Saturday, March 31, 2012

There is a Cat Swimming in This Video

See if you can find it. Several views may be necessary.(Via: Look at This)

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #144

It is time once again to round up all the bloggers gracious enough to link to me this week.

Say Anything links to Jenna-Louise Coleman and Natalie Portman.
Proof Positive links to Jenna-Louise Coleman and Natalie Portman.
Paco Enterprises links to Sci Fi Girls.
Reaganite Republican links to Lea Thompson and Scarlett Johansson.
Sentry Journal links to Typical Liberal Harvard Law Student Mindset.
Pirate's Cove links to FMJRA #143, Blogroll Spotlight #138, Lea Thompson, and Sci Fi Girls.
Motor City Times links to If You Could Wipe One Person Off the Face of the Earth, Who Would It Be?
A Large Regular links to Doctor Who Series Seven Trailer.
Randy's Roundtable links to Gillian Anderson and Monica Bellucci.
The Other McCain links to Milla Jovovich.
Conservative Hideout links to FMJRA #143.

A sincere thank you to all who linked this week. If you linked to me in the last week, but I do not have you here, you unfortunately fell through the cracks of Technorati, Google Blog Search, and Sitemeter. Please drop me a note in the comments and I will update with your link.

Stargate SG-1--"Ascension"

“Ascension” is an odd duck. Its general theme feels like filler--an alien falls in love with sam and follows her back to earth--but the secondary plot is the obviously too good to be true discovery of an ultimate weapon to be used against the Goa’uld. We can already figure that the discovery of an uberweapon as the main plot is going to fall flat somehow. It is even worse to make it the b-story. But that is not the big question. Weighing more on my mind is why Sam would fall for an alien who looks like David Spade.

The SG-1 team is exploring a planet which has been devastated by a conflict from long ago. The only thing that remains intact is a large device which is far more advanced than anything else in the civilization. While studying the device, Sam is knocked unconscious. Back at SGC, she is diagnosed with exhaustion and given time off Reluctantly, she agrees. The truth of her condition is an ascended being named orlin tried to communicate with her on the planet, but she could not handle it. He stalks her overnight, watching television in order to learn how he should look and act in human form. Hence that whole David Spade thing.

Look, before any pedants start up--I know orlin is not supposed to actually be spade. But there is supposed to be an awkward vibe about him in that he does not understand human culture, so he chose a form not quite right. He certainly does not look or act like the kind of man Sam would go for, and that is part of the reason the episode is not as good as it could be. Maybe you can see Sam falling for an incorporeal Joe dirt from a higher plane of existence, but I cannot. Hence, the spade references for emphasis on how implausible his hold on sam is.

Orlin is definitely a creepy stalker, but Sam forgives him for staying over secretly in her house. Odd, considering he watched her preparing for bed and sleeping. As I mentioned, she falls for him way too quickly. He explains to her that he intervened against his people’s rules and helped aliens build the weapon in order to defeat the Goa’uld. When the aliens decided to use the weapon to be conquerors themselves, the acended beings wiped them out and banished Orlin as punishment. So he has been isolated for heaven only knows how long and gone completely nutty. Yes, he and sam are a love story for the ages.

Orlin urges sam to convince col. Frank Simmons, the Pentagon bad guy for the season, from using the weapon for fear the ascended beings will wipe out humanity. He builds a stargate in sam’s basemen through materials bought online--sam’s got one heck of a credit card bill coming--to travel to the planet. He sacrifices himself in order to stop SG-16 from firing the weapon by destroying it. The ascended beings consider this an act of redemption and allow Orlin to ascend with them again. Sam is upset her perverted, nutty stalker alien David Spade is gone. I am not.

One big question--why did the ascended beings destroy the civilization rather than just the weapon/ it seems less harsh and far more in keeping with their pledge of non-interference. Even if another one was built, they could have destroyed that one, too. Eventually, the message would have gotten across without resorting to genocide. The ascended beings appear to acknowledge this in the end, as they are satisfied when the weapon is destroyed and do not care the humans have enough data to perhaps build another eventually. Not only a a bit of a plor hole, but a tacit admission the ascended beings did not think their original actions through.

Several points of note: One, Orlin is played by Sean Patrick Flanery. While he may be most famoud for The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, he also played the title character in Powder not much different than Orlin. I have yet to meet anyone who watched Powder and did not like it. Take that for what it is worth. Two, this is the first appearance of Simmons, who is played by John de Lancie. De Lancie may be most famous as !, but he costarred in a blink and you missed it sci fi western called Legend with Richard Dean Anderson. Legend was one of UPN’s numerous failed shows back when Star Trek: Voyager was carrying the network. Let that sink in. Three, while Sam is on leave, Jack and Teal’c show up at her door with pizza and a copy of Star Wars. It is Teal’c’s favorite movie because of the parallels between the rebellion v. the empire and SGC’s battle against the Goa’uld. Flanery worked for George Lucas on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and Orlin has some jedI elements in his storyline.

“Ascension” is not particularly impressive. Maybe if Orlin had not been such a creepy weirdo or took a human form more suitable to Sam’s taste, their relationship would have been more meaningful. As it is, sam comes across as an old maid willing to accept any guy who compliments her no matter how many screws he has loose. I have already talked about the issues surrounding the weapon, so there is no need to rehash. I do not think I will consider “Ascension” one of the worst episodes of the series when it is all said and done, but it definitely ranks below average.

Rating; ** (out of 5)

Sci Fi Girl #1--Tricia Helfer

Number Six/Caprica Six/Gina--Battlestar Galactica
EDI-Mass Effect 1-3
Sarah Kerrigan--Starcraft II
Dare--Halo
Boodikka--Green Lantern: First Flight
Felicia Hardy/black Cat--The Spectacular Spiderman
Killan Qatar--Command & Conquer 3

Well, here she is folks. Tricia Helfer ranks as our number one Sci Fi Girl. The woman so hot, Gaius Baltar nearly annihilated the human race to get in her undies. I imagine some may be disappointed with Helfer in the top spot, but it is difficult to make a convincing argument otherwise. Why? Pictures are worth a thousand words each:

Friday, March 30, 2012

Keith Olbermann Out at Current TV

No surprise. Keith Olbermann's show looked like it was broadcast via webcam with a bed sheet hung behind him. that is one notch above street preaching in front of a hat full of change.

The guy certainly knows how to win friends and influence people, does he not?

Stargate SG-1--"Threshold"

Anything associated with science fiction entitled ‘Threshold” ought to make any geek wary. But as Brannon braga has nothing to do with the script, I bravely give it a shot. It is a Teal’c centric episode. I do not find teal’c all that compelling a character, but after my complaint in the preceding review his development as reached a dead end with his conversion back to blind faith for Aoophis, props must be given for the effort to deepen Tealc’s devotion to freeing Jaffa instead. Autocorrect keeps changing Teal’c to talc. This is going to be an annoying review to write.

Weeks have gone by since Teal’c returned to SGC. He is a prisoner under the care of a psychologist helping him work through his deprogramming. Teal’c pretends to be well, but it is a ruse in order to make an escape attempt. He is recaptured by SC-1 and Bra’tac. Bra’tac realizes teal’c is a near hopeless case, so he rips out Junior in the hopes when Teal’c sees his life flash before his eyes as he nears death, he will accept the truth about Apophis’ false godhood.

As his friends take turns keeping vigil, Teal’c remembers the past. He recalls the day he was introduced to Apophis by Bra’tac whereupon he challenges Apophis when his father is called a coward in his failure to kill Cronus. Later, Teal’c befriends Va’lar, a true believer in Apophis who is not being trained by Bra’tac to doubt Apophis’ divinity. When Va’lar is forced to retreat in a hopeless battle with the forces of Ra, Teal’c is charged with killing him because of his cowardice. He cannot, however, because of what happened to his father. He spares va’lar, directing him to a safe haven village, and takes a sybiote from a dead Jaffa as ’proof” he killed Va’lar. Apophis does not know the difference. Teal’c wonders about apophis’ omniscience.

Teal’c is eventually forced to raze the village to which he sent Va’lar. He makes certain va’lar is dead to cover up his deception. The selfish act weighs heavily on his conscience. When his victory prompts Apophis to make Teal’c his First Prime, Bra’tac reminds Teal’c what the Goa’uld are and what apophis will call upon him to do. He must try to make a difference the best he can. Which leads us to Teal’c in his death throes remembering how he betrayed apophis in order to join SG-1. The epiphany has him choosing freedom in the moment just before he should die. Ergo, everything is back to normal.

I have to mention again that I am not a big Teal’c fan. It bears repeating because if you are a fan, “Threshold” is probably one of your favorites. It is a well-crafted story that explores the characters motivations in what I am certain is a poignant way--assuming you are interested. I recognize the episode’s quality, but am on the outside looking in. At least they did not try shock therapy on Teal’c like they did with his brainwashed kid. I guess electroshock is reserved for bratty young ones.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Sci Fi Girl #2--Scarlett Johansson

Ashley Parker--Eight-Legged Freaks
Jordan Two Delta/Sarah Jordan--The Island
Olivia Winsome--The Prestige
Silken Floss--The Spirit
Black Widow--Iron Man 2
Black Widow--The Avengers

I was going to include Ghost World as well, since it is based on a comic book, but I figured the definition of science fiction had been stretched enough with The Prestige The Prestige is one of her best. So is Ghost World.

Speaking of stretching, how about that Black widow costume?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Nikki Haley to Be Indicted on Tax Fraud?

To the person Formspringing earlier this week wanting to know if South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley could become Mitt Romney's running mate, my answer just went from probably not to absolutely not.

Hope that clarifies the matter.

Nancy Pelosi on ObamaCare: “We Wrote Our Bill in a Way That Was Constitutional”

Really? This from the former House Speaker who said the bill had to be passed in order to find out what was in it. what exactly does Nancy Pelosi know about the constitutionality of anything?

Every piece of legislation, particularly one so large Justice Antonin Scalia jokes it would be cruel and unusual punishment to read, is drafted by an army of Ivy League lawyers. At least theoretically, these lawyers ought to know the Constitution inside and ought enough to know how to bend the rules enough to suit their agenda. Judging by the three day defense before the Supreme Court, the drafters got so careless with their creativity, they jeopardized the entire healthcare overhaul with legislation so weak, even Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom progressives quietly pinned hopes on serving as the swing vote, is not likely to uphold the individual mandate.

So what is the problem? There is two of them, if you want to consider this post within its scope.

One, legal intellectuals are far more interested in twisting the Constitution to fit a progressive social agenda. Helping people, whatever that means, is more important than determining original intent from that useless old Constitution. Do you believe Barack Obama was given a job as a law professor because he is always the smartest man in the room, or because he has the correct opinions on how outdated the Constitution is for application to modern times? Take your time chewing on that one. In the meantime, realize constitutionality is irrelevant to the political left because they--meaning legal scholars, too--do not see why the law should stand in the way of promoting the progressive agenda.

Two, Pelosi had a job she was grossly unqualified to hold. I understand she rose to House leadership because she raised a lot of money for Democrat candidates. But that is when they were in the minority. What was the logic in electing her speaker? She did not lead her party to victory in 2006. The Republicans lost because of big spending and scandals. Pelosi is not a big thinker, a policy wonk, a bipartisan unifier--she does not even have any sex appeal, so she does not even make a superficial pretty face for the public.

It has been suggested she won out for speaker over Steny Hoyer, a far better choice, because the California delegation voted lockstep for her. This may be at least partially true. I suspect, however, arms could have been twisted to keep her out of the top spot if the Democrats were serious about bipartisan legislation for the good of the country rather than ramming through an unpopular, progressive agenda. If so, then Pelosi is likely an easily controlled dupe. She certainly did not appear to have a grasp on much of anything while Speaker, yet got some nasty stuff passed.

One is inclined to think progressives will do anything to push their unpopular agenda, whether it be burying unconstitutional mandates in a mess of legal jargon or putting a incompetent Speaker of the House front and center to make an embarrassment or herself promoting the agenda.

Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, and Exploitation

I have not made up my mind whether the killing of Trayvon Martin was self-defense or murder. There are not enough established facts for me to decide beyond a reasonable doubt. At this point, I am willing to embrace either that George Zimmerman felt threatened of imminent harm from Martin to warrant defending himself with tragic results or that zimmermann is a barney Fife vigilante who ought to be punished for his crime. I remain in wait and see mode. More precisely, I remain in wait and see mode for what little interest I have in the matter.

Do not get me wrong. No matter the truth, Trayvon’s killing is a tragedy. A young man, troubled or completely innocent, has been killed, and Zimmerman has to live with the consequences. Whether those consequences are guilt over the necessity of defending himself or the stigma of not caring about the consequences of his actions, whichever the case may be. But I have to pur things in perspective. This incident is not a national news story. It is being exploited all around by various groups with agendas, and I hate playing into it.

The sort of altercation between Zimmerman and martin happens all the time, everywhere. Rarely will a few days go by when I do not hear that some young black guy has killed another over an alleged “dissing” or some drunk redneck got his throat cut in the parking lot of The Saloon. Maybe the incident makes the six ’o’clock news on a slow day, but probably not. Certainly not in a bigger media market. So what gives? It certainly is not that our society has suddenly learned to care about such things within the last month. We would much rather pretend the nikilism does not exist.

The reason the martin case has become big news is because touches on so many agendas that calling attention to it incites a war of all against all. Look what has happened: the white bigots are out in full force, the black bigots are offering a reward for Zimmerman’s “capture,” gun advocates are promoting self-defense, gun control advocates are advocating the Stand Your Ground law be repealed, celebrities are tweeting their opinions and far worse, and the media is rolling 24/7 with all of it. Just to make sure the matter still has our attention, the president of the United States weighed in and inflamed passions by saying if he had a son, the kid would look like Trayvon Martin. Why is Barack Obama commenting in the first place, much less trying to make it personal? Is it personal? Martin’s mother is allegedly trying to trademark his name to cash in.

Agendas, folks. Agendas. If the main agendas is to drive wedges between people, mission accomplished. We have everything from an elderly couple fleeing their home in fear because spike Lee tweeted the wrong address while trying to incite violence against someone else, a congressman booted off the house floor for wearing a hoodie, communists passing out leaflets at rallies in support of martin, etc, etc, and pretty much everyone terrified out of their minds to offer up a voice of reason for fear of being branded a racist. Of course, the fear of being randed a racist is such a horrible stigma in this country, it proves we do not have a racist culture, but that reality does not make for sensational headlines, does it?

Meanwhile, gas prices are rising due to misguided green energy policies, obamaCare is about to be struck down for incompetent drafting that ignored the Constitution, and Iranian war drums are beating louder than in a while. The birh whole birth control bruhaha did not cause enough of a conflict to distract the public for a sufficient amount of time. Maybe stoking cultural tensions with the martin incident will until another celebrity overdoses. Then we will something a little quieter to dwell on.

Seriously, I may sound conspiratorial and snaky here, but this is what is going on. The political leadership and the media have exposed a local news story with murky facts and are exploiting it for as long as they can for cover and ratings, respectively. This is not even the first time in recent memory. Casey Anthony’s lawyer, Jose Baez, was a guest on Ed Shultz’s show last night commenting on the issue. When you want to drag out a minor, local issue to national attention in order to keep the public dumb and angry, go to the experts.

I am not interested in falling for it, so you are not going to see any further posts about Zimmerman or martin at the Eye. Whether written by me or linked from someone else in the Blogroll Spotlight, it is not happening. Formspring, either, for anyone thinking about taking that route. When and if I make up my mind about the matter--more if than when--it shall remain my secret.

Stargate SG-1--"Enemies"

“Enemies” serves as the fifth season premiere. The episode feels like it is overcompensating for a lackluster fourth season finale by throwing in everything but the kitchen sink; Apophis, Tok’ra, brainwashed Teal’c, and the Replicators just to name the biggies. Even the Asgard are named dropped to make sure all bases were covered. But are they? The answer is yeah, pretty much.

Our heroes and Apophis are in a face off 150 years journey from Earth when another ship appears from nowhere and attacks Apophis’ mothership. Not willing to look a gift horse in the mouth, our heroes flee to the orbit of a nearby planet to be shielded from sensors while making repairs. When the radiation shielding the ship from detection reaches unsafe levels, they have to flee unrepaired. They discover Apophis’ ship with no life signs. When they board, they discover it has been overrun by Replicators.

Back safely on their ship, they are contacted by Teal’c in a shuttle. It is a ruse, however. Apophis revived Teal’c with a sarcophagus, but he is back as apophis’ loyal first prime. Apophis and the surviving Jaffa take over the ship, but inadvertently bring Replicators with them. They begin altering the shop to make more of themselves. The chaos allows SG-1 and Jacob to escape.

Conveniently, the Replicators learn of Apophis’ base of operations and decide they want its technology. They are able to enhance the ship’s engines to get them there in a short period of time, which solves just about everyone’s problem. The SG-1 team arranges for the ship to crash into the planet in order to both kill apophis and destroy the Replicators. Teal’c is recovered, but is still brainwashed into believing Apophis is his god.

I am curious if, like so often happened with Star Trek, the season finale cliffhanger was written without a conclusion in mind. The Replicators showing up out of the blue and being the catalyst for the return home has a writers room “Okay, how do we fix the problem/” vibe to it. Not to say it is terribly contrived, but it does feel odd the Replicators suddenly decide Apophis has a lot of cool stuff they would like to have a century and a half’s journey from here.

Is it just me, or is brainwashing Teal’c back to his old loyalties an admission there is not much left to do with the character? His conversion is more poignant considering he was allowing himself to be tortured to death a few episodes back than declare Apophis a god, but the regression is...well, a regression. A step back in Teal’c’s development. A development which is glacially slow in the first place. I single out Teal’c because Apophis has reached the end of what can be done with him, so he is killed off. The writers can tell when a character arc is done. Why are they not doing a better job with Teal’c?

Speaking of Apophis, his final scene with the personal shield keeping the Replicators off him, but his screaming at the realization his ship is going to be completely destroyed on planetary impact was one of the best death scenes I have scene in a while. It reminded me of Anna Sheridan’s in Babylon 5’s “Za’ha’dum.” Indulging my sci fi geekiness there.

“Enemies” is an entertaining episode in spite of it cliffhanger resolution appearing to have been unplanned from the beginning. It is far more interesting and action oriented than its first part. It also utilizes every character this time around. In the first part, Jack was there to do nothing more than crack sarcastic joke. Daniel was there for even less. I am beginning to see why Michael shanks wanted to leave the show. But--ding dong--apophis is dead. I hope some more interesting arch villain takes his place.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Sci Fi Girl #3--Jessica Alba

Max Guevarra/X5-452--Dark Angel
Nancy Callahan--Sin City
Sue Storm/Invisible Girl--Fantastic Four/Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Sydney Wells--The Eye
Molly--Idle Hands
Eve--Venus Rising

Outside of Sin City, her projects have not been all that great. Do you really care, though, all things considered?Dark Angel fans may take issue, but I never got into the show.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Exodus"

“Exodus” is the fourth season finale. The episode deals with the Tok’ra related threads that have been running through the season. It tries to end the season on a big splash, and in many ways it succeeds, but I have been under whelmed by the Tok’ra running threads. I think like Jack--outside of Jacob/Selmak, I do not see much value in these guys. As usual, your mileage may vary.

The SG-1 team arrives on Vorash with the ship stolen from Cronus with plans to let the tok’ra use it in order to evacuate the planet for a safer location. With the arrival of the ship, it has become necessary to end the spying career of Hebron/Tanith so he cannot inform Apophis of the Tok’ra’s new ride. In his cell, Hebron/Tanith fakes his death to lure a guard in, then makes his escape. Hebron/Tanith is not recaptured in spite of a manhunt, so it is assumed he has already tipped off Apophis. The timetable for the evacuation must be moved up.

Sam and Jacob/Selmak brainstorm a plan that may wipe out Apophis’ fleet when it arrives on Vorash. The lan is to cause Vorash’s sun to go supernova by dialing up the black hole planet on Vorash’s stargate and releasing it near the sun. The black hole would suck up enough mass to cause the sun to go supernova. The plan inspired the following underused internet meme:There really ought to be more of those.

Teal’c is simmering during all this because Hebron/Tanith’s continued survival has denied him revenge for the murder of Shan’auc. But when he and Jack are forced to take a glider out to destroy a lone wolf Goa’uld ship, teal’c crashes it on Vorash. The two eventually encounter the wandering Hebron/Tanith, but are overpowered. Hebron/Tanith takes Teal’c prisoner as a gift for apophis when his fleet finally arrives.

Jack is rescued from vorash before the sun goes supernova, but the ship’s escape goes awry when they come out of hyperspace in another galaxy altogether. From their current location, it would take them 150 years to get home. To make matters worse, Apophis’ ship shows up right behind them. To be continued.

For someone who is supposed to be a fierce warrior, Teal’c gets his butt kicked on a right regular basis. Maybe he and Worf should form a support group. At least Worf has a knack for avenging his murdered girlfriends and father. In terms of his actions in “Exodus,” I have to marvel at the reckless behavior Jack is willing to tolerate. Teal’c is not only a loose cannon, but a psychotic one who disregards Jack’s safety altogether in his quest for revenge.

"Exodus" is an entertaining episode, but does not feel big enough to be a season finale. Maybe it is because Earth is not threatened this time around. The episode centers around Vorash, which I have little emotional attachment, and ends with our heroes stranded, which does not hold much drama. I do not think it is a bad episode by any means. It jusy feels smaller than it should.

That is a problem that has plagued the fourth season. There have been episodes that will probably hold up well enough to make my top ten list, but they have been fewer and further between than in the previous three seasons. There has been more of a quality consistency problem than before. I will give some props for unique aliens, however. We have witnessed intelligent robot spiders, water parasites, an ancient civilization exiting as Dna strands, and aggressive fireflies. The powers that be are at least pushing the envelope for villains. I am still engrossed in Stargate SG-1, but I am hoping the fifth season brings more adventures like the first three seasons instead of a lot of tok’ra drama.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Sci Fi Girl #4--Gillian Anderson

Special Agent Dana Scully--The X-Files/Fight the Future/I Want to Believe

My reviews of The X-Files were once called love letters to Gillian Anderson. So be it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Formspring Question #389--Law & Order Edition

Do you watch any of the Law & Order shows?
My mother was a fan of the original series back when Jerry Orbach played Lenny. I used to watch reruns with her back in 200-01 before I moved to Virginia. The series was too formulaic to become engrossed in, but I did not think it was bad. Then again, I have not felt compelled to watch it in eleven years, so it did not stick with me, either.

I have watched some episodes of Special Victims Unit on the USA Network. They are still formulaic, but there is some entertainment value with casting. The big one being Ice T, famous/notorious for “cop Killer,” playing a new York City detective who specializes in sex crimes, but do not dismiss the number of big stars who come on to play weirdoes, perverts, and rapists for an episode. Jeremy Irons was a recovering sex addict not too long ago. Alfred Molina played a computer nerd whose mother, played Angela Lansbury, continued treating him like a baby. Is the money running low for those three, or what?

All these are syndicated reruns. I do not care enough to watch new, prime time episodes. The alleged progressive preaching is not a factor, by the way. The franchise just is not all that creative.

Formspring Question #388--Star Destroyer Edition

If you could have any ship from Star Wars to fly around in, which would it be?
A Star Destroyer.

Those things are cool. I would have to have a loyal crew at my command, but If I had a Star Destroyer, they would be no lack of volunteers to help run the thing.

Formspring Question #387--Mitt Romney's Hale-y Mary Pass? Edition

Would Nikki Haley take a VP slot nomination from Mittens?
Let me first apologize for the post title. Not all jokes can be clever.

Presumably, but I do not see Mitt Romney asking her to join the ticket. Nikki Haley could not deliver South Carolina for him. She is in under ethics investigation. She is pretty much unknown outside of South Carolina. She would not bring anything to the table another running mate choice could not and probably less. Even if Romney just wants a pretty woman on the ticket, he would be better off choosing Susana Martinez or Michelle Bachmann.

If I had to guess, I would imagine Haley is interested ultimately in Jim DeMint’s Senate seat. DeMint says this is his last term in office, so his seat will be up for grabs in 2016. That comes right in the middle of what would potentially be Haley’s second term as governor. Such a plan would not preclude a spot on the 2012 GOP ticket. She would have nothing to lose. Voters generally do not hold running for higher office against candidates who decide to seek reelection to their current office upon losing, and she could potentially be the veep if all went well. But her eye is on the Senate.

I voted Haley for governor. I would not mind seeing her as veep, although I have doubts she could ever ascend to ever being a presidential candidate herself. She would certainly have to temper some of her conservative leanings. South Carolina Republicans are as far to the right as Massachusetts Democrats are to the left. Therefore, they are unacceptable to any power broker you would care to name: the republican elite, the mainstream media, the consultant class, etc. I imagine Haley knows this. If so, she will understand her future is in the Senate if anywhere at all.

Stargate SG-1--"Double Jeopardy"

I recall way back in my review for "Tin Man" wondering if the inevitable return of Robot SG-1 would be an improvement over their mediocre first appearance. The answer is yes. “double Jeopardy” is a humorous, action oriented episode that fits in well as a breather before the season finale tomorrow.

The Robot SG-1 has not kept their word and buried the stargate. Instead, they have been out exploring, fighting the Goa’uld, and generally acting as the real SG-1 would. On a mission to Juna, they are captured by forces loyal to Cronus. More pointedly, Juna is a planet that was previously freed by SG-1 and convinced the Goa’uld are not gods, only to have Cronus come along and re-conquer the planet. One can imagine the SG-1 team is not welcome there.

Harlan arrives the SGC to request help in rescuing the Robot SG-1. They are reluctant to assist, not wanting to risk their lives for robot duplicates. But after MALp recon encounters the escaped Robot Jack and Darian, who explain the situation, they give it a go. It is not much of a secret the motivation is to clean up the mess they caused by encouraging a rebellion that has been brutally put down by Cronus and not the Robot SG-1. The real motivation makes sense, and I appreciate it. Another series might have had the main characters jump in to save their robot duplicates with no questions asked for the sake of getting the plot rolling. On SG-1, our heroes blow that idea off immediately. Such an attitude is a breath of fresh air, much like when no one wanted to her Frasier’s concerns over destroying the timeline a few episodes back.

Jack immediately butts heads with his double. He is the only one who does clash with his robot double, but that makes sense considering his stubburn, sarcastic personality. The other thing that makes sense for the sake of convenience, but is terribly predictable nevertheless, is Robot SG-1 sacrifice themselves individually in order to defeat Cronus and his forces. All right, their fate had to be wrapped up permanently. I understand that. I thought their sacrifices were poignant except for robot Tealc’s. the real Teal’c wants to kill cronus in revenge for his father’s death, but fails when cronus not only overpowers him, but slowly tortures him to death until Robot teal’c intervenes and kills Cronus as his dying act. The resolution robs Teal’c of satisfaction. The way it ends is with him failing to avenge his fathe nearly being killed himself before robot Teal’c comes along and shoots Cronus in the back. So teal’c is too weak to gain revenge, cannot fight back, and is apparently willing to shoot a man in the back to get the job done, albeit via his robot double. One would hope for more from the character.

“Double Jeopardy” is the only episode to be directed by Michael Shanks. In fact, the episode is his only directing credit ever. He must not have enjoyed the experience. I did not sense that he did a bad job with it. Considering Shanks was becoming restless in the role of daniel, I wonder if he was given the chance as a way of placating him. He would not leave the show for another season, but I am unsure of exactly how long or obvious his dissatisfaction was. It was awkward that the real daniel was absent and robot Daniel was killed early in the episode so shanks could devote himself to directing the episode. Does the robot’s demise count towards the Many Deaths of Daniel?

Richard Dean Anderson died his hair brown to play his robot double, which is not so bad, but Amanda tapping wears a wig to mimic her first season hairstyle that makes her look like Leslie Stahl. It is very distracting. I also feel the need to mention Belinda Bayworth plays one of Cronus’ henchwomen. Her biggest role in a fifteen year acting career is in the worst major film of the decade--Meet the Spartans. poor girl must have missed her true calling. Acting does not appear to be it.

“Double Jeopardy” is an enjoyable action oriented episode. It has some technical flaws like Tapping’s wig that can be excused because of the lighter tone and Teal’c’s faltering because…well, no one seems to like teal’c all that much. Penultimate episodes are often throwaways not to be harshly judged. Such is the case here.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Sci Fi Girl #5--Monica Bellucci

Sylvia--Brotherhood of the Wolf
Persephone--The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix: Revolutions
The Mirror Queen--The Brothers Grimm
Veronica--The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

Monica Bellucci is a stunning Italian beauty who turned to modeling in order to pay law school tuition and wisely deciding a career as a model and actress was much better than enslavement as a lawyer. The epiphany has been a blessing all around, no?

Monday, March 26, 2012

Doctor Who Series Seven Trailer

It looks like only two or three episodes are featured, but what is there is cool. The production values of the wild west town are fantastic. I am amused at the admonition that anyone who is not an American needs to put down his or her gun before someone accidentally shoots someone. That is right, folks. Leave gun totin' to the professionals.

It reminds me of the scene from Torchwood in which Jack Harkness teaches Gwen cooper, a Cardiff policewoman, to use a gun for the first time. She grabs it with both hands and aims like sonny Crockett. She took to it like a fish to water. By Children of Earth she was leaping about firing pistols in each hand. not to mention the bazooka in Miracle Day.

Jenna-Louise Coleman will not show up in episodes until 2013, but that does not mean I cannot post a new photo:She is cute.

Stargate SG-1--"Entity"

We have a couple things firmly established in regards to the writers’ room influences--they are fans of comics and Michael Crichton. “Entity’ shares some similarities with Crichton’s novel Sphere, including the alien referencing itself as the Entity and communicating via computer with the message “I am here” on screen. At least the episode has no similarities to the novel The Entity in which an invisible demon repeatedly sexually assaults a woman. Thank heaven for small blessings, no? I could not have watched sam experience that.

“Entity” is one of those bottle shows that come towards the end of a season when the production budget is running low. I view those with trepidation. When the creative team has limited resources with which to work, they often get limited results. As far as bottle shows go, “Entity” works decently in spite of its limited scope by emphasizing the differing philosophies and priorities of the main characters as they face a crisis in their own ways. There are some definite flaws that strain credibility, but they are not enough to kill the episode.

The SGC sends a MALP to a planet from the Ancients’ address listing. Upon arrival on the planet, the MALP is taken over and literally flown around until crashing. An electric surge between the MALP and the SGC shorts out much of the Cheyenne Mountain base. The surge was an alien entity making its way to the SGC. It remains hidden in a part of the base for 36 hours while it builds a nest out of the computer system in order to sustain itself. The entity reads through everyone’s file in order to learn about them. Sam and Daniel suggest this proves intelligence, so it ought to be communicated with. Jack suggests blowing the nest up. Hence we have the Jack/Daniel philosophical conflict back in full dust up with sam on Daniel’s side this time for good measure.

When Sam attempt to communicate with the entity via keyboard, it takes over her mind. While in Sam, the entity reveals radio waves from the MALP severely damaged its planet’s environment, so it was sent to Earth in order to destroy those who sent the MALP. Daniel apologizes for the error and promises it will never happen again, but that is not good enough. Jack pipes up and promises they will send one MALP right after another to destroy the planet entirely if sam is not freed. The entity forces sam into sam sort of spectacle light show before jack shoots her twice with a zat weapon, apparently leaving her brain dead. In fact, she is still in the nest, and once Frasier establishes a conduit between the nest and sam’s body, is restored.

Shippers should take note of the strong Jack loves Sam oundertones. Some of them work, but others do not. What works is Hammond pulling Jack aside and asking how he is going to handle the tough decisions that may have to be made in order to keep the entity from using sam to kill everyone. The other is that jack never leaves Sam’s bedside, even when her mind has apparently been completely replaced by the entity. What does not work is sam was specifically chosen as the host because she is cared about too much to be killed solely to stop the entity’s plan. It is specifically implied it knows Jack will not let her be killed because of something in his personnel file. Like what? Surely his file would not say he has some romantic interest in Sam. If such was enough of a liability in needed to mentioned in his personnel file, she would not be under his command. I doubt the military would risk any potential problems. I am not aware enough of how the military deals with potential romantic relationships within the ranks to know how they deal with it, but I am skeptical jack love Sam is specifically written in his personnel file in the first place. If one of my active duty ort veteran buddies can weigh in the comments section, it would be much appreciated.

The best point that I take away from “Entity” is that Jack’s point of view of blowing up the alien before it can cause more trouble is correct while the Daniel position of trying to communicate with it set in motion not only Sam’s predicament, but the potential death of everyone. So far, Daniel has won out twice thus far this season with jack looking extremely bad both times. Specifically, Jack was tacitly in cahoots with the Nazi-like Eurondans and risking court-martial by blowing up the Gadmeer ship, thereby destroying their civilization. So it is good to see Daniel making a mistake here, albeit with good intentions, and jack having the right idea. Not just having the right idea, but not by accident. The entity is hostile from the get go. Defending the SGC by destroying it first is perfectly reasonable. In the grand scheme of things, it is great to see that daniel’s idealism is sometimes flawed rather than it constantly teaching jack to be less cynical about situations. The occasional reversal keeps the show from becoming too preachy like that other franchise which shall remain nameless.

One a note of personal taste, the series continued its tradition of a main cast member voicing aliens. Michael Shanks voices Thor. Christopher Judger has voiced an Unas. Amanda Tapping voices the entity through a Stephen Hawkings computer filter which is incredibly grating. It does not enunciate anywhere near as well as Hawkings or the one roger Ebert now uses, if you have heard it before. I am not certain if the voice was purposefully altered to make it less obvious it was tapping’s, which makes no sense when you think about it, or to make it more otherworldly. Whichever the case, I was on the verge of needing subtitles to understand what is going on.

Overall, “Entity” is a decent use of low budget in spite of its flaws. There are still a couple I have not mentioned, such as why the SGC do not appear all that concerned when they are on lockdown with the computer systems damaged and why Sam does not disintegrate when she is shot a second time with the zat. For the former, our heroes give off the demeanor of folks sit around playing cards until the IT folks get there rather than on edge that an alien just attacked. For the latter, has it not been established one shot from a zat stuns, two completely destroys? Has that now changed? I will not mind as long as the rule does not switch back and forth based on story convenience. But all that is not a huge deal. ‘Entity” is in the good, but not great category when rated against the bottle shows that have come before. Shippers may rate it higher. At least it is not a clip show.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Sci Fi Girl #6--Eliza Dushku

Faith--Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Faith--Angel
Annabel--Soul Survivors
Jessie Buringame--Wrong Turn
Tru Davies--Tru Davies
Erica--Open Graves
Echo--Dollhouse
Shockzana--Robotomy
Selina Kyle/Catwoman--Batman: Year One and DC Showcase: Catwoman

Eliza Dushku has dual American/Albanian citizenship, so we technically continue the lists international flavor. Dushku was, howeer, born in America and obtained Albanian citizenship upon being invited to the country of her father’s birth by its prime minister. One assumes he was a fan.

She is hot, too. It is disappointing she has yet to find a steady, longtime starring role for herself.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Formspring Question #386--Off the Face of the Earth Edition

If you could wipe one person off the face of the Earth, who would it be?
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be a good choice. The media would demonize him more if his name was easier to pronounce.

I imagine there are a dozen more waiting in the wings to replace him just as bad or worse.

Formspring Question #385--Marvel Movies Edition

Speaking of Thor, are you enjoying the new movies leading up to the Avengers? I thought they were all great except Thor that seemed abbreviated, like it was trying to tell 2 stories that both needed their own movie.
Captain America and Iron Man have been my favorites, but none have been bad. It took some cajoling to get me to watch The Incredible Hulk considering ang lee’s version left such a bad taste, but I thought it was decent. Considering Norton is not reprising the role for The Avengers, whether I liked it is probably not relevant.

I have not seen Thor. He has never been one of my favorite characters. Out of the thousands of comics I own, maybe a dozen are Journey into Mystery or Thor.

To nip any follow ups, I liked X-Men: First Class, too, although the continuity freak in me had a tough time with a lot of characters and settings. Still, it was stylish. I am one of the few fans who has no gripes about January Jones, although I can think of several actresses who would have done a better job as Emma Frost.

The upcoming Twilight-ized update of Spiderman holds no interest for me, either. Spiderman is my all time favorite superhero, too.

Blogroll Spotlight #138

It is time for the weekly round up of favorite posts from my blogroll. These are not ranked, but in alphabetical order by blog title. If you would like a specific post listed next week, you may email it to me and I will include it.

Adrienne's Corner-A Soldier's Deck of Cards
American Perspective-Is the CIA in Your Kitchen? Judge Napolitano
American Power-Saturday Night Kelly Brook Rule 5
Amusing Bunni's Musings-Happy St. Paddy's Day
Atlas Shrugs-Norway's Jews Least Safe, Norwegian Government Promotes Extreme Hatred Towards Israel
Blog of the Nightfly-Loveliness
Bluegrass Pundit-GM Volt-$40,000, Government Subsidy- $7500, Recharging Power Cord So Cheap It Melts- Priceless.
Bride of Rove-One of Those Weeks I'd Rather Forget
Camp of the Saints-Rule 5 Saturday: Vahina Giocante
Classic Liberal-Public Enemy No. 1 Rule 5
Colossus of Rhodey--Media Again Goes to Bat for Obama Re: Gas Prices
Conservative Hideout-DHS Not Investigating #Occupy, but IRS Clobbers Tea Party?
Da Tech Guy-Rick Santourm Discovers What I Learned a Couple of Years Ago…
Daley Gator-Dog Blogging, You Say?
Diogenes' Middle Finger-Democrats Call for Bill Maher to Apologize
Essential Mr. Bill-Today
First Street Journal-Rule 5 Blogging: Cover Girl Cosmetics Edition
Fishersville Mike-The Santorum south
Gormogons-The Forecast Calls for Liberal Pain
House of Eratosthemes-I Wouldn't Say 100%
Jake Finnergan--Burkalesque Babes: Fiona Apple
Laughing Conservative--The US Day of Reckoning is at Hand
Lazy Farmer-The Sun is Out and I Should Not Read Depressing Blogs
Legal Insurrection-spike Lee didn't Do the Right Thing
Lonely Conservative-So, Why Hasn't OWS Fizzled Out Yet
Maggie's Notebook-Rule 5 Saturday Night: Estella Warren
Motor City Times-Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli is the Lawyer Arguing Congress Can Pass Any Law It Wants
Other McCain-don't Blame the Class, Blame the School of Thought
Paco Enterprises-Sundat Funnies
Pagan Temple--Spring is in the Air
Pirate's Cove-Sorta Blogless Sunday Pinup
Proof Positive-Quote du Jour
Pundit & Pundette-Societal Suicide Watch
Randy's Roundtable-Thursday Nite Tart
Reaganite Republican-Reaganite's Sunday Funnies
Riehl World View-The Irony Of Obama: He May Have Freed Whites, More Than Blacks
Right Klik-atheists Hold Rally with Predictable Results
Sentry Journal-Ptrick Henry: Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!
Teresamerica-Welcome to Obamaville
Troglopundit-This Week in Automotivators, March 19-25
We the People-Marine Being Forced Out for Political Views/Statements
Woodsterman--Dancing, or rule 5 woosterman style
WyBlog-Did Jon Corzine Lie to Congress? Why, Yes. Yes, He Did.
Zilla of the Resistance-The Islamic War on Christianity and Goodbye Archbishop Dhimmi

Stargate SG-1--"Prodigy"

Sam gets few episodes centered on her, and those that are have been rather lackluster. The problem has improved much since the first season when she started as a harem girl for a Hun and ended locking a little girl in a reinforced room so she could explode safely to graduating as the brains of the operation from then until now. At least now stories centering on her deal with her superb scientific mind. ‘Prodigy’ is a case in point. Sam sees herself in a promising, but arrogant young cadet and mentors her down the right path. Does the story work/ not as well as one would hope.

Sam is brought in to give a lecture on astrophysics at the Air Force Academy. She is a legend there for having been a top student. Sam obviously basks in the attention she earns there, so she feels burnt when a young Cadet Jennifer Haley corrects one of her equations and turns out to be correct even after the professor scolds her for accusing Sam of a mistake. Haley is brilliant to the point she feels no need to follow rules or care what anyone else thinks. She is also on the verge of expulsion from the Academy for breaking the nose of an upper classmen who was taunting another cadet. Sam takes Haley under her wing to keep her from throwing her career away.

To clarify an important point, Haley privately told Sam her calculations were wrong and was right on the matter, but apologized to Sam when her professor wrongly scolded her for the accusation. That is the only decent, proper thing Haley does the entire episode. She is not Sheldon cooper, a socially awkward genius whose rudeness you overlook because of his childlike innocence. Haley is an arrogant brat you want to to whom you want to hold by the ankles and give a swirlie. The writers could have made her a sympathetic character, but chose otherwise, and it is an interesting choice.

The thing is, I do not think Sam sees a lot of herself in Haley. Sam has always been humble about her intelligence. Her battle has been more of a woman in this man’s military. Yes, she takes pride in her accomplishments, but not in an abrasive manner. Haley does not seem to care about the battle of the sexes. In her arrogance, she thinks such a petty conflict is beneath her. Everything is beneath her, for that matter. The two do not share much of an emotional connection at all. Haley resents living in the shadow of Sam’s academic accomplishments, even. They butt heads throughout the entire episode until Haley learns not everyone is going to do what she wants just because she is the smartest person in the room.

The question of why Sam wants to help this brat is not as big as why she takes her to Sgc, shows her the stargate, and allows her to travel to a moon upon which jack and teal’c are guarding a scientific survey team. It does not matter how promising a cadrt is, letting her in on the best kept secret in the world is not plausible.

Nor is the incidental conflict on the moon. The science team encounters some tiny energy beings that appear friendly until one is captured for study. The others become enraged and act as a swarm. Only electricity appears to stop them, so everyone holds up in a building that is converted into a giant bug zapper. Ebergy from the stargate can repel the critters, but someone has to get there. Sam suggestion wins out over Haley’s, so Jack is shot with Teal’c energy weapon and runs for the stargate with the critters reluctant to attack.

Much more work probably went into creating the critters than I am allowing, but tiny energy do not feel all that creative. I was distracted by the similarities between the resolution on the MacGyver episode “Trumbo’s world’ and the film The Naked Jungle, both of which dealt with saving a plantation from an invasion of army ants. “Trumbo’s world” borrowed lots of footage from The Naked Jungle which did not match up to the episode’s story, so I may be lumping everything together as cheap. Your mileage may vary. All this stuff stretches back 58 years. Sixty-four, if you count the short story on which The Naked Jungle was based.

Further proof the United states military love Stargate SG-1; Gen. Michael E. Ryan, the real Air Force Chief of Staff at the time of filming, puts in a cameo as himself. Richard Dean Anderson famously asked Ryan if the Air Force had colonels who act as insubordinate as Jack. Ryan assured him it does and worse.

“Prodigy” does not feel well thought out. Sam and Haley did not make much of an emotional connection, so you really have to stretch to find any meaning there. Perhaps if they had worked together to tackle a big problem rather than a bunch of angry bugs that haley turns out to be wrong about. Not that I do not get some satisfaction from seeing her wrong. She is a highly unappealing character. But that is not enough to make ’Prodigy’ feel like anything more than filler. Watchable filler, but nothing particularly interesting.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Sci Fi Girl #7--Claudia Black

Aeryn Sun--Farscape and Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars
Vala Mal Doran--Stargate SG-1/The Ark of Truth./Continuum
Liz--The Dresden Files
Pandora--Queen of the Damned
Sharon Montgomery--Pitch Black
Cassandra--Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
Many, many computer and video games voices, because she has got that voice….

Claudia Black is the second Australian in the top ten. Aside from her science fiction acting roles, Black is also an accomplished jazz and classical musician.Then there is that.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #143

It is time once again to round up all the bloggers gracious enough to link to me this week.

Proof Positive links to Charisma Carpenter and Jeri Ryan.
Say Anything links to Charisma Carpenter and Jeri Ryan.
Adrienne's Corner links to Blogroll Spotlight #137.
Motor City Times links to Government Power Grab Through Spending.
Pirate's Cove links to FMJRA #142, Blogroll Spotlight #137, Hayden Panettiere, and the Sci Fi Girls list.
Sentry Journal links to Government Power Grab Through Spending.
Randy's Roundtable links to Jenna-Louise Coleman and Milla Jovovich.
Classic Liberal links to Jenna-Louise Coleman, Natalie Portman, Rose Byrne, Hayden Panettiere, Morena Baccarin, and Milla Jovovich..
Teresamerica links to Charisma Carpenter.
Maggie's Notebook links to Milla Jovovich.
Conservative hideout links to FMJRA #142.
The Other McCain links to Charisma Carpenter.
Ken3000 adds The Eye to his blogroll.

A sincere thank you to all who linked this week. If you linked to me in the last week, but I do not have you here, you unfortunately fell through the cracks of Technorati, Google Blog Search, and Sitemeter. Please drop me a note in the comments and I will update with your link.

Stargate SG-1--"The Light"

I suppose the string of good episodes had to end at some point. “The Light” ends the streak with a loud thud. Even the basic premise--the SGC discovers an abandoned Goa’uld opium den and SG teams become addicted--does not hold much promise. The execution has some serious issues of logic, plot holes, and the occasional straining to be poignant, but failing. Quite disappointing.

Daniel has joined SG-5 on a survey mission to an abandoned Goa’uld palace. The team leader of SG-5 returns to the SGC acting strangely, then commits suicide rather than go back to the palace. Daniel return with SG-5 excited about a light show device that has mesmerized them. Both he and SG-5 begin falling in with some sort of brain disorder. The SG-1 team travels to the palace and encounters a teen boy named Loran, whom everyone missed the first time around, and get hooked on the light show themselves.

Back at the SGC, every member of SG-5 dies. Under the rules of television which give main characters every possible chance of survival, Daniel hangs on long enough for Jack to carry him back to the palace. He quickly recovers from near death, so Sam surmises they must all stay there until they can figure out how the light show has effected them and if they can break the effects. Loran is not very forthcoming with help until Jack blows up at him. Then the truth comes out.

Loran’s parents were explorers who got hooked on the light show to the point loran could not get them out of the light room, so he stopped bringing them food. Instead of forcing them to leave, they starved to death. The light show is merely a distraction. The device running the show emits an addictive radiation which Loran shuts off. Conveniently, daniel is finally able to translate the Goa’uld writings to figure out they can wean themselves off the radiation by decreasing the dosage over a matter of weeks. So they stay there and bond with Loran for a month.

Oh, dear. Where to begin?

I can only think of one scene that sticks out in my mind. The withdrawal effects of the radiation cause severe depression. It is the depression that caused the SG-5 member to commit suicide. Daniel begins suffering from severe depression and does not report to work. When jack goes to his apartment, he finds Daniel standing on the ledge of the balcony about to jump. It is a tense, well done scene filmed in the early morning hours under a gloomy Vancouver sky. The beginning is filmed from daniel’s perspective as he stares down at the sideway below upon whih he is about to splatter. The sequence is haunting. It is about the only good part of the episode.

There are too many questions. If the radiation is so addictive, how did Daniel and SG-5 return to SGC in the first place? No one can tear themselves away from the light show later on. Loran’s parents starved rather than leave. How did Loran survive alone all this time/ he looks like he is fifteen, but acts emotionally like a ten or twelve year old. Where did his food come from all these years? How did SG-5 not know he was there? If he knew how to cut the device off, why did he not say anything? I would assume he wanted to keep the SG-1 team there for company, but he knew they would die just like his parents. This is all too much to overlook.

“The Light” is pretty bad. I will give the suicide scene with Daniel some major kudos. Krystian Ayers does a good job of playing Loran with childlike innocence and tragedy where appropriate, but there is not much else in the episode to recommend.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Sci Fi Girl #8--Lea Thompson

Lorraine and Maggie Baines/McFly/Tannen--Back to the Future I-III
Kelly Ann Murkowski--Jaws 3D
Beverly Switzer--Howard the Duck
Sylvia Vane--Tales from the Crypt

Lea Thompson has not done any genre work in twenty years and some of it outside of the Back to the future trilogy is an acquired taste, but she still ranks near the top of my favorites. I left the 80’s without crushing on Molly Ringwald, but not without crushing Thompson.

She still has it at fifty. (Yikes--fifty!)

Even talking ducks went for her back then.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Absolute Power"

I am still a sucker for alternate timeline stories, even if they are awkwardly aired back to back, so “Absolute Power” is right up my alley. One of the most peculiar things about what if stories is how one alteration from the norm has apocalyptic results. Sometimes it is a bit much--doomsday for the sake of doomsday--but when done well, it is highly amusing. How can you not love an episode in which mild mannered idealist Daniel becomes the supreme, iron fisted ruler of Earth?

The SG-1 team finds the hacesis child prematurely aged on Abydos and brings him back to SGC to utilize his knowledge of the Goa’uld. Shifu, as he is now called, has had the memories suppressed for his own well-being. Daniel has trepidations about using the Tok’ra memory extracting device on shifu, but is willing to talk to the boy and convince him accessing goa’uld knowledge is worth the risks. Shifu warns daniel the subconscious desires cannot resist the temptation of power and shows him through a dream how disastrous events could play out.

“Absolute Power” makes little effort to disguise that the bulk of the story is a fantasy sequence installed in Daniel’s mind the same way Sha’re previously convinced him to both seek out Shifu and forgive Teal’c for killing her to save his life. I am fine with that, if for no other reason than the over the top weirdness is so amusing. Daniel takes on the arrogant genius of someone you might expect would pose as a god. Utilizing goa’uld knowledge, he develops a satellite defense system that could detect and wipe out a Goa’uld invasion fleet. To build it, he practically enslaves military and private sector engineering outfits, cutting out all allies, and demanding in return the lifestyle of a megalomaniacal billionaire.

The story shifts to a year in the future. The satellites are ready to launch. Daniel has had Sam so she cannot reveal her suspicions Daniel is going to use the satellite system to take over the Earth. Somewhere along the way, he has killed Teal’c for his maquadah rich blood to use Goa’uld personal technology, though you have to read between the lines to figure that out. Jack attempts to kill Daniel before he can retaliate against a Russian missile attack on the satellites. He fails because of Daniel’s Goa’uld personal shield and Moscow is destroyed. Daniel awakens from the dream convinced they cannot handle the memories of the Goa’uld, so Shifu is allowed to ascend with the memories safely suppressed in his mind.

Events are definitely implausible. I doubt anyone could gain the power and influence Daniel managed so easily. But I would not count that as a criticism against ‘Absolute power.” it is a dream sequence created by the half-alien alien Shifu about an unrestrained id. Of course it is going to be off kilter. If there is any major flaw, it is that the Teal’c subplot ought to have been made more obvious. It might have made the episode more poignant. Michael Shanks appears to be having a ball chewing up the scenery William Shatner-style. He even gives off a certain Captain Kirk vibe while presiding over his new empire fro his comfy chair in his secret, underground lair it is contagious. “absolute Power” is not one of the greatest, but it is one of the most fun to watch.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Sci Fi Girl #9--Natalie Portman

Padme Amidala--Star Wars prequels
Evey Hammond--V for Vendetta
Molly Mahoney--Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
Jane Foster--Thor

Like the rest of us, she would prefer to forget the Star Wars prequels. No such luck.C3P0 is forever her co-pilot. See how thrilled Portman is at the prospect?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chipper Jones to Retire at End of Season

Best laid plans. He will blow out his knee by June and quit rather than rehab it.

How painful it is to be a long-suffering Atlanta Braves fan.

Stargate SG-1--"2010"

Tale a moment to appreciate an episode that was once considered to have taken place in the far future now features events taking place two years in the past. The story deals with an alternate timeline. I have already mentioned I am a sucker for those, but there are many other elements that make “2010” one of my favorite episodes thus far.

Sometime in 2000, SG-1 makes contact with a highly advanced race called the Aschen. An alliance is formed in which the Aschen freely share their technology with earth. By 2010, the Goa’uld have been defeated, Aschen medicine has wiped out all disease, and the earth is seemingly a utopia. The stargate is now used for commercial travel rather than military use. The SGC has been dissolved with everyone going their separate ways. Sam has married Amb. Joe Faxon and the two are trying to have children, but to no avail. The Aschen assure her to keep trying. When Frasier shows up for the anniversary celebration of the alliance formation, she offers to examine Sam and discovers she is barren. Why have the Aschen been lying to her?

Tricking her aschen coworker into allowing her use of the computer meant exclusively for aschen use, she and Frasier discover the planetary birth rate has dropped 90%/ the two surmise the vaccine the aschen have given humans to double their lifespans is also sterilizing them. It is a bloodless way of taking over Earth. Sam gathers together SG-1, minus Jack, to talk about what to do next. Sam suggests utilizing a solar flare to send a message through the stargate in the same manner they were once sent back to 1969. The message will warn them not to go to the Aschen planet.

I have to mention one subtly humorous bit here. Sam gathers together Daniel and Teal’c at a cafĂ© to discuss her findings about the Aschen Frasier is there, too, just to drop the info that Hammond once tried to contact her with some secret about the Aschen, but died of a ’heart attack’ before he could tell her in person. After the plan is hatched to send a message into the past, Frasier pipes up to ask if they have the moral right to destroy the last ten years of events. Sam metaphorically slaps her in the back of the head before they go through with the plan--mostly without Frasier’s involvement. I loved how a Star Trek moral dilemma was almost introduced, then got beaten down with essentially a ’we don’t have time for that crap.” heh.

Sam visits jack at his cabin in Minnesota to recruit him, but he is even more bitter than ever. He never thought people were making a mistake by handing over their health and security to the ashen in exchange for longer lives. Now that he has been proven right, he thinks the world is getting what it deserves. There is also an underlying bitterness that Sam married Faxon whichever burns him more, Jack initially refuses to join in.

Comic book geeks should note the similarities between sam and Jack’s encounter in “2010” with Wonder Woman’s attempt to bring superman out of exile in Mark Waid’s popular 1996 miniseries Kingdom Come. There are some stand out parallels. In Kingdom Come, Superman has shut himself off from the human race and holed up in the Fortress of Solitude when they treat him as outdated in favor of more aggressive, amoral vigilantes. When those vigilantes grow in number and run amuck, eventually causing Midwest farmland the become irradiated to the point of mass starvation, Wonder Woman attempts to bring him out of his self-imposed exile to help,he refuses because he was right all along but no one listened. He is also bitter over lois lane’s death, rub boning him of a woman he loved even though he had not yet acknowledged it to her. In “2010,” Sam attempts to bring jack out of his self-imposed exile. He was right along, but no one listened, and he is bitter to have lost her, even though he never really acknowledged his love.

I am not certain how much I am reaching with the allusion. The episode certainly has all the elements of Kingdom Come. It is set in the not too distant future. There is a promised utopia if regular people give up control to other powers, but the result is apocalyptic. The main character is a Cassandra who reluctantly returns to save everyone from their mistake. Along with his old allies. Considering the increased number of comics references this season--spiderman’s motto of with great power comes great responsibility inscribed on those wristbands which granted super powers and the archeologists named after various Green Lanterns a few episodes back--I would not be surprised.

Jack eventually changes his mind, so the SG-1 team can execute their plan. To make things even easier, it is revealed Faxon new about the sterilization, he just did not know how far the project had gone. As far as he knew, it was only going to be undesiables sterilized to maintain sustainability. No one will be upset his marriage to sam will be erased with the last ten years. He helps steal the dialing device from the oval office and SG-1 in a particularly brutal action sequence, are all killed trying to reach the stargate with the handwritten message. Sam succeeds in her dying act. Back in 2000, the message is received. Hammond orders the Aschen planet off limits, no questions asked.

While I will not claim Stargate SG-1 has a conservative philosophy, I note three key points in “2010” that criticize progressive ideas. One, the Aschen disarm the human race so they exclusively have the power. They use it, too, by murdering Hammond and SG-1. Two, the Aschen given humans food, medicine, and long life in exchange for control. Three, the aschen have implemented forced population control. Why have we learned, folks/ gun control is bad, entitlement programs are enslavement to the government, and social engineering though control of birth and death is evil. How often does the entertainment industry admit those realities?

There is a unintentional treat for us baseball fans, too. When jack reads the note to be sent throyh the stargate, he asks specifically if they can include the winner of the 2004 world series in it. The joke may or may not be a reference to Biff Tannen’s get rich quick scheme in Back to the future II, but it is funny that the 2004 World Series was unexpectedly won by the Boston Red Sox breaking the alleged Bambino Curse that has ’prevented” the team from winning a world championship trading babe ruth to the New York Yankees in 1918. That the 2004 world series might be something special to wager on was a fortunate guess by the writers back in 2000, no?

‘2010‘ is a real highlight of the generally uneven fourth season. There have been some great episode, but they have been fewer and further between than in previous seasons. At least the season is winding down on a strong note.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Sci Fi Girl #10--Rose Byrne

Dorme--Star Wars: Episode II--Attack of the Clones
Cassie--Sunshine
Maj. Scarlett Ross--28 Weeks Later
Diana Wayland--Knowing
Rena Lambert--Insidious
Moira MacTaggert--X-Men: First Class

We are finally moving into the top ten.

The versatile beauty who has had award winning role in drama, comedy, science fiction, and horror adds to the Sci Fi Girl list's international scope. Byrne is Australian.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New Doctor Who Companion: Jenna-Louise Coleman

Confirmed. The new companion is not Sophie Myles as previously speculated.I am going to miss Karen Gillan, however.She got better looking as the show went on--and she was good looking in the first place.

Stargate SG-1--"Chain Reaction"

Stargate SG-1 has no problem experimenting with its stories. What other series would have a huge outer space battle in one episode and then immerse itself in political cloak and dagger intrigue on the mean streets of Washington Dc the next? With subtle references to The Silence of the Lambs thrown in for good measure. There are some plausibility issues involved, but “Chain Reaction” is a nifty change of pace.

After the SG-1 team narrowly escapes a Jaffa ambush, Hammond decides he has had enough of sending good people out on highly dangerous missions and abruptly retires. Jack senses there is another reason, and he is correct. The NID has been putting the pressure on Hammond to be more aggressive in acquiring alien technology. A couple weeks ago, some agents picked up his granddaughters from school. The less than subtle threat was enough to force him into retirement.

Jack recruits Maybourne, whom we finally learn is in prison for his treasonous actions with the Russian stargate, to tracj down the power people behind the NID. It is with Maybourne The Silence of the Lambs homage comes in. He plays Hannibal Lector to Jack’s Clarice Starling in both cutting the deal in prison to help Jack and the phone call from a tropical vacation spot at the end. They wind up threatening a senator (Kinsey) rather than rescuing one’s daughter from a serial killer, so the similarities only go so far. The two blackmail Kinsey into getting Hammond his job back.

Meanwhile, the SGC adjusts to Gen. Henry Bauer. Bauer’s tenure is the weakest link of the episode. He comes across as the stereotypical my way or the highway guy who refuses to listen to anyone else’s advice even when it is obvious they know best. It is not clear whether he is in on the NID take or a patsy they believe can be pushed around. On the one hand, he is adamant about sam building and testing a new bomb on another planet without concern or safety precautions. On the other, he does not listen to reason, so how easily can he be controlled? I did not dwell on the question much. Bauer has all the air of a one off, never mentioned again character, so who cares? I spent more time thinking he looks ten minutes older than dirt. Far older than the man he replaced. He reminds me of a freakishly aged Tobin Bell.

Richard Dean Anderson’s dog, Oscar, makes an appearance as Kinsey’s dog. He spends an unusually long time playing with the critter onscreen. Anderson is an animal rights supporter who caused a mini-bruhaha with tweets criticizing mitt Romney over strapping his dog carrier on the roof of a station wagon for a long car trip. I am a cat person, but I have trepidations about Romney’s lack of empathy in the matter, so I cannot fault Anderson for his concern. Who thinks torturing a dog like that is a good idea?

I remarked earlier “Chain Reaction” has plausibility problems. They start coming right out the gate. (Literally.) If the SG-1 team is under desperate barrage, who do they coming charging through the stargate while standing tall? Laser are still blasting behind them into the SGC! Threatening Hammond’s grandchildren is the technique of mustache twirling stereotypes. Come on. If the NID is that ruthless, it seems strange they will just let Hammond return and allow Jack to keep the blackmail info on them without taking any action. There are a lot of elements in “Chain Reaction” one has to overlook to wnjoy it.

There are a couple saving graces. Jack’s darker sense of “chaotic good” is put to fine use with him blackmailing the bad guys. Judging by his and maybourne’s method of escaping Kinsey’s mansion, does Jack inadvertently lead to knisey’s rise to the vice presidency/ It would appear so. The other pint is the bomb story does not end with sam making an heroic act to save everyone as you would expect. The only way the radiation from the bomb does not eventually infect the Sgc and Colorado springs in general is dumb luck--the stargate on the bombed planet automatically closes after 38 minutes. It is a nice touch to see our heroes cannot always pull off a miracle to save the day.

“Chain Reaction” is an odd duck with some flaws, but not bad viewing.

Rating: *** (out of 5)