Saturday, March 3, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"New Ground"

Stargate SG-1 tackles the evolution v. intelligent design theories in “New Ground” with all the subtlety one would expect from television. The dispute is exaggerated to the max while the audience is beat over the head with symbolism regarding blindness and seeing the light. The result is more humorous than offensive, probably because the execution is far less preachy than some other franchise that shall remain nameless might have dealt with the topic.

Sam has established a computer program which periodically redials old addresses that did not get a response previously. The computer happens to dial and receive a response from a stargate that has just been dug up by an archeologist named Nyan. The SG-1 team visit’s the planet to discover they are now pivotal elements in a war between two people over the origin of their people.

The Bedrosians believe they were not only created by a god named Nefertum, but they did not taint their pitching career by waiting too long to retire after winning the Cy Young. I am kidding about that last part. These guys are an allegory for Creationists/Intelligent Design advocates they are fighting a war in order to maintain their faith‘s integrity. You know, like how Creationists today are responsible for mass graves of evolutionists? Surely you have seen the stories on the news.

The Optricans believe the truth--their people were brought to the planet thousands of years ago by Goa‘uld as slaves. Optricans, as in optic or pertaining to sight. The Optricans see the light of truth, therefore the Bedrosians are not only desperate to wipe them out, but blow many, many save opportunities for Atlanta which heavily contributes to Montreal taking first place in the national league East. A baseball team from yje French part of Canada in first place? That is an afront to all for which the Founding Father stood.

You should have already figured out the stargate is in erosion territory and the local military commander goes all Dr. Zaius on SG-1. I am going to give “New Ground” some kudos here. The episode could have gone the literal Dr. Zaius route and have the Bedrosian leadership now the truth about their origins, but eliminating SG-1 in order to hide the truth. Such circumstances would have an added sinister element to the allegory. Instead, the Bedrosians are true believers who think SG-1 is part of the propaganda aspect of the war. A reasonable assumption on the part of the Bedrosians. Smart people can believe dumb things.

The bit that I give no kudos for is that teal’c is blinded in the attack in which SG-1 is captured, but healed by a medical device from Nyan. Teal’c does not even trust Nyan to use the device at first because, since his existence challenges the Bedrosian faith, Nyan might want to kill him instead of heal. Nyan responds that he is a scientist. When a theory he has is proven wrong, he forms another based on evidence rather than kill the messenger. The only way to metaphorically not be blind is through science. Not that I disagree with the sentiment, but could it have been a little less clubbed over the head with symbolism?

But, hey--the best part is the resolution. The SG-1 team shoots their way out alongside nyan, who escapes with them to Earth. The conflict between erosion and Optrican rages on with no Picard like lectures changing the way the two sides do not respect each other or faith is bad or whatever moral lesson of the week Brannon Braga pulls out of his butt. Even heroes cannot save everyone every time.

“New Ground’ is not a bad episode unless you adamantly support a dog in the ongoing debate over creation, natural history, etc. In that case, you might have strong emotions that make either an offensive caricature of your side or a highly amusing stereotype of your opinion. I have not had a fire in my belly over the issue in a long time, so all I can comment upon is the laughably overt manner in which the conflict is dealt. If popular entertainment is meant to teach a lesson, it must does so far more covertly. It could been far worse, as I have said. There is no Picard lecture moment, for instance, and our heroes ultimately say “screw this noise” and shoot their way to freedom. But still--subtlety, people. Subtlety.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

No comments:

Post a Comment