Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Dominion"

“Dominion” revisits both the Adria and Ba’al dangling plot threads in order to give them a sense of closure. Not that I completely does so. The resolution is open to interpretation, which leads one to suspect the powers that be were either uncertain there would be any subsequent movies or had no idea what they were going to do with the movies as this point and wanted to keep their options open. Whichever, the case, the result is “dominion” feeling anemic.

Our heroes hatch a plan to capture Adria by implanting false memories in Vala of her being booted from Sgc as a potential threat in order to convince her to go along with Vala’s plan to find this mythical treasure that everyone seems interested in finding. The SG-1 team has set up an ambush, but Ba’al’s forces get the drop on them. He kidnaps Adria and plans to put his symbiote within her in order to take over the ori forces.

Adria is rescued by the SG-1 team. When they discover Ba’al is within her, they hatch another plan to switch him out with a tok’ra and have her order the Ori forces to stand down. See, placing a symbiote into a person unwillingly in order to control her power is bad when the villain does it, but fantastic when the heroes do. Many shades of grey here, folks.

The procedure does not work. The symbiote fatally poisons adria as it is being removed. Our heroes decide to euthanize her, but she recovers enough to fight them off and ascend. To make matters worse, the symbiote may have escaped. Or maybe not. As I said above, no one knows what it means for adria to have ascended or the symbiote’s fate. The deal is if we never see them again, they are kaput. If movies are made featuring Adria and Ba’al, then they are fine. It is well known now they do reappear in the subsequent films, so what is the re-watch value of ‘Dominion.” There is definitely some entertaining elements, but a better sense of closure would have been advised. Just in case, you know?

“Dominion” is especially gruesome. Vala is given false memories of her friends betraying and threatening to lock her up in Area 51 forever. It is part of a plot to capture and kill Adria, whom I remind you is her daughter. When cam confronts Vala over how she feels about killing Adria, she expresses no emotions about killing her child. Indeed, Vala attempts to shoot her before she can ascend. Ba’al mass murders his clones and Jaffa before carrying out his plan to blend adria with his symbiote. Cam kills a Ba’al by shooting him multiple times in the chest. The blood splatter is unusually grotesque for this show. When the surgery fails, the Tok’ra symbiote dies without Adria as a host. Its death is almost an afterthought as far as the characters are concerned. “Dominion” takes Stargate SG-1 for a serious turn towards the dark side.

It is definitely a dark episode, but there are enough interesting twists, good action sequences, and occasional jokes to make it entertaining. Alex Levine drafted an extremely angry script, but at least the penultimate episode of the series is about something rather than filler before the final episode.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Mariska Hargitay

Mariska Hargitay was the second post popular celebrity photo last week behind Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson, so she gets the nod again for USA's Law & Order: SVU marathon.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Formspring Question #440--Do They Award Medals for Sarcasm? Edition

Do you have Olympic fever, or are you just going to mock it?
I want team USA to do well, but I do not care much for the Olympics. There are three points that bug me.

One, and probably most important, I am not interested in any sport featured at the Olympics. I have never been able to get into even amateur versions of professional sports I like, such as baseball and boxing. So the Olympics are not my thing on the most basic level.

Two, the politics. I am too young to remember much of the Cold War drama aspect of the Olympics, such as the 1980 Miracle on Ice, so I do not have that competitive spirit to latch onto. The first Olympiad I ever really paid much attention to was the 1996 games in Atlanta. Georgia is right next door to South Carolina, so the Palmetto State was as much abuzz as the Peach State. The whole free world v. Communist totalitarianism element was replaced by a sense of global utopianism. If you have read the eye for any length of time, you should know I scoff at any notion human nature will allow for utopianism, so I have been turned off the Olympic spirit.

And come on. The thirtieth Olympiad--2012, for crying out loud--is the first one in which every nation’s team has women? Why did that take so long? Muslim teams do not want to live in the same facilities with Israelis. Some refuse to compete against Israelis. There was an adamant refusal for a moment of silence to memorialize the Israeli Olympic team murdered by Black September during the 1972 games. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how geopolitics taints the game even though virtually everyone associated with the Olympics puts on a happy face. I cannot do.

The death blow for me was Stevie Wonder covering John Lennon’s ’Imagine” at the closing ceremony in 1996. “Imagine” is probably the worst song in existence in regards to its silly utopian philosophy. Imagine no religion/ no countries? Just a brotherhood of man sharing all the world? Not only is that a load of horse pucky in general, the Olympics itself does not stand for any of that. The closing number turned out to be the kiss of death as far as any emotional connection to the Olympics.

Finally, I have a tough time overcoming the economic issues surrounding hosting the games. The London Olympics were supposed to cost $4 billion dollars. At no point was it expected to turn a profit, so taxpayer were always on the hook for a huge portion of that sum. Final costs are now estimated at $15 billion, so British taxpayers are really getting hosed. There might be some short term gains for local businesses and tourism, but will that justify the huge price tag? I do not think even people who visit London for the Olympics are going to become hooked on its charm and return someday because a London hosting the Olympics is a London completely different than at any other time. Replace London with Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, or Chicago, the three cities that were competing for the 2016 games, and the argument still holds up.

So no, I do not have Olympic spirit. I do reserve the right to further mock the Olympics if deserving. Brace yourselves.

Stargate SG-1--"Family Ties"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Eliza Dushku

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chic-fil-A: Tolerating v. Condoning

Mt Formspring inbox still frequently receives requests to clarify my position on gay marriage. Some supporters of gay marriage do not appear to know the difference between tolerating and condoning a certain thing. The problem in differentiation is relevant to the current chic-fila-a bruhaha, so it seems like a good time to address matters once again.

Cast aside my true belief that government ought not regulate marriage at all. Marriage is a cultural/religious institution that predates government in the first place. There is no conceivable way any government will relinquish it power to regulate marriage, so there is no sense in even discussing the idea further. I do not condone gat marriage. I am a traditionalist who believes marriage is between a man and a woman. The idea that homosexuals should be able to marry is relatively new. Even ancient societies well accepting of homosexuality drew the line at marriage. However, when gay marriage is legalized--not I say when, not if--I will bebop along as I always have.

What I have just demonstrated is the difference between condoning--the act of approving--and tolerating--enduring something one opposes. Chic-fil’A’s critics do not have to condone the company’s support for traditional marriage, but they do have to tolerate it. Unfortunately, there appears to be an epidemic among progressives that tolerance is allowing something they do not like, not trying to either change it or, failing that, get rid of it altogether.

It is my understanding the Chic-fil-A COO said in a radio interview a few weeks ago when asked about the company’s Christian philosophy of business and support of traditional marriage, “Guilty as charged.“ Cathy’s answer set off a firestorm in which the mayors of Boston, San Francisco, and Chicago declared a ban on Chic-fil’a in their cities. Chicago in particular is an eye opener. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Chic-fil-A;s values are not Chicago’s values. Amazing, considering native son Barack Obama was against gay marriage until joe Biden forced his hand six months ago, and Emanuel recently welcomed raging anti-Semite and gay marriage opponent Louis Farrakhan. Chicago values, indeed.

Boston and Chicago have recently backed off the idea of banning Chic-fila-A when it was pointed out government cannot prevent a private company from doing business because of a difference in political opinion. No less an organization than the ACLU spoke up in Chic-fil-A’s favor. But the declaration by progressives Chic-fil-A ought to be banned for its political opinion is out there and telling. You must have the proper opinion or else.

For the sake of full disclosure, let me say I like Chic-fil-A. I probably get food from there once or twice a month. I have done so for many years in three different cities in which I have lived. I appreciate the company’s Christian convictions, because they are also mine, but it would not matter to me if the company pushed another agenda or none at all. I eat there because I like the chicken sandwiches or the occasional nuggets. I have no emotional investment whatsoever. I am only commenting on the general principles involved. Those general principles are free speech and free enterprise,\ regardless of whether the entity in question shares what you deem the “correct” opinion.

If there are any out there upset at what I have written here, I am genuinely curios as to why. Do you have a reason beyond chic-fil-a holding a different viewpoint than yours? Because to my knowledge, the company has never refused to hire gay employees. I am confident if they had, whoever was turned down for the job would have been hauled on MSNBC by now. I am also confident chic-fil-a does not refuse to serve homosexual customers. If the company has taken any actions beyond donating money to pro-family organizations, I am unaware of them. If anyone cares to enlighten me, please do. While you are at it, explain how any opposition to gay marriage is comparable to, say, iran lynching homosexuals for their sexual orientation. I am interested in why proponents of gay marriage see the opposition in nothing but absolutes, because that is pretty much where the criticism of gay marriage opponents is headed.

Blogroll Spotlight #156

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-Wild Bill on Chic-fil-A
American Perspective-Mr. Bean Opens Up the Olympics
American Power-Just Half of American Voters Identify Obama as Christian
Amusing Bunni's Musings-Have You Caught the Fever Yet?
Blog of the Nightfly-shut Up, They Explained
Born Again Americans--Restoring Love
Camp of the Saints-Rule 5 Saturday
Classic Liberal-On Capitalism with Serinda Swan
Colossus of Rhodey--The difference is coercion
Conservative Hideout-Saturday Links
Da Tech Guy-The Bigot Card
Daley Gator-DaleyGator DaleyBabe Anna Konno
Diogenes' Middle Finger-Some Thoughts on the Olympics
First Street Journal-Can They Really Be This Stupid?
Fishersville Mike-Next for Obama Campaign - Amazon Links?
Goldfish and Clowns-This is Why
Gormogons-The 2012 Olympics Salute The Welfare State
House of Eratosthemes-Waterboarding a Watermellon
Laughing Conservative--Israelis Loudly Cheer Mitt
Lazy Farmer- Minneapolis-Moline Forklift
Lonely Conservative-Another White House Leak?
Maggie's Notebook-Mitt Romney's Israel Speech
Monkey in the Middle--DOJ's Thomas Perez on the Hot Seat
Motor City Times-Saturday Night Links
New Atlantean--Should College Football Be Banned?
Other McCain-The Olympic Princess Fantasy
Paco Enterprises-Sunday Funnies
Pagan Temple--My Heart and My Soul
Pirate's Cove-If All You See...
Proof Positive-Lou Dobbs on Gun Control Myths
Pundit & Pundette-Nannies & Circuses
Randy's Roundtable-Thursday Nite Tart (on Friday)
Reaganite Republican-Yahoo Out of the Closet; Goes Full Commie
Riehl World View-Why People Don't Like Mitt Romney?
Sentry Journal-Building Something Already Gives Us More Than We Contributed
Teresamerica-Mini-Eagle Freedom Links
Troglopundit-This Week in Automotivators
We the People-Thought of the Day
Western Hero--Woody Guthrie turns 100
Woodsterman--Interesting Statistics
Zilla of the Resistance-Bloggers Beware: An Important Reminder

Stargate SG-1--"Talion"

“Talion,” which is a word derived from latin and means eye for an eye justice, is another in a fairly long strong of Teal’c seeking revenge episodes. In this case, he is hunting down a Jaffa named Arkad whom had Teal’c’s mother killed after Apophis’ army defeated his in battle. The subject matter is extremely unpleasant, as is the larger plot which puts Earth in potential jeopardy and the rest of the SG-1 team pitted against teal’c. all of this occurs within heavy handed post-9/11 allegory. In other words, pretty much everything Stargate SG-1 does badly.

The Illac Renin, a rebel faction of Jaffa devoted to Origin, plant several bombs at a Jaffa peace conference. The bombs kill 32 men, women, and children. Teal’c and Bra’tac are among the wounded. Teal’c suspects his old enemy Arkad, who has become a devout follower of origin, is behind the attack. He now has the perfect excuse to hunt down and murder Arkad. Teal’c has always suspecting Arkad of having his mother killed, but could never prove it. When Landry refuses to get SGC involved in the hunt without solid proof of Arkad’s responsibility, Teal’c goes off on his own.

His efforts to locate Arkad involve the gruesome torture and killing of various associates. Meanwhile, Arkad requests a meeting with SGC to discuss the matter of Illac Re nin stockpiling weapons fro a planned attack on Earth. Arkad says he can use his influence to stop the Illac Renin, but he wants SGC to stay out of Jaffa affairs, particularly when it comes to origin. It is well known Arkad is in charge of Illac Renin and is planning the attack on earth himself, but without proof, the SGC has to play along. Worse, the SG-1 team is ordered to retrieve teal’c before he can kill Arkad to avoid Earth being blamed for the murder.

The above plot outline may not be very clear in terms of post 9/11 allegory. Try this: The bombing of the summit is 9/11. The Illac Renin is the radical Islamic Taliban. Teal’c is using the attack by the Illac Renin to pursue a personal vendetta again Arkad without solid proof he is associated with the Illac renin. It is much like the assertion by Iraq War critics Bush 43 used 9/11 as an excuse to settle the ’family” vendetta” against Saddam Hussein. Hussein was even behind a plot to assassinate Bush 41 back in 1993 in similarity to Teal’c’s mother being killed. Teal’c abandons his general principles to torture and kill allies of arkad in the same way water boarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques are used against terror suspects at Gitmo. Mercy, at one point, cam even quips about planting WMD on Arkad to justify killing him before he and the Ullac Renin can attack Earth. The allegory to post-9/11 American foreign policy is glaring.

I am not certain that is even the worst of it. Seeing Teal’c battle his teammates when they block him from getting to Arkad is unsettling. I understand Teal’c is fired up about his mother, but he crossed the line way too far. The writers know it, too. The episode ends not only with cam lying to Landry about what really happened in order to make talc’s killing of Arkad heroic, but Bra’tac calls Teal’c the son he never had. The former is a way of burying the mess the episode made of Teal’c’s character and his relationhip with his friends. The latter let the episode end on a warm note in the hope we will forget all the unpleasant business we have just witnessed.

Neither does the trick. No one really gets off looking good here, but teal’c fares the worse. Not only does he murder in cold blood, he assaults his friends to whom he has loyally fought beside for a decade. You cannot just fix that by the next episode as though nothing happened. I do not care if cam is willing to lie to protect his friend. The emotional bonds have to be at least cracked. There is also the matter of Arkad killing Teal’c’s mother because a planetary bombardment lead by Teal’c killed his entire family. Teal’c was a military commander following orders when he committed the act while Arkad sent an assassin to murder his mother in cold blooded revenge, but neither has a good excuse for their actions and every reason to hate the other. All things considered, “Talion” is promoting the adage that an eye for an eye leaves us all blind. What a disturbing way to prove it true.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Olivia Munn

I doubt Olivia Munn is the geek girl she is advertised to be, but I like her regardless.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Your Move, Obama

You cannot let the queen show you up. You are supposedly a young, vital visionary with the power to roll back the ocean tides and heal the planet. Surely you can top an actress pretending to jump out of an airplane alongside the current James Bond, Daniel Craig.

(Digression: The latest bon film is named Skyfall. The powers that be just used the skydiving “Queen” to subtly promote their upcoming film in front of over a billion people at the Olympics. Pretty sly, if you ask me. End of digression.)

I suggest Obama get one of his Hollywood buddies to literally shoot him out of a cannon like Gonzo from the Muppets. Not some fake CGI from George Lucas or Steven Spielberg. Obama needs one of his action star supporters. Maybe george Clooney would do it if he has not gotten too artsy by this point. Matt damon might do it. He has a new movie to promote, does he not?

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #161

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

Sentry Journal links to The Colorado Theater Shooting.
Proof Positive links to Katy Perry and Mariska Hargitay.
Say Anything links to Katy Perry and Mariska Hargitay.
Woodsterman acknowledges the Rule 5.
Randy's Roundtable links to Kaley Cuoco and Alessandra Torresami.
Reaganite Republican links to Kaley Cuoco.
Pirate's Cove links to FMJRA # 160, Blogroll Spotlight #155, and Katy Perry.
Classic Liberal links to Aimee Teagarden, Mariska Hargitay, Kaley Cuoco, Gillian Anderson, Anne Hathaway, Mandy Moore, and Alessandra Torresani
Motor City Times links to The Colorado Theater Shooting.

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--"Bad Guys"

“Bad Guys” is one of Stargate Sg-1’s love it or hate it episodes. Our heroes get caught up in a comedy of errors which snowballs from bad to worse. In order to survive, they have t o play the bad guys, as the title suggests. Many of the out of character moments are a bit jarring, and the Die Hard homage goes overboard in places, but I laughed out loud at a couple gags. There is something to be said for that.

The SG-1 team, sans Sam, travel to a planet in search of the treasure Athena was seeking a few episodes back. They wind up in a museum rather than a pyramid like they were expecting. They decide to beat a hasty retreat when it is discovered there is a party full of people next door, but the Dhd device turns out to be a replica. They have to wait until SGC checks in six hours from now in order to receive a way to dial home.

Our heroes do not get to lay low as they planned. Two partygoers wander into the museum gallery and discover them. Assuming the intruders are up to no good, the partygoers scream, causing a panic that ends in a shootout. Our heroes inadvertently wind up taking hostages when they are mistaken for political reels. They have to play the part with the help of a museum employee named Cicero in order to stall for the time to either be contacted or figure out a way to power the stargate. Making matter worse is a gung ho security guard who acts like an overenthusiastic mall cop and a national leader willing to sacrifice the hostages in order to score a much needed victory over the rebellion.

The humor comes largely from Daniel, who is placed in charge of both the hostages and the negotiations. He is terribly out of his element, and it shows. The bumbling security guard predates Paul Blart: Mall Cop by two years, but the jokes are the same. Actor Alistair Abell even resembles a skinnier Kevin James. Is Paul Blart: Mall Cop screenwriter Nick Bakay a Gater, or is there nothing new under the sun? Of course, the movie is not all that great, and neither is “Bad Guys.” While I did laugh a couple times, most of the jokes are predictable. Our heroes acting out of character is very jarring. I cannot decide which is worse--Daniel screeching at hostages who have gotten on his nerves or Cam and Teal’c fitting into their bad guy rebel roles a bit too easily.

Do not take my word for it. No less than Michael shanks himself has publicly critiqued “Bad Guys” for it quality. Specifically, he was upset with how Daniel came across. The word is the episode is heavily edited. Up to 22 minutes hit the cutting room floor which might have made sense of certain twists in character personality. But I cannot rate what might have been. I can only judge what made it to the screen.

I am actually not too critical of “Bad Guys.” It is actually a great episode if you do not take it too seriously. I would rather watch it again than other comedy episodes like “Wormhole X-treme” or “200“. I chalk up the warped charascterizations to Ben Browder, who earns a story by credit. Often episodes written by the actors are more self-indulgent than consistent with what has gone before. The bottom line is I liked certain elements to not get uptight about the parts that miss the mark.

The West Wing fans should note regular cast members Josh Malina and Ron Canada makes appearances as Cicero, the museum employee who aids the SG-1 team, and Quartas, the head of security forces ready to storm the museum, respectively. The two play more interesting characters than the usual guest stars, so there is that.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Rachel Leigh Cook

Rachel Leigh Cook has an amazing figure.

Friday, July 27, 2012

For Those Upset the Doctor Did Not Light the Olympic Torch

The issue can be explained easily. What cannot be explained away so easily is why the opening ceremony was so very, very British. Sure, thr host country should be allowed to toot its own horn a bit, but really. The sun set on the British Empire long ago. Dial it back a few notches, folks.

Maybe you should also consider putting the queen to bed at a more reasonable hour. For the looks of it, I am not certain she could identify what planet she was on through most of the ceremony. I held my breath for a moment when she approached the microphone to speak right before the torch lighting. She reminded me of those last few years of sen. Strom Thurmond’s service when he was over a hundred years old, but still would not resign from office.

In al seriousness, the opening bit with the queen and Daniel Craig as James Bond was hilarious. Irreverent, but hilarious. As was Paul McCartney’s dye job. Let the grey out, Sir. When know you are seventy. It would not surprise anyone if that ’do was not white by now.

Stargate SG-1--"Bounty"

“Bounty“ is Stargate SG-1 meets Gross Pointe Blank. I was expecting the episode to be such a silly, heavy-handed parody that I was not going to like it. It turns out to be a lot of fun. Goofy, yes, but we are nearing the end of the series. Everyone is bound to be a little loopy.

After the SG-1 team destroys a shipment of the highly addictive kassa kernels, Netan puts a bounty on their heads. Every bounty hunter worth his salt pursues the team as they go their separate ways for downtime. Daniel is hit on in a library by a female bounty hunter who is fatally struck by a bus before she can haul him in. Teal’c survives an attempt on his life while on Chulak and defeats his would be assassin. Sam kills a sniper who attempts to kill her at an expo at which she is demonstrating Chimera, the holographic technology used to project thor in “Covenant.’ It is dumb luck the sniper happened to aim for her holographic projection.

The bulk of the story centers on cam returning to Kansas for his twentieth high school reunion with Vala in tow as a favor to her. Bounty hunters converge on the reunion and cause mayhem until the rest of the SG-1 team shows up. They ’surrender,” but turn out to be holograms. When they capture the bounty hunter, they plant the seed in his head that Netan now looks pitifully weak since he has failed again. He is going to big a big prize to bag now. The episode ends with Netan being shot, so we have a plausible end to the Lucian Alliance threat as well, though they can continue on plausibly, too. This wrapping up loose ends is not a definite business, no?

“Bounty” is a light hearted episode best taken not too seriously. You are mostly supposed to enjoy Claudia Black in a midriff, Daisy Dukes, and a risqué formal dress. I do, by the way. The episode is like cotton candy. Enjoyable, but not much to it. Did I mention Black in a midriff, Daist Dukes, and a risqué formal dress? Because that is important.

I know these two points are picking nits, but that is what I do best. Cam is an Air force brat, so he has moved around a lot with his father’s job. I am going to assume the series is not implying he grew up in Kansas with that thick Southern accent. But why did they not set the episode in Tennessee where Ben Browder is from? It would not have made a big difference story wise, but the question of how an obviously Southern boy is from Kansas could have been avoided. The second point is the absence of popular music from 1987. I think rock and roll died about 1989, so I long for the music of the era. Color me disappointed the powers that be did not fork over the cash for Billy Vera’s “At This Moment” or Whitney Houston’s “Didn’t we Almost Have It All” instead of an 80’s twinged simple melody of the Stargate SG-1 theme. For the last dance of the evening. Oh, well. It is not a huge deal. Neither is “Bounty,” but it is fun enough to overcome its flaws.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Shawn Johnson

The opening of the 2012 Olympics are today. Shawn Johnson will not be competing, but she is still cute, so she earns a place at The Eye.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"The Shroud"

I am not particularly familiar with all the behind the scenes lore involved in the making of Stargate SG-1, so I am merely going on intuition when I describe how I feel about the purpose of ‘The Shroud.” If anyone knows more, feel free to speak up in the comments to set me straight. I am not a big fan of speculating why certain episodes turn out the way they do, but I cannot help it with ’the shroud.”

Okay, all that is really obtuse. The deal is “The Shroud” feels like an anticlimactic rush job to make a satisfactory conclusion to the Ori story while still leaving iopen the possibility they are still out there as a potential menace. I am not certain of the correlation between the conception/creation of “The Shroud’ and the announcement there would be no eleventh season. Was ’the Shroud” thrown together to offer up some sense of closure after the cancellation announcement? Was it written because a movie or two to conclude the story was not carved in stone? Was ’the shroud” planned this way all along regardless? The only would help me decide how lenient I should be on it.

The SG-1 team finally finds Daniel. Adria has made him into a Prior under the assumption he can convert earth to Origin. His former teammates decide to kidnap him in order to gauge what has really happened to him. Once Daniel is in their hands, he reveals this was all part of his plan. He wanted to become a prior so he could steal the ship carrying the Sangraal into the Ori galaxy and use it to destroy them. But he needs the wormhole keeping the super gate open to be shut down. Daniel claims he can be trusted because Merlin’s essence has prevented the conversion to Prior from taking full effect, but his friends cannot bring themselves to trust him. Bringing down the wormhole could allow an entire fleet in.

Worse yet, Woolsey shows up to announce the International Oversight Committee wants Daniel executed while his new powers are under control. The IOC has the power to order executions. That is…uncomfortable. The irony hwar is the role reversal. Daniel wanted to execute Khalid, Anubis’ genetically engineered, half-ascended “son” while Woolsey wanted to keep him alive for study. As it turned out, Daniel was right, but Woolsey’s refusal cost the lives of a number of air force personnel when Khalid nearly escaped. The issue is pretty much glossed over here as Daniel is right yet again. He gets to be right because Michael Shanks is listed in the opening credits.

Daniel escapes at the same time the SG-1 team decides they are going to execute his plan without him so they can eliminate the possibility of his betrayal. He winds up stealing the ship with the Sangraal anyway and, upon convincing jack to order the wormhole shut down, sends the ship into the Ori galaxy. It is let open ended whether the Sangraal actually worked, so maybe the ori are dead, maybe they are not. Regardless, four more ships full of soldiers enter the Milky Way through the super gate.

“The Shroud” is supposed to be an epic conclusion to the Ori story in the same way the defeat of the Replicators and Anubis were back in the eighth season. Richard Dean Anderson even reprises his role as jack just for the same of having Jack in the episode. There is nothing he did here that could not have been done by Landry. I am not irritated Jack is in the episode, mind you. He is still my favorite character. But he is not given anything character specific to do. He is there just to mark the episode as monumental. Unfortunately, it is not as monumental as one would hope.

“The Shroud” is not bad, but it has a definite feel that the Ori storyline needs to end now, but wait…we may be able to make a movie with them as villains. What it boils down to is the feeling this will do as an ending, but I definitely wanted something more definitive. Why bring back Jack just to be a warm body? Sure, he spars with daniel a bit like old rimes, but there is nothing special about him showing up. There is not even a hin the and sam actually are an item to satishy the shippers. The bottom linne is what ought to be one of the best episodes of the season, if not series, is not much better than a decent arc episode.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Kaley Cuoco

Thursday is (occasionally) Kaley Cuoco Day.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Formspring Question #439--Trump Card Edition

Would you really be surprised to see Trump at the RNC? I would be more surprised if he didn't speak.
I would not be surprised if Donald Trump showed up at the RNC. He is raising a lot of money for Mitt Romney, so the party poobahs would probably grit their teeth and grin shaking his hand while desperately hoping there are no cameras around. But speaking? I doubt anyone in charge wants that.

Trump is a weird egomaniac too heavily identified with birthers to be given prominence. Did you not notice how much Romney winced at having to be a stage with him in Las Vegas for what turned out to be a worthless endorsement in terms of public opinion? Did you also miss the revelation Trump’s faux president run was a bargaining chip in order to earn a more lucrative payday from NBC? The GOP has missed those points.

There may be some grassroots pockets like the Sarasota GOP, who have awarded Trump Statesman of the year for his hounding Barack Obama over his birth certificate, but the party leadership is not ken on putting the Trump Train Wreck on prominent display. In the unlikely event he earns a speaking slot, his speech will be buried somewhere during the day far away from public attention. I have a difficult time believing he will do anything more than show up, however.

Stargate SG-1--"The Road Not Taken"

I am a sucker for alternate universe stories. Stargate SG-1 has done a good job with them in the past, so I was anticipating “The Road Not Taken.” Oh, well. It is easily the worst of these kind of episodes in the show’s run. So much for saving the best for last. There are a couple things that blow it. One is the heavy handed social commentary. If Stargate SG-1 has a major shortcoming, it is when the rare occasions when the show gets preachy. The other is the anticlimactic ending. I suspect the powrrs that be knew the episode was weak, because they put Amanda tapping’s cleavage on prominent display as a distraction.

Wen Sam performs an experiment with Arthur’s Mantle in an effort to boost it range to cover the entire planet, another Sam in a parallel universe is simultaneously performing an experiment to draw energy away from alternate realities. Our Sam is accidentally drawn into the alternate reality. Hey, it happens. The alternate reality diverged from ours at the point of Anubis’ invasion. The SG-1 team was not able to locate the ZPM before the rest of the world discovered the existence of the stargate program. More importantly, the ori are overrunning the Milky Way and are a direct threat to Earth. Sam agrees to continue alternate Sam’s work on a defense if SGC will help her get home. Sam is able to get Arthur’s Mantle to hide her in the face of an Ori invasion, and becomes a worldwide celebrity.

It is at this point the episode collapses. Landry is improbably the president of the United States. Since the revelation of the Stargate program, the public rioted and forced him to declare martial law. President Landry has continued his grip on the country, suppressing civil liberties and suspending elections to make himself president for life. He is even using alien technology to battle “terrorist” dissent around the world. He promotes sam’s heroism as a way of propping up his own power. Sam, who is an idealist, does everything she can to resist his plan to use her.

What we have here is some thinly veiled commentary on the united state’s reaction to 9/11 by way of the Patriot Act, indefinite detentions at Gitmo, Tsa pat downs and other usual suspects. The actions of the alternate United states are exaggerated for the sake of drama, but the message is clear--there will always be an enemy to protect the American people from, but trading fredom for security is unacceptable.

I agree with the sentiment, do not get me wrong. I am the guy who thinks everyone in Aurora, Colorado should have gone to the movies this weekend just to prove people like James Holmes cannot stop use from living our lives. But “The Road not Taken” presents the point with such a heavy hand that it ruins the episode. There is no drama outside of that message. The Ori attack on Earth is a brief scene with very little dramatic build up. Sam’s return to our reality is done off camera by Rodney McKay with such a nonchalant effort there is never any real fear Sam will never make it home. The message that the united states is sacrificing its freedoms for security while violently quelling enemies foreign and domestic is the entirety of the episode. It would have been an annoying jab against the Bush administration had “The Road Not Taken” aired in 2002 or 2003. But in 2007 when the election to replace Bush is in full swing, it is ridiculously late to the party as well.

It is neat to see Hammond back as a character for the final time in the series. I will admit it is chilling to see Cam channeling Ron Kovic as a paraplegic veteran who has suffered for opposing Landry. But those two elements do not save the episode. Neither does Tapping’s admittedly…assets, which are definitely on display. Blatantly, in fact. She she not be wearing a military dress uniform to the dinner party instead? A uniform would not show off her boobs, though, right? You can easily skip this one without missing a thing.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Alessandra Torresani

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Formspring Question #438--Conventional Wisdom on Palin Edition

Should Sarah Palin be invited to speak at the RNC?
Of course. She ought to have a prime time speech as well, if for no other reason than her skill at firing up a crowd with the red meat. she is like Pat Buchanan, Newt Gingrich, and even Rudy Giuliani in some regards at her ability to still be a crowd pleaser while the same crowd would be averse to electing them to any real power for various reasons.

That said, I am not as defensive about Sarah Palin as I used to be, so if she gets snubbed, oh, well. Her foot dragging over whether to jump into the 2012 race was unfair to her supporters, many of whom spent every day since the day after the 2008 election prepping for her potential run. I do not begrudge Palin for opting for media cash instead, she needs to embrace the costs of her decision in terms of grass roots support and her own credibility.

The bottom line is I still like Palin, and I like to see her fire up a crowd. But if she does not get a chance to do so at the convention, so be it. She seems interested in taking the Donald Trump road to media success while hoping to maintain political credibility. Allowing Donald Trump to speak at the convention would turn it into a farce. Palin has not degenerated to that point yet, but I cannot begrudge any of the party poobahs for nipping her in the bud before she reaches that point.

Formspring Question # 437--Bible Thumpin' Browders Edition

To his credit, Cam offers words of wisdom from his famously devout Christian grandmother. When I met Ben he told me that the writers stole his life in this regard - his own grandma was a 'bible thumper from Tennessee'
Ben Browder graduated from Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, with a BS in Psychology. Furman university is just down the road from Bob Jones University. Furman students have a long history of hazing the highly reclusive student BJU body. The most famous prank is painting “F” and “U” on one’s posterior and driving by the gate to moon whoever happens to be holding back Satan’s minions from the flock.

I cannot say I have ever heard Browder talk of any BJU encounters, but I have never met a Furman student who did not have at least one story to tell. Regardless of personal involvement, I am certain Browder knows all about BJU’s reputation and likely views them with the same arm’s length skepticism I do. They are not the Ori, but that is probably only because hardly anyone pays them any attention.

I took the LSAT at Furman many years ago. It was my only visit to the campus. Nice place. I have gotten the impression from meeting students the admission process consists of 1) who is your daddy and 2) where is his checkbook, but this is South Carolina. That is pretty much how anyone gets anywhere around here.

Formspring Question #436--Thine Own Self Edition

Who are you?

Stargate SG-1--"Line in the Sand"

“Line in the Sand’ is another winner of an episode in spite of some glaring flaws. I am most struck personally by the repudiation of Origin as the anti-Christian allegory it has been advertised--at least to me--to be. In fact, I have actually come to appreciate the message the powers that be are conveying with it.

The SG-1 team, sans Daniel, returns from a successful test run of Arthur’s Mantle to discover they need to put the device in action ahead of schedule. A Prior has visited a planet once ruled by the Goa’uld and given them two days to convert or else. The SG-1 team arrives ahead of the deadline to hide the village via Arthur’s Mantle by keeping it out of phase with its surroundings. The device to work for a time, but a power surge causes the village to reappear just as the Ori forces invade.

There is an impressive firefight between the villagers and Vala before the place is overrun. Sam suffers a staff weapon blow to the abdomen. In terrible pain, she is still able to direct cam to hook up Arthur’s Mantle enough to hide the building they are in. Tomin, who is in command of the army, takes Vala up to their ship in order to convert her to Origin. The rest of the episode becomes a race for cam to keep Sam alive long enough the Ori.

“Line in the Sand” presents the Ori as a combination of Islam and some of the twisted sects of Christianity like the Westboro Baptist Church. It is much like Islam with its Origin or destruction philosophy similar to the Koran or sword method of mass conversions said to historically be a miracle of enlightenment by Muslims, though reality is a wee bit different. The twisted Christian sects allegory is a bit more subtle. Tomin, for instance, is a good guy who genuinely believes Origin is a properly moral religion. There have been hints before the Book of Origin is a decent book of morals. It has only been perverted by religious leaders. For instance, Daniel attempted to sway the initial Ori invasion force by quoting a verse forbidding violence against your neighbor. In “Line in the Sand,” Tomin begins to separate the Book of Origin from the Prior’s false interpretation when he realizes the Prior is quoting verses about forgiving from straying from the path, but justifies destroying the village instead. So what we have is not quite the Bible is evil mantra that has been kinda sort hinted at before.

Just to reinforce the point, Sam is certain she has been mortally wounded. She begins to discuss with cam her beliefs about God. She has spent most of her adult life immersed in science, but now wonders not only if there if god exists, but will He find her worthy. It is a outside looking in view of Christianity that a belief in God is enough to enter heaven--even Satan believes God exists, folks--but I appreciate the effort. To his credit, Cam offers words of wisdom from his famously devout Christian grandmother. The notion that Christianity is not inherently evil, nor is it only for the ignorant, is at least entertained.

A past episode showed “RC” on Sam’s dog tag, which means she is officially Catholic. Jack’s says “RC” as well, but it is clear he believes the Bible to be myths and outright lies. I have always assumed Sam to be an agnostic. She seems like the true type who needs proof, but would be willing to accept god exists if cogent proof is offered. Daniel is probably an atheist, but one who tolerates religious belief as the biggest influence on cultural development. One assumes he has no objection to Christianity’s mark on the western world. Teal’c has spoken of the Christian god’s benevolence. It appears then that Jack is the only hostile main character, and he is an equal opportunity scoffer, so no big deal there.

All right. That was a weird tangent, but quite relevant considering the main theme of Stargate SG-1 is who or what is worthy of worship. Well, that and the United states military liberates people from tyranny on this planet and any other. You do not see that said much in popular entertainment these days.

I like “Line in the Sand,” but there are a couple issues. One, lines about daniel’s abduction were cut for time, so his ansence is barely noted. It is not a huge issues, since I do not expect the rest of the team to sit around moping about it, but it is still odd to gloss over it that much. Two, sam’s wound is presented terrible unrealistically. She gets shot by a laser in the left side of her lower abdomen. There is a exit wound through the small of her back. Since the beam forcibly tore through her like a projectile, she should have lost half her colon upon entry and her left kidney upon exit. As one who has lost half his colon due to a diverticulitis rupture that required such immediate surgery, I was in the operating room before anyone told me what was about to be operated on. Sam should have died instantly. Instead, she not only survives with colon and kidney intact, she is sampling a gift of macaroons presumably only days after returning to SGC. That is a Hollywood injury to a main character for you. It is sweet, though, how much Cam and sam are bonding emotionally.

In spite of sam’s miracle, I give “Line in the Sand’ high marks. It is an all around good episode. There is a lot of action. The philosophical discussion is stimulating. There is even a cool by the seat of your pants ending in which it appears the village has been destroyed, but sam got Arthur’s Mantle working in time. You knew she would, but…woo hoo for the good guys!

Rating; *** (out of 5)

Mariska Hargitay

Mariska Hargitay was the second most popular celebrity behind Katy Perry, so she earns a return spot as USA Network runs its usual Law & Order: SVU marathon all day.

Adam Baldwin will make a three episode appearance at the beginning of the series fourteenth season in the fall. The Law & Order series has earned the ire of conservatives in the past for progressive leanings and alleged moral ambiguity. Can a Hollywood Christian conservative prompt new, conservative viewers? i will be curious to see if there is an uptick for the first three episodes, then a drop off after Baldwin departs.

Fans are incensed Hargitay did not get an Emmy nod this year. The series is in transition after the departure of Christopher Meloni. It floundered about quite a bit this season without him because her character has not taken to her new partner at all. I do not blame the Emmy nominating crowd for passing her over this time around. The powers that be are considering bringing Meloni back for an episode this season, so they know losing him has been a problem.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dangers of Working at Home

The dangers of working at home--assuming you want to call this a danger. I would be willing to take the risk myself.

Stargate SG-1--"The Quest, Part II"

“The Quest, Part II” is the introduction to the latter half of the tenth and final season. Man, was I wrong to be skeptical of the cliffhanger resolution. I was braced for a cop out, but the confrontation between the dragon and our heroes is one of the best parts of the episode in every respect--special effects, action, and humor. The conquest of the dragon is only the beginning….

Our heroes are saved by Adria’s personal shield and escape to the outside, but they are followed by the dragon. The CGI on the dragon is impressive for a cable show, and it is all the more impressive by the personality it demonstrates such as when it swallows the C4 Teal’c throws into it mouth and gives the poor dragon a serious case of heartburn. I dig it. The dragon finally fades away when daniel figures out saying the name of its master, Morgan Le Fay, will do the trick.

When attempting to snatch the jewel believed to be the Sangraal again, all but Adria are transported to another planet where merlin is trapped in stasis. Reawakened, he uses one of those Ancient headsets to download the knowledge to build Sangraal, but it proves too much for him. Daniel, enjoying some Merlin modifications that will hopefully keep downloading the necessary knowledge from being fatal, uses the headset himself.

Meanwhile, the others figure out Morgan Le Fay set up a security system that transports Merlin’s lab along with everyone and everything in it through to another planet every few hours on a system of stargates not connected to the grid. Sam and Ba’al work to undo the modifications while Adria slowly but surely catches up with them. She finally does as our heroes figure a way to get the stargate working, but Adria kidnaps Daniel before he can build the Sangraal. Adria has big plans for him.

‘The Quest, Part II” is an exciting and humorous episode. The special effects jump out at me immediately. It is not just the dragon, although it is the best example, but Merlin’s lab, the various planets to which our heroes are transported, and the final conflict between them and the ori forces are all extremely impressive. Some subsequent episode is going to be done with shadow puppets to manage the budget, I can almost guarantee.

I also appreciate a couple of the personal moments. The episode features the famous sam punches Ba’al scene which comes across every bit as hilarious as I had been promised. The second bit is Vala’s reaction to Daniel putting himself at risk. First, she does not want him to download the ancient knowledge because she knows what happened to Jack. Second, she is distraught over his capture by Adria. Vala’s growth from a completely selfish, amoral person to one of empathy is going along nicely.

“The Quest, Part II” is a fantastic start to the end of the series. It is my favorite tenth season episode thus far. It is the most complete package we have been given this season, and the special effects and sets help put it over the top. It is a bit cliché for Daniel to be kidnapped/missing/presumed dead yet again, but that is Stargate SG-1 for you.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Mandy Moore

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Blogroll Spotlight #155

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-Aurora...
American Perspective- Happy Summer from Southern California
American Power-Politicizing the Colorado Shootings
Amusing Bunni's Musings-Something to Think About, AJ on Theatre Massacre
Blog of the Nightfly-Shut Up, They Said. It's for Your Own Good.
Born Again Americans--It's Really Not that Difficult
Camp of the Saints-Rule 5 Saturday; Carrie Stevens
Classic Liberal-Socialized Healthcare with Gianne Albertoni
Colossus of Rhodey--A Lot on His Plate
Conservative Hideout-Sarurday Links
Da Tech Guy-A Slightly Distasteful Post on a Delicate Subject
Daley Gator-What is Cool on the Net Today?
Diogenes' Middle Finger-It Must Be Tough Being Obama These Days....
First Street Journal-Resistance is futile; you must comply
Fishersville Mike-Chick-Fil-A: The Same Yesterday, Today and Forever
Goldfish and Clowns-My Cunning Plan to Calm the Interwebs
Gormogons-A Little Office Anthropology
House of Eratosthemes-Everything I Need to Know I Learned From Batman
Laughing Conservative--True Heroes
Lazy Farmer- The Biggest 60 Acre Field of My Life
Lonely Conservative-What Does the EPA Have Against Alaska?
Maggie's Notebook-Congressional Reform Act of 2012
Monkey in the Middle--American Dhimmi
Motor City Times-One Man Carries Out Evil Act Using a Gun; Liberals Immediately Call for Stricter Gun Control
New Atlantean--Wednesday Wenches
Other McCain-Obama Campaign: Money for Nothing
Paco Enterprises-Sunday Funnies
Pirate's Cove-If All You See...
Proof Positive-Quote du Jour
Pundit & Pundette-What Obama Has Built
Randy's Roundtable-Thursday Nite Tart: Rachel Reynolds
Reaganite Republican-Reaganite's Sunday Funnies
Riehl World View-Obama bailing on Elizabeth Warren?
Sentry Journal- Thank You For Building That — by Patrick Kelly
Teresamerica-2012 Buchet List for America
Troglopundit-The Parable of the Misguided Tea Partier
We the People-VOD: Fast and Furious Edition
Western Hero--Integrity is Destiny
Woodsterman--Thank You, Oh Great One
Zilla of the Resistance-Oh, Those Compassionate Leftists!

Stargate SG-1--"The Quest, Part I"

“The Quest, Part I” sets up the midseason cliffhanger. Only ten episodes remain, folks. We are nearing the end of our own quest here. There are a couple unique points about this episode. One, it is good on its own merit and not just set up for the resolution. Two, the plot is a fantasy quest not unlike role playing games or those mountains of dime a dozen paperback novels clogging up the science fiction section of any given bookstore. Not to sound negative about the episode. It is actually quite amusing to stretch Stargate SG-1’s boundaries with the fantasy quest motif.

Daniel is frustrated the search on the planets he learned from his trip to Atlantis are a dead end until Vala has a sudden flash of inspiration. Her middle of the night epiphany leads the SG-1 team to a medieval planet that is actually the barely disguised Camelot village. The villagers inform them many have come seeking the Sangraal over the years, including a recent intrepid soul who sounds a lot like Ba’al. Osric, the local librarian, is not keen on helping them. But after the ori invade, he appears to change his mind and comes to them offering himself as a guide.

The ensuing quest involves five obstacles that test a virtue written on the Parchment of Virtues. Our heroes use Prudence to get through a time dilation maze, Charity in giving up objects of value to escape a prison, Kindness in helping a child escape a prison cell, Wisdom in solving several riddles, and faith by walking through a wall of fire under the assumption they will not be consumed by the flames. They reach the sangraal, but it turns out to be a hologram protected by a very real dragon. To be continued.

My experience with fantasy is mercifully limited, but I can appreciate the recreation of the motif here. Dare I say how much has it origins in mythology? I like Ba’al enough to excuse the fact he is thrown in here for the purpose of tying in his storyline. It is convenient he just happens to be on the quest at the same time as the SG-1 team considering they are being manipulated by Adria, who implanted the epiphany in Vala and is now posing as Osric, because Morgan Le Fay has it set up where she cannot use her powers during the quest. What happened to Ba’al’s Jaffa? We never find out. The reveal of osric’s true identity is a surprise even though Morena Baccarin is listed in the opening credits, so there is a bonus.

As far as midseason cliffhangers go, “The Quest, Part I” is near the top. Consider that high praise, because dragons, medieval quests, and magic does not usually float my boat. Maybe I am enough of an Indiana Jones fan, at least other than the final film in the series, to go for it. The prospect of battling a dragon is a cool cliffhanger, though the skeptic in me suspects all is not as it seems. There will be a cop out of some description.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Anne Hathaway as Catwoman

Anne Hathaway has an outstanding figure.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Red Dwarf Series Ten Trailer

I will be happy to see new episodes of Red Dwarf again.

Full Metal Jacket Reach Around #160

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

Say Anything links to Kirsten Dunst.
Proof Positive links to Kirsten Dunst.
Motor City Times links to Yul Brynner's Posthumous PSA.
Classic Liberal links to Kristin Chenoweth Shania Twain, Rachel Bilson, Christina Ricci, Kaley Cuoco, Hayden Panettiere, and Marrisa Miller.
Paco Enterprises links to Shania Twain.
Randy's Roundtable links to Katy Perry and Mariska Hargitay.
New Atlantean plugs The Eye.
Pirate's Cove links to FMJRA #159, Blogroll Spotlight #154, and Alex Morgan.
Woodsterman acknowledges the Rule 5

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--"Company of Thieves"

“Company of Thieves’ is, well, it is kind of just there. The episode revisits the Lucian alliance subplot with an effort to make the Mafia-esque group more formidable after that whole addictive corn crop plot some episodes back. I suppose it does a better job, but I still could not care less about the Lucian Alliance, so what of it?

Netan, head of the Lucian Alliance, sends his largest rival for power, Anateo, on what he believes is a suicide mission to capture Odyssey. Much to everyone’s surprise, including Anateo’s, he succeeds. Odyssey is badly damaged in the effort, and while Anateo forces sam to make repairs, he plots to capture the rest of the SG-1 team as a sign he should replace Netan. He succeeds in capturing Daniel and Vala, but cam and Teal’c infiltrate Netan’s inner circle in order to find them.

Stargate SG-1 has been around so long at this point, the show appears to think repeating gags from the past will satisfy fan nostalgia. Something bad happens to Earth battle cruisers every time they go out into deep space. They get hijacked, damaged by an anomaly, or destroyed. Cam uses the drug that convinces people he is someone else in order to gain Netan’s trust. Teal’c is captured and--you guessed it--tortured largely for the heck of it. If you really want to stretch the point, Emerson becomes the third battle cruiser commander behind Pendergast and Chekov to be killed. Too bad, that. I liked Emerson. We never got to see enough of him, and being shot in cold blood by a thug is a terrible way for him to die. Pendergast and Chekov went out in battle. Emerson deserved better.

While undercover, cam manages to start an armed power struggle within the Lucian Alliance by posing as Netan. Meanwhile, the Odyssessy crew free themselves from their captors. The result is apparent open hostilities between the Lucian Alliance and Earth. It is quite a tragic turn of events considering the Jaffa Nation has fractured into warring groups that blame Earth for the destruction of Dakara. Our heroes certainly know how to ein friends and influence people.

As I said above, I do not much care for the Lucian Alliance. While I think the Ori are worthy main villain successors to the Goa’uld, the Lucian Alliance does not quite hold up as secondary villains the way the Replicators did. The Lucian alliance is not compelling, and the rehashed plot elements do not help much in elevating “Company of Thieves” to anything more than an average episode you have seen before.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Aimee Teagarden

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Colorado Theater Shooting

The above memorial image has been passing around various websites and social media upon which comic book and science fiction fans gather. It may seem kind of silly to someone not familiar with fandom, but it is quite meaningful to those in fandom. Whoever made this had a sense of the classic Batman--the one whose motivation to be a hero is because he does not want anyone to die senselessly. It is a point made all the more sad with the currently reported rumor gunman James Holmes was obsessed with the character.

I did not want to write anything about the shooting. It is not that I do not care. Far from it. My heart goes out to the victims, their families, and friends. This morning, I heard one of the surviving victim’s father interviewed by phone. He was in another state, and only knew his son’s condition by phone communication with his son from the the hospital. The man was clearly in shock, because he did not clean up anything he had heard of the incident. When the shooting started, he and his girlfriend dove unto the floor. They crawled in opposite directions until she screamed she had been hit. Her boyfriend crawled back over to her, but she had suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head. The boyfriend managed to crawl away again without realizing he had been shot in the hip.

I will be honest, my reaction to that story would often be taking a mocking tone towards the boyfriend for abandoning his girlfriend. But I felt such a sense of empathy about the situation even though I have thankfully never been there myself. They are both trapped, confused, and scared. There is no where to escape when 30 rounds of semiautomatic weapon fire are flying for fifteen solid minutes among a cloud of irritating smoke. Self-preservation kicks in during such hopeless situations. Listening to this terrified father tell the story in such a raw manner, I do not believe he had time to absorb it, either. So yes, I care. I am feeling it.

What I wanted to avoid was the early hour speculation that I knew would come. The progressives would call for tighter gun control. The conservatives would blame violent television, movies, and music. I bitterly marvel at the current twist of pinning political affiliations and motivations without one scintilla of evidence. One of the first things I heard this morning, I think before I had even learned Holmes’ name, were accusations which have since been retracted he was part of the Tea party. Later on in the day, I have heard some say Holmes is actually a registered Democrat. As if that really matters. Holmes is a complete lunatic who played out the delusional fantasy of the joker’s “agent of chaos" modus operandi from The Dark Knight with deadly consequences.

The uninformed political finger pointing has stopped, but it is doubtful any party feels much shame. I mean, really…it was not that long ago the usual suspects were making the same knee jerk regarding the Arizona shootings. It turned out there Jared lee Loughnor was not politically motivated, but was insane and eventually determined mentally unfit to stand trial. We did not get a patient media waiting for the facts before reporting. We did not get discussions on mental health. We got the same devoid of facts hysteria we got back them, with no sense of shame at the repeat performance.

Obviously, I did not want to add to any of that by writing earlier, but I did not want to write any frivolous posts today while skipping the shootings, either. All I can say is take a moment to appreciate what really happened last night. An insane man committed a terrible act for no other reason than his fevered mind decided it would be a good idea. Remember the victims. But for the grace of God, we are all buffeted helplessly by twists of fate both for the tragic and joyous. But do not let the actions of the deranged alter the way you live your life. We cannot let people like Holmes win.

Stargate SG-1--"Memento Mori"

I mentioned in yesterday’s review Daniel and Vala’s relationship has evolved from slapstick antagonism peppered with sexual innuendo into a friendship. “Memento Mori” is a vala-centric episode that demonstrates she is now a vital part of the SG-1 team and not just comic relief eye candy. The change is a definite improvement over her tiresome catty ways.

Vala is kidnapped by members of The Trust from an outing with Daniel. Athena, a Goa’uld who once had connections with Qetesh, uses one of those memory retrieving devices on Vala in order to discover the location of an alleged treasure map to a cache of Ancient riches. In truth, the treasure is a myth. For whatever reason, Qetesh was yanking Athena’s chain over it. The issue is a McGuffin anyway. It is only a catalyst to explore Vala’s importance to the SG-1 team. An accident occurs when they attempt to rescue her from Athena. The memory retrieving device is damaged in the attempt. Vala wanders off with a case of amnesia, Hollywood style.

She takes a job at a diner when the owner takes pity on her. Vala quietly works there for a couple weeks while suffering strange flashbacks until she forcibly stops a robbery by beating up the armed crooks. The incident attracts the attention of police, Athena, and SGC. The race is on to find her. The plot flirts with absurdity as Vala flows in and out of everyone’s custody, from the police to The trust’s, and finally Cam’s before she slips away from them all, only to be recovered by Daniel in a sweet shipper moment. In the end, Vala is welcomed back as a full fledged member of the SG-1 team.

The character moments highlighting “Memento Mori” make it a fun episode. Daniel does not want to admit to himself how much he has grown to like Vala, but he is the one who refuses to give up hope for her when everyone else assumes she died when the rescue attempt went bad. Cam, too, goes above and beyond the call of duty to rescue her in their second opportunity to do so. Chasing her captors on a motorcycle zipping through traffic is pure action movie macho drivel, but I am amused nevertheless. I am probably more amused by the street signs passed by during the chase which clearly indicate the setting is British Columbia, not Colorado. Cam’s attempt to convince Vala who she really is while handcuffed to the bed in a fleabag motel must bring back Farscape memories of the two for whom it may concern.

If there is anything that truly bugs me about the episode, it is the title. Memento mori is a latin phrase that roughly translates to remember your mortality. How does that relate to anything in the episode? There is no reason Vala is reminded of her mortality anywhere within. Indeed, she is trying to remember her life instead. My guess is the title is either an homage to the 2000 Christopher Nolan film Memento about a man with short term memory loss or the powers that be just wanted to use a latin phrase to sound intellectual. Memento mori is nicely alliterative, so they went with that. I do not know. Take your pick which option sounds best.

Do notes Vala mentions watching reruns of my beloved X-Files during her time as a waitress. One of my favorite episodes of the series is also entitled “Memento Mori.” The title is used more properly there, as the episode features scully’s cancer diagnosis. I just posted a Gillian Anderson photo today, too. See how this all ties in? I bet you thought I do all this stuff by the seat of my breeches, no?

It often feels strange when Stargate SG-1 goes earthbound with nary a stargate in sight. Indeed, “Memento Mori” feels much like X-Files meets NCIS in many ways. There is not much to complain about, however. Vala is necessarily growing as a character. As silly as some plot elements of ’Memento Mori” sound, the episode does a good job developing the character.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Gillian Anderson

I am reminded why I crushed on Gillian Anderson big time back in the day.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Stargate SG-1--"Counterstrike"

“Counterstrike” returns focus to the Ori conquest of the Milky Way and introduces the fully grown Adria. Adria is played by magnificently Firefly alum Morena Baccarin. Baccarin becomes the third Firefly cast member to make an appearance in the Stargate franchise. She joins Adam Baldwin and Jewel Staite. Aside from introducing a great new antagonist, “Counterstrike” gloriously brings on the doom and gloom. There are issues, but I will get to them in a moment.

An entire planet of humans who have converted to Origin is wiped out by what appears to be the Ancient weapon that wiped out the Replicators. The SG-1 team happened to be undercover at the time and are beamed out before the wave rolls over the planet, killing all biological organisms. I find this convenient beam out funny considering a big joke was made about that sort of thing in the previous episode. Then the concept devolves into self-parody when the SG-1 team is beamed out in the nick of time yet again during the climax. Seriously, folks. The same trick twice in one episode after mocking it in the previous?

Landry travels to Dakara with Bra’tac in order to address the use of the weapon against Ori converts. They were not only innocent people overwhelmed by the more powerful Ori, but were human instead of one of the Jaffa planets the Ori have conquered. Needless to say, tensions are rising between the Jaffa Nation and Earth There is a significant number of Jaffa who believe they could have defeated the Goa’uld without Earth’s help and do not feel any debt is owed. I think the deeper issue is the Jaffa have been repressed slaves for so long, they now have the power to become aggressors themselves and are using it to keep humans--the Fifth Race--from becoming dominant.

Meanwhile, the SG-1 team goes on a recon mission to salvage the Ori ship when they discover a platoon of Jaffa has the same idea. There is a stand off that is broken up by Adria, who survived the Ancient weapon because of a “holy” necklace she wears. Vala’s efforts to reason with her fail. Adria tortures a captured Jaffa into revealing the location of the weapon that destroyed all life on the planet. After learning it is on Dakara, she directs the ship there and razes the surface, killing all but the conveniently escaping Bar’tac and Landry, and destroying the Ancient weapon. As mentioned above, the SG-1 team is conveniently beamed off the ori ship by Odyssey just in the nick of time.

As a fan, I am relieved the powers that be finally got rid of the Ancient weapon. It has been a lingering bewilderment. The idea the Asgard, Tok’ra, and Earth would allow the Jaffa to keep the thing is absurd considering how unstable the Jaffa Nation is. Plus, both Anubis and Ba’al have hatched plots to use the Ancient weapon while it was in Jaffa possession, so there is good reason to fear the Jaffa cannot handle it. Naturally, there is no room in the story arc to go to war over it should the Jaffa not feel like relinquishing control, but letting the issue linger has been a bad thing. The ancient weapon’s destruction needed to happen, and bravo for it coming to pass.

Now for several character notes. One, Landry is a much more hands on leader than was Hammond. I must reiterate that I appreciate his being a biger part of these stories than was Hammond even if knocking on the old guy is blasphemy among longtime fans. Two, the relationship between Daniel and Vala is becoming more of a friendship than slapstick antagonism with underlying sexual innuendo. They create an emotional bond here when Vala suspects her daughter was killed by the Ancient weapon and Daniel expresses empathy because of his mised emotions over the death of Sha’re. He grieved for Sha’re’s death, but was in a way relieved she was no longer tormented by the Goa’uld. Nothing brings people together like shared a shared emotional experience, particularly when the emotions are so contradictory, they can only be understood by someone who has experienced them. Finally, Vala is maturing into a well-rounded character in general. I am glad to see she is shedding her vapid, amoral ways in favor of some positive character traits.

In case you were wondering if there is any lingering animosity for Jonas, rest assure there is. It is casually mentioned during the final scene Langara has fallen to the Ori. Sam says nothing has been heard from allies on the planet. She presumably means Jonas, but no one seems the slightest bit concerned for his safety. Fours years later, and still no one likes Jonas. Ouch. That is a cold way to treat a former team mate.

“Counterstrike” is a good mix of action and character moments that also effectively tightens the screws in the overall story arc. The powers that be are setting up the Ori onslaught as requiring a miracle to stop, but I am okay with that as long as it does not completely copy the destruction of the Rplicators. The episode has some uberconvenient last minute rescues, but its positive points more than make up for it.

Rating: *** (out of 5)