Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Classics: SGA 1:3 - 38 Minutes

Overall Rating: 8.3

McKay cracks me up.  And that "funky alien bug" was a clever idea they had to have planned in advance to give some logic to their story.

Plot Synopsis:

Someone was using their noggin and realized that the amount of time a gate can stay open was juuuust about perfect to fit into a ticking-clock plot like this.

The Skinny:

Length of an average episode: 42 minutes.
Maximum time a wormhole can stay open: 38 minutes.
Average length of teaser: 3 minutes.
Average length of tag: 1 minute.


I particularly enjoyed the lengths they went through to explain (without being too talky) exactly why you couldn't do things like step through the event horizon, shoot the bug off Sheppard, or start randomly testing circuit pathways looking for the one that would retract the drive pods.  I dare to find a hole in this plot - technical or otherwise.  There isn't one.  That's actually a bit hard to do when we're just learning the rules to this new canon world and even the writers don't know precisely where their story will go.  I enjoyed McKay's panic attacks, though I can understand how some might find it a tad grating that he continuously does that. :)  And I rather like the back-story being crafted here on the evolution of the Wraith.

But, as I look back on this episode, I believe the thing I liked best was Weir.  While all hell is breaking loose around her, her first instinct is to see what she can do to help, her second instinct is to make sure that everyone on the base is focusing their energy entirely on trying to save lives, and her last instinct is to take absolute command when it is needed.  She encounters three different types of stubbornness during this episode and responds with the same decisive and assertive tone each time.  And in each case, I believe she makes the right call (though I do think Higginson played it a bit too roughly with Hollig in the first instance).

  • First, Hollig rather forcefully insists that he be allowed to speak with Teyla over the comm. to conduct a death rite common to his people (who, naturally, place a lot of emphasis on death considering what the Wraith do to them on a generation by generation basis), thereby signalling, if done, that her own people do not expect her to survive.  We Americans can be a bit stubborn too, and we believe that you do not embrace death in this fashion - you fight to stay alive because there is no more precious gift than your life.  Some will call Weir a bigot - I say her priorities are firmly in the right place, since I don't follow a relativistic framework (and no Catholic should).
  • Second, McKay seems to think that it's more important to vent his emotions (primarily panic) than to let Weir get all of the facts straight, and she puts him in his place (barking at him that he doesn't have time to waste with his own fear).
  • And finally, there is Cavanough.  And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where she gets AWESOME.  If you don't remember or haven't seen this first season, Cavanough is an utter and complete jackass who never fails to think only of his own petty needs in the midst of a life or death struggle without resources or ties to home.  In this, his first significant appearance, he is having a seizure over the slight risk of the jumper exploding and sending its energy through the gate to damage Atlantis (forgetting, of course, that we have a shield and the jumper would probably take more than zero seconds to actually explode after the power core went critical) when Weir tells him to STFU (of course, she doesn't say that, she just says "I understand your concern, but we're doing this anyway"), and then, in the middle of a crisis, he comes out of the work room to bitch at her in the control room, whining that she cut off his balls in front of his team.  Her response: "We are cut off from Earth, so that makes this like a colony, correct?  Well I'm the governor of that colony, and if you don't get back to work, I will dial up that gate, find a very lonely world and send you there."  My sister would probably say something like "SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!"
Bottom line, the gate writers are proving that, unlike the Trek writers (excluding those who formed DS9 scripts), they do, in fact, know how to write strong female characters.  Good on them, baby!

Writing: 8.5

Good show all around...the writers seemed to have a clearer idea what they were trying to accomplish from the start of this franchise - I guess that's the benefit of doing a "close spinoff" (a show very similar to its progenitor) have the chance to think about how to set up your new show AND you have time to plan what you'll do with it.

Acting: 8.5

Higginson chews the scenery a bit, and the guy playing Cavanough came on too strong for my liking, but the nerd emporium had a huge sale on color actors who could really play those nerds with skill.  Especially David Hewlett.

Message: 8.0

This show will continue the theme of all Gates that all lives are worth fighting for and that we humans have a trait absent in many more powerful aliens - tenacity.  We're off to a good start, I think.

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