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I’ve been watching Farscape for a while now (up to season 4). What always gets me is how competent Crichton is. I know he’s the hero and thus if he were a useless git it wouldn’t be so interesting watching him fail endlessly, but still his competence burns from time to time. That’s in line with most SciFi: the human comes on board or lands on the planet, has a bit of culture shock and then teaches the aliens a valuable lesson about life/morals/individualism/capitalism/other things which only humans really understand. And that always annoys me a bit as I am not sure even if I had a totally screwed up society I’d be all happy with some bloke coming in from outside and saying ‘oh if you only let people be freeee to consume/have sex/sell things/paint/dance the conga/vote in an electoral system that looks just like ours you’d all be so much better. I bet I’d sacrifice him to my god and go back to living in my repressive society.

That’s, I think, the difference with Who. The point of this is that humans really are sort of useless. Not entirely so, but they know as much about the big picture as your dog knows about making you dinner. It knows there is dinner (or food) but not really what the hell else is involved. And the Doctor spends a lot of time pointing that out, which I feel is often a valuable lesson.

The companions have to be sort of incompetent to really work in this scheme. It’s annoying if they’re completely so and whinge all the time but other than that their uselessness generally works well for the story. Besides the Doctor needs to have someone to save from the enemy of the week aside and companions are good for that, because despite their uselessness you are fond of them (unless they’re Adric or Mel) and don’t want them to get eaten by Sontarans. Also they ask valuable questions for the audience, like ‘what’s a Sontaran’ so the Doctor can show off help them gain important knowledge. Because you never know when you’ll need to know this stuff.

And this brings me to Rose. I like her, but she is often quite useless. Less useless than many companions but she still needs the Doctor to sort things out in the end. And that’s the way it should be. Some of what sells me on Rose is that Billie Piper is a surprisingly good actress who convinces me of stuff that otherwise I wouldn’t be that thrilled by. And they don’t her the character whine: whining is death to love for a character. Rose may be about to die (yet again) but it doesn’t seem to bother her that much. You may think this may be because she is really as thick as a brick, but still it is much appreciated. And they thwack her on the wrist from time to time. Her one really major mistake – saving her father in Father’s Day – is punished by getting the world eaten. And the Doctor.

The competence factor is also why I don’t think Jack would actually work that well as a longterm companion. He knows too much stuff. And knowing stuff (unless you’re the Doctor) doesn’t work that well on this show. Je me souviens Adric, the little fecking knowitall. Come to think of it, the only one that really worked for was Romana and she was still figured as someone who needed the Doctor to point out things because she had led a sheltered life. Or something, because I am not really sure what a sheltered Gallifryean life would look like.

Date: 2006-04-06 03:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dangermousie.livejournal.com
*Disclaimer: Farscape is my second favorite fictional thing ever. The only thing I love more are the Lymond Chronicles*

I don't mind Crichton's competence: it's hard earned and slow won, and he is not all around wiz: in hand to hand combat, Aeryn or D'Argo can make mince-meat out of him. He has a great ability to think outside the box, but his plans often go south.

But the thing is, I don't like incompetent heroes. My one big fiction kink is for the hero (and he has to be male. I prefer my women characters not to be totally useless, but ultimately it all rises or fails on the male character, for me) is competence. If he is uber-competent, I am in. If not, I lose interest very quickly. I like Lee so much because he is extremely competent. My liking for Kara is, in part, less, because I see her as failing that test, even though she is brilliant in other areas.

Date: 2006-04-06 04:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
I have really mixed feelings about Farscape. I think it can be absolutely amazing, but it can also be equally awful. And you never know what you're getting; I really wish they'd had more consistent writing because it frustrates me that they put such a mixed output on screen. What keeps me watching are the great episodes, but there's been a bunch I've FFed through or not bothered to finish and that's actually not like my usual viewing.

As for heroic competence - I'd agree, it's an excellent trait in a hero. I'm not up either for watching someone stumble through the universe endlessly, though I don't mind a fall from grace now and then. The sidekick, though, usually works better as someone without those traits, especially in a set up like Who, where saving the sidekick provides a lot of plots.

I think the thing I find unusual about Who is that it's not us teaching the Aliens a valuable lesson about the meaning of life, but the reverse. And then we don't understand it because we're a bit clueless. I find this somewhat endearing.

Date: 2006-04-06 05:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dangermousie.livejournal.com
Interesting. The only ep I find absolutely awful is that one in S4 with the drag. And then there are three or four eps I am not super keen on (Lava in S4, stranded Robinson Crusoe John ep in S1). But five or less eps out of effectively 92 eps is an amazing ratio. The rest range from like to rabid love.

I am afraid I share the FS's writers sense of humor :) The insanity just appeals to me.

But it is a pretty quirky show.

Re: Dr. Who. I like it (though I am up to ep 4 and liked the first two better than the next two) even as I giggle. I love that it doesn't take itself seriously. And I don't care if the competent male is alien or human as long as there is hotness and competence. I am that shallow :P

Date: 2006-04-06 08:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lesbiassparrow.livejournal.com
Which one is the drag one? Is that the one in the game? Because I switched that one off at some point. And that came hard upon the heels of the Lava one which has made me a little wary.

And shallowness is good. Though I do find it terrifically disturbing that I find this Doctor strangely hot.

Date: 2006-04-07 10:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dangermousie.livejournal.com
The drag one is called 'Coup by Clam.' I must confess that the one in the game (John Quixote) is in my Top 10 FS eps. It's off the wall hilarious and disturbing and Freudian. I love it.


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