Hey, you know what they apparently don’t have in Japan? Long hot peppers! How do I know? Well, the other night we were at Fondy’s house and Akemi volunteered to clean the hot green peppers we had set aside for dinner. Unbeknownst to either Fondy or I, rather than use gloves or simply use a knife for the task, Akemi stripped the seeds out with her fingers. It wasn’t until we got home that she began to feel the searing effects. The poor gal was up all night, in tears, enduring the pain of her flaming fingers. We applied every home remedy that google came up with. She rinsed her hands with almost the entire contents of our fridge and cupboards – olive oil, vegetable oil, milk, white wine, V8 juice, hand cream, shaving gel, even mayonnaise! – before finally solving the problem by popping a couple of tylenols. It was 4:00 a.m. by the time she got to sleep. Needless to say, it’ll be a while before she samples another pepper, much less clean one.
Well, my Toronto woes continue. Last night, Akemi, Rob, Alexander, and I went to Barberian Steakhouse for dinner. I should have followed Fondy’s advice and gone to Jacob & Co. Steakhouse for the kobe beef. My rib steak was fine and I liked the rice (too often, the rice at these places is an afterthought) but Akemi found her steamed lobster too chewy (“My jaw hurts!”she complained after we’d left). Since they were out of ice cream, we decided to try out an ice cream shop Rob recommended (for their coconut and marshmallow flavors). After being frustrated by Toronto’s torturously long and inconvenient street parking machines, I had given up and joined Rob in parking across the street in a parking lot accessible through a narrow, gated alleyway. Driving my SUV in was a bit of a challenge. I had maybe six inches of clearance on either side! On the way out, Rob suggested I go first and, as I tried to exit, I ended up taking the corner too tight and scraping the side of my Q7:
As I told Rob – In retrospect, it would have been cheaper to just park on the street.
And the Toronto hits just keep on coming.
Oh, almost forgot. My VISA was apparently compromised (unauthorized purchases at a Sears in Chicago raised the red flags). This from Fondy when I informed her they had cancelld my car and would be sending me a replacement in 4-6 days: “Yeah, this city is apparently the fraud capital of Canada.” Then, sunnily: “Welcome to Toronto!”
Hey, check out PopCulture Zoo’s preview of the third to last episode of Stargate: Universe, Carl’s Binder’s best script yet – the poignant, fascinating, enormously satisfying Epilogue: http://popculturezoo.com/2011/04/with-the-end-looming-stargate-universe-delivers-an-epilogue/
In yesterday’s blog entry, I got as far as the mid-season point of SG-1’s fourth season. Holy crap! While admittedly a lot fun, I had no idea this trip down memory lane would be so long and winding.
Anyway, the passage of time has mellowed me somewhat, allowing me to view long past events with a more impartial eye. I refer, of course, to my first experience with the capricious nature of internet fandom: the grand shipper vs. anti-shipper debate of season 4. In short, while many fans cheered the onscreen romantic developments between Jack and Sam (Jack and Sam shippers), others were quick to decry and criticize them (anti-shippers). While I still hold these developments were a natural progression of the relationship already established over the course of the show’s first three seasons (and certainly disagree with some of the more pointed criticism that came up at the time) I can see how the storyline could have given certain fans pause. A few of the arguments made:
1. Having Jack and Sam pursue a relationship would be against military regs and do a disservice to both characters: Fair enough, although I still hold – as I did back then – that it does happen and sometimes you can’t help who you fall in love with. Still, despite the mutual attraction, we were well aware of this criticism, especially considering our working relationship with the Air Force, and so were very careful about making sure this wouldn’t be an issue. In WoW, O’Neill resigns before dipping Carter and planting a kiss on her. Still, a further argument could be made that, given the situation (their romantic feelings for one another), one or both should have requested a transfer. Possibly, especially if either felt their feelings for one another could compromise their performance as members of the same SG team. Did it reflect poorly on them that neither pursued this course of action? In my opinion, no, but my opinion is one of many. Ultimately, it never did influence their performance in a negative way. Which brings us to critique #2…
2. Having Jack and Sam pursue a relationship would be a disservice to the characters, especially Sam who, up to that point, had been portrayed as a strong and fiercely independent woman. To this, I would say that even strong and fiercely independent women fall in love and sometimes enter into questionable relationships. How questionable would a relationship with Jack be? That’s open to debate but there’s no denying the fact that the circumstances of their working relationship could complicate things significantly. Also, by suddenly shifting Carter’s storyline to her love life, wouldn’t we be robbing ourselves of the opportunity to explore other facets of her personal life? Again, perhaps, but the fact is we rarely delved into the personal lives of our characters and, on the rare occasions we did (ie. The Curse, Crossroads) they were always part of a bigger story.
3. Having Jack and Sam pursue a relationship would upset the team dynamics, placing emphasis on Sam and Jack at the cost of other equally important pairings, Jack and Daniel first and foremost. Looking back at episodes like The Other Side and Scorched Earth, I think we did a good job of exploring the latter dynamic, depicting the great divide between the military (Jack) and civilian (Daniel) mindset, a seeming chasm that, as demonstrated, could be bridged by friendship.
These were the three major criticisms (although I’m sure there are more) and, as I said, even though I still disagree with some of the conclusions, I can sympathize with many of the concerns, especially considering Amanda herself had some reservations about the arc. In the end, the Jack/Sam ship was touched upon but not actively pursued in a way that would prove detrimental to the characters (again, I’m sure there are those who feel this point is debatable), seemingly reaching critical mass in season 8’s Threads. Whether the conclusion to this ship or, frankly, lack thereof was a satisfactory one – well, that’s another debatable point. I would say that, all things considered, it left both sides unsatisfied.
The great shipper vs. anti-shipper debate sparked some eleven years ago and spanned several seasons. Many of its participants have moved on since. Others still remain publicly critical of the creative decisions made. Still others have mellowed with time to the point where I now exchange friendly emails with several members on both sides of the issue. I think that, after many years, we’re all aware of where we stand on the issue and can firmly and politely agree to disagree .
Anyway, back to my memories of the individual episodes that made up SG-1’s fourth season….
POINT OF NO RETURN (411)
This episode was borne out of Paul’s perusal of several online conspiracy sites that maintained the Stargate program did, in fact, exist and that the t.v. show was part of a plausible deniability campaign (something we would use in later episodes). Lots of great memories from this episode: Teal’c on the motel bed, the great onscreen chemistry between Rick and Willie Garson (who got along famously off-camera), and some bizarre notes we received at the script stage. In one scene at the military camp, we hear a helicopter fly away. We received the note: “Can we see the helicopter?”. Brad responded: “No, we can’t see the helicopter because it doesn’t exist. All we have is the sound of the helicopter.”. Another note was a request to convey the sense of some alien quality in Marty at episode’s end, something to let us know how out of this world he truly was. There was a suggestion that, in the final shot of the episode, Marty could wiggle his ears in a other-worldly manner. Suffice it to say, it didn’t fly.
Michael Cassutt was the perfect guy to write this episode. With his heavy science fiction background (having written many short stories and novels in the genre as well as countless non-fiction articles) and hard SF experience, he delivered a first draft that any one of us would have been hard-pressed to match for its authenticity in circumstances and terminology. For months after “No joy on the burn!” became my go-to phrase whenever I was disappointed with something, be it a scripted scene, a production issue, or my lunch order.
THE CURSE (413)
I was damn proud of this episode for a number of reasons, the chiefest being its ability to mine an aspect of Daniel Jackson’s past that had yet to be fully explored. My inner comic book geek is in full display here as Green Lantern references abound: Professor Jordan Sarah Gardner, The Stewart Expedition, Steven Raynor – all GL’s past and present. Anna-Louise Plowman’s terrific performance ensured she’d be coming back for a return visit, while Ben Bass’s performance as Steven Raynor should have done the same except that the follow-up story I had planned for his character never got past the room. The basic premise of the story involved SG-1 heading off-world and discovering they’d been beaten to an incredible archaeological find by another team headed by Steven Raynor and bankrolled by a wealthy industrialist who had swung a deal to make use of the Russian gate. This episode also marked my first experience with the networks’ dreaded give-everything-away promos. In this case, the promo included a shot of Osiris blasting our heroes, thus ruining the fourth act reveal of exactly who Osiris was. It was a surprise-ruiner of such epic proportions that it remained unrivaled for years – until their “You won’t believe the last five minutes!” promo for Kindred 1 that revealed Carson Beckett. What’s not believe? You just showed them!! (P.S. Special mention to the German broadcasters that renamed Forever in a Day “Sha’re ist Tod” (Sha’re Is Dead).
SERPENT’S VENOM (414)
To be honest, I don’t remember much about this episode outside of the Mallozian mines (named after yours truly), the “intercepting the transmission” beat, and the uber-cool pain stick used to torture Teal’c that now resides in my garage.
CHAIN REACTION (415)
The fact that the late Don Davis considered this episode one of his personal favorites makes me exceedingly proud. It was one of those rare episodes that explored Hammond and offered us a peek of the man behind the uniform. Don was his usual brilliant self and the palpable love and respect SG-1 held for their commander reflected the similar love and respect Don commanded, not only from his fellow cast members, but the entire crew as well. Although I got along well with the entire cast, Don was the one I would occasionally go out to dinner with, sharing a love of food with the fine, Southern gent.
Anytime we can kill off all main characters is an opportunity not to be missed. And they go out in blazing style in the closing moments of this episode, my favorite Brad Wright script of the show’s fourth season. This was the first part of what could have been an Aschen trilogy, bookended by 2001, but that third episode – like many intriguing notions – just never came to fruition.