Sunday, November 1, 2009

Classics: SG1 1:20 - Politics

Overall Rating:3.0

A clip show (in the first season??? Really???) - strike one. A clip show with a completely unintelligent and unlikable antagonist whose opposition to the program comes, apparently, from nowhere but undirected fear - strike two. A clip show with a completely unlikable, unintelligent antagonist who is quite clearly intended to represent Hollywood's unfair one-dimensional view of Christian conservatism - strike three, YOU'RE OUT!

Plot Synopsis:

When the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee - Senator Kinsey - discovers the multiple billion dollars going to the Stargate program buried as a cryptic line-item in the budget (hey Gate American Senator today would look at individual line items...that's why our government wastes so much money!), he demands to know where the money is going and the President, in a spectacular blunder, chooses to let Kinsey in on the Stargate secret and show him the mission reports. Kinsey is horrified about the threat posed to head and wants to bury his head in the sand along with the Gate. The President orders him to Cheyanne Mountain to be briefed by SGC personnel - mostly by SG-1 - on the necessity of keeping the Gate program active, but he arrives with his mind already made up and the next 45 minutes of accounting for each of at least 10 different missions in the form of a clip show interspersed with Kinsey being a douchebag are apparently not integral to the plot of the show. He, shockingly, decides the Stargate Program will cease operations or he'll go public with what he knows.

Writing: 1.0

1) Having a clip show in your first season is really REALLY bad form, even for a show on a budget. It takes no writing skill to slap together some clips to fill 30 minutes of a 45 minute show.

2) What passes for realistic political debate is laughably shallow and represents real America so poorly, I'm surprised the military advisers on the payroll didn't object. U.S. Senators don't get so wild-eyed with fear over ANYthing the military is doing, no matter how risky. They may have a penchant for blustering to cover insecurities, but this is just ridiculous how over the top Kinsey is played.

3) A clip show is bad enough, but this is a clip show right when we're in a major plot crescendo! It makes no sense at all. None. Why not just do 20 episodes and skip this garbage?

Acting: 6.0

Everyone on the main cast is solid in their minimal screen time. Shanks and RDA are particularly amusing as they boggle over some of the inane things Kinsey says. But Kinsey himself (played by Ronny Cox...normally an outstanding character actor), is nutball crackers over the top and I find it quite distasteful.

Message: 2.0

If you're going to do a clip show to push forward the plot that the Stargate Program is about to be shut down, it could be a powerfully positive message you send about the fruitlessness of turning to isolationism in a connected world and pretending these problems don't exist...instead you turned it into a message about how stupid Republicans are (though you didn't say as much and have always carefully avoided putting political parties on screen attached to any character), clinging to their "false God" and blustering like little twelve-year-old bullies with Napoleon complexes bigger than their book-bags. Shame on you, Stargate writers. Shame on you. Even if you disagree with the republicans as often as I do (and it's quite often - libertarians don't get along with either party very well), you should not be painting any one side as chronically lacking in mental faculties. That does nothing to move your ideas forward.


  1. Hmm. That's interesting that you peg Kinsey as a Republican. An online friend and I once designed an icon featuring Kinsey with the caption: "Never trust a Democrat with global security." Why? His suspicion of secrecy and his zeal to reduce military spending are completely and utterly Democratic. True enough, he invokes God's name, but Democrats do that all the time. They have to if they want to get elected.

  2. Oh yes - having watched the episode again, I'm of the firm opinion that Kinsey is more a Democrat. In addition to the attitudes I mentioned in my previous comment, Kinsey also possesses a typical Democrat's inability to recognize genuine threats. In light of that, I would've given the episode a higher message score.

    I don't forgive it for being a clip show, though. :)

  3. Eeeehhh...I think you're mistaking what actually is for what Hollywood THINK is. Hollywood writers don't think Dems have problems identifying real threats. Hollywood writers don't think Dems invoke God's name...and in later seasons, they have Kinsey talking about government waste and the need to get back to traditional American values in one of his speeches.

  4. ...and in later seasons, they have Kinsey talking about government waste and the need to get back to traditional American values in one of his speeches.

    I still don't think that rules out his being a Dem. Just looking back over recent American electoral history, pretty much every Democrat has had to at least pretend to be fiscally responsible and in touch with "American values." Of course, when a Dem says "American values" and "cutting government waste" (or "cutting taxes for the middle class") he or she means something very different from our understanding of the words, but - I know at least here in VA, many Democrat candidates are trying to present themselves in just this way.

    You may be right that the writers think he is Republican. I just don't feel obliged to respect that intention, as it is just not how the character truly comes across.

  5. Fair enough...but I grade based on the message I believe the writers are trying to send...not the message someone with a factual and balanced view of real world current events SHOULD take away from the episode. In other words...if I feel like the show's writers are holding up one party over the other unfairly, they're going to get smacked for it. If they'd held him up as a classic southern Democrat, I'd still think it was bad form to rip on one side using a straw man character with no intelligence. It's foolish to underestimate people who disagree with you just because of that disagreement and I feel like that's what happened in this episode. Whenever a writer lays down a character who has essentially no intelligence as the adversary, I get offended.