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SciFi Friday: SG1, SGA (08-11-2006)


SG-1 10.05: Uninvited

There was a central premise to this monster-of-the-week episode that actually kind of hung together, I thought. For once, we had a problem to solve that mostly wasn’t due to the characters being idiots, but rather, was due to some characters (not necessarily any of the main ones) trying to do something logical and failing to realize that there was an unexpected bad side-effect. And you can kind of forgive them for not having guessed that it might happen even though SG-1 experienced something SIMILAR a few years ago. In an episode written by the same writer. Whom I normally loathe. An episode that DID require the main characters to be big, unprofessional idiots just so that it would have a plot. So you know: this episode represents an improvement, in a way.

But first, let’s talk about this ep’s opening.

JACK’S CABIN OMG!!!!

What? We don’t get Jack with it? Darnit…

The thing is, I’m in two minds about the whole “Landry takes the keys to Jack’s cabin and invites all of SG-1 up for a team-bonding-with-the-base-commander weekend” subplot. On the one hand… I would have to say that it had some good moments. I have never liked Landry more than when he was giving the whole birdwatcher speech, and doing the duck-call specifically to mess with Mitchell’s head. Getting to see the interior of the cabin: primo. And the poker game at the end? Brought the funny, and the moment between Sam and Teal’c was genuinely pretty sweet.

But… here’s where I’m going to be a big ol’ poop about it. The whole deal with Landry and this “relaxing” weekend for SG-1 made me uncomfortable, and I wasn’t able to totally shake that discomfort.

To start with, I felt like Landry hadn’t “earned” it. And I feel that way because, look: it took Jack EIGHT YEARS to get his entire team to the cabin. It was a whole big thing. He had to ask them individually over and over, etc. As far as I could tell? It kind of sounded like Landry made it a sort-of order, and… ugh. That bothers me.

Plus, there’s the whole built-up-history thing. Yes, yes, blah blah fraternization-cakes. But at least within the context of the show, Jack’s closeness to his team was something ongoing that built up over time. And regardless of the fact that by the time Jack got them all up there, he was the general in charge of the SGC – the reason they were there was that they were **his team**.

Conversely, except for the smallest examples here and there – Hammond never socialized with anyone, including SG-1, all that visibly. (Aside from the implication that Jack must have seen him and his family on some social occasions, because of the way Hammond’s granddaughters knew Jack in “Chain Reaction”.) And yet he somehow managed to be a great base commander, nonetheless. When he saw that his people were getting stressed and overburdened? He ordered them to take some leave. The way you do.

You always got the feeling that SG-1 were favorites of his. Jack was apparently Hammond’s 2IC. Part of it was undoubtedly because the show is called "SG-1", so pretty much, they're who we got to see. Yet Hammond at least acted like he remembered that he **shouldn’t** be playing favorites amongst his teams. He did a better job of that than Jack subsequently did, even though we were occasionally shown Jack trying to be a good commander to all of the teams, or at least, teams not SG-1.

Landry is not Jack. Landry is supposed to be trying to be Hammond.

I realize that the SGC is an extraordinary command. I realize that SG-1 are all now extraordinary individuals. But the show worked better for me when it downplayed their superlative status at least a little, and put them within a semi-realistic context. Hammond had extraordinary faith in SG-1, based in part on their extraordinary track-record. But I don’t recall him giving speeches to the effect of “the fate of the galaxy depends on the four of you staying active in this fight and working together”.

So, Landry getting that chummy with one of his subordinates – that bugged me. Landry showing such blatant favoritism towards SG-1 – that bugged me, too. And Landry riding the edge of using his rank to get his subordinate to do what he wants in an off-duty situation – that also bugged me.

I feel sorry for Landry. I feel sorry for Mitchell, too. Sam may behave like an idiot sometimes lately (compare her response to Baal threatening her a couple of eps ago with her withstanding torture in any one of a handful of eps from earlier years), but at least the character has a history to rest upon. We can, if we’re feeling charitable, look at Sam and discount the badly-written stuff in favor of an early-established baseline reading. But with Landry and Mitchell, the poor guys are **in** their establishment period right now. And they’re being written by guys who no longer care about crafting interesting and even halfway realistic military characters, if they ever **were** interested in that in the first place. (DK only started writing regularly for the show after they stopped having an active USAF liaison; and he’s stated in interviews before that he’d rather just write whatever comes off the top of his head rather than bother with pesky “research” or anything.)

So the duck-call moment made me, perhaps, like Landry a little better as a person. But this ep really didn’t do a darned thing to make me think more highly of Landry as a military commander.

Speaking of which… Mitchell’s line about his “Special Forces training”? BWAH-HAH-HAH-HAH. Okay, I’m just going to assume that that was shorthand for, “the crash-course of Special Forces training they made me go through after I got out of rehab and before I started my assignment at the SGC”. Because that is the LEAST that he ought to have had to do, in order to go from being a career pilot to being someone who was going to serve on, let alone LEAD, a ground-forces team. At least I hope to god that is what the writers meant by that line. I sincerely hope they do not mean us to believe that Mitchell is actually ex-Special Forces, because… no.

Meanwhile, over in plot B, which will trundle along for a while providing an excuse for the rest of SG-1 plus Vala to postpone actually coming up to the cabin(*)… we had a bad moment during the first scene of interaction between Sam and Vala, because it seemed like giant steps backward after last week’s episode. And then we thought, oh, right, DK wrote this, and he’s TERRIBLE at writing women. Given that, things between them actually improved somewhat, and upon thinking about it later, I decided that look, it’s only fair – Vala is, in fact, pretty trying. The guys are all consistently pretty short with her when they find her trying, and that’s okay. So Sam is entitled to be short with her when **she** finds Vala trying, without it coming down to “oh no, Sam’s being a bitch to Vala!” Because to say that would be a double-standard, saying that the guys can be annoyed with Vala but Sam can’t be, ever, without being a bitch. Right?

But speaking of writing women badly… The joke about sitting in Landry’s chair was stupid. This is Sam. Sam, who has spent years and years fighting to be taken seriously as a woman in a male-dominated career. If she’s actually left in command of the SGC (… because presumably all of the full-bird colonels were offworld with their teams **cough**), then absolutely nobody is going to give her any brownie-points for “respectfully” avoiding sitting in the general’s chair. No, Sam. You sit in the damn command chair because you are IN COMMAND, and if you have to you answer the red phone and have a chat with Pres. Hayes. Okay? Good. (Otherwise, I thought she had a fairly good air of "being in command". Except for that bit.)

So, the problem involving the interdimensional radiation-emitting space-bugs that turn harmless critters into rampaging mutant monsters in a matter of… some period of time they were never quite clear about… fine. Semi-reasonably explained by the whole “we adapted the Sodan cloaking devices and since there were no living Sodan around to ask about the radiation-emitting thing, we chose to treat that as a malfunction and got rid of it, not least because we couldn’t use them otherwise” thing, in combination with the DK-written S6 episode “Sight Unseen”… which I otherwise loathe, but, moving on…. Although, I would also just like to mention that in that episode, there was never anything about there being a danger of the bugs popping through into our dimension in a physical way; it was just that we could see them in that other dimension, and they were freaking people out, not that they could affect us physically in any way… but, right, nevermind. (Oh, DK… you can’t even be accurate when it comes to the continuity of eps that YOU WROTE.)

It was nice that they at least name-checked Barrett and let us know that he’d recovered from the brainwashing thing and was feeling pretty dumb about it.

It was also nice that they again went out and got a female scientist who was a specialist, to deal with the autopsy of the monster. It’s a bit of a bummer that, having gone to all the trouble to establish Dr. Lam, we are going so much of this season (perhaps the whole season?) without seeing her at all. Not that it’s not for a good reason, just – yeah.

And it was nice to see Reynolds again, who dealt with Vala’s attempt to diss him and his team pretty well. Reynolds is pretty laid-back for a Marine. Don’t you figure there’s got to be all kinds of wacky inter-service rivalry stuff going on behind the scenes at the SGC? Pranks and stuff? That could explain the weird amalgam of uniform pieces he and his men were wearing. (I swear, I think those were desert boots he had on with his USMC forest-cammo BDUs.)

I’m sad to say that the CGI critter that provided the ep’s climax was really, really, REALLY bad. They would have been better off putting somebody in latex, I think. For a moment there I felt like we were in a commercial for one of the SciFi Channel’s dreadful Saturday movies. I’ll cut the panicked hunters some slack on describing that thing as a bear, because really, what else are you going to call something that big and lumbering and maul-y? But it really, really didn’t resemble a bear very much at all. We’re not sure what it resembled, actually. We had some fun trying to guess what it might have been originally. Deer? Chipmunk? Oh, the possibilities.

Instead of being ordered to have a “relaxing” cabin getaway, it’s clear that what needs to be done is that the entire SGC needs to be strapped down and made to watch marathons of horror films. Because honestly? Who didn’t see the whole “there’s two creatures” thing coming a mile away? And yet Vala is the only one with the brains to anticipate this? And finally, Landry’s “very funny” moment – so, so very **not** funny at all, because I’m sorry, that’s the point at which I let the creature take him out and chalk it up to Darwin’s Law: “If yer dumb, ya die.”

Also: I felt really sorry for the sherriff guy, Wade, or whoever. For one thing, you know that however chummy Landry had become with him after last summer’s cabin getaway, what’s more likely is that the guy was friends with Jack, who seems to make a habit of cultivating the friendship of local law enforcement. So now Landry’s got to call Jack up and explain how Landry allowed the sherriff to get killed in a very messy fashion just moments after he, Landry, snottily pulled rank on the sherriff and took over the entire operation. Which of course Jack himself has done in the past, and BOY was HE snotty about it, but **he** didn’t get that ATF guy killed, let alone any actual friends.

So then we come to the end, and the poker scene IS pretty cute. Even if you look at the people gathered around the table, and contemplate a few unsettling things. One, that if there is any emergency back at the SGC (and when is there not?), it will take hours and hours for these people to get back there. And two, counting heads, that means that (as mentioned earlier), Col. Reynolds is now in charge of the SGC. And man, I bet the Marines have been waiting for that opportunity for YEARS. So heck, it’s a happy ending all around.

Next week: PURE CRACK.


(*) Yes, am fairly sure that is the same cabin that has been used as Jack’s cabin before. The ep consistently showed us the “front” of the cabin, while before, we have usually seen the side and the back, where the pond is. It was kind of disorienting in this ep not to see the pond at all.

Here is a shot of the front of Jack’s cabin from “2010”. If you compare it with Mitchell’s arrival and the later scene of him and Landry on the porch, the details match up, except for minor cosmetic differences (this furniture is gone, the chairs they are sitting in are new, etc.):

http://www.stargatecaps.com/sg1/s4/416/html/4x16%5F128.html

From later in “2010”, here is the side/back of the cabin, where you can see a canoe that hints at the pond/lake off-screen to the left:

http://www.stargatecaps.com/sg1/s4/416/html/4x16%5F157.html

Here’s the dock from “The Curse”. The canoe in the shot above would have been right next to the dock, basically:

http://www.stargatecaps.com/sg1/s4/413/html/4x13%5F0511.html

And finally, a pretty good overview from the end of “Threads”:

http://www.stargatecaps.com/sg1/s8/818/shroomy/html/threads445.html

Hey look! A deck! Plus you can see a smaller outbuilding beyond the back deck. That same outbuilding is visible over Mitchell’s shoulder towards the end of his arrival scene in “Uninvited”.

So there you go. I’m not sure why they never showed the pond at **all**. Maybe the actual pond is seasonal and there wasn’t actually any water in it at the time of filming, or something.

I did, in a sense, like the fact that it was the two New Guys who wound up stuck up at the cabin. I mean, you notice how the rest of SG-1 did everything to wriggle out of it. “Oh, we’ll be there, but we have this intergalactic crisis to deal with…” and “Yeah, I’m sorry, but there’s this **really important** library I have to check… in, um, England…”

Of course, Jack’s cabin is supposed to be in Minnesota. The ep was somewhat unclear about locale, and may have been time-compressing, but – it is not an insignificant drive, from Colorado Springs, Colorado to Outer Bumfuck, Minnesota. Frankly, it’s about 800 miles, depending on exactly where you’re going in MN. Even if Mitchell drove like a maniac the entire way (and in that car, I don’t see why he wouldn’t), that’s still a good 10 hours.

I don’t know – I don’t want to belabor the point since the ep never actually came out and made the mistake of placing the cabin in Colorado. There was a moment where I wondered – the moment when they started talking about the opening of elk season, specifically – but yes, I actually went and looked it up (because I’m that big a geek), and Minnesota does indeed have a little area in the northwest of the state that has a small elk population. Why, the state issues **eight whole permits** to shoot elk, per year! Eight! Gosh!

So fine – it’s something of a stretch, because going up to Jack’s Minnesota cabin instead of, say, renting some cabin in the Rockies located closer to the actual SGC, would seem kind of logistically awkard. But, whatever.


SGA 3.05: Progeny

Let me just say: it sounds kind of weird to have David Ogden Stiers in something, especially playing a bad guy, and have him NOT be putting on some odd accent. It almost didn’t sound like him, which is a strange thing to say about an actor using his own voice for once.

I don’t even want to touch the fact that they actually named the character “Oberoth”, because that makes my head hurt….

As many people have already said, point-for-point this ep was more than a bit too close to SG-1’s “Unnatural Selection” for comfort, theme-wise and structure-wise. The biggest difference obviously is the “you thought you escaped but in reality this is an extensive mindfuck designed to allow us to trick you into giving us things like the Gate coordinates to Earth” sequence. As for the rest… ehn, been down this road before.

Atlantis Expedition: you really ought to have a copy on disc somewhere of the SGC’s mission reports. You might want to read them more carefully. I know you think most of it isn’t relevant, but trust me, it is. Had you done more than skimmed them, then perhaps you might know that betraying humanoid replicator-like beings is a singularly bad idea.

The thing is, I liked the dilemma created in “Unnatural Selection”, and I liked the betrayal at the end, because while the betrayal was tragic, and morally ambiguous, it was also the only sound tactical decision that could have been made at that time, and Jack made it, ruthlessly. And I love that.

Because the key is that in that episode, the human-form Replicators are an unstoppable threat. Jack has proof that no ordinance he’s brought can stop them. He doesn’t know what **can** stop them. He doesn’t know if a bomb can, even. All he knows is, bullets have no effect. And apparently the Asgard with their big space-guns haven’t had an effect either. Plus – Fifth is sane, **maybe**, but there’s no true proof of that. Reese seemed nice and helpful and friendly right up until the moment she went wonky, too. The only proof that Fifth is reliable is the other insane Replicators saying he was unlike them, but – um, can you really take their word for it? What if they’re just saying that to make him the perfect Trojan horse?

At any rate, the sad part of that was that even if you take Fifth at face value and bring him out with you – Jack knew that he had no way to contain Fifth, and also did not personally have the power to categorically ensure Fifth’s safety. So, fine, you take Fifth with you – and the moment you get off the planet, in swoop the Asgard, who want to take Fifth away and experiment on him to find a weakness that will allow them to kill his bretheren; or else you get him back to Earth and the NID comes knocking, etc. At which point, even if he’s still sane and has the best of intentions towards **you**, he could go ballistic in what he feels is “self-defense”, and… as I say, all you know is, you can’t contain him at all. So it’s a bummer of a decision, but it’s the only practical one you can make, if you’re a commander balancing your duty to Earth and the rest of the galaxy against your duty to a possibly-sane, possibly-not machine.

Now, here’s what got me about “Progeny”… aside from the eerie similarity between the Asurans and the Replicators even though apparently they aren’t supposed to be related at ALL (and yet they both use the hand-through-the-forehead method of accessing their victims’ minds? Hmm, interesting “parallel evolution”, there, she said sarcastically.)

No, what got me was – in this ep, in stark contrast to the SG-1 ep, the helpful “humanoid replicators” (which, let the record show, were a FACTION, not just a single guy) actually helped the Atlantis folks figure out a viable way to address the problem – and it appeared to be WORKING.

Now, check me on this, but – it really did kind of seem to me like they said that because of the whole universal-upload thing, if they’d just given the plan a chance to work, then they really could have “fixed” the rest of the Asurans too. Did I in fact miss some vital piece of information about how that wasn’t actually going to work at all? How it was always going to be a temporary fix for a small number of the “good” Asurans, before everybody got reset to “evil” again?

Because otherwise, I just cannot come up with a reason for Elizabeth, of all people, to decide to throw the peaceful plan out the window and betray all of the Asurans, including the ones who’d tried to be helpful and who were supposed to have been “fixed”. Because if they knew it was going to be temporary… then why bring Niam with them at all, knowing he was going to revert to the “bad” setting? And that he would be in a not-very-good mood, given that they had just blown up his city-ship, which contained a bunch of other Asurans who like him wanted to ascend and who had helped the Atlantis people escape.

I realize that Elizabeth was understandably determined that the city-ship not reach Atlantis. But unlike with the Replicators of “Unnatural Selection”, she was dealing with a faction that was fairly self-aware and trying to meet her halfway (rather than one lone individual of dubious reliability), and they were cooperating with her team to find viable ways to address the containment issue. Ways that appeared to be working and that kind of sounded like they might have even farther-reaching success if the process hadn’t been interrupted by the “let’s blow up the ship” Plan B.

If anyone can point out to me the key thing I am missing that would make me read this episode differently, I’d be grateful. Because otherwise, it just seems to me that not only did we get kind of a retread of a problem that SG-1 has seen before, but, we just watched the Atlantis folks deal with it even more badly, without nearly as much reason.

And the upshot is – great, they’ve pissed off a whole bunch of replicator-like beings, and we all know how that sort of thing turns out.

The only bright side I can think of is… well, that would be a spoiler. But seriously, does anyone think we won’t be seeing a follow-up to this episode, in which things go badly for Atlantis? No, I thought not.

Next week: EEEEEE!

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
katie_m
Aug. 15th, 2006 04:13 am (UTC)
Of course, Jack’s cabin is supposed to be in Minnesota. The ep was somewhat unclear about locale, and may have been time-compressing, but – it is not an insignificant drive, from Colorado Springs, Colorado to Outer Bumfuck, Minnesota. Frankly, it’s about 800 miles, depending on exactly where you’re going in MN. Even if Mitchell drove like a maniac the entire way (and in that car, I don’t see why he wouldn’t), that’s still a good 10 hours.

Are you sure that Jack's cabin was ever stated, canonically, to be in Minnesota? I mean, people tend to assume it is, but I can't remember him ever actually saying so. And this cabin was very clearly in Colorado; the sheriff's license plates were from that state, it seems that Cameron drove there...

...oh, okay, the trip in The Curse and attempted trip in Nemesis do both refer to Minnesota, don't they? Ah well.
green_grrl
Aug. 15th, 2006 05:01 am (UTC)
Oh, man. That just pisses me off. I hadn't noticed the license plate. Because in addition to the eps you mentioned, Jack also has taked about spending time at his grandfather's cabin in Minnesota as a child. *stabs TPTB with sharp pointy things* I get pissy with fanfic that talks about zipping off to Jack's cabin in a two- or three-hour drive. But "canon" screwing up like that? Argh!!!
eregyrn
Aug. 15th, 2006 06:36 pm (UTC)
I was going to say, "to be fair to the show, they never actually came out and *said* they thought they were in Colorado". But I hadn't noticed the license plates either. Which are doubly egregious, because of course they had to *purposefully* switch those in for the shoot, as those vehicles would normally have B.C. plates. So somebody in props goofed, too. *headdesk*

It makes me want to send them pointed, sarcastic notes asking if there is anyone on the production team who remembers that Jack's cabin is in Minnesota? Because the AUDIENCE certainly does, dammit.
katie_m
Aug. 19th, 2006 02:18 am (UTC)
I've mostly given up at this point. BSG, say, I'll care about that kind of thing, but SG? If I care, I'll just drive myself crazy.
eregyrn
Aug. 15th, 2006 06:34 pm (UTC)
Yeah, sadly it's fairly well-established in canon. And the trip in The Curse wound up at *this very same cabin* -- so you can't even really get away with positing that Jack has TWO cabins (one in MN, and one he took to renting closer to Colorado Springs because most of the time he didn't have enough leave to make getting to the one in MN worthwhile).

I would have accepted such an explanation, if the show itself had ever given it to us. I think in fact I've seen a few fan stories based on that premise. But... no. The trip in The Curse was too specifically stated to be to Minnesota. And it's too obviously the same building.

You know, I didn't even think to look at the license plates... *headdesk*

Because you know what that means? It means that it's not just the writers having a brainfart about it. It's the entire production crew. Since all those vehicles would have had British Columbia plates to begin with and they had to purposefully switch in US plates for the shoot. So props needs a big ol' smack upside the head, as well. *thump, thump, thump*

I don't mind Cameron having driving there, per se. It's not that it's not possible to do. It's only about a 10 hour drive if you speed like a maniac the whole way. Which puts it in a doable realm, as opposed to a multi-day drive. But still. It's not efficient, for a relatively short period of leave. And it's not very efficient when you're the commander of an extremely emergency-prone base, to put yourself that far out of reach.

(Also, Landry's line about not using aircraft for "personal use" was ludicrous. Again, he's the commander of the most top-secret and emergency-prone base in the country if not the world. And he's already admitted that he's up at the cabin for what amounts to halfway business purposes anyway -- it's not *really* purely personal socializing, it's a calculated morale-boosting retreat. If there's actually some emergency back at the SGC that requires he get back there, then requesting an aircraft to transport him is hardly "personal use".)
green_grrl
Aug. 15th, 2006 05:36 am (UTC)
And you can kind of forgive them for not having guessed that it might happen even though SG-1 experienced something SIMILAR a few years ago. In an episode written by the same writer. Whom I normally loathe.

LOL! But you're not bitter!

(DK only started writing regularly for the show after they stopped having an active USAF liaison; and he’s stated in interviews before that he’d rather just write whatever comes off the top of his head rather than bother with pesky “research” or anything.)

Oh wait, yes you are. And for very good reason! Fuck, I had never heard that. What an ASSHOLE! And now things like you're mentioning about Sam and the big chair -- it all makes sense. Who cares if it's OOC for Sam? We can set up a great joke about Vala putting her boots up. Ha ha ha.

The CGI: My new theory is that they accidentally aired the footage with the preliminary modeling in place, not the final CGI. Or Mallozzi promised his nephew he could do FX for an ep on his PC. Or something. 1980s-level bad CGI, really.

I did like that they at least name-checked Dr. Lam. (But man, couldn't they have her show up as a head on a video screen one ep or something? After so many years of Janet being integral, it's just weird to have no doc.) And I liked thm having a decently smart xenobiologist. I just wish she looked like she wasn't hired via a casting sweep at Venice Beach was old enough to have a PhD.

The cabin: I think that they mentioned in a commentary once that the pond is tiny and about 4 inches deep, so if it was dry season when they filmed, it could be gone!

I hadn't thought about the "Landry and team away from SGC" thing that much, which is funny, because I did in the Atlantis ep. But yeah, I always had the feeling General Hammond threw the occasional social for his team leaders, officers, key staff, etc. -- the military is very social that way -- but he would never have ordered Jack and SG-1 off to the boonies with him.

So, in Atlantis, right away I was thinking, "Did these people never watch Star Trek and bitch about Kirk, Spock and McCoy all going planetside together?" Because John's team alone is bad enough. But now you're going into a first contact situation with your military leader, your chief scientist, the leader of the Athosians and the head of the entire expedition? Way to decapitate the entire project if things go south.

I think the Asurans and the Replicators are supposed to be the same thing. I think this is supposed to be backstory for the guy who built Reese in the Milky Way -- that he was either an Ancient emigrant from Pegasus or was a local working with Ancient science when he came up with Reese and her toys.

Your description of Jack's actions in Unnatural Selection makes me feel a little better about them. I've always thought he was really damn cold in that ep, which I tend to attribute partially to him being emotionally shut down after Daniel's death.

But I don't think you're missing anything in Progeny -- I think it was a horribly ugly and stupid decision on Elizabeth's part and was nothing more than a setup for a return of spaced!dude a la Fifth and/or his buddies from his homeworld.
eregyrn
Aug. 15th, 2006 06:52 pm (UTC)
LOL! But you're not bitter! .... Oh wait, yes you are.

Oh yes, I totally, totally am. :)

To be fair to DK, I'm not quoting him. In the interviews I've seen, you can sort of tell he's trying to make a joke about how he comes up with these wacky ideas and then Mallozzi or Mullie will shoot him down and explain how "there's no Mayan god named 'Fred'" or whatever -- it's in one of the Lowdowns.

The problem is that even the first time I watched that sequence, I yelled at the screen, "It's NOT FUNNY, Damian, because it's TRUE!" So basically, he jokes about how he want to go for the cool idea and doesn't like "reality" getting in his way, right.... and my bitterness is, deep down, I think he's not really joking. Or, not really joking as much as I wish he was. And the proof is there in his scripts.

Time and time and time again, DK scripts go for a joke, or all too often go for a *serious plot*, that requires the characters to behave like morons and act like they have never seen their own show, because if they didn't, we wouldn't *have* a plot, or a joke. I could just give you example after example that makes me *nuts*.

I'll give DK this much credit: I think that he has some good, sweeping ideas, sometimes. I think that he is genuinely pretty creative. It's just that he needs a really good editor standing over him, spotting the flaws in how he tries to get from A to B, and forcing him to pay attention to continuity and not to shortchange the characters in pursuit of his short-term goals. DK would be a fine addition to the staff as an idea-generator, if he were only reined-in a bit more.

Who cares if it's OOC for Sam? We can set up a great joke about Vala putting her boots up. Ha ha ha.

EXACTLY.

But yeah, I always had the feeling General Hammond threw the occasional social for his team leaders, officers, key staff, etc. -- the military is very social that way -- but he would never have ordered Jack and SG-1 off to the boonies with him.

Yeah. And the thing is, there's a difference between us as fans speculating about whether Hammond has any social contact with his subordinates... and the show making it explicit. With Hammond, the show pretty much only ever inferred it a couple of times.
green_grrl
Aug. 15th, 2006 07:25 pm (UTC)
And the thing is, there's a difference between us as fans speculating about whether Hammond has any social contact with his subordinates... and the show making it explicit. With Hammond, the show pretty much only ever inferred it a couple of times.

Military socializing has a lot of rules, written and unwritten, around it. A main one is, if it's social, don't make your subordinates uncomfortable about your rank. If they're uncomfortable, back off. Landry just came off as kind of skeevy when Mitchell kept testing, "Is this an order?" I mean, really. Ew.
eregyrn
Aug. 15th, 2006 06:52 pm (UTC)
con't

"Did these people never watch Star Trek and bitch about Kirk, Spock and McCoy all going planetside together?"

This is also a really good point. I did think about that briefly when Elizabeth walked up and said she was going along, but I think we were too stunned at the idea that the show had actually remembered that she was a diplomat who could perhaps be useful in such a situation that we let it slide. (And then... she turned in a truly lousy diplomatic performance, too! Gosh!)

I think the Asurans and the Replicators are supposed to be the same thing. I think this is supposed to be backstory for the guy who built Reese in the Milky Way -- that he was either an Ancient emigrant from Pegasus or was a local working with Ancient science when he came up with Reese and her toys.

Well... he came up with Reese. It was Reese who created the Replicators and I don't know that it was ever said that she'd gotten the idea from Dad? Anyway -- sure, I would have been happy with this explanation, actually. Had the actual show given it to us. Maybe they will later...

Your description of Jack's actions in Unnatural Selection makes me feel a little better about them. I've always thought he was really damn cold in that ep, which I tend to attribute partially to him being emotionally shut down after Daniel's death.

I think that that's part of it, sure. But I don't think that Jack would have done anything differently had never died and had he been there. No matter how big his eyes and how cute his face, Fifth wasn't a puppy. It would have been tragically naive of them to have brought him out with them. That's sad, but true. And Jack didn't want to be the guy later looking at the destruction of the entire Asgard race and saying, "Well, I'm sorry, but he told us he would never hurt anyone, and we thought taking a chance on him was the morally right thing to do."

I love it, in fact, when the show gives us Jack or someone else making a very difficult, getting-his-hands-dirty decision. Because sometimes, doing what's right isn't easy or even palatable.

But I don't think they are hitting quite the same notes with the Atlantis folks. There's a line, and I feel like the show successfully wrote Jack pushing the line, standing right on it, without stepping over it. While I think the Atlantis folks have stepped way over the line without anyone realizing it.

was nothing more than a setup for a return of spaced!dude a la Fifth and/or his buddies from his homeworld.

Which... fine, I'm sort of looking forward to that. But I think they could have brought it about in a way that was different from the SG-1/Fifth situation, and that didn't require the Atlantis folks to be so skeevy about it.
green_grrl
Aug. 15th, 2006 07:33 pm (UTC)
(And then... she turned in a truly lousy diplomatic performance, too! Gosh!)

Hee! Hmm, crap diplomacy, crap ethical decision-making, crap tactical decision-making (another powerful new enemy?!) -- yup, the Keystone Kops of the Pegasus Galaxy screw up again. Really I watch SG:A for the pretty and read fanfic for characterization and storytelling. SG-1 is more and more that way, too.

Which... fine, I'm sort of looking forward to that. But I think they could have brought it about in a way that was different from the SG-1/Fifth situation, and that didn't require the Atlantis folks to be so skeevy about it.

Yeah, I wish...
agent_dark
Aug. 15th, 2006 07:36 am (UTC)
But speaking of writing women badly… The joke about sitting in Landry’s chair was stupid. This is Sam. Sam, who has spent years and years fighting to be taken seriously as a woman in a male-dominated career. If she’s actually left in command of the SGC (… because presumably all of the full-bird colonels were offworld with their teams **cough**), then absolutely nobody is going to give her any brownie-points for “respectfully” avoiding sitting in the general’s chair.
Actually, I didn't think it was that bad. Even though it's Landry's chair now, at one stage it was Hammond's chair and Sam has enormous respect for him. Even Jack had to get used to it, and he *was* the CO of the base at the time ;)
eregyrn
Aug. 15th, 2006 07:01 pm (UTC)
Actually, I didn't think it was that bad. Even though it's Landry's chair now, at one stage it was Hammond's chair and Sam has enormous respect for him. Even Jack had to get used to it, and he *was* the CO of the base at the time ;)

*shrug* It bugged me more. Having enormous respect for Hammond or for Jack means you sit in the chair and you try to do it honor by how well you do the job in their absence.

Yes, I'm applying a double-standard to Sam, than I am to Jack (although I don't recall Jack ever really *publicly* freaking out about it). (Not that Sam was freaking out.) What I'm saying is that as a woman, Sam is going to have a harder time being taken serious as even a temporary base commander than a man does. Especially when Sam is only a Lt. Col. with very few years at that rank, versus Jack, who has at least 15 more years in the military than she does and many more years at the higher rank of colonel. Sam in other words has to worry about perception of her a lot more than Jack ever did.

I don't think I'm being unfair in pointing this out, either, since it is a theme that the show set up with Sam at the very beginning, and that it referred to a few times over the years. The show itself is aware, or at least *was* aware, of the problems facing women in high rank in the military, and it used to demonstrate that it knew that. Sam needs to try harder and be a more exemplary soldier than her male peers. That's not fair, but it's reality.

By not sitting in the chair, Sam risks reinforcing in others (who at that moment are under her command) the notion that a woman shouldn't be sitting in that chair, and risks signalling that in some way she thinks the same thing. What might be regarded in Jack as a humble gesture in Sam becomes a perceived lack of self-confidence. Again, a double-standard -- but that is what Sam has always faced.

Is this taking what is in reality a small, throwaway joke way too seriously? Perhaps. It's taking it seriously. I don't think it's taking it *too* seriously. YMMV.
jenlev
Aug. 15th, 2006 10:39 am (UTC)
yup, that first scene in the briefing room made me nervous about the sam vala interaction. i was feeling much better by the poker scene though. and yay for teal'c and sam facing off over the cards. hee!

and now i'm falling down laughing thinking of the marines rubbing their hands together in glee about being in charge. go reynolds. ;) what you said about landry is quite striking. and you've made me realize that i very much like him, but i'm not sure i'm really expecting him to be a military commander. huh, not sure about that or where it comes from.....am half awake and dashing out the door to work. meeep.

as for sga, very good points, and you've articulated very well my quandary with the choices that are being made. gah, they are so going to get bitten on the butt by the replicators.

and oh yes. next week SQUEEEEING here.

ps. uploaded those two photos of restaurant sunday. feel free to grab. *hugs*
eregyrn
Aug. 15th, 2006 07:08 pm (UTC)
I probably *shouldn't* expect Landry to be much of a military commander, it's true. It's just that, darnit, for years and years they seemingly-effortlessly wrote Hammond as the BEST BOSS *EVER*. Now I watch an old episode, and I probably mourn the loss of Hammond about as much as I mourn the loss of Jack -- and you know how much that is saying!

I realize it's all just crack now and I should sit back and enjoy it for the little good things I can get out of it. But I can't help noting. They used to be able to do this stuff. I don't want to entirely let them off the hook for getting lazy and failing to do it now. It's not *that* difficult.
jenlev
Aug. 15th, 2006 07:18 pm (UTC)
i think it's a good thing to expect landry to be more military...and i'm still not sure why i don't. and i adore hammond. watched the premiere episode on scifi last night and missed him.

and i'm glad you're noting, you've helped peel back some layers for me that i think are vital. *hugs*
janedavitt
Aug. 15th, 2006 01:39 pm (UTC)
Great points and I agree totally.
teand
Aug. 15th, 2006 06:12 pm (UTC)
And Landry riding the edge of using his rank to get his subordinate to do what he wants in an off-duty situation – that also bugged me.

Yeah, that really bugged me. There's a reason it's lonely at the top -- you can't socialize with your subordinates and not have rank come into it. So you socialize under very controlled conditions (as I imagine General Hammond did) or you don't do it.

DK only started writing regularly for the show after they stopped having an active USAF liaison; and he’s stated in interviews before that he’d rather just write whatever comes off the top of his head rather than bother with pesky “research” or anything.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! ::coughs:: Sorry. I hadn't heard that.

If anyone can point out to me the key thing I am missing that would make me read this episode differently...

Unfortunately, I'm reading it pretty much exactly the same way. Albeit less articulately expressed.


eregyrn
Aug. 15th, 2006 07:06 pm (UTC)
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! ::coughs:: Sorry. I hadn't heard that.

As I explained to another commenter above: I'm being slightly unfair to DK, because he irritates me so. ;-) I'm inferring his attitude from "jokes" he has made about his writing process, and my view is, they are rather telling jokes that have more of a core of truth to them than I would like. And I base that on the evidence in his scripts.

He's a Big Ideas man. Sometimes those ideas are actually pretty good. I think he's a reasonably interesting world-builder and a fairly creative mind. I just think he's LOUSY as a plotter, that he is willing to take egregious short-cuts to get his plot from point A to point B, and that actual human beings may be kind of a cipher to him. I think he sacrifices character for jokes and plots. I don't think he know very much about how the "real" military works, as opposed to this fantasy, video-game military that he tends to write, and I basically think he's too lazy (or has too high an opinion of his own writing) to check up on some of these things.

And why nobody supervises him more closely, I have no idea.
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