Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Zero Hour"

“Zero Hour” can best be described as a day in the strife of Jack. Five days, to be more accurate, as the episode counts down to a presidential visit to SGC for his endorsement of Jack as base commander. Jack is unsure of himself in the role because he is not much of a diplomat or problem solver outside of blowing stuff up with C4. As he is battered by one crisis right after another, Jack pens his resignation letter to Hammond.

“Zero Hour” is appropriately slowly paced. Some fans may have a problem with that, but considering the plot involves snowing crises over a number of sleepless days, the pacing work. Indeed, the trapped feeling jack is overwhelmed with makes the low budget bottle show’s small nature an advantage. I am curious how long the show can keep that up among promises of smaller budgets throughout the season.

Jack has to deal with an alien plant growing faster than kudzu which eventually prevents gate dialing, bickering ambassadors, a taunting Ba’al, the fate of Camulus, and the possible capture of he SG-1 team amid the trivial planning of the presidential ceremony. All matters escalate with absurdity, but Jack handles them all in his own unique way.

The minor characters are highly entertaining. Bill Lee, who ought to get more absent-minded professor shtick to do, is hilarious as the one fascinated by the plant even as airmen take a blowtorch in order to stop it vines from clogging up the workings of SGC. Naturally, Major “Disaster’ Davis shows up. Harriman gets to do some welcome action aside from announcing chevron encoding. I even dig Gilmore, Jack’s new administrative assistant who is secretly evaluating him on behalf of the president.

If there is any weak point to “Zero Hour,” it is that Ba’al is bluffing aboit having captured the SG-1 team in order to get his hands on Camulus. The real drama of the episode is how to go about rescuing them. Options include a genocidal biological warfare attack. There is a moment in which Jack is called into the gate rrom and everyone is armed and ready to go on a rescue mission. It is a goose bumps moments wherein SGC personnel demonstrate their utmost confidence and loyalty to Jack. It is probably what turned the tide against resigning. But it is deflated when we learn the SG-1 team was exploring a base abandoned by Anubis. A relief, mind you, but definitely a knock on the drama we have experienced for four acts.

What is it with Sam’s self-doubt about her performance evaluation? She made a militarily sound decision when exploring Anubis’ abandoned base. Certainly Jack has a lot of faith in her. It is disappointing after several seasons now of building her up to lead the SG-1 team, we find out she has weak knees. Her situation is different than Jack’s. he has self-doubt because he has never been in charge of such an undertaking as SGC. Sam has been a field commander plenty of times. The character parallels do not work for me.

Oh, looky--product placements are back! The ambassadors are given Krispy Crème donuts during their negotiations. Namedropping Krispy Kreme is not quite as amusing as out heroes snacking on Ben & Jerry’s while discussing the Replicators, but it is amusing nevertheless.

“Zero Hour” is a very small bottle show, but the barebones feel works. It is a times tense and funny. I am surprised Richard Dean Anderson wanted to carry an entire episode himself, and I suspect there will be a lot of Jack-lite eisodes in the future. At least the one that heavily focuses on him as good in spite of a cop out ending regarding the SG-1 team’s fate.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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