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)

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