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Sanctuary premier: Yawn. October 5, 2008

Posted by ce9999 in Sanctuary.
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Unfortunately, I didn’t get into this at all. In fact, I had to struggle to stay awake.

Sci-Fi had been hyping it for a while, and even shuffled up their regular Friday night schedule to put the two-hour premier into a prime spot, but frankly, I didn’t think it was worth all that effort.

It’s a show about monsters. Yeah, monsters. Interesting, no?

Well, no, actually, it doesn’t turn out to be all that interesting.

It’s not that the “monsters are actually real!” idea is inherantly worthless, because it’s not (check out True Blood if you don’t believe me). The problem with Sanctuary is that all it seems to offer the viewer is a long sequence of “oohs” and “ahhs” over the monster effects. That’s not enough to base a show on. I mean, what are they going to do in subsequent episodes? Just hunt monsters and put them in their big, secret monster zoo? Is that all?

Actually, it’s clear that the main hook on the show is intended to be Dr. Magnus (played by the fabulous Amanda Tapping). Problem is, not only was a lot of the mystery about her given away in this first double episode, but she is only one character. The male lead, whose name I can’t even remember at the moment, is virtually devoid of interest, and the daughter is about the same. One semi-interesting character and two cardboard cutouts are not enough to base a good show on, especially when most of the mysteries for Dr. Magnus are already revealed. Where else can they go? There are questions left open relating to Dr. Magnus’s longevity, as well as the story of how she got to where she currently is. Will that be enough? For myself, I can already tell the answer is “no.” (There are some wildcards, namely some of the more sentient creatures inhabiting the sanctuary. Will they play a role? Take the mermaid, for instance. Will they do anything interesting with her, or is she just intended for decoration?)

As for the story itself, there were actually two of them sandwiched together. One involved a boy with a prehensile tentacle growing out of his rib cage. The tentacle featured a mouthlike thing on the end that looked a lot like the mouth of a larval Goa’uld, only with four jaws instead of three. As a fan of Stargate: SG-1 and Amanda Tapping’s role on that show, I thought this was amusingly ironic. (What’s sad was that this moment of irony turned out to be the most interesting thing about the show.)

The other story centers around a villian, who turns out to be someone that Dr. Magnus had an affair with over 100 years ago. The affair led to a pregnancy, and even though this was over 100 years ago, Dr. Magnus, being brilliant and cutting edge, managed to extract the embryo, freeze it for close to 100 years, and then implant it (in herself, presumably), resulting in her now having a fully grown daughter. The girl’s father is evil with a capital “E”, though, and has to be done away with. Oh, and he’s got super-speed. Whoopee.

I don’t know about you, but I just wasn’t all that taken in with either of these ideas, especially when Daddy Evil turned out to be Jack the Ripper, an idea which felt like a totally gratuitous throw-in. Jack the Ripper references tend to annoy me anyway, because everyone knows that the Jack the Ripper mystery was already solved on the original Star Trek series over 40 years ago, in the episode “Wolf in the Fold.” ;)

In any case, I’m not going to belabor this anymore. I almost fell asleep at least a couple of times while watching, which means the interest level really wasn’t there for me. Why spend any more time on it?

Unless I end up hearing some real raves about subsequent developments on this show, I’m done.

Universe casting suggestion! August 27, 2008

Posted by ce9999 in Stargate: Universe.
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At some point, the Powers That Be at Stargate Productions are going to be casting their new Stargate spinoff, Stargate: Universe. It’s been said by Sci Fi channel president Dave Howe that the hope is for the cast to be more “fresh faced.” I assume he means “fresh faced” in comparison to the casts of the previous two shows, which feature all sorts of dull, middle-aged people, several of them bald. I suppose we can’t have that if we’re wanting to appeal to 20-year-olds, can we? (sarcasm alert!)

Actually, accusing the Atlantis cast of not being appealing to a younger audience is kind of ridiculous. Take a look at the leads, and what do you see? A whole mess of very cool people, and with the possible exception of Robert Picardo, not one of them appears to be middle aged. David Hewlett and Joe Flanigan are both slightly over forty, but I never would have guessed that if I hadn’t looked it up. (I’m 40 myself, and I would love to be in as good a shape as Joe Flanigan!!) Jason Momoa, on the other hand, isn’t even thirty yet, and Jewel Staite is even younger than him.

Furthermore, why do media industry types insist on believing that the characters on a show have to be the same age as the audience? Who the hell came up with that, anyway? I know identification with a character is a big appeal, but it’s not necessary for the character to be the same age as the viewer in order for that to happen.

Example: The leading actors of the original Star Trek series were all older than the standard which the Stargate folks seem to be shooting for, and yet the show really took off in popularity in the 1970’s, with an audience that was mostly college students and younger at that time. DeForest Kelly was in his late forties when he first started playing Dr. Leonard McCoy, and I never once had any coolness issues with him. I was only nine years old when I became an avid Star Trek fan—do you suppose that’s youthful enough? Likewise, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy were both closer to 40 than they were to 30, and I practically worshipped both of their characters. James Doohan was actually the same age as DeForrest Kelly. There weren’t any women in the lead roles of that show, but for primary supporting roles, Nichelle Nichols was one year younger than Shatner and Nimoy. All of them were mid-30’s or older when the show began.

To take a more extreme example, in the most recent season of Doctor Who, the coolest supporting character of the whole season is probably Wilfred Mott (played by Bernard Cribbins), more commonly known as Donna’s grandfather. He’s just a fun character, and it’s hard to imagine him not appealing to pretty much any age group. I’m not sure how old he is, but as the grandfather of a woman in her 30’s, that must mean he’s in his 70’s at least, right?

A counter-example: How did people react to Wesley Crusher when Star Trek: The Next Generation started? I remember wishing he would die, frankly. :) That character was sort of a blight on the show, although he did get better in later seasons, thanks to better writing and Wil Wheaton’s acting talent. My reaction to early Wesley was pretty typical, though. I was 18 or 19 when that show was first broadcast.

So, who says you need to have youngish characters to appeal to a youngish audience, and who says that if you do, it’s even going to work?

So here’s my casting suggestion for one of the male leads on the new Stargate: Universe program: Adam Baldwin!

He’d be an excellent choice. For one thing, he’s got a bit of history in the Stargate universe already, having played Col. Dave Dixon, the leader of SG-13 in the double episode “Heros.” He’s in his mid 40’s, which is probably older than what they’re thinking of, but on the other hand, he’s younger than the parents of the target demographic, by roughly a decade, which means he could easily play a mature, leader-type role without conveying an uncool level of parentalness. Casting him would also create an opportunity to set up some inter-team conflict between him and another, younger male lead. Baldwin is also funny. Not just a little funny either—he’s a lot funny. Just watch his previous appearance on SG-1, or his 14-episode stint on Firefly if you don’t believe me.

One slight problem is that he appears to already be cast in another series. Oh well. I still think I’m right about this.