VIDEO: What makes a great villain? Part 3: Farscape’s Scorpius

Tom follows up his previous Retrotorials about what makes a great (or bad!) villain with a look at another great one: Scorpius from Farscape.

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Tag: Tom's Retrotorials: What makes a great/bad villain?

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  • Muthsarah

    Disclaimer: I don’t hate you, Tom.

    For the Dukat thing, I mean. I’d like to think it’s a reasonable disagreement between reasonable people about a beautiful topic that is reasonably open to interpretation. As good TV shows are. At the least, I hope you can still respect and perhaps even appreciate DS9 as a series, even if your problems with “its central villain” (if the quote don’t make it clear, I don’t consider him as such) being poorly-utilized.

    I will admit, however, that your second video has prolly hooked me for good on any future episodes you do in this series. Sure, the first one (T’Pring) was good, but the second…well…when controversy works, it works well. You acted the heretic, and I’m still here. So I’m here to the end. And, FWIW, I made this part of the comment before you even started talking in this vid

    And now you hate on Into Darkness. I am very much with the loving of you now, Mr. Tom. Because I refused to even see that PoS after ’09: The Movie.

    End Disclaimer.

    I’ve never seen Farscape. Only know it from SFDebris’ reviews (seen all the reviews), and now this one. Is it worth jumping into first-episodishly? Or is it better to come in somehow later? Like how some recommend “feeling out” Doctor Who with episodes such as “Blink”, before committing to “Rose” or whatever? Netflix has Farscape, so is the pilot the best way to go? I’m open to new series, but maybe only my fingers and the parts of my brain that control them at this moment, as they are now. If you feel it would be better to test out a later episode, please let me know, betore I test out the pilot and (possibly) find it (and the series) unsuitable for me. As a violently passionate TNG/DS9 fan, FWIW. And if you have any other tips for long-time Trek viewers starting on Farscape, do please share.

    The series seems kinda cheesy to me, but I remember being very sceptical towards Firefly, and I now (and have for several years) considered it the very best-written TV series EVAR. I love Trek as I love family, but Firefly I love as something else. So, to best feel out the series as a possible liking-hood-series, is the pilot the best way to go, or should I maybe start with something later, given that I (think I) already know the basics from the SFDebris reviews?

    • Thomas Stockel

      First of all, I’m glad you don’t hate me. 🙂 And second, I don’t hate DS9, I just think it’s a little over rated. I have a great deal of respect for the actors and producers and there is still some great story telling there. I guess I feel TNG is the better series comparatively.

      I freely admit I was very skeptical when Farscape began. What happened was I saw muppets were being used. Muppets. I rolled my eyes and yeah, I felt it was dangerously cheesy. But what sold me was I think USA aired a couple episodes (it was on Sci Fi at the time) and the ones they showed were Scorpius’ first appearance. And I thought hell, wasn’t Yoda a muppet? Why am I being so elitist here?

      In a way Farscape showed what Star Trek: Voyager should have been. Our heroes are often weaker than the opposition and have to think their way out of situations, using guile and innovation. Food is a recurring theme in that sometimes they aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from. In one episode Chiana is actually doing laundry; it was a wonderfully mundane thing to see on a sci-fi show.

      The characters don’t always get along. In fact, a lot of season one is them just not liking or trusting one another. These guys aren’t together by choice and it takes hardship and deprivation to make them a family.

      Finally, the Farscape universe is outright weird. In a season four episode they run into a guy who has a hive of mind control bugs growing out of the side of his head.

      You know, I can’t help but feel I’ve made this pitch on Farscape’s behalf before. It feels weird…

  • Moppet

    Oh but I do love my Farscape. I do disagree about Dukat, but, oh well, to each their own. Scorpius, on the other hand, I hated him. I hated him every second he was on screen. I mean, I loved the work the actor did, I loved the writing, I loved the costuming and I absolutely adored and loved to hate him. I hated him, and then, eventually, as the series moved on over time, I couldn’t help but understand and sympathize with him, at times, even while being repulsed and disgusted by the character at the very same time.

    I really couldn’t like Scorpius more, as a result.

    • Thomas Stockel

      Yeah, I loved Scorpius for that reason, too. As a character, I mean. I despised his actions as well, but there was a complexity to him that I really enjoyed that made you go back and forth on how you really felt about him.

  • Eliot Littlejohn

    hi tom i hate you jk great video i like your choice did you consider the master (dr who) the alien bounty hunter (x files) i love farscape to

    • Thomas Stockel

      Hey, Eliot. I was never a huge X-Files fan. I enjoyed the first five seasons, but season six was a deal breaker for me. That was the season after the movie, and Scully like an idiot handed over the bee that stung her (which got lost) and Mulder like an idiot went on one of his truth-is-out-there rants in front of his superiors. In other words, these two characters learned absolutely nothing when it came to the conspiracy and the skeptical nature of their bosses. And there was finally incontrovertible physical evidence that no one could cover up: the giant circular hole left behind by the alien ship taking off.

      Can you tell how disappointed I was with Fox and Chris Carter?

      Anyway, in terms of The Master, the problem is he always lost. If you look at the original Doctor Who series Roger Delgado was entertaining, but he never came across as much of a threat to The Doctor. And I though the Nu Who Master was a pathetic joke in comparison.

      • Eliot Littlejohn

        Yeah x files kind of lost direction after glen morgan and james wong left. But wasnt that cool when mulder hand cuffed himself to to the alien bounty hunter. Then the alien bounty started beating the crap out of him. Then said if i wanted to i could have killed you many times before. Instead of killing him he just broke the cuffs and left. I agree later versions of the master sucked. But come on in the deadly assassin he almost killed the dr and destroyed galifrey. That was a awesome version of the master they should have kept him a walking rotting corpse.

      • Cristiona

        I dunno. The Master was at least partially responsible for the 4th Doctor’s regeneration. That’s at least a tie.

        • Thomas Stockel

          Oh, I’d chalk that one up in the win column. But compared to so many losses… :/

  • Farscape’s always a little difficult to describe to newcomers because the details of the show are so aggressively far-out. But I think that’s actually one of its strengths. It reminds me of all the times that I saw an outer-space show/movie in which everyone and everything seems to be just a little different from Earth. Within the limits of SFX practicality, Farscape thoroughly and without apology rejects the assumptions of an Earth-centric storytelling strategy.

    (Well, okay, Sebaceans really do look almost exactly like humans, I guess, but their biology and culture are still quite different.)

    • Thomas Stockel

      Very true. Farscape is apologetically weird.

  • Gallen_Dugall

    Minor nitpick. Into Darkness is a lazy movie, not stupid. The difference is in the awareness of the level of dumb.
    I’ll take your word about Scorpius. I loved everything about Farscape except Ben Browder who makes the show unwatchable for me. Only made it half of the first season before I decided to stop (must not rant)
    The other problems with Agents of Shield being
    1) people rage quitting over the absence of their favorite character Mega ‘Splosion.
    2) the initial audience surrogate and the main character around who the entire show revolved at first, was a mopey Mary Sue who said stupid things, made dumb decisions and occasionally “redeemed” herself by techno-babbling problems away. A lot of people blamed the actress and rage quit, but once they stopped writing her that way, and making the show revolve around someone written that way, then the show improved immensely.

    • Thomas Stockel

      Yeah, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree where Into Darkness is concerned.

      You don’t like Ben? Awwwww, I think he’s awesome!

      I see what you’re saying about Skye but honestly, she didn’t annoy me all that much. I’m not saying she was written well at first, but part of what I liked was how she had all these preconceptions about SHIELD and she was constantly proven wrong about them…

      Hmmm. Considering how the show wound up I wonder if she were right after all. 🙂

      • Gallen Dugall

        For me watching Into Darkness was like being repeatedly punched in the face. Good acting, good direction, good music, good sets and effects but a script that breaks everything with bad dialog, cardboard cut out characters, handwaved plot points and never bothering to make the slightest bit of sense.
        Never tell the audience how skilled/awesome/broken/vulnerable a character is instead of showing. I like the actress that plays Skye, check out the video from her brief Chinese pop star career.
        Ben Browder and his perpetual duh expression I find grating. Worse was when they shoe horned him into SG1 by swapping the name of his character with RD Anderson’s. Some actors can take such cheesy lines and elevate them, Browder just looks perpetually lost and confused.

  • $36060516

    Not tryin’ to say you should do anything you don’t want to do, but you said you didn’t discuss your reasons for liking the character more because you didn’t want to spoil it for people who haven’t seen the show. Ya coulda just given a big spoiler warning and told people to stop watching who haven’t seen it, then gone on with your critical thoughts for the people who have seen it. I was interested in hearing more, at least. But it’s up to you!

    * Farscape spoilers below *

    As for Farscape, I can tell from your comments that you don’t agree with this, but the show started declining for me in season 3 and fell off a cliff for me in the fourth season and didn’t recover in “The Peacekeeper Wars.” John’s interior mental world and the character of “Harvey” were interesting at first but I grew disenchanted with them, because they often seemed to bring the plot to a halt for kind of cliche psychological metaphors and these fantasy scenes were too often (for my taste) an excuse for a lot of wacky humor and absurdism (Harvey as WWII soldier, Harvey in a Hawaiian shirt, Harvey as Einstein, John and Harvey goofing around in a Looney Tunes cartoon), which wasn’t for me one of the series’s strengths. The return of Crichton to earth seemed really poorly handled and anticlimactic to me. Basically I felt like the whole “everyone wants the wormhole technology from John’s head” thread of the series seemed to really limit the dramatic possibilities of a show where a human goes to a completely different galaxy, and the show kept banging away on this obsession instead of exploring other things. They could have gone anywhere with the premise of a man in a new galaxy but it got bogged down in a soap opera centered around John being the most important man in the universe that everyone wants to kill or shag.

    • Thomas Stockel

      You raise some valid points. And for me it was season four that felt a little weak, although I thought the stuff with Scorpius were great. The middle of the season felt like a lot of filler. You didn’t like Harvey?! Awwwwww….

      • $36060516

        I originally wrote just season 4 above, then saw that some of the Harvey scenes I was remembering were actually in season 3. But yeah, my main memory was having trouble with season 4.

      • $36060516

        I should clarify that I agree with your assessment of the character of Scorpius and your recommendation of the series, despite my reservations about the later episodes. Definitely worth watching.

  • David White

    I was never into farscape!!! Mst3k was much better!!!

    • Thomas Stockel

      You know, to this day I have never seen an episode of Mst3k…

      • CaptainCalvinCat

        The movie (where they are riffing ‘This island earth’) is very much fun. Very enjoyable.

    • Guestieguest

      Not sure how one compares the two to say one was better than the other. One was a space opera sci-fi epic and the other is about puppets and some guy making fun of cheesy movies. I like them both, but I don’t know that I’d bother comparing them. It’s like comparing Fraggle Rock to Rocky.