flew me down to Australia after I'd been cast to read with some girls for the role of Aeryn. And we read through ... read through the script before going in you know, with each girl. And Claud and I walked down the hall and I said "You wanna read this?" She said "Yeah." We read it together and we looked at each other and one of us said "Whoa ... I think we're ready to go." And I said "Yeah, let's go shoot it." So we walked back in and from the first moment, she uh... she had it. And I came back to America and said "There's one girl. We gotta get this girl, please! Please, please, please get this girl." And luckily they ... luckily they agreed with it.

O'Bannon: Claudia was working at the time we were casting, so I never had a chance to see her in person when I was in Sydney. I was back in the States and {...} our casting director sent us a tape with a lot of candidates on it and Claudia was one of them. And so we said "Definitely want her on the very short list." And then when Ben went down to do some auditions with the candidates, she was obviously and immediately the choice.

[After a scuffle with D'argo, Crais and his soldiers show up and confront Crichton.]

Aeryn: [to Crais] Sir, he claims to be a human from a planet called Erp, but he's shown himself to be-

Crais: To be what, Officer Sun? A clever imposter. An accomplice to a ship full of escaping prisoners. My brother's murderer.

Crichton: yes Your brother's what?

Crais: You charged my brother's prowler in that white deathpod of yours.

Browder: [laughing] The deathpod! The deathpod! The white deathpod! We should rename it from the Farscape module to the White Deathpod! We should just write it on the side.

Crais: ... It will require some study. I will personally enjoy pulling you apart to see what you're made of. [Nods to his soldiers who move in on Crichton]

Crichton: yes Hey!

Aeryn: Wait,

Crais: Yes Officer Sun? You know something about this alien?

Aeryn: Only that I have spent time with him sir and I believe him when he says that what happened to your brother was an accident. I don't believe he is brave enough or intelligent enough to attack one of our prowlers intentionally.

Crais: Exactly how much time have you spent with this human?

Crichton: yes Not a lot. Not much at all.

Crais: Because as you know, Peacekeeper High Command has very clear parameters regarding contact with unclassified alien life forms. yes You may have very well exceeded those parameters Officer Sun-

Aeryn: No. Sir, I-

Crais: - which would make you irreversibly contaminated.

Aeryn: No, sir, I-

O'Bannon: I'm real proud of what happens with Crais' character and Aeryn's character with the arc of the series but through the first season in particular.

Browder: UmmHmm

O'Bannon: Because right off the bat here they're both you know, very kind of straightforward, you-get-them-right-away characters because of their culture. There doesn't seem to be a lot more beyond that kind of straightforward, military demeanor and they both go through such a wonderful blossoming,

Browder: UmmHmm

O'Bannon: and a trial-by-fire in Crais' case through the first season. It's real ... for me it's real fun to look back on the arc of the whole first season-

Browder: As do most of the characters,

O'Bannon: - and look at these characters in particular, yeah.

Browder: Except for Rygel.

O'Bannon: Well, I mean, Crichton obviously you know ...

Browder: Sparky ... he gets better groomed.

O'Bannon: I was just going to say that ... exactly! His earbrows ... he finds a comb obviously somewhere.

[Crichton, D'argo and Aeryn are being searched by the Peacekeeper guards. One guard finds Crichton's good luck puzzle ring and Crichton is explaining what it is]

Guard: A field resourcefulness exercise?

Browder: Alright Rock. yes A "field resourcefulness exercise?"

[both laugh hard]

O'Bannon: No, well yeah ... they don't understand, they don't have toys.

Browder: If they delivered it correctly you're right...

O'Bannon: It's the joy of {day playing}.

[While the guards are preoccupied with the puzzle ring, Crichton takes one of the guards' guns and puts a few feet between himself and the guards]

Browder: Oh, this is ... this is a great moment! Shoot it backwards!

Crichton: yes [shooting at the guards] Don't move! Or I'll fill you full of ... little yellow bolts of light.

Browder: Ah, that's a great line.

Henson: That's a great line, that really was what we promoted the show on for the ... before we showed this episode.

Crichton: yes On the ground, now!

Guard: [as both guards lay down on the ground] Give up now Officer Sun. You might avoid the death sentence.

D'argo: [to Crichton] Unlock me then I will unlock you.

Aeryn: [to Crichton] No. Me. ... Come on! Losing time!

Browder: This guy's got a hard job cause he's getting shot at and they don't see the yellow bolts of light and neither do I.

[Crichton has just handed the keys to D'argo, who is just figuring out that he can't unlock himself ... someone else must unlock the cuffs]

Crichton: yes If you run, then you're going to have to find someone else to unlock you. Then you're going to have to explain these Peacekeeper handcuffs.

Guard: Give up now Officer Sun.

Browder: See the ... we have these Peacekeeper handcuffs, which we actually had a lot of difficulty keeping them on. They actually fell off time after ... we're shooting the scenes and you go running up and suddenly the cuffs would fall off. Which was great except uh ... wasn't supposed to happen in the scene.

O'Bannon: Until the right moment.

Browder: Yeah.

Crichton: yes [to D'argo] ... away from those over-amped rent-a-cops, away from Crais. And we take her too.

D'argo: What? Never!

O'Bannon: This was a tough scene to get because there's ... he's got to in a very short amount of time obviously get these two convinced. First D'argo to come around to allowing her to come, and then convince her to come along as well.

Browder: It's a tough scene to act as well cause there's a lot happening very quickly and then you come up ... very soon you're gonna have another signature line which comes back to play great importance for the Aeryn character in season two.

[Crichton is unlocking Aeryn who doesn't want to escape with him]

Aeryn: ... duty. My breeding since birth. It's what I am.

Crichton: yes You can be more.

Browder: It's a good line.

[Shot of the prowler coming back into Moya's hangar]

Zhaan: Say again pilot?

Pilot: It is D'argo...

Browder: We never did figure out how three of us got in the prowler.

Henson: Uh huh! One of the little holes you can spot there.

Browder: That's one of the things though...

O'Bannon: Well there's room for ... there's just not a seat belt for the third person.

Browder: I suppose you could squeeze in. We sort of get two in there. But it's also the thing when ... between getting the words on the page and then the physical reality, that a lot of these words were written before we even knew the size of the prowler. And there's, you know...

Henson: You know actually at one point we actually discussed seeing that they had stuck D'argo like in the trunk. No listen, we actually talked about it and thought maybe we'll have fun with it. But of course this was ... problem with this episode is there's so much going on that it was for Rock, boy it was so difficult for you to try and figure out how to tell this much story in the length of one episode. At one point we were discussing opening the series with a two hour opening episode and I think we all would have loved to have done that. It would have been a lot of fun.

O'Bannon: We really went back and forth on that a lot, you know ... for quite a while with the network ... cause the idea of taking ... yeah, it would still be the story but giving us that room. There was a lot more here too, in the script with Crichton doing calculations, discovering the mass of Moya by relating his own weight and that sort of thing.

Browder: And well, that's one of those things that disappeared in the ...

O'Bannon: Yeah, I mean for the ... necessary for pace etc. But um...

Browder: Well there's just so much happening. I mean even the little details like, "Paper, I need paper" and he gets a weird look from Aeryn like, "What's paper?" The details that just get glossed over and other ... you could spend a day on them.

Henson: Pilot was ... he's probably the most extraordinary puppet we've ever built and ... I mean we keep using the term "puppet" kind of loosely. I don't think anybody else would create something like Pilot and call it a puppet, but that's sort of the tradition of our company. He's a very large character. He's probably about six to eight feet from his waist that's at desk level to the top of his head and his head itself is probably about three feet deep and about two feet wide and he's uh ... he's an enormously sophisticated puppet on the inside. It's packed with motors and servo controls. We can work the ... the puppeteers work the head or facial features off of a computer system that we have called the Henson Performance Control System which can plug into a very complicated character like that and make it possible for one puppeteer to perform him. Pilot was probably a little bit inspired by sort of a {geeker} sort of thing and there's probably also a little bit of a goat thing happening in his face. I know it sounds weird but it's ... there's a haunting quality to a older billy goat's face that at one point sort of got us...

Browder: Kind of looks like you doesn't he?

Henson: ... we sort of took a little bit of that, but I mean ... put it in there. Pilot's one of those where kind of didn't ... now that one, we didn't design him or Rygel for very long. We tried a bunch of ideas over a few weeks but we kind of hit on his design years before-

O'Bannon: Yeah, this is back with the original incarnation of the series back in '93, '94. We did a lot of designing and {mikets}, kind of little sculptures of the characters. The other characters - creature characters - went through a lot of versions. yes But Rygel and Pilot...

Henson: Rygel, almost {never a doubt}. From the first time we sculpted him we just stopped and said that's it.

O'Bannon: UmmHmm.

Henson: And there was a tiny bit of fine tuning when we brought him up to full scale. Pilot had more. We sculpted him small and we said "Wow, that's great." Then as we brought him up to full scale there was even more work that went into him.

O'Bannon: And the unusual kind of lobster-like hands and all that were that part of him from the very beginning.

[Moya's just escaped Crais]

Pilot: He's gone.

Crichton: yes [to Aeryn] Thank you.

Pilot: It's gone!

Browder: This scene was also not seen when this show first aired. The Delvian Ear Kiss! {Which sort of} gives you great detail!

Henson: I think it's great. It's a shame we didn't ...

Browder: And we don't even bother ... we never explain anything. That's the beautiful thing. We don't explain what it was, and then people have to ask what it is. I think it explains itself

O'Bannon: Top secret effect there.

Henson: It was that little neck crank that explains it.

Browder: Look how shiny the floors are [in the wide angle shot of command]. Did you notice how shiny the floors are? The floors have never been so shiny. And there's everybody doing their thing. D'argo with his qualta blade. Zhaan sitting around naked. You know it's a good ship. It made that scene; "She is naked." Another great writer line.

O'Bannon: I remember seeing this assembled for the first time when we really ... when we all screened it. yes We just ... we ourselves were blown away by it. It worked, I mean, intangibles such as the chemistry between the actors and just the look of things. It just came together.

[As the each person on Moya is settling in post-escape, Crichton is walking the corridors and is confronted by D'argo who puts a sword to Crichton's throat]

D'argo: I don't know who you are, where you're from, or what you want. But if you threaten my freedom, I'll kill you.

Henson: The music actually has evolved during the series and at the beginning here ... well, there's a lot of stuff going on in the concept of the series and in the tone and in the environment. It ... there is a slick, futuristic, science element that's happening, but there's also sort of a primitive, more primal energy that's coming in through Zhaan's character and D'argo's character, and Rygel's character. And what we wanted to do was kind of capture this sort of ... it's almost like techno fusion music today is very modern and sometimes kind of very primitive ... and mixing some of that together. We wanted to try to capture some of that, the essence of some of that in the scoring of the series. I'd say that you know, at this point, as we were in episode one, it was only marginally successful. I think that it's ... the show has a very cool sound, but we were still settling in on how we were approaching the scoring of the show.

O'Bannon: Yeah, I mean we actually were ... knew more of what we didn't want than what we wanted.

Henson: Than what we did.

O'Bannon: Exactly. I mean it was that kind of a search and we knew we didn't want the big, lush, orchestral sound of ... that you kind of associate with a space movie or space show. And so we wanted something that surprised. And um...

Henson: And Rockne, you were real insistent ... I think he was absolutely right, we don't want to hear-

O'Bannon: A guitar, a drum kit, we didn't want to hear things that would allow us to visualize how the music was being produced and that's why you'll hear that the score is really almost 100% synthesized. They're trying to create sounds that aren't identifiably instruments that you'll recognize in the soundtrack.

Crichton: yes What the hell are you doing?

Rygel: Your equipment might be worth something in trade.

O'Bannon: What's essential to the series is, a man from Earth dropped into an entirely alien environment. And the blessing of obviously the Henson Company is that we were able to do that, with the exception of the Sebaceans whom we run into only occasionally. Everyone we run into is an alien presence, and so that kind of followed through not only in terms of the creatures, but obviously in the production design. We didn't want it to look like anything else that might reflect on other movies or TV shows or anything that or anything having to do with space programming that we'd seen before. And obviously the music as well.

[End shot of Moya just before ending credits begin to roll]

... And that's how it all started.
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