Stargate SG-1 7.19 – Resurrection

Here’s an interesting situation. “Resurrection” is clearly one of the season cheapies. The entire episode is set in a group of apparently abandoned factories in Los Angeles where some of Colonel Maybourne’s old goons from the NID have been continuing alien experiments. So there’s some location work in some ugly, dark old warehouses and industrial plants and all the rest is in dimly-lit studio sets. Richard Dean Anderson and Don S. Davis are credited, but not present. It was written and directed by two of the show’s stars, Michael Shanks and Amanda Tapping. I wonder whether they were told that yes, they could write and direct, but they’d have no special effects and only four other speaking parts. Grace under pressure, I suppose.

Although, credit where it’s due, given the opportunity to write a script and give himself a space girlfriend like Christopher Judge did to my playful amusement, Shanks tactfully resisted asking for somebody like Tricia Helfer or Jeri Ryan so he could smooch a big-name sci-fi guest star. The guest’s name is Kristen Dalton and Shanks doesn’t smooch her.

Well, I enjoyed this one, even if our son didn’t. There’s an interesting little continuity connection with season four’s “The Curse”, which revealed that two of the long-dead villain Ra’s underlings/adversaries had been sealed in canopic jars. One had died in captivity and one became a recurring villain for a while. This time, we learn that a third, Sekhmet, had also been imprisoned. The Goa’uld symbiote had been extracted from the jar and its DNA harvested by these almost-as-bad-as-the-bad-guys rogue NID goons for several years. It tickled my X Files nostalgia circuits with all the running around in warehouses with flashlights and a cigarette smoking man who won’t tell anybody what they want to know, but our son just saw it as 45 minutes of arguing with the lights out. There are a few moments of levity as Bill Dow’s recurring character tries to disarm a bomb, but no, this one wasn’t for him.

Stargate SG-1 7.11-12 – Evolution (parts one and two)

After several entertaining one-offs, SG-1 reached a big midseason split with this epic two-parter. The first half was shown in August 2003, the second almost five months later in January 2004. It brings back three of the recurring good guys, played by Tony Amendola, Carmen Argenziano, and Bill Dow, introduces Enrico Colantoni as an old black ops buddy of Jack’s, and gives Anubis a new army of unthinking zombie-like drones in indestructible armor called Kull Warriors.

Like I was mentioning when the season started, the show has perfected keeping two big set pieces going on, so while half of our heroes are sneaking around an enemy base, the other half is dealing with an unexpectedly real-world problem on Earth. Looking into the origins of the Kulls, Daniel unfurls a plot thread that goes back four seasons, to his grandfather’s research into alien skullduggery with the Mayans. So he and Dr. Lee head off to Honduras to find a secret temple, and are kidnapped by anti-Honduran terrorists who have a camp in Nicaragua.

I thought this was a really good adventure, and interestingly it ends with three of our heroes having had the daylights knocked out of them and bound for a few weeks off the active duty roster. Our son liked it a lot, too, and we talked a little bit afterward about zombie lore. We also paused midway though the story to discuss what black ops are, because it suddenly struck me that the show’s occasionally mentioned O’Neill’s background a time or two and he had no idea what that meant. Maybe one day we’ll show him some Mission: Impossible, even if nobody’s hands really get dirty in that program’s fanciful kind of black ops.

Stargate SG-1 6.15 – Paradise Lost

Richard Dean Anderson was most likely absent from much of the previous episode because he and Tom McBeath were out in what looks like the middle of beautiful nowhere shooting this story. Maybourne, returning for the first time this season, successfully tricks everybody into allowing him on an off-world mission, but he does not find what he expected to find. He and O’Neill, stranded, find nothing but skeletons. The peaceful utopia that should have been on the other end of this journey has been gone a long, long time.

Well, the kid hated this one, again, but I’ve always enjoyed it. Give Jack O’Neill a chance to spend some time quietly assessing a bad situation and the character is incredibly watchable. I like how he finally has to start studying what happened here, a job he’d normally give to somebody else, and silently come to ugly conclusions. There doesn’t seem to any sentient life wherever it is they are, but they’re still in great danger. I think it’s really well done, and it should probably leave you wanting to visit British Columbia and go hiking at the location.

Stargate SG-1 4.19 – Prodigy

This is an interesting story that takes place over the course of several days. Carter meets a very promising cadet with a chip on her shoulder who doesn’t like being told that she’s wrong, and sees enough moxie there to take her to another world. A site has been found on a moon that should be safe enough, and for several weeks, the USAF has been guarding some civilian scientists doing classified research. Unfortunately, just before Carter and Haley arrive, something has triggered some small, mosquito-like life forms into becoming dangerously aggressive.

Even though the little dot-like beings kill one of the scientists, it still feels like a comparatively low-stakes episode to me, but it was nevertheless very exciting for our son. He treated these things as every bit as deadly as the meanest aliens in all of fiction and tensed when the action ramped up. I liked the way the show took a detour from the fanciful depictions of other cultures – or even the structure at the SGC – and looked at military bureaucracy for a while, setting a good chunk of the story at the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs. It even goes so far as to feature a cameo by General Michael Ryan, who had been the USAF Chief of Staff under Presidents Clinton and Bush. I wouldn’t watch a show that was like this every week, but I can appreciate an occasional change of pace. Plus, Cadet Haley’s explanation of what she was thinking when she broke an upperclassman’s nose is priceless.

Michael Shanks does not appear in this episode, but it does feature the first appearance of Dr. Bill Lee, played by Bill Dow, the character actor who was in absolutely everything that was on TV in the 1990s and 2000s. Lots of Stargate players show up in two or three episodes – Cadet Haley will be back once more in season five – but Dr. Lee is in a couple of dozen installments of this and Atlantis. He was also in about ten episodes of The X Files, mainly as Mulder’s friend Dr. Burks, but also a few other characters.