Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Urgo"

I have noticed two trends within Stargate SG-1 which are well exemplified in “Urgo.” One, episodes feature much movie homage and parody. It can be anything from frequent Wizard of Oz jokes to the outright lifting of a plot as with The Andromeda Strain. Two, the comedy oriented episodes exaggerate the basic personality traits of the main characters to the point of absurdity. Neither of these themes has been particularly bad because they have been done in small doses. Put them together in one episode with dom DeLuise adlibbing his lines for forty-four minutes and you have what could be incredibly annoying if it did not come in the middle of a season that has thus far brutalized our heroes.

I am not trying to be a stick in the mud here. It is enjoyable to watch the cast obviously having a good time. Christopher Judge in particular appears to be having a difficult time maintaining Teal’c’s normally stoic demeanor. Clearly, the powers that be behind Stargate SG-1 do not take themselves too seriously, and as far as I am concerned, that is a welcome change from the pretentious “intellectualism” of even the worst Star Trek offerings. If nothing else, the episode demonstrates just how comfortable the cast has become with their characters that they can make fun of them in an endearing way. There is nothing wrong with any of it. But a little goes a long way.

“Urgo’ is based very loosely on Carl Sagan’s Contact. I enjoyed both the novel and the 2008 film, but I think it is safe to say “Urgo” is based more on the latter. The SG-1 team travels to a planet that the MALP recon says is a beach. As far as they are concerned, they return as soon as they left even though they have been gone sixteen hours. In Contact Jodie Foster experiences missing time when she travels through and alien device and meets what passes for God in Sagan’s mind on a beach. The SG-1 team meets dom DeLuise instead.

DeLuise plays Togar, a scientist who secretly implants devices in the brains of SG-1 in order to gather information about their travels like the way we tag animals for research. The implants generate a wireless computer network that has inadvertently evolved into an artificial intelligence named Urgo, also played by DeLuise. Urgo is outgoing and goofy with a curiosity that gets everyone into trouble. It is under his influence the over the top characterizations emerge. Teal’c gulps an entire pot of steaming coffee, jack gushes over commissary offerings like Jello, Sam cannot help but explain everything urgo does not understand, and Daniel…uh, yeah. Not much there. Perhaps his lack of color helped motivate Michael Shanks to leave a couple seasons later. The others are enough to be highly amusing.

There is no serious complication in the plot. The SG-1 team returns to the planet to have Togar remove Urgo. They talk him into implanting Urgo in his own mind rather than destroying him since Urgo is not technically a sentient life form. Said conclusion is drawn without any hints of Trekian self-importance a valuable lesson has just been taught to all humanity. The episode begins with humor, and it ends that way, too.

I am amused by “Urgo.” It is a welcome breather in a season that has featured the death of Daniel’s wife and the team literally going to hell and back. It might seem like a frivolous episode were it not placed among such deep company. A little of DeLuise goes a very long way, however. I can see why the Urgo for the rest of their lives or death merited serious contemplation. A fun episode. Not one of the best, but still well-worth seeing for the normal characterizations dialed up to eleven. Watch “Urgo” on a sugar or caffeine high.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Pretense"

I was fully expecting to do nothing but scoff at “Pretense.” It is a legal drama, something that television often has a difficult time presenting unless the series in question is intended as a legal drama, written by Katharyn Powers, who has been responsible for some of the worst episodes of Stargate SG-1 thus far. The result is, however, a pleasant surprise which also wraps up Skaara/Klorel’s storyline. The character slid into the background too long ago for me to have developed much interest, but I am aware fans were upset at his apparent death during Apophis’ attempted attack on Earth, so I will consider “Pretense” fan wish fulfillment.

A ship carrying Skaara/Clorel crashes on Tollana, the new home world of the Tollan. Skaara/Klorell is placed on trial to determine who has control over his body. Skaara requests the Tollan contact SG-1 to serve as his defense. The Goa’uld send a lawyer named Lord Zipacna to argue on behalf on Klorel. A third party, lya of the Nox, serves as a potential tie breaking vote should the two sides of the case be unable to reach the same conclusion. At stake is whether Skaara should be freed from Klorel’s control.

Lord Zipacna argues that humans are inferior species the Goa’uld use to survive in the same way humans use animals for food and clothing. Daniel and Jack counter with arguments regarding human self-awareness being than that of animals and the parasitic nature of the Goa’uld. When it comes down to it, Daniel and Hack have the strongest argument and Lord Zipacna knows it. His argument amounts to appealing to the Tollan arrogance they cannot share any of their technology and culture with non-Tollan because they are just so much darn better than anyone else. It is an appeal to base attitude rather than logic or any legal precedent. A very weak tactic,, if you ask me.

Presumably because the humans are animals argument is so weak, the Goa’uld plan a sneak attack on the Tollan to wipe them out and take Skaara/Klorel back regardless of the trial’s outcome. Teal’c and Sam manage to prevent the attack with the help of Lya. Lya also casts the deciding vote in favor of Skaara. She finds the Goa’uld is a parasite who took his body without consent. Skaara is freed from Klorel and the Tollan is saved.

The trial does wind up unrealistic from a real legal proceeding, but I will chalk that up to alien culture. It still bugs me the lawyers are called archons, however. Archon is the ancient Greek word for “leader.” How does one get “lawyer” out of that? Is it too much to ask for a writer to know a bit about etymology when coming up with terms? The awkward terminology is not a huge deal, but it is still irksome.

“Pretense” is a veritable Gater checklist of geekery: Tollan, the nox, skaara/Klorel, the cat Shrodinger, and the Sam/Narim romance all make a return. I am a little disappointed Tobin Bell did not reprise his role from the last time the Tollan made an appearance. I guess he was off already devising sadistic games to teach Shawnee smith the value of life. “Pretense” has its flaws, but they are not prominent enough to seriously count against the enjoyment factor.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Foothold"

“Foothold” serves as an action oriented bottle show breather after the previous couple big episodes. We have an alien invasion exclusive to the SGC, evil twins, and no guest stars that are not extras in costume with zero dialogue. “Foothold” is what it is--an action yarn meant to mindlessly entertain. It does, thankfully.

The SG-1 team arrives back at the SGC after a mission only to fine themselves hurried to the infirmary because of a chemical spill on an upper level. All four wind up sedated, but Teal’c and Sam recover quickly. Teal’c’s symbiote helps the effects of the drug wear off quickly. It is left up to the imagination why Sam is up and running so quickly. The audience has to assume her connection with Jolinar does the trick, but that does not make a whole lot of sense. Regardless, there needs to be two heroes active, so just run with it. This is where the whole “mindless” part comes in.

Teal’c awakens first, but feigns unconsciousness when he witnesses Hammond and Frasier talking to a alien about an impending invasion of Earth. Teal’c believes the entire facility has been compromised, so he helps Sam escape to get help from the outside. She makes it to Washington, DC in far too short a time in order to recruit Maybourne. Aw, Geez. Not him!

Sam is intercepted by Jack and Daniel. They inform her she has been effected by the chemical spill and is suffering a paranoid delusion. She buys into the explanation enough to travel back to Colorado with them, but the sound frequency of the plane’s engines--just go with it--disrupt “Jack”’s disguise. He is an alien whom Sam shoots and kills. Sam uses the device which projects the image of someone else to pose as Daniel, breaks into the SGC order to expose the other aliens by duplicating the engine frequency, rescues Jack from hanging from some kind of goo from the ceiling, and a big shoot out ensues with the trapped aliens committing mass suicide.

In the end, it is revealed the aliens posed as SG-6 to gain access to SGC. The planet they are from is now offlimits. Our heroes know the proper frequency to expose them, so there is no big deal there. They have gained a new respect for Maybourne, too. I hope that will make him a less unpleasant character in the feature.

“Foothold" suffers some major plotholes. How did sam get from Colorado to Washington and back in only a few hours? It could not have been too long or families would be suspicious no one from the SGC ever came home. How did the faux jack and daniel make it to Washington themselves/ They had to fly, so why did the engine noise not disrupt their disguises before the return trip? Again I ask, how did sam resist the sedative when Jack and Daniel could not? Lots of issues there, but if you just accept them and watch the episode, it is not all that bad. They cannot all be masterpieces, no?

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"The Devil You Know"

“The Devil You Know” is a worthy conclusion to part one. It is always nice for the set up to lead up to a good pay off. The episode does feel smaller than part one, at least until the end, but that can be chalked up to the focus on character moment. Not just the main characters, either, but Apophis as he continues to reclaim his status as a major villain after a few stumbles in recent episodes.

Now that Apophis has killed Bynarr and secured the loyalty of Netu’s denizens, he only has a short amount of time before Sokar arrives to restore order. Apophis plans to torture our heroes for useful information he can offer to Sokar, ostensibly to prove his usefulness, but in reality to lure Sokar near to assassinate him. The bulk of the episode is Apophis interrogating our heroes for their specialized knowledge by forcing them to drink the Blood of Sokar, an hallucinogenic narcotic. I made a connection in the review yesterday between Netu and Mola Rom’s realm in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. the Blood of Sokar is reminiscent enough of the blood that turned Indy into a mindless slave to warrant note.

Under the blood of Sokar’s influence, Apophis wants to know the Tok’ra’s location from Sam and Martouf, the location of the Asgard home world from Jack, and the location of the hacissus from Daniel. All mange to resist upon realizing what they are experiencing are hallucinations in spite of the extreme guilt trips they inspire. Jack is hurt by his son’s feelings his father ignores him, Sam’s father begs for her forgiveness over the accident that killed her mother, Martouf , and Martouf imagines Jolinar dying yet again because of his refusal to betray the Tok’ra. Daniel is the most interesting. He does not suffer any guilt trip. He just refuses to tell Jasck where the hacissus child is. It is intriguing Jack is part of his hallucination. Their relationship is one of loyalty rather than familial or romantic love like the others, yet that devotion to jack would theoretically be enough for Daniel to betray the child? Nah. The powers that be probably just could not bring Vaitiare Bandera back to play Sha’re. Daniel’s hallucination is interesting to think anout, though, in comparison to the others.

Martouf manages to resist the Blood of Sokar enough to lie convincingly about the location of the Tok’ra. The intelligence will have to do as an offering to Sokar. Unfortunately for Apophis, the planet Martouf named was recently conquered by Sokar with nary a Tok’ra found. Apophis winds up tortured himself for his failure. There is a running theme here.

In the interim, Teal’c returns to the Tok’ra with the intelligence about sokar’s impending attack on the System Lords. The Tok’ra decide to deploy a weapon that will drill into the core of Netu, blowing the planet up with Sokar’s ship in orbit. Teal’c is not happy about sacrificing his friends for the cause, but it is all right. They narrowly escape when Sam Macgyver’s an escape and Teal’c is able to intercept the transporter rings between Netu and Sokar’s ship in order to save them. Apophis kills Sokar before Netu gets blowed up good, blowed up real good. Apophis, however, survives somehow. Sokar does not. Drat.

Sokar held a lot more promise as a villain than Apophis, if you ask me. I am disappointed for this two part story to be his only in the flesh appearance. At least this is my assumption. Sokar actor David Palffy later plays Anubis. As blatantly as Stargate SG-1 recycles actors, I do not think the show would use the same actor for similar characters if they were both recurring. So thumbs down there. Sokar was effectively scary. He should have had a chance at revenge.

“The Devil You Know’ is quite good save for the disappointment of ending sokar’s too brief career as a villain. The episode features a good mix of personal moments and action. I am glad to see Teal’c play the hero after being relegated to chauffeur for the majority of the two part story. The production design is still impressive, though much smaller in scale this time around. Still, I cannot complain about much.

Rating: *** (out of )

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Jolinar's Memories"

“Jolinar’s Memories” brings the third season back to its superior ways after a couple missteps within the last few episodes. It is full of action, suspense, and surprises, but what reaches out and grabs you is the production design. The powers that be went all out creating a vision of hell which is…well, I do not want to refer to hell as magnificent, but it is incredibly impressive for a cable television series. I fear a later season episode or two will feature shadow puppets on a wall to offset the money spent.

Martouf comes to SGC with the unfortunate news Selmak/Jacob has been captured by Sokar and imprisoned on Netu, a moon therefore by Sokar into a molten hell in order to fit in with his impersonation of the devil. Selmak/Jacob was on a mission to determine when and where Sokar is planning an attack on the System Lords and how much power he will use. Martouf recruits SG-1 to rescue Selmak/Jacob, but since no one other than Jolinar has ever escaped from Netu, gathering intelligence from Selmak/Jacob may be the only thing they can do.

Martouf uses one of those memory devices on Sam in the hopes of discovering how Jolinar escaped. Her memories are fuzzy, save for a vivid torture session in case you had not gotten the hell motif clear in your mind yet, but her escape had something to do with Sokar’s right hand man, Bynarr. Finding him is the key to escaping with Selmak/Jacob. The memory device projects a flash of sam as a young girl apparently receiving news from her father her mother has died with strong hints Jacob bears some responsibility for her death. It is just a flash of memory, so I am merely speculating.

There is no stargate on Netu in keeping with the no escape theme, so our heroes have to fly there. Teal’c remains in orbit ready to make a break for it while the others look for Bynarr on the surface. Naturally, they get captured after bynarr becomes suspicious of stragers asking for him, but perks up to know he may have Jolinar in his grasp again. Bynarr did not help Jolinar escape. He was seduced by her and she fled through transportation rings in his quartters. He was not only betrayed by her, but sokar put an eye out as punishment. Bynarr ain’t happy to see sam, in other words.

While Sam and Bynarr are enjoying their reunion, the rest of our heroes have been thrown in a cage with Selmak/Jacob. They learn Sokar is planning a massive attack on the System Lords. Unfortunately, Teal’c cannot get a message to the Tok’ra because he has now been discovered. (How did SG-1’s weapons get taken away, but not their communicator?) When it rains, it pours, no? One apparent bright spot--sam is saved from death when Na’onak, Bynarr’s right hand man, murders him and returns sam to the cage. Our heroes manage to escape and retreat to Bynarr’s quarters to use the transportation rings to get to talc’s ship, but are captured by Na’onak, who pulls off his mask to reveal the horribly scarred face of Apophis.

“Jolinar’s Memories” is a quite engrossing. It is a men on a mission story with a personal stakeas far as story elements go, it is character moments that steal the show. Sokar’s introduction as the devilish villain is mysterious and frightening. His first in the flesh appearance ran the risk of being campy, but hit the right tone. Jolinar is revealed to be far more edhy than previously thought. She seduced her torturer in order to escape. I suppose one would be willing to do such things to flee hell. The Na’onak/apophis reveal was particularly cool. Na’onak was not only wearing a mask until the big reveal, but played by another actor with Peter Williams not playing the character until the very end when the mask comes off. I must confess apophis is not a villain who resonates much with me thus far. He comes across as a petty, fly by night dictator as opposed to other Goa’uld who are supposedly far more powerful. His reveal now as the tortured anorak ready to resume power is a promising twist on a less than interesting character.

All that said and certainly not dismissed, “Jolinar’s Memories” is worth seeing solely for the craftsmanship in designing Netu as a literal hell. It reminds me a lot of Mola Ram’s lair underneath the Temple of Doom with a fraction of the budget, but still highly atmospheric. I would like to come up with a more intellectual allusion, but Indiana Jones is the one with which we are stuck. I will try to be more high class with references in the future.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Past and Present"

The actress in the above scene is Megan Leitch, who played the adult Samantha Mulder on The X-Files. I am filled with geeky goodness to see her again. More of you should be X-Philes, darn it!

“Past and Present” features an intriguing premise which brings back a recurring villain in a highly creative way, but the episode’s many flaws nearly kill it. We are talking about an unethical solution to the plot complication, an unintentionally dark ending, and in a technical aspect, the episode airing to closely to the previous one for Daniel’s emotional response to not feel cheap and out of place so soon after his wife’s death.

The SG-1 team travels to Vyan. There they discover the population suffered a mass amnesia over a year ago. They remember nothing prior to the incident, noe can they figure out why there are no children or old people around. They have photos of older people, but none of children, just to deepen the mystery. When SG-1 does some digging in the local library with the help of a scientist named Ke’ra, they figure out the incident was the result of experiments by Linea, an old enemy whom they inadvertently helped escape prison and gave a list of stargate addresses.

Feeling responsible for the population’s memory loss, SG-1 recruits Frasier to help find a cure. What ensues is a convoluted plot involving a pesticide called dargol used years ago which rendered the population sterile, but after Linea fiddled with it, became a fountain of youth. A side effect of the fountain of youth being amnesia. The whole population cannot have kids. So that explains why there are no photos of children. The photos of older people which they do have are not missing people, but themselves as they were before the fountain of youth drug. Oh, yeah--Ke’ra is actually linea and daniel has fallen in love with her.

The revelations surrounding the effects of Dargol before and after Linea experimented with it are not the main thrust of the plot. The plot centers around Ke’ra inadvertently using Linea’s genius in chemistry to solve the amnesia and Daniel serving as her advocate when everyone else believes she needs to pay for Linea’s crimes even if she is a different person now.

Or is she? The climactic scene has Ke’ra taking the antidote to the amnesia to find out if the suspicions she is Linea are true. I am no expert on memory or abnormal psychology, but is it plausible Ke’ra could retain Linea’s genius as a chemist but not her antisocial tendencies? I have doubts, and some of Ke’ra’s behavior bares that out. She is very manipulative of Daniel’s emotions. She zeroes in on him after she learns his wife has recently died making him particularly vulnerable. She is also completely ambivalent to the seizure her first failed antidote causes for a patient. That is not how a sympathetic healer would act. Yet when her memories of Linea do return, Ke’ra wants to commit suicide over the guilt of acts she once committed as though nothing of linea’s personality had been present before ingesting the antidote. So which is it? Was the essence of Linea there all along or not?

That is an important question to explore because Daniel’s solution for her suicidal tendencies is to take Dargol again to induce amnesia and keep on being ke’ra. In other words, let Linea start a new life on another planet as an entirely new person. never mind that traces of Linea were evident in Ke’ra’s personality. never mind that ke’ra is a curious scientist who would probably keep on working with Dargol and eventually figure out the truth. never mind the entire population is going to know she is still suffering from the amnesia. Someone will suggest using the antidote. Or are they all going to conspire to keep Josephine Mengele’s identity a secret from her out of gratitude for curing their amnesia? Not likely. There are a number of logical problems with letting Ke’ra go free. So many, in fact, that you almost forget the population is sterile due to pesticide use and is going to go extinct once the current generation dies off. Not that anyone mentions that after the beginning of the third act. Oops.

Am I really down on “Past and Present?” Significant aspects, most certainly. There are plot holes one could drive a truck through. On an entire planet, no one can piece together any clues about the past? If everyone de-aged forty years, could no one find a forty year old photograph and recognize himself? No one wrote down anything ever? No one seems upset in the slightest to learn they are all sterile. I could go on, but I will end the criticism with the statement Daniel should not fall in love with another woman so soon after Sha’re has died. It is not clear enough Ke’ra is manipulating him into a romance even if she is. Very bad story idea. The only praise I can offer for ‘past and Present” is the creative way it brought back a past villain. Too bad the execution of linea’s return was so poorly thought out beyond the basic premise.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Forever in a Day"

"Forever in a Day" wraps up the storyline of Daniel’s missing wife, Sha’re, that has been rolling along since the pilot. It is a sad and existential episode. There are a lot of good character moments packed in which more than make up for some of the moments which are trying way too hard to be surreal and meaningful. Overall, it is a worthy end to one chapter and the beginning of another.

The episode begins with a big action sequence in which several SG teams are mounting a rescue operation for Abysonians being held by Amaunet/Sha’re. Daniel finds her standing near a tent. While attempting to recover her in the hopes there is some safe way to remove her symbiote, she gets the upper hand and nearly kills Daniel with her kara kesh hand weapon before teal’c intervenes, killing her instead.

The above summary is about the only aspect of “Forever in a Day” one can determine actually happened. Somehow, Sha’re sent a message passed Amaunet into Daniel through the kara kesh regarding the location of her child. He is the human offspring of two Goa’uld, known as a harcesis, and will be hunted down and killed by them for the knowledge of the Goa’uld he possesses. Daniel does not find this out until the very end in which he learns the child is stowed away on what was considered the mythical planet Kheb.

In the interim, Daniel suffers through a series of dreams which alternate from Sha’re having been killed by Teal’c to save his life and others in which she is still alive and guiding him to both discover the message about her child and forgive teal’c for his actions in saving him. Daniel resigns from SGC at one point, thinking it is pointless to carry on since his goal was to find his wife, but eventually comes around after several of those weird dreams. He eventually winds up back on the planet where Sha’re dies at the exact moment she does, but now with the knowledge he has to locate Kheb.

In many episodes of science fiction in which much of the story is revealed in the end to never have really happened, it is easy to feel gypped. I do not necessarily feel that way about “Forever in Day.” Perhaps it is because the grieving process for a loved one is still relatively fresh in my mind. I had dreams for weeks after my mother died in which she was still alive. It would take me a few seconds upon waking up to realize she was not. Such dreams are not uncommon during grieving, so I can appreciate the accuracy. I am empathetic, in fact. Nevertheless, some other aspects are weak. I appreciate Teal’c’s pain over daniel refusal to forgive him for killing Sha’re, but the entire sequence in which Daniel comes to forgiveness occurs only in his mind. Daniel verbally assures Teal’c he did the right thing even before Teal’c asks for forgiveness in the “real world.” Is this so there will be no lingering animosity between the two from here on out/? It is sort of the easy way out, there.

I have some issues with “Forever in a Day,” but I am still going to award four stars. It dares to be different while effectively tugging our heartstrings. “forever in a day” could easily have been confusing in executing its premise, melodramatic with Sha’re’s death and the damage done to Daniel’s relationships because of it, and a disappointing cop out when most of the episode happened in Daniel’s mind . Yet it all works, and that is not easy to do.

Rating; **** (out of 5)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Rules of Engagement"

The third season has been strong thus far. As we approached the halfway point, I started to think there might not be a dud in the bunch. It is dangerous to think that way. “Rules of Engagement’ has an intriguing premise, but the devil is in the details. A couple of aspects do not make a whole lot of sense, and I get the impression the impressive battle sequences are meant to be a distraction from those shortcomings.

The SG-1 team just happens to be exploring a planet upon which Apophis has established a training camp for young men to pose as SG team members in order to infiltrate Earth. At first, SG-1 assumes a pitched battle between the faux SG teams and the Jaffa is real and intervene even though no SG teams ought to be out here in the first place. They are hit by stun guns during the battle and knocked out.

When they awaken at the training camp, they are mistaken for recruits who have stumbled onto the battlefield through incompetence. Sizing up the situation, Teal’c uses his connections with apophis to take command of the camp and find out exactly what is going on.

Apophis established his own Khmer Rouge here to serve as an army in an impending invasion of earth. The kids are actually in the 18-20 year old ranger rather than child soldiers/ I have a hunch younger kids were the original idea, but some of the violent aspects of the episode made the prospect a little too dicey. Apophis set up the camp after his failed attack on Earth, so the impression is he is recruiting young teens because he is desperate to hold unto power with whatever his fading fortunes can muster.

The complication is that SG-1’s real weapons were mixed in with the stun gun training versions. The kids are going to inadvertently use real arms in an afternoon war games exercise. Teal’c fails to convince them apophis is dead--they think his claim is a test of loyalty--and their leader, kyle Rogers, is shot with a real bullet during the war games. He is taken back to SGC for treatment and shown video of apophis’ death, which convinces him of the truth.

Unfortunately, the kids are planning to battle each other to the death with real weapons now in order to determine which of them will become apophis’ personal guards. Kyle and SG-1 travel back to the planet in the middle of a spectacular battle scene for a cable television series. They use stun guns to buy time while Sam sets up the video feed of apophis’ death in order to convince everyone an invasion is not coming. It works, and all the kids go home.

As I am about to smack “Rules of Engagement’ around for a continuity issue, I will offer up one bit of praise--the reason apophis knows all about SGC weapons, paraphernalia, and battle tactics is that he captured SG-11, the team that has been missing since early in the second season, and tortured them for it all. It is mentioned they did not talk before dying under torture, so they were heroic about it. Ah, but the big issue Why do the kids accept Teal’c as a loyal servant of Apophis? One would assume Teal’c is famous for betraying Apophis. At the very least, if the kids are learning all about the SGC, they ought to know Teal’c is a part of them. Perhaps I am nitpicking here, since that seems like too obvious a continuity error to make. Maybe apophis wants to keep the kids as in the dark as possible, so here does not care if they know about Teal’c.

Consider it a case of me protesting too much, but Teal’c’s status being unknown bugs me a lot. There is no much else in the episode beyond the climactic battle sequence which elevates “Rules of Engagement” beyond the bland. While I think Apophis creating his own youth army is an intriguing one, it comes across as pathetic under the circumstances. These kids are bumbling doofuses playing army, and they are all Apophis has left--to invade Earth, no less. What could have been a sinister plot is terribly deflated in its execution. If he were not already dead, Apophis’ status as a major villain would be laughable at this point.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Demons"

Now here is a rare bird--an episode of science fiction that presents Christianity in a positive light. In a genre dominated by skeptical writers fearful Christianity is nothing more than a barrier to knowledge and freedom that enslaves the ignorant masses, it is refreshing to see a different spin. I am generally not a fan of medieval stories, but “Demons” is one of the better efforts I have seen.

The SG-1 team arrives on a planet and discovers a village straight out of medieval Europe. The setting piques Daniel’s curiosity. The Goa’uld have posed as all sorts of gods throughout the years, but never God Himself. Teal’c remarks that he knows of no Goa’uld who possess the benevolence of God in order to instill the benevolence required of Christians in the Bible. Jack expresses surprise Teal’c has read the Bible, to which Teal’c asks why he would not read the Bible, as it is the cornerstone of Western Civilization. In that brief exchange, Stargate SG-1 has gone against the Hollywood line and acknowledged not only that Christianity is not evil, but is the basis for Western Civilization. During the early summer, the Ori will show up and take some serious shots at Christianity, but it is good to know we are in good company for eight seasons or so.

In the center of the village, the SG-1 team finds a young woman chained to a post. She is supposedly demon possessed, but only has the chicken pox. She is set to be sacrificed to a demon, but SG-1 rescues her and hides in her husband, Simon. The demon in question turns out to be a Unas. Our heroes offer to kill it, but wind up accused of being demons themselves. Teal’c is particularly in trouble due to the mark of apophis on his forehead. Teal’c is forced to undergo witches ordeals to prove he is not possessed. He apparently drowns on the final one, which ironically clears his nme.

The whole unas as a demon earning regular sacrifices for dubious reasons is all a scam. The Canon, who is the local religious leader, is in cahoots with the Unas in order to maintain his own power. The canon arranges sacrifices to become Goa’uld hosts for sokar in exchange for maintaining power over the village. The arrangement is disrupted when teal’c returns from the dead thanks to his symbiote,. The SG-1 team is chained up for sacrifice again, but escape, defeat the Unas, and finally the Canon when the Unas’ symbiote jumps into him. The villagers bury the stargate and that is that.

Just to note, the Canon is a flat out Elmer Gantry type. He does not believe in Christianity. He is just using the people’s devotion in order to exploit them. There is no impression that Christians are as a whole stupid and easy to exploit by wolves in sheep’s clothing. The villagers are superstitious, but they are a product of their time rather than a knock on modern day Christianity. Which may explain why “Demons” is not particularly popular among Gaters. I will be the first to admit it is not a great episode, but there are no fundamental flaws with it, either. It is an enjoyable adventure presented within the confines of a familiar religion.

One highlight is Talc’s “death.” He is a corpse for two acts, and although you know something is going to change that, it is a tensely emotional wait regardless. The contrast of teal’c being proven to not be a demon and Christopher Judge voicing the Unas amuses me, as well.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Deadman Switch"

“Deadman Switch” is a lighthearted, action oriented romp that I enjoyed far more than I thought I would upon learning the villain is played by Sam J. Jones. Seriously, why would one cast Flash Gordon as a villain if he is not meant to be a campy goofball? The character, Aris Boch, turns out to be a formidable villain. He is somewhere in the pantheon with Boba Fett and Jubal Early.

The SG-1 team is captured by bounty hunter Aris Boch while exploring a planet which resembles the forests outside Vancouver. (I have not done that joke in a while.) Boch is currently working for Sokar in order to capture a Goa’uld traitor named Kel’tar. The SG-1 team have a high price on their heads for various reasons, but Boch offers to let them go if they will help capture Kel’tar. They seem to agree at first, but turn the tables in a clever cat and mouse game Boch ultimately wins. Our heroes agree for real this time.

That is until they realize Kel’tar claims to be a Tok’ra spy. There is no way to know he is telling the truth other than Boch forbid sam from joining the mission to capture him out of fear her connection to Jolinar would sense the truth. Working under the assumption Korra here really is Tok’ra, they attempt to rescue Sam and all get away, but Boch still gains the upper hand.

Boch’s situation fortunately works to their advantage. He is from a race of people who are immune to becoming hosts, so they were largely wiped out by the Goa‘uld. The youngest were kept alive as slaves. To ensure loyalty, they were hooked on a narcotic they now need to stay alive. 9Yeah, I know--Jem Ha‘Dar.) Boch hates the Goa’uld as much as SG-1, but needs their drug supply. It is strongly hinted he does not even want to be a bounty hunter. It is just the most useful service he can provide. When he learns that Tok’ra oppose the Goa’uld, he agrees to let Korra go, but he has to give sokar something. Teal’c offers up himself. At the last minute, Boch and Teal’c fake their deaths in his ship’s explosion in the hope Sokar will believe they are both dead. So Korra and Teal’c are safe. Boch turns out to have a heart of gold.

Okay, so Boch turns out to be a bit campy. But nowhere near as bad as his most famous role. I had thought playing Flash Gordon had killed Jones’ career, but while he has not been a another starring role, nor a steady television gig, he has carved out a thirty year career as a character actor in film and television. Not bad, but the poor guy looks like the lovechild of Dolph Lundgren and Pete rose. There is always something.

“Deadman Switch” is a frivolous, fun episode. Jack and Daniel are both at their cynical smart alec best. Boch makes for a memorable guest star who gets a lot of great lines as well as the chance to show up our heroes here and there. One off characters do not usually get the chance, but it only makes the episode more amusing. It is obvious with the suit of armor and the helmet resembling Lando’s disguise from Return of the JedI that Boch is a Boba Fett homage. The Jem Ha’Dar drug addiction is a bit more tenuous, but why not? Whichever the case, neither feel like a rip off. “Deadman Switch’ is a good change of pace from the more tense episodes preceding.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Point of View"

I am a sucker for alternate reality stories. (Yeah, I know I did nothing but complain about the mirror universe stuff in Star Trek. bear with me here.) “Point of View" has all the elements: radically different character divergence, some no longer alive, some on the opposite side of our reality, an apocalyptic setting, and, of course, the brief question of why any decision matters when all possible outcomes are played out somewhere. ’Point of View’ does not quite make it to the top of alternate reality stories I have seen, but it is decent.

Sam and Kowalski from an alternate universe in which the Jaffa have taken over Earth escape through a quantum mirror in to our universe to request asylum. It is granted to them with more ease than one would suspect, but since that is not a big part of the plot, no big deal. What is a big deal is alternate versions of a person cannot exist in the same reality. That is not a problem for Alternate since his counterpart died in the first season, but Alternate Sam quickly suffers..uh…cellular degradation? Something about the same matter occupying the same universe. Teachnobabble stuff. Regardless of the science, she cannot stay or she will die. However, if she goes back to her reality, the Jaffa will kill her.

Daniel suggests traveling to the alternate reality with the device Jack built while possessed with the knowledge of the Ancients to contact the Asgard for help liberating the alternate earth from the Jaffa. Even though sam could not get the device to work again, two heads must be better than one, because together with alternate sam, they figure it out. The SG-1 team, plus Kowalski, but minus our sam, travel to the alternate Earth. They are promptly captured after sending alternate sam through the stargate to the Asgard homeworld, but the Asgard ride in like the cavalry to save the day. With the alternate earth saved, the SG-1 team leaves for home.

Shippers take note: Alternate Sam, who never joined the Air Force, was free to pursue a romance with Jack. They wrre married until the invasion. Her Jack was killed by the Jaffa a few days prior to her and Kowalski’s escape to our Earth. The tension between Alternate Sam and jack is thick. Our Jack and hers are apparently identical. Our Jack, who has allowed regulations forbidding romantic relationships between personnel to stand with the real Sam, is not so strong at resisting his feelings for alternate Sam. The two smooch before he leaves. Unbeknownst to both parties, the real sam saw it happen.

There are two issues with “Point of View.” One, it does things on the cheap. In order to present the Alternate SGC has having been all but destroyed by the Jaffa, the lights are cut off so the set does not have to simulate a whole lot of damage. The warship over Cheyenne Mountain is a stock footage reuse. We never get to see the Asggard or their ship. They just beam away all the remaining Jaffa without a word. The other part is how clever the episode tries to be. Kowalski returns yet again even though he has been dead since the second episode. One wonders if that is going to become a running gag. The second is the Star Trek references. The quantum mirror itself is a nod to the mirror universe, as is Alternate Apophis and Alternate Teal’c sporting goatees like Mirror Spock. The quantum mirror itself looks like the Guardian of Forever. Maybe I am just desperate to get away from Star Trek, but that was a bit much.

Neither of those points is enough to do serious damage to “Point of View.” it is an entertaining episode. Some points are glossed over too quickly, such as asylum offered fast, the Sams figuring out the ancient’s device in an hour, and the meeting between alternate Sam and the Asgard, as well as their journey to Earth, taking about five minutes, are tough to swallow, but I get the impression “Pint of View’ is for the shippers and not the nitpickers. Whatever the case, I liked the episode well enough.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Learning Curve"

What a strangely disturbing episode. “Learning Curve” follows the course of a newly introduced people called the Orban as they go from a cold, fascist society to more childlike…literally. I am not even certain it is a happy ending. It is just…yeah. Very weird.

The Orban are a highly advanced species with incredibly brilliant children who possess the capacity to learn vast amounts of knowledge. One of the children, a young girl named Mirren, assists sam in building a reactor from scratch. A routine medical exam reveals the secret of the children’s learning abilities--they are specially selected from among other children to be injected with nanites that grant them the ability to absorb knowledge. But all they do learn. They have no inkling of the concepts of fun or love. What is worse, when they have learned everything about their designated subjects, the nanites containing all the knowledge are removed, effectively turning the children into an infant like state while their knowledge is implanted in the rest of the population.

The knowledge the nanites contain can save decades worth of research for normal people, so the orban consider sacrificing their children to be an honor. Plus, the children are well cared for. Lobotomized, but well cared for. The SG-1 team does not see things that way, particularly Jack. He wants to keep mirren on earth so her nanites cannot be removed. When the Orban demand her return, he goes AWOL with her to a nearby school where she spends time on the playground and learns to paint. He offers to help her gain asylum, but she says it is her duty to share knowledge with her people. Jack reluctantly goes along with her wishes. He sends her off through the stargate to Orban with a box of crayons as a gift.

Several days later, SG-1 is requested on orban. The only Orban adult we have met, Kalan, is giddy as he takes them to see the children who nanites have been removed. Instead of being in a near vegetative state, they are running, playing, and coloring with crayons. Mirren’s knowledge imparted to the Orban population included the value of fun. They now see the value also in teaching the children after their nanites have been removed so they can still be a part of society. Kalan gives jack a stick figure drawing of himself in crayon as a thank you, which would be the most awkward moment if not for jack sitting down to color with mirren, who seems like a toddler who no longer recognizes him.

So are the Orbans now a society that eschews advanced nanotechnology in favor of playing hopscotch and drawing stick figures? The viewer has to embrace the possibility in consideration of Kalan’s sudden childlike exuberance. Is this a change for the better, or will their society fall apart? Certainly, the ending is supposed to be positive, but I think the writers went overboard. Not that mirren seems to be in particularly good shape in the very last scene.

I am not calling “Learning Curve’ a bad episode. It has some thought provoking elements. It certainly is not like many parents do not sacrifice their children’s happiness for what they perceive as better opportunities for them. There are rational arguments in favor, and “Learning Curve” presents the sacrifice for the greater good argument plausibly. What price would you pay if your child could develop a cure for cancer by completely immersing himself in the subject for a year or three? Just because a price is hefty does not mean it is not worth paying.

What really sells the episode is Jack’s relationship with Mirren. His soft spot for children due to the loss of his son, Charlie, is in full bloom. In general Stargate SG-1 does episodes centered on children far better than anything Star Trek has managed. Speaking of Star Trek, the lack of a prime Directive in this story is highly appreciated. It is amazing how bogged down a story like this could get in that franchise. All that said, the ending is too over the top and ambiguous. I am just going to assume everything works out for the best even if the final few minutes send mixed signals.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Legacy"

I was not clamoring to see Ma’chello return, nor did I particularly want to see another cure a fatal ailment in the span of an episode no one else has been able to cure ever stories, but ‘Legacy’ manages to be interesting nonetheless. Credit two reasons. One, it is creepy as all get out, and two, Michael Shanks does a good job of playing daniel as he slowly goes mad.

The SG-1 team is exploring some darkened tunnels when they come across a locked room with the corpses of nine Goa’uld. Daniel picks up a device with writing on it which he believes details plans for an attack of some sort. He claims to feel something brush passed him as he does. The SG-1 team leaves for SGC in order to investigate their findings. Shortly thereafter, Daniel begins hearing voices and hallucinating the dead Goa’uld walking about. The SGC’s resident psychologist diagnoses daniel with schizophrenia which may have been brought on by excessive stargate travel. Everyone wants to give Daniel the benefit of the doubt and claim he is overstressed, but after he attacks Jack believing he is being possessed by a symbiote, daniel is locked up in a sanitarium.

When his friends visit him, Daniel swears something jumped from his body into Teal’c’s. believing he has gone completely over the edge, they leave so he can be sedated. But Daniel is correct. Whatever brushed passed him on the alien planet entered his body and jumped into Teal’c the first chance got. He believes he heard ma’chello’s voice as it did, so he surmises it is a biological weapon meant to kill symbiotes. Daniel guesses right, because Teal’c’s symbiote is slowly dying and no one knows what to do.

In the meantime, Daniel has returned to normal, though it takes some convincing to get himself out of the padded room. He eventually convinces SG-1 his theory is correct. Ma’chello created the device Daniel originally picked up as a landmine of sorts for the biological agent. He did not have a symbiote to kill, so it affected his mind instead and sought out Teal’c when he got into close proximity. While examining the device, Frasier, Jack, and Sam are infected with the biological agent. Frasier and Jack show signs of schizophrenia almost immediately, but Sam if fine. In fact, the little buggers fall out her right ear dead. She figures out her connection with Jolinar is the key, and miraculously whips up a cure for all infected parties within a few minutes. Happy ending, that.

If the execution of the plot sounds like paint by numbers, that is because it is. There is a magic reset button coming no matter how deep a hole our heroes find themselves in. you can almost write the resolution yourself. But there are the two saving graces. The make up job on the corpses are fantastic. The work becomes even more effective when Daniel hallucinates the dead reanimated. The other good part is Shanks. He is not a great actor by any means. He got the part of daniel because he looked a lot like James Spader. But he is a good character actor who will do anything a script calls for--pretend to be a plane, complete with engine noises, for some albino natives, throw a foot stomping tantrum, fake a silly German accent, play other characters’ personality, play a senile old man, etc. He he plays a guy slowly losing his mind. You have to be amused by what shanks will do to play his character as written.

“Legacy” is not great. It is highly predictable, particularly with Jolinar being the salvation yet again. Daniel getting out of the loony bin so easily with a clean bill of health is also way too convenient. But “Legacy’ is worth seeing for the two reasons I keeping carrying on about. Just do not expect much passed them.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Fair Game"

“Fair Game” features the return of my favorite aliens, the Asgard, while foreshadowing future troubles for our heroes. The Replicators are namedropped for the first time. Although they will not appear until the end of the season, the replicators will become formidable villains. Otherwise, ‘Fair game” is full of geeky revelations and palace intrigue.

Thor transports Jack away from a special ceremony hosted by the Secretary of Defense which ends with Sam being promoted to major in order to inform him the System Lords are planning to attack Earth in revenge for Hathor’s death. The system lords fear the Asgard, so Thor has arranged for a meeting with three powerful Goa’uld--Cronos, Nirrti, and Yu--to negotiate earth’s entry into the protected Planets Treaty. Thor has chosen Jack to represent Earth at the negotiations, which is an early sign of the high regard the in which the Asgard hold him.

Cronos, Nirrti, and Yu arrive at SGC, but are insulted within the first few minutes of negotiations because Jack spoke out of turn. Two other points make matters worse. One, Teal’c’s father once served under Cronos. When he failed in a hopeless battle against a more powerful System lord, Cronos murdered him. Ergo, Teal’c has an ax to grind. Two, Thor makes the pants wetting revelation the Asgard are being forced to devote so many resources fighting an enemy called the Replicators, they cannot repel an invasion of earth and are bluffing. Under the circumstances, it is a good idea for Earth to accept whatever treaty they can get. Unfortunately, the final deal involves giving up the stargate.

To make matters even worse, Cronos and Teal’c are found unconscious and wound in the System lord’s quarters. It appears Teal’c has mortally wounded cronos in revenge. After you and Nirrti are informed, the latter attempts to use a Goa’uld healing device which does not work because Cronos’ wounds are too severe. Cronos’ death will ensure an immediate attack on earth. Meanwhile, teal’c awakens and reveals he and Cronos were attacked by an invisible force. Not a Reetou, mind you. Remembering Hathor could turn invisible, sam begins to suspect Nirrti is behind all this. Using Jolinar’s memories, she successfully uses the Goa’uld healing device on Cronos. Nirrti is captured. In gratitude for her capture and saving Cronos, Earth is allowed to join the protected Planets Treaty and keep the stargate, but any SG teams caught trespassing on Goa’uld worlds will be killed.

“Fair Game” is an amusing episode if for no reason other than how many geeky references to past episodes are dropped with the expectations everyone watching just knows all this stuff by heart. It makes my heart sing with memories of my misspent youth immersed in thirty years worth of comic book continuity. I especially remember how Roy Thomas, a former history teacher, used to weave it all into Marvel continuity seamlessly. Those were the days, folks.

Back to the matter at hand, "Fair Game" is quite good all around. It manages to plausibly offer up a reason the Goa’uld are not constantly massing a fleet to go up against Earth. It presents the Asgard as their usual enigmatic selves while explaining why they cannot just swoop in and easily defeat the Goa’uld if there is any problem, it is how Teal’c’s vendetta against Cronos because of his father’s murder is just thrown out there. Sure, Teal’c is a private man of few words, but he and his family were exiled to Chulak and he joined Apophis’ army for the sole purpose of eventually defeating Cronos. Something that important kind of came out of left field there. Ah, not a big deal. Definitely not a deal breaker for “Fair Game.”

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Seth"

It is interesting that it has taken over forty episodes before a very obvious plotline is used--what if a Goa’uld hid out on Earth all these centuries while running his own cult? The episode has some predictable, but necessary elements considering what was in the public conscious in 1999. The cult leader’s modus operandi has elements of jim Jones, David Koresh, and Marshall apple white. The federal government’s reaction--an overzealous ATF chief ready to storm the cult compound with guns blazing--is sadly reminiscent of the raid on the Branch Davidians. Fortunately, said allussions are such an obvious necessity in a story like this, they do not feel exploitive. In fact, ’Seth” is an interesting change of pace for the series.

Jacob comes to SGC to ask for their help in locating the Goa’uld, Seth. Seth attempted to overthrow Ra back in ancient Egypt, so he made himself into an enemy of both the System lords and the Tok’ra. Jacon believes seth has been hiding out on Earth all these centuries. Daniel surmises that if that is true, his need to be a false god would compel him to maintain a constant following. Researching cults based on Seth, Daniel discovers one in ancient Greece, Victorian England, and modern day Seattle. The Greek and English cults ended in mass suicides. As bad luck would have it, the current cult is under ATF siege for firearms violations.

The ATF is chomping at the bit to raid the compound, but after the Hollywood version of the military chain of command is put into action, the president puts Jack in charge of the operation. Deputized into the ATF, seems to be the case. In a far more cautious plan than shooting everything in sight and likely getting killed themselves, the SG-1 team arranges to get captured, be converted by a similar biological agent as Hathor used to control her followers, and eventually administer an electric shock to themselves later in order to snap them out of Seth’s control. So in one plan sG-1 has corrected the Waco debacle and reasonably justified the electroshock therapy done on Teal’c’s son some episodes back. Nice.

Once the electroshocks do their job, SG-1csnaps out of their devotion to Seth and begin applying shocks to the other cultists. As they are freed, they get transported away through those Goa’uld rings. Jacon enters the compound, but is wounded by the fleeing Seth. Jacob gives his Goa’uld hand weapon to Sam, telling her she can control it by channeling her connection to Jolinar. Indeed, she can. Sam embeds Seth into a wall by using too much power, killing him. It is a bit difficult to overlook that sam’s connection to Jolinar is so key to seth’s defeat when no one thought seth would sense the Tok’ra in her even after her exposure to the mind control gas. It should have come to mind before SG1 went in that might cause a problem. Then again, Sam did not detect the humans pretending to be in charge of the SGC in 2077 were Goa’uld, so maybe the plot point of a sixth sense between Goa’uld comes and goes conveniently as needed for the story.

There is a running subplot about fathers and sons. One of the reasons Jacob comes to the SGC personally is to mend fences with his son. The SG-1 team meets a father keeping vigil outside seth’s compound over his son, Tommy, who he feels like was pushed into the cult by the poor relationship they had. Interestingly enough, the father is played by greg Michaels, the same actor who once played Daniel’s father. The recycling of actors is far more blatant on Stargate: SG-1 than on the various Trek series because they are not usually jidden under heavy alien make up on the former as with the latter. It feels awkward to recognize an actor playing a second role when his first was so prominent and/or emotional. Both men reconcile with their sons in the end.

A curious point about Jacob and his son comes to mind. Well, aside from the actor playing him not being given any lines so he could be paid as an extra rather than a guest star. At least he got to hug Amanda Tapping. That is something, I guess. I got the impression Jacob and Sam had a strained relationship because he wanted a son and nothing Sam ever did could make up for that. She probably joined the military to please him. If you want to get really speculative, the short hair, preference to be called Sam, and no lasting male romantic relationship in her life may be an effort to be more masculine. Whatever the case, it does not seem as plausible if Jacob had a son. Unless the kid was a disappointment. Maybe he is into musical theater or something. The issue between them is never addressed. We just no things went bad somewhere down the line. Oh, and he has a little girl, so he may not be all that into show tunes. The whole situation throws my father/daughter tension theory for a loop. More light shed on the subject later, maybe?

Did I mention Seth looks like Yanni? I think there is supposed to be a vague impression of Jesus. Not enough to be blatantly controversial, but enough of a resemblance to register in your mind. He still looked more like Yanni. Or how Ronald D. Moore looks today. David Koresh sported longer, rock star hair for a time, did he not?

Aside from a couple weak spots, “Seth” is a highly entertaining episode. As mentioned above, the plot is such an obvious one, it is difficult to imagine it took until the third season to get around to it. The allusions to real cults recognizable, but fictionalized enough to not feel exploitive. Even the Heaven’s Gate castration jokes were funny rather than gringe worthy. “Seth” is a solid episode.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Into the Fire"

“Into the Fire” is the third season premiere. Wow, season three. We are rolling right along here. It is also the concluding chapter of a two part story and far superior to its budget saving clip show introduction. If nothing else, the story did not go exactly as I predicted it would. Surprises are always nice with something like this.

The cliffhanger of which SG-1 member will become host to the new CGI enhanced symbiote is resolved when Jack “volunteers” by attacking Hathor. Lucky for him, Dr. Raully is an undercover Tok’ra--wait...what?-- who not only has a stasis chamber that will kill the symbiote before it can take control of Jack, but gets a message to Col. Makepeace about SG-1’s location. Because the Tok’ra were not given any way of contacting SGC. Oh, wait--they were. Whoops. Well, it is fortunate they randomly came upon Makepeace, no?

Hammond orders SG-3, 5, 6, and 11 on a rescue mission which is only 2/3 successful. Jack is still stuck in the stasis chamber while the SG teams get pinned down in tunnels beneath the Goa’uld stronghold that were secretly dug by the Tok’ea. Hammond wants to send in reinforcements, but the president refuses to allocate more resources because of the potential loss of life. Hammond heads to chulak himself to find Teal’c for help.

That is the one twist I did not see coming. Certainly, I figured teal’c would rescue his friends, but I figured he would play a far more pivotal role than riding in as the cavalry at the last minute. Teal’c goes home to Chulak to rally the Jaffa against the Goa’uld, but they are still loyal to Apophis whether he is dead or alive. They still believe he is a god. So it winds up being Teal’c, Hammond, and bra’tac come come to SG-1’s rescue when no other reinforcements are forthcoming.

Jack/Sam shippers take note--sam convinces makepeace to let her go back into the Goa’uld stronghold to knock out the shield generator, which she does, but only after rescuing Jack. Clearly recovering Jack was her priority. Anyway, Hathor is mercifully killed and the SG teams are all rescued by the Chulak Cavalry. Happy endings all around. One assumes Hammond going AWOl to Chulak against orders is hereafter ignored.

“Into the Fire” is a fun shoot ’em up involving many SG teams we only hear about in passing normally. Lots of explosions and all that good stuff to distract from some obvious issues. Raully is a Tok’ra? She was quite villainous in the previous episode. why did it take her three weeks to get the message out about SG-1's location? Why did the tok’ra not contact SGC to inform them of SG-1’s location? It seems extraordinary they just found Makepeace’s team somewhere out there. How did the Tok’ra dig a complex system of tunnels under a Goa’uld stronghold without being discovered? It is best not to dwell on these questions, because the start to season three is far better if they are ignored. It is a far smaller story than the second season premiere, but still entertaining.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Out of Mind"

I was not expecting a clip show for the second season finale, but at least some effort was made to maintain interest in the new parts. ‘out of Mind’ is an obvious budget saver. All the action sequennces are “memories” from previous episodes, some dating back as far as the early first season. Was anyone clamoring to se hathor again? I have my doubts, but here she is. Woo hoo.

Jack wakes up at SGC in the year 2077 to learn he was sent through the stargate from a planet 78 years ago suffering from some wound or illness that killed the rest of SG-1. He has been in suspended animation since then because a treatment for him has just recently been found. Earth has now colonized many planets, but they are under constant attack by the Goa’uld. The current SGC leadership wants to use a device to probe Jack’s mind for memories of who might have had the technology to save him decades ago.

We do not discover this is all a Goa’uld cover until sam and daniel have gone through the same song and dance. As SG-1’s memories are probed, we see the Nox, the Asgard, battles with Apophis, and other such sequences from past episodes. They provide the slam bang action for “Out of Mind.“ The memory lane strolling ends when Jack hears two SGC personnel speaking in a Goa’uld voice. He escapes and siscovers sam and Daniel.

Meanwhile, Teal’c awakens at the real SGC to discover he has been unconscious for three weeks. He was the only member of SG-1 to be discovered after a recon mission on a Goa’uld planet went awry. The planet has now been devastated, and there are no signs of SG-1 anywere. With no leads, the search is called off. With his comrades gone, Teal’c resigns from SGC and returns to Chulak, presumably to search for his friends on his own.

It is revealed that hathor is behind the 36 Hours deception in order to learn what SG-1 knows about about the Goa’uld’s potential enemies. When they refuse to reveal anything, Hathor threatens to turn one of them into a host to extract information that way. Such is the cliffhanger.

I cannot decide if the powers that be ran out of money or just had to write ’Out of mind’ in a hurry. I will allow that for a clip show, the original material involved is more thoughtful than most episodes of its kind. That said, it does not make a season finale particular exciting when you use clips from the previous season finale to remind us it was a completely original spectacle. It also does not help to have the mastermind be from one of the worst episodes of the series. Surely the writers had heard the internet buzz by this point fans did not like Hathor. If they were giving her another go to make her better this time around, going with a clip show does not do it.

As for the possibility of having been written too quickly, why does Hathor go through all the trouble of convincing SG-1 they are in 2077 when she could have just given them symbiotes and taken what she wanted to know/ even if she only had one symbiote, every member of the team knows the same stuff. So what is the point? For that matter, does anyone believe teal’c is going to do anything other than dedicatedly search for his friends/ Hammond, et al seem oblivious. Very strange.

I hate to pile on, but “Out of Mind” is the first time a CGI symbiote is used. Call me crazy, but I like the puppet much better. The CGI critter looks more fierce some, granted, but there is something much more disturbing in knowing the symbiote is a real prop being handled by the actors. It looks like Stargate SG-1 has succumbed to the George Lucas idea that new technology is better solely because it is new.

I am not terribly impressed with “Out of Mind.” if the powers that be needed to scale back an episode in order to save money, the season finale is a poor choice. Nevertheless, the strength of the season overall makes me want to return for a third go around. Also, as far as clip shows go, “Out of Mind” is a cut above most. It is disappointing, but not a deal breaker.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"1969"

I am aware “1969” is a fan favorite, so I was eager to watch. Gaters seem to hold episodes which put our heroes in humorous, yet arduous situations in high regard. I can see why this episode has appeal. There certainly are some humorous moments. One will probably wind up as a favorite of mine, in fact. I am still not sure ’1969” will wind up on my ten best list when it is all said and done.

My geeky nature compels me to address the time travel theme. Anytime time travel is used in science fiction, the viewer has to just go with it because there are always so logical problems. For ‘1969,’ it is a causal loop. The SG-1 team accidentally travels back to 1969 because of solar flare activity while traveling through the stargate. Gen. Hammond asks Sam to carry a note with her on the trip because he knows what is going to happen. The note will be discovered by himself as Lt. Hammond back in 1969. Knowing this, Gwn. Hammond wrote instruction for his younger self to help SG-1 escape military custody so they can find their way back to the present. Where is the starting point? Gen. Hammond knows to write the note in 1999 and send it back because in 1969, Lt. Hammond received the note and followed the instructions. There is no starting point.

What makes the issue stand out is there is an entire scene with SG-1 discussing the value of changing history for the better while they are in the past. Sam cites the Grandfather Paradox as the reason one should not alter the past. Short explanation: if you travel back in time to kill your grandfather, you would cease to exist if successful, but there would then be no one to travel back in time to kill your grandfather in the first place. You would think after dismissing the biggest logical flaw in fictional time travel, the writers would be careful not to fall prey to another, but there you go.

Oh, well. It happens to the best of them. Cornelius from the Planet of the Apes film series is his own ancestor. He cannot exist in the future if he did not travel into the past, but he cannot travel to the past if he does not exist in the future. Wholigans should take note the Eleventh doctor once traveled back in time to ask Rory to free him from the Pandorica even though his future self could not exist while his past self was imprisoned within the Pandorica. Pointing out that sort of thing can get you deported from the United Kingdom, I am told.

Wait…we were talking about Stargate SG-1, right? Of course. The SG-1 team gets thrown back to 1969 when Cheyenne mountain was a missile silo. Hilarity ensues as sam warns they cannot tell anyone the truth and they wind up accused of being soviet spies because of Daniel in that moment I referred to above:The SG-1 team escapes from this predicament and hitchikes to New York and then Washington DC in search of the stargate in time to use it in conjunction with a solar flare. they wind up in the far future where the elderly Cassandra uses alien technology to bring them back to 1999 safely. If you are keeping score, they meet a young hammon, a young catherine, and an old Cassandra along the way. While I cannot compare the Cassandra actresses, but the Hammon and Catherine counterparts are spot on.

I got into many of the references in ‘1969.” The Star Wars and Star Trek related pseudonyms, the historical references to the moon landing and Sharon tate murders, and the apparently so subtle, no one thinks it exists except me allussion to Raiders of the Lost Ark in which daniel, pretending to be German, discovers top men boxed up the stargate in Washington. All that is great, but the fish out of water element with straightlaced military personnel, a geeky academic, and an alien are forced to go incognito as hippies. Comedy gold. Comedy gold, maybe, but overall the episode wins the silver as far as I am concerned. It is not a bad episode by any means, but I do not see what all the hype is about. The story is an amusing diversion before what I assume will be a big second season finale.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Show and Tell"

"Show and Tell" features another crossover from The X-Files. Charlie, the genetically engineered kid who is central to the plot, is played by Jeff Gulka, better known as the mind reading Gibson Praise from scattered appearances in the fifth, sixth, eighth, and ninth seasons. Like praise, Charlie is an advanced human with special insight due to an altered brain who runs off in the end with an alien. But that is not the only pop culture connection. The remainder of the plot has elements of Predator and the computer game Doom. I was more of a Castle Wolfenstein guy, but we will go with Doom as the comparison.

A young boy comes through the stargate unauthorized. After a quick check to determine he is not a Goa’uld, Jaffa, or some kind of booby trap, he announces that he has a warning for Earth. A race of invisible aliens called the Reetou, who are being systematically wiped out by the Goa’uld, genetically engineered him specifically to deliver the message a rebel faction of Reetou have a plan to wipe out every potential host for the Goa’uld in order to wipe them out. Earth is a prime target. The kid, who bonds immediately with Jack, is dubbed Charlie after Jack’s son.

Stargate Command gets in contact with Jacob to find out if they have any way of detecting Reetou. They do, and on a recon mission to Charlie’s planet, SG-1 and Jacob discover a large army of Reetou ready to commit acts of genocide against potential hosts. Five of them slip through the stargate on SG-1’s return to Earth with small nukes ready to take out major cities, so the Doom/Predator similarities take over as SG-1 battles usually invisible lizard creatures through the corridors of SGC. They are defeated in a exciting combination of cat and mouse game and lots of explosions. The story may not be original, but it does end with a bang. Not the undesirable bang of leveling Colorado Springs, Boulder, or Denver. The good kind in which aliens go splat.

Charlie’s genetic engineering begins failing, and the only way to save him is a blending with a symbiote to become a Tok’ra. We can only assume it works, because we never see or hear about Charlie again. The Reetou never make another appearance--no pun intended--in the series, though they do get name dropped, I am told. I am curious if the similarities to predators perhaps lead to their storyline never being revisited. Perhaps it could also be their plan of murdering billions of innocent people on the far chance some of them might become Goa’uld hosts is so insane, the writers felt the need to sweep it under the rug. I do not know which, but I feel like one go around is enough.

It has been brought to my attention director Peter DeLuise makes cameo appearances in episodes he helms. He is manning a machine gun in the teaser when Charlie comes through the stargate. He peers out from behind the gun’s shield in disbelief when he sees it is a child using the stargate.

“Show and Tell” is not very original, obviously. Charlie and Gibson praise are essentially the same character. The Reetou are not the most well-conceived villains, either. The saving grace is the combination of Jack’s quick attachment to Charlie and the action oriented conclusion. So far, kids are about the only thing so far that can cut throw jack’s cynical nature. It is fun to see his soft spot for kids. The shoot ’em up defeat of the Reetou is far less gratuitous than some action sequences that resolve an episode of television come across. Yes, I do appreciate clever solutions to problems, but every now and then, heroes really need to blow some crap up just to prove they can. Woo hoo!!!

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"One False Step"

Now it can be told--one of the major reasons I was slow to come around to Stargate SG-1 is because “One False Step’ is the first episode I ever saw. It was a Sci Fi Channel repeat back in 2004 during my convalescence from colon surgery. I was still noy doped up enough on morphine to appreciate it then, though it was kind of funky in a way. The episode has not improved much now that I am in my right mind. Or as right I can be, at any rate.

A UAV crashes into a giant plant on a flora covered planet with a terribly designed race of primitive aliens. The SG-1 team arrives to retrieve the UAV, but the aliens begin falling ill while they are there. After a couple red herrings about daniel’s sneezing or blood from sam’s flesh wound might have caused the illness, it is discovered the giant plant destroyed by the UAV emit’s a high frequency sound the aliens need to remain healthy. There is a symbiotic relationship between the aliens and the plant that has been disrupted. A sound system is set up to perpetually play a recording made of the sound prior to the UAV crash which solves everything. Assuming the sound system works into perpetuity and none of the aliens, are not all that bright, do not mess with it at any point.

I have a tough time with “One False Step’ because it cannot establish the mood it wants. We are supposed to get the message about the environmental damage we cause by spoiling natural habitats with technology. But I cannot take any of it seriously. The aliens are dumb and goofy looking. You do not get a very good, close up looking, but freezing the video during a shot from behind makes the zipper seam on the white body suits obvious. The issue of their genocide is so inspersed with comic relief that one almost suspects it is meant to be funny they are dying. For example, the high pitch noise, before being discovered, causes headaches and irritability in humans, so Jack and Daniel spar verbally with one another. The jabs at each other and Daniel’s foot stomp in frustration are goofy enough, but one of the aliens comes over to calm tensions and promptly does a comedic faint. I appreciate the humor, but in the face of genocide, slapstick comedy may not be the route to go.

I will give “One False Step” some kudos for creativity. Coming up with a symbiotic relationship between plants and humanoids is a neat idea. The production design and tone of the script, not so much. I still cannot say you should avoid it. There are good jokes in it and some of the more absurd elements--Daniel acting out the UAV crash complete with plane noises, for one--have to be seen to be believed. But I certainly cannot call "One False Step" a high mark of the series.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Holiday"

Michael Shanks pulls double duty in “Holiday” as both Daniel and Ma’chello, a character with whom he switches bodies. Richard dean Anderson and Christopher Judge also get a shot at body switching. Therefore, the whole episode appears to be an excuse for the actors to ham it up playing each other’s character. Amusing, though the episode tries a little too hard at times to be so.

The SG-1 team arrives in an alien lab full of weapons that could battle the Goa’uld. The lab is run by a dying old man named Ma’chello. The only way for Ma’chello to save himself is to trick daniel into using a device which switches their bodies. No one figures out the transfer was successful until they are both at SGC and Ma’chello/Daniel has left for home. With Daniel dying in Ma’chello’s body, the race is on to find Ma’chello/daniel and reverse the process.

The rest of SG-1 goes back to the lab to retrieve the devce that switched the bodies and wind up inadvertently switching Jack and Teal’c. Jack in talc’s body has a difficult time adjusting to the symbiote. If he cannot achieve some advanced meditative state, they will both die. The complication is the only drama for quite a while as the fact Daniel is dying in Ma’chello’s body is cast aside for the humor of Ma’chelllo/Danie’s awkward real world in which he befriends a homeless man and attempts to mate with any pretty woman he encounters.

Ma’chello/Daniel is eventually captured, but reveals he cannot directly reverse the body switch. He is cold to the idea, anyway. Like Aophis in the previous episode, he sees no reason why his offer of helping them defeat the Goa’uld is not worth the life of a new host. Ma’chello changes his mind when he is convinced he is no different than the Goa’uld for taking over a another body, so everyone plays a game of musical chairs in switching bodies, taking time to indulge in the other character’s mannerisms, before everyone is back in their rightful place. Ma’chello dies after thanking Daniel for the holiday in his body.

“Holiday” is frivolous enough that the dramatic elements have very little impact. It is a nice tough for shanks to play both daniel and M’chello. The make up job on Ma’chello makes it difficult to tell it is him, so I am impressed. The cast appears to be having a good time playing each other, and that is al about that can be said for “Hliday.” It is all about the novelty of being someone other than yourself for a while.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Serpent's Song"

I am going to have to start giving Katharyn Powers more credit than I have been. After fumbling through some clumsy early scripts, she has managed to grab me as of late. Never more so than with “Serpent’s song,’ an episode that does a lot with a little by allowing the audience to use its imagination in visualizing horrors rather than outright showing them. It is very effective, as is what little is shown. The difference there will make more sense in a moment.

The SG-1 team is left waiting on a desert planet when they are sent coordinates to go there. They assume their presence was requested by the Tok’ra, but soon a Goa’uld ship crashes on the planet while being pursued by other Goa’uld ships. The pilot of the crashed ship is apophis. He is severely wounded and requests help. Teal’c wants to kill him. Jack does, too, but sam convinces them both Apophis is more valuabler alive. They escape with him back through the stargate before his pursuers can kill them all.

Apophis has been a prisoner of a Goa’uld named Sokar. Sokar is the original Egyptian god of death--Satan, daniel points out. He has been torturing Apophis for no other reason than his amusement, and he wants his new plaything back. Apophis is now dying due to the torture. When he escaped from sokar’s grasp, he sought out the humans for two reasons. One, he thought their compassion might grant him a new host to survive. Barring that, he figures sokar will be angry enough with the humans for offering him asylum that sokar will destroy earth is revenge. Plan a obviously does not work. Plan b, however, swings into full motion when Sokar begins assaulting the stargate with the implied fires of hell while demanding Apophis be returned to him.

Initially, SGC refuses to hand over Apophis because of the potential intelligence value. Virtually no one thinks he will reveal anything since he is dying anyway, so all but Frasier say toss him through the stargate. Frasier, for her part, looks at the situation through the Hippocratic Oath. The episode dwells very little on that, however. Jack wants Apophis dead because of his Goa’uld hatred. Daniel threatens him over Sha’re’s kidnapping. Teal’c believes his death will at least symbolically free the Jaffa he has subjugated. Even the death of the symbiote and the subsequent re-emergence of its original host does little to sway opinion. As Sokar nears the destruction of the stargate, they hand over apophis’ dead body in the hopes seeing him dead will appease sokar. Instead, sokar has a sarcophagus with which he will continually raise apophis from the dead and torture him into perpetuity.

There are some incredibly disturbing elements to ‘Serpent’s Song.” what is great about it is the method of presentation is done for maximum effect. We never see Sokar. We only hear of him described as the ruler of the underworld with a serpent motif. All we hear is his booming voice and see is the power of hellfire through the stargate. It is all left to the imagination. Contrast that with Apophis, whom we see rapidly deteriorating in the infirmary. As his symbiote fades away, he ages, becoming more guant and gray with a increasingly whispery voice. What tops it off for me is after the symbiote dies. The original host, a scribe from ancient Egypt, emerge. His last words describe how horrific it is to be a prisoner in one’s own body for thousands of years. He only wants to die so he can see his family in the afterlife. The thought of his experience is erry, and made even worse when it is revealed Apophis is going to be revived again and again to face more torture, seemingly forever.

"Serpent’s Song” is the first episode directed by Peter DeLuise, son of the late Dom. DeLuise occasionally utilizes a technique wherein he films an action sequence from a first person perspective. The first time he uses it is from jack’s perspective as he backs through the stargate while firing his weapon at approaching Goa’uld ships. The second is from a soldier taking up position in front of the stargate as an unauthorized visitor, which turns out to be the Tok’ra, come through. It is a neat way of putting you in the heat of the moment, but suffers diminishing returns. It is much like when the accompanying theme is too overdone for the scene it overlays. The technique is cool out times, though.

“Serpent’s Song’ is a very good, very disturbing episode. For all intents and purposes, it is a bottle show which utilizes only one set beyond the SGC, but it does not feel cheaply made. Such is the mark of a good budget saving episode. I find it creative enough to award four stars. I believe this is the first occasion of four star episode coming back to back in the time I have been reviewing television.

Rating: *** (out 5)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"The Fifth Race"

The Asgard, my favorite aliens from the Stargate mythology, appear in the flesh in “The Fifth Race.” You have to be really geeky to appreciate this one. Fortunately, I am an uber-science fiction geek, so it is right up my alley. It remains unspoken, perhaps not even established by the writers yet, but Jack is an extremely important person when it comes to humanity stepping up to join the Four Races. The asgard in particular gain a high respect for him.

The SG-1 team visit’s a planet which is believed to be the home of an ally of the Asgard. They wind up in an empty room wherein Jack stumbles onto a device which downloads the knowledge of the Ancients, the race who built the stargates, into his mind. Back at SGC, Jack begins exhibiting strange behavior. He replaces common terms with unrecognizable words, devises a complex mathematical formula, creates a strange new device which no one can identify, and programs the central computer with the previously unknown to anyone addresses of far off stargates. This new knowledge comes at a price--Jack’s brain cannot handle all the advanced knowledge. His mind will soon be overwhelmed and shut down.

Thinking some of these new addresses might hold the key to helping jack, a cobbled together SG-1 minus Jack and daniel travel to one of the new stargates, but get stuck when the dial home device freezes. Worse yet, the planet has an extremely hot sun which will rise in a few hours. The SG-1 team will not survive the extreme heat. Jack is tapped to use his new knowledge to come up with a way to the dial home device, which is sent to the planet and works. The whole sequence is blatantly thrown in the episode as filler to add some drama to an otherwise heavy on exposition and foreshadowing episode. I am not complaining, mind you. The SG-1 team’s plight is not without merit, but it is extraneous.

Everything jack has done otherwise--the math formula, the computer reprogramming, and the device creation--was to allow him to travel to the Asgard homeworld in another galaxy to seek their help. He makes contact, and they do remove the Ancients’ knowledge from his mind. They tell him mankind will one day take its place as the Fifth Race. The Asgard send jack back to earth safely with only a sense of faith in humanity remaining from his visit.

We learn the four great races are the Ancients, the Asgard, the Nox, and the Furlings. We also learn for the first time stargates can be used to travel to other galaxies by way of an eighth symbol, but to do so requires a major power source . The device Jack constructed gave the needed boost to make it to the Asgard homeworld this time around.

As I said above, I am geeky enough to like “The Fifth Race.” I am beginning to realize the stargate franchise has a complex mythology of which is difficult to jump right in the middle. That may explain why I never much got into it after watching twenty or so scattered episodes, but find it much more interesting when going straight through from the beginning. “The Fifth Race” is an heavy heavy on the story arc with some heady elements. It is very engrossing stuff. I lament that not many television shows would do an episode like this these days for fear the audience would wander off and never return because of the sheer nerdiness of it. For that, I have to award four stars.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"A Matter of Time"

“A Matter of Time” presents a unique plot element compared to the tons of Star Trek episodes I have reviewed over the last several years--real, albeit theoretical, science at the heart of the plot. No warp drive, no Borg nanotech, and no anti-time particles. The episode is all about the effects of a wormhole’s gravitational pull if one were opened on Earth. I do not pretend to grasp it all, as I am one of those dreaed sci fi geeks into the humanities instead of science, but I appreciate the real science in the place of techno babble.

The SG-10 team, under the command of Jack’s friend Maj. Henry Bord, is sent to a planet to investigate why all indigenous life has been exterminated. The team discovers a black hole has formed nearby. The planet is being slowly pulled in. boyd attempts to get his men back to the stargate, but as time moves slower with the increased gravity of a black hole, they never make. As far as the recon images sent back to SGC through the open stargate are concerned, Boyd and his men are dying in slow motion. Their deaths essentially frozen in time as far as SGC is concerned.

There is a more immediate problem--the stargate will not close. Even shutting off all the power does nothing, because the stargate draws energy from the black hole. Time begins moving slower within the facility than without,. Hours, then days pass outside while only minutes pass inside. A rescue team under the command of Col. Frank Cromwell is sent in under the assumption there has been an alien incursion. It is evident there is bad blood between Jack and Cromwell.

With no way to shut the stargate down, the decision is made to blow SGC and hope for the best. Jack and Cromwell volenteer to stay behind to activate the self-destruct. When the two are alone post-evacuation, we learn of the trouble between them. Jack was wounded and presumed dead on a mission inside Iraq during the brief post-gulf War uprising. Cromwell left him behind in order to get the rest of his men out safely. Jack spent four months in an Iraqi prison. Jack resents Cromwell violated the ‘leave no one behind’ oath. Cromwell, still eaten up with guilt, asks for Jack’s forgiveness, but is refused. Cromwell points out that what jack is doing not to Boyd is the same thing, but before the matter can go further, sam interrupts ye olde self-destruct with a new plan.

They are going to divert the stargate to another world’s stargate with the sudden surge of an explosive device. (Legitimate science and continuity, folks. All in one episode, no less.) Because of the time differential, Jack and Cromwell have to rappel towards the stargate to set the explosive timer relative to how time is passing closest to the stargate. Things go wrong, naturall, as a glass shard slices part of the rope. Knowing it will not hold them both, Cromwell lets go so jack can set the bomb and escape. Debt repaid. Sam’s plan works, and all is well. Save for the five deaths, but who is counting?

Cromwell is played by Marshall Teague. Teague has appeared numerous times throughout these television and movie reviews already. If and when Babylon 5 shows up at the Eye, will we see him in a couple different roles. Michael Shanks has only a cameo towards the end o the episode because his wife, the actress who plays Sha’re, gave birth during filming of the previous episode. Maj. Paul Davis, who first appears here, will become a recurring character of some degree.

Some of the theoretical science makes my head spin, but I enjoyed ‘A Matter of Time” nevertheless. I particularly thought it was funny that anytime sam tries to explain what is going on, no one wants to hear the technical details. I took that as a nod to the complaints of VOY fans in particular that plots of the show are too often resolved with meaningless techno babble no one cares to hear. In the midst of it all, there is the human element of Cromwell’s need for forgiveness over a cotly mistake and Jack’s refusal because of his devotion to loyalty. We have seen Jack ready to sacrifice everything out of loyalty. I appreciate the character continuity. Cromwell knows only a big sacrifice of himself is going to placate Jack. That is most certainly the reason he wanted to be on the rescue mission to SGC, why he volunteered to help set the self-destruct, and ultimately allowed himself to die to save Jack. Powerful stuff from a one-off guest star.

Rating: *** (out of 5)