Thursday, May 31, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Inauguration"

I have already become accustomed to the need of a clip show in order to give the cast, crew, and audience a breather before the big season finale. The question is just how creative can the production staff be in making such a clip show watchable? In terms of “Inauguration,” better than you might expect.

“Inauguration’ features none of the regular characters save for Hammond in a very brief, but pivotal scene. The bulk of the episode, as the title must suggestion, deals with the newly elected president’s briefing on the stargate program and the now Vice President Robert Kinsey’s attempts to convince the president to clean house at SGC. The result can best be described as Stargate SG-1 meets The West Wing. The similarities are clever considering both William Devane and Robert Picardo, President Henry Hayes and Richard Woolsey, respectively, have had roles on The West Wing in and around the time “Inauguration” aired.

Hayes is incredulous as he is introduced to the stargate program and incensed that Kinsey has known about it for years. There is a strong vibe throughout that Kinsey is the dominant personality of the two. He must be the one who is really in charge. There may be a subtle jab here of the Bush administrations critics that Dick Cheney was an evil figure controlling the goofy president from behind the scenes, but if that is so, it is not as obnoxious as one might think. Stargate SG-1 has by and large kept partisan politics out of its episodes, and I am going to work under the assumption it is not injecting any satire of the then real US president and veep. However you want to see it, Hayes listens to the pro SGC case presented by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the con case presented by Woolsey at the behest of Kinsey.

The arguments are presented to the audience via clips from previous episodes. Of course, they are the weakest part of the episode. But even more so, are generally from less than stellar installments. Heck, one is even a clip of Thor addressing the ambassadors from the previous clip show! You can chalk up the less than great moments to the fact Woolsey is making his case by accentuating SGC’s screw ups and defeats. Perhaps those clips are chosen because, quite frankly, Woolsey makes a great case and the creative staff wants things look dire for our heroes. It is done so well that the only way out of it is for Woolset to conveniently develop a conscience about working for Kinsey and digs up dirt on his connection to the NID black ops, which saves the day. The Chairman of the joint Chiefs sets up the season finale by informing the president of the search for the Lost City and its potential to defeat Anubis.

Shippers take note: one of Kinsey’s interjections into Woolsey’s argument is Jack’s poor judgment because he is clearly in love with Sam. The argument is quickly dismissed by all as loyalty inspired by risking their lives together on a regular basis. It is a cruel, but funny tweak at shippers that only Kinsey agrees with them there is something going on between Jack and Sam.

I have already made The West Wing analogy, but it bears repeating. “Inauguration” is heavy influenced by the series. The episode is dialogue intensive while also being sharp and fast. We are mercifully spared Aaron Sorkin’s penchant for characters spouting off encyclopedic knowledge on esoteric subjects, but we are treated to Sorkinesque quirky behavior, such as Hayes taking off his shoes so he can feel the oval office rug under his feet for the first time. There is a clear admiration for The West Wing among those behind Stargate SG-1.

Is anyone else fuzzy on the timeline leading up to the presidential election? Jack tipped Kinsey’s hand back in 2000 by starting Kinsey’s presidential run so he and Maybourne could escape in the middle of the press frenzy. That would put Kinsey as a candidate in 2000. He is still running for president during his assassination attempt in 2003, so he must not have won the nomination in 2000. So was there a one term president who won in 2000. Kinsey decided he was going to lose the nomination again in 2004, so he hitched his wagon to Hayes? I suppose so, but you have to guess at it. Hayes does not like Kinsey, but acknowledges his fundraising efforts and possible voter fraud in some states got him elected, so the only thing clear is Kinsey wanted power, but could not manage to win the White house on his own. I could be thinking way too deeply about this. The writing staff is largely Canadian writing about the American presidency. Let us see some American writers cooking up palace intrigue in the Prime Minister’s office and see how much Canucks scoff at the resemblence to reality.

Not a big fan of clip shows here. They are a necessary evil thanks to the production schedules of many cable shows. To be fair, I rate what makes it to the screen versus what the powers that be intended. In that regard, “Inauguration” is quite good. It is the best one can expect, at any rate. Bonus points are awarded for for future recurring characters being introduced or featured, so it does not feel like a one off waste. The episode does build up tension for the finale, so there is that, too.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

No comments:

Post a Comment