Thursday, July 5, 2012

Classics: SG1 8:1 / 8:2 - New Order

Overall Rating: 7.0

A nice, crisp season opener that sets the stage for the year to come.

Plot Synopsis:

A full description may be found at the Stargate Wiki: Part I / Part II

The Skinny:

With Anubis at least temporarily out of the way, the producers needed to establish what the motivating threats for the season would be - and establish those threats they did.  The human form replicators were a MUCH more interesting adversary than their Lego bug counterparts - it would have been a shame to waste the potential that "Fifth" represented with a single-episode story and have it go nowhere.  So it's nice to see him return as a more personal replicator adversary.  Fandom also was very fond of the decidedly more "human" form of evil found in Baal.  The other System Lords we've encountered to date have mostly been "different bodies, same overdressed, egomaniacal cartoon caricature" - except Anubis, but he's out of the picture until he can possess the right people and rebuild his forces from ground zero.  Baal, though, can be a real hoot when he wants to be.  They made the right choice propelling him to the front of the line.  And of course, the decision to put Earth in the middle between the System Lords and Baal was classic Stargate intrigue.

The problems this two-parter had were largely limited to trying to do too much at once and, therefore, not getting to spend enough time on any of the individual plot points.  It's a bit impersonal.  Carter's sojourn into Fifth's house of fun doesn't really register as sympathetic despite Amanda Tapping's best efforts - largely because Fifth is written in an over-the-top sort of way this time around.  He's not just a victim of SG-1's opportunism, he's also a jilted lover (really?) and mentally unstable.  It's...too much.  The desperate scramble to rescue O'Neill loses its punch when it gets overwritten by the replicator conflict.  We get one nice scene with Carter and Teal'c, but it could have been better.  Bottom line is...they accomplished a lot and made a good episode at the same time, but the dialogue HAD to be simple and fast and each situation HAD to be handled quickly and with minimal time for butt-puckering (as SFDebris would say referring to dramatic tension) or emotional conflict. doesn't aim all that high on the human front, and instead settled for a frenetic action plot that lacks any action I would call spectacular and fails to deliver on any of the big "blackout" moments.  Do that a few times and I might be amused, but do it six straight times (do something seemingly "oh shit" worthy before the commercial break and then fail to deliver a big payoff, dashing our hopes for such immediately after the commercials) and it seems cheesy.  I don't want to be TOO is entertaining enough.  It just doesn't have long-lasting appeal.

Writing: 7.0

The plot decisions are all sound except for the needless jilted lover shtick, but the story isn't written with the kind of humor, energy or memorable emotion that you want in a two-part season premiere.

Acting: 7.5

Amanda Tapping and Patrick Currie (Fifth) don't work well together at ALL...poor Amanda is a great actress, but she doesn't believe the emotions she's being asked to play out and it's very visible.  She isn't committed to it because, I believe, it's overwrought.  Currie, IMHO, is the biggest weak link in the guest  cast.  I'm not a fan.

Message: 6.5

Small bonus points in an otherwise message-free episode for reviving Weir's character with (a) a better actress (we love Torri Higginson!) and (b) less upfront bullheadedness.  In the season seven finale, Weir came across as arrogant and condescending when we first met her.  Here, she's coming across as level-headed, rational and fair.  THANK YOU.

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