Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Stargate Universe S1 E16: Sabotage

"It's programmed to follow a predetermined path."
 
-Nicholas Rush-



Stargate Universe (2009-2011) delivers on a host of levels for the pressure cooker entry that is Stargate Universe, Season One, Episode 16, Sabotage.

Following a sabotage event of one of a number of Destiny's FTL drives, a series of partitioned drives that work like a kind of Blade Server, Matthew Scott, Chloe Armstrong and Eli Wallace miraculously return through the gate back aboard the Destiny.



While each episode highlights the character that is the ship Destiny, Sabotage presents a host of wonderful new renderings of the ship that are glorious to behold for fans of the craft's designs. See images to behold.

Composer Joel Goldsmith graces the audio component of the episode with some new compositions that further underscore yet another tense build of an episode. But it's also worth noting Sabotage is an exceptional illustration of the series use of silence. Sometimes the complete absence of music further accentuates the drama and the isolation. This approach is in evidence often throughout the entry to great effect.



The alien fleet returns recalling first contact in Stargate Universe (SGU), Episode 10, Justice.

Ensemble chemistry and additional subtext is examined with a finale that ends in excitement and mystery. Could it be ascension? Jeremy Franklin's fate is determined here in Sabotage via the Ancients' chair aboard the Destiny.

But the additional paraplegic character and Franklin's inability to communicate also underscore the thematic elements of physical sabotage on display throughout the story.



Once again, Robert Carlisle is given a chance to shine in his role with some dramatic and moving final moments that resonate with a female character that is further informed by aspects of the previous SGU installment, Human (S1, E14). What if perhaps Dr. Nicholas Rush is the most human of all? Ironically he sometimes comes across that way despite being painted a villain and Sabotage offers considerable character building to Rush compounding all that has been learned to date with an equally positive perception. Rush is indeed one of the most multi-dimensional characters and one that is not easily categorized, boxed in or pinned down as definitively bad or good---like many of us.



One of the basic human themes here in Sabotage is the underlining appreciation for movement, for physical control of our bodies versus sabotage of that control. This is conveyed beautifully in the writing for the entry though it is by no means the best story of the season.

Previously this writer waxed extensively about the similarities of SGU to Space:1999 (here). Once again we have the Ancients' communication stones connecting to Earth. Apart from being a darker series in terms of cinematography from the much brighter cleaner production work found in Space:1999, this element of the series doesn't allow the people aboard the Destiny to be completely separated from Earth in the same fashion as the once wayward denizens of Moonbase Alpha. In a sense, this connectivity is where SGU shares some comparisons to Stargate Atlantis. In the latter, the stargate team may have been in the Pegasus Galaxy far, far away, but residents of Earth were never completely severed from home. SGU does better in this respect, but it's never in complete isolation like it was for the residents of Space:1999.



Having taken a bit of a break from SGU and having enjoyed alien invasion story Colony and sister space yarn The Expanse, both exceptional, SGU proved to me once again to have its own unique and special pacing, mood and atmosphere in contrast with these more current series. Not only was SGU so removed in style from its sister series' Stargate Atlantis and Stargate SG-1, but it stands apart from just about anything out there. It really stands on its own two feet despite some nice aesthetic and visual touches reminiscent of Ronald D. Moore's Battlestar Galactica (2003-2009) or sharing that sense of lost in space exploration that really surrounded and enveloped the stories of Space:1999 as noted in our coverage of SGU, Lost (E15). Otherwise this one (SGU) is special.



Sabotage would be the third contribution from director Peter Deluise behind the wonderful installments for Darkness and Light. Deluise was a staple behind the camera for Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. This would be the only contribution to the series or franchise for writer Barbara Marshall. The script may be imperfect but continues to flesh out character and expand the mood and atmosphere of its unique universe.

Stargate Universe is indeed a solid series and holds its own in the pantheon of great science fiction television series even at just two seasons.



Writer Barbara Marshall.
Director: Peter Deluise.
 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Thunderbirds S1 E9: Move - And You're Dead

Welcome to FAB FRIDAY and all things vibrant and vivid from the future worlds of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson.

 

"Gerry's great strengths were his ideas and his leadership, his ability to bring a team of people together and to see what people might be capable of."

-Terry Curtis, sculptor and prop developer for Thunderbirds, UFO and Space:1999 [FAB #44, p.39, 2002]-





At the time of writing this entry this writer learned of a massive car race crash in the first lap in Vila Real, Portugal. How fitting.

The latest entry in the Gerry Anderson series, Thunderbirds, centers on a kidnapping at the Parola Sands Grand Prix car race highlighting Thunderbird 3 pilot and racing star Alan Tracy in a bit of further developing its wooden character base.



In Thunderbirds, Series One, Episode 9, Move - And You're Dead the story begins with Alan Tracy and Grandma Tracy atop a red bridge loaded with explosives. The two must remain still or die. Perhaps the title could have been Move Very Slowly And You Won't Die because Alan manages to move a little bit and get a request for help off to his family at International Rescue.

Normal protocols are implemented and trusty Thunderbird 1 and Thunderbird 2 are dispatched to save Alan and poor old Grandma who has now passed out on the bridge.



How did they get there? The story is told effectively through flashback. Sadly and oddly enough some of Alan's old racing buddies, not really friends at all, have taken to the criminal world for prize money.

The race is energized quite enough with a number of critical, well-timed car crashes at the edit points in the story. This writer laughed out loud a few times with their effective placements. It is highly amusing just how perfect some crashes are set up to elevate the excitement for young viewer's eyes.



The world of tomorrow is always interesting in Thunderbirds and the parking garage at which Alan arrives at is something to behold as it functions in much the same way as a dock with a loading arm for storage containers at a port of entry.

Alan's red race car is also very fast and very cool thanks to engineer Brains. Is that even fair? What are the rules required for these races? I mean Alan Tracy has Brains. Something smells here.



I remember attempting to help my son create a pine wood derby car (speaking of Pine Wood ... Studios) for Cub Scouts once upon a time. I was no Brains and had no friends with brains and unfortunately we rarely had a prayer against some of the parents who designed their son's cars built for speed. No chance. Why even try? So at the very least I decided I would assist my son, but let him build and paint the car as he saw fit. No amount of well-placed weights seemed to help us reduce friction in the past and we were often knocked out in the second or third round anyway. Nevertheless there was a justice one year as he won Best Kid's Car because he legitimately built it and painted himself and you know what you could tell. True story if not as exciting as Thunderbirds. I digress.




Move - And You're Dead is replete with exciting sound effects of motor car racing which amplifies the less than thrilling affair. But the episode's final segment involving the rescue is completely laughable, but does allow for the use of the family's vast arsenal of rescue equipment. I mean Grandma jumps from the bridge onto an air cushion device with pinpoint precision that sees Alan and the senior floating in the air. Oh my God.

The baddies are stopped by Thunderbird 1 and the rare utilization of a machine gun at the tip of the craft.



Grandma and Alan are rescued of course and Alan is surprisingly refreshed in the cockpit of the Thunderbird 2 after nearly passing out for an hour waiting for his brothers to arrive in a nick of time. So of course expect some lapses in logic for the adult set.

Move - And You're Dead is certainly imperfect as adult fare, but for the kiddies there is plenty to love and enjoy in the entry. So get moving and show this to your kids or grandkids before you're dead.

Writer: Alan Pattillo. Director: Alan Patillo.
Notable Thunderbirds: T1/T2. With Neutralizer Tractor, Jet Air Transporter and BR2 Race Car.

This is our first episode covering the series utilizing the restored Blu-Ray release.