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SG1, SGA, BSG 01-06-06

For once I'm going to go out on a limb and write about SciFi Friday before I trawl around reading everybody else's reactions... The reactions below aren't really comprehensive, they're just what I can remember.

SG-1: The Fourth Horseman Pt. 2

I'm afraid that I have to categorize this as "worst 2nd part of a 2-part mid-season cliffhanger EVER", with the caveat that it had a few bright spots that we liked. But, look... apparently, Damian Kindler's awful writing style has just infected M&M. Because I swear that M&M used to be able to write episodes that were not SOLID BLOCKS OF EXPOSITION. Seriously. The entire episode was absolutely NOTHING but a series of tableaus in which people either stood around, or sat around, and talked at each other -- sometimes, telling each other things that really everybody in the room should have known already, and therefore it was only being rehearsed out loud for the benefit of the audience.

Remember on SG-1, when there was, like, ACTION? When stuff used to happen without paragraphs'-worth of words telling us about it? Dude.

When the "action" highlight of the episode is really the 3 minutes that Ben Browder spends hanging somewhat goofily in mid-air wirework... um...

I will grant you that in some cases, the *subjects* they were dealing with were interesting -- I don't mind Jaffa politics, I really don't. But even though I love Teal'c and Bra'tac to death, by the time we got to THEM just standing there talking to each other, I was like, enough already, people. Do something. No. Bringing Orlin to talk haltingly at the Smoking Prior isn't actually what I meant.

Also... in 7 seasons, I believe you can count the number of times Hammond went offworld on 1 hand. It usually took a pretty good reason to get him offworld, didn't it? And Jack... in his brief tenure as SGC commander, he got to do it only twice, on occasions where there was no choice but to take him because of the Ancients' Gene thing. So riddle me this -- why was Landry offworld? Why was he necessary to escort Orlin to confront the Prior? I'm still thinking, and I can't think of a reason. Except to put him in jeopardy, of course, by creating a direct way for him to contract the virus... and I'm so bored with that.

The discussion between Landry and Lam in sickbay may win the prize, for me, of Most Painful Inappropriate Heart-to-Heart EVER on this show. For the record: I'm okay with Lam, I kind of like her; I still don't like Landry (but I don't outright dislike him, I just fail to be won over by him). I'm hinky about the father-daughter professional relationship thing in the first place. Scenes like that... DON'T HELP. They especially don't help when I'm all too aware that this painful personal conversation is taking place when Landry is lying there with, like, 6 other sick people in beds around him, and nurses going in and out, and crap. Way to be discreet there, kids. Yeah, yeah... I get that he's in quarantine and he might die and the only way they can have this conversation at all is "publicly" but... *so* didn't work for me, when all I could think of was the poor fellow sufferers in the adjacent beds, forced to listen to this and thinking, "will you two shut the hell up so I can get some sleep?"

Now... just so I don't end this rant without *anything* positive to say...

The Bright Spots: Ben Browder. Consistently enjoyable to watch as Mitchell. I liked how he was written and I liked how he was playing it. I do not love him with the intensity that I love Jack, but I found myself thinking that he was fun to watch. Also, there were several really nice Mitchell-Daniel interactions. Cute. And their own brand of connection, not anything like a copy of the Daniel-Jack connection. Good. *waves* Hi, Garry Chalk! Good to see Gen. Chekov's still around. Always love Bra'tac, too, and I totally agree with Teal'c that if anyone should be Leader of the Free Jaffa, it ought to be him. We really liked the former Moloch First Prime, too -- for once, another First Prime who strikes you as First-Prime-like. And then... DON S. DAVIS! Oh, how we have missed you! Please, sir! Don't go! We beg you! (That said, hey writers -- a "Jack says hi" would have been, you know... nice.)

But the rest of the ep was FAR too much work to make up for those bright spots. I'm sorry... but I thought it was bad. For a big cliffhanger resolution, I thought it was draggy, slow, wordy, and lacked actual drama. And it felt really... I don't know if claustrophobic is the right word, but the scope of it felt limited, which I think was a function of it being confined so much to static action in various rooms.

Finally -- so, how many people out there kind of winced at the "Flowers for Algernon" ending? Actually, how many people out there recognize what I'm even talking about? We debated that, too.

Moving onward...

SGA: The Hive

Better. Dare I say it even... good. Plenty of action to go with the exposition. Plenty of it. It really felt, after watching SG-1, like SG-1 had most of its budget siphoned away in order to make SGA this week. The knife-throwing sequence was quite funny. David Hewlett's monologue after making it back to Atlantis was brilliantly done. Good for Shep, for seeing right through that chick from the start. Only one thing bugged me, I guess... though maybe it shouldn't have. I guess that Ford is now in such an ambiguous status that there isn't really the same emotional hit of "leaving him behind" that you'd get if he was still a part of an SGA team, you know? I guess I'm anomalous in having trouble thinking of him as "non-Atlantean", but Shep's not. As soon as the hive ships started shooting at each other, and I knew that Shep was out of there along with Teyla and Ronon, I had that moment of... "but wait, Ford is... oh". Shep's dismissal of his probable death struck me as a bit glib, though. *shrug*

And rounding out the night...

BSG: Resurrection Ship Pt. 1

*Damn*. Also: sheesh, is Roslyn hard-core, or what? But I was totally with her, because that was the conclusion I'd pretty much come to. Who is in authority over Caine? Apparently it's not the President... or, Caine had already made it clear that she doesn't recognize Roslyn's authority as president. So you're left with a "whoever has the biggest guns rules" situation, and... no. Can't let that stand. And that was even before the further revelations about Caine. (Which... I'm ambivalent about, as a dramatic device. Because it leaves little ambiguity to the decision to remove her, at this point... it would seem more in keeping with the show for it to be less clearly a moral imperative.) So, next week ought to be "fun".

(Sorry, don't have many more thoughts than that, because BSG is a show that I watch -- and think is really really good, mind you -- but I'm not sure if I "enjoy" as such. It's a little too relentlessly grim for me, and it usually hits me at a biorhythmic low-point, at the end of a long night when I'm tired from a long week. So I'm not deeply into it, even as I realize that it's a good show and in the final analysis, I'm probably glad for its position in the line-up that means that I sort of *have* to watch it. If it were on a different night, I don't know that I would expend the effort to catch it... but I'd be the poorer for that.)


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 7th, 2006 12:09 pm (UTC)
(That said, hey writers -- a "Jack says hi" would have been, you know... nice.)

See, and it would've fit, too! At least reasonably well. But no, alas.

Well, I'm sure he's fine, you know. Doing... something... unspecified. Maybe he got a dog! That would be nice.
Jan. 9th, 2006 07:55 am (UTC)
Yeah. I wouldn't be half as bugged, either, if in previous eps in the season they hadn't made some effort to acknowledge the fact that Jack existed in DC... although at the time, I believe we were complaining about the lack of mention of Hammond. (As a minor addendum to the lack of definition to what the hell Jack was doing, period.)

But as you say, here it would have FIT so well. And been so easy. So natural. Hammond is talking to 2 of the remaining members of SG-1, talking about missing them, etc. Honestly, what could be more natural than to say, "Jack sends his regards"??? If the writers didn't think of it, I'm surprised that none of the actors did, frankly. They used to be able to ad lib in character. *shrug*

(In-story, of course, it works to say that Hammond wouldn't pass on a greeting from Jack if he knew and Daniel at least, possibly Sam, knew that Jack was calling Daniel every couple of days or something. i.e. if they all knew that they may in fact have heard from Jack more recently than Hammond himself has. But dude. That's such fanwank. Doesn't let the show off at all.)
Jan. 7th, 2006 12:17 pm (UTC)
sweet to see how the interactions between daniel and cameron are developing. and good point about how the way they connect is unique to them. and yay for hammond and bra'tac!

and yes to the way that ford is slipping farther and farther away from the rest of them.

also, yikes, roslin astonished me in that moment on bsg. meep. the dren will really hit the fan next week. but it often does on that show. as much as i love it i do find myself pretty tired by the time i watch it; and hoping that they'll have a rest for themselves in the midst of the war. ;)

ps. missing jack too; wished they'd put something in there about what he was doing during the crisis.
Jan. 9th, 2006 07:56 am (UTC)
Nah; BSG is the kind of show where nobody will ever get a break, ever. That's one of the things that makes me tired watching it. The entire set-up, the premise, is so geared towards there being only two settings, Bad and Worse.
Jan. 9th, 2006 02:30 pm (UTC)
very well articulated. and the bad and worse settings make my brain hurt as much as i admire the show on so many levels. also...i've been wondering how long they can all keep up with this before breaking permanently. ack.
Jan. 7th, 2006 12:53 pm (UTC)
Heh, it's funny because I am one of those ones that really didn't like the Daniel and Mitchell parts in this one. Not all of them. I'm caught up on the banter with the Prior. That is like nails on the chalkboard for me.

You are dead on about the exposition. Boring. Do stuff! Don't tell me. Please!
Jan. 7th, 2006 12:57 pm (UTC)
Oh and yes, some more Jack acknowledgment would be, you know, appropriate as he's supposedly in the loop. Right.
Jan. 9th, 2006 08:02 am (UTC)
Yeah. But even if you decide, narratively, that you don't want to mention Jack in a professional capacity during Hammond's briefing scene... why wouldn't you have Hammond passing on "Jack sends his best" during the "personal" scene between him and the rest of SG1? It's *such* poor writing, in the way it fails to treat these characters as real people.
Jan. 9th, 2006 08:13 am (UTC)
*nods* I can understand that. I actually thought that the "reciting the recipe" bit seemed forced (and I would have thought any similar type of thing done with Jack would have seemed forced as well; and they did stuff like that a few times with him, which I didn't like then, either). But I didn't mind the "metaphor" exchange.
Jan. 9th, 2006 01:50 pm (UTC)
I didn'tdislike all the banter. But I was thinkign the same thing. I would have been cringing just as much if it were Jack.
Jan. 7th, 2006 03:00 pm (UTC)
There were no explosions on SG-1! ::is mournful::

I found myself sorely tempted to ffwd through all the Lam-Landry scenes. And even some of the Jaffa Talking Heads scenes.

Ah, well. I'm trying to be hopeful.

And even though I was in a high-school production of "Flowers for Algernon", I missed the reference until I read it on LJ this morning. (In my defense, I was drinking scotch while watching the ep last night -- and I don't think that an implied homage works if the logic of the scene doesnt' really work. But maybe that's just me.)
Jan. 9th, 2006 08:24 am (UTC)
Hmm; does drinking scotch help? That's what we need, more drinking!

I hear you; we didn't think that it was a *good* homage, mind you. It just felt rather anvil-like to us, and as you say, reaching for the homage without really fitting with the logic of the scene, which just makes it feel more anvil-like. We could be totally wrong, too, that they were doing it on purpose. It just felt... strained. And the only "logic" we could see to Orlin being in that care facility in the end and Sam visiting him would have been to make a "Flowers for Algernon" reference... which, as you say, isn't actually logical, which is what makes it a bad homage. Especially since if you don't *get* the reference, it's an even more serious WTF? ending to that thread.

I had been thinking of the Orlin/Charlie parallels earlier in the ep, though. As in, "this reminds me of..." So when we hit that last scene, I felt really smacked in the forehead by the anvil.

If they weren't doing it on purpose... then that's kind of eerie. The strain of it makes me think they *were* doing it on purpose. (It wouldn't have felt as anvil-y to me without that last scene, so if they'd given Orlin some other kind of ending, I wouldn't have felt so *pinged*, but since they *did*...) But if they weren't, I would kind of have to believe that it's one of those cases of a classic scifi theme that got buried in their subconscious that they then use without being quite aware of making the connection.
Jan. 7th, 2006 04:43 pm (UTC)
Wasn't Garrak(sp?) supposed to have a really serious dislike for Teal'c? They were quite buddy-buddy in this one. BFF-Tibetan-immolation-style, even.

"Oh, God! No more False Gods! Please!"

When Bajorans Go Bad -- "Respect My A-thor-a-tah!"
Jan. 9th, 2006 08:16 am (UTC)
I don't know if Gerak and Teal'c seemed buddy-buddy, as such. But yeah, they were less spiky at each other, or spiky in different ways than they had been.

Sadly, the whole false gods things on SGA kind of makes sense... from a folkloric perspective, anyway. (Show human societies an immensely powerful, quasi-supernatural threat that gives the perception that it could be appeased by ritual, and...). But yeah, it's kind of, been there, done that. Although I'm not sure yet whether the Wraith care *that* much about being worshipped. I got the sense there that they were like, oh, the puny humans are worshipping us? We can kind of use that. Until we get bored with it, and then we eat them. Whereas with the Goa'uld, it was like, a compulsion, a raison d'etre.

See, I never watched DS9, so I don't really know from Bajorans.
Jan. 8th, 2006 10:57 pm (UTC)
You know, it's funny - my reactiosn to SG1 and SGA were entirely opposite. For SGA, I felt like it was The Shep Show. Shep Saves The Day! In Every Way! No one did *anything* that actually advanced the plot but Shep. McKay does something insane to get back to Atlantis and then...doesn't pass on useful information! Teyla and Ronon...sweat in a cell for a really long time! The Daedalus...hangs out watching everything! I thought it was bad plotting (especially the McKay bit), and it bugged me.
Jan. 9th, 2006 01:37 pm (UTC)
Okay, I see what you're saying there. I don't think you're wrong, either.

Static as I found the presentation to be, SG1 did a better job of at least trying to use a large number of the characters to contribute pieces to the solution. Arguably, Sam was used pretty lamely, but she did have *a* plot thread of her own (and even if she didn't actually contribute; she just sat there watching Orlin; you could suggest that she contributed somehow offscreen though). Hammond's use was also pointless, but what the hell -- we just love getting to see Hammond. And I still feel that Landry going offworld was forced, and not at all in keeping with the precedent established on the show... but, yeah.

Teal'c contributed significantly. So did the piece of the plan carried out by Mitchell and Daniel... though again, Daniel really didn't *do* much (except press buttons, but anyone could have done that; Daniel didn't appear to offer any part of the successful plan, did he? or is my memory selling his contribution short?).

Whereas, you're right... as kinetic as the SGA episode certainly was, nobody really did anything but Sheppard. You know what really kills me? If you go to SciFi.com, they still have a preview for those eps up... and the one for SGA shows Rodney and says something like, "It's up to Dr. McKay to rescue the team from the Wraith Hive ship!" Which of course is UTTER NONSENSE. His actions have nothing to do with that, and as you point out, the results of his actions (sending the Daedalus out there) have nothing to do with it either.

But, I still have to conclude that I prefer the kinetic storytelling approach of SGA to the talky, static approach of SG1 this week.

On SGA, it actually fooled me into not realizing some of the flaws until afterwards. Whereas SG1's approach left me feeling like there was no *drama* (with the exception of Teal'c's masterfully delivered speeches; but that's not drama either, that's just damned fine oratory.) (But, as confessed -- I wasn't at all engaged by the Landry-Lam scene, and the Orlin plotline left me cold as well.)
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )