Leaked Pilots: Stargate Atlantis Season Five

One more tonight. Starting tomorrow, I’ll try to review one or two episodes of Burn Notice season one a day to be done in time for the season two premiere on July 10 (I think).

Right, on to Stargate Atlantis. Didn’t really pay any attention to Atlantis during season three and then caught up near the end – really like some of the episodes. Same goes for season 4. Only started watching after about the first 16 episodes had aired. Really liked what I saw, most of the time. Todd, obviously, is the great addition that the show needed. Carter worked out okay, Ronon was rather so-so (I thought Ford offered more potential as the viewers’ link to a world that we don’t understand – but they didn’t use him that way and I guess they had a reason (turkey sandwich jokes do get old after a while), Keller, again, okay. The Genii – let’s be honest – aren’t the best addition ever either and the Wraith had plenty of weaknesses. Michael – in my opinion – didn’t work out and the Replicators, well, they just weren’t that great either (even though the new ones might be fascinating).

So, finally, they found what they needed. Their Ba’al, their Apophis, their Anubis – you name it. Todd works. Todd isn’t one-dimensional, Todd isn’t just a good guy either. Todd’s exciting, Todd makes you look forward to the next episode that he’s gonna be in. Oh, and that wasn’t all – Larrin’s a great addition as well. Sure, that’s mostly my love for cute faces and T&A talking but Sheppard really can use a female counterpart that makes him work a little harder (and the sexual tension obviously doesn’t hurt). So, I was rather disappointed to see Michael come back for the season finale.

I’ll start with random observations:

  • McKay actually has quite the triceps. Considering how he’s supposed to be a semi-fat guy, that’s remarkable. Congrats, Mr Hewlett.
  • Either there’s a terrible, terrible, terrible logic mistake or I missed something: how the hell did the jumper leave the ship without the shields being lowered? That would obviously have ruined the whole “they won’t see this coming” approach but from what I can tell a) the shields need to be lowered for a jumper to leave the ship, b) the jumper left before the fighters did and c) the shield wasn’t lowered when it did. What am I missing?
  • Teyla totally sucks. She’s pussified. She doesn’t do any good anymore. The whole love anlge and her getting a baby didn’t really EVER work out but this episode made it abundantly clear: this isn’t going to work. No more tough Teyla.
  • Picardo’s character – yeah, I’m not gonna like it. It’s occasionally good for an episode but I don’t want to be annoyed every single episode. It’s funny once or twice but then it just pisses me off. Get back to proper business already. Sure, we could theoretically do that – but that wouldn’t work with the way the character’s been set up right up until now.

Now, the random observations have already said most of what I wanted to get out. It’s, overall, a rather weak start into the season. Not terribly weak and accetapbly enjoyable. I understand the necessities of the TV business (actually, I don’t but I understand why Carter had to leave) and there are some exciting things going on as well. Vega could be a great addition (obviously the T&A already won me over – for now!) and the rest of that all-female team that Joe Mallozzi is occasionally talking about on his blog could be great as well.  Michael still doesn’t really work – and in addition to all that, he appeared rather weak in this episode (what with having his ship blown up and looking like a whining bitch) and I guess I’m rather sad that he isn’t dead (didn’t really see how he survived (puddlejumper?) and I consider this to be Stargate’s one worst flaw: the total lack of any kind of clear decision (“they’re not really gone, as soon as we run out of ideas we wanna be able to bring them back!), no finality whatsoever).

I’m looking forward to the rest of the season though. It’ll be good to see Larrin and Todd back, the female team will be a great addition and hey, it’s still Stargate! More excited about Stargate Universe when looking at the situation as a whole but I guess that’s life – and maybe, just maybe, they’ll once again really surprise me and come back with a couple of awesome episodes (probably in the back half of the season? who knows). I have every confidence in the writers that they’ll succeed.

Bottom line: Meh, but an optimistic meh.

3/5

Leaked Pilots: Fringe

Next one. I hope this won’t be the last pilot to be leaked (considering how Atlantis was leaked as well, it certainly isn’t the only one 😉 ) and I don’t think it hurts a show. If it’s any good, it’ll catch my attention (and therefore get my money via DVD sales).

I approached this one with mixed feelings (and didn’t get through it in one go – possibly a bad sign). I really like Abrams – at least I think I do – and think that Alias was great (still haven’t finished watching all five seasons though) and even enjoyed MI:III (only went to the cinema after it became clear that it’d be a commercial failure – not like I’m gonna support Scientology…). Lost, on the other hand, never caught my attention. Sure, gave it a shot once or twice (once, that I can remember – some season one episode and I left after about five minutes). I’m just not that into mystery. Never liked X-Files. More recently, I stopped watching Heroes after three episodes. That one’s quite undeniably a great show but I just don’t care to watch. I don’t like the “horror”-y episodes on shows that I do like (when I started re-watching Star Trek: Enterprise a couple of years ago, I stopped about ten minutes into season two’s “Dawn“. Last episode I ever watched – that’s how much I dislike the genre).

So, keep all that in mind when reading what I’m gonna say. Once again, let’s start with characters – and I’ll go right into the negative b

efore saying a few positive things. First one: Philip Broyles (Lance Reddick). I’ll be honest and give away a bit of cultural background: he reminds me of Bruce Darnell. Very first thing he does and I never got rid of that feeling throughout the entire pilot. Why is that a bad thing? Because, ladies and gentlemen, Bruce Darnell is a flaming homosexual (no idea whether he’s actually gay but it doesn’t matter) and a (former?) co-host of “Germany’s Next Top Model”. More to the point: very much NOT a tough, secretive guy. Lance Reddick just isn’t convincing enough to make me forget about that – at times, I actually feel he reinforces that image.

Anna Torv’s Olivia Dunham – I can’t remember why she wasn’t open to love, can’t remember what made her change and she isn’t that pretty (even though she’s prettier than I thought at first). See, this is a terribly sexist thing to say but I like my heroines to be all cute face and T&A. Having a great personality written for you sure as hell doesn’t hurt but the rest is a MUST (unless you’re Glenn Close or something). She seems too weak as a personality to be the lead.

John Scott (this one’s the last wholey negative, promise!) – well, you just fucking know he’s gonna be a bad guy as soon as she says “he’d do the same thing for me”, yadda, yadda – instead of a truly interesting, truly different dynamic at the core of the show (a, you know, functioning couple!), we get the same old, same old stuff. This isn’t all bad though as we’ll see later on. On the whole, this character’s just total bullshit – I guess he serves some purpose to set up the larger mythology (which, btw, sucks as well) but you could certainly have done that better.

Which leads us to the better characters. The man and the woman who appear to be friends/partners of Dunham’s – yeah, they’re okay. The male one even got one or two interesting lines.

Dr. Walter Bishop – I’m just gonna say one thing: I’m damn glad they stopped having him be fucking mental. That gets annoying, real fast. And not in a funny way. Good to give him a nice shave, proper hair and decent communicating skills. Don’t even dare to go back to the old one!

Finally, the one truly interesting character. Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson). Sure, having him be a gambler in debt is fucking bullshit (it’s so imaginative even Knight Rider did it!) but that’s not the point. He’s likable, he’s interesting, he’s driven. His background might actually be interesting, the whole romance angle between him and Dunham’s worth noting too (that’s why having Scott dead is good after all). Plenty of potential and Jackson does a good job.

Now, the story. You obviously can’t expect too much (even though it’s a two-hour pilot!) from a show introducing this many characters but it does fall rather flat. The plane-plot is rather boring filler material, the story about setting up the laboratory is okay. Overall, decent but not phenomenal. More problematic: The background mythology. Some guy stole stuff from Dr Bishop and probably made sure he went to jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Evil corporation, secret stuff going on no one knows about, yadda, yadda, yadda. Been there, done that.

Bottom line: a lot more positive than you might expect from what you’ve just read. If you’re into this kind of story, it’s probably a solid 4/5, if you aren’t (just like me!) it isn’t. I hope Abrams doesn’t fuck up Trek and I’ll probably watch another episode of this to see if it improves and moves in a direction more to my liking (it probably won’t) – a not-too-daring prediction though: if this show’s gonna be featured for a longer period of time, dq will have to do the writing. 😉

3/5