Saturday, May 22, 2010

My thoughts on the Lost season finale and SGU

One of the many subjects I will cover in my blog are small "reviews" of shows I frequently watch. I will try my best not to come off as one of those dudes who basically bashes anything he watches, instead I will focus on constructive opinions (with some humorous jokes thrown in from time to time) that are mine and mine alone.

To start off I want to talk about the upcoming finale of one of the biggest shows on television: Lost! I am a self-proclaimed Lost fan. However I didn't start watching the show until before season 5. I was lucky enough to find seasons 1-4 on youtube before they were taken off and was instantly sucked in after the episode "Walkabout." Ever since, I've followed the crazy adventures of the survivors of Flight 815 with some of the largest amounts of enthusiasm I have ever had for a television series.
Sadly, just as I'm entering into this show, it is ending (much like how I discovered Stargate Atlantis but I will explain later). So far season 6 has been a wild ride, with amazing twists and turns and unexpected deaths (some of which I was shocked by). But sadly it must end sometime, and on sunday the 23rd it will end. So in an attempt to look back I will write down some of my favorite moments from this season:
"LA X" was just an overall mindblower, introducing us to the flash-sideways and the fact that Locke was actually the Smoke Monster (or Man In Black).
"Sundown" was an awesome episode with some good Smokey mayhem!
"Ab Aeterno" gave us some of the most important answers to the mythos
"Happily Ever After" was basically The Constant part deux which was one of the best episodes of the entire series, plus this episode proved the flash-sideways weren't pointless.
"The Candidate" a heart stopping episode with a sad ending.
As for the finale, I'm sure it will be placed on the list when I watch it.

Now for the actual topic I wanted to write about. I said before that I'm a fan of Stargate. I became a fan when I had my wisdom teeth removed (Col. Shepard is right, it is the best time of your life) and I watched the last season of Atlantis. I've been hooked on the shows ever since. No doubt I wanted to see the show that started it all and I found Sg-1 to be just as fun (if not more fun) to watch. So you can understand that I was bummed when I learned Atlantis wasn't coming back for a 6th season. However, I found hope when Stargate Universe was announced after the Atlantis finale.
I was excited to see it ever since as it would be the first Stargate show I'd actually watch from the start. So far the show has kept me interested, but it isn't without it's faults.
It definitely isn't like its predecessors, with a darker tone and a surprisingly large lack of exploration even though the show is set on a ship that was built for EXPLORATION of the universe. It has been criticized as being like a show called "Battlestar Galactica" which I wouldn't know about, I actually liken it to being more of a LOST in space (Lost the show not the show Lost In Space). I find this description to be the most accurate, and it isn't a bad thing. Lost is a great show, and any show that tries to be like it (without being an obvious wannabe replacement like Flash Forward) but with a different twist is like anything else you find in entertainment (Avatar is a good example, as it is Dances With Wolves in space but it was effective. That's the point it was bringing a new twist onto an old formula.)
SGU is just like Lost in many ways: a large group of people find themselves stranded in a strange setting with little experience to guide them, these characters have their secrets and faults, and the place they're stranded on is even more mysterious than the people themselves. Again, this isn't a bad thing, in fact I love the similarities because it's a formula that works, it has potential to be a great story. But that's the problem with the show, it has the potential but never uses it. Most of the characters aboard the Destiny are interesting, but they are so neglected that we really only know a handful of the characters and those the show focuses on tend to be the ones I don't honestly care about. It's not that I don't like Col. Young or Lt. Scott, they are great guys who are fighting to keep order in a chaoitc situation, but there are so many others the show could focus on and develop. One example are the two scientists who work in the control room with Eli Wallace, I don't even remember their names and that is what bugs me. I should care about what their names are, instead we're treated to more drama about the power struggle with Young, Rush, and Wray. Wray is one character I have a hard time accepting (not because of her orientation I have no problem with the workings of her personal life) it's the fact that if she's not being a stereotypical IOA snob she's on the communication stones at home doing nothing to deepen her character (and don't even get me started on those stones, they've already caused enough trouble in the past. The Ori for example.) All I can remember from the two occasions she's been on earth is that she misses her family, much like everyone else on the friggin ship! It's hard to connect with someone who is either acting like a royal pain or trying to take over the ship. Again if the show would delve into her character more and explain why Wray is such a pain I could at least understand where she's coming from. I mean why was Ana Lucia such a stone cold bitch all the time? She lost her baby after being shot and all of the survivors who looked up to her were taken by the others or killed. I feel for Ana Lucia, I don't for Wray.
In fact the only characters I enjoy following are Eli and Rush. Eli is more than the comic relief he's the character who's new to the Stargate universe (much like the new viewers Syfy wants to attract to the show) I say he should either be the center of most episodes or at least kept in the loop in most of the stories because he's gonna have the same reaction as most of the viewers which is: what is that? Then someone can explain what this Stargate fact is without it being out of context. He's the normal dude in an abnormal situation, and I can feel for the guy every time he's asked to do something shady for either Rush or Young.
I like Rush because he's such a devious character (at least in the first half, he's been a little restrained recently) you never know what's going on in his head. I refer to him as the "Ben Linus of Stargate" or perhaps even John Locke, he's a man who knows his purpose is on the Destiny and he will play mindgames with you in order to acheive his goals. My favorite "Rush Moment" was when he tricked Telford into thinking the Destiny was going to blow up, it was a ploy that proved two things at once: 1. That Rush has no intention of going back to Earth and he will do anything to keep it that way. 2. The people on earth who are trying to save the Destiny crew hold themselves over the rest of the people stuck on board (shown when they turned off the stones to save their bony butts from the "explosion"). However, Rush has kinda cooled down since being left to die on that alien planet. The thought of being marooned can have that effect, but it's cost the show one of the driving forces behind the show.
Another problem with the show is the lack of exploration, which I mentioned before, which is often replaced with soap opera-ish drama. Again, sometimes this isn't a bad thing, but in a show called Stargate Universe where the show takes place on a ship exploring uncharted galaxies millions of lightyears from Earth, I expected some exploration. This is a fact that has been one of the problems in the show, even though the episodes that have been the best have been the ones where the stargate is used. The episodes "Time" and "Lost" are the ones I personally enjoyed the most, and they were episodes where the stargate was used the most. Not only that, but these episodes gave us some of the best character development than most episodes. "Time" gave us a plot with a time-loop from hell and with it came moments that made me care about these characters (even though I knew that the time loop would be the key to saving everyone I still felt for people when they died) Eli's recollection of his mother's condition and his realizing he was mortal were some of the most powerful conversations, it also gave Eli more depth as we now know why he's here: for his mother (which is better than when it was explained in the pilot episode). It also gave us a peek into Rush's motivation, he's seeking a way to ascend and cheat death. "Time" is one of my favorite episodes.
"Lost" gave us the chance to look into the life of one of the fan's favorite characters, Greer. Greer has been one character I've grown to enjoy because he doesn't take any crap from anyone. We knew from a previous episode that his father was a piece of work, but "Lost" actually took us into Greer's childhood and showed us what his life was like. It gave us so much information on this tough guy that I can now say he's yet another character I hope the show will follow even more as time goes on. Plus, the stargates were used in a fun way, and it showed us just how fantastic the effects are on the show. I liked the idea of "gate-hopping" to catch the Destiny, but the way they solved the cliffhanger in the next episode made me feel like any danger these people are faced with will work itself out in the next episode (much like Rush's being stranded by Young).
This is yet another problem with the show, the situations they put the characters in pretty much last an entire episode, when it would work so much better if they dragged it out over numerous episodes. This is a problem I had with the episode "Divided" where the civilians stage a coup to take over the ship. It felt rushed, there was hardly any hints that they were planning this for a while (I don't count the previous episode's conversation between Rush and Wray planning great build up to something dramatic) and by the end of the episode everyone was like: "well I guess we'll just forget that you people locked us up and threatened to kill us because we have to live together." It didn't make any sense to do this, and is only explained because the show likes to wrap up a plot by the end of the episode, which I see as a continuing problem that I hope will be fixed by Season 2. Again I make a reference to Lost, as it always ended on a "to be continued," you didn't see the whole "push the button every 108 minutes" plot solve itself in under 45 minutes, or the problem with the Others be solved in a couple of episodes. Sometimes it just makes sense to keep a plot in one episode, but with the stuff SGU has been dealing with that isn't the case. Rush and Young are still vying for control of the ship (I think, Rush hasn't done anything to get on Young's hackles lately, with good reason, but the intro still talks about "Young and Rush bumping heads") but that's been an ongoing plot since the pilot, so why couldn't this coup?
In retrospect, the show still seems like it's trying to find it's footing, which I can understand is difficult. It's following shows that were focused on adventure and had a light tone to it, but the fact of the matter is that it's still called Stargate. It's nice to have a show that's trying to mix it up a little, but if it's gonna stand out among SG-1 and Atlantis it has to find the right ballance of adventure and drama, which it has done in the past, but still tries to not be about space exploration and more about people. This isn't bad, but the problem is that people are boring unless there's something for them to react to, and I find it more interesting to see someone react to a fake cgi monster and why they react like they do to that monster than when they react to the fact that "she stole McDreamy from me" or "I'm pregnant with McSteamy's baby" (Yes, Col. Young is McSteamy who doesn't think that?)
All in all, I still enjoy the show regardless of its problems, but sometimes I can't help but worry about these problems. Last night's episode "Subversion" had one of these problems. It was near the beginning of the episode when Young asked Eli to leave him and Rush to talk about their plan. Eli wants to tell Young about the secrets they've uncovered in the database and throughout the episode I kept wanting to know just what the hell they found, I mean if Eli felt Young should know it must be very important like perhaps the reason why Franklin turned into steam after using the chair maybe? It was this little thing that I kept wondering about ever since it showed up, and I couldn't stop thinking about it as Rush and Young searched for answers to who was the spy.
Again, the ship holds so many interesting secrets, yet they're never mentioned. Which begs the question: If the Destiny is so full of ancient secrets that even the Lucian Alliance will try to cross the universe to get to it then just what the hell are those secrets? I honestly don't think its because the Alliance wants the Destiny's kinos or those little fixit robots. The FTL drive is so old that most hyperdrives probably could leave Destiny eating their space dust, and the stargate itself is so primitive it can't connect to all the stargates in any given galaxy. So just what the heck is it that is so imporatnt on board the Destiny? Perhaps they should've been focusing on... oh I don't know.... EXPLORING the ship and its secrets! Sheesh, it must be something important, because I think it would be easier to just leak information about the Lost City of Atlantis (You know, that ancient city ship that's parked in the San Fransisco bay?) than dial the ninth chevron to a rusting ship over a million lightyears from the Milky Way galaxy.
I'm just saying...

But anywho... that's what I feel about these two shows that I have come to enjoy. I hope to get back to you after the Lost series finale on Sunday.

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