Monday, July 30, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Family Ties"

If you wanted to cast an actor to play Vala’s smarmy, crooked con man father, who better than Fred Willard? It is ironic to review “Family Ties” only a few days after Willard was arrested for alleged lewd conduct in an adult theater. not to segue too much from the review or to condone Willard’s alleged actions, but the Pee Wee Herman question must be asked--what do you expect from adult theater patrons? It is nice to know crime is at such a low rate, cops have nothing better to do than sit in an adult theater and arrest viewers for 8ahem8 getting into it. Willard is 78 years old, too. Truly a dangerous man, no?

Moving passed the real world intrusion, Willard plays Jacek, Vala’s con man farher whom she has not seen in years. He contacts SGC with intel about a doomsday attack planned on earth by Arkad loyalists. They have four naquadah laden ships with whih they plan very large, nuclear bomb level explosions at targets on Earth. Jacek will reveal the ship’s location if he is given sanctuary on Earth. His intel checks out when one of the ships is right where he said it would be and its destruction results in a very large kaboom. Jacek is granted sanctuary, but cannot resist going back to his scamming ways. Nor can he reconnect with Vala.

The entire seeking sanctuary bit is a scam itself. He is in league with some of the Jaffa to steal the naquadah that is going to be used to destroy Sgc, sell it, and split the money with them. The SG-1 team scams Jacek instead so they can take the real ship carrying the naquadah and prevent the impending terrorist attack.

“Family Ties” certainly qualifies as filler. Not very good filler at that. While I have no complaints about Willard--he is perfect casting for Jacek--most of the episode is too weird and pointless to be enjoyable. It feels like the powers that be started with the novelty of Willard playing Vala’s father before coming up with a reason for that to happen. There are a few bittersweet moments, such as Vala opening her memory chest to put a necklace Jacek gave her along with the other gifts he has given her since childhood, but the bits like that are not enough to elevate “Family Ties” beyond frivolous filler.

I am disappointed by that. There is a running theme about absentee fathers reconciling with family as Landry does the same with his ex-wife and daughter, but it just does not resonate like it should. The episode would have been more sentimental if the tone had been a little more serious. I think the script is not good enough to hit the right tones. Too much emphasis on Jacek antics, maybe?

One cannot help but think because of the in jokes taking jabs at the Sci Fi Channel for cancelling the series, including mocking the network’s ingratitude and naming its replacement Eureka, the cast and crew are merely phoning it in at this point. Funny, I would think after ten years they would be relieved to move onto other jobs. Perhaps their emotional attachment to the series is greater than I think. Or maybe they are speaking out loud what the fans are thinking. Whichever the case, it is sad to see the end finally come.

It is not necessarily fair to mention a previous episode when judging the current one, but I must note that I was right about the events of the previous episode having no lasting impact. The SG-1 team maintains its strong bond even though Teal’c ran off last episode on a quest of torture and murder for revenge that lead him into physical combat with his friends. Not only is everything fine, but Tealc’s two largest scenes in “Family Ties”--taking a jab at Jacek and inadvertently attending The Vagina Monologues---are played for laughs. Strange, considering Arkad’s plot to attack Earth is a r reminder of the previous episode.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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