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Monday, January 24, 2005
TV Round-Up
Battlestar Galactica: Bastille Day
What easily could have been an episode built around the stunt casting of Richard Hatch from the original Battlestar Galactica, instead turns out to be an interesting, compelling and intriguing episode of the new series. Last week, the Galactica found a planet that had the water they so despararately need. But to harvest the water will take a good deal of man power and under gruelling conditions. Adama and Roslin send Apollo to a prison ship to try and entice the prisoners into helping with this task. There Apollo meets Tom Zerek, a man of some infamy who stages a breakout and riot, holding the Galactica crew captive until Roslin steps down and free elections are held.

Watching this episode, I was reminded in some ways of the original Galactica's "Gun on Ice Planet Zero" in which the crew is forced to take a group of prisoners with them in order to take out a Cylon weapon. In that episode, the prisoners agree to go on the mission much protest. This time around, I loved the scene where Apollo makes the offer and no one steps out of their cells., followed by Zerek's politely declining the offer. Zerek is an intersting character--a man who is obviously willing and wanting to be matyred for his cause.

What I am really enjoying most about the new Galatica is that the heroes and villians aren't painted in black and white, but shades of gray. We see here that Apollo has read Zerek's books even though they're banned. He understands Zerek's viewpoint, even if he doesn't agree with the methods Zerek uses to achieve his goals. Seeing Apollo make a deal with Zerek and then go back and defend why he made it and that elections must happen in seven months or the entire social order is meaningless was great stuff. And to see Apollo told early "Choose a side" and then he chooses a side that neither party is especially thrilled with was nice. He's choosing his own path and it should be interesting to see how that conflicts and meshes with the differing agendas Roslin and Adama have.

I also love how there's a mini-series like feel to this show. I loved seeing Baltar's attempts to bluff Adama about the Cylon detector. The look of shock on his face when Six suggest he needs a nuclear warhead was nicely done, even if it was ruined a bit by the previews. And to see the on-going conflict between Starbuck and Tigh was interesting. Tigh putting his foot down about the romance between Boomer and the other enlisted guy was nice. I loved the reasoning--we weren't at war then, we are now. The rules have changed. It doesn't make sense, but that's the way it has to be. It echoes what Apollo tells Roslin and Adama--there have to be some rules or else the essential part of what they're fighting for will die.

Also, you have to love some of the dialogue given to Richard Hatch and the double meanings, referring to his character here and his involvement with the previous incaranation of Galatica. Again, it made what could have been a ratings-ploy instead work to the strengths of the series. It's official--I'm hooked on this show.

Stargate SG1: Gemini
Just about every sci-fi show worth it's salt has an episode or two or three where one actor gets to play their character's twin. So, I guess it was inevitable that Stargate would jump on the bandwagon. What I guess pleasantly surprised me was that they managed to find a way to make this potentially tired and cliched plotline relevant and interesting.

OK, I'll admit that I bit hook, line and sinker that the clone of Carter was actually betraying the Stargate team and never thought she was also betraying the Fifth. It was interesting to see her playing all the sides against each other in order to make the Replicators even more unstoppable. And the reasoning--becuase it's what Carter would have done since she has all of Carter's memories and thought patterns was a chilling way to end the show. It also makes you wonder just what will happen now--will the Replicators now be coming to Earth since they know they are now, virtually unstoppable? And will they be led by Replicator Carter?

Stargate Atlantis: The Eye
For an episode that featured the best, laugh out loud line of the night (McKay's "I'm an arrogant scientist. I think every plan I have will work!), this episode was surprisingly frustrating. The first half seemed way too slow and heavy as we watch Shepard running around Atlantis doing his best Die Hardimpression. He takes out a bunch of Gena'i nad pisses off the ones who are left by killing a bunch of their buddies coming through the gate. Of course, the team in the puddle jumper gets back to Atlantis and helps take back the city, popping up at opportune moments.

Meanwhile, McKay and Weir are outside in the rain trying to fix the things that will generate the shields while evil bad guy Robert Davi glares and makes threats. Honestly, they could have cut about three of these McKay and Weir in the rain scenes down and maybe tightened up the pacing a bit. Becuase the last half of this one just went breakneck as the writers seem to realize that we had to take back Atlantis, get rid of the Gena'i and save the city. All this happens in about seven minutes of screen time, which considering how long it took us to get here, seems a bit rushed. Of course, I figured that McKay was bluffing about his plan not working. Also, I could have done without the fight between Teyla and Sora. Why was this added? What did it possibly do that had any impact on the overall story and its outcome I ask you? None that I can see except that it might keep Sora as a recurring character. Notice I said might here. I fear this will be a plotline that is swept under the rug as the season continues.

Monk: Mr Monk and the Red Herring
I will fully admit that going into the second half of Monk's third season, I was ready to declare the show had fully jumped the shark. My irritation with the characters from this summer is documented time and again in this blog and I felt that with the loss of Bitsy Shram as Sherona, Monk was losing the Watson to his Holmes, the Mrs. Peel to his John Steed.

So imagine how pleasantly surprised I was that the departure of Sherona seemed to have breathed new life into the show. Maybe Shram's decision to leave forced the writers to sit back and make Monk less shrill. To have us again feel for his OCD instead of having it be--wow, let's put Monk into a wacky situation and let the hilarity ensue. By bringing in a new assistant and having her meet Monk and see what makes him tick, maybe the writers have re-discovered what made the show so much fun to watch and why we tuned in each week. If losing Shram means we get a better Monk, then I guess I'm all for it(for now). So far, shark jump averted.

That's not to say the mystery on this one was especially mind-taxing. The first time we saw the moon rock, I thought the real moon rock was somehow in the aquarium. What I wasn't sure was how it got there and so it was fun to watch the exploration of how the rock got there. Also, I loved the scene where Monk has to choose between the rock and saving the little girl's fish. I loved his choice--probably because he knows what it's like to have to hold onto someone you've lost. Good scene in a good episode.

Of course, I'm already a bit concerned about next week based on the previews...

Enterprise: Observer Effect
After seeing this one, the thing I have to wonder is--how do the Organians go from being the aliens we see here to the aliens we see in "Errand of Mercy"? I may need to rewatch my DVD of "Errand of Mercy" because it seems as if the Organians were a lot different as a alien-race there--I mean, they do force a peace betwen the Federation and the Klingons in that episode, one that is mentioned many times in the original series.

Just like last week's episode was a greatest hits from other Trek shows, so was this week's. The difference this time around was I was a bit more invested in the characters since they are part of the crew we know and love. But as interesting as it was to watch the Organians jump from person to person (and to see how the various actors did at playing being inhabited), there wasn't a lot else of new ground broken here. I don't feel as though I came away understanding anything new or different about the Organians. I came away feeling like Archer becomes a bit more like Kirk each week in that he just throws himself into the fray to save his ship and crew and damn the consequences, but doggone it, it always saves the ship, crew, humanity, civilization as we know it. I still find myself wanting to see Archer make a big time blunder, but I guess we won't see that any time soon.

It was nice to see Phlox, Montgomery and Sato get some screen time after being under-utilized all year. But then again, at times it wasn't really them so what have we learned?


posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/24/2005 10:10:00 AM | |
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