Thursday, November 12, 2009

TV 6.0: SGU, take Two

Aaaaand now for something completely different disappointingly the same!  Spoilers for a crappy show below, do you care?

I feel the need to clarify how truly horrible SG:U is.  And I am quite possibly the single person most predisposed to like this show.  I've been watching some iteration of the STARGATE franchise since I was 12.  Let me repeat that: SINCE. I. WAS. 12.  That's half my life spent with a magical portal to the stars and really questionable science.  And I was willing to ignore the way SG-1 should have been quietly been turned out to pasture around season five and proceed to last another five years.  I ignored the blatantly rehashed episodes of Stargate: Atlantis because I liked the characters and it really amused me how horrible the writers were at creating (and maintaining) any heterosexual relationship in the show--and how incensed they got whenever anyone suggested maybe, just maybe, they should give it up and let Rodney and John hook up already. Read More...

I was also willing to keep watching despite the Stargate writer's complete inability to write well rounded women with great story lines and their propensity to play rape for laughs.  Stargate really likes the 'love elixir' trope, where some alien discovers how to control people through chemical inducement, like a perfume or drug that makes the wearer irresistible.

STARGATE ATLANTIS did it in Irresistible, when an odious little man who discovers just such an elixir.  He's flamboyant and over dramatic, and funny.  It's also hilarious how everyone is so smitten with him, male and female, and fights for his affections.  One of his devoted wives admits under pressure, bowing her head mournfully, says, "I am ashamed to admit that I refused to share his bed more than once..."

STARGATE SG-1 fell into the Rape Is Ok When It Is Female On Male trap in Hathor:

The Goa'uld queen Hathor puts Daniel Jackson under heavy-duty mind control and has her way with him in order to create more Goa'uld larvae. When the all-female task force find him afterwards, he is catatonic and surrounded by obvious signs of a struggle. At the end of the episode, when he admits that a lot of the larval DNA is going to be his, Jack O'Neill reacts in disgust. Only somewhat averted in that it isn't clear that the others even realize what Hathor did to Daniel, and may be reacting more to human DNA being incorporated into the form of the enemy. It never comes up again until Hathor's next (and last) appearance, which amounts solely to Daniel refusing to look at her and saying that he "tries not to" think about their last encounter.  (From Tv Tropes).
(Stargate isn't the only show that's fallen into this 'love elixir trap.'  Even the Brits do it too, cause in TORCHWOOD's first episode, the sleazy doctor on the show Owen tries to pick up a girl, gets irritated when her boyfriend shows up to tell him off.  Both characters are clearly not into Owen, but as soon as he ingests the alien sex drug, he takes them both home.  And it's funny, don't you see?  Not date rape.)

But the newest offering by SyFy-llis, STARGATE: University (I like the titles of my shows to reflect the truth of their content), takes this trope to a whole new level of Fail.

Ir order to keep a show about people trapped on a spaceship going somewhere entertaining, SGU has decided to do away with good writing and instead employ a body-switching device so we can have scenes on Earth AND the spaceship.  Wow, that is a copout of epic proportion and basically says "we can't figure out how to make life trapped on a ship interesting."  And on top of it, your characters are going to have sex with people while body switched.  Sometimes without consulting the people they switch with.  I'm going to go with a giant, huge, bigfat NO and leave it at that because...WTF ARE YOU THINKING?!

Let me just say, the whole morass aside, that the first episode was horrible.  Kind of like in TRAUMA, I don't care about any of the characters.  None of them are particularly likable, and I really didn't want to hear about their problems.  There was gratuitous sex in the first six minutes, in what I presume is an effort to attract the "younger, edgier" viewers the showrunners said they wanted.  (Apparently the core Stargate audience, who are older, aren't good enough any more.  Oh, and they don't want female viewership either SO THERE.)  Follow that with an unnecessary death of a character I still didn't care about...probably because he didn't have to die.  Then make me watch his daughter break down in what I assume was a cheap emotional bid to make me care about her.  That failed as I just wanted her to go cry quietly in a corner off screen.  Mix, and top all the fail off with the unforgivable actions of your main character being the impetus for your poorly thought out series and promise there will be no serious ramifications and you have...not the follow up to Battlestar Galactica like you were hoping. 

What you have is a half-baked show that costs $1 million more per episode than the last show of the franchise and the words "darker & edgier" emblazoned on your promotional posters.  Also, your showrunners are assholes. (No really, they are.  This is the first time in my life I've wanted to boycott a show because of the people involved.  I don't have the energy to find all of the links, but read the article below and you'll get a taste of their asshattery.)  And before it even aired the show inspired and entire fail, called GATEFAIL 2009, in which a paraplegic character has a body that is "physically useless" and through the magic of mind!switching is allowed to "finally experience intimacy."  God, just reading that makes me mad.  A fan named Cate wrote a wonderful article about it called A Primer on Stories that Scream which I highly suggest every Sci-Fi fan read.  Be aware that it includes links, amongst which are an (admitted) frat boy who says that if a person can't remember the act of sex (i.e. date rape drug, weren't 'there' in the body) then it's not rape.  He's serious.  And the best example of what permissive, thoughtless depictions of such actions in mass media do: they reinforce this idea that shit like that is okay, and it's not.

Accountability.  Have it.

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