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Man – rainy, yucky, humid day here. Good day for staying in and puttering, and writing out thoughts on SciFi Friday. Which I missed doing last week for the premieres, because I was travelling (although I did get to see the premieres with raqs, alizarin_nyc, abd07, and literalman, which was a peck o’ fun, except that I would like to *flick* that idiotic “Science of Stargate” special for its LONG, LOVINGLY ILLUSTRATED segment on parasites, which went SO WELL with our attempt to EAT DINNER… yeesh…).

SG-1 10.02 – Morpheus

Overall, I would say I enjoyed this ep. It had one of the best feelings of TEAM that I have gotten from the new team, as yet – and I think that a big part of that was because they were all on the same mission doing the same thing and working towards the same goal; as opposed to, you know, one being off over here, one being on Earth, one being stuck floating in space, etc. Yes, they split up within the ep, but they were still on the same planet within walking distance of each other, working towards the same goal. You can’t understimate that.

I also thought that it was interesting that they managed to find a way within the context of the Orii Threat Plotline to allow SG-1 to do something very old-school, which is – go to a planet with one goal (in this case, following a thread of inquiry about something that will help the Big Plotline), but get sidetracked by a problem discovered on the planet that turns the mission into something more immediate. It was exploratory. It was mysterious. It was *connected* to the Orii plotline, but that was in the background – much like the fight against the Goa’uld was always in the background early on in the show, and missions to planets were usually about trying to find something to help in that fight, but then sometimes the planet would deal them a wildcard and away we go.

I guess my only problem with their doing this now is one I have articulated before, and that is: it was easier for the show to put the Goa’uld threat on a backburner for an ep or three or whatever. Because except for certain occasions like season finales, the Goa’uld threat was big, multi-tentacled, and a status quo in the galaxy. Sometimes it paid off to deal with it one planet at a time, but basically, deal with it today, or deal with it six months from now – it usually didn’t actually *matter*, because the galaxy had been in this Goa’uld-dominated status quo for thousands of years, and only occasionally did that situation ramp up into a more urgent threat. It was a adversarial design that really allowed the show to make it urgent when it wanted to, but then put it aside and tell different stories for stretches, without it straining the audience’s credulity on questions like, “how can they be taking the time to do this and ignoring the bigger threat?”

In contrast, the Orii Plotline is just… so much more urgent. It just seems as if the show has ramped up that threat, and now with the ships in our galaxy, for me anyway, it really begs the question of… if those ships could find Chulak, why couldn’t they find Earth? Aren’t they awfully close? They *are* awfully invinceable, so far. There is a HUGE need for the characters, right at this moment, to find something, anything, that is a way to fight back successfully. They’ve created a lot of drama so far out of Our Guys’ failure, which certainly ups the urgency… but that doesn’t allow them to take any “time off” and be perapathetic about storytelling.

This ep successfully blends the two – SG1 is urgently seeking that way to fight back, and they get sidetracked here because the planet ambushes them. My only complaint at this point is that I’m having a hard time figuring out what sense of urgency towards the Orii invasion I should be feeling. The big space fight over the finale/premiere gave me a very big senes of urgency, as did the attack on Chulak. These guys feel WAY more dangerous than the Goa’uld ever did. It used to be that you knew that Earth was fine so long as the Goa’uld [a] understimated the Tau’ri (and, for example, only send two ha’taks to conquer the planet), or [b] didn’t band together to overwhelm the planet, until the show could figure out a plausible way from deterring them from doing that (the Asgard plotline and the Treaty and so on).

But look, it’s the second ep of the second season of the Orii Plotline, and the Big Overwhelming Fleet is *here* in the galaxy, and I am unclear on why I should not be worried about them knocking on Earth’s door any day now, and there is nothing stopping them – no Asgard, no Treaty… we don’t even know that the Little Squid Drones would actually do any better against them than anything else has, do we? So we don’t know that the Antarctic Chair will do squat. That’s… pretty urgent.

I suppose, though, that this plotline has compensations – i.e. the previews for next week’s ep. It creates a reason for us to go to Atlantis. But, I guess I just miss the fact that we can’t take a break from this fight, not for the foreseeable future. It feels kind of exhausting. The fight against the Goa’uld was a longer-term thing, and this feels like it’s shorter-term, all demanding to be dealt with at once.

Okay, fine, enough of that… Daniel was in fine form this episode. Bounding through hallways, explaining about avenues of research in rapid-fire exposition, following linguistic and folkloric trails – yay, it’s Daniel! That was really cool. Though, I had an odd moment, when Daniel went in to Landry to plead on Vala’s behalf – because Daniel sauntered in there with his hands in his pockets. Correct me if I’m forgetting, and he used to do this more than I think, but it was just… his body-language there was so very, very Jack, rather than what I think of as typically Daniel. But I will say this: Landry in that scene struck me as the most satisfying yet, as a Hammond-replacement. I still miss Hammond (best boss EVER!), but at that moment, I felt a little bit like, “okay, you’ll do; sometimes”.

I didn’t mind the Vala b-plot, I guess. But I thought it was less dynamic than the way they dealt with getting Teal’c onto the team back in the day. I don’t recall Teal’c having to get a psych eval. I recall Jack vouching for him and then him demonstrating his loyalty or at least his willingness to work with/for the Tau’ri, and that was about it. He *was* interviewed/interrogated, I guess; maybe part of that was a sort of psych eval, and it just wasn’t put that way. I guess I wasn’t quite sure what Vala’s psych eval was meant to accomplish, or how what we saw actually happening accomplished what they wanted.

(Like – at the end, when they revealed that Woolsey was in on it – tip of the hat to telepresence, who totally called that – what was the strategy there? Because Landry and the rest of them announced to Vala that she had passed before she had, well, passed the Woolsey test. It was like, “You passed!”… *everyone waits expectantly for Vala to say something, though clearly she didn’t tell anyone immediately* Time passes. What if she hadn’t opened her mouth to tell them right there in the Gateroom, right then? Would they have brought Woolsey in and said, “you fail”? Would they have given her the rest of the day to approach Daniel or Cam or Landry about it? Longer? Or what?)

It was nice to see Robin Mossley back, and a pity they had to kill him off. But this is the Stripped Down SGC. We can’t have more than one doctor/scientist/SG team. That would be… an extravagance.

Boy, that planet was creepy from the get-go, wasn’t it? Brrr.

It was good that they showed us the team being given methamphetamines as well as caffeine pills and all – though as Telepresence pointed out, in reality, they probably would have been hitting those a lot harder than they were shown doing. They would have been a lot more jittery, but awake. But it was good that the built in the explanation that the bug (ewww) was increasing the levels of chemicals in their brain that were making them sleepy – so it was clear they weren’t fighting just normal sleep deprivation.

Loved the team dynamic, as I said. And am still interested to see that is has been clearly designed as a *different dynamic* from that of original SG-1. As in, the writers thought this out and they seem to have paid attention to how various people interact and address each other, to indicate the different dynamic. Which is a small thing, an obvious thing, and yet – it was always possible that the writers could have not done it. But Sam and Cam are on a first-name basis and on a fairly equal rank footing; but the three men are all somewhat formal with each other: I forget how Daniel refers to or addresses Mitchell, but it’s Jackson or Dr. Jackson from Mitchell (nor has Daniel corrected him to date or invited him to call him “Daniel”, has he?).

And with Teal’c, it’s “Colonel Mitchell” – I haven’t noticed any instance yet of Teal’c dropping the title. Of course, Teal’c can be inconsistent on that point anyway. I perceive his favored use of “O’Neill” (rather than “Colonel O’Neill”) to indicate a greater warmth/intimacy and even respect between them. In Daniel’s case, I think it’s somewhat telling that he went with “Daniel Jackson” rather than “Doctor Jackson” – since otherwise he *does* favor titles, such as “General Hammond” and “Captain/Major/Colonel Carter”. But, ten years later and “Colonel Carter” is *still* his favored way to address Sam – yet I don’t see that as indicating a lack of intimacy, warmth, or respect between them, at all. So I’m not sure why I’m making a big deal of it WRT Mitchell – except that Mitchell is Jack’s replacement in several senses, so I’m just glad that in some way, Teal’c preserves a difference between the way he addresses Jack, and the way he addresses Cam.

Let me say that I thought the lizard was an extremely good piece of CGI. Very convincingly lizard-like.

The whole ending seemed very rushed to me, and then very exposition-heavy in the last little bit, but… I guess they just had a bigger story than could comfortably fit in one ep, and had to figure out how to do it. It wasn’t like we *needed* to see them come up with the cure, once we’d been told how to get it, or to see the team recovering, I guess. You don’t always need the medical procedural, sometimes you can just take it as read.

So, fairly nice job, and I’m quite excited for next week’s ep. I so much prefer these stories-around-the-edges to the actual big eps that are directly about the Orii Plotline.

As a last note, though: “Morpheus”, not a good title for this ep. Apart from the fact that they make us nuts with these one-word titles… and apart from the fact of there already being an “Orpheus” and a “Moebius” means this is just going to confuse us… the reference really doesn’t quite work. Morpheus was the god of dreams. But the medico-babble in the ep said the victims were in delta sleep, which is the deepest level of sleep, in which we don’t dream. (Or at least, it is not the level most associated with dream activity that we remember.)

Hypnos was the father of Morpheus, and the god of just plain *sleep*. But I can see where they couldn’t use that, because to modern ears, “Hypnos” sounds like “hypnotism” and has different, specific connotations. The Roman equivalent was Somnus, though (from which we get “somnolent”, which means “sleepy”), and given the whole Ancients/Latin/Roman connections the show has already made, that would have made sense. “Avalon” would have also made sense (it’s the island to which Morgan le Fay took the dead/sleeping Arthur, for one thing), except of course they used that already, oh well. I would also have been happy if the title had made some reference to the Sleeping Beauty legend, since that’s what the “entire village cursed with sleep by a magical female figure” most resembles.

But I guess, despite its confusing resemblence to other titles, it doesn’t win a prize for *least* appropriate/memorable title, or anything.

SGA 3.02 – Misbegotten

I’ll say this up front: the entire “let’s turn the Wraith into humans” plotline bugs the hell out of me. The ethics of it bother me. The feasibility of it bothers me even more, which is saying a lot. And this episode didn’t do a lot to assuage those doubts, for me.

At the end of the last ep, I had sort of liked the idea that they were returning to the extremely problematic Michael storyline, and following through on the way that he was now caught between the two factions, making him into a reluctant ally whose trustworthiness had to be in doubt. I just… didn’t like where this ep took that. I didn’t like Michael’s whining about his situation to Teyla, as intense as the scene was. I didn’t like the summary decision to knock him out and dose him up again against his will, because hello, ethics and lack thereof.

And then, I didn’t like the way these 200 ex-Wraith prisoners gave Atlantis this big problem, which is – can’t babysit them forever, but difficult to really believe that if you strand them on that planet, they will survive on their own. As was discussed later – will Atlantis ever feel as if it can treat the humanized ex-Wraith as fully trustworthy humans, and integrate them into human populations? Well, no – Atlantis hasn’t answered that question to itself yet, even theoretically, presuming Carson works all the problems out of the formula. So… that’s a huge, huge issue. But John’s speeches to Carson suggested that at this point, they were in fact going to just dump these amnesiac ex-Wraiths on this planet and then, after a token period of support and a gift of some supplies, they were going to leave them to fend for themselves. To what? Grow food? Who teaches them to be farmers, then? Etc.

You know what that reminds me of? Botany Bay. Dumping penal colonists on remote shores without doing anywhere near enough to prepare them to survive very well.

I don’t know. I realize they’re desperate. It just doesn’t feel like a very good solution to me, yet, and it doesn’t feel like they’re navigating their way through it very well, either. And I don’t always feel like the characters themselves are coming from the viewpoint of, “it’s ugly and we don’t like doing it but we’re in a corner, and we must”. I sometimes wonder if they see all of the flaws, or not. I certainly wonder how much some of them question the ethics of what they’ve been doing.

I also haven’t been a fan of the way they’ve been handling this little storyline about the questioning of Elizabeth’s authority and decisions. I don’t like the way she’s been written, in regards her defiance of the IOA’s sometimes extremely legitmate and reasonable objections. I really, really don’t necessarily buy her “at least I made a decision” defense – not when, for me, that calls to mind an unfortunate resemblence to our own president’s “I’m the decider” excuses. Yes – sometimes it *IS* important for someone to act and to make the timely decision, the hard decision, at a cost to themselves. But I want to see them FEELING that cost, not getting defensive about it or seeming not to recognize the cost.

I guess… I want to believe that I should come down on Elizabeth’s side because I believe in her as the Good Guy, and thus of course her decisions are right and the bureaucrats at the IOA or in the Pentagon are wrong to hassle her over them. That is of course how SG-1 played it for years, and generally speaking, I agreed with Hammond’s and Jack’s decisions/actions. But the thing is, I agreed with them because I interrogated the decisions/actions myself. The show gave me the evidence to evaluate whether I thought those were good decisions or not – and whether I thought the opinions/plans/decisions of those criticizing the SGC (be it Maybourne or Kinsey or whomever) were worthy of consideration.

My problem with Atlantis is that I have also interrogated their actions/decisions myself… and really, really found them wanting. I have criticisms of them. The characters on their own are not assuaging my doubts. These “Good Guys” who were willing to torture Kavanaugh (even if the ep copped out and spared them from actualizing it) or experiment on Michael… aren’t going to get as automatic a free pass from me. I think some of their decisions/actions lately have been of the simple “hard decision”, necessary variety; but I think some of them have been bad decisions. And I kind of dislike Elizabeth (who ought to know better, given her career in diplomacy) seeming to think that she is inanswerable to any superior (be it the IOA or the SGC) and above their criticism, because they aren’t there with her and thus don’t know what it’s like, or something.

Okay, okay, specific things…

Perhaps it was just lost in the shorthand – maybe we were meant to take it as read, or something – but when John hailed Atlantis from the Hive ship… I would have liked at some point for someone to indicate that Atlantis had an ounce of caution regarding whether that situation was all that it seemed. I’m too used to the way, on SG-1, unexpected survivals and arrivals were often greeted with, “That’s great – now we’re going to check you out anyway to make sure you’re really you and doing this of your own volition”.

I guess part of it with Atlantis is that unlike with the Goa’uld, the Wraith just eat you, they don’t ever pretend to *be* you; and SGA as a show has not yet been big on stories about all the other ways Our Guys can be rendered Not Our Guys, the way SG-1 did over the years (robot doubles, clones, crystal entities, mind control, shape-shifting aliens, various parasites, etc. etc.). So I guess there is just less of that kneejerk “are you sure you’re really you?” reaction to the SGA teams when they come home. But if John hails Atlantis from a Wraith Hive ship, I guess I’d like to see someone on Atlantis consider for a moment whether John is being coerced by a bunch of Wraith poised to kill Rodney and Ronon. Or… something.

I did like Woolsey getting to go to Atlantis, though, and them dressing him in an Atlantis suit (even if I’m not sure that I liked WHY he was there or how that played out, or especially the ep’s ending). I really, really liked his talk on the balcony with Caldwell. I love those two actors anyway, and that was a really nice scene. Factions, much?

I wasn’t as fond of John’s reaction to being interviewed by Woolsey, I guess just because… erm… okay, I realize that John has reasons to be wary and somewhat hostile about his actions being questioned, but c’mon. You’re *still* in the military. Sometimes (one hopes) you are answerable for your actions, sometimes you are going to be questioned. It isn’t always unfair, it isn’t always you being persecuted, if you’re questioned.

I guess part of my problem is… Woolsey has come a long way since he grilled SG-1 – another case in which he was an unsympathetic character asking difficult but not necessarily illegitimate questions, and by the end of it, Woolsey himself had exhibited a certain degree of humanity and judgement. In other words, with the SG-1 audience, Woolsey has come a long way. He isn’t perfect. He isn’t an outright good-guy. But he is not Kinsey or Samuels or early-Maybourne, either. I believe they brought the character to the point where the audience is at least willing to listen to what he has to say, sometimes.

So I guess it struck me as off, to have John react to Woolsey as Jack once reacted to Samuels, Kinsey, or Maybourne. Those characters gave us reasons to dislike them intensely, and think they were slimy creeps, and to WANT to see Jack shoot them. In contrast, I don’t think we are at that point any longer with Woolsey. He’s quasi-sympathetic, if not fully; we have to think of him as being at least somewhat on “our side”.

(Which opens up an interesting question – SG-1 viewers have been on this journey with Woolsey, seeing him in many different stages and many lights, seeing him doing an unpleasant job but one he believes in, or seeing him making the decision to do the right thing, and act with integrity, at the expense of his bad-guy boss, you know? But SGA viewers who are not also SG-1 viewers… haven’t seen that. I cannot evaluate Woolsey in Atlantis without reference to my history with the characters, through SG-1. But I should probably wonder more about how Woolsey strikes SGA viewers who don’t have that history with him.)

Style Note: on a couple of the foreground ex-Wraith, the guys with speaking roles, they at least did the hair/wigs well. But in the background? Oh my god, those were some of the worst wigs EVER. Ever ever. There was one, in the back, in the scene in the tent, that sent me into uncontrollable giggles, it was so bad.

It didn’t help that suddenly you got all these pale emo guys with long pale hair on this forested planet, and it was like, “Oh, look – now we’re in Lothlorien.”

Loved Carson in the chair, and his whole line about John and O’Neill, and “Ironically they're the 2 people I nearly killed when I did that." (Last successfully launched a squid-drone, that is).

Carson… did not have a high sense of self-preservation in this ep, did he? Doesn’t he WATCH his show? Guess not. Pity.

And is it just me, or is this show *way* more casual with the nukes than SG-1 ever was? It worries me, a bit. Got a problem? Nuke it from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure! Er…

And how DID Michael know how to disarm a nuke successfully?

As mentioned, I found Woolsey’s thing at the end weird and unsatisfying. I suppose we were meant to take it as, now that he has been to Atlantis and seen how things are on the ground, he’s on Elizabeth’s side, or something. It’s not that I fundamentally disagree that Elizabeth belongs in charge of Atlantis – I more blame the writers than her, for her problems with being in charge. But… prior to this, Woolsey’s thing has always been that even when he is doing a job that is unpleasant, he has his integrity. I don’t get what’s with the lying. I would have bought it perhaps if he’d just been willing to state truthfully what he saw and then explain why he thought so strongly that meant that Elizabeth should remain the expedition’s leader. This whole lying/prettying-up the report/collusion thing weirded me out.

It makes me *fascinated* to contemplate where they are going with these related storylines – Elizabeth’s command, and IOA/SGC oversight of Atlantis both. Because they are not done with either. For one thing, we will soon get to see Casting Spoiler – albeit Elizabeth’s subconscious version rather than the real version, but I’m still interested to see what role he plays inside her head. (I’m also a little wary about it – because of *my* doubts/criticisms, I more want him to question her or smack her upside the head, than cheerlead her the way Landry and Woolsey have done; but this won’t be him, anyway, and what she imagines him doing should be very telling in itself.) And *then* we’re going to get Casting Spoiler and Woolsey actually visiting Atlantis – and won’t *that* be a pair? – and I’m interested to see what the pretext for them visiting will be, and how it’s handled. Hmm.

Eureka: Pilot

Basically, I was pleasantly surprised by this. I didn’t think it was unflawed, and I had some reservations about it, and some stuff I want to see if they correct, or if they screw up. But it seems entertaining enough that even if I’m not willing to tune in to a different night and see it – I’m willing to TiVo it and use it as a way to get through the hour until SG-1/SGA start.

I liked the lead guy’s performance. He was personable enough, and had a good sense of humor, and was willing to show himself being freaked out, which was charming. He kept bugging me because I haven’t seen him in anything before, but he struck me as familiar. I think it’s that he must be reminding me of a smoosh of a couple of other actors, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

The DoD lady was okay, but I disliked how quickly they seemed to be shoving her and the lead guy (Jack Carter? Honestly, do we REALLY need more protagonists named “Jack”? Aren’t there other names?) towards UST. I prefer to see something like that develop over time, preferably in an organic way, once I’ve had a chance to evaluate the characters on their own. But now it looks like her ex-husband will be joining the cast as a regular too, and I’m like, oh great – Love Triangle of Tension. Dandy. And the Strong Woman becomes defined by her personal/romantic life *again*? *sigh* But we’ll see. Perhaps against all my expectations, they’ll avoid the worst of that.

The sexually skeevy hostess of the B&B kind of annoyed me, until she turned into a murderer. *Then* I found her interesting.

I liked the quirky mad-scientist townsfolk. They have potential and the premise has potential. I liked Henry tons. I liked Jo, for what she was, which is the stereotypical Tough Chick – but at least I BUY her as ex-Special Forces, which you can’t say for all the female actors they stick in roles like that (*cough*Blade the Series*cough*). Yet, she doesn’t really challenge her stereotype in any way. (Comparison: Sam Carter on SG-1, whose looks and manner aren’t butch, who is very feminine, and yet still very tough and competent in the field; that’s what I mean by challenging that stereotype. Not all tough military women have to come across as mistakable for butch dykes – but this show doesn’t know that yet, and went so far as to *make* the lesbian reference. *rolls eyes*)

The show still needs more women (preferably scientists), and more nonwhites (preferably scientists). I can hope that episodes to come will do better with both, both in the foreground and in the background.

I thought that the show was really tonally whiplashy. Quirky, fluffy, funny… GRIM!… quirky, funny… SERIOUS! And in some cases it seemed like they went out of their way to be grim/yucky more than was necessary. Finding the back half of the trailer was creepy enough, with the cremated remains of the dog, you know? Those were some… bad deaths, and it was just weird, as if they were intrusions from a different show being shot on the lot next door. Will be interesting to see if the tone evens out a bit.

So, we’ll see. But the thing is – it’s not that I’m expecting to fall in love with it, or become fannish about it or anything. I don’t demand that of all shows; indeed, I don’t demand that of most shows, because I don’t *do* that with most shows. If it’s mildly entertaining and watchable, that’s really all I ask.


( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 22nd, 2006 10:05 pm (UTC)
I think we have simialr thoughts, mostly, on these eps but you articulated them far better than I did, or I could. So, kudos.
Jul. 23rd, 2006 12:44 am (UTC)
Thanks. Some would call that "rambling" rather than "articulation", I'm sure. ;-)
Jul. 22nd, 2006 10:35 pm (UTC)
I will trade you rain for sun. It just hit 116 here a half hour ago. No, I'm not kidding.

*immerses self in ice bath*

In contrast, the Orii Plotline is just… so much more urgent. It just seems as if the show has ramped up that threat, and now with the ships in our galaxy, for me anyway, it really begs the question of… if those ships could find Chulak, why couldn’t they find Earth? Aren’t they awfully close?

The less they actually deal with the Ori, the happier I am, because I simply do not care for or about that storyline at all. Since (she said without spoilers) I am doomed to great and prolonged unhappiness later this year, I'm staying in my happy place while I can. :)

Oh, and I liked Eureka, too. It wasn't bad.
Jul. 23rd, 2006 12:49 am (UTC)
Man, I am so, so sorry about the whole heat thing. I would send you the rain if I could. We were in the upper 90s all over the weekend, everywhere along the east coast, and that's bad enough. I'll take rain and clouds if it makes it be below 80, though I could do without the soupy quality of the air. Is yours at least a dry heat? The hottest I've ever been in was about 118, in Turkey, in August. I don't think I could do that for long, or on a regular basis. You must be just prostrate.

The less they actually deal with the Ori, the happier I am, because I simply do not care for or about that storyline at all. Since (she said without spoilers) I am doomed to great and prolonged unhappiness later this year, I'm staying in my happy place while I can. :)

Oh, I hear you. I *so* hear you. I too would be delighted if they would spend more time with the main Orii plotline on the periphery of eps, rather than front and center. I'm not happy to conclude that the way they've designed the Orii Threat, they *have* to make it more front and center more often, because it's too overpowering and urgent to plausibly ignore.

And lord only knows how that thing later in the year will shake out, or how quickly -- I'm hoping for relatively quickly, of course. But for sure, for the duration of it, the Orii thing is going to be front and center. Ugh.
Jul. 24th, 2006 12:08 am (UTC)
And lord only knows how that thing later in the year will shake out, or how quickly -- I'm hoping for relatively quickly, of course. But for sure, for the duration of it, the Orii thing is going to be front and center. Ugh.

I'm keeping myself cheerful by considering that we still don't know what Casting Spoiler's last episode is going to be, and so it could be one of those. Wouldn't that be nice?
Jul. 24th, 2006 09:56 pm (UTC)
From your mouth to god's ears, as Hammond would say.

Not a cameo, either. Something meaty. While we're dreaming, you know; dream big.

And yet, I cannot help but realize that this means we'll have to wait until MARCH 2007 for it, at the earliest. Stupid Scifi channel and their stupid scheduling ideas...
Jul. 28th, 2006 06:27 pm (UTC)
Lemme try that again, so it won't be hanging around showing its mildly-spoilery self in public...

A vague spoiler on this topic.
Jul. 28th, 2006 06:44 pm (UTC)
Eeeee! (Though, I think you're safe, inasmuch as it seems like few people are likely to be perusing the comments for this older post. But I guess you never know. And the link is so spoilery, itself, isn't it?)

So, this is great. This seriously sounds like it's what many of us have hoped for...

And so I really, really hope it's indeed what we are hoping to get out of it, which would be Jack's significant, meaty involvement in helping to "fix"/save Daniel. *nods*

And not, for example: something happens to Daniel, so we get a couple of cameos of Jack getting a phonecall to keep him apprised of the situation, at some desk in Washington. (Should they at that point actually have gotten off their asses and defined what he's doing and where /snark.)

*still worried, but hopeful*
Jul. 31st, 2006 04:16 am (UTC)
And not, for example: something happens to Daniel, so we get a couple of cameos of Jack getting a phonecall to keep him apprised of the situation, at some desk in Washington.

Yeah, this I'm actually not that worried about, because it's so pointless. I mean, I don't think they would've blinked twice at completely ignoring Jack's existence during that whole plotline if RDA hadn't expressed an interest in coming back. So... I think it's likely that he'll do something useful, even if it's just something politically useful.
Aug. 1st, 2006 07:49 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I am also recalling someone -- BW? -- remarking early on that they were bringing him back for *more* than just a cameo, that he'd be involved in storylines. I think that might have been in the same remarks where we first found out he'd be doing more than just "200"?

Anyway -- I agree that I could totally have seen them originally doing this storyline and not mentioning Jack at all (or "involving" him even to the extent of having him be on the other end of an on-screen call taken by Landry, for example).

I'm also a little hopeful just because -- okay, their initial ideas for the storyline would of course have no space in them for much Jack involvement, if they had those ideas back before they knew RDA was open to coming back. But having found out they could get him for the story, I'm hopeful that generated new, good ideas of how to use Jack in it -- and since the related eps come in the 2nd half of the season, after the shooting break, it will have given them time to work up a story/script that does fully include him. (Meaning, I have some hope given the scheduling that they aren't having to scramble to put him into an existing story/script where he originally wasn't present.)

To be honest, though -- I know I ask for a lot -- I would be disappointed in any use of Jack that pretty much doesn't have him in a scene with Daniel, acting upon the story's problem in a central way. I guess. If he's going to be involved in the story, I'd like it to be in a way that isn't just him *reacting to* news about it; I'd like him in the thick of it.
Jul. 22nd, 2006 10:39 pm (UTC)
Oh, and
But I thought it was less dynamic than the way they dealt with getting Teal’c onto the team back in the day. I don’t recall Teal’c having to get a psych eval.

They didn't really have a functioning Stargate Command program then. There were no specialists, no standing orders, no protocols for checking people when they came back through the gate to ensure they hadn't been snaked, etc. So that's not really surprising. They had no idea what they were getting into, and they were flying by the seat of their pants; what we see in place now, 10 years later, is as a result of what they've learned the first time around with everything they've encountered.
Jul. 23rd, 2006 01:05 am (UTC)
Re: Oh, and
Yeah, good point. They pick things up along the way, they learn lessons, they change their approach to fit. It's something I've always liked about the show.

I guess my main objection to it is that it's hard for me to figure out from what we actually saw, how they reached the conclusion that they actually did.

The only thing I can figure out, perhaps, is that none of it -- not the polygraph per se, and not the inkblots, and not anything else -- was meant to yield useful answers, so much as it was intended to let them watch her approach to answering, in which case watching her approach to the tests and to trying to lie was as useful as if she had given genuinely spontaneous answers to the inkblot test, for example. Like -- you tell your alien that she has to have a "psych eval", whatever that is, to be accepted, and how she reacts to that and to the process is what's important.

If she acts insulted or as if it's beneath her, then that's a strike against. Vala instead tried to research it and approached it as a challenge that she could try to game. She wasn't very successful at that, but at least that's a constructive approach. And at least in this instance, she was having a lot of difficulty lying in a convincing manner -- so her studied answers weren't fooling anyone, but there was a certain earnestness about all of it, and occasionally a flustered quality to her, neither of which appeared to be studied. (Though of course that too could have been a strategy to disarm; but apparently it wasn't.) That she was lying wasn't as important as the sense that she considered the process and the outcome important.

It wasn't as if the evaluators didn't know she was a liar and a thief, already. They were proceeding from that position, and testing other things.

It's still difficult, in the end, to figure out what exactly they were evaluating, or testing for. What did they learn, exactly, and why was it important to their decision?

Though, I agree with Cofax -- Vala *has* been through some serious stuff. She's a former host to a Goa'uld who basically healed herself of that trauma. Her recent experiences in the Orii galaxy can't be neatly categorized, but they could analogize it to more familiar Earth traumas (like rape) and evaluate whether she needs counselling accordingly. Did those tests (and any others we didn't see) actually show that she doesn't "need" counselling? I'm not sure they do. But there's no mention of that. Ah well.
Jul. 22nd, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC)
Great post, but it's too hot to comment. *g*

Colin Ferguson was in the American version of Coupling, and a few other things as well.
Jul. 23rd, 2006 01:06 am (UTC)
I'm sorry for you and the horrible heat, as well. :)

I went and looked him up on the IMDB, but I definitely haven't seen any of the things he's been in.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 23rd, 2006 01:36 am (UTC)
Thanks for replying -- this is interesting!

He doesn't seem like a bad guy, but he doesn't seem like someone who would be of much help *against* bad guys in his own chain of command.

Yeah. That's the thing about Woolsey, though -- actually, he is. The main thrust of his original arc was that he was in the employ of Vice President Kinsey, SG-1's long-running slimiest-ever villain, but when push came to shove, and Kinsey revealed a little too much of his evil agenda (comments about having the President assassinated, if necessary), Woolsey reported him, then investigated *him*, allied himself with General Hammond, and then turned the evidence over to the President, thus giving the President the ammunition needed to oust Kinsey. It was a beautiful thing. :)

So basically, Woolsey is a bulldog. If there are bad guys in his own chain of command, he can recognize it; and if he turns on them, he's thorough and tenacious.

if they'd had him come to Atlantis and had Elizabeth brilliantly persuade him of the rightness of her POV, then (a) there would've been a *point* and (b) Elizabeth would've been able to showcase one of her alleged abilities, which she hasn't done through either episode. But instead he seems to have basically persuaded himself, which is...rather pointless?

I suppose it's possible to argue that if it's a conclusion he came to on his own, merely from his observations and his interviews and so on, that it is a stronger vote of confidence than if he had been persuaded by someone else's rhetoric. Because in the case of persuasion, you can always question whether a person is persuaded because of the argument's truth, or merely by the skills of the persuader. Whereas, if he is able to come to the conclusion on his own, then it might be evidence that the truth is verifiable by an outside, nonpartisan observer.

She should have been cultivating the hell out of Woolsey in one way or another once he was on her turf, recognizing how useful it could be to have him committed to supporting her. Instead, she basically teased and/or ignored him. Nonsensical for a woman with her supposed diplomatic skills.

*nods* Yes. Well, I was startled when it turned out that his trip was so... SHORT. I sort of expected Woolsey to be there for a couple of eps running, you know? Not to wrap up that quickly. And in that time, to arrive at some kind of rapport with Weir through the sort of give and take that has developed the relationship she has with Caldwell. Or something.

Now, as it is, we know he'll be back, bringing someone with him who's important enough that it suggests a second round of observation/evaluation to me. Though, I suppose they could surprise me with some other reason, I don't know. (I'm being vague since I don't know your feelings about spoilers. *g*) But it interests me greatly that he'll be back.

And since we almost never see her questioning *herself*, her voiced irritation at being forced to be accountable for her actions seems less like a tough front and more like genuine petulance

Yes! That's it, exactly. I am not fond of several things they started doing in S2 and are apparently still doing -- but a great deal of that could have been mitigated for me simply by writing the characters' attitudes towards it differently.

And this is what I mean in part by the fact that they used to do this with SG-1 -- bring in people to question the actions of Hammond and O'Neill. It's just that, those guys and the rest of SG-1 really never pulled the kind of stuff that Atlantis has been pulling; and they questioned themselves, or showed regret for necessity, or showed that they knew that what they were doing was regrettable, or whatever. That goes a long way.

And Elizabeth's facile defense in these past couple of eps really bugs me, because we know darned well that making a decision to act rather than dithering is only part of it. There are still good decisions and bad decisions.

I guess what bothers me the most is just that I'm not sure that the *writers* know that they are writing the Atlantis folks making some pretty terrible decisions. But if the writers don't realize it's bad, that would explain why they aren't showing the characters wrestling with it.
Jul. 23rd, 2006 12:10 am (UTC)
Yet, she doesn’t really challenge her stereotype in any way. (Comparison: Sam Carter on SG-1, whose looks and manner aren’t butch, who is very feminine, and yet still very tough and competent in the field; that’s what I mean by challenging that stereotype. Not all tough military women have to come across as mistakable for butch dykes – but this show doesn’t know that yet, and went so far as to *make* the lesbian reference. *rolls eyes*)

I've been thinking about that, and I'm sort of torn. On the one hand, the Tough Chick is a stereotype by now. On the other hand...hm. I appreciate the nuance of "she's tough, or she works in a traditionally male field, but she's still feminine in this or that way." But sometimes that can see needlessly apologetic as well, you know "don't worry viewer, she can fire a gun, but underneath she's still all woman!". Some women are butch. And TV shows them rarely, and when they do they tend to be cameo/joke characters, not series regulars or heroes.

Also there was something about the way they played Jo, and wrote the other characters around her, that worked for me. They had a couple instances where the original Sheriff asked her her opinion. And the bits where it was clear she wasn't going to be the new guy's...coffee getter and coat holder. I guess what I mean is, the character wasn't marginalized for being as she was, she wasn't angry, people respected her and liked her. She just likes her guns and her police work and her kicking ass. They portrayed her as unlucky in love, but the vibe I get is that half the characters in the series are going to have romance problems, so I didn't mind that.

I don't even want to talk about Atlantis. THE WRITERS LACK THE SKILL TO HANDLE MORAL COMPLEXITY. And they should either suck that up and make Atlantis an uncomplicated adventure romp, or they should hire new/different writers. Because every time they "go there" with plots like they, they come off like idiots. Or jerks. Dosing Michael again? And against his will? In what universe is that a good idea?

Jul. 23rd, 2006 01:39 am (UTC)
But sometimes that can see needlessly apologetic as well, you know "don't worry viewer, she can fire a gun, but underneath she's still all woman!". Some women are butch. And TV shows them rarely, and when they do they tend to be cameo/joke characters, not series regulars or heroes.

Yeah, good points, all. And points to them for her not being the Angry Chick, and so on. I guess she's just another thing that I'm waiting to see how they handle over time in the series. She could develop into a really interesting 2IC for Carter.

Atlantis: yeah.
Jul. 23rd, 2006 02:28 am (UTC)
oh yes, the first minutes of the science special was very squicky. meep.

i love how you've described the team feeling, and the way they built the old school layer in the midst of the larger plotline. and yup, it was fun to see them all being themselves *together*. also, cameron quoting monty python made me very happy.

still, very good point about the urgency related to the ori. and yay for daniel being daniel. the scene with landry was nicely played, and reminded me a bit of jack too. if this was a fic i'd be wondering about daniel's internal recognition of that. ;)

thank you for giving me thinky thoughts about the use of names in the relationships between the team members. i keep wondering what they call each other during movie night.

the lizard felt very real.

as for sga...oh, i kept thinking about their need to study history. and you've made a very good point about botany bay. yikes.

and heh, i noticed that bad wig on the guy in the background too....it looked a bit as if someone tossed it to him and it just landed on his head. ;)

ps. i enjoyed eureka, and am interested to see how they develop it. but not n the same way i felt about farscape or sg1 when i first saw them. you've made good points about the layers that contribute to that experience.
Jul. 24th, 2006 10:06 pm (UTC)
oh yes, the first minutes of the science special was very squicky. meep.

First minutes? Jeez -- I swear they must have spent like 20 minutes on the parasites ALONE. Because we kept averting our eyes and trying to eat pizza and then we'd look back and the screen and be like, "OY, still with the parasites..."

I've decided that I'm sort of most interested by the fact that Daniel himself has not invited Cam to call him "Daniel". Nor has Daniel decided to get familiar with Mitchell. Right?

Granted -- deeper analysis of exactly how Jack and Daniel fell into their pattern of calling each other by their first names would probably require I look back over the movie. I can't recall whether Jack starts calling him Daniel in the movie or not; or if that was an innovation of Jack of the tv show. I'm place bets that Daniel called him Jack in the movie at some point, but I'd like to know exactly when that started, I guess. Hmm.

I guess what interests me about it is that it is very easy to imagine a fanfictional Daniel saying to Cam at some point, "It's just Daniel", or something like that. I don't know. It's hard to articulate why I think this is important. Sam calls him Daniel. Jack obviously calls him Daniel. He obviously calls Sam and Jack by first names. Cameron can see Sam calling him "Daniel", even if he doesn't know about Jack... But when Cameron comes in, he's in awe of SG-1, fair enough. Yet, even as time has gone on and they have shared more intimate, stressful experiences together... Cameron has settled on "Jackson". Has he tried to call him "Daniel" *ever*? (Again, my relative lack of backwards-forwards familiarity with the latest stuff is hindering me here; but if Cameron has, it isn't sticking out in my mind.)

Meanwhile... movie night and pick-up basketball on-base notwithstanding, Daniel hasn't corrected Cameron on this point, and IIRC he hasn't tried to be that familiar with Cam, either. At this point -- oh, for someone to do an analysis of what they've all called each other, similar to what Morjana used to do for classic!SG-1! I want to know what Daniel has called Cameron most frequently, what his habit is. Has he *ever* been familiar? Does he prefer titles, or does he go with the surname? Or what?

I *like* the way it turns the lines of connection between SG-1 that we used to be familiar with around into new patterns (where, on the old team, Jack and Daniel were the most casual with each other, and Daniel and Sam; and now it's Sam and Cam, and Daniel and Sam. Hmm.)
Jul. 24th, 2006 10:50 pm (UTC)
i went into some kind of daze and lost track of time. and sadly i had started to tape it....so now i have those minutes preserved until the dvds of this season come out. help.

as for daniel and cameron and how they speak to each other, it is intriguing. i keep thinking there's some 'off-screen' story about it that would suggest it's an ongong joke that turned into a habit? but that my just be my fanfic filter.

sounds like a re-watch of the movie and the first three seasons of the show are in order. and i could stand to watch that on my old laptop which has a huge screen...bigger than the tv. ;)

i think you've made some very good points about the potential issues that would generate the name thing. and what you said about how it shifts the dynamics in an intriguing way. i wonder if it would make sense that somehow cameron has given daniel the message that it's a mark of 'something' that he uses his last name.

oh...did daniel say his name was daniel in that first scene when he gives cameron the keys to his place? huh, not sure....and it makes me think about who else calls daniel doctor besides landry. this is wonderful ponder and makes me think about how friends, family, and co-workers express the nature of their regard through banter, seriousness, and naming.


ps. lj is very very slow...so i hope this posts. and my local access numbers are down. it's a technological double whammy...but at least i know it's not my computer. meep.
Jul. 27th, 2006 08:27 pm (UTC)
oh...did daniel say his name was daniel in that first scene when he gives cameron the keys to his place? huh, not sure....and it makes me think about who else calls daniel doctor besides landry.

Now that you mention that, I'm not sure. I'm also not sure whether I have that recorded somewhere or not, where I might check -- I'll have to look!

I also don't own the movie, which is silly, really, and I need to rectify that!

I think that Hammond pretty much always called him "Dr. Jackson". I need to rewatch COTG or look at a transcript to remind myself if Kawalsky and Ferretti did as well, or if they settled on some other affectionate address of him, whether it was "Daniel" or not. I think that others in the SGC (like people from other teams) tended to call him Dr. Jackson.
Jul. 27th, 2006 09:28 pm (UTC)
enjoy looking. and it's funny watching the movie after so many years. it feels like a bit of time travel sometimes. ;)

and i think you're right about the dr. jackson part. will be interesting to see what vala ends up calling him by the end of season 10. *veg*
Jul. 23rd, 2006 07:01 pm (UTC)
And how DID Michael know how to disarm a nuke successfully?

That's a very good point. I imagine it's a little trickier than flipping an off/on switch. (It took me an embarrassing amount of time to figure out how to disarm -- metaphorically speaking -- my damned cell phone.)

Loved Carson in the chair, and his whole line about John and O’Neill, and “Ironically they're the 2 people I nearly killed when I did that."

I thought that was the best delivery on any line in the episode.

Jul. 24th, 2006 10:10 pm (UTC)
That's a very good point. I imagine it's a little trickier than flipping an off/on switch.

Yeah, although now that we say that, I'm trying to remember SG-1's "Failsafe". I think that Jack had a relatively simple way to disarm the bomb, until it turned out that a little meteor had hit it and damaged it, and that's the reason he had to do it the sweating-bullets, cutting-wires way.

But, um... IIRC, the "simple way" involved him inputting a command code or something. Which brings us back to how Michael could get that or successfully hack his way around it.

Do you suppose we are meant to conclude that Carson's command code would have worked, and that Michael sucked that out of him or otherwise coerced it out of him somehow? If that's so, I would have expected to see a reference to it somehow, though. Hmm.
Jul. 24th, 2006 12:12 am (UTC)
RE Vala and Woolsey, I kind of assumed that Vala told Woolsey to go screw himself when he initially approached her. I mean, if she'd agreed, she would've flunked the test, right? If she'd said she'd think about it, that also feels like a flunk to me; they wanted loyalty, and I don't think they got it unless she said no, so... I think she said no.

And I totally agree about how good it was to see them integrating the Ori plotline and a one-shot, too.
Jul. 24th, 2006 10:14 pm (UTC)
Well... I got the sense that Vala didn't agree to Woolsey's offer immediately. But I got this sense from it that she *could* have agreed to it and still passed the test -- if she had then gone and reported him to Landry/Mitchell/Daniel? Because that at least would have proved loyalty to the SGC, her offering to feed the IOA misinformation, be a double-agent.
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