Friday, August 26, 2011

Classics: SG1 6:7 - Shadowplay

Overall Rating: 5.5

The central problem I have with Jonas, as a character, is that the writers gave him far too few opportunities to stand as his own, unique, character. He's basically cardboard genius man (said in echoing superhero voice). But the few times he does get stories...they tend to be really boring. Perhaps because the writers never really knew what they wanted to do with him.

Plot Synopsis:

The full details of this schizophrenic story can be found at the Stargate Wiki.

The Skinny:

One of the most impressive things about Stargate SG-1 is that, as a franchise, it re-invented itself five separate times. From episode one to episode 3:10, the show was a story of personal discovery as underdog humans battled pluckily gaainst a superior evil race at nearly every turn. From 3:10 to 5:21 it was a story of the power of diplomacy and well executed militarism to change the world. We went from plucky new kids on the block to in an active alliance with the Tok'ra (not just a shared actual alliance), the rebel Jaffa (who we organized) and the Asgard. We acquired technology to make fighter-interceptors capable of sub-orbital flight, began building interstellar spacecrafts, and managed to kill several Goa'uld System Lords. From 5:22 7:22 it was the Anubis show. It basically became about how Anubis was using Ancient tech to co-opt the system lords, defeat our allies and corner us...we were underdogs again. From 8:1 to 8:22, it was the story of how we turned the tide in every major war and won them all (!), and from 9:1 to 10:21 (ignoring the completely tangential and stupid series finale) it was us vs. a true holy war.

I bring all of this up because the writers of Stargate, after the departure of michael Shanks, had a golden opportunity to reinvent the show in more ways than the power of the adversary we faced. JUonas needed to be his own man...he couldn't just be a stand-in for Daniel Jackson (right down to immediately memorizing all of dr. Jackson's notes!)...he needed to be a character with some interesting personal mission...some completely new personality that would interact with the rest of SG-1 in new and exciting ways. We needed to see Corin Nemec play his own character, not Daniel Jackson with a different name.

You know why this is especially bad? Because we just said goodbyue to Daniel in a story that felt like the finale to his character arc. He started on the Stargate expedition to find his wife. When she died, he pursued the Harcesis child at her request until he learned that Shifu was just fine on his own. After which, the writers had no idea what to do with him personally - all that remained was his quest for perfect knowledge (the kind of thing we saw in "The Torment of Tantalus" all the way back in season one. So, as Daniel was going to be leaving, they made him into an ascended being! That should have been it. Daniel's character was done growing (and would never grow any furthe the entire rest of the series). But they brought in Jonas as his doppleganger. A new actor with a new history and new relationsips cannot possibly replace Daniel in the minds of the fans; and to make it worse, his character was dead on arrival. There was nowhere for Daniel to grow. Jonas was like a walking corpse up there.

All of which is to say that when they tried to focus on Jonas...they had no stories to tell because...well...Jonas was Daniel in a new skin suit and they'd told all of Daniel's stories. As a result, we get very weak, very dull stories like this. Some professor we've never met and don't give two s***s about on Kelowna has lost several of his most important marbles and thinks there's a conspiracy to which he wants to belong. And we care about this...why? Other than that it establishes that the effects of Naquadria radiation exposure could include schizophrenia? It would have been interesting if it had been happen TO JONAS!...instead all there is is a vague threat that maybe Jonas will some day go nuts. Call me when that happens and I'll watch.

Writing: 3.5


Acting: 7.0

There's nothing wrong with Corin Nemec's acting chops...the extras do a par job with a subpar script.

Message: 6.0


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