Farscape Farewell

By Jean Prescott
December 26, 2002

HOLDING a conversation with Gigi Edgley is like trying to juggle bits of kinetic energy that change size and shape in the middle of your act. All you can do is just to hold on.

Edgley is calling from New York, the last stop on a globe-hop that has taken her from Sydney, where her cult sci-fi hit Farscape was being shot until being controversially cancelled some months ago, to Italy for a holiday with her sisters.

She is young (25) and breathless (understandable) and she wants very much to talk about her show but holidays are on her mind.

"We've got kind of a wacky family," she says of her two sisters and a brother, children of theatrical entrepreneur Michael Edgley and his former wife Jeni.

Then she adds, so quickly few could keep up, chapter and verse of days in Italy, plus a stop in London where she financed her stay with a quickly arranged personal appearance gig.

"You must surrender to the moment," Edgley declares.

Which is what Edgley's show Farscape has been doing on several fronts over the past year.

Farscape, picked up and dropped again like something nasty by Channel 9, is back on air this summer, after finally being given the flick by the US Sci Fi Channel.

Made here at Homebush Bay, it was one of the Sci-Fi network's top-rating shows and this year won best syndicated series from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films.

It was conceived and created by people who know sci-fi -- Rockne S. O'Bannon (Alien Nation, SeaQuest DSV) and David Kemper (American Gothic, Stargate SG-1) to name two.

The presence of Brian Henson's name among those of the executive producers guaranteed nothing short of the very best animatronic aliens. But international critical recognition, as well as three Saturn Awards and an Emmy nomination didn't help and the show is now lost in space, even though the world can still hears the fans' screams.

Meanwhile, because Nine changed its mind after it bought the series and consigned it to the back of the shelves, Australians will be one of the last of the serious devotees to see the final fourth series.

For the initiated, Edgley fits into the mix as Chiana, a feisty little Nebari (a serene race of gray people).

She, though, is a peculiar Nebari, a thief and a young woman of experience -- "they have called her a whore with a heart," Edgley says reluctantly -- who came to be a part of the story when the existing crew of Moya (a living prison ship), rescued her from mind-cleansing by others of her Nebari race.

"I don't know what it is about her," Edgley says. "I often speak of her in the third person, but what is so beautiful about Chiana is she lets herself fall over a lot, but she picks herself up a lot, too.

"She has a lot of human error about her, but she's not afraid to take a chance. She's taught me a lot, and she's a very courageous little being."

Edgely, who last year took all her clothes off for Black + White, is virtually unrecognisable as Chiana.

It took a while for the blonde-haired, tanned 25-year-old to get into her shades-of-gray make up, so she had to take off to work before daybreak each day of shooting, five days a week, 16 hours a day.

"I'd drive to work in the dark, so I'd start every day wishing on a star."

She's not the only Aussie who found their work cut short when filming stopped. Homegrown regulars included Claudia Black, Virginia Hey, Anthony Simcoe and Christine Stephen-Daly. The show had also been valuable work experience for the likes of Matthew Newton and Tammy McIntosh.

But for the fanatics who bombarded Nine here in Australia when the series was aired erratically, there is some good news.

The Jim Henson Company, creator of the series, is in active development on a new Farscape film and is discussing syndication of the series.

Farscape, Nine, Thursday, 9.30pm, Saturday, 8.30pm, Tuesday, 10pm.

The Daily Telegraph

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