Monday, May 28, 2012

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

I had very little familiarity with Stargate SG-1 prior to writing these reviews, but I was aware the “Heroes” two parter is a favorite of the cast and crew. I obviously have not seen the second part yet, but I am already impressed with the dramatic build up for the cliffhanger that leads into it. There is a masterful mix o humor and build up to impending doom that has been rare as of late on the series.

The president orders a documentary crew to record the goings on at SGC for a film which may or may not be released in the future, depending on whether the stargate remains a secret. Our heroes are not especially eager to cooperate because they suspect their actions are being set up for future judgment. Many antic ensue they give the documentary’s director the run around. It is fun stuff: Daniel tricks the film crew into chasing him over nothing, Sam stutters over questions about her strictly professional relationship with Jack, Teal’c sits in stony silence, Jack offers shots of his rear end, Sen. Kinset\y shows up in an exercise in ego stroking, Frasier lets it drop her daughter is an alien, and the support crew try desperately to make their jobs sound interesting. It is all frivolous fun.

Then there is the flip side. The SG-13 team is sent off to explore a planet whereupon they find the ruins of an Ancient city. Soon after arriving, they destroy a Goa’uld probe that nevertheless signals Jaffa to their position. Pinned down, the SG-1 team and several others head off to rescue them for the cliffhanger. The SG-13 team gets much more personalized than others that have appeared before. We get to hear some of their banter, including a long, humorous rant about having kids being more stressful than exploring hostile planets, that shows they have been a cohesive team for a while now with a strong sense of camaraderie. The writers want us to care about these characters, so one suspects some of them are not going to make it out alive.

Col. Dave Dixon of the SG-13 team is played by Adam Baldwin with the same deadpan cynicism he utilized in playing Jayne Cobb on Firefly. He is perfectly cast here. As the father of four kids who spoke the rant I just described, it would be a brutal kick in the gut if he does not make it. The documentary, Emmett Bregman, is played wonderfully as a sometimes charming, oftentimes manipulative pain in the butt by saul Ruinek, whom you may remember as Fajo, the collector of rare artifacts who once kidnapped data in YNG’s “The Most Toys.”

The best compliment I can pay “Heroes, Part I” is that it is what “Wormhole X-Treme” should have been. There are no self-referential Hollywood in jokes viewers are not completely in on. It is all about our heroes being put on the spot in which they realize reality television , so they want no part of it. In a certain way, the episode satirizes the old M*A*S*H episodes in which a journalist covered the 4077 in the same manner as Bregman is covering SGC. It is done mercifully without all the pretension The episode is very well done, and I am anxious to see how the conclusion, which must obviously take on a darker tone, will pay out.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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