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Sunday, July 25, 2004
TV Round-Up
Monk--Mr. Monk meets the Godfather
Every once in a while, Monk pulls off a mystery where all the clues are there in the open and you just kick yourself for not figuring it out first. This week's episode was one of those. In hindsight, it should have been completely obvious--oh yeah, the pennies went in the gumball machine and the guy at the mint had to get them back. Even still, the story so expertly drops in the red herring of the mob and the potential mafia hit and war, that you figure the worker at the mint is only a bit of intersting backstory or a red herring in and of itself.

But couched within this mystery was a show about getting the characters right. Seeing the feds dangling one of the things Monk wants most--his reistatement to the force--to get him to go along with their sting was a nice touch. Also, Sherona's romance with Big Tony was nicely done as was Randy's jealousy over the whole thing. (These two have a nice bit of chemistry in the give and take department when it's done well...I just hope they don't make the mistake of thinking we necessarily want or need the characters together full-time as that would really ruin a lot of the fun!) It appears more and more that the first two episodes of the year were aberrations with the characters acting completely and totally insane in order to go for a couple of quick jokes. In the past two episodes I've seen--I've still not had a chance to get to my videotaped copy of Mr Monk Loses His Job-- the characters have all seemed within character and we haven't had jokes made at their expense. Glad to see the writers got this under control quickly because when it's done right, Monk is a fun show to watch. And let's face it--this week's episode was fun. (I espeically loved Monk washing out the $20,000 microphone from his sting operation! Classic!)

Stargate SG1--Lockdown
It seems like ever sci-fi series these days has an episode that is derivative of The Thing--alien presence takes over one member of the crew and can possibly jump from person to person. The question then bcomes--who can you trust or should you trust anyone other than yourself? X-Files did it back in season one with the superbly done, "Ice" and Farscape did it in "A Bugs Life" (in season one as well) as well as several other episodes. As a fan whose come a bit late to the party that is Stargate, I'm not sure if they're just behind the curse in doing this type of "alien possesion, who can we trust" themed episode or if it's been done before and I just haven't seen that episode. As with all shows of this type, it isn't that you necessarily re-invent the wheel every week, so much as putting a new spin on the wheel. In this case, the spinning the wheel in a new direction is a bad-guy named Annubis who was once held to physical form by a force field until his ship blew up and now he's hitched a ride down to the Stargate on a Russian astronaut to find a way back to a world where he can, hopefully, find himself a new body. Thankfully, there's only one Stargate around, so if you close it down, you trap Annubis on Earth. Now, at this point, if Annubis can jump around from body to body, I'm not sure why he doesn't leave and jump from body to body all across Earth until such time as security lessens a bit. Surely, they're not going to shut down Stargate for all of time. Of course, he tends to tear up the bodies he's in, so that might prohibit it. What I found most lacking here was the compelling sense of tension that we had to stop Anubis and do it soon. Or the sense of claustrophobia that both Farscape and The X-Files mined from the "gee, we can't really know who we can trust here" theme. Instead, we got an episode that seemed a bit off in the pacing. A lot of time was spent setting it all up and very little on who we trust and why and then dealing with the issue. Indeed, the ending seemed a lot like classic Trek's "Trouble With Tribbles" in the--oh, we just sent the problem to somewhere else to deal with. Yes, in this case it was an icy planet where the host died and there appears to be no one else around or little Annubis can use to re-created himself, but what's to say someone doesn't wander by and he hitched a ride. Again, this may be my lack of Stargate watching experience talking here, but the ending raised far too many questions and didn't give us nearly enough good answers.

Stargate: Atlantis--Hide and Seek
If the pacing for Stargate was off, then it was definitely very much on for this episode of Stargate: Atlantis. As second epsiodes of a series go, this one did farily well, even if it was a bit by the numbers. We got some nice scenes to re-establish our situation, who the characters are and it slowly started to flesh out some of the relationships between them. Certainly, I found the different worldview of the humans and our new found friends, Athosians to work pretty well. There is some potential for some conflict and learning about each other and I found myself reminded a bit of the early days of DS9, when we had the Starfleet officers slowly learning about the history and culture of Bajor. I liked seeing them come together to try and find the lost Athosian boy and I did enjoy the predicament of Dr. McKay being stuck in a forcefield. (I have to give them credit, the concept of--what if I can't get the force field off not even to eat or drink? was nicely done. It also brings up an age-old question--OK, so he couldn't get food in, how did he use the facilities?) Sure, you could see coming a mile away that McKay would somehow have a moment in which is overwhelming cowardice would be overcome and he’d save the day, but I didn’t really mind that much. Also, the farily routine plot of we’ve released an alien menace and it’s trying to take over or harming the ship/city was nicely done here. I think the large part of it was the solution that Teyla offers--maybe it’s best to let the thing go where it wants to go through the Stargate. It’s probably ticked off at being held prisoner all these years so rather than have it run amok and kill everyone while we try to communicate with it, let it go its own way and we’ll deal with it later, maybe. This episode was stronger than Stargate was and I wonder if that was due to the proudcers focusing a great deal on the spin-off to start-up and leaving the first show to run on its own. Or it could be that I watched this one first, it was stronger and it made the Stargate episode pale a bit by comparison.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/25/2004 04:04:00 PM | |
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