Saturday, February 26, 2011

Classics: Farscape 1:16 - A Human Reaction

Overall: 6.0

I'm afraid I must diverge from popular fannish opinion and give this one a middling score. I think it's a touch slow, and the message is rather condescending.

Plot Synopsis:

Farscape World has a summary here.

The Skinny:

I don't care for means by which the Ancients pass judgment on all of humanity in this episode. I'm sorry, but I just don't. If they are older and supposedly wiser aliens, they should know that most humanoids do not, as a general rule, gather memories the way a machine might gather data. On the contrary, our worldview influences how we edit and filter those memories. Thus, there's just no way that you can acquire an accurate snapshot of humanity from the recollections of just one guy. Try to get a representative sample at the very least.

There are quite a few lazy assumptions in this episode -- quite a few sci-fi cliches. For example, the writers cleave to a long sci-fi tradition in supposing that we humans will flip out if we ever encounter an alien species. Personally, I think the truth is much more complex. We may evince some nervousness prior to our ascertaining the intentions of the aliens in question, but if said aliens turn out to be peaceful, I think many of us would welcome them with open arms. And by the way, that initial anxiety would not be a sign of intolerance; it would be a sign of prudence.

I also don't appreciate being lectured to for the millionth time about how rapacious and destructive we are as a species. Yes -- we are called to be responsible stewards of the earth's resources, but we still have a right to use those resources to keep ourselves fed, clothed and sheltered at reasonable cost and to keep our economies running. This notion that we were wrong to alter the earth's pristine wilderness is what keeps the residents of California's Central Valley on food stamps.

Here's an idea: instead of berating the human race for its failure to be perfect, why not give us at least some credit for what we have been able to accomplish? Those who happen to be involved in the collection and use of our natural resources do look for ways to preserve the environment. Loggers plant new trees; fishers keep a close eye on the population counts. And what have you to say about our rising standards of living and our increased life spans? What have you to say about the rules we've imposed on the unfortunate reality of war? Sheesh. At least Q gave us a chance to defend ourselves.

Writing: 6.5

As I said, I think this script is only so-so. It falls back on common sci-fi tropes a little too often, and the central mystery does not unfold in a manner that's especially interesting.

Acting: 8.5

I have nothing negative to say about the acting, however. The cast puts in a decent performance.

Message: 3.0

Still, let's be a little more original in our social criticism, shall we? And let's acknowledge our successes while we're at it.

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