Friday, November 23, 2007

Battlestar Galactica the Original

Ah yes, the classic, original Battlestar Galactica. Okay, so it doesn't hold a candle to the new series in many respects. The thing about the original was its charm and sincerity. It was made at a time when pretty much everything on TV was wholesome. So sure it doesn't have near the teeth of the reimagined series running on Sci Fi Channel, but it had adventure. It had vipers! Okay so what if it was the same shot played over and over. I never knew it. It had Starbuck and Apollo. Watching that show through my wide-eyed innocence was like watching Santa bound down the chimney. It was awe I tell you! And man it had that damned daggit too [wee cute monkey in a robo-dog suit]. I just loved that dog ....errr robot. Whatever. It was the coolest dang dog daggit I'd ever seen.

Here's a look back at one of the most memorable sequences from my childhood waaay back in the original from 1978.

The sequel [so to speak] to the original series, Galactica 1980, is coming out [finally] on DVD the day after Christmas. To be honest, I've never seen it, but I intend to despite everything I have heard to the contrary of it even being close to good. Kent McCord [of vintage era "1 Adam-12, 1 Adam-12" fame and later a role in the remarkable Farscape] stars.

Oh and those nasty, shiny, metal cylons are a whole lot shinier and easier on the eyes now. Yes, they've come up with something a whole lot sleeker and softer and they come with skin and legs, yes long legs, in the form of number 6. These cylons look strikingly like Playboy bunnies. Somehow I couldn't see my mom letting me watch number 6 [played by Tricia Helfer] as a kid.

No definitely not! That is just way too hot for TV and way too hot for my corruptible and fragile mind. Cable didn't exist! And this cylon would have no shot at primetime in the 1970s. Ouch! [gulp!] Bad guys never looked so good! Please take me! Take me now!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Earth 2

Where to begin? From old-fashioned shutter/ slo-mo effects for dream sequences to bad writing Earth 2 never gets off the ground. Weak on story despite some solid performances from a decent cast including Jessica Steen and Terry O'Quinn. Steen, of course, would first appear on Stargate SG-1 as Dr. Elizabeth Weir in Lost City Part 1 & Part 2 before being replaced by Torri Higginson who would go on to play the regular Dr. Weir in Stargate Atlantis. The much beloved O'Quinn has an incredible track record from his roles in Alias and Harsh Realm to John Locke on Lost. He plays a mysterious figure allied with The Council. Shocker! Admittedly, thanks to O'Quinn, his entrance in the episode Water is where things start to get interesting on the show. Still, he's only one man. Here's a scene with O'Quinn and Steen.

Meanwhile the make-up lies somewhere between a Jim Henson knock-off and Land Of The Lost. What the hell is this?

Oh, and we can't forget the worst in child-acting. Two of the show's main characters are child actors. Terra-ble!

Seriously, animatronic-styled rubber muppets and cheesy music combined with weak acting- not a good combination! By the way, them there fingernails on the little varment are down right nasty if you get one in the neck. Where is Boxey the Daggit [from the original Battlestar Galactica] when you need him! At least it was a real live monkey in a robot dog suit.

Perhaps I just didn't give Earth 2 a fair shake. I actually tried to enjoy this show after watching 10 straight seasons of the genre masterpiece that is Stargate SG-1. It just didn't have a chance to hold a candle. Earth 2 will reaffirm your belief in the best of science fiction. It's readily apparent why Stargate and Star Trek are just so damn good after watching this conceptual mumbo jumbo about Terrians and a transparent attempt at being an environmental letter, sci-fi style. Just stupid. Messages are good but you don't want to get beat over the head with them.

I have to come clean. After watching the first 8 episodes of the series I just couldn't bear to watch another. Turning on the DVD player each night was becoming a chore. I was pained to actually have to sit through roughly 42 minutes of an Earth 2 Episode, commercial free no less. What I would have given for a bathroom break! Making the command decision to shelve it was like lifting the weight of the world off my shoulders. Actually, it was the weight of Earth 2 and it was a relief. I can't tell you what happens to that poor crew or the Terrians or the creatures that inhabited the planet nor do I care. I never want to go there ever! One thing is certain to me now, there's no place like home.

Earth 2: In a word- TERRA-ble!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

SG-1's Walter Harriman

Recurring characters on Stargate SG-1 have always been part of the fun. Who was yours? The classic series has a vast contingent of players that surely made the mythology of the show legendary from Thor [voiced by Michael Shanks] and Narim [Garwin Sanford] to Ishta [Enterprise' Jolene Blalock] and Martouf [J.R. Bourne]. Tom McBeath as Colonel Maybourne was brilliant. Colin Cunningham's straight guy Major Davis was another that I loved to see. I have a hard time putting Teryl Rothery and Don Davis in that category. I loved them both, but they were more like major players for me despite qualifying for 'recurring'. Oh and let's face it, Cliff Simon was spot on, pure dead delicious evil as Baal. He's the ultimate baddie. He's the James Bond of the bad guy set - perfectly cast. There are some I would like to have seen return, but that's for another day. I would have to say that Walter Harriman, played by Gary Jones, was the guy for me who never got his just due. A little more air time here and there with some substance would have been nice. Here's a great example why he's a much beloved character within the Stargate verse. It is arguably one of his finest moments.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Starlog's Greatest Injustice

This is the best Starlog could do for Stargate. These are the two best covers featuring Stargate's Richard Dean Anderson and Stargate Atlantis' Torri Higginson. You could say pathetic!

There is still time left to pick up the latest issue of Starlog [#360] featuring an article on actor David Hewlett's film A Dog's Breakfast and his role on Stargate Atlantis. Look Starlog is still one of the premiere news sources on our favorite science fiction, but I do have one bone to pick with the publication.

The magazine has had some nerve over the past decade. It has spotlighted covers on Star Trek [41 times], Battlestar Galactica [5], Farscape [2], Babylon 5 [2], Andromeda [1], Lost [1], Firefly [2] and even Heroes [1], not to bloody well mention Earth 2 [1] [more on that sore excuse for science fiction later]. I won't even go into the other nonsense that received cover shots over the years, but not a single issue has ever been dedicated to Stargate or Stargate Atlantis. Would not a 10th Year Celebration issue have been appropriate? Would not the launch of a new Stargate series in Atlantis have counted? Something? Oh sure, there have been the ocassional inset pictures, but never has there been a cover story for one of science fiction's greatest storied series. Hell, Stargate has made The Guiness Book Of World Records for longest-running science fiction series, but apparently is undeserving of a Starlog cover photo. What is wrong with this picture? How could a publication with the word 'Star' in its very title not once dedicate a cover to Stargate? A travesty I say. Starburst, Cult Times and TV Zone in the UK have all dedicated covers to the heroes of SG-1. But not once in over 10 years could America's finest science fiction magazine find a single month to highlight Stargate and let it grace its own historical run. Now how on Earth does that happen? Perhaps, Starlog in an alternate universe summoned the will to commit the series to a cover print or some Starlog publisher out there on P3X-118, but certainly not here apparently. Hmmmm....... that's one crime I'll never understand.

If there is one thing to be learned by this, it's you don't need the COVER to be a success.

Friday, November 2, 2007


Okay not sure I could close the door on her?

Seriously, ten years later, and Stargate SG-1 finally ended or unended, if you will, bidding farewell.

The final episode, Unending, was a truly special departure as far as television goes indeed.

It's remarkable to me the mythology that has been cultivated so richly like Star Trek. It is spectacularly detailed and original building year after year on the vision of its creators. Where Star Trek has the Klingons and Borg, Stargate the Goa’uld and Replicators.

Such unique, wholly orginal and thoroughly realized worlds are precisely why these franchises succeed. It is why it was so hard to say goodbye to the original SG-1. They are like old friends.

Star Trek has existed much longer and Stargate might seem in its infancy by comparison, but like the Enterprise it is the Stargate that delivers the adventure. The imagination, the writing, the acting, the entire collaborative was pure genius thanks to the likes of Peter Deluise, Brad Wright, Jonathan Glassner, Robert Cooper and the cast and crew. It was this combined effort and chemistry that made such a lasting impression on modern science fiction.

Unending culled many elements from the show together [time dilation, the Asgard, the Ori, hyperdrive] and came up with yet another entirely refreshing new story, not to mention reversing time.
In my opinion, it was one of the most emotionally resonant shows from Stargate's entire catalog [much to debate here] next to the 2 part episode Heroes. Perhaps it was the combination of writing, directing and performance combined with knowing it was the end. It was bittersweet. It was the end of an amazing run. It would seem fitting it was written and directed by one Robert C. Cooper.

Unending's focus: the comraderie of Ben Browder, Amanda Tapping, Michael Shanks, Christopher Judge, Claudia Black and Beau Bridges [with a bit of old friend Thor voiced by Michael Shanks]. A montage of the cast's interaction plays over "Have You Ever Seen The Rain?" by Creedence Clearwater Revival [the first pop song used in the series]. It is genuine, heartwarming and entirely appropriate as longstanding friendships sustain hope in sheer isolation. The sequence is sheer poetry and especially for the fans that had been watching for 10 years understanding the cast dynamics. It is not random filler, but friends coping yet again with extraordinary circumstances. The performance between Claudia Black and Michael Shanks is absolutely raw emotion. There isn’t a single note of dialogue that doesn’t ring true - not a false note in Daniel's reaction to Vala in terms of their relationship and it is simply heartrending. Tapping, Browder, Judge and Bridges all serve up star turns in this 42 minutes of stunning television to cap what amounts to an amazing finish. This beautiful swansong brings it all home. There is a nostalgic quality to this pitch perfect finale. As this family sits to dine and laugh, we laugh and dine with them as our own. Interestingly, Robert C. Cooper's hand in this feels just as personal as it is to us. There is an elegiac tone to Unending's proceedings from the fading flames of the Asgard to the sheer helplessness our heroes face while still finding comfort in each other.

Special effects aside and they are always brilliant, as they say, 'it's about the characters stupid.'

I won't give it all away, but if someone reading this hasn't lived through the Stargate SG-1 experience, you need to begin here.
Funny thing is, whenever the creators had to write their season finale they never knew if it would be their last and some were certainly good. Thank the television gods we got to this one. Unending couldn't be a more fitting end and farwell. It is hard to say goodbye to this one indeed.