Thursday, May 31, 2012

Formspring Question #414--Split Decision Edition

Next couple eps are great, but you may want to watch them as 1 episode. That is how they were aired on Sky 1 in the UK when I saw them and it helps the flow a great deal. Just a thought.
Thanks for the heads up, but I am going to review them as separate episodes so as not to be overwhelmed by a twice as long as normal write up.

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)

Gillian Jacobs

Whatever summer camp she is attending, I want to be there.

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)

Kristin Chenoweth

Kristin Chenoweth had to cut through a lot of red tape to bring you this photo.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mitt Romney Clinches Republican Nomination

As Mark Chestnutt used to sing, blame it on Texas. Don't blame it on me.

Stargate SG-1--'Heroes, Part II"

I noted just yesterday how unaware of spoilers I am when watching Stargate SG-1. It has been a rare experience in the Internet Era when one cannot go anywhere near online fandoms without knowing every jot and tittle for every television show, movie, novel, comic book, or whatever else floats your boat. The main reason it has been refreshing is because stories like “Heroes, Part II” can be the heart-wrenching shock they were meant to be. The episode is a masterfully done mystery for the audience which is as painfully dramatic as part one is frivolously funny.

“Heroes, part Ii’ bounces around in time as events occur. The heart of the lot is that someone on the mission to rescue the SG-13 team is killed in action. The audience is not immediately made aware, but hints are laid out along the way with Jack taking a brutal hit and Airman Wells fearful his wounds are mortal. They will prevent him from seeing the birth of his daughter. Emmett Bregman catches glimpses of a lifeless body hauled back to SGC on a stretcher and Sam in tears, but we are not privy to who is dead.

I knew it would not have been jack KIA even if I was not aware Richard Dean Anderson is a fulltime character next season and recurring thereafter, but the powers that be do a compelling job making you think he is the one. He suffers a staff weapon shot to the chest in slow motion in which he is flung to the ground and the screen goes silent even though two large explosions occur near him. Such is an action movie cliché, but still highly effective when done well.

But the writers also do a fine job of making Wells an important character we care about. In the previous episode, he showed a sonogram of his unborn son or daughter to Dixon. It is often cliché for a soldier to show his buddies a photo of his girl back home, then die. One suspects that might be the case here, particularly when he urges daniel, who is helping tend to his wound, to get a message to his wife and daniel decides to use the camera Bregman gave him to record it.

Neither Jack nor Wells is the one to die, but I am getting ahead of myself.

There is an investigation into the entire rescue mission conducted by NID Agent Rbert Woolsey. Woolsey conducts interviews with our heroes, sans Jack, but finds they are unwilling to talk about what happened because Woolsey is less interested in the human factor than he is the financial bottom line. In other words, risking men and materiel to rescue Wells was a bad idea. Woolsey’s attitude infuriates everyone at SGC. Hammond, who is on edge over the loss of life, loses his cool with both Woolsey and Bregman, but relents with the latter. He now believes a record of events at SGC beyond the official records should be kept. His intial fears his men will be judged unfairly gives way to the honesty of the camera. Hammond allows Bregman--and us--to see the footage daniel shot which features his colleague being killed

I have to offer up praise for how the death is handled. There is no gratuitous violence for the sake of shock value. The death is actually a quiet, nearly off screen incident that proves tragedy can happen unexpectedly to goos people in the line of duty. Just as wells is saying goodbye to his wife on camera, a blast from a Jaffa staff weapon hits Frasier as she stabilizes him to move. All we see is the laser blast and Daniel dropping the camera. From the voices and sounds all around, we know that Frasier has been fatally wounded. We never even see her again. All we see from then on is the mournful reactions of her friends in action, under Woolsey’s scrutiny, and at her memorial service. Frasier’s death is wisely done in a less is more style, and it is bitter sweet sadness. Frasier is gone, but she died quietly doing her job of saving lives.

The sorrow of her friends compels the audience to mourn more than seeing Frasier’s actual death or lifeless body ever could. Sam cries silent tears writing her eulogy and leans on jack for support the first time we learn he is still alive. Daniel is the best, as he keeps vigil in the darkened infirmary. There was a time back in the fourth season when Michael Shanks and Teryl Rothery played Daniel and Frasier as potential love interests in the hopes the writers might run with the idea. I am glad now they did not. Mourning over what might have been is often more powerful than crying over what was. Daniel is an empathic guy, but there is a strong sense here that maybe he really did love Frasier, but now she is gone forever. Just to prove how moved I am, I not only do not complain about the cliché of Frasier dying as wells’ daughter is being born, but I nearly teared up when he named her Janet. Here I thought I was darn near dead inside, too.

Bregman must be given his due. He was an annoying and manipulative character in the first part, but redeems himself fully here as a champion for the truth who is able to win over even harsh skeptics like Hammond and Jack. It is rare to make guest stars pivotal, important characters, but it is wonderful when the near impossible task is pulled off. you can literally see his heart break when he watches the video Daniel shot. Bregman had developed a crush on Frasier in the previous episode. seeing her die is a personal loss for him, and one that changes his attitude about recording the truth about SGC.

Robert Woolsey is almost certainly based on Richard James Woolsey, the first CIA Director under Bill Clinton. Woolsey’s tenure at the CIA is largely considered a disaster. It was during this time Aldrich Ames was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia. Considering Robert Woolsey’s connections to private firms and penny pinching SGC operations, I would imagine the connection to the real Woolsey is accusations he promoted the invasion of Iraq on behalf of defense contractors to whom he had become financially attached in his post government career. Admittedly, searches within fandom have turned up nothing, so the connection could just be one heck of a coincidence. But honestly, Robert Picardo even physically resembles Richard Woolsey. It was not originally intended for Woolsey to become a recurring character, but as VOY fans know, Picardo has a way of winning over fans even with a generally unappealing character.

“Heroes, Part Ii’ was nominated for a 2005 Hugo Award in the category of Best Dramatic Presentation--short Form. It lost to Battlestar Galactica “33,” the episode I considered my favorite of that series. It is a tough call how I feel about the award that year. “Heroes, Part II” is plenty deserving.

Rating: ***** (out of 5)

Lea Michele

Is there anyone else who cannot stand Glee, but thinks Lea Michele is a magnificent looking creature?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Heroes, Part I"

I had very little familiarity with Stargate SG-1 prior to writing these reviews, but I was aware the “Heroes” two parter is a favorite of the cast and crew. I obviously have not seen the second part yet, but I am already impressed with the dramatic build up for the cliffhanger that leads into it. There is a masterful mix o humor and build up to impending doom that has been rare as of late on the series.

The president orders a documentary crew to record the goings on at SGC for a film which may or may not be released in the future, depending on whether the stargate remains a secret. Our heroes are not especially eager to cooperate because they suspect their actions are being set up for future judgment. Many antic ensue they give the documentary’s director the run around. It is fun stuff: Daniel tricks the film crew into chasing him over nothing, Sam stutters over questions about her strictly professional relationship with Jack, Teal’c sits in stony silence, Jack offers shots of his rear end, Sen. Kinset\y shows up in an exercise in ego stroking, Frasier lets it drop her daughter is an alien, and the support crew try desperately to make their jobs sound interesting. It is all frivolous fun.

Then there is the flip side. The SG-13 team is sent off to explore a planet whereupon they find the ruins of an Ancient city. Soon after arriving, they destroy a Goa’uld probe that nevertheless signals Jaffa to their position. Pinned down, the SG-1 team and several others head off to rescue them for the cliffhanger. The SG-13 team gets much more personalized than others that have appeared before. We get to hear some of their banter, including a long, humorous rant about having kids being more stressful than exploring hostile planets, that shows they have been a cohesive team for a while now with a strong sense of camaraderie. The writers want us to care about these characters, so one suspects some of them are not going to make it out alive.

Col. Dave Dixon of the SG-13 team is played by Adam Baldwin with the same deadpan cynicism he utilized in playing Jayne Cobb on Firefly. He is perfectly cast here. As the father of four kids who spoke the rant I just described, it would be a brutal kick in the gut if he does not make it. The documentary, Emmett Bregman, is played wonderfully as a sometimes charming, oftentimes manipulative pain in the butt by saul Ruinek, whom you may remember as Fajo, the collector of rare artifacts who once kidnapped data in YNG’s “The Most Toys.”

The best compliment I can pay “Heroes, Part I” is that it is what “Wormhole X-Treme” should have been. There are no self-referential Hollywood in jokes viewers are not completely in on. It is all about our heroes being put on the spot in which they realize reality television , so they want no part of it. In a certain way, the episode satirizes the old M*A*S*H episodes in which a journalist covered the 4077 in the same manner as Bregman is covering SGC. It is done mercifully without all the pretension The episode is very well done, and I am anxious to see how the conclusion, which must obviously take on a darker tone, will pay out.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Catherine Bell

Catherine Bell is everyone's favorite JAG and Army housewife.

(Part of The Other McCain's Rule 5 Sunday.)

Memorial Day

“For love of country, they accepted death…” ~James A. Garfield

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Formspring Question #413--Dialing the Gate or Jumping the Shark? Edition

SG1 had trouble after Meridian hitting the “team dynamic”. First they had to intro Jonas, then intro new sci-fi viewers, then RDA cut his hours. That feeling is few and far between in S7/8, even though the finales are some of the best of the show. RDA leaving for S9/10 was good—a lot of eps suffered as they had to work around his sched. 9/10 feel very different (not least because the entire cast does the comedy) but it allows SG1 to feel like a cohesive unit again. A family, even.
I am coming around to Joe Flanagan’s way of thinking. He and the cast of Stargate: Atlantis got the impression the creative team behind the Stargate franchise acted as though they could do no wrong. Fans would eat up anything they put on screen, so why worry? Hence, there were characters were added and dropped willy nilly in Stargate SG-1, the final two seasons were a whole new storyline, etc. I have not done much with Stargate: Atlantis as of yet, but there was a tension regarding the quality of writing of which I am aware. The cast felt they were abruptly cancelled in favor of a third pin off which was, for all intents and purposes, Stargate Galactica. It mercifully flopped.

I will have a much better perspective once I have reviewed the entire series, but thus far, I suspect much of the loss of team dynamic has a lot to do with the production schedule. Filming ten episodes back-to-back is a lot of work for a relatively small cast. If an actor or two needs to drop out an episode or two in order to avoid learning pages of dialogue and enduring minor stunts, I am not surprised even though there is a noticeable lack of team cohesion because of it. I do not think it is a coincidence the cast of Stargate: Atlantis is so large. The more characters present, the less burden the individual cast members have to bear.

I remain cautiously optimistic the late season changes on Stargate SG-1 do not ruin my enjoyment.

Blogroll Spotlight #147

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-Memorial Day Weekend...
American Perspective-Memorial Day 2012 - cartoon
American Power-The Left's Brett Kimberlin Truthers
Amusing Bunni's Musings-Memorial Day, Time to Honor and Remember
Blog of the Nightfly-A Season for All Men
Bluegrass Pundit-Has Paul Krugman's cheese finally slipped completely off his cracker?
Bride of Rove-Elizabeth Warren is Insulting
Camp of the Saints-Rule 5 Saturday: T A S H A D E V A S C O N C E L OS
Classic Liberal-Free Speech for the Dumb (Government)
Colossus of Rhodey--Line of the Day
Conservative Hideout-Memorial Day, 2012
Da Tech Guy-Brett Kimberlin shows why Wikipedia should not be used as a reference
Daley Gator-DaleyGator DaleyBabe Aylen Alvarez
Diogenes' Middle Finger-God Bless Them All
First Street Journal-Reluctant to raise taxes, some states push the tax man on tougher collection enforcement
Fishersville Mike-Been there, got the instalanche
Goldfish and Clowns-Cephas Hour (Evil’s Time Is Up)
House of Eratosthemes-“Oh, the Rhetorical Proximity!”
Jake Finnergan--73% Of American Voters See Conflict Between US And Islam!
Laughing Conservative--Cartoon: Greece teeters
Lazy Farmer-Shooting Rats
Legal Insurrection-Solidarity
Lonely Conservative-Freedom Isn't Free
Maggie's Notebook-Remembering Their Sacrifice!
Motor City Times-History: George Washington Tab form City Tavern, Philadelphia, September 1787
Other McCain-Brett Kimberlin’s Heiress Aunt Helping Fund His Tax-Exempt Harassment
Paco Enterprises-Honoring Our Heroes
Pirate's Cove-If All You See...
Proof Positive-Saturday Linkaround
Pundit & Pundette-Media watchdogs curiously incurious about Wright hush money claim
Randy's Roundtable-Thursday Nite Tart: Sandra Valencia
Reaganite Republican-Reaganite's Sunday Funnies
Riehl World View-GOProud Is Wrong In Slamming Meghan McCain As They Did
Sentry Journal-Your Character Matters, Not Mine
Teresamerica-One of the best marriage proposals ever!
Troglopundit-This Week in Automotivators, May 21-27
We the People-Obama’s Numbers Game (And Why You Should Be Concerned)
Woodsterman--Spear Fishing ~OR~ Rule 5 Woodsterman Style
WyBlog-Hope And Choom: You don't have to be stoned to vote for Obama, but it helps!
Zilla of the Resistance-Violent Convicted Terrorist Bomber Given Million$ by Progressives Now Terrorizes Bloggers

Stargate SG-1--"Death Knell"

“Death Knell’ presents a suspenseful, action oriented episode which features the entire SGC staff--Hammond included--in full heroic mode at just the right time. The episode also features the right mix of internal politics among Earth the Tok’ra, and the Jaffa without bogging down the story as occasionally happens with the over all story arc is revisited.

Sam and Jacob/selmak are at the Alpha site working on a weapon that can defeat the Kull Warriors Anubis has developed. Sam expresses some concern Jonas may have compromised the Alpha site when Anubis read his mind, thereby proving they just cannot stop kicking the poor guy even after he has left for good this time. Sure enough, the base comes under attack. The commander of the Alpha site orders an evacuation.

The rest of the SG-1 team arrives soon after to discover the base has self destructed to prevent capture. The search for survivors begins. Jack, Teal’c, and daniel discover Jacob/Selmak wounded amongst the rubble. He tells them a Kull Warrior survived. If sam is still alive out there, he is hunting her down. Jacob/Selmak hands the prototype weapon to Jack to use against the Kull Warrior.

The episode splits in two at this point. One half features a tense cat and mouse game between Sam, who appears woozy from a second concussion in a handful of episodes, and the Kull Warrior. The other half is the unraveling of the alliance between Earth, the Tok’ra, and the Jaffa when divisions among their strategic interests make working together impossible. The bitterly funny part is they each point accusatory fingers at the other over the compromise of theAalpha site unaware of Sam’s theory it is probably all Jonas’ fault.

An entire episode could have been made out of the severely wounded sam barely evading the Kull Warrior she possesses no weapon against and it would have been worth watching. Stargate SG-1 is continuing its trend of building up Sam as much of a tough as nails heroic figure as she is the nerdy science whiz. She is an Air Force Major, after all. I thoroughly enjoyed how the screws were tightened right on up until Jack and Teal’c rode in as the last minute cavalry to save Sam. Shippers take note of Jack’s somewhat awkward embrace of Sam pictured above when she confesses she is too weak to get up. I am not even a shipper, and I thought that was a sweet moment.

The other half of the story is not as exciting, but no less intriguing. Who compromised the Alpha site is not as big a deal to the audience as how the Tok’ra and Jaffa are slipping away from one another over strategic interests. The interesting part is both have logical reasons dor not wanting to ally with the other. The tok’ra are few in umber, and without the ability to create more symbiotes, cannot fight tooth and nail battles. They have already lost more of their numbers in the last seven years than in the last seven hundred, it is noted. The tok’ra are like the Israelis. They lack the manpower to go toe to toe with their many enemies, so they must rely on covert operations. As such, Jacob/Selmak is fast becoming an outsider due to his loyalties to Earth. On the other hand, the Jaffa are great in number and are naturally inclined to fight large battles. But they are former slaves who need to fight these battles on their own, not alongside the Tok’ra or Earth. When the new Beta site is established at the end of the episode, neither the Tok’ra, noe the Jaffa agree to participate. Earth is not blameless, either. They have built hybrid weapons from Goa’uld technology as well as made certain system Lords more powerful by allowing the consolidation of Jaffa forces from dead System Lords. There is no real good or bad guys here. Everyone is doing what they have to in order to survive.

If there is any problem with these developments, it is that Jacob/Selmak’s falling out of favor with the rest of the Tok’ra feels very sudden. He has been a loyal Tok’ra who has chastised SGC for developing hybrid technology and their more brazen anti-Goa’uld activities. Certainly, his human side still feels a connection with Earth, but questioning his loyalties comes from out of the blue.

If it sounds like the arc developments overshadow character moments, fret not. I personally like how proactive Hammond is in uncovering the leak that doomed the alpha site. Too often this season, he has shown up, told the SG-1 team they have a go, and then disappears. He ought to be as prominent a character as the rest of the team. I also like how Jacob/Selmak is present for logical reasons. Sometimes, he seems there for no reason other than to have him in an episode. In “Death Knell,’ he actually has something to do. Anyone else notice how angry Daniel is the alliance is falling apart even though Sam nearly dies trying to hold it together? He has a tight emotional bond with her. Speaking of, I have already talked about Sam here, so no need to retread old ground. “Death Knell” is one of the highlights of the season.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Paula Patton

This is the first time Paula Patton has appeared at The Eye.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #152

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

Proof Positive links to Karen Gillan
Say Anything links to Karen Gillan.
Motor City Times links to Cherokee Genealogist Demands Elizabeth Warren Tell the Truth.
Sentry Journal links to Birthers, How Can We Miss You When You Will Not Go Away?
Classic Liberal links to Elizabeth Hurley, Alison Brie, Anna Faris, Sarah Shahi, Kaley Cuoco, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, and Summer Glau.
The New Atlantean links to Summer Glau.
Pirate's Cove thanks The Eye for this week's pin up, and links to FMJRA #151, Blogroll Spotlight #146, and Anna Faris.
Fishersville Mike yearns for Kaley Cuoco.
Randy's Roundtable links to Sarah Shahi and Adrianna Lima.
Reaganite Republican links to Anne Hathaway as Catwoman.
Jake Finnegan links to Sarah Shahi.
Gormogons links to Don't It Make My Blue State Red.

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--"Chimera"

It looks like the writers want to test the patience of the Jack/Sam shippers with “Chimera,” an episode with the odd combination of a romantic story as the subplot for the continuation of the season long story arc of searching for the Lost City of the Ancients and ending the Sarah Gardner/Osiris storyline so Anna-Louise Plowman can go back to the United Kingdom for an episode of Doctor Who. Or something like that. “Chimera” is a strange bird, to say the least.

The main plor involves Sarah Gardner/Osiris sneaking into Daniel’s home at night and using a device to invade his dreams to force him to translate a tablet that will reveal the location of the Lost City. One cannot read in a dream, but whatever. Daniel’s dreams are vividly reliving his early days at the University of Chicago when he kinda/sorta romanced Sarah in his own nerdy way. Sarah Gardner/Osiris is forcing the translation of the tablet into the past as Daniel dreams it was.

The subplot is a sometimes sweet, sometimes disturbing romance between Sam and a Denver cop named Pete. It is sweet because there is a teenagers in love vibe to it. It takes a while for Sam to even let pete into her home after they have dated a while. It is only after the two crash a fiftieth wedding anniversary party because Sam longs for the Singing in the Rain days of romance that she spends the night with him. It is disturbing because Sam freely admits she is keeping pete at a distance because all her past loves have been killed. This is true--Jonas Hanson, Martouf, and Narim have all bit the dust over the last seven years. But if Sam the Black Widow is not bad enough, Pete takes it upon himself to have an FBI buddy run a background check on her. He then follows her to a stakeout at Daniel’s house where the two stories collide. Is it really true romance to sic the FBI on your new girlfriend, then stalk her? Sam has had stalkers before. Pete adds to the notion there might just be something wrong with Sam that such guys are drawn to her.

The two stories do collide when the SG-1 team corners Sarah Gardner/Osiris. They capture her after a short battle with the presumably unintentional humor of Jack popping her in the behind with a tranquilizer dart. As is always the case, the person drugged never passes out until they pull the dart out and look at it a moment. Pete is, of course, right there with them, though uninvited. He is wounded in the fight, which surely makes everyone in the audience assume he is about to join the choir invisible along with all of sam’s other fellows. But he survives. He is taken to SGC for medical treatment. Sam reveals everything about the stargate program to him. It is another point that makes one suspect he is going to be killed off. The last civilian to learn about the stargate was Chris Owens’ character. He got run over by a car to silence him. While we are on the subject of harsh endings, we will never hear from Sarah Gardner again even though she and daniel are supposedly in love.

Pete is played by David DeLuise. David makes the fourth DeLuise to show up on Stargate SG-1. Dom, Peter, and Michael are the other three.

What to make of “Chimera?’ It is a stargate love story. As such, it is a couple notches above the sex equals love philosophy of Star Trek. I suppose that means Stargate SG-1’s audience is not a bunch of horny fourteen year olds. Yet the romance does not fire on all cylinders. Announcing to a nee fellow you will not let him in your house because all your other boyfriends have been killed under odd circumstances is not a good way to begin a relationship. You really also cannot think he is The One because he did an FBI background check and then followed you all night. I am skeptical discussing alien parasites attempting to destroy the Earth somehow patches all that up.

Keep in mind the sam/Pete romance is the subplot. Nevertheless, it completely overshadows the main story about daniel looking for the Lost City. I suppose that makes sense, considering he makes no progress. All the story succeeds in doing is getting rid of Osiris. The good points of "chimera’ are worth watching. I am not a Jack/sam shipper, so my lone peeper never bled at watching Pete and Sam do their very, very strange thing. "Chimera” is worth watching on the grounds it is so peculiar.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Michelle Rodriguez Bikini Photos

Michelle Rodriguez photos were not very popular at The Eye when I posted a few back in her Lost days. She is far from a beauty queen, but she gets more of a bum rap than she deserves. No pun intended, considering the second photo.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Matt Smith to Carry Olympic Torch Tomorrow

So we get the Eleventh Doctor carrying the Olympic torch instead of the Tenth. Who wants to be reminded of the awful "Fear Her," anyway?


Anne Hathaway as Catwoman

Here is a bonus celebrity photo for you. Anne Hathaway is sporting a Catwoman costume in The Dark Knight Rises similar to Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow get up in Iron Man 2 and Avengers. As a Marvel Zombie, I am going to go with Black Widow on this one, but have fun comparing and contrasting to draw your own conclusion.

Stargate SG-1--"Fallout"

Jonas returns in his one and only guest appearance. Corin Nemex also earns a story credit for “Fallout,” so one suspects the episode is meant to be a better send off for him than the goodbye, do not bother to write because Daniel’s back send off he got last season. One wonders just how monumental this second goodbye is supposed to be. It is quite obvious Nemec got the story by being one of the four people who saw The Core, then ran home to his laptop figuring the other three would never point out how similar the script for “Fallout” is.

Jonas returns to SGC requesting their aid. He has discovered naquadria is not a natural element. It is made from naquadah and the process is ongoing, digging deeper into the planet’s crust to the point it will eventually cause an explosion that will completely destroy Kelowna while the fallout will render the rest of the planet uninhabitable. Daniel and Jack, before Richard dean Anderson disappears for most of the episode to go play golf or something, handle the negotiations to evacuate as many of the people as possible, while Sam, Jonas, and his sweet pea Kianna operate a subterranean driving vehicle to deposit a nuke in order to keep the aquaria from hitting a fault line and kaboom.

They say that couples who stay together for a long time begin to look alike. Well, check this out:
Jonas and Kianna not only look alike, they look like Justin Bieber.

The twist here is that Kianna has a Goa’uld symbiote left over from Anubis’ invasion last year. This Goa’uld is loyal to Ba’al, who decided not to honor the agreement to leave Langara alone. Kianna worked to create the subterranean drilling device to get to the aquaria more easily. Right up until the climax, it appears she only wants to save the planet so she can have the naquadria for herself, but in the end, the symbiote sacrifices itself to set the nuke because she is equally impressed with Sam’s willingness to sacrifice herself to save Langara and Kianna’s love for Jonas. Conveniently, the symbiote dies for the sake of everyone living happily ever after.

The negotiations for evacuating Lanagara are played largely for comic relief. There is all the predictable, petty squabbling by politicians combined with Daniel and Jack--for as long as he is a part--hamming up their exasperation. The negotiations serve well in breaking up the tension of our heroes setting the nuke, but one wonders if even politicians could be so childish when faced with the decision to only save some of their people. Sadly enough, I imagine they probably would be that childish. Some eugenics inclinations would come storming to the surface when deciding who lives and who dies, too. Perhaps playing the negotiations for laughs is the wisest choice.

The naquadria bomb Kelowna set off in their war started the chain reaction that is about to destroy the planet, so there is a certain vibe early on “Fallout’ has an anti-nuke message. But considering the crisis is averted by the use of another nuke, maybe not.

I do not know if fans were clamoring for Jonas’ return, so expectations for how big a story “Fallout” is may vary. I could take or leave Jonas, so there is no high emotion present for me. With that in mind, I can and do enjoy “Fallout” as a disaster movie homage. I suppose bringing back Jonas rather than creating an all new guest character adds a certain something, but anyone else could have been used to similat effect. Hence, the two or three Jonas fans out there may feel short changed.

Sam yet again takes center stage as both a science nerd and team leader. It is part of a noticeable trend to put her front and center on the show. She has come a long way from those early seasons when the writers were struggling to find something for her to do. Now she is fast replacing Jack as top dog. I have no objections to the development, though Daniel and Teal’c are fading into the bsckground.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Sarah Shahi

Sarah Shahi is still a big draw for The Eye when new episodes of Fairly Legal air.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Formspring Question #412--Don't It Make My Blue State Red Edition

What blue state(s) do you think Romney can pick off in November?
The absolute most likely state is North Carolina. Barack Obama’s margin of victory in 2008 was 14,000 votes. Obama was going to lose North Carolina even before he repudiated the Tarheel State by declaring his support for gay marriage.

Indiana is a close second. Hoosiers were enthusiastic for Bob Dole back in 1996, for heaven’s sake! They will vote for any Republican candidate. Except John McCain, apparently.

Ohio is likely to revert back to a red state. I am cautiously optimistic about Virginia, but those blue-ish DC suburbs in the northern part of the state are loaded with self-loathing affluent progressives who feel obligated to guide the rest of the red state yokels whom they believe do not know any better. On a less snaky note, Gov. Bob McDonnell’s organization handed Mitt Romney the primary. It may put him over the in the commonwealth in November. McDonnell will noty be Romney’s running mate, but a Cabinet post is his for the taking.

New Hampshire likes socially moderate Republicans. Romney’s Massachusetts connections can deliver the state.

I would put Colorado and Florida in the maybe columns. Colorado depends on the enthusiasm of evangelicals. Rick Santorum won the state’s primary. We will have to see whether they can be as adamant about Romney. Florida is tough. I would not be surprised if Obama won it with a strong Latino turn out. But then again, all those wealthy snowbirds are likely Romney backers. Are seniors angry over Medicare cuts? I do not honestly know, but I am at this time predicting an Obama victory. Just a hunch.

Will there be any surprises? They would have to be completely unusual circumstances, like a backlash against Wisconsin Democrats for wasting time and resources allowing Romney to eke out a win. I doubt that will happen. Romney cannot win Massachusetts or Michigan, either.

For the record, my predictions give an electoral count of 276 for Obama and 262 for Romney. Something has to change within the next five months, or we are doomed.

Stargate SG-1--"Grace"

I was anxious to finally get to “Grace.” While I knew very little about Stargate SG-1 before beginning these reviews, I was aware “Grace” was famous for being the Sci Fi Channel’s highest rated first run episode of any series up until that point. Given the subject matter, the promos Sci Fi runs into the ground must have tantalized the Jack/Sam shippers. It is doubtful they are disappointed with the final product. I am not.

The Prometheus hyper drive is finally repaired with parts from the ship Jack and Teal’c stole from Ba’al’s forces back in “Avenger 2.0” (so there is your proof the episode was not a Felger daydream.) Sam joins the crew for the ride home when they are attacked by an unknown alien vessel. The Prometheus ducks into a nebula for safety. Sam is knocked unconscious as the alien vessel continues its pursuit. When she awakens, she finds herself alone.

As you might have guessed, “Grace” is a very Sam-heavy episode. She struggles throughout to discover what happened to the crew, how long can she hold out to possible rescue, how to get the ship fully operational, and eventually how to save herself when the shields begin failing against the nebula’s radiation. She is helped along by hallucinations of her teammates and father, as well as a strange little girl named Grace.

Exactly what those hallucinations are is left up to interpretation. The Daniel hallucination speculates they are projections from the nebula, that it may be an alien trying to communicate with Sam. The other possibility is the hallucinations are a result of Sam’s head injury. They are the personification of aspects of herself helping her to cope with her current predicament while exploring her inner self. I like the latter interpretation much better. I like if for no other reason than, if true, the episode was headed down the path of a tired Star Trek plot, but kicked it to the curb for something for more introspective. The interpretation is the one I am definitely going with.

What I find unique are the subtle touches. The Teal’c hallucination, who is the one warning Sam not to fall asleep with her concussion and introduces the possibility she is being held prisoner and mind probed, calls her Samantha for the first time rather than the formal Major Carter the real Teal’c always does. Even while expressing suspicion, there is a certain warmth for Sam we know is there, but rarely overtly seen. Daniel is the absolutely logical scientist who forces sam to work on every problem at hand until a solution is found. It is that scientific curiosity that forms the connection between the two of them in real life. Next, her father appears to her as the hallucinations shift towards the personal. Jacon/selmak expresses sorrow that her drive to succeed has forced her into a very lonely life. Shippers should be happy that Jsck, who is the only one to appear out of uniform, has a talk with sam in which she reveals she holds out for a relationship with him because she knows one can never be. He is her safety net, assurance she will never get hurt in a relationship because she will never pursue one.

What is Grace? Good question. I am inclined to think she represents sam’s fun side. Since grace is still a little girl, her fun side must have died long ago. Considering Grace’s fascination with learning abourt Sam’s solution for escaping the nebula, she might lend credence to Daniel’s suggestion the nebula is alive and trying to communicate with Sam. I want to dismiss that idea and stick with my fun side of sam theory. You may kick them both around, but considering Sam heard grace singng in the SGC infirmary in the final scene, the idea Grace is a manifestation of Sam’s own mind is a strong one.

There is no way to avoid mentioning the similarities between “Grace” and Star Trek: Voyager’s “One.” I did not want to taint anyone’s perspective by mentioning the similaritites in the introductory paragraph. My disdain for all things VOY should not reflect my opinion on “Grace,” which I enjoy very much--and I am not even a shipper.

There are some fine points to “Grace.“ I am not attempting any point of Grace jokes, there. This is another episode in which there is not much teamwork. The rest of the cast outside of Amanda Tapping has little screen time, but makes the most of it. The atmosphere is appropriately eery. Sam is on a large, empty ship. There are long stretches of time with no musical accompaniment to emphasize the dead silence surrounding Sam. As the effects of her head injury worsen, we get weird, disorienting camera angles to go along with her perspective. What we do not get--and I am grateful for this--is a lot of weird, dreamlike images that are supposed to be profound, but are really just artsy, fartsy. This stuff is straightforward. Jacob/Selmak is in uniform, rigid and still a bit distant. Jack is out of uniform talking to her informally as a friend. No pretentious symbolism there. I will bet someone has written a master’s thesis on “Grace” regardless.

“Grace” is a thought-provoking, engrossing episode. It does start out slow, and one grows wary when Star Trek plot staples are hinted at, but the latter two-thirds more than make up for those points. Tapping carries the story almost completely by herself, yet the relative absence of the other cast members is not keenly felt. I did not feel shortchanged by the near exclusive focus on one character as I have with other single character episodes this season. That means “Grace” is done right.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Adriana Lima

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Doctor Who Was Delayed Until the Fall to Build Excitement

Doctor Who showrunner Stephen Moffat reveals:
"I don't know, on this occasion, that the thinking particularly came from me, actually. I've always been open to anything that shakes [the series] up. I think that decision actually came from the BBC.

"But I've been well up for anything that we can do to shake up the transmission pattern, the way we deliver it to the audience and how long we make the audience wait, simply because that makes Doctor Who an event piece.

"The more Doctor Who becomes a perennial, the faster it starts to die. You've got to shake it up, you've got to keep people on edge and wondering when it will come back.

"Sherlock is the prime example, as far as that goes. Sherlock almost exists on starving its audience. By the time it came back this year, Sherlock was like a rock star re-entering the building!

"So keeping Doctor Who as an event, and never making people feel, 'Oh, it's lovely, reliable old Doctor Who — it'll be on about this time, at that time of year'. Once you start to do that, just slowly, it becomes like any much-loved ornament in your house — ultimately invisible. And I don't want that to ever be the case."
Thus ends a lot of speculation. The delay was not to give more time to produce a special fiftieth anniversary project, allow Moffat to produce a second series of Sherlock, or avoid conflicting with the London Olympics. Like Mad Men, some network executive decided he needed to justify his job by making a “big” decision.

What bugs me about starting the season in the fall rather than airing it this spring as normal is the Christmas special, which usually marks the halfway point between the end of one series and the beginning of another, is now marks the midpoint of the seventh series instead. The timing takes the event element out of the holiday episode. Probably more so this year as Amy and Rory are departing as companions in the episode leading up to Christmas.

On the plus side for the BBC, the network is going to use Olympics to advertise the heck out of Doctor Who. for the record, the Olympics definitely was not a factor in delaying Doctor Who regardless how adamant the skeptics still are. doctor Who normally begins airing in April and has never aired its final episode, split season included, passed July 8. The Olympics do not start until July 27th.

Stargate SG-1--"Evolution, Part II"

“Evolution, Part II" concludes the dual storyline begun in the first part with surprisingly solid results. Surprisingly because of some weak points in introducing the conflicts. If nothing else, at least Jack plays an active, heroic role in the story as he rescues Daniel and lee from the rebels.

Before I start reviewing part one, a note about part one. Daniel and Lee were in Nicaragua when Honduran rebels captured them to hold for ransom in order to fund a war with their government. The rebels took them from Nicaragua to Honduras. I think I got that backwards in yesterday’s review. Or maybe sideways. The problem is the border between Honduras and Nicaragua is a no man’s land. There is a border dispute between the two countries and the Honduran rebels in particular cross at will and hide out. They really do snatch foreign workers and tourists for ransom to fund their campaigns because, as noted in the episode, they have Bay of Pigs era weapons given to them by Cuba and could use upgrades. Well, as far as they are concerned. Neither the Honduran government, nor Cuban backed rebels are anyone you would want controlling the country. But I digress. The take away is who kidnapped Daniel and lee and where they took them was not made all that clear in yesterday’s review. Mea culpa. It is all clear as mud now, right?

The US government is not going to pay the ransom, but it will authorize Jack to join a Cia operative to rescue the two. Naturally, Jack has a history with Agent Burke. He was discharged from the Air force over a friendly fire incident. Jack is wary enough of Burke to forego his help in favor of a local guide, but Burke eventually catches up and convince Jack he can trust him by revealing the truth about the friendly fire incident. The soldier in question, a friend of both Burke and Jack, was working for a mercenary. When his true loyalties were discovered, he went to kill Burke, but Burke shot first. He covered up the truth so the soldier’s wife could collect his pension while still believing he was a hero.

Daniel and Lee are tortured by rebel leader Raphael to reveal what the Ancient device is. Lee cannot take it, and spills everything. Raphael believes him and turns the device on. I suppose it is possible these Hondurans are superstitious enough to believe such legends without question, but it feels odd the truth is so readily accepted.

The device acts as a sarcophagus does, so soon Raphael develops the psychotic high of a Goa’uld. He even kills one of his men for questioning him. The rebel is revived from the dead because of his close proximity to the device, so he gives Jack and Burke something other worldly to deal with during the rescue. Burke takes him out with a grenade launcher. I do not know if Burke will show up again, but he is colorful enough to lead me to suspect the writers might be trying to make him into the next Maybourne.

Meanwhile, Sam, Teal’c, Jacob/Selmak, and Bra’tac sneak onto the Kull warrior factory planet to discover Anubis scanned Jonas’ mind and discovered fron Egeria how to get a Queen to create mindless symbiotes in order to make perfectly loyal soldiers. Geez, I know Jonas is not very popular, but he has been gone half a season. Do you really have to come up with new reasons to kick him in the ribs? Our heroes sabotage the operation, but Anubis still has thousands of those nigh invincible Kull warriors at his command.

The Honduran rescue mission dominates the episode. So much so, it is easy to forget the consequences of the mission to destroy the Kull warriors will be devastating if it fails. It should also be noted the Kull warrior story dominated part one to the point Daniel and Lee’s kidnapping by the Honduran rebels came as an almost laughably absurd development from left field. No pun intended their on the political leanings of the rebels. Perhaps the five month hiatus offered some time to course correct. I notice Peter DeLuise’s name is on this script in addition to the writers from part one. Maybe he got the story straightened out.

Whatever the case, I think part two is more solid than part one. I even enjoyed some hints of the old MacGyver days, which are probably intentional. Is there not an episode in which he rescued a scientist from Basque separatists? I believe there is. The Ancient device turning Rapjael and his henchmen into psycho zombie soldiers is a nice science fiction touch. Perhaps more attention could have been paid to the Kull soldier story, and I certainly wonder why they had to bring Jonas back into it, but that is not enough of a detriment to complain about. Shippers take note--Jack invites sam to lunch in the final scene.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Mila Kunis and Kirsten Dunst

Here is a two for one.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Evolution, Part I"

“Evolution, Part I” marks the halfway point of the seventh season. In the original airing, the first part’s cliffhanger would not be resolved until after a nearly five month hiatus, so it has to be good. We are given two concurrent storylines with plot points dangling at the end. One is the mystery of a new Goa’uld super soldier. The other is Daniel having been kidnapped by rebels in Nicaragua. Yes, the latter is pretty wild. It is really a matter of whether one or both grabs your attention. They do, but the journey there is absurdly flawed.

The episode begins with Teal’c and bra’tac arriving at a summit of minor System Lords’ Jaffa to discover both contingents have been wiped out by a single, new warrior. He is huge, dressed in black armor, and appears nearly invincible as Teal’c shoots at him repeatedly until he falls dead. Back at SGC, an autopsy by Sam and Jacob/Selmak proves the Goa’uld super soldier was unaffected by talc’s weapon. He was genetically engineered by Anubis to be the ultimate Goa’uld, but is unstable. The writers need the Goa’uld super soldier to be nigh invincible, so he cannot actually be defeated in the opening teaser as he appeared to be, but dying of a heart attack? It is tough to swallow, but okay.

The Goa’uld super soldier reminds Jacob/Selmak of the legend of a System Lord on Earth who supposed had technology similar to that which could create such a monster. The System Lord was defeated by Anubis, who never found the technology. Keep that in mind for a bit. Daniel recognizes Jacob//Selmak’s story as part of the Fountain of Youth legend--oh, dear--from Central America, He and Dr. Bill lee head down to Honduras to look for that which Anubis could not find in the hopes of stopping the Goa’uld super soldier. The forests outside Vancouver barely pass for the Honduran jungle. Just sayin’.

Meanwhile, the rest of the SG-1 team and Bra’tac decide to try and tranquilize another Goa’uld super soldier. Jack shows up after twenty minutes in order to lead the mission. Richard dean Anderson’s lighter work schedule is becoming highly conspicuous. This Goa’uld super soldier is an unstoppable killing machine that resists the tranquilizer darts, too, not to mention several blasts of C4. He continues on through the forest to engage some enemy Jaffa. Comic book fans should recall the Juggernaut’s m. o. in order to visualize the goa’uld super soldier’s. Out heroes are captured, then released when the Goa’uld super soldier gets the best of the Jaffa. It is captured with their help. Back at SGC, the Tok’ra mind reading device discovers the Goa’uld super soldier’s planet of origin.

Meanwhile, Daniel and lee are playing Indiana Jones a notch above Relic Hunter, but one or two below Tomb Raider. Remember when I told you to keep in mind Anubis could not find the hidden temple with the “Fountain of Youth’ technology? Lee accidentally steps on the entrance to the underground temple in a laugh line a few minutes after our intrepid explorers arrive at the site. Anubis must not have tried very hard back in the day. Inside the temple, which by the sound offoot falls, has floors of plywood, they find the device quickly, but cause a flood that is quite impressive, in spite of all my previous snark over the cable budget special effects. It is difficult to believe the two survive without drowning the way the temple is flooded, but the powers that be wanted to make it exciting. Out of left field, the two are then captured by Nicaraguan rebels and held for ransom. Not only did I not see that coming, it is so out of left field, I had to pause a moment to wonder if the writers were serious. They--Michael Shanks being one of them--are.

The cliffhangers are not bad. There is an ominous feeling to what may await our heroes on the mysterious home planet of the Goa’uld super soldier. As weird as it is, daniel and lee being kidnapped by rebels and held for ransom is a dramtic turn of events. But getting to those points is such a lackluster journey. The first Goa’uld super soldier died of a freaking heart attack. The second was captured by transporter rings and held in a barren room. The Replicators are more unstoppable than this guy. I will admit his skeletal appearance and inhuman demeanor is incredibly scary. Visual aid:
That is a face only a mother could love. Even she would have to think twice.

As for the daniel and lee story, recreating two central American countries, a hidden temple, and a giant flood are a bit too ambitious on the resources allotted. I could suspend disbelieve if they did not emerge in front of a group of rebels. Granted, the rebel leader makes an appearance a couple scenes prior to establish the two Americans throwing money around for a tour guide caught his attention, but it is so wild considering every other plot point.

In spite of my complaints, "Evolution, Part I” is entertaining. More so for what it is attempting to do rather than at what it succeeds in doing. It is the Little Episode That Could. There are some definite weak spots in presenting the Goa’uld super soldier as nigh invincible and the hidden temple majestic, but for whatever reason, those are not serious issues. I still want to see the conclusion, if for no other reason than to see how and if the two stories become connected. The mark of a good first parter is to ensure the audience wants to see the conclusion, and I do. "Evolution, Part I” does its job.

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Summer Glau

Summer Glau bikini photos, to be more specific.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Marin County Country Club Liberals Spoil George Lucas' Studio Expansion Plan

George Lucas knows how to win friends and influence people in and out of Star Wars fandom, does he not?I I guess we should thank those aging, affluent hippies. Lucas was planning to expand his studios. Since his creative contributions over the last fifteen years have been screwed up the original Star Wars trilogy numerous times, dropping the turd of a prequel trilogy, and CGI gophers in Indiana Jones, they have probably done us a big favor. Lucas might have used the new studio to make Han solo and Greedo kiss and make up for a third or fourth Blu-Ray release.

On a less science fiction geek note, I like to see citizens exercise their political power. While I admit to be pretty much an unfettered capitalist who often is dismayed when Marin County progressive types keep out evil, blood-sucking corporations Wal-Mart at the cost of numerous new jobs and cheap, convenient shopping, I am usually thrilled when a certain gaudiness is kept at bay. Disney has been rebuffed by both northern Virginians over a sanitized Civil War theme park and by my fellow South Carolina faithful nixed a proposed theme park which would have turned Myrtle Beach into the next Orlando. We have too many yankees here already, folks. We might have foregone a hefty hunk of change, but even capitalists cannot turn all God’s country into real estate.

I do find Lucas' denial that his plan was any kind of vindictive act against his neighbors. He has been on the defensive so much for his inconsiderate, greedy behavior in the last few years, public denial is his automatic response. He plans to sell the land for low income housing in an effort to appease his neighbors’ sensibilities. It is probably wise. Disgruntled Marin County residents have been known to join the Taliban.

Stargate SG-1--"Birthright"

Christopher Judge pens another script for Stargate SG-1 with “Birthright.” One assumes Judge has a fondness for guest star Jolene Blalock of Star trek: Enterprise fame. She was a sex symbol for about five or ten minutes there before being relegated to starring in straight to DVD sequels to Starship Troopers. If it is any consolation, Casper van Dien was forced to reprise his role from the theatrical release, so he has arguably fallen even further. He might have even been the one assigned to turn the lights off at the end of a day’s shooting. But I digress. Judge continues his trend of personalizing the Jaffa struggle amid a lot of half-naked women. That is the best way of going about it, if you ask me.

A group of Amazon-like rebel Jaffa called the Hak’tyl rescue the SG-1 team from a Jaffa amush and request their aid in return. They have rejected their Goa’uld Moloc after he ordered all newborn girls killed. The Hak’tyl leader, Ishta, was the high priestess who used her influence to spirit the girls away to safety. However, they are in short supply of symbiotes. They are being forced to attack other Jaffa to steal theirs. Ishta propes an alliance to kill of Moloc’s forces and take their symbiotes.

Teal’c is appalled at the idea of stealing symbiotes from other Jaffa. He believes many of them want to be free of Moloc’s control as Ishta does. Much of the episode involves Teal’c and Ishta building a trust between one another that culminates in ishta refusing to murder a Jaffa for his symbiote even if it means saving a young girl named Nesa life. They also beat the bejebus out of each other and sleep together. Teal’c and ishta. Not anyone else I just mentioned.

While all this is going on, four Hak’tyl volunteers visit SGC in order to try out the tretonin alternative to symbiotes. The tretonin works for all but one, Mala, who dies rather than allow her symbiote back in. Mala turns out to be a special case. The others are somewhat reluctant to begin taking the drug, but thanks to Nesa’s urging and Ishta’s newfound sense that other Jaffa want to be free, they agree so that the Hak’tyl are no longer forced to kill other Jaffa.

Nesa is played by Kirsten Prout. She will go on to play Teryl Rothery’s daughter in Kyle XY. The two share no scenes in “Birthright,” however. The connection is still nifty.

I am again impressed with Judge’s writing talent. What could have been a shallow episode featuring a lot of jiggling, half-naked women fighting is actually thought provoking with appropriate moments of poignancy and humor. In spite of my poking fun in the introductory paragraph. The heart of the story is the question of how far would you go in the name of self-preservation? Ishta is willing to kill innocent Jaffa for that purpose. Mala would rather die herself than take another symbiote because of the slavery it represents. Nesa does not want to grow up dependent on a symbiote, either. Each of these three women interacts with a member of the SG-1 team in some very good character scenes in order to reach their final conclusions. Perhaps surprisingly, an episode which focuses on individual team members working separately rather than together makes them look even more like a cohesive team by emphasizing their individual skills.

“Birthright” is a solid story told well. I barely noticed this time around the relative absence of Jack. Perhaps it was because he gets the best sarcastic jokes in what little screen time there is for him. Further proof Judge understands his fellow cast members characters well. This is not the shallow, tantalizing affair it appears at first.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Alison Brie

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Blogroll Spotlight #146

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-Ann Barnhardt puts a point on it...
American Perspective-Family Guy FAIL! College kids unconvinced that Tea Party are anarchists
American Power-Ethics Condemnation Follows Elizabeth Warren's 'Pow Wow Chow' Cookbook Revelations
Amusing Bunni's Musings-Meanwhile, in Craptastic Chi-Town
Blog of the Nightfly- We’re only ordinary men
Bluegrass Pundit-Teacher goes off on student for asking if Obama was a high school bully (video)
Bride of Rove-Loose Thoughts
Camp of the Saints-The TCOTS Six Days Of Cheesecake: Saturday
Classic Liberal-theCL Report (No Texting While Walking)
Colossus of Rhodey--Thanks for the black eye
Conservative Hideout-Lefty Protesters Attack Restaurant Customers in Chicago
Da Tech Guy-If you want to understand the risk involved in using your 1st Amendment rights…
Daley Gator-Latest source of outrage to Feminist with more time on her hands than brains in her head is…..
Diogenes' Middle Finger-Obama's Strategery
First Street Journal-Just who is waging a war on women?
Fishersville Mike-Air and Space
Goldfish and Clowns-White Noise
House of Eratosthemes-How People Become Mere Objects
Jake Finnergan--Burkalesque Babes: Katherine Jenkins
Laughing Conservative--A Call from Joe
Lazy Farmer-A sad commentary on the Oregon Board of Education and Bureaucracy in General
Legal Insurrection-Faking fakers and the fakery they fake
Lonely Conservative-Warmist Wants You to Stop Surfing the Net Because You’re Killing the Earth!
Maggie's Notebook-Obama’s Gutted Medicare
Motor City Times-Sunday Morning Links: The Vincent Black Lightning Edition
Other McCain-‘Other Computer Savvy Activists’
Paco Enterprises-Sunday Funnies
Pirate's Cove-If All You See...
Proof Positive-Themes Like Old Times
Pundit & Pundette-The Self Made Up Man
Randy's Roundtable-Thursday Nite Tart: Alina Vacariu
Reaganite Republican-Reaganite's Sunday Funnies
Riehl World View-Operation Razorback Chaos: What's Up In Arkansas?
Sentry Journal-Federalism: Stuffing the federal government back into its constitutional box
Teresamerica-Mom of baby Grayson Walker Facebook account banned over "offensive" pics of anencephalic son
Troglopundit-This Week in Automotivators, May 14-20
We the People-My Fellow Texans
Woodsterman--Happy Ending ~OR~ Rule 5 Woodsterman Style
Zilla of the Resistance-Is This Thing On?

Stargate SG-1--"Avenger 2.0"

“Avenger 2.0” is a (long awaited?) follow up to “The Other Guys.” Felger, the screw up scientist obsessed with both the SG-1 team’s exploits and the umpteenth guy infatuated with Sam, returns for another adventure. I have issues with the tone and scope of the episode, but it is what is.

After his latest invention blows out all the power at SGC, Felger is given 24 hours to come up with something usable after six months of failure or he is fired. Felger comes up with a virus that can disrupt a stargate from dialing home. Sam, taking some pity on Felger, works with him to perfect the virus. They decide to use it on a stargate on a planet with one of Ba’al’s major naquadah mining operations. The virus seemingly works too well. Felger has managed to shut down the entire stargate network.

The stargate network shutdown explains the general absence of the other SG-1 team members. Daniel appears on video only because he is stranded on a flooding planet. Jack and Teal’c are stranded at a rebel Jaffa conference that turns hostile I can barely justify mentioning Teal‘c. He appears in one scene and has zero dialogue in it. “Avenger 2.0‘ continues the pattern of the last four episodes of dwelling almost exclusively on one character. There were two Daniel episodes in a row. Now there are two Sam-centric installments. Was the production schedule rushed during the seventh season to the point the cast could not have managed to be featured prominently in each episode/ I am aware there was the notion seven seasons was going to be it, so maybe the cast had to be greatly accommodated for another go around, but the spotlight manner of the last few episodes has felt strange. I hope it is merely an odd patch of road.

The true heart of the story is not even Sam. It is Felger. He is a hapless sad sack who can never catch a break. Even Sam loses patience with him at one point, but finally comes around for good when he comes up with a workable solution. Felger also gets taken off the hook when it is revealed his virus initially worked, but Ba’al modified it in order to gain a strategic advantage over the other System Lords. (His larger fleet overwhelms the others since they can no longer use stargates to move Jaffa and materiel. ) Felger’s absurd troubles and over the top panic attacks make the episode.

But the humor has a lot to overcome. The regular cast is virtually non-existent. Major arc developments, such as troubles within the Jaffa rebellion and Ba’al’s consolidation of power, are revealed through exposition. I can appreciate budget saving, but wow. Why not do a Star Wars--esquer opening scrawl on a desktop PC and save even more cash? It is incredibly awkward to throw out so much stuff into what amounts to a filler episode that barely features any of the main characters.

The bottom line is the episode does not feel quite right when considered with what has gone before, but it is amusing enough to watch. As I have said before in recent reviews, if the dynamic of the main character interactions is why you like Stargate SG-1, you are still wandering down a lonely road here.

Rating: *** (out of 5)