Friday, September 30, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 22


"Out of Mind"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Fair

O’Neill awakens in a cryogenic chamber.  He is at SGC in the year 2077.  According to the personnel from that time, O’Neill returned through the stargate to the base in the past already in cryogenic hibernation.  He was put in deep freeze until he could be safely awoken.  That took 79 years, and everyone Jack knew is dead.  In order to learn what happened to him in the past, a SGC doctor uses a machine to pull Jack’s memories, and display them on a screen.  Yup.  The season finale is a clip show.

The story's thread tying the clips together is unbelievable, and uninteresting until the last 15 minutes of the show.  Ending the season with a clip show is not a good move.  Especially compared to the spectacular ending of season one (“Within the Serpent’s Grasp”).  Most of what happens in this episode is covered in the season three premiere’s “previously on” opening.

Overall, a weak story, further burdened by flashbacks.

Failures:
It’s a clip show, without the redemption of Ronny Cox (“Politics”).  Some of the clips used are from season one, further weakening any flourish to this season’s finale.  It is the weakest, most blah season finale of the entire series.

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 21


"1969"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Good

Heading through the stargate on a mission, SG-1 is time warped to the past.  The team is still on Earth, in the year 1969.  They must unravel the puzzle of how to return to their own time, while not making any changes to the past.  Standard time travel stuff.

There are some interesting moments when SG-1 interacts with the military in 1969.  The story includes cliche, benign hippies, but not much else from 1969.  No civil rights movement, and only an acknowledgment of the Vietnam War.  Essentially, this episode introduces time travel using the stargate.

Failures:
There is a whole lot of lucky happenstance.

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 20


"Show and Tell"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Very Good

There is an unauthorized incoming wormhole at SGC.  As usual, the iris cover of the stargate is closed.  Yet, the iris keeps re-opening.  SGC personnel cannot keep the iris closed.  The base is on red alert, and armed military personnel fill the gate room, ready to fight any threat coming through the stargate.  A lone figure emerges from the stargate, a human child.  Unarmed, the child only carries a warning for Earth.  A rebel faction of an alien race intends to attack Earth.  The alien race is called the Reetou.  The child only wants to speak with O’Neill.  Called son by his mother, the boy adopts the name of O’Neill’s deceased son -- Charlie -- for himself.

This Charlie knows a lot about O’Neill, and things that have happened at SGC.  The staff thinks Charlie might be psychic.  Charlie says that his mother told him the information.  His mother is invisible to, and unheard by, everyone except Charlie.  Everyone is concerned about a possible attack from unknown aliens, and convinced that Charlie is hallucinating his mother, due to post-traumatic stress.  General Hammond and SG-1 begin to strategize a way to deal with an unknown threat based on information from Charlie’s unseen mother.  SG teams have seen enough unusual events to not dismiss Charlie’s warning.

Dr. Frasier discovers that Charlie is suffering from multiple physiological issues, and does not have long to live.  Events demonstrate that mom, and the Reetou rebels, are real.  Stargate Command is under siege, uncertain if they can save Earth from the Reetou rebels, and save Charlie from dying.

Jeff Gulka is excellent as Charlie.  He portrays the character's moods, from exasperation to exhaustion, very well.  Charlie is believable as a human child from an alien culture.  He is charming, without being precocious.  The Reetou are an interesting, and very alien, species.  The regular cast does an admirable job, neither overshadowing, nor being overshadowed by, Mr. Gulka’s performance.

Failures:
How the Reetou rebels get into Stargate Command is sketchy, but not unforgivably so.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 19


"One False Step"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Fair

Stargate Command launches a U. A. V (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), loaded with new technology, through the stargate to check out a planet.  During the test flight, SGC loses control of the radio-operated U. A. V., and it crashes on the planet.  A humanoid crosses in front of the vehicle’s camera, and drags the U. A. V. away.  SG-1 heads to the planet to recover technology from the vehicle, and investigate the indigenous life form.  The team encounters the humanoids.  The humanoids are bald, naked (no, they are not actually naked), and live near giant mushroom-ish things.  Let’s call them mushroom people.

After interacting with SG-1, the mushroom people become very ill.  SG-1 thinks it is possible that they have brought a contaminant, or illness, which is striking down the mushroom people.  The team tries to determine the cause of the illness before all the mushroom people drop dead.  Yup.  That’s it.

The humanoids are short on speech, and long on cutesy antics.  I think they are supposed to be adorable, charming, and engaging.  I think they are ecru, bland, and tiresome.  I think the entire episode is ecru, bland, and tiresome.  I did not give this episode a lower rating because although it is boring, just like the mushroom people it is basically inoffensive.

Failures:
The episode is determined to convey a gentle message of conservation and care, even if the message has to be jammed down your throat until you choke on it.

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 18


"Serpent's Song"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Excellent

SGC received a set of co-ordinates over the radio.  For reasons that are never clearly explained, they believe the message is from the Tok’ra.  SG-1 gates to a planet, and waits for the Tok’ra.  A Goa’uld glider is seen in the sky, approaching SG-1’s location.  Suddenly, the glider is fired on from above, and crashes to the ground.  The team runs to the wreckage, to help the Tok’ra out, if they survived.  What the … hey, that's not a Tok’ra.  That's Apophis!  Apophis sent the message, and wants sanctuary on Earth.

After getting spanked by the Taur’i (“The Serpent’s Lair”), and failing to exact vengeance against Earth (“Family”), Apophis has lost all of his street cred with the Goa’ulds, and is no longer a system lord.  With a powerful Goa’uld named Sokar after him, Apophis turns to Earth for succor, and a new host.  At the very least, Apophis hopes Sokar will destroy Earth while attempting to recapture Apophis.  Heads, he wins; tails, Earth loses.

Peter Williams is fantastic as Apophis.  Wicked, wily, arrogant, cruel, and devious.  Mr. Williams aptly portrays Apophis, and his host.  This episode is mostly character driven.  Despite the minimal level of onscreen action, the episode is compelling, exciting, and a thrill ride.

18th episode broadcast.
17th episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
None.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 17


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

Overall Rating:  Fair

SG-1 explores an off world structure containing numerous non-Goa’uld, alien devices.  An elderly man appears from behind some drapery, and moves towards SG-1.  Teal’c recognizes the man as a being named Ma’chello, who is hunted by the Goa'uld, and the creator of inventions to fight against the Goa’uld.  He was captured by the Goa’uld at one point, and tortured, but Ma’chello escaped before he was made a host.  Under the guise of demonstrating one of the devices, Ma’chello switches minds with Daniel.  Hilarity ensues.

It is a body/mind-switching episode.  A plot device used in other science fiction stories, and a few films.  It has the inherent weakness of this type of story: someone literally acts like a different person, yet no one notices.  The regular cast performs well, with Chris Judge being the most enjoyable.

Very nice opening camera angle, peering over the stargate from the top.  The episode is watchable, with a few bright moments.

17th episode broadcast.
18th episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
It is a body/mind-switching episode.

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 16


"A Matter of Time"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Very Good

On Earth, the stargate activates and SGC receives SG-10’s signal, but the team never comes through the stargate.  The wormhole shuts down.  Dialing up the planet SG-10 gated to, SGC discovers the problem -- SG-10 is on a planet that is on its way to being pulled into a black hole.  Stargate Command can do nothing to save them.  General Hammond orders the stargate’s wormhole shut off.  The stargate will not shut off.  Worse, the pull of the black hole is coming through the stargate on Earth.  If the wormhole cannot be disengaged, Stargate Command, Colorado, and eventually Earth, will be crushed and sucked through the stargate by the black hole.

A firm grounding in physics is not required to enjoy, and understand, this episode.  Although, it would help in understanding some of Carter’s exposition before it is translated into something almost everyone who is not Carter can understand.

This episode explores another “what can go wrong” stargate usage scenario.  I like that big problems periodically arise.  I think this helps to keep the series from sliding into staleness.

16th episode broadcast.
15th episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
The blood sacrifice in the episode is pointless.  It adds nothing to the story.  The character could easily been allowed to live.

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 15


"The Fifth Race"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Excellent

A probe arrives on a planet, and finds a site with text in a language that matches one of the four alien languages found in the repository of information on Ernest’s planet (“The Torment of Tantalus”).  Since one of the four languages is Asgard, SG-1 goes to the planet the probe recently checked out, hoping to meet one of the other three races.  The team arrives in a room that does not have any apparent exit.  Just as SG-1 prepares to return to Earth, a mechanism appears on a previously blank wall.  When O’Neill moves closer to investigate, the machine suddenly grabs O’Neill’s head, preventing his escape.  Soon after, the mechanism releases a barely conscious O’Neill.  Back at SGC, Dr. Frazier gives O’Neill a clean bill of health.  However, Jack begins to exhibit strange behavior, including speaking an unknown language, incredible expertise in science and math disciplines, and more.

Curiosity about Jack’s condition becomes alarm as the rate of the change increases, and the neural damage is escalating. If unchecked, it will destroy Jack’s brain.  Searching off world for more information about O’Neill's condition, Carter, Teal’c, and others are trapped on a planet due to a faulty stargate dialing device (DHD), and they will die from the planetary conditions if they do not escape soon.

Jack’s mind continues to change, leaving him less and less able to communicate in any appreciably way.  There is one possible solution to Jack’s condition, but seeking the cure means Jack may never be able to return to Earth.

A cleverly written episode, making very good use of Mr. Anderson’s dramatic, and comedic, acting skills.  Shanks is wonderful as Daniel.  The rest of the cast provides strong performances, with believable reactions to O’Neill’s condition.  Increased options for future episodes are cleverly incorporated.

15th episode broadcast.
16th episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
None.

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 14


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

Overall Rating:  Very Good

SG-1 heads to Madrona, a planet they originally visited five weeks earlier.  Madronans are humans who have a primitive society, however, the planet is believed to have been populated at some point by an advanced alien race.  The planet was terraformed at some point, and an advanced weather control device, the Touchstone, remains on the planet.  SG-1 intends to do some testing of the weather device.  The Madronans are hostile towards the team, because people dressed like SG-1, and carrying similar weapons, stole the Touchstone.  The weather on Madrona is degrading into very dangerous meteorological conditions.  SG- 1 denies culpability with stealing the Touchstone, and promises to find the device.

Returning to SGC, O’Neill shows an unusually high level of tact, and obliquely accuses General Hammond of being involved in the theft of the Touchstone.  Shocked by the accusation, Hammond denies responsibility for the theft.  He understands O’Neill’s position, since Hammond is responsible for everything that happens at Stargate Command.  He authorizes Carter to check for suspicious stargate usage.  Sam’s research determines the second stargate (located in “Solitudes”) is being used, instead of being in storage.  Additionally, unusual weather patterns on Earth make it likely that the Touchstone is here.

It turns out that during the formation of the stargate programs, someone put forth the idea to disregard diplomacy if there is ever a chance to snag alien technology.  Hmm.  SG-1 heads to Area 51 (yes, that Area 51), the destination of the alien goodies brought to Earth through the stargate.  Also, the current assignment of Colonel Maybourne (“Bane”).  The weather on Madrona is getting worse.  The Madronans will die from the weather conditions if the device is not returned within two days.  SG-1 has to work through the puzzle of the phantom SG team with the Earth connection within 48 hours, and without being able to trust anyone outside of the team.

An interesting venture into the realm of mystery.  The story’s layers, and misdirects, are well done.  Stargate SG-1 is fleshed out further in this episode, without dragging the momentum to a standstill.  Scientific research is paired with detective work, and a healthy dose of espionage, to find the Touchstone.  Tom McBeath returns as Colonel Maybourne.  Excellent performance from the entire cast.

Failures:
None.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 13


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

Overall Rating:  Excellent

During a mission briefing, SG-1 learns about trinium, a vital off-world mineral.  Trinium was found on a seemingly uninhabited world by Captain Conner (“The First Commandment”) and SG-11.  Sent back to the planet to mine more trinium samples, SG-11 is 48 hours overdue to make routine contact with SGC.  During SG-1’s briefing, the stargate activates, and SG-11's signal is received.  However, rather than SG-11, an attack comes through the stargate, and O’Neill is injured.  Carter is in temporary command of SG-1, and the team, minus O’Neill, heads to the (now known to be inhabited) planet to find SG-11, and negotiate a mining treaty with the indigenous people.  Earth really, really wants access to the trinium.

On the planet, SG-1 is attacked, drugged, and taken prisoner.  Awakening, SG-1 meets people who are descendants of Salish tribe members snatched from Earth long ago by some Goa’uld.  Tonane is the Salish tribe member who is a liaison with SG-1.  Tonane says the Salish Spirits (as in gods, not ghosts) have SG-11, although he does not know exactly where they are held.  Although SG-1 does not believe in the Spirits, with Tonane’s encouragement they ask for the return of SG-11.  The missing SG team members appear, walking out of a mist.

Both SG teams return to Earth, and Tonane accompanies them to discuss a mining treaty.  Ultimately, Tonane decides against a mining treaty with Earth.  General Hammond has orders to send an SG team to mine trinium when Tonane’s people do their seasonal migration out of the area.  Hammond, and SG-1, are disgusted with the orders, but orders are orders.  The Spirits are disgusted as well, and very angry.  Oh, and they are at Stargate Command, too.  Their intention is to “disappear” everyone, and destroy the base after getting Tonane safely home.  Forced to battle a foe created by the government's intended deception of Tonane’s people, SG-1 matches wits, and mundane weapons, against the supernatural might of the Spirits.

Rodney A. Grant is wonderful as Tonane, who exudes innocence, tempered with life experience and good sense.  Tonane is charming.  Referencing a Native American culture is new for the series, and adds a refreshingly new perspective.  Does it accurately portray aspects of the Salish people?  I do not know.  Bottom line, this is an episode of a science fiction television series, not a documentary.  Nothing in the episode seems to blatantly mock, or denigrate, the Salish people.

Failures:
None.

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 12


"The Tok'ra: Part Two"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Very Good

Picking up immediately after the events at the end of “The Tok’ra: Part One,” SG-1 and SG-3 are gently treated prisoners of the Tok’ra.  The Tok’ra have declined SG-1’s offer of forming an alliance.  The Tok’ra fight the Goa’uld using secrecy, and infiltration.  They do not perceive an advantage ally themselves with the technologically inferior Taur’i.  Also, the Tok’ra are offended by SG-1’s refusal to become a Tok’ra host.  Since they do not force a human to become a host, nor do they use a sarcophagus, the Tok’ra population is on the decline, and in need of new hosts.  Sam comes up with an idea that may cement a relationship with the Tok’ra.  Carter and O’Neill are allowed to return to Earth and present the idea to General Hammond.

Meanwhile, the Tok’ra find out the Goa’uld system lords learned the location of the their planet, and an attack force is on the way.  O’Neill and Carter return while the Tok’ra base is in the midst of an evacuation.  The attack may cost Earth any chance at a new alliance.  The Tok’ra are experienced with hiding from the Goa’uld system lords, and once they leave the planet, it is unlikely that the Taur’i will ever find the Tok’ra again.  As most escape through the stargate, Carter must stay on the planet as the system lords' fighting force moves in to destroy the location.

A good conclusion to the two-part story, with a good mix of action, exposition, and suspense.

Failures:
Nothing Jarring.

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 11


"The Tok'ra: Part One"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Very Good

In the Line of Duty” is the episode when the Goa’uld symbiote named Jolinar takes over Carter’s body.  The symbiote declared itself a member of a group that is an enemy of the Goa’uld -- the Tok’ra.  Since Jolinar’s death, Carter occasionally remembers things the symbiote experienced.  One of Jolinar’s memories involves dialing a particular stargate address, a possible location of the Tok’ra.  SG-1 gates to the planet, searching for the Tok’ra, in hopes of forming an alliance with them.  The team finds the Tok’ra, and have an initial meeting rife with mistrust.  One of the Tok’ra is very interested in Carter’s experience with Jolinar.

A fragile, superficial trust develops between SG-1 and the Tok'ra.  Despite having the same goal -- defeating the Goa'uld -- SG-1’s effort to form an alliance with the Tok’ra is at an impasse.  What the Tok’ra most desire from the Taur'i is unlikely to be fulfilled.  What SG-1 most desires from the Tok'ra is unlikely to be offered.  The possibility of allying with the Tok’ra is imperiled, and SG-1 becomes prisoners of the Tok'ra.  Diplomacy is not for the faint-hearted.

Back on Earth, Sam's father Jacob is succumbing to the cancer he told Sam about in “Secrets.”  Jacob is unaware of the stargate, and Sam’s place in the stargate program.  Sam, trapped off world, is unaware of how close her father is to death.

Carmen Argenziano returns as Jacob Carter.  Sarah Douglas is great as the Tok’ra Garshaw, and the human host, Yosuuf.  As Garshaw, Ms. Douglas is strong, regal, and intelligent.  This episode is heavy with exposition and light on action.  The non-combative introduction of a new alien race necessitates a lot of talking between the characters.  The premise, dialog, and the actors’ performances, keep the episode moving at a good pace without forgetting to be entertaining.

Failures:
Nothing jarring.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 10


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

Overall Rating: Fair

While SG-1 is investigating a planet, Teal'c is stung by a gi-normous alien insect.  Teal'c's symbiote cannot overcome the insect's venom.  Changes begin to happen to Teal'c on a cellular level.  Colonel Maybourne (last seen in the episode "Enigma") arrives at SGC with orders to take Teal'c away in order to help to study him.  SG-1 and General Hammond are not happy about this, but orders are orders.  Teal'c escapes from Maybourne.  It is a race between SG-1 and Colonel Maybourne to find Teal'c.  Meanwhile, there is a Jaffa, with a Goa'uld symbiote in his belly pouch, wandering around a city, and he is changing into a life form that could take over the world.

An exciting premise for a tepid episode which lacks suspense.  A story about Earth's civilizations possibly being destroyed by a space bug could be interesting.  However, the episode devolves into a retelling of the scene in the movie Frankenstein, where the monster comes across a young child who is too naive to realize the danger.  Teal'c is the monster.  The young child becomes a spunky 'tween in a desolate urban landscape.

Tom McBeath returns as Colonel Maybourne, and stays true to the character.  There is not any atrociously bad acting in this episode, just a lot of okay performances.  Not a lot of sharp dialog as a reprieve from a dull story, but nothing dreadful.

Failures:
It is never good when there is only one easy to attain, simple to ascertain, solution to a story's particular plot crisis.  Will Teal'c kill the girl?  No.  Will the alien insect be stopped from causing the destruction of Earth's civilizations?  Yes.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 9


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

Overall Rating:  Excellent

In “Children of the Gods,” Daniel tells the Abydonians to bury their stargate for one year.  Daniel says he will return to the planet, with Sha’re, on that day.  It has been one Abydonian year, but Daniel has not found Sha’re.  He still wants to return to Abydos to let Sha’re’s father, Kasuf, know what has happened.  On the same day, a United States Air Force Air Medal award ceremony is held to honor O’Neill, and Carter, for their success in saving Earth from Apophis (“The Serpent’s Lair”).  The ceremony cannot be rescheduled, so only Daniel and Teal’c go to Abydos.  They find Sha’re living with her father.  Sha’re is, for the time being, able to exercise her free will despite there still being a Goa'uld in her.  Daniel faces a heartbreaking decision about Sha’re, unaware of two powerful Goa’ulds heading to Abydos, each interested in finding Sha’re.

O’Neill and Carter head to Washington, D. C. for the ceremony.  O’Neill meets Carter’s father, United States Air Force General Jacob Carter at a reception before the ceremony.  Jacob pulled some strings to get Sam a chance at going into space with NASA.  She cannot tell her father about the stargate program, and relationship issues from their past sully their reunion.  Sam is not the only Carter keeping secrets, as Jacob has one of his own.  Later, O’Neill is approached by a reporter who knows about the stargate program, and intends to write a story about it.  There is a security breach, exposing the top-secret program.

Both story lines are well written, with strong performances.  There is a lot going on in this episode, but each aspect is well covered.  Erick Avari returns as the wise, caring, and pragmatic Kasuf.  Vaitiare Bandera returns as Sha’re.  She does a convincing job of conveying Sha’re’s hurt, shame, and anger about being a vessel for the Goa’uld Amonet.  Teal’c is the only SG-1 member to not have a story line in this episode, but that does not stop Chris Judge from giving a great performance.  Chris Owens is good as Armin Selig, the reporter.

Failures:
None.

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 8


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

Overall Rating:  Excellent

SGC receives an unexpected guest traveling through the stargate -- Master Bra’tac.  He brings news that Apophis is alive, and has taken Teal’c’s son, Ry’ac.  SG-1 heads to Chulak, Teal’c’s home planet, to rescue Ry’ac.  They discover that Teal’c’s wife, Drey’auc, has re-married, to one of Teal’c’s good friends, Fro’tak.  Apophis is playing father to his son.  Fro’tak is playing house with his wife.  Teal’c is not happy, and anger clouds his judgment.  The rest of the SG-1 team helps Teal’c get his son back, while trying to assuage Teal'c's anger before it results in an action that will destroy human life on Earth.

Normally, I am not fond of soap opera in my space opera.  However, this episode nicely grounds the characters emotional upheaval in the pragmatic, with minimal diva drama.  Stargate SG-1 is good at using the same actor to portray a character.  The rare exception has Brook Parker as Drey’auc in this episode.  Salli Richardson-Whitfield was Drey’auc in “Bloodlines.”  Ms. Parker is very good as the wife left behind by Teal’c, doing her best to secure her son’s immediate future.  She is strong when dealing with Teal’c, and regretful about marrying Fro’tak out of necessity rather than love, but unapologetic about her decision.  Neil Denis returns as Ry’ac.  Young Mr. Denis excels as a furious child manipulated by Apophis.  Peter Williams appears as my favorite villainous Goa’uld, Apophis.

Failures:
The writers gave Apophis a devastating biological weapon.  Bad move.  If Apophis had such a weapon, he could send a single ship to Earth, release the weapon, and poof! No more Earth humans.  Never give a series’ villain too powerful a weapon.  Makes the viewers wonder why he doesn't just use it (except that would then end the series).

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 7


"Message in a Bottle"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Very Good

A M. A. L. P. picked up electro-magnetic transmissions on an airless, lifeless planet.  Finding alien technology for Earth’s defense is still a priority.  SG-1 gates to the planet, and finds a metallic artifact, an orb, in a building.  The orb is the source of the EM transmissions, and does not seem to be a threat.  O’Neill decides to take it back to the SGC.  The initial study, and testing, of the artifact is done at the SGC, just in case the orb becomes threatening, and needs to be sent back through the stargate.

While Jackson, Carter, and other SGC staff study the puzzle of the orb’s energy emissions, the dormant artifact becomes active.  Segments of the orb separate, and its internal temperature is climbing.  Spikes emanate form the orb when O’Neill and Teal’c move to take it back to the gate room.  Before they can send the artifact through the stargate, the orb extends long poles, anchoring itself to the floor, walls, and ceiling of the gate room, and impaling O’Neill.  While treating O’Neill, Dr. Frasier discovers microbes originating from the orb.  Stargate Command is put into quarantine, battling an alien infection and a mysterious, possibly sentient, artifact.

This episode is reminiscent of The Andromeda Strain.  To me, anything relating to an extraterrestrial microbe coming to Earth is reminiscent of The Andromeda Strain.

Failures:
On the planet, Jackson comments about what appears to be writing on the orb.  Back at SGC, Jackson comments about how the writing on the orb is too small to been seen with the naked eye.  I have new respect for the prescription strength of Daniel Jackson's eyeglasses.

Dr. Fraiser wants to break the quarantine in order to get more medicine, and gets miffed when General Hammond says no.  Fraiser wanting to violate the quarantine makes no sense.  Dr. Fraiser is an Air Force officer, and a medical doctor, who understands what could happen if a virulent, alien pathogen gets loose on Earth.  I have no idea why she was taken out of character for this unnecessary bit of dialog.

This episode left me questioning SGC’s rationale for bringing alien artifacts directly to Earth.  The idea of an extraterrestrial contagion is handled much better than in the episode, “The Broca Divide.”  Still, blithely returning with unknown technology just seems like such a bad idea.  I always wonder why there isn’t a quarantine planet used as a buffer before returning to Earth.  Mucking about with something unknown, and potentially deadly, is an extraordinarily bad idea.  Of course, this also helps to keep the series feeling extraordinarily real.

SG-1 Season 2 Awards: Voting is Open!

WHERE: SG-1 Season Two: Official Ballot at Gateworld
WHEN:  From now, until around September 29, 2011
HOW:  Sign-up with Gateworld - it's free, quick, and non-invasive


From Gateworld:

"All this month on the Stargate Rewatch we’ve been enjoying 22 fantastic hours of television, also known as Stargate SG-1 Season Two. Now it’s time for you to cast your vote on the best episode and your favorite character moments from this season!

Just like last month, we’ve been taking fan nominations for each of the categories below. Those with the most nominations are listed on the ballot below. (Take a look at the Season One winners.)  This month we’ve added two brand new categories: Best Hammond Moment (recognizing the General’s increased involvement in storylines in Season Two), and Best Alien Race for this season.

You don’t have to be a Rewatch participant to vote, but please vote only once! Voting will close on or around September 29. We’ll announce the winners in each category at the end of the month as we wrap up month two of the Rewatch."

I like the additional categories for season two, especially the one for Best Hammond Moment.  I've already cast my votes.  Next for me, catching up on episode reviews.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 6


"Thor's Chariot"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Excellent

The SGC receives contact from Cimmeria, the planet visited in "Thor’s Hammer."  Possibly an opportunity to meet Thor, and form an alliance against the Goa’uld with a powerful ally.  A M.A.L.P is sent through the stargate to Cimmeria.  They discover that it is not Thor who returned to the planet, but the Goa’uld.  The destruction of Thor’s Hammer opened the door to a Goa’uld invasion of Cimmeria.  SG-1, feeling responsible for the Cimmerians danger (and rightly so), gate to the planet to learn more about the situation.  The bodies of Jaffa and Vikings are littered near the gate.  Gairwyn is still alive, though, and meets the team at the stargate.  Pyramid-like structures are seen in the distance, landing pads for Goa’uld war ships, with the apparent intent to occupy the planet.

Gairwyn takes SG-1 to where some of her people are in hiding.  Daniel learns about the Hall of Thor’s Might from Gairwyn, which she says is the location of Thor’s power.  However, none of her people have been to the hall.  Hoping the hall contains a stash of advanced weapons, Daniel, Carter, and Gairwyn head to the legendary location of Thor’s hall.  O’Neill, Teal’c and Olaf the Viking head out to scout the Goa’uld occupying force.  Daniel’s group makes a startling discovery, but not the hoped for weapons stash.  With the stargate heavily guarded by Jaffa, there is no way to contact Earth to evacuate Cimmeria’s survivors.  Trapped, SG-1, and a handful of Vikings, faces a Jaffa army lead by a powerful Goa’uld system lord.

The episode is solid, with a balanced mix of action, and emotion.  Tamsin Kelsey returns as Gairwyn.

Failures:
None.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 5


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

Overall Rating: Good

SG-1 is on a planet covertly observing Jaffa warriors and priests sending naquadah through the stargate.  Scientists, and the military, are jonesing for more naquadah, as it is not found on Earth, nor on every planet visited by an SG team.  Finding a planet with the mineral is a bonus.  A cloaked figure separates from the Jaffa group, and heads towards a cliff edge not far from where SG-1 is hidden.  As the individual intentionally tries to fall off the cliff, Daniel leaps up, and saves them from falling.  The cloaked figure is a woman.  The Jaffa, attracted by the disturbance, surround SG-1.  Daniel has just rescued a princess.

No one is appreciative of Daniel’s rescue effort.  O’Neill is furious that Daniel exposed the team.  The Jaffa think Daniel attacked the princess.  The princess is not saying anything.  SG-1 gets first hand experience mining naquadah when they are taken prisoner, and forced to work in a mine.  A failed escape attempt leaves Daniel badly injured.  No worries.  The people on the planet have a Goa’uld sarcophagus, and the princess uses it to heal Daniel, but not out of the goodness of her heart.  Turns out the princess is a Machiavellian tart who wants to make royal babies with Daniel.  Daniel, apparently having left his good sense on a shelf at the SGC, strings the princess along, intending to free the rest of SG-1 from the mines, and secure mining rights for Earth.  Not surprisingly, Daniel’s plan does not work out, and O’Neill, Carter, and Teal’c languish in an underground death trap while Daniel plays footsie with the Princess Shyla.

Heather Hanson as Princess Shyla is, surprisingly, a dragging weight in this episode.  Not Ms. Hanson’s best performance, as Shyla comes across as being sort of dim, and too weak willed, to successfully accomplish her goal of snagging Daniel.  Combined with Daniel’s inexplicable choices, the result is continually questioning why her plan succeeded.  Despite all this, the episode is just this side of good.  Michael Shanks delivers an excellent performance.  The regular cast members are good in their rolls.  Anderson is wonderful as a justifiably irate O’Neill.

The make-up department did an admirable job on styling the imprisoned O’Neill, Carter, and Teal’c.  Dirty, dusty, and disheveled.  Even Carter’s hair was dust colored.  Nicely done.

Failures:
Considering that finding his Goa’uld infested wife, Sha’re, is the motivation for Daniel being part of SG-1, he certainly disregards his marital status easily, and quickly.  Also, Daniel is usually the one who is all about establishing relationships with people met through the stargate on truth.  However, not in this episode.

No rescue is sent for SG-1 because Daniel maintains radio contact with SGC.  I don’t buy General Hammond going days without demanding to speak with O’Neill.

I don't see how SG-1 gated to the planet without being seen by the inhabitants.  The people on the planet know the stargate is a potential source of a Goa’uld threat, yet they don’t maintain a sentry to watch the stargate?  Sketchy.

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 4


"The Gamekeeper"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Fair

Gating to a garden paradise planet, SG-1 sees a building in the distance.  While exploring the building, the team finds humans asleep or unconscious, hooked to mechanical devices.  Suddenly, metal coils snake out from empty apparatuses, snagging and binding SG-1.  The team goes down the rabbit hole, awakening to two scenarios from the past.  O’Neill and Teal’c are part of a covert military action on Earth from O'Neill's past, and the scenario keeps replaying itself.  Daniel and Carter are at a museum watching, over and over, something that happened when Daniel was a child.  SG-1 tries to determine why they are repeatedly experiencing these events from their past.

Dwight Schulz is the Gamekeeper.  I’ve enjoyed Mr. Schultz’ performances since the television series The A Team.  Loved him on Star Trek: The Next Generation.  I did not enjoy Mr. Schulz’ portrayal of the Gamekeeper in this episode.  The Gamekeeper comes across as Dwight Schultz doing a parody of Dwight Schultz doing a parody of a Dwight Schultz character.

Your DVD player will not spit the disc at you, insulted that you used it to watch “The Gamekeeper.”  Probably.  There are some interesting moments, although as whole, the episode is not cohesive.  I think a big problem is the story switches from believable misery to sketchy humor, and it does not work.  Anderson and Shanks provide good performances.  Teal’c and Carter are pretty much window dressing.

Failures:
Once “the secret” (dun dun DUN!) is revealed, the episode skips around, trying to play mind games with SG-1, and the viewers.  Overall, this is a dark, unhappy episode with strained moments of levity.  O’Neill and Daniel reliving past trauma overshadows the episode’s muddled message, which is live life to the fullest.  Or, schadenfreude is bad.  Or, you cannot change the past.  Or, don’t surrender your free will.  Or, don’t believe everything you’re told.  Or, perhaps, that tricks are for kids.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 3


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

Overall Rating: Good

While surveiling a seemingly uninhabited planet, SG-1 is approached by a man running from someone, or something, he calls the Taldur.  One bright light later, SG-1 and that man are in a large chamber, facing judgment from the Taldur, which is the court/justice system for the oopsie, not uninhabited, planet.  Sentencing is swift.  SG-1’s crimes:  helping the man, who it turns out, is a murderer, and trespassing.  The sentence: life imprisonment at the underground, off-world prison Hadente.  Hadente is a city of ruins, located below the inaccessible surface of a planet.  It can be reached only by stargate, and it is a one-way trip as there is no DHD at Hadente.

Not long after their unceremonious arrival at Hadente, SG-1 is attacked by some prisoners.  The law of the prison is brutal, and based on the strong dominating the weak.  A woman named Linea calls off the lead brute, Vishnoor, who is attacking SG-1, and demands the inmates respect Carter, meaning no touchy-feelies, and no rape.  Apparently, it is still open creepy-touchy, rape season on the guys.  Although, Teal’c could beat any of the other prisoners unconsciousness without breaking a sweat so it is unlikely that anyone would try naughty things with him.

O’Neill and Carter meet with Linea to barter for power to run the stargate, a.k.a. the great circle.  Events in “The Torment of Tantalus” showed that with enough power, a stargate can be turned manually in order to dial out.  Linea agrees to help, and O’Neill agrees to take Linea with them when they escape.  The chance to escape a lifetime of imprisonment on Hadente leads to the possibility of death for everyone at SGC.

Bonnie Bartlett is fantastic as Linea -- very intelligent, cool, adaptable, and unreadable.  In this episode, General Hammond goes off world through the stargate for the first time, to try to get the Taldur to free SG-1.

The episode puts forth the idea of a technologically advanced society having one punishment for almost every crime -- life imprisonment.  There is not enough time in the episode to delve into why that society considers this to be justice.  After watching the episode, it is difficult to decide who is the bigger monster, the brutish Vishnoor, or the advanced Taldur.  Both use their power to do what they want, regardless of who is hurt or killed.  Why Vishnoor is at Hadente, or how long he has been there, is never mentioned.  We do not learn if he was a brute when he arrived, or he changed to survive in his new, harsh prison environment.

Failures:
By the end of the episode, Linea extending protection to Carter on Hadente is odd.  I know it was to show that Linea had power over Vishnoor, still it's out of place by the end of the episode.

SG-1 displays a surprising level of naivety, and unfounded trust.  Out of character for SG-1, especially for O’Neill.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 2


"In the Line of Duty"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Good

While evacuating the human Nassyans from their planet during a massive Goa’uld attack on their village, Carter is taken over by a Goa’uld symbiote.  Arriving back at the SGC, Goa’uld Carter’s behavior is odd, but not so strange as to alert others that something is wrong.  Eager to leave Earth, but unwilling to be exposed, the Goa’uld goes through the motions of Sam’s life, including visiting Cassandra, the little girl from the episode, “Singularity.”  A residual amount of naquadah, the extraterrestrial mineral used to make stargates, remains in Cassandra’s system, allowing her to “sense” when other sources containing naquadah are near her.  Goa’ulds have some of the mineral within them.  Cassandra senses the Goa’uld in Sam, and alerts O’Neill.

After capturing Goa’uld Sam Carter, General Hammond, and the rest of SG-1, try to determine how to extract the Goa’uld without killing Sam, or alerting the N. I. D., who would want to imprison, and experiment upon, Sam.  Goa’uld Sam eventually explains why it was on Nassya, and offers to provide valuable information if it is allowed to stay in Sam, and leave Earth.  No information is worth Sam’s life, and a Goa’uld with access to Sam’s knowledge about Earth will never be set free.  SG-1 tries to discern truth from lie, and help Carter, unaware of another threat stalking the Earth, searching for Sam.

The N. I. D. only exists in the stargate world.  It is a fictitious civilian agency with ties to the military, and is closely affiliated with the U. S. government.  The acronym N. I. D. does not stand for anything, although it sounds very cool and mysterious, and can easily be uttered in a threatening manner.  Try scowling, and saying, “I’m with the N. I. D.”  Automatic menace points.

Amanda Tapping does a good job as Goa’uld Sam.  A new alien sub-species is introduced.  The episode starts with a pop of action.  The rest of the episode, while not profound or action oriented, is interesting.

Failures:
Having the electronic card access that unlocks the main door to the prison area inside the prison area seems careless.

After the events in “The Enemy Within,” I expected the SGC to implement a more stringent system to check for Goa’uld infestation in people returning to Earth via the stargate.  Looking at their necks for scars seems, and is proven, inadequate.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 2, Episode 1


"The Serpent's Lair"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Excellent

SG-1 is on Klorel’s vessel, very near to Earth, and Klorel is dead.  As the team prepares to blow up the vessel, Apophis’ ship looms into view.  Destroying Klorel’s ship will not damage the other vessel, or prevent Apophis from attacking Earth.  SG-1 is willing to die, but not willing to fail in their mission to save Earth.  Before a plan to stop Apophis’ ship can be worked out, the team is captured by Klorel’s Jaffa.

On Earth, the Goa’uld ships are spotted.  The SGC is again fully staffed, and prepping for a battle with the Goa’uld.  Colonel Samuels is at the SGC to coordinate a missile strike against the Goa’uld ships, a defense based on assumptions and arrogance rather than sound tactics.  Despite SG-1’s efforts, events are closely paralleling those from “There But For the Grace of God.”  The SG-1 team is held prisoner.  Klorel is in a sarcophagus, and will rise again.  Earth has no definitive defense against the impending attack.  Apophis is poised to decimate life on Earth.

This second part to season one’s cliffhanger “Within the Serpent’s Grasp” continues the smooth flow, action, and suspense of the previous episode.  There are bright moments of dialog, and many excellent visuals.  The ensemble cast are great together, and when working with guest stars.

Peter Williams returns as Apophis.  Apophis is a great antagonist, and Mr. Williams excels in his portrayal.  His depiction of Apophis establishes the baseline for Goa’uld behavior.  Fueled by hubris, resulting in almost as many failures as successes.  Cruel, but complex, with multiple factors influencing Apophis’ decisions.  Powerful, but no so powerful that defeating him crosses into the realm of the impossible.  I especially like that destroying Earth is not the sole factor motivating Apophis’ behavior.  He does not seem to spend all of his time plotting to destroy Earth, although it is definitely on his "to do" list.  There are plenty of other people, and places, he wants to conquer.  Mean, but consistent.  Bravo, Mr. Williams.

There is a great scene transition occurring right after Hammond reams out Samuels.  There is the great scene before the transition of Hammond reaming out Samuels.  Yes!  I've been waiting for that since "Children of the Gods".

Failures:
A favored Goa’uld tactic -- dial up their target’s stargate to prevent escape -- isn’t used in this episode.  It was used in “There But For the Grace of God.”  Not using that tactic in this episode left the stargate open for SGC to continuously evacuate people, and lowered the tension level.

The sarcophagus heals wounds, and can restore life.  In this episode, it also mends torn clothing, removes bloodstains, and in one instance, replaces equipment destroyed before the person went into the sarcophagus.  I always get distracted for a few seconds at scenes with these particular costuming issues.

SG-1 Season 1 At a Glance

My rating for each episode of season one.

Episode 1: Children of the Gods - Excellent
Episode 2: The Enemy Within - Very Good
Episode 3: Emancipation - Poor
Episode 4: The Broca Divide - Good
Episode 5: The First Commandment - Very Good
Episode 6: Cold Lazarus - Fair
Episode 7: The Nox - Good
Episode 8: Brief Candle - Fair
Episode 9: Thor's Hammer - Excellent
Episode 10: The Torment of Tantalus - Excellent
Episode 11: Bloodlines - Good
Episode 12: Fire and Water - Fair
Episode 13: Hathor - Poor
Episode 14: Singularity - Excellent
Episode 15: Cor-Ai - Very Good
Episode 16: Enigma - Fair
Episode 17: Solitudes - Good
Episode 18: Tin Man - Very Good
Episode 19: There But for the Grace of God - Excellent
Episode 20: Politics - Very Good
Episode 21: Within the Serpent's Grasp - Excellent

Six episodes are Excellent
Five episodes are Very Good
Four episodes are Good
Four episodes are Fair
Two episodes are Poor

Friday, September 2, 2011

Vote For Best Episode SG-1, Season 2

WHERE: Stargate Rewatch: SG-1 Season Two Nominations
WHEN:  From now, until September 15, 2011
HOW:  Sign-up with the Gateworld Forum - it's free, quick, and non-invasive.

Vote for your choice of the best Stargate SG-1 episode in season 2.  The poll will be open through September 15, 2011.  While there, you can also make SG-1, season 2, nominations for the next poll in the following categories:
  • Best Episode (Season Two)
  • Best Jack Moment
  • Best Daniel Moment
  • Best Sam Moment
  • Best Teal’c Moment
  • Best Hammond Moment
  • Best Team Moment
  • Best Alien Race
  • Best Guest Star (based on one specific episode)
Lurkers are welcomed at the Gateworld Forum.  You can read posts without signing up, or in.  However, you do need to sign up, and sign in, to post to the forum and participate in polls. Joining Gateworld is free.  Membership is international.  You must be at least 13 years old to register on Gateworld.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

SG-1 Season Two DVD Set - Content

I will rate each season’s DVD set before reviewing the season’s individual episodes.  My rating in this post solely reflects the DVD content, options, & extras (or lack thereof), not episodes.


Overall Rating for the Set: Fair

No commentaries, and no "play all" option.  Not all episodes are in broadcast order.  The only audio language is English.

Subtitles: None

Episodes 15 through 18 are not in broadcast order.

This is a five-disc set, with 22 episodes.  Each episode is approximately 44 minutes long.

All episodes are widescreen, anamorphic 1.78:1.

Sound: 5.1 Dolby

The special features are not rated.

The only audio language on the set is English.  There are no subtitles.  Although there are no subtitles, the discs are close captioned.  You can use the close caption option on your television to view the dialog in English.  The special features are not closed-captioned.

There is not a “play all” option.  Episodes have to be accessed, and viewed, one at a time.

There are no commentaries on any of the episodes.  However, there are featurettes:

Disc 1:  “Richard Hodulin Production Design”
Disc 4:  “Profile on Dr. Jackson”
Disc 5:  “Profile on Teal’c”

I rate this set Fair because it has the required bare minimum -- all of the season’s episodes in their entirety.  Slim cases, and nice artwork, but virtually no frills with this season’s DVD set.

SG-1 Season 1 Gateworld Poll Winners

The results are in for Gateworld's SG-1 Season One Awards poll.  The winners in each category are listed below.  Check out the Gateworld's SG-1 Season One Awards poll page to see a full breakdown of the voting results.

Best Jack O'Neill Moment:
When Jack faces his alien double. "Cold Lazarus."

Best Daniel Jackson Moment:
Daniel abandons the knowledge source Ernest found.
"The Torment of Tantalus."

Best Samantha Carter Moment:
Sam risks death to stay with Cassandra.  "Singularity."

Best Teal'c Moment:
Teal'c saves SG-1, and other prisoners.  "Children of the Gods."

Best Team Moment:
SG-1 goes against orders and gates to the Goa'uld stronghold.  "Within the Serpent's Grasp."

Best Guest Star:
Tony Amendola as Bra'tac.  "Bloodlines."

Best Episode:
"The Torment of Tantalus"

The Best Team Moment I voted for won, however I didn't vote for any of the other winners.  I'm happy with most of the choices, though.  Best Guest star was a tough choice because there were many great guest star performances.  I think the winners of best Jack, and best Sam, moments were sentimental scenes, but not my favorites.  For Jack, I preferred the scene when he invited Teal'c to join them in "Children of the Gods."  To me, that moment differentiated Richard Dean Anderson's Jack O'Neill from Kurt Russell's portrayal of the character in the movie "Stargate."  For Sam, I preferred her in the episode "Solitudes" where I think who Sam is as a character is finally shown.

Gateworld will accept nominations for SG-1 season two soon.  I'll post the link when it is available.