Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Stargate SG-1, Season 6, Episode 11


"Prometheus"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Good


Commentary by:
Peter F. Woeste – Director
Andrew D. Wilson – Director of Photography
Rick Dean – Chief Lighting Technician

The commentary is very informative, and interesting.  Lots of behind the scene information.  The commentary stays on point with what is on screen.

Review:
On Earth, a news reporter named Julia Donovan stops Carter on the street asking her about a project named Prometheus, where over two billion dollars of tax payer money is going. No big. Except the money was funneled to the project without Congressional oversight. That reporter is just fishing. Donovan also has a small sample of a shiny metal, saying it’s trinium, and she asks Carter about it. Whoa. Things just got real. Trinium is an off world metal (“Spirits”) obtained through the Stargate program. No way should Donovan know about it.

After blowing off the reporter, Carter meets with General Hammond at SGC to discuss the encounter. Even if the sample Donovan had was not actually trinium, just knowing the name of the material indicates a security breach. The Pentagon begins an investigation of Julia Donovan in an attempt to find out what she knows, and who she learned it from. Donovan’s report will go live in four days. Major Davis (“Descent”) is sent to talk Donovan out of running the story. She is so not intimidated by Major Davis.

Donovan thinks Prometheus is a fusion reactor (it isn’t). The possibility remains that she could find out more about Prometheus, and as a result learns about the Stargate program. The President (of the United States of America) phones the reporter’s boss’ boss’ boss, and the story is dead. SGC allows Donovan and a small news crew to document the Prometheus, with an understanding – and no doubt a ton of paperwork – to not disclose what they’re shown until the U. S. Air Force gives the okay. Which will be on the calendar date of never gonna happen. However, this buys time to find out how Donovan learns about things she shouldn’t know.

Carter and Quinn take Donovan, her editor, and a small tech crew on a tour of Prometheus. Prometheus is a huge space ship, Earth - built but incorporating off world tech. It’s the X-303 (the X-302 is in “Redemption, Part 2”). Unfinished, but flight capable, the Prometheus is the future of space flight for Earth. Everything is going smoothly, until an old adversary makes their presence known. Carter and Quinn use their knowledge and abilities to thwart their old foe, while O’Neill and Teal’c come at the problem from another vantage point.

The actors provide respectable performances. The Prometheus sets and effects look amazing.

Failures:
The end of this episode sets up the beginning of the next episode, “Unnatural Selection,”  but there’s not much else to it. It’s okay for a one time viewing, but if this episode didn’t exist, the beginning of the next episode wouldn't need much of a rewrite.  I rated this episode Good, but it’s a weak Good. The effects and sets are great; the acting is good; but the story is meh.

I like the Major Davis character, but he is terrible at trying to bluff others. He attempted to do this twice, and got owned both times, neither person buying Major Davis’ bluff for a second.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Stargate SG-1, Season 6, Episode 10


"Cure"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Very Good


Commentary by:
Andy Mikita – Director
Damian Kindler – Producer
Jim Menard – Director of Photography

The commentary is very informative, and interesting.  Lots of behind the scene information.  The commentary stays on point with what is on screen.

Review:
SG-1 gates to the planet Pangar. The Pangarans studied their stargate, but had never been able to make it work. They are delighted to meet the Earth stargate travelers, and hope for a mutually satisfying relationship between the two planets.

Carter and O’Neill sit down with the Pangaran representatives to offer some safe, friendly stargate addresses in trade for a sample of tretonin -- an elixir the Pangarans developed which grants perfect health. The offered stargate addresses are ideal for a society new to gate travel. Thing is, the Pangarans want stargate addresses to dangerous locations, not namby-pamby safe zones. Exercising his usual level of tact (which is none) O’Neill questions why they’d want to travel to such locations. The Pangarans aren’t feeling the need to explain themselves to SG-1.

Meanwhile, Quinn and Teal’c meander around an archeological dig site where the Pangarans found their stargate, along with a native scientist named Zenna Valk. Having a seemingly eidetic memory, Quinn is the resident SG-1 walking encyclopedia. Teal’c has firsthand experience with the Goa’uld, and also provides information. Valk wants to tell Jonas something, but is reluctant to speak in front of the Pangaran security escort. So, Quinn sneaks off and riffles through Valk’s tent at the dig site. Not the most diplomatic thing to do, but the story has to keep moving.

Using the information he pilfered from Valk, Quinn and Teal’c investigate the location where Pangarans get their doses of tretonin. The pair uncover the main component needed to manufacture tretonin. Describing it as off-putting is an understatement. With their secret out, the Pangarans are more open with SG-1. Since there’s not much left to tell, this isn’t surprising. Oh, wait, scratch that last statement. There is a lot more to the Pangaran/tretontin story.

There's no such thing as a free lunch.

Already complex and interesting, the story adds another layer – the Tok’ra: Malek (“Allegiance”) and Kelmaa.  Through a well written plot twist, Pangarans need to extend blind trust to SG-1, and to the Tok’ra. Although the Tok’ra arrogance volume is turned down this episode, they still aren’t making friends with their charm. For once Earth’s survival isn’t at risk, but the Pangarans and Tok’ra are having a really bad day.

A very good episode, with some startling surprises. All of the actors’ performances are done well, and are solid and believable.

Failures:
From trying to blow up a moon populated by hundreds or thousands of people (“The Devil You Know”); to forcibly taking a host to save their snaky selfs (“In the Line of Duty”); to suppressing a human host’s persona (“Abyss”); various Tok’ra show a consistent disregard for the value of a non-Tok’ra life.

There’s a point in this episode where the fate of the Pangarans is in the hands of the Tok’ra, and the Tok’ra aren’t exactly rushing to the rescue. O’Neill points out that the Tok’ra might not help the Pangarans. Carter states that the Tok’ra would never do such a thing.  Considering past Tok’ra behavior, I don’t understand how Carter can say that with a straight face.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Stargate SG-1, Season 6, Episode 9


"Allegiance"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Very Good


Commentary by:
Peter DeLuise – Director
James Tichenor – Visual Effects Producer
Gary Jones -- Actor

The commentary is very informative, and interesting.  Lots of behind the scene information.  The commentary mostly stays on point with what is on screen.

Review:
Off-world, at the SGC Alpha base, there are injuries and controlled chaos as an influx of Tok’ra come through the stargate. The SGC Alpha site is a planet unknown to the Goa’uld. Some SG team members (not SG-1) come with the Tok’ra. Anubis attacked the Tok’ra base. Out of options, Jacob/Selmak (“Descent”) dialed the Alpha site as an escape path for the remaining Tok’ra and SG team members.

Three quarters of SG-1 is at the Alpha site when the refugees arrive.  Quinn is at SGC. O’Neill is not happy about the unexpected arrivals, but works with the situation. The Alpha site is already a temporary home to many displaced Free Jaffa (“The Warrior”). Now, there are Tok’ra in the mix at the becoming less and less secret, secret Alpha site.

The Tok’ra do not like Jaffa, Free or otherwise, because while serving the Goa’uld, Jaffa killed Tok’ra. After what happened to him in “Abyss” O’Neill is not overly fond of the Tok’ra, except for Jacob/Selmak. The Free Jaffa do not like being dissed, condescended, or patronized – three behaviors often exhibited by the Tok’ra. A frustrated O’Neill, the proud Free Jaffa, and the arrogant Tok’ra, all forced together. What could go wrong?

A Tok’ra who had an altercation with a Free Jaffa is found dead. The Tok’ra blame the Free Jaffa. The Free Jaffa deny any part of the murder, and resent having their honor impugned. Then, the Free Jaffa accused of the murder is found dead. The tenuous peace at the Alpha site is crumbling. O’Neill must find out the truth of the deaths, while keeping allies from becoming enemies.

This is one of my favorite episodes because it goes beyond “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” A common enemy, in this case the Goa’uld, does not friendship make. Old angers aren’t far from the surface when the different races interact. Or newer anger, like O’Neill’s unhappiness with his trip to Tok’ra blending land. Despite this, the three species need to work together, or at least for the moment live together. All while trying to solve two murders. I like that the interactions aren’t magically happy and peaceful, all things considered.

There is much more to the interesting story in this episode, but I cannot reveal it without spoilers.

Richard Dean Anderson does a masterful job as O’Neill deals with all that is going on. Carmen Argenziano returns as Jacob/Selmak and is wonderful. Peter Stebbings is Malek, the Tok’ra commander of the base Anubis attacked. Mr. Stebbings performance is enjoyable and he portrays Tok’ra hubris very well. Tony Amendola returns as Bra’tac (“Redemption, Part 2”) and is excellent as always. Teryl Rothery is Dr. Fraiser (“Shadow Play”), and completely believable as a doctor in the midst of a crisis. Obi Ndefo returns as Rak’nor (“The Warrior”). Christopher Judge’s facial expressions as Teal’c are perfection, conveying exactly what Teal’c is thinking or feeling even when Teal’c is not speaking. All in all, a lot of very strong performances.

Failures:
Nothing major.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Stargate SG-1, Season 6, Episode 8


"The Other Guys"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Very Good

Commentary by:
Christopher Judge – “Teal’c”
Martin Wood -- Director
James Tichenor – Visual Effects Producer

The commentary is very informative, and interesting.  Lots of behind the scene information.  The commentary stays on point with what is on screen.

Review:

Ever daydream that you are the best of the best at whatever you want to be the best of? I don’t think it’s unusual. Whether that flight of fancy involves tights and super powers; or emulating someone you admire, most everybody has such moments.

In this episode an SGC scientist named Jay Felger is living the hero worshipper dream by being with his idols -- SG-1.

Felger, along with fellow scientists Coombs and Meyers, are off world studying an abandoned Goa’uld site. SG-1 is on guard duty, a.k.a. babysitting the trio as no danger is expected. Coombs and Meyers focus on their research. Felger focuses on impressing SG-1. With zero subtlety, he tries to be one of the team with SG-1. Disregarded by O’Neill and company; mocked by his fellow scientists; Felger is not deterred from fawning over SG-1.

Things take a turn when a large group of Jaffa loyal to a Goa'uld named Khonsu capture SG-1. Far away enough to escape the Jaffas notice, the trio of scientists see SG-1 taken onto an alkesh (a type of Goa’uld space vehicle). Standard procedure in such situations is for the three scientists to gate back to SGC when it’s safe. However, no way is Felger going to run away after his heroes are captured. Meyers returns to SGC while Felger, and a very reluctant Coombs, manage to gain entry on the alkesh. Don’t worry SG-1, Felger will rescue you! Maybe.

With lots of good intentions, and not a lot of good sense, Felger and Coombs make their way to SG-1. Will these other guys be the salvation of SG-1, or manage to cause even more problems? Bit of both. “The Other Guys” unfolds as a very funny episode, with a mix of laugh out loud humor, and action.

Patrick McKenna is Felger and is flawless as the character. John Billingsley is Coombs, and plays that part very well. The series regulars stay true to their characters, without devolving into being just foils for jokes. All the actors perform well, with Anderson being a standout. Michael Adamthwaite is Her’ak, First Prime of Khonsu. I enjoyed his performance, as Her’ak seems so young, and intent on proving himself. Yet Her’ak already has a huge streak of arrogance. Her’ak always loses when verbally sparring with O’Neill, leading to some funny moments.

Failures:
There are a few times when the fictional “facts” in the Stargate SG-1 realm are negated or disregarded in order to allow for humor. At one point Felger and Coombs disguise themselves as Jaffa, but none of the other Jaffa notice the two strangers in their midst. Including a time when Coombs wore his eyeglasses, an item that is not seen on Jaffa.

Khonsu has a lot of Jaffa at his base where SG-1 is held. Yet time and again there is not a Jaffa in sight, including at tactically important areas. No guards at or near the armory, or a room with controls for all aspects of the base? I don’t think so.

Despite the few failures, this is one of my favorite episodes, and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Stargate SG-1, Season 6, Episode 7


"Shadow Play"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Very Good

Commentary by:
Peter DeLuise -- Director
Peter F. Woeste – Director of Photography

The commentary is very informative, and interesting.  Lots of behind the scene information.  The commentary stays on point with what is on screen.

Review:
The Kelownans (“Meridian”) from Jonas Quinn’s home world of Langara contact SGC via the stargate. What with the Kelownans accusing Daniel Jackson of sabotage, and Jonas Quinn defecting to Earth, things are a little frosty between Kelowna and SGC. But, the Kelownans seem ready to declare bygones, and want to enter a trade agreement with SGC. Technologically inferior to Earth, all the Kelownans can offer is naquadria – the more powerful, but less stable, version of naquadah currently found only on Langara.

Carter wants access to naquadria. Jonas is hesistant to deal with his old home world. Teal’c is thoughtful. O’Neill is disgruntled at the idea of making nice with Kelowna, but can’t deny potential benefits from naquadria.

A Kelownan delegation gates to SGC to discuss a possible trade deal. One member of the delegation is Dr. Keiran, a mentor and friend of Quinn’s. Turns out there are three major powers on their planet: Kelowna, Tirania, and The Andari Federation. Mostly the three powers fought against each other, a stalemate. Now the Tiranians and Andaris plan to sign a non-agression pack with each other, meaning the two powers could work together to beat up Kelowna. Kelowna wants SGC's military technology in order to withstand a presumed attack from the other two countries.

Dr. Kieran has an additional bit of information told in secret to Jonas. There’s a covert organization working to overthrow Kelowna’s current government. Tired of the fighting between the countries, they plan a coup, and Dr. Keiran is a member of this group. Keiran wants Quinn’s help. SGC wants to learn more about this group as they want somebody on Langara to cough up some naquadria, preferably without becoming involved in an off-world war. SG-1 gates to Langara to offer the Kelownas non-military technology in trade for naquadria, and gain more information about Dr. Kieran’s group.

On Langara, SG-1’s negotiations with the Kelownans don’t go well, to the surprise of no one. Kelowna desires techno-amazing flying machines of destruction. SGC offers antibiotics.

The Kelownans want Earth military technology through trade, or by Jonas re-defecting back to Langara. Yup, the Kelownan leader tries to sweet talk Quinn into dumping SGC and coming back. The Kelowan government wants the tech. The resistence wants SGC to help with their revolution. SGC is like, “nope” to both. Meanwhile, war on Langara looms closer.

SGC is getting a taste of how the Tollans (“Between Two Fires”) felt about SGC’s requests for advanced technology. Granted, SGC wanted the Tollans help to fight against the threat of the Goa’uld. But, there was always a chance that someone might succumb to an urge to use the Tollan tech against a foe other than the Goa’uld. Now, the Kelownans want the SGC’s advanced tech to establish a balance of power against the Tiranians and Andaris. But, there’s a chance that Kelowna might go with a, “why defend against them when we can destroy them?” line of thought.

There’s a lot of subtext expertly woven into this episode. SGC experiencing the point of view held by advanced off world societies when asked to provide technology to Earth. Jonas wanting all three of Langara’s major powers to learn about the wonders and challenges in the galaxy, when only Kalowna knows about Langara’s stargate. A situation similar to Earth’s in that very few countries, and virtually none of the general population, knows about the stargate. There is no definitive villain in this episode, and I think this is a strength. The story is a study of behavior, without becoming heavy handed, or preachy.

A well written, well acted, episode.

Dean Stockwell portrays Dr. Keiran, and provides a solid performance. All of the actors performances are well done. The Kelownan sets and costumes look amazing. Kudos to everyone involved in this episode.

Teal’c lays some wisdom on Jonas about being considered a traitor by ones people. Very nicely done. Teal’c is also the most effective negotiator with the Kelownans by cutting to the chase when others are dancing around a point, or just bickering.

Failures:
None.