Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Resurrection"

I am often intrigued by television episodes that are crafted by the actors themselves. ‘Resurrection’ is a double treat in that regard. Michael Shanks pens the script while Amanda Tapping makes her directorial debut. Unfortunately, the finished product comes across as amateur hour. What it boils down to is shanks and Tapping are trying a little too hard to be artsy fartsy when, like colleague Christopher Judge’s creative efforts, they should have just straight out told the story they wanted to tell. I do note with amusement Richard Dean Anderson’s waning enthusiasm for being on the series is taken into account--jack is neither seen, nor even mentioned.

Sam, Daniel, and Teal’c are called to Los Angeles after a rogue NID experiment to create a human/Goa’uld hybrid is discovered. The hybrid, a young woman named Anna, went wild and murdered 32 NID scientists before being captured herself. Keffler, the scientist in charge, plays it cold and uncooperative at first, but eventually reveals the NID wanted to learn all the Goa’uld secrets, which they pass on genetically, by creating the hybrid. The Goa’uld personality, Sehkmet, over took the human part and went on the murdering spree before anything could be revealed. Daniel tries to bond with anna by showing an interest in chalk drawings she has hanging all over her cell. One rawing leads him to open a Goa’uld ark which turns out to be a large bomb. Our heroes have sixteen hours to defuse the bomb with jack Bauer nowhere in sight.

If all that sounds exciting, keep in mind the entire story takes place in three rooms with virtually nothing but dialogue carrying the story. Reams of dialogue, folks. The entire episode bounces between three different scenes: Sam interrogating Keffler, Daniel helping Anna channel Sehkmet’s knowledge, and Dr. Lee and Teal’c attempting to disarm the bomb. The format might not be so boring if it lead anywhere, but it does not. Keffler escapes custody, Sehkmet takes over anna and also escapes, and Lee manages to disarm the bomb without Sehekmet’s help. In the end, Sehkmet encounters the fleeing Keffler and kills him, but it turns out to be Anna instead. She wanted revenge for the torture she experienced. She is also fatally wounded in the attack on keffler, so all is wrapped up in a neat little bow.

I call “Resurrection” amateur hour for good reason. Shanks and Tapping are too green to do what they wanted to accomplish. Let me take these in order.

Shanks’ script is a hodgepodge of direct lifts from other sources and pretentious efforts at drama. So much of the elements of “Resurrection” are from The Silence of the Lambs. shanks does it on purpose--Sam and Agent Malcolm Barrett even joke about Keffler’s Hannibal Lector act while he is under interrogation, and the joke is spot on. As is Anna, who is being helf in a cage in the middle of a warehouse in much the same manner as lector was held in Memphis. Clarice starling gave him his drawings to hang up. Anna has her chalk drawings all around. If the episode was good, you might consider that stuff clever homage. But “Resurrection” is bad, so it is just a cheap rip off. The episode itself is bad because the tension that has been building up--can Anna channel her inner Goa’uld in order to defuse the bomb--goes out the window when lee does it himself. The tension switches in the final few moments to Anna murdering Keffler. The ending gnaws at your emotions, but what about the 40 minutes worth of stuff we just sat through for pretty much nothing?

I hate to pile on, but when a script is bad, nagging plotholes are difficult to overlook. How did a raging killing machine like Sehkmet managed to be apprehended after her killing spree? Keffler is the only one left alive, so he had to be responsible for stopping her, but how? We do not know. A bigger problem is the bomb. There is no explanation given as to why they cannot just move the darn thing. It is in a box, for heaven’s sake. The timer is set for sixteen hours, too. They could deliver the bomb safely into the desert by horseback in that amount. I have to assume there is a reason our heroes do not move the bomb, but none is offered up on screen.

As for the directing, Tapping goes for a lot of cliché shots in order to beat us over the head with the emotions she is trying to convey. She also likes to utilize weird angle just to show she has a unique vision, but it winds up being too unique. The weirness detrats from the story. I will give her a B for good faith effort. She does all the directorial student tricks--characters reflected in glass during a conversation, arrogant characters shown with upturned angles while submissive characters are angled down upon, and overhead, turning angles during the depiction of Anna losing control of herself. That sort of stuff should have been left up to the actors to convey with normal camera angles, but tapping clealy has something to prove. She will go on to direct several episodes of Sanctuary, but this is her only Stargate SG-1 outing.

I am down on “Resurrection,” but I am not going to recommend skipping it. It is worth seeing in order to appreciate how good the show normally is when done by experienced professionals. Shanks and Tapping obviously had much they wanted to do with the material, but lacked the know how to pull it off. Nevertheless, it is a labor of love. I hate to be too cruel about those regardless of the results.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

No comments:

Post a Comment