March 26, 2001 12:00 PM

Sci Fi Channel (Fridays, 9 p.m. ET)

According to Sci Fi Channel publicity, “it is never too late to join the adventure” of Farscape. I decided to test this claim by jumping straight into the first two episodes (March 16 and 23) of this thickly plotted series’ third season. In minutes I was muttering, “What the frell?!” (That’s the show’s all-purpose expletive.) So I took a time-out for some research and learned that American astronaut John Crichton (Ben Browder) and a bunch of alien fugitives are taking the biomechanical spaceship Moya through the Uncharted Territories.

John is a brash flyboy type quick with the pop-culture references—except when he’s being tortured by Scorpius (Wayne Pygram), a hybrid alien in S&M regalia. Scorpius is the sort of villain who really gets into your head—last season he planted a clone of himself in John’s brain—and Pygram plays him with Mephistophelian relish. As if his hate-hate relationship with Scorpius weren’t stressful enough, John has been doing a long sexual-tension dance with Aeryn Sun (Claudia Black), a striking shipmate who looks like an earthling but is actually a Sebacean. (Sounds like a skin condition, though hers looks A-OK.) The series also features animatronic creatures—notably the sluglike ex-monarch Rygel XVI—and solid special effects. It’s diverting, if you can follow it.

Bottom Line: Far-out

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