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Friday, August 13, 2004
TV Round-Up
Without A Trace--Shadows
As I was watching this superb episode last night, I kept asking myself, "How'd I miss this one the first time it aired?" The one-two guest-star punch of Martin Landau as Jack's father and Valerie Mahaffey as the favorite aunt of Martin who has vanished and is also dying of cancer. What could have been over the top weepy melodrama was, instead, an hour that was utterly compelling. Seeing Martin and Sam try desparately to find his favorite aunt and slowly uncovering her secrets--both that she was helping cancer patients end their suffering and that she is headed down that road herself--was a nice, taut and entertaining mystery. Then, couple that with Jack's struggles to help his father, who is diagnoses with Alzheimer's. It's easy to see why Anthony LaPalgia got an Emmy nod for his work as Jack all year, but I am scratching my head as to why Eric Close didn't get a nod as well and how this series could be overlooked as a Best Drama contender.

Stargate: SG1--Zero Hour
One huge nit-pick on the cute little ending of this one. Over the course of the hour, we see Jack wrestle with now being the commander for the Stargate project and all that means--from the day to day responsibilities to balancing his emotions when it comes to saving his friends with the overall security of Earth and the project. I get that. We also see Jack drafting a letter/memo to General Hammond throughout the episode, even going so far as to see Jack resigning his post because he can't fill the shoes. Then in the end, he prints out the resgination, types "Never mind" on the end and signs it. Now, I understand this is supposed to be funny, but it makes me wonder--why bother printing out the note to start with? Surely there's a way to express how hard it is to fill the role without resigning. Of course, I'm sure there will be some die-hard SG1 fan who tells me something like this is vintage O'Neil and just part of the character. If so, I get it--sort of. The whole idea of a seeing how the rigors of command affect Jack is nicely done--from the hard choice of how to save the team to the whole plant going out of control thing. It's an interesting and diverting hour, but not much more than that.

Stargate: SG1--Icon
In a page right of Star Trek: The Next Generation's classic episode, "First Contact" (not to be confused with the feature film), we get a few minutes where we see how another world would react to the opening of the Stargate and the teams coming through. And, for those few minutes, I think this episode was onto something. But then it all goes horribly wrong as a religious leader uses the team's coming to unify several religious factions, take over the country, start a war and trap Daniel Jackson on the world. Jackson wakes up and we find out pieces of it in flashback and then Jackson arranges to helpt he old leaders take back thier base and the Stargate so he can go home. All I can say is at least SGC doesn't have a Prime Directive or else Jackson would still be cooling his heels over there. Of course, along the way, we meet a bunc of one-dimensional, stock characters. Honestly, I've seen this whole wonder of meeting the aliens and/or having them help out done far better in the aforementioned TNG episode or more recently in the early goings of Farscape. Sorry, folks, but this one just didn't quite click with me.

Stargate: Atlantis
--Suspicion
It seems a bit early in the series to be playing the paranoia card, pitting new allies against one another in a misunderstanding, but I will give them credit that it worked pretty well. I honestly figured the Wraith had somehow or other tagged Shepard during his interrogations with the first episode and that was why they found the teams so quickly on certain planets. Turns out it's the locket he gave Teyla on that very first mission that he activated by touching it. OK, I'll give them credit for that, though I called early that it couldn't be one side or the other betraying the entire group. And to see how the paranoia slowly spiralled out of control and led to the Ethosians setting up their own camp on the dry land was nicely done--and something that had to be done. We can't assume that this crew has an endless supply of food and they have to get supplies like that from somewhere. So far, all I can say is the story-telling on Atlantis has been far more assured and entertaining. I'm not sure if it's because I like the characters more or if the producers are all so busy getting this show running that they are neglecting SG1 as a result.


posted by Michael Hickerson at 8/13/2004 02:52:00 PM | |
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