Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Tin Man"

"Tin Man" is the first of many references to The Wizard of Oz. specifically, the theme of the episode and the tin man character in the film is the desire of mechanical beings to feel human. The episode also owes a nod to the Cybermen from Doctor Who. the Cybermen wwre intended to be a way of preserving human life by transferring it to a machine. It was a misguided idea that went horribly wrong. Twice, technically speaking for any Wholigans who are sticklers for accuracy.

The SG-1 team arrives on a planet that appears to be an abandoned facility. They are stunned by some sort of energy beam. When they awaken, they meet Harlan, the caretaker of the place who oddly reminds me of Joe Besser. Harlan insists that he has not only improved them while they were unconscious, but they must stay with him now. They naturally refuse and return to Earth. Upon their return, medical exams reveal they have been turned into robots. They are imprisoned until the situation is sorted out, but when they begin malfunctioning, SG-1 is allowed to return to the planet as Harlan had originally insisted.

They demand Harlan return their consciousness to their normal bodies, but Harlan insists that is impossible. The new bodies are not only permanent, but they will have to remain close to the battery in order to continue functioning. The episode commences with a large amount of navel gazing about the meaning of life, the value of living forever, and whether never having physical desires to satisfy are good things. For the recoord, daniel is open to the idea and Jack and sam hate it while Teal’c loses him mind and becomes violent for the sake of the episode having some action in it.

Harlan eventually reveals the truth under pressure. The consciousnesses inside the robots are only copies of the real deals, whom Harlan imprisoned. The real SG-1 is free to go, but the robot duplicates can never leave. Though the robots feel they are human and therefore connected to their ’real’ lives, they resign themselves to staying to help Harlan run the facility.

“Tin Man’ is boringly uneventful. There is no reason given for Harlan not revealing the truth to the robots right off the bat other than to offer a chance for a philosophical discussion over the meaning of life. That is a discussion which never gets off the ground. The malfunction of the Teal’c robot is a cheap attempt to insert an antagonistic element into a story that does not logically have one. Ergo, it is an awkward fit. I would even go so far as to say some of the camera tricks done when the Real McCoy is standing beside his or her robot double is pretty bad by even 1998 standards. The interaction between them are humorous, but it is not enough to raise “tin man” to a decent score. Weirdly enough, the robots return in the future. With a better story, one hopes.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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