Monday, November 16, 2009

Blog 2.5 (aka Twitter killed my Blog)

I used to be good at writing. I could pick a topic and go on for paragraphs. In the past couple years I have learned how to use the internets to express my inner geek and share with the world how I perceive it. Whether that's good or bad is debatable, but it feels good to me. It takes some time to put several paragraphs of thought together and I'm kind of a lazy person. Then I discovered Twitter last February, not coincidentally around the time I stopped blogging. Like most I didn't "get" Twitter at first, but it suddenly opened up to me and I figured out how to use it as a micro-blog. So, in a way, I've been blogging, just in 140 characters or less, and a lot more frequently. But Twitter is much more temporary and a bit like a stream of consciousness, whereas this blog is a much more permanent record of my thoughts I, or others, can research and archive. So I'm trying to get back in a semi-permanent habit of actually writing a blog.

I've been rather occupied this television season with all the Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Paranormal shows on, to the point I got a DVR this summer, which I promptly filled, and just can't keep up with the network broadcasts. iTunes, Xbox Live and Hulu help. I've also been trying to see all the Sci-Fi movies and enjoy the spate of great games, so maybe I'll concentrate on what I'm watching and playing for now.

One of this year's shows hit me out of left field, which is Stargate Universe (SGU). The reason I didn't expect it is I never watched any of the Stargate franchise, not really. I know of it. I did watch most of SG-1 season 3 once. I'm aware of the universe of Stargate, but I never saw the movie either. The badly named SyFy (rhymes with "sippy") has been doing good with their new shows so I gave it a shot, and liked it immediately. I would call it Lost... in space (not Lost in Space, which is obvious). The SciFi elements are compelling, but I'm not as interested in the drama. The basic idea is a group of barely functional soldiers and engineers are working on a type of Stargate with 9 symbols no one has ever heard of before. The chief scientist initiates a plan, I call Operation: Last Starfighter, that puts the mathematical puzzle placed by the Ancients (get it? an ancient race of aliens from our past?) into an MMO to see what enterprising 20-something-year-old can decipher it. The plan works, and a new guy gets brought on board, just in time to evacuate into the now-working, 9-digit Stargate. Woosh, they are all effed-up and stuck on an "Ancient" ship a billion LYs from Earth. The ship is busted and every episode is a struggle to survive a new issue. This is what Star Trek: Voyager should have been like. The feeling of being isolated is palpable. They even have a way to transfer their consciousness into people back on Earth, and it still feels claustrophobically lonely.

The ship, translated from Ancient as Destiny, is a character as well. A massive broken-down ship that needs a lot of TLC and there's not enough crew to do it. Speaking of the crew, they are group of almost dysfunctional types. Around 80 in all, but none have the special skills needed to survive on a damaged ship a 1,000,000,000 light years from Earth. (Look at those zeroes, that's a lot.) The mains are Colonel Young, XO Scott, First Lt. TJ (Medic), Master Sergeant Greer (who looks too young to be an E-8), Eli (the above MMO puzzle solving master), Chloe (fairly useless eye-candy who likes to sleep around, just not with Eli), and Dr. Rush (the genius scientist in charge who got them in this mess).

The episode I'm going to talk about is "Time", the seventh episode. Cleverly, each episode is named after the issue of day. We so far have had Air, Light, Dark, Water, and Earth (yes, Earth became a problem). [SPOILER Condition Red] The first part of the episode is told on a jungle planet through the lens of a Kino, a floaty ball-camera that Eli uses to record everything. We are generally shown a failed mission where the "away team" becomes ill, are attacked and killed by slug things, and the Stargate seems to malfunction. Reveal: all the people are still on Destiny watching the Kino recording of an event that never happened. Then the crew gets sick and realize they have a timeline for infection but no vector. Studying more Kino video gives away more clues that explain a Solar Flare from a local star effects the wormhole inside the Stargate, somehow folded on itself, and is showing the past. But a past that doesn't really happen. A temporal paradox. Eventually they figure out what's making everyone sick and send a new, well prepared away team to the planet, in the hopes of getting a cure for the illness. This "away team" fairs just as bad, and ends with a message from Scott warning the Destiny crew.

I'm usually really good with time travel stories, as this seemed like an episode of first season ST: Voyager. But I got lost in this one. The episode ends in what looks like a cliff-hanger, with the news if the crew doesn't go to Jungle Planet 01, everyone dies on Destiny from microbe infection, but on the planet they'll get killed by the indigenous insect life. Sad to say I'm lost, but there are competing timelines going on. The crew find a recorded Kino from a point in the future where an away team is sent to Jungle Planet 01. Because of wormhole distortion they are sent into the past, but don't realize it until they try to contact their ship, which isn't around yet. When they try to activate the Stargate on the planet, the wormhole connects to a future point on Jungle Planet 01, not Destiny. The "present" for the episode seems to be the crew on Destiny watching the Kino videos, and now that I think of it I don't know how they got them in the first place. I'm actually really confused and hope they clear this up in the next episode. If not, I read somewhere this is a self contained episode and I must have missed something. I did watch this in the morning before coffee, so I'll live with that excuse for now. I have failed my Time Lord training. And since I deleted it from my DVR I gotta find it on SyFy or something.

If anyone has any comments to help me out, I'd truly appreciate it. This is an amazing show. Logging Out.