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18 June 2014
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A Bug's Life
Story by Doug Heyes
Teleplay by Steven Rae
Directed by Rowan Woods

If there's a problem with most recent television drama, it's that it always plays safe: the overriding concern is that characters must survive until next week. Farscape has the same concerns but in this episode, it's superior because it works harder.

Many shows save their characters by reducing the problems facing them. So, for instance, despite Richard Briers' arm waving and proclamations of doom, 'Monarch of the Glen' is a safe show because there are no problems and nothing ever happens. No viewer will ever get het up over which girlfriend the hero will settle for.

Farscape tries – and very often succeeds – to give its characters an enormous problem right up front. It's almost cinematic in that respect as any one episode's events can have gigantic consequences. What's more, and what's deliciously better, is that once this overwhelming problem is established, Farscape twists the knife by giving the characters an even bigger problem.

It's a clever move because on first occurrence it feels like an escalation of the drama and it's only as the episode draws to an end that you realise the second enormous problem is really there to act as a key to solve the first one.

For example, in this case the first problem was the Peacekeeper force that boarded Moya and tried to commandeer it for a flight to a Peacekeeper base. Even if Crichton and co could keep up the pretence of being on the same side as these soldiers, they could not conceivably survive the base.

Then when things look nicely difficult, the Peacekeepers' captured virus escapes and starts making this into an Alien-like chase through the ship. But that virus, because it made sense and was a reasonable development, gave these two groups a logical reason to join forces. And thereafter you could count off the Peacekeepers as they were killed – both building the threat of the virus to our heroes and along the way reducing the Peacekeeper force.

back to ploton to did you notice?

A Bug's Life

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