Monday, April 30, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Prometheus"

“Prometheus” is a nifty, action oriented episode in which Sgc finally becomes space faring. With the introduction of the title ship. There is yet again another vibe running throughout that the story is designed to wrap up dangling plot threads from the Showtime era. In this case, col. Frank Simmons and Adrian Conrad/Goa’uld meet their fates. ’Prometheus’ is considered the first part of a two part story, but considering how its tying up of loose ends has little to do with thor arriving to request help in defeating the Relicators, one wonders how dubious the connection between the two episodes is.

Julia Donovan, a journal who will become a recurring character throughout the rest of the series, catches a tip the government has built a spaceship using alien technology. She knows enough for the president to pull strings and get the story cancelled, but in order to find out who Donovan’s leak is, SGC agrees to give her a tour of the facility and ship in exchange for revealing her source. The plan is to destroy all evidence of Donovan’s story once her source has been exposed.

The SGC gets double-crossed before it can double-cross Donovan. Her film crew turns out to be rogue NID agents who hold everyone on board Prometheus--that would be Sam, Jonas, and Donovan--and threaten to blow it up unless col. Frank Simmons and Adrian Conrad/Goa’uld are brought to them. The two are, and thanks to Adrian Conrad/Goa’uld’s special knowledge, they get the ship hyper drive up and running.

Jack and Teal’c sneak onboard using one of the Death Gliders swiped from Anubis before the Prometheus engages its hyper drive. With sam’s help, they overpower the skeleton crew which has already been softened up by Adrian conrad/Goa’uld’s desire to get ri of them and take the ship for himself. In a move that should not surprise anyone, Simmons is blendeed with the Goa’uld after he kills Adrian conrad. From the briefest of moments, it looks like Teal’c has run into an opponent he can defeat, but he gets his rear end handed to him. Jack success spaces Simmons/Goa’uld. It is a much more fitting end than his simply being arrested like last time.

Alas, Sam has no bearings on where they are, so she cannot plot a course back to Earth. Thor shows up, seemingly to save the day, but in reality to request help. The Replicators have overrun the Asgard homeworld. To be continued…

Julia Donovan is played by Kendall Cross. Cross had a minor roll in Snakes on a Plane in 2006. Although that is four years after “Prometheus,’ one cannot help but be amused of Adrian Conrad’s Goa’uld, essentially a snake, hijacking the Prometheus. Snakes on a Spaceship, folks. One of the hijackers reveals they want the ship because an ancient tablet maybourne’s rogue NID team’s stole told of a large cache of weapons hidden somewhere…out there. This may be the first reference to Atlantis. Or it could be a throeaway line. I have no idea at this point.

“Prometheus” is fun and exciting. I enjoyed the sense of high adventure without any Tok’ra or Jaffa politics involved or heady moral issues. Simmons and Adrian Conrad/Goa’uld got a much better send off than what went before. I am especially happy to see simmons go out in a blaze. John de Lancie beautifully with a far less over the top menace than that Star Trek he is more famous for playing. I dig the cliffhanger, too. You have to love the promise of more Asgard and Replicators. “Prometheus” does a fine job as an episode on its own, which is more than you usually get from the beginning of a two episode story.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Cure"

I am not certain what to make of “Cure.” The premise--a newly contacted alien race has a mitracle cure all they are willing to share--has to wind up a dud by the conclusion. Since we already know that is going to happen, the journey there has to be the interesting part. The journey in this case revolves around the mythology of the Tok’ra. Maybe I am not geeky enough to care much, but the trip to the predictable end is not much of a thrill.

The SG-1 team visits Pangar, a planet of humans who enjoy perfect health and are willing to trade the miracle cure all for stargate addresses. The Panger have a dark secret, however--the cure is derived from what is believed to be a captured Goa’uld queen whom they have been forcing to make offspring for over fifty years. After a Panger is accidentally blened with a symbiote, SG-1 call on the Tok’ra for help removing it. After further digging, it is discovered the queen is not Goa’uld, but Tok’ra.

The Tok’ra demand she be freed so her symbiotes can repopulate their race, the Panger refuse. If the people who have been taking the cure stop, they will all die. The queen herself is now dying, as well. In recent years, she has been pumping out defective symbiotes to make the cure more ineffective in the hopes the Panger would stop using it. As her dying act, she devises an antidote so those who have to stop taking the cure may live on.

I am really not all that interested. There is nothing to ‘Cure” other than the revelation the queen is Tok’ra, not Goa’uld. Her true identity has implications for the Tok’ra--had she survived, their dwindling numbers could be replaced--but I cannot muster much of an emotional response about it. It does not hwlp the tok’ra involved do not get as fired up about the desperate situation as one would expect. It is not like they can just get another queen. It means their near genocide if they do not, but they seem about as upset as watching an old family pet being pit to sleep.

For about two minutes, there are hints of a budding romance between Jonas and a woman named Zenna. Since she is only marginally involved in the story, the romance subplot means very little. Perhaps even less so considering Jonas is not a character who has reached out and grabbed the audience yet. He has not grabbed me, at least. He is steal talking about that freaking bomb his people built. But at least he has stopped talking about Daniel’s sacrifice.

The Panger are kind of cool with their combination of 19th century style of dress and 21st century technology. It is not exactly steampunk, but it is a neat approximation. the atmosphere reminds me of Firefly.

You have to be absorbed into the Tok’ra’s story in order to like “Cure.” Unfortunately, I am not as intrigued as I need to be in order to appreciate it. There is nothing to the episode secret unraveling the mystery, and if you do not care, it is not for you. Perhaps if the Jonas/Zenna romance had been more well executed. Would have, could have, should have. I have to rate what is on the screen.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Allegiance"

“Allegiance” brings together all three of the major forces fighting the Goa’uld in one place for the first time. The Sg-1 team suffers its usual bad luck as SGC have a difficult time keeping the peace between the Jaffa and Tok’ra when neither side fully buys into the enemy of my enemy is my friend school of thought. The situation grows far worse when a Jaffa and rok’ra are murdered and each side suspects the other.

The main Tok’ra base of operations comes under attack by Anubis’ forces. They have to evacuate to the off world base set up by SGC. The Jaffa have set up camp there as well, and are not too thrilled to see Tok’ra coming. The feeling is mutual. The Tok’ra have nearly been wiped out by armies of Jaffa loyal to Anubis. Who can blame them for being jumpy? Jack is in charge of keeping the peace. It is a difficult task for him because the memory of his recent betrayal by the Tok’ra he blended with to cure the ancient plague still burns.--and he did not much like the Tok’ra in the first place.

Tempers flare over some minor issues regarding cultural differences. Troubles escalate far worse when a Jaffa is killed and then a short time later a Jaffa is murdered as well. Each side is certain the other side is the culprit. But the two men were killed with the same stabbing method. It is one teal’c recognizes s being of the Ashrak master assassins. The forces split up into groups of three, each group consisting of an SG ember, a Tok’ra, and a Jaffa, in order to search the forests. While there, Bra’tac is attacked and dragged off by an invisible man. The tok’ra with him, Malek, does not pursue, which only adds to the uneasiness of the alliance.

Short story told even shorter--Jack uses a machine gun to plow every inch of space between him and the stargate in order to keep the invisible Ashrak from escaping. He has seriously gotten over his MacGyver aversion to guns in a very big way. Bra’tac shows up to strike the killing blow. He suggests that the Ashrak has shed blood of them all teamed up to stop him, then they are all comrades-in-arms. His speech was far better than a Picard lecture.

Mercy, mercy the references to past episodes. I have already mentioned Jack’s blending and betrayal. There is also appearances by every major Jaffa and Tok’ra character who were anywhere near Vancouver at the time of filming. Jack and Sam share an awkward moment when the Tok’ra lie detector is used and it brings back memories of Jack’s confession of feelings for her. Teal’c namedrops Apophis. Jacob talks about his cancer. So on and so on. All the new Sci Fi viewers should now be caught up to date with the Showtime years.

That is all well and geeky, but there are several weird spots. One, the lie detector says a Jaffa who was in an earlier altercation with the murdered Tok’ra is lying, but the killer turns out to be the Ashrak, not him. The problem is written off with Sam commenting the lie detector is not perfect. The result just means he is lying about something. Okay…what? Two, how did bra’tac survive? The Ashrak is a master assassin who is noted for using a knifing technique that kills both host and symbiote instantly. He did not use it on Bra’tac? It necessary for the sake of the story he did not, but it still stretches credulity. Three, Jonas is only given a cameo while he is stuck at SGC. Sure, he does not have much in the way of military skill, but leaving him out of the adventure just reinforces the idea he is not a true replacement for Daniel. I assume there is an upcoming episode in which Jonas is featured prominently, so his absence here is to give Corin Nemec a brather. Or maybe Jonas really is an afterthought at this point.

These are not huge issues, however. “Allegiance” is a very entertaining episode that finally draws together the major parties and makes the conflict with the Goa’uld look like a true war. I also liked that Frasier took a more active role in the episode. She is a field medic who helps identify the murder technique. I like when she is more proactive. "Allegiance” is a cool episode that actually made me interesting in the Jaffa rebellion. Quite an accomplishment, that.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"The Other Guys"

Stargate SG-1 has had mixed results with comedic episodes in the past. The show does not take itself too seriously to begin with--who could forget Osiris sadistically taunting Thor with impending torture while his tiny tootsies are sticking out from shackles--so when the theme is to be deliberately funny, the humor often goes way, way over the top. I had concerns with the premise of “The Other Guys” such would be the case. Not so. As a sci fi geek who can poke fun at the trappings of the genre, I thoroughly enjoyed the episode.

The SG-1 team is literally babysitting a group of civilian scientists on a remote planet. The three scientists are complete dweebs. Jay Felger is fannish about SG-1’s adventures in general and jack’s exploits in particular. Simon Coombs is a nerd obsessed with Star Trek, which is funny since he is played by ENT‘s John Billingsley. Meyers is the straight laced guy who follows orders and always carries a roll of duct tape around like MacGyver. When it appears a Goa’uld ship has ambushed and captured the SG-1 team, Felger disobeys orders to return to Earth and mounts a rescue, dragging the brilliant, but bumbling Coombs reluctantly with him.

What could have been a silly Inspector Gadget-type adventure wherein the two incompetent heroes manage to save the day against a superior force by completely screwing everything up is turned on its ear by a couple of surprising twists. First, the capture was a ruse in order to meet up with the Tok’ra operative posing as the Goa’ulds Khonsu. Khonsu has information about where Anubis is getting his technology. Felger and coombs have to be hidden for their own safety so as not to compromise the mission. In hiding, they witness Khonsu’s First Prime, Her’ak, discover the rebel Jaffa working for the Tok’ra Khonsu and plot to take over his army. It is then that Felger and Coombs truly become heroes by saving the SG-1 team, complete with plenty of references from Star Trek and other science fiction franchises.

“The Other Guys” is loaded down with references: Coombs thinks all scientists should worship at the Altar of Roddenberr. He expresses his fear of going on the rescue mission by saying he feels like he is wearing a red shirt. When Khonsu is killed by Her’ak, he really is wearing a red shirt. There is a bat’leth hanging on the wall behind Khonsu when he is killed. Fleger and Coombs crawl through ventilation shafts much like Jeffries tubes. Heck, there is even a reference to bathrooms being onboard Goa’uld ships, but not on Federation vessels.

There are numerous self-references, too. Felger echoes Jack’s comments a few episodes back about a sociopolitical nerd ruining the team’s coolness by saying the scientists are having the same effect. Sam teases Jonas about not smiling over his first capture by the Goa’uld since he has been visibly happy about his other firsts. Jack mocks the Goa’uld for not making grandiose enough speeches about their evil plan. The SG-1 team complains about yet again being imprisoned for their own safety. So on and so on. You get the idea.

The humor is all good fun without getting to silly. The only ridiculous part, wherein Felger and Coombs are awarded metals and Felger is passionately kissed by Sam, turn out to be a daydream from Felger. It is a nice way to cap off the episode. I would prefer to smooch Frasier, but one should never turn down a kiss from a pretty woman. Sam qualifies. But back to the point, “The Other Guys” is much better than I was expecting. Not only in regards to the humor, but there is is also a lot of action and ties to the over all sixth season story arc.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Shadow Play"

Out of all the films Stargate SG-1 could do an homage of, A Beautiful Mind never crossed my mind. The story mirrors John Nash’s Cold War paranoia experience that on a lesser show, I would count the similarities as a cheap rip off. Fortunately, “Shadow Play” does two things right. One, it takes the lifted elements of A Beautiful Mind and makes theme distinctly Stargate SG-1 and two, it cats Dean Stockwell in the Nasj role.

Stargate Command is contacted by the Kelowna’s, Jonas’ people who were building a naquadria bomb in anticipation of a Cold war suddenly heating up. The Kelowdan’s neighboring countries on on the verge of signing a non-aggression pact. Such an agreement would leave Kelowdan vulnerable to attack from superior forces. They want SGC to give them defensive weaponry in exchange for all the naquaria they can use.

This part of the plot revisit’s a running theme of weighing the moral responsibility of offering technology to other races. Earth has often been on the receiving end of no--from the Nox, Tollan, and Asgard--because humanity’s perceived moral immaturity. In this case, the tables are turned and surprising turned by Jack. Jack has grown since his experience genocidal Eurondans from ”The Other Side” when he was ready to give them weapons no questions asked in exchange for what he wanted until realizing the atrocities the Eurondans had committed. Jack has grown as a character to adopt more of Daniel’s way of thinking.

Speaking of Jack, since he will not come up specifically again in this review, he is noticeably subdued. He still has his own forceful moral code, mind you, but he is quieter, less fidgety, and more willing to let others--even Jonas--take point when one of his colleagues has a clear advantage over him. Jack has rarely let others dominate in any given situation. It appears his traumatic experience in the previous episode has affecting his way of thinking.

Everyone is stuck between a rock and a hard place. The Kelownans either get weapons from SGC or they use the aquaria bomb. The SG-1 team needs aquaria for its own defensive purposes, but cannot be a party to handing off weapons likely to be used offensively. The heart of the episode’s conflict belongs to Jonas and his relationship with his former professor, colleague, and mentor, Dr. Keiran. Keiran is stock well’s character. Keiran claims to be part of a resistance movement that nearly has the capacity to overthrow the current government in order to install one un-inclined to wage war. He needs time and some assistance from SGC. Jonas wants to believe in him, but as already noted, Kieran is suffering from mental illness due to long exposure to aquaria radiation. The resistance is only a figment of his deranged imagination.

As with A Beautiful Mind, we do not realize we are witnessing delusions of Kieran’s mind until late in the story. In retrospect, only one of his three encounters alone with jonas--the one in which he reveals the existence of the resistance--actually was with Jonas. As difficult as it is to create an emotional bond with a one off character, Kieran got to me. Again, it is probably because of my previous attachments to Stockwel because of Quantum Leap and Battlestar Galactica, but he hit all the right marks. Kieran is a pacifist who enjoyed the scientific research, but was horrified by the potential consequences of the bomb he helped build. He created this whole fantasy of a coup that would lead to a lasting peace for his world.

The truly sad part is that war does come Kelowna and without SGC help, they probably use the aquaria bomb. As Jonas hinted, the bomb’s use could likely attract Goa’uld attention. But inn spite of all that, Jonas indulges his mentor, who is now going to be institutionalized for the rest of his life, and takes him he has heroically saved his world by preventing the naquadria bomb’s use.

It is no secret I am not a huge Jonas fan. The character has been trying to be another Daniel rather than come into his own. Aside from a running gag about his fondness for junk food, there has not been much offered up in the way of distinguishing his character. “Shadow Play” comes close. We finally see some real emotion in Jonas. He is conflicted over his status as a traitor even though he believes he did the moral ting. He also clearly has a strong bond with his old professor/mentor, enough of one he is willing to tell the man he is a hero rather than explain the tragedy that has most likely befallen his people by that point. It is very oving, and certainly more so because Stockwell is playing Kieran.

While I doubt “Shadow Play” will go down as one of my favorite episodes, it is an above average effort that is far better than it ought to be considering much more of it is a carbon copy of A Beautiful Mind. . Pretty much every Gater considers the Jonas stuff an afterthought, no?

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Abyss"

I was given a heads up that “Abyss” was a highly anticipated episode during the original run because of the return of Michael Shanks, but his reappearance as the ascended Daniel turned out to be secondary to the excellent character study of Jack. Indeed, this is true. The only weak sot of the episode--and weak is a mild term here--is Daniel’s involvement.

“Abyss” carries on an increasingly frequent theme in science fiction television in which a main character is tortured throughout the story. Whatever the torturer wants to know is irrelevant. The experience for the audience is how the raw nature of the torture victim is revealed. Think back to Jean-Luc Picard, John Sheridan, James ’Sawyer” Ford, Gaius Baltar, and Mal Reynolds with how their painful ordeals revealed much about their true natures, and you have the idea.

What is compelling is that jack is tortured by he is a good guy at his core. The vital information Kanan, the Tok’ra symbiote he blended with in order to cure the Ancient contagion, is the schematics of a secret base run by Ba’al. Kanan romanced one of Ba’al’s slaves, Shallan, in order to gather all the intelligence, then left her behind. When Karan blends with Jack, however, he learns jack’s sense of duty--never leave anyone behind. It is not entirely clear whether jack is a willing participant or being controlled by Karan--I think the latter, FWIW--but he goes off on a solo mission to rescue shallan and gets captured himself. Karan abandons Jack to face imprisonment alone.

Ba’al tortures Jack to death in the most gruesome ways imaginable Repeatedly, bringing him back to life again after wards with a sarcophagus. In between torture sessions, jack is held in a cell in which he periodically sees a young woman. Daniel also appears to him, first to offer comfort, then a chance to ascend. Much of their old banter makes a return. Jack wants daniel to give him a practical way to escape and responds with frustration when Daniel says he cannot. It is a battle of realist versus idealist on a higher plane of existence. The interesting point is Daniel’s progression towards action as Jsck weakens under the prospect of more torture and death. Daniel goes from moral support to offering to help Jack ascend to finally secretly nudging Teal’c at SGC to sic Yu on ba’al’s secret fortress to offer Jack a chance to escape amid the chaos. The plan works. Jack escapes, but insists on taking Shallan with him. He is a good guy until the end

But I did say Daniel is the weak point of the episode. He is. It is not clear until the very end that Daniel actually is there and not a creation of Jack’s mind to help him cope. Given the story elements, it makes more sense for Daniel to be an hallucination. He only appears to Jack in the cell, never during the torture sessions when jack is at his most desperate. Jack struggles to maintain his resistance while languishing in his cell in anticipation of more torture. It is like he is having an inner dialogue with himself. He wants to give up and die so as not to reveal anything to Ba’al. that is his practical side talking. But daniel assures him he is a good man who does not deserve to be destroyed. That is Jack’s idealism, which could be personified in Daniel. Alas, Daniel is literally there, and that fact robs the story of some existential insight into Jack’s soul. A soul which he denies possessing. an inner realization his soul exists would have been more poignant than daniel’s nudging him towards the epiphany.

I call that a minor gripe in comparison to how well the rest of the episode plays out. There is a surrealistic atmosphere that is mesmerizing. Jack is held in a gravity defying cell in which he appears to be lying on the ceiling. He can view other rooms, all of which are topsy turvy in their own way. He is tortured on an iron rack that resembles the rose gates popular in medieval Europe. Ba’al’s entire fortress, with its stained glass windows, has a medieval feel. Jack is tortured with knives and acid which are flung towards him back the magnetic properties of the rack. Watching them fly effortlessly out of Ba’al’s hand and embedding in jack’s bedding is more sadistic than if Ba’al was forcibly stabbing him.

“Abyss” certainly kicks the sixth season up about four notches. Like other stories involving the torture of the hero in other shows, the episode is difficult to watch. But it is definitely one you cannot skip. I am curious about the lasting implications. Will the refusal of the tok’ra to help save jack damage the alliance? Has Ba’al established himself as a far more intriguing villain with the SG-1 team holding a very personal grudge? Jack should be scarred for life over his experience. The answers will be compelling to discover.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Nightwalkers"

Let me drag the dead horse I have named Mulder out the barn and beat him a little more. After noting the similarities to The X-Files in the previous episode, here we have a full blown script from the series with Stargate SG-1 characters cut and pasted in. “Nightwalkers” features a small town in the Pacific Northwest where the townspeople have been secretly taken over by alien parasites from a government project gone wrong. In short, this ain’t Stargate SG-1, and it would only count as a mediocre effort for The X-Files.

Speaking of "Nightwalkers" not being Stargate SG-1, it is the first episode to not feature any characters from the original film. Richard Dean Anderson sits this one out due to his more prominent role in the next episode. I would count Michael Shanks as having departed, but he features as a guest star in the next episode, too. Perhaps that the focus on Jack and Daniel is to make up for their absence.

The introductory paragraph pretty much laid the story all out. A research scientist named Fleming calls Sam in the middle of the night to warn her about Adrian Conrad’s symbiote, but is apparently murdered before he can elaborate. Ly keen powers of observation. The SG-1 team travels to a small town in Oregon to investigate. More to the point, the SG-1 team rides into a small, quirky town radiating uber coolness with their leather jackets and sunglasses four years before Torchwood hit the airwaves. Just sayin’.

The mystery unravels at an incredibly slow place and even then only because of an implausible coincidence and Jonas’ unusually keen powers of observation. The townspeople appear to be fumbling through their days as though they have not gotten enough sleep. At night, they are wandering around as though they are completely different people. The truth is, they have cloned symbiotes within them, but the clones are so weak, they can only take over when the host is asleep. They have been spending their nights secretly building a spaceship so they can leave earth. Which is all well and good, but only Jonas notices any of the weird behavior and SG-1 just happens to be investigating Flemming’s home when the vaccine that kills the cloned symbiotes is delivered.

I cannot stress the absurdity of that last point enough. Flemming had a vaccine that kills the cloned symbiotes. Instead of using it on himself--he was taking drugs to stay awake--he shipped it to his home address to arrive days later. Sam happened to be the one to sign for the package. The vaccine conveniently is there for her to use in avoiding being infected with a cloned symbiote herself so she could turn the tables on the bad guys in the end. Why did flemming not use the vaccine on himself and how lucky is it Sam just happens to be at his home when the vaccine is delivered?

If you want to buy those pints as acceptable contrivances for the sake of the plot, all right. But then you have to take into account the cloned symbiotes’ plan. All they planned to do was build a space ship and leave. That would involve kidnapping the townspeople, but still not all that sinister a plan. But when they discover the Nid is watching them, they decide to blend cloned symbiotes with agents in order to take over the NID. When Sam is apparently blened, they are inspired to take over SGC, too. These guys do not exactly think big until an opportunity is staring them right in their faces. The cloned symbiotes could be far more menacing than the plot allows.

“Nightwalkers” is not horrible, but disappointing. It goes without saying the episode does not feel like Stargate SG-1. I imagine there will be some lasting consequences. Our heroes not have a potential vaccine and a partially built spaceship, but otherwise, “Nightwalkers” is forgettable filler. It is cool to see sam take charge for once, so there is a point in the episode’s favor, but as far as the Earthbound, non-SGC centered stories go, this one ranks at the bottom.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Frozen"

“Frozen” is an apt description for this episode. The story is paced so glacially slow with reams of exposition setting up the season long story arc and little else in the way of emotion. It is, however, a 45 minute commercial for North Face jackets and Polaris snowmobiles, so I guess that is something. There is also an underlying X-Files vibe with heavy similarities to ”Ice” and ”Gethsemane.” Considering one of the guest roles is played by Lone Gunman Bruce Harwood, the homage may not be a coincidence.

A research team has been searching in and around the area of Antarctica where the second stargate was discovered. When they discover a woman frozen in the ice, the SG-1 team is summoned. Originally, the woman is considered an anthropological coup, but soon realize she is alive. They thaw her out, and she quickly recovers. The women, whom we soon learn is named Ayiana, is fifty million years old. She could be either an advanced stage of human evolution or an Ancient.

A virus was frozen along with ayiana which causes those at the research facility to fall ill. Ayiana somehow managed to heal herself in the distant past, but does not remember how until she conveniently performs a laying on of hands to fully heal one of the scientists who had been lost outside after collapsing from the illness. Ayiana heals three of the sick, but it is discovered doing so devastates her white blood cell count. Not only can she no longer heal anyone else, she is dying from the past exertion. Which is unfortunate, as Jack has fallen deathly ill. The SGC contact the Tok’ra. They plan to heal jack by temporarily blending with a symbiote who has vital intelligence but needs a host in order to communicate. Jack reluctantly agrees even though he has strong feelings about anyone becoming a host.

So how is “Frozen” similar to The X-Files episodes I mentioned above? “Ice” features Mulder and Scully visiting a remote research facility in northern Alaska at which a frozen alien parasite is discovered which causes virtually everyone to fall ill. “Gethsemane’ is about an alien discovered in the Canadian snowy wilderness that may hold the key to human origin, but turns out to be a manufactured hoax. The similarities are enough to remind me of those episodes. Bruce Harwood playing a minor character in "Frozen” cements the nod to one of my all time favorite television series.

But “Frozen” on its own merit is very bland. There is surprisingly little drama. You have a claustrophobic and isolated setting with nine people stuck in a small biodome in Antarctica with the added tension of them falling deathly ill with no medical help in reach, but it is all wasted. The characters show hardly any emotion at all in their plight. Heck, one would think cabin fever would get to them even if a lingering death from an incurable virus is not enough to cause emotions to boil over.

The only character who displays any real emotion is Jonas. He spends the episode bonding with Ayiana. He is the only one who mourns her loss when she finally succumbs to the strain of using her healing abilities. There is a definite feel here that Jonas is directly taking over Daniel’s job of sympathizing with the guest star of the week, particularly when no one else appears to care, and serving as his or her adamant advocate. That is not a bad thing, but the impression I get is there is not going to be much effort made in creating a unique persona for Jonas. Not only does he act like Daniel, he quotes Daniel’s research chapter and verse. One might consider he is doing this on purpose to better fit in--the SG-1 team still misses Daniel--but from a production perspective, Corin Nemec is playing a copy of Michael Shanks, either because the production, fans, or both are wishing he never left.

I am not really sure how to rate “Frozen.” There are some incredibly good technical tricks which create a spooky atmosphere. When Ayiana is discovered, half her face is submerged in a block of ice. There are long sequences at the Antarctic research facility with no musical accompaniment, just the sound of wind of harsh blowing outside in order to emphasize isolation. Jack being carried in an isolation bed through the stargate by his friends is eerrily similar to pallbearers carrying a casket. Such touches are a lot of window dressing that cannot save a weak story. The entire purpose of the episode is to set up future storylines and get jack to the poin the becomes a Tok’ra. It works to that end, but not with a whole lot of thrills. Even the Jack/Sam shippers do not care much about the moment when Sam begs Jack to accept the Tok’ra offer. When even the the most devoted shippers are not buying it, you are in trouble.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Descent"

“Descent” is the first full adventure with Jonas as a member of the SG-1 team. Being the redheaded stepchild of the group, that means he is cast aside until riding in to save the day. One assumes he finally proves himself to Jack. The episode is straightforward adventure with odd elements thrown in that appear to be an assurance to the audience this is the same show on Sci f that it was on Showtime. Elaboration is forthcoming.

A Goa’uld mothership appears over earth. After everyone has changed their underwear and reaffirmed their religious affiliations, the SG-1 team arrives with Jacob/Selmak and Maj. Davis to check it out. I can figure they needed Jacob to bring a tok’ra ship to get them there, although I assume they still have the cargo ship from the previous season, but I cannot see davis there for any other reason than playing on the running joke he only shows up when a disaster occurs. (Fans have nicknamed him Major Disaster.) It is a stretch to have a Tok’ra and the Pentagon liaison on this mission, but I assume they are thrown in there to bridge the network jump.

Speaking of bridging the network jump, the mothership is the same one Anubis was holding thor prisoner. Since it is now abandoned, but still in working order save for a stalled self-destruct countdown, it is assumed Thor’s mind was able to take over the ship after Anubis downloaded his mind into the computer system. The little guy must have driven them off with a virus. Oddly enough, there is an occasional garbled announcement runing through the speakers of the ship which has enough hints of Thor’s voice the audience can identify it long before the characters do. Never actually hearing the voice clearly is a clever way to get around not having Michael Shanks around to provide it.

Matters are cmplicated when it is discovered a handful of Jaffa are still onboard. They are eventually defeated by teal’c and Jonas when they sneak over to Jacob/Selmak’s ship, but they have sabotaged the mothership for a crash landing. The ship goes down just south of Alaska. Everyone survives, tsunami damage to Russia and China is glossed over, and only Jacob/Selmak suffers the bends. Okay…

Truth be told, there is not a whole lot of drama involved in the SG-1 team’s plight. The splashdown is spoken of, but not seen on screen. A submarine rescue is imminent. There only trouble run into is when jack and Sam are trapped in a flooding room and are rescued when the door automatically opens after a properly dramatic time submerged. It is at this point they realize the ship us being controlled by Thor’s mind, not a virus created by him. They opt to take the computer memory with them so Thor’s mind can be placed in a cloned body, but get trapped again in their escape. Jonas comes to the last minute rescue, thereby proving himself a vital member of the team. Even Jsck thinks so. Woo hoo!

It is still early in the game, but I am having a hard time warming up to Jonas. Jack, sam, and Teal’c tend to keep him at a distance because they do not want to think of him as a replacement for Daniel. I can appreciate the sentiment for a while, but I assume career military personnel handle these things more maturely than these guys are. It is said repeatedly Daniel has been gone for months now. Look at things from Jonas’ perspective. He saved the entire planet in the previous episode. Throughout this one, he is complaining to Teal’c about his guilt over Daniel making the sacrifice he should have made. Nor whining exactly, but pointing out the absurdity of how he is being treated. When Jonas finally gets his chance, he risks his life to save the others. It is lik he is not suicidal, necessarily, but needs some battle scars he has to suffer a loss to prove he is worthy. If he is not accepted as an integral part of the team now, I am going to be extremely disappointed. Our heroes--Lonas included--are being way too emotionally immature for my taste.

Ugh..I almost hate mentioning this, but director Peter DeLuise makes a cameo as Lt. Dagwood. Considering the name and the submariner theme of the episode, he is offering a nod to SeQuest DSV. Come on, man. 21 Jump Street was a far better show. How about a nod to that every now and them?

“Descent” is an entertaining episode even though it is clearly designed to prove the show is going on as usual now that it is aired on Sci Fi instead of Showtime. I half expected to see Maybourne and Kinsey show up just to prove they are still around. If it sounds like I am being harsh, I am not trying to be. It is quite amusing to see how much the powers that be packed in. If Jonas is now a full fledged, well accepted character, then the episode is successful.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Redemption, Part II"

“Redemption, Part II” is certainly an improvemen5t over its first half. Maybe the powers that be should have spread the material out over the two episodes a wee bit more liberally. There is much more action, the ticking clock is far more intense, and, lo and behold, the heroes of the story are minor and/or recurring characters.

The episode begins right where we left off yesterday. The stargate’s build up of energy thanks to Anubis’ new weapon will cause it to explode in a little over two days if no one can come up with a solution by then. With the X-302 unstable, they cannoy contact the Asgard for help. Meanwhile, Teal’c and Bra’tac have discovered the Jaffa controlled planet upon which the weapon is located. Rya’c, eager to prove he is a warrior, argues until he gets to come along.

Guess what? The planet upon which the rebel Jaffa are based and the planet upon which Anubis’ weapon is located look exactly like the forests outside Vancouver. I am not just beating a dead horse with that joke. There is no effort whatsoever to distinguish between the two environments. Vancouver has quarries, a desert-like environment, and a varied coastline. Heck, blue screen something in! film at night! Make a little bit of effort here. Space is like something out of Dante’s Inferno. After you die, you wind up in the forests outside Vancouver. No matter where you run or how far, you will always be in the forests outside Vancouver. Arrrggghh!

Rodney McKay is still around. He and Sam are even more at each other’s throats than ever until she is injured putting one of his brainstorms into action. It fails, and cuts the time left until the stargate explodes in half. His failure and the resulting injury to Sam humbles him to the poin the becomes a semi-likable character as he acknowledges his failure in such a shy schoolboy way that it is clear to Sam he has a genuine affection for her. This is the first time I have understood why so many Stargate: atlantis fans like him. He has some redeeming qualities.

It is Jonas who comes up with the idea of taking the stargate into space where it can safely explode. Jack will take it up in the stripped down X-302, eject because there is no landing gear, and wait for the kaboom. The initial plan does not work, but using the unstable hyper drive for one second is enough to get the stargate 3 million miles away from Earth so it can safely explode.

Meanwhile, teal’c and Bra’tac are captured by a Jaffa who is one day going to become a Cylon .(Aaron Douglas, who makes his second appearance as a Jaffa. Grace Park and Ron Worthy are the other two future Cylons.) Rya’c rescues the two and destroys Anubis’ weapon by using a stolen Death glider. In a bit of symmetry, it is assumed neither Jack, nor Rya’c escaped their respective craft upon completing their mission, but both manage to eject.

The Russkies offer to lease their stargate, which is the original, in exchange for cash, hyper drive plans, and a Russian officer on SG-1. Jack turns down the final request because he has decided to allow jonas to replace Daniel. It is only fair. It was Jonas’ idea that saved earth. Parker Lewis can’t lose, you know. I assume Jack’s suggestion to add a completely Russian SG team happens instead. With the international flare and Rodney becoming a more fleshed out character, one wonders if plans for the Stargate: Atlantis were percolating as early as 2002.

“Redemption, Part Ii’ is a big improvement over the first part. The ticking bomb aspect in the previous episode did not feel as ominus as it does here. Teal’c’s Jaffa drama was far more interesting, too. These Jaffa are warriors, not oversensitive beta males. Theyneed to handle their issues like cowboys, not soap opera divas. I am still not sure if I like Jonas. Even though he is the catalyst for saving Earth, he is still a blank slate. I appreciate he is motivated to help Earth because of his guilt for Daniel dying to save his planet when he feels as though it should have been him. It is a nice touch. Some nice touches all around. Part II definitely redeems part I.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Redemption, Part I"

“Redemption, Part I” is the sixth season premiere and the first original episode to air on the Sci Fi Channel after five seasons on Showtime. I am curious to see if and how the series philosophy and production values change with the network switch. Thinking back to when Sliders and The Outer Limits made the same jump, both of which suffered plummets in quality, stirs the pessimist in me. But I let him frolic on a long leash anyway, and general buzz is the sixth through eighth seasons are the most consistently good of the series.

I must confess, “Redemption, Part I” is a strange start. It is a very manic episode which jumps from scene to scene without connection between them. The SG-1 team is having a difficult time adjusting to life without Daniel. Jonas Quinn is just sort of hanging around SGC Colonel Chekov shows up randomly requesting a Russian officer join the SG-1 team. Area 51 has built an interstellar space ship from Goa’uld technology which turns out to not work when desperately needed.. Teal’c learns his wife is deathly ill. Anubis launches a plot to cause an overload of energy by holding open the stargate long enough to generate a explosion that could wipe out all life on Earth. Rodney McKay shows up to brainstorm a solution. Anubis pulls the Sith lord routine of appearing as an ominous hologram to announce his evil plan for Earth. That is about it.

There is one complimentary piint to be made. I like how Jonas is not immediately brought into the fold. He did not take part in the previous episode’s adventure. He does not play a huge part in this one, either. His only real connection is sam, who invites him to join the team in traveling to Area 51 to see the new space ship because his naquadria offering was pivotal in its construction. Jonas has a scientific nerd bond with Sam and a certain alien outsider kinship with Teal’c, but Jack does not care for him at all. Hammond does little more than humor Jonas’ ideas in the middle of the Anubis=created crisis. The bottom line is that only teal’c is open to Jonas joining the team at all. The others have not even considered the possibility. Their reaction is far more realistic than having Jonas hit the ground running as a vital, accepted part of the team.

That said, the rest of the episode is just sort of…there. Perhaps someone more fond of Teal’c’s personal drama feel more moved by his wife’s death and his son’s anger. Rya’c is angry because his mother died because she was forced to live under the harsh conditions of exile because of talc’s betrayal of Apophis. I have said before Teal’c is my least favorite character and the Jaffa rebellion the least compelling aspect of the series, so no surprise the drama does not mean much to me. The prospect of the Jaffa planning to attack Anubis in order to save earth is promising, however. We shall see tomorrow. The failed flight of the new space ship in an attempt to contact the asgard for help felt thrown in to fill time.

Events only being used to fill time is the problem with “Redemption, Part I.” I have a hunch, without having seen part two yet, the Sci Fi Channel premiere would have been better as a two hour movie. Not that such is a good excuse for the lackluster results. Even a two hour movie is going to be split into two episodes for syndication. I am not saying the episode is bad, mind you. It is that it goes from A to B to C. I am sitting in the backseat eagerly nudging, "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” The answer is no, but I am still hoping.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Revelations"

“Revelations” serves as the fifth season finale. It is the first season ender that does not feature a cliffhanger. That is a little disappointing when one expects to eagerly anticipate an exciting resolution to begin the next season. Truth be told, the episode does not have a particularly epic feel. It does, however, feature a nifty adventure with some heavy emotional undertones and many…well, revelations which make it engaging.

The episode begins with Osiris about to attack a planet protected under the Asgard treaty when Thor shows up. Anubis has enhanced his fleet’s weapons, so Thor is no longer a match and he is quickly captured. Freyr travels to SGC to inform SG-1 the Goa’uld now have weapons capable of defeating the Asgard and requests they recover a geneticist from a hidden lab before the Goa’uld find her. It is of vital importance to the future of the Asgard.

The mood is somber around SGC. No one is quite certain what to make of daniel’s fate. I he dead? Will he return some day? They do not even have a memorial for him because of the confusion. Jack is eager to continue off world missions without a fourth member instead of waiting for a replacement. He is also the one who quickly accepts Freyr’s request even though he and Freyr have had it out with each other on two separate occasions because Freyr would not help him. There is a certain feeling that Jack is hoping for a suicide mission and Freyr’s request is as likely as any. He does not even wait for Hammond’s go ahead before agreeing to take it on. Sam is more distraught in her grief, but is at least not thinking rashly.

The SG-1 team is set to rescue Heimdall, a scientist who has been working on an issue the Asgard have been keeping a secret--they are a dying race. They lost the ability to reproduce the old fashioned way thousands of years ago. Since then, they have been placing their consciousness in cloned bodies. They have been cloned so many, they is now severely deteriorated. Heimdall needs to escape under the Goa’uld’s noses with one of the Asgard ancestors in suspended animation in order to continue her studies.

The SG-1 team agrees to help, but when Jack learns thor is still alive on Osiris’ ship and about to be tortured by Anubis, he insists on rescuing him. Getting in and out of a Goa’uld mother ship is, as one might expect, a suicide mission. Nevertheless, our heroes pull off both missions in style with a little help from Freyr and the asgard cavalry, though it is noted Thor has lapsed into a coma upon the removal of a torture device from his brain.

“Revelations” is an unusual season finale in its small scope. It is the SG-1 team, shaken by its recent intimate loss, rescuing Thor. Anubis shows up for the first time, but only posses the promise of menace. He does not do much more than act ominous and sadistic. Osiris is the bigger villain here, not that I am complaining. I like her. There is much exposition on the Asgard’s predicament, too. It is odd for there to be so much information to absorb which does not have immediately implications.

Nevertheless, there are some high points. For one, I cig a straightforward men on a mission story every now and then, and “Revelations” delivers. There are a few quieter moments that are great. Jack is alone cleaning his gun when he nearly has an outburst of grief over Daniel, but stops himself. Even though he is alone, he still cannot let his emotions out. Sam’s sorrow shows what close friends she and Daniel were. It is a nice touch to have Hammond console her with a story from his own life about losing a friend in Vietnam.

On a lighter note, I love Heimdal. She is much friendlier and more animated than the other Asgard. It is probably because she is voiced by Teryl Rothery and reflects some of her personality. Then there is this:Rothery appeared on set to deliver her lines to cast members interacting with Heimbal. she had a light for the other actors to focus on when talking to Heimdal. Unfortunately, the light was strategicall placed on her chest. Richard Dean Anderson and Christopher Judge had a difficult time keeping a straight face while delivering lines. Their difficulty shows even in the final takes. I cannot blame them Rothery is one nice looking lady.

Michael Shanks provides the voice of Thor for the final time until he returns to the series during the seventh season.

I like “Revelations” even if it is on a smaller scale than most season finales we have seen thus far. It fits in with how the fifth season has felt all along--good, but not really anything special. The season does end on an up tick with recent episodes, but mostly because characterization is emphasized over plot. Not a bad thing, mind you, but the series has done a better balancing act in previous seasons.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Meridian"

The many deaths of Daniel Jackson remains a running joke about Gaters, but “Meridian” still holds a place in many hearts for being the most poignant, not to mention closest to permanent, onscreen death for the character. This is my first viewing of “Meridian,” so I cannot relate to the emotions felt in its original airing. Michael shanks was leaving the series, so the episode was meant to be a dual goodbye. Now that we know he eventually returned in the seventh series to finish out the series run, I was curious whether that knowledge would lessen the emotional impact of the episode. It did not.

The SG-1 team travels to the planet Langara. The Langaran civilization is on par with roughly 1940’s and in the midst of a Cold War among countries. Kelowna, the country in which the team finds itself, has discovered an element know as aquaria, which is even more powerful than naquadah. Naturally, they are using some to build a weapon of mass destruction. They hope the mere threat of it potential use will be enough to ensure peace. Daniel warns against the idea. The Goa’uld attempted to build a weapon out of aquaria and destroyed the ancient civilization. Jonas Quinn, who is in charge of the project, dismisses the idea the ancient civilization’s destruction was anything other than an asteroid crash.

Something goes wrong with the building of the aquaria bomb. All of the scientists within the safely sealed room die immediately of radiation exposure. Everyone else is frozen in fear, so Daniel breaks through the window into the room and disables the bomb. His actions saves millions of lives, but he is exposed to a lethal dose of radiation. He has about sixteen hours left to live.

The rest of the episode is packed with some really great character moments from the main cast and main cast member to be Corin Nemec. The Kelowna decide to cover their incompetence by claiming Daniel tried to sabotage the bomb development program rather than admit they screwed up. The SG-1 team’s reaction to the situation provides a stark role reversal. Jack will not stand for Daniel’s good name to be sullied, but Sam, without dismissing Daniel’s fate or good name, takes the position they need to be more conciliatory to the Kelowna because the aquaria they can share might provide a defensive shield for Earth. Jack is not only not open to the idea under the circumstances, but warns Jonas the only way a WND is an effective deterrent Oh, and hopefully they will blow themselves straight to hell.

Could you have expected that sort of thing from Jack even just a year or two ago/ This is the guy who sneaked a nuke to Abydos in the film and has been adamant that gaining further destructive technology to kill off the Goa’uld en masse is imperative. The character has grown a lot due to his exposure to other cultures with all its ethical implications through stargate travel.

Jack and Daniel’s scenes together offer interesting insight into their relationship. I still say their working relationship is the only thing that keeps their personality clash from erupting into full blown , open conflict. Their last in the flesh conversation involves Jack awkwardly trying to express his feelings for Daniel, to which Daniel pointedly responds, “Why do you care?” His question reveals the two do not have a solid emotional connection. Indeed, the best Jack can muster is that even though Daniel has been an annoying pain over the years, he has grown to respect him. Jack’s long military career has made him very cold emotionally. While he does not come right oyt and say it, what he appreciates about Daniel is the moral compass he has provided for him. The recognition Daniel is a highly moral person is what convinces him to stop Jacob/Selmak from using the healing device on him so Daniel can ascend for his higher purpose--to do more good.

Sam and Teal’c are far closer friends with Daniel, and their vigils at his bedside are just as moving. Teal’c in particular. I have made no secret he is not my favorite character. I do not want to trash Christopher Judge as an actor, but he has not done as good a job as one would hope at shining Teal’c’s personality through his stoicism. Seeing him cry here as his friend nears death is about the only time I have witnessed him pull it off to great effect. Of course, Judge and Shanks were and still are best friends, so his tears were probably real.

Daniel ascends to a higher plain thanks to Oma, the Ancient One who took the hacissus child a couple seasons ago. You have to be on your toes with continuity when watching this show. The final scene emphasizes Jack’s sorrow at seeing Daniel go.

Daniel’s act of sacrifice is based on a real event. A Canadian physicist named Louis Slotin manually dismantled two half spheres of plutonium after a mishap caused a radiation leak. His actions saved the lives of his colleagues, but he quickly perished from radiation poisoning. Many americans, myself included, know diddly squat about Canadian history, so there is a point for all of us to learn.

“Meridian” features the first appearance of Nemec as Jonas. Out of the twenty or so episodes I had watched before beginning these reviews, none featured Jonas. He is a blank slate to me, and I have not heard many fans talk about the character. Considering he only sticks arounsd for one season, I am curious to discover whether he is a solid character or an error the powrrs that be were eager to correct as soon as Shanks could be convinced to return. So far, he possess many shades of daniel--nerdy with an idealistic a conscience. It is interesting how Jack is the one who tweaks him to do the right thing by giving Earth nquadria for a peaceful purpose.

“Meridian” ia a highly emotional episode. The main reason is the most obvious--this is goodbye to Daniel/Michael Shanks. Daniel’s descent towards death is horrifically disturbing as he is literally mummified in bandages as his body disintegrates. There may be worse ways to go, but I cannot think of any right off hand. But what may be more poignant is that daniel does not realize what a good guy he is. He just sacrificed himself to save millions of lives, yet he thinks his life is a failure because of past mistakes. He wants to ascend because he believes his flesh is too weak to ever gain redemption. How many people beat themselves up this way on their deathbeds? It is question I am not thrilled to ponder.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"The Sentinel"

“The Sentinel” revisit’s the storyline of the rogue NID teams stealing technology from Earth’s allies. It does so with subtle retroactive continuity--the “previously on Stargate SG-1 is edited with two NID agents featured in this episode replacing two who were actually arrested in the original scene. Oftentimes, I would be irritated by such a move, but somehow it feels clever here instead. Maybe it is because I want to like ’The Sentinel’ in spite of a number of glaring mistakes.

The SG-9 team has been diligently working to restore relations with the people of Tolana after an NID team tried to steal the Sentinel, a defensive weapon that has kept the Goa’uld from invading for centuries. Instead of stealing the device, the team allegedly took it aprt and put it together again to see if they could figure out how it works. Something went wrong, because the Sentinel no longer works. Jaffa have successfully invaded the planet and are holding steady until the System Lord Svarog arrives.

The SG-1 team is set to go to Tolana and fix the device, but it is determined they need the two NID operatives along with them. Reluctantly, Jack allows Grieves and Kershaw to go along, unarmed, to help in exchange for commuting their death sentences for high treason.

‘The Sentinel” presents an odd role reversal from this point on. Jack assumes the diplomatic role of convincing the tolana leader, Marul, the Sentinel may never work again and he needs to evacuate his people before Savrog arrives. Sam, the brains of SG-1, joins Teal’c in defending the Sentinel device while Grieves, Kershaw, and Daniel work to figure it out. Daniel is the one who figures out the mathematical harmonics whatsis of the force field surrounding the Sentinel, so he is the hero of the day. So Jack the Career Soldier, is the diplomat., Sam the Scientist, is the soldier. And Daniel the Archeologist is the scientist. Weird.

The twist is Grieves and Kershaw are hiding the truth. There is normally a hermit caretaker who has to become part of the Sentinel in order to get it to work, but grieves killed him the first time they were on Tolana. There is no way to get the Sentinel to work without a human taking part. When Savrog’s forces arrive and overwhelm Tolana, Grieves decides to become part of the Sentinel himself in order to seek some sort of redemption. His plan works. The Goa’uld disappear in a wave of light. For the sake of convenience, Kershaw dies from a staff weapon blast to the back and the tolana refuse to deal with Earth any further, so there is no sharing of the Sentinel technology.

“The Sentinel’ is an exciting, action oriented episode, but the best part of it is something quite subtle. Marul is played by Henry Gibson. He was in his 70’s at this point and it looks like he has even shrunk some from his already small stature in his old age. That this meek little fellow the Tolana leader implies they are a race completely incapable of defending themselves without the Sentinel. Marul is bullied in several scenes by Savrog’s first Prime, a man who towers over him. Marul is evidently executed off screen when he refuses to tell the First Prime how to shut off the force field surrounding the Sentinel. I felt angry these huge Jaffa were bullying a tiny elderly man and even worse they pretty clearly murdered him. Those are some powerful images.

I recall a final season episode of MacGyver in which Gibson played an aging silent film star. One wonders if he and Richard Dean Anderson are buddies, and the latter got him the part. That might explain why Jack is the only main character who has scenes with Marul. It is just a hunch. I have no proof one way or the other, but it is not like Gibson is normally a Vancouver like the rest of the guest cast usually is.

“The Sentinel” does have flaws. No one seems to know whether Grogan is a sergeant or a lieutenant. He answers to both. As an Air Force Academy graduate, he should be a 2nd lieutenant. The role reversals of the SG-2 team members do not feel right. Jack threatens to shoot Grieves three times, once out of general principle, yet he does not stand over his shoulder at any point. Why is he serving as the diplomat instead of Daniel? Why is sam providing cover fire instead of working her physics skills on the Sentinel? Daniel’s role is largely to just stand around and get yelled at for being in the way. Nothing is quite what you would expect. On a humorous note, the scene of Teal’c pering out from behind a natural barrier to fire his staff weapon is used every single time the battle scene cuts back to him. There is a way to save on the special effects budget.

“The Sentinel’ is still watchable in spite of its oddities and outright mistakes. I hasten to mention that when the guest star--in this case, Gibson--is the highlight, one should be prepared to be disappointed. There is a definite vibe of “The Sentinel” having been thrown in there as a action yarn to give the audience mindless entertainment before the big season-ending episodes.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Menace"

I have to confess this is the second effort at writing a review for “Menace.” the more thoughts about the episode I put down, the more I realized my initial reaction was completely wrong. ‘Menace’ toys with the base emotions to the point I had to sit back a moment and let maturity take over. Tough thing to do in my case, no? what follows is a far better analysis than the knee jerk, emotionally charged reaction I had before.

The problem with my initial review is that I interpreted the characters, particularly Jack, to be written off kilter. Jack hit two extremes--very childlike at times and rigidly cold at others. Certainly, Jack does not take anything too seriously. He is a cynic who recognizes absurdity in just about everything. I can appreciare that. I am a borderline nihilist myself when it comes reacting to how people are going to react to any given situation. In the end, he switches attitude in order to commit an act seemingly so brutal, I was taken aback. Yet the more I think about it, the more I realize how in character he actually was in both his actions and the after math.

Well, that is all terribly cryptic without explaining the story. The SG-1 team is exploring a planet on which a highly advanced civilization appears to have been destroyed in the distant past with no indication of how it was destroyed. They discover a robot in stasis. Sam wants to bring it back to the SGC for study. Jack is wary, but they do so. The robot, whom we learn is named Reese, is reactivated successfully.

Reese is played by Danielle Nicolette. Nicolette is an inspired choice for the role. She was nearly thirty years old at the time, but looked far younger. Reese looks to be a teenager at the oldest, but has the mind of a child. Like a child, she has the dire need for everyone to like her, can get highly petulant when she does not feel as though she is winning people over, and yet posses that innocent apathy for the well-being of others. Reese is treated with suspicion by all of the SG-1 team, save Daniel, because no one is quite certain how she is the only survivor of whatever catastrophe that befell her planet. How did she survive? Was the catastrophe her fault? Is she a threat to Earth?

Daniel is her advocate from the very beginning, and he continues to be even after Reese’s secret is discovered--her creator did not mean for her to be such a child emotionally, and when she felt rejected by everyone, she created playmates for herself--the Replicators. She did not mean for them to be destructive. She simply lost control of them. They spread to other planets causing wanton destruction.
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Daniel goes above and beyond the extra mile for Reese. He is even trying to help her after she seriously injures him twice. Ultimately, he fails. Reese creates a new army of replicators and insists on escaping through the stargate. She begins to lose Whern it comes down to it, the choice is to either self-destruct SGC or destroy Reese in order to prevent the Replicators from spreading across Earth. Jack opts to shoot Reese in order to destroy her beyond repair. Her destruction successfully neutralizes the Replicators.

So we are back to my cryptic comments about Jack odd characterization. My initial revieew was negative. “Menace” came across as a off kilter freelancer script to fill out the episode order. The main cast were nothing more than caricatures of their actual selves acting in too far extremes. Then I stopped and realize they were not. The characterizations were instead brilliant.

The first thing I had to cast aside was the thought Reese was a child. No, she was a robot, and a potential menace who turned out to be a true one. Jack, who often thinks in absolutes, is fully in defensive mode the entire episode. He does not want to take Reese back to SGC. He thinks she should be deactivated because no one knows anything about her connection to her planet’s devastation. When it comes down it his final act, Jack has no choice but to coldly shoot Reese because her Replicators are beginning to act independently, the self-destruct timer is counting down, and Daniel is trapped with her. Daniel angrily reacts, even calling jack a stupid SOB, for shooting Reese, because he believed she was stopping the Replicators. I initially sympathized with Daniel. He is an idealist who wants to give everyone every possible chance. But Jack was right this time. There was nothing else to do. I give him props for taking Daniel’s insult in stride our of his respect for Daniel’s idealism in such matters. But reality is a dark place in which to live. Sometimes, nasty things have to be done.

“Menace’ is full of many interesting elements. I am a fan of the Replicators, so their return is great. I am satisfied with their origin, surprisingly enough for a nitpicker like me. The scene in which she creates one for Daniel in order to make up for injuring him in anger is one of the creepiest I have seen on the series. Hammond gets in on the action when the Replicators begin taking over SGC. He does not get to see much action, so it is cool on the rare occasions he gets to cut loose. These are all highlights which I weighed positively against what I considered poor characterization in my first review. Upon further reflection, it is all good. That being said, “Menace” is absorbing, but unpleasant viewing. It is definitely a must see, but not something I would get the urge to put in the Dvd player and watch again on a whim. The story is too draining.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"The Warrior"

“The Warrior” revisit’s the nascent Jaffa rebellion. It is the first episode to be co-written by a cast member. Christopher Judge contributes his first of four scripts for the series, a total which narrowly edges out Michael Shanks’ three. Considering the real life timing of the episode’s filming, its message of following a false leader on a suicidal crusade is particularly prescient.

Bar’tac and Teal’c catch word of a free Jaffa named K’tano, the former first Prime of the minor Goa’uld Imhotep, who has been gathering up former Jaffa of dead System Lords into a rebel army. K’tano is a charismatic speaker, reminiscent of a fiery evangelist, and the two of them pledge loyalty to his cause. They return to SGC in order to urge an alliance with K’tano’s growing forces.

The SG-1 team goes to the planet with a small number of food, supplies, and weapons as a show of good faith. Jack is immediately wary of the extreme loyalty K’tano commans from the Jaffa. They are willing to die for his cause in absolute obedience to his cause. What is the difference between the Jaffa believing the Goa’uld are gods and them believing K’tano is a messiah? Hold that thought.

Any potential alliance is rendered impossible when K’tano sends a young Jaffa out as a suicide bomber. The Jaffa is thrilled to give his life for K’tano, and so are Teal’c and Bra’tac. Neither of them opt to return to Earth with SG-1. Instead, Teal’c goes on a dangerous mission against the System Lord Yu and is captured. Rather than kill him, Yu informs Teal’c of the truth about K’tano--he is Imhotep. As a minor player, he could never build up a loyal army of Jaffa, but by posing as one, he could build up his own army.

Teal’c reveals the truth to all K’tano’s followers. They do not believe it. Teal’c challenges K’tano to ritualistic combat. After a battle laden with The Matrixstyle special effects--naturally--Teal’c defeats Imhotep. The Goa’uld attack the planet immediately thereafter, forcing the Jaffa to flee through the stargate.

I cannot help but see relevant post-9/11 themes in ‘The Warrior.’ Osama bin laden was the charismatic leader of al Qeada, a group of true believers willing to sacrifice anything while committing any atrocity for whatever reason bin Laden claimed was holy. One can debate whether bin laden was a true believer in his cause or just wanted power for himself. K’tano appeared to be the former, but turned out to be the latter. The intriguing thing to take away from the analogy is “The Warrior” was filmed weeks before 9/11. The following episode is well known because much of the second act was difficult to get through because it was filmed on 9/11 with the cast and crew well aware of what was occurring in new York and Washington. Hence, “The Warrior” is a prescient episode. Its theme resonates far more than was intended.

K’tano is played by Ron Worthy, who is well known for portraying the Cylon Simon in Battlestar Galactica. Worthy joins Aaron Douglas and Grace Park as future Cylons who have appeared on Stargate SG-1.

The episode does resonate. Even if not for its timely theme, I would still award it high marks. Theme of false gods and misplaced loyalty to the them as meandered quite a bit as of late, so it is good to see it return with a worthy story. That is high compliment coming from me. The Jaffa rebellion is the weakest running story arc as far as I am concerned, so anything that can make it compelling deserves recognition.

The key factor is Worthy. He makes a believable leader with a messianic complex. I have no problem believing teal’c could fall under his spell. I am more skeptical of Bra’tac, but he has wanted free Jaffa his entire life. I can forgive some idealism on his part. Eolid episode all around.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Fail Safe"

If Stargate SG-1 had to do an homage to a Michael Bay film, at least the episode came ten years or so before alien ninja turtles. The bay film in question is 1998’s Armageddon--a loud, highly kinetic film known more for its Aerosmith theme song than anything else. Don’t wanna miss a thing? Do not worry. If you have not seen it, you have not missed a thing. “Fail Safe” corrects a lot of problems I have with Armageddon with it being more a tense thriller than an overblown popcorn munching blockbuster.

An asteroid is discovered to be on a collision course with Earth. It appears to have come from out of nowhere, so it is a fluke anyone saw it in time. The SGC has a shade under twelve days to destroy the asteroid or all life on Earth will be wiped out. Efforts to raise any of the scattered Tok’ra for help are unsuccessful and the Asgard refuse to intervene in a natural disaster even if it means Earth will be destroyed. The SGC is on its own.

The plan is to repair the cargo ship Jacob/Selmak and Daniel crashed on Sevanna, land on the asteroid, and planet a naquadah bomb set to shatter the rock apart before it passes the fail safe point at which it can no longer safely explode. After setting the bomb and surviving a meteor shower, the SG-1 team discovers the core of the asteroid is loaded with naquadah--enough to cause an explosion that would destroy Earth. The reason no one knew about the asteroid is because it is a Goa’uld booby trap dragged out of place in order to look like a natural disaster.

So the SG-1 team to disarm the bomb and instead send the ship and asteroid into hyperspace so it can pass through the Earth. The plan works, and our heroes are rescued by the late arriving to the party Tok’ra.

“Fail Safe” is fun to watch. It is set at a far less frenetic pace than Armageddon-I cannot help but make comparisons--that allow the screws to tighten effectively. The Cgi work on the surface of the asteroid, particularly when earth is on the horizon, is extremely impressive. I especially appreciated the unpredictable ending in which another creative solution had to be found besides blowing up the asteroid.

If there is any weak point, aside from sound traveling through airless space and rocks bouncing in airless space-it is that early on, SGC assumes the ship carrying the SG-1 team has crashed onto the asteroid with presumably no survivors. Obviously, we know that cannot be true, but the scene at the Sgc occurs after we have seen the ship safely land. There is not even a hint of concern among the audience, so it is difficult to genuinely feel the hopelessness of the situation as the SGC begins evacuating off world because Earth is doomed. Don S. Davis and Teryl Rothery in particular do a fine job convincing us this is the end, but I think the subplot of everyone believing the SG-1 team is dead should have been done another way.

But I am being hypercritical here. “Fail Safe” is a fun, action oriented thriller that delivers on just about ever level. There is no heady moral debate. The story does not get bogged down in the politics of the various alien races. The story is a straight forward action yarn.. I like it. I even get a humorous Macgyver flashback at the scene in which jack has to disarm the bomb after the deactivation code will not work, and he has no clue what to do without Sam advising him every step of the way on cutting the proper wires.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Last Stand"

“Last Stand” does offer a big payoff from the previous episode’s set up while hinting at big things to come in the future. Hilariously enough, Anubis is still spoken of in ominous tones and we find out at least part of his plan to regain power, but he still has not shown up. In that case, I amend my previous description regarding the pacing of his introduction. It has gone from glacially slow to continental drift slow. The River Styx must suffer a doldrums somewhere along the way.

I am enormously amused by how simply the two cliffhangers are resolved. Daniel pricks Osiris with the drug, and she immediately sees him as Yu’s loyal servant. The rest of the SG-1 team use special crystals to almost instantaneously dig tunnels to the surface in order to escape. At the very least, we learn how the Tok’ra were able to dig a large underground base so quickly. After a misspent youth immersed in comic books, I am still impressed when tough cliffhangers are resolved so simply, I have to wonder why I felt any tension in the first place.

As hinted at in the previous episode, Daniel is hesitant to use the piison, which he could have done to save himself from Osiris, because he does not want to kill sarah, too. His reluctance works in his favor as he learns about Anubis upon returning to the Goa’uld summit meeting. Anubis was a System Lord banished banished by the others because of the brutality of his atrocities. Now he wants to return. In exchange for letting him back in the club, Anubis promises to destroy Earth. As he is currently not a System Lord,, the treaty with the Asgard protecting Earth does not apply to him. As a sign of good faith, Anubis has wiped at the Tok’ra. The humans have been knocking off system Lords on a regular basis as a late, so the System Lords agree to allow Anubis back in. Only Yu votes no.

Since everything has gone badly, Daniel cuts and runs with only a minor delay--the unsuccessful rescue of Sarah Gardner/Osiris, which nearly gets him killed by both her and Yu. Seriously, rama. There has to be a woman out there for you with less drama. Or at least one who will not become Goa’uld and try to murder you. Jacob/Selmak and Daniel make it to Revanna in answer to an Sos from the rest of the SG-1 team. The ship crashes under attack from Zipacna’s forces, but Elliott/Lantash offers to sacrifice himself as a prisoner to the Jaffa so he can release the poison, thereby clearing the way for everyone to escape through the stargate.

That, folks, is the abrupt end. Elliott/Lantash’s sacrifice, the death of the Jaffa, and our heroes’ escape is all left to the post fade to black imagination. Which is fine when one assumes the episode ran long otherwise due to reams of exposition. The exposition not only foreshadows Anubis’ plan, but offers some closure and enlightenment. As far as closure is concerned, Lantash puts Sam at ease by revealing Martouf does not hold her responsible for his death. The enlightenment comes from a conversation between Daniel and another slave who says he serves with anticipation of the day he can be blended with a symbiote and become a goa’uld himself. I do not believe anyone considered the human slaves might want to become Goa’uld. Just goes to show there is someone out there willing to do most anything for power.

Michael shanks leaves near the end of the season for a while because he feels like daniel is not given enough to do in recent times. Considering he is the main focus of this two part episode, but that focus consists of him standing quietly behind an asian warlord stereotype out of a ‘30’s movie serial, I can see how Shanks could be convinced of greener pastures elsewhere. It turns out there were not any for another five years, but there you go.

“Last Stand” is a worthy conclusion as well as an entertaining episode in its own right. It does not feel right that Daniel did not release the poison anyway, but we need System Lord villains for down the road and the poison for Elliott/Lantash to make his heroic, off screen sacrifice, so all right. ’Tis no big deal.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Summit"

“Summit” is the first of a two part episode which continues the glacially slow introduction of Anubis as a major villain. As the opening installment of a two part story, the episode is mostly set up for what one hopes will be a big pay off. There is a lot going on, however, including a steady build up of tension and big action sequences that help “Summit” stand on its own merits.

In the wake of Apophis and Cronus’ deaths, the remaining System Lords have come under attack from a mysterious and more powerful force they do not yet realize is Anubis. The Tok’ra learn the system Lords are gathering together for a summit to establish a new order under the circumstances. The want to send in Daniel, who speaks fluent Goa’uld, to administer a new poison at the summit which will kill every symbiote in attendance while leaving the host to perish later. Daniel is not keen on being a party to mass murder, particularly when Jacob/Selmak tell him this is a dry run for using the poison on every Goa’uld out there, but he agrees after nudging from Teal’c and hinted at memories of Sha’re’s fate.

Zipacna, like Tanith, has pledged loyalty to Anubis and urges Osiris to do so as well. Zipacna has uncovered a Tok’ra spy and knows both where their new home planet is and the poisoning plan. He and his forces plan to attack the planet while Osiris travels to the summit to expose the Tok’ra agent. That would, of course, be Daniel. Osiris hasSarah Gardner’s memories, so she can and does recognize him. For whatever reason, she does not blow his cover.

Meanwhile, two SG teams, including the one to which Lt. Kevin Elliott is assigned, are waiting with the Tok’ra for news of daniel’s success. Sam learns that Martouf’s symbiote, Lantesh, is alive and waiting for a new host. She is not happy Martouf was not saved, too. She should have counted her blessings, because when Zipacna’s forces attack, Lantash is forced to take the nearest human as a host. That winds up being Elliott, who is severely wounded in a cave in. Everyone winds up trapped underground when bombs force a cave in that blocks every means of escape.

I appreciate the creative way in which the usual philosophical battle between Daniel and Jack is handled. The tok’ra are pushing for mass genocide of the Goa’uld. It is a step so drastic, it gives Jack pause. In fact, when Jacob/Selmak spills the beans about the ultimate plan, he does not even give Jack time to respond before scurrying off to avoid any lectures. Daniel is put in way over his head. He does not want to be the catalyst for the poisoning at all, but is convinced his act will be for the greater good. The realization the Jaffa will be collateral damage makes him suffer second thoughts. He also hesitates to release the poison after Osiris arrives, presumably because he cannot bring himself to kill Sarah Gardner. The poor guy is put through the ringer here. Jack not necessarily so much, but both are being forced into each others’ roles for a time and not altogether comfortable with the reversal of fortunes.

Zipacna’s bombing raid on the Tok’ra planet features so really good CGI work for the budget. The explosions and pyrotechnics are a welcome contrast to the quiet cloak and dagger goings on at the Goa’uld summit.

‘Summit” is full of all sorts of geekery. Daniel is posing as the assistant of the System Lord Yu by use of the drug an alien used to convince SG-1 he was Lt. tyler a few episodes back. The Tok’ra planet Revanna is a reference to Revenna, the city from which Julius Caesar launched his attack on the Republic. Ba’al makes his first appearance. I am not certain why I never realized this before, but Zipacna is played by Kevin Durand, who is more famous to me as the psychopathic mercenary Keamy from Lost. considering the similarities between the two characters in terms of vicious attitudes, I have to now wonder if Durand did not get the role of Keamy because of how he played Zipacna. Anna-Louise Plowman makes another appearance as Sarah Gardner/Ositis. She is not only well know to Doctor Who fans, but is hot, too:“Summit” is highly entertaining on its own for an episode that builds up to the next. I definitely want to see the conclusion, so it does its job well. I have to say, though--after all the hype, Anubis’ actual in the flesh debut is going to have to be some kind of spectacular or else.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"48 Hours"

“48 Hours” is a peculiar animal--a Teal’c-centric episode that features everything but Teal’c. Literally, folks. Stargate SG-1 has had a habit of wrapping up dangling plotlines in a hurry, but I have yet to see an episode in which so many were addressed so anticlimactically. So are resolved so abruptly, I assume the resolutions are a red herring for future surprises. Nevertheless, everything but the kitchen sink makes an appearance.

The SG-1 team is ambushed by Goa’uld forces lead by Tanith on a planet which is being surveyed for a possible Goa’uld base. Teal’c is the last to escape through the stargate because he pauses to shoot down Tanith’s Death Glider. Tanith’s Death Glider spirals into the stargate and causes some techno babble problem which traps Teal’c in the form of energy within the wormhole. As long as no one uses the stargate, there is a chance Teal’c can be recovered.

Cue the continuation of multiple storylines. First, Frank Simmons shows up to announce a 48 hour deadline before the stargate must be used again. He is willing to tell Sam how to save Teal’c, but he wants a Goa’uld hand device in return. Two, Maybourne conveniently shows up to explain to jack he was not the one who shot him a couple episodes back. Jack, knowing simmons would only want a goa’uld hand device if he had a Goa’uld, enlists Maybourne to help him locate Adrian Conrad/Goa’uld in NID custody. Three, Daniel and Maj. Davis are sent to Russia to negotiate for the use of their stargate to return off world SG teams while the American one is stymied and for a DHD. So we have Tanith, Simmons, Melbourne, Conrad, and the Russian plot reads are rolling along.

I have yet to mention “48 hours” introduces Dr. Rodney McKay, who will become a recurring character on Stargate SG-1 and a main cast member on Stargate: Atlantis, serving as a foil for Sam. I am going to assume Rodney becomes a far more well-rounded character than the annoying caricature of an arrogant genius he is here. I understand he is one of the most popular Stargate: Atlantis characters, so surely he becomes more well developed later. Right now Rodney is Sheldon Cooper without the childlike innocence that prevents you from killing him.

“48 Hours” is not only crowded with stuff going on, but heavy on dialogue rather than action. Simmons bring his usual cloak and dagger shtick. Rodney and Sam bicker over theoretical physics which is all high concept science fiction. Daniel and Davis have boring political negotiations which are only interrupted by the occasional jaw dropping idealism. Yes, Daniel, the United states is looking out for its best interests over that of the entire planet. The only real action after Teal’c kills Tanith is Jack and Maybourne recovering Conrad/Goa’uld.

Matters are quickly resolved: Teal’c is saved when the Russians allow for their DHD to be used in accordance with Conrad/Goa’uld’s instructions on how to save Teal’c and Simmons is arrested for treason. As you see, there is a lot going on here. “48 hours” has the George Lucas problem of cramming in too many stories unfolding at once for the audience to easily absorb. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with it, but at least one story ought to have been cut out. Fans might burn me in effigy, but I would not bring in Rodney for this one. Much of what he brings to the episode is superfluous. Tanith was a good villain who deserved a more dramatic death, but I am going to chalk that one up to the unavailability of Peter Wingfield. If I am not mistaken, he had a steady role on the 2002 24 season at this point. The bottom line is ’48 Hours” gets the job done, but one wonders why so many elements had to be thrown in right now.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Wormhole X-Treme!"

"Wormhole X-Treme!” is the milestone 100th episode of Stargate SG-1. for the sticklers amongst us, it is only the 99th tagged episode because I reviewed the two hour pilot as one episode rather than the split into two for syndication. The powers that be decided to go the comedy route and do a self-referential parody wherein there is a new television show, created by the again memory wiped Martin Lloyd, based on SG-1’s adventures. Well, all right.

Satellites pick up a ship headed towards Earth. The SG-1 team suspects it is the ship that was carrying Martin Lloyd and his cohorts away from a Goa’uld attack. They have three days in which to find Martin before the ship arrives. They discover he now has a job in Hollywood consulting on a science fiction television show called “Wormhole X-Treme” The show bears a striking resemblance to SG-1’s real adventures.

The military decides the show is a good idea because they can use it as plausible deniability if any aspect of the real stargate program is compromised. Jack becomes the Air Force consultant on the show in order to find Martin. It turns out he has had his memory wiped again. Jack enlists sam and Daniel to find out who has done it this time and why. It turns out to be no mystery. Martin was so upset upon learning his planet was destroyed, he did it to himself. His memory may have been wiped, but his subconscious gave him the inspiration to create Wormhole X-Treme based on his suppressed memories. Both his hidden alien cohorts and the NID are after him His cohorts only want to rendesvous with the ship and leave Earth permanently. Jack decides to help them do so ahead of their being captured by the NID.

That is pretty much it as far as the plot goes. Why the writers even bothered with the space ship subplot is beyond me. The entire purpose of the episode is for the creative staff to poke self-referential fun at itself and the series. I will admit some of the tweaks are funny. There are jokes about the zat’s stun, kill, disintegrate properties that I have had issues with in occasional reviews. The question of how the Tollan can phase through solid walls while not falling through the floor is brought up and quickly ignored. These points were amusing, but otherwise, the concept does not grab me. It looks like the production staff, who are doubling on screen as the production staff for Wormhole X-Treme are having a good time poking fun at themselves, but who wants to watch other people having fun? I do not relate to the pitfalls of producing a television show. This stuff does not mean a whole lot to me. Sitting through this episode is like fogging up a window to a house where a wild party you are not invited to is in full swing. No one wants to do that.

What is worse is the story is cut short in order to do a mockumentery of the making of Wormhole x-Treme in case you did not get enough during the actual episode. Well, I did, so where does that leave me? No longer wanting to stand at the window, for sure.

It does not help much the plot with martin and the space ship is so poorly thought out. Why did Martin’s cohorts leave him with the device they would need to return to the ship in the first place? You do not give something important you may need in the future to the one guy who not only does not see eye to eye with you, but has his memory wiped so you cannot predict what kind of life he is going to lead. Keep the darn thing amongst yourselves so you will always know where it is! Practically every character other than jack is underutilized to the point of near cameo. While it is kind of fun to see Jack and Martin reverse roles in an almost identical conversation to their first meeting when martin tries to convince Jack he is an alien, there is no much else there.

I am disappointed overall. There are some bright spots, but not enough to consider ’Wormhole X-Treme” a good episode. I hae mentioned before the powers that be like to experiment with stories to do things one would not expect given Stargate SG-1’s premise. I have generally been impressed with such experiments have turned out. Not this time. The 100th episode should be something more epic and meaningful for the series story arc. Not this.

Rating: ** (out of 5)