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Monday, 16 May 2011

SGU And Smallville Finales And Overall Series Thoughts (Spoilers)

I'll keep this as short as I can (HA!) but beware that if you haven't seen either the SGU or Smallville series finale's you won't want to read on!

STARGATE UNIVERSE (SGU)


OK, so here's the thing with SGU... I loved it. Plain and simple it was a great show and although it had a serious level of hate in the sci-fi world, especially from Atlantis and SG-1 loyalists, it stood alone as a serious and gripping bit of TV that had many moments of edge-of-your-seat tension and greatness. 

It would seem that the massive negative fan reaction, even though it had it's own firm and loyal fan base, killed SGU long before its time and stole from us an interesting, growing story arc and at the very least a proper, polished finale where we either saw the Destiny get to where it's been going the last two years or everyone returns home safely... Instead the final episode, as emotional as SGU has ever been (which isn't necessarily saying much as it's as real and depressing as the Stargate franchise has ever been), seemed like it appeared out of nowhere and kicked us in the proverbial nuts with the mother of all cliffhangers (not unlike shows like the Sarah Connor Chronicles which left you screaming at the TV "What happens next dammit"!). So the unanswered questions are as follows:

1) Would the Destiny have ever fulfilled it's programming and discovered what the signal was? 
2) Given another season, with the knowledge that their show was ending, would Destiny have found "God" or at least a solid answer at the end of their journey or would we have been fobbed off?
3) Did Destiny get to the next Galaxy in 3 years or drift for 1000?
4) Did Eli, in those final moments of the episode, accept that he could never fix the stasis pod and he was going to die or was he going to fix it and wake up with the rest? Or even find a way of staying alive for three years by himself with an alternate power source etc, maybe driving him loopy from being by himself for all that time. (If you're a fan you can't say you didn't have a tear in your eye by the end of that whole sequences of "saying goodbye to everyone" and "staring into space"!)
5) Would the ongoing storyline have focused on the health problems faced by multiple members of the crew who we saw die or get hurt in the alternate timeline? If so who would we have lost in the next season/s?
6) Would the relationships shown in the alternate timeline (the crew that went back in time and spawned the descendants we saw in the last few episodes) have been expanded and played upon?
7)  Would Ginn and Amanda Perry ever be seen again after being downloaded into Destiny's buffer and then quarantined by Eli? (I think I may be a little in love with Ginn...)

I'll follow this up by saying that as with most shows SGU had some great characters and some awful ones that should have been killed off, kicked off or never created in the first place. And that's down to either the actor or the actual character they played. My list of the main cast and my thoughts on them are as follows:

Robert Carlyle as Nicholas Rush - Loved. His creepy, self-obsessed, evil undertones all added up to a believable git who you loved to hate. I loved Carlyle in this role and was always waiting for him to be the hero he secretly longed to be.

Louis Ferreira as Everett Young  - Disliked. I could never find myself liking Young and no matter how this failing father figure came across I found myself wanting him killed off... Now I feel bad saying that... But it's true. He was a pretty wooden character and never excelled.

Brian J. Smith as Matthew Scott  - Disliked. Sorry to say this but Scott got on my nerves. A whiny little twat that shouldn't have ended up with Chloe (ELI!) and never seemed to solidify his role in the show. 

Elyse Levesque as Chloe Armstrong  - Liked and then disliked. When Chloe was first introduced I liked her and the innocence she portrayed. An outsider that was scared and weak but had potential. Then she was kidnapped and experimented on by aliens and it all went to pot. She and her newly augmented brain were totally underused in the final few episodes and she was either simply referenced or appeared in the background way to much near the end. Beautiful actress too.

David Blue as Eli Wallace - Loved. Who couldn't love Eli? Due in no small part to David Blue and his execution of the role Eli was the heart and soul of Destiny, which made the final moments of the finale that much more emotional to watch. Although he was sometimes constrained to too many glib one-liners and pop culture references Eli will remain my favourite character next to Rush. Damn the creators for not letting Eli get with Chloe or have Ginn for long enough!!!

Alaina Huffman as Tamara "T.J." Johansen  - Liked. Alaina is a stunning woman (I've met her in the past) and she was yet another heart and soul of Destiny who went through hell during her time on the show, hardly ever showing a smile or finding peace in any way. We soooo wanted her to end up with Varro and he actually seemed like a great person and character too. Her pregnancy storyline wasn't played out well in the show but was only introduced because Alaina actually fell pregnant for real with her second daughter Charley-Jane and it was written into the show. Had much more potential for greatness that never reached fruition, plus the illness she was about to suffer from at the end was totally unnecessary! Leave the poor girl alone!

Jamil Walker Smith as Ronald Greer - Loved. The perfect soldier, fixated on military rules and honour Greer was someone you wanted to see lose it completely but were very glad he didn't. Sometimes you hated him but he was a character you could count on and knew he'd die for anyone on that ship no matter what. So much stronger than Scott as a character. Seriously thought Greer would die after his kidney donation operation this season, but he didn't...

Ming-Na as Camile Wray  - Apathy. I never really liked or disliked Camile. She was just "there". Her lesbian storyline felt moot and she was never portrayed as strong enough, even when she was leading a mutiny/revolution against Young. She was only there to satiate the need for an I.O.A rep on board, but I would have rather seen Woolsey that Camile any day!

Lou Diamond Phillips as David Telford - Hated, Liked, Hated. Simply put Telford's character was idiotic. He went from being evil as hell, to being a hero and a possible new kick-ass leader, back to being a complete asshole. His potential was thrown out the window and it was a real shame. One of the bigger names in the show and not really needed at all for the series to stand on it's own two feet.

Julia Benson as Vanessa James - Loved. OK so I'm only adding Julia because she had massive... potential... She was a throw away character at the beginning who was there for pure military-style sex appeal with the added jokes, augmented by her more than ample assets. She had some kick-ass girl-power moments and it would have been great to have seen more of her... you know exactly what I mean...




That's about all I've got at this stage, apart from to say "SGU, you will be missed"!



SMALLVILLE


Ah Smallville, you strange and confused little thing... How I loved you, despite your failings.

Before JJ Abrams set the sci-fi world on fire with his alternate timeline Star Trek movie we had the alternate timeline Superman TV show that was "Smallville", or Superman - The Early Years.

Smallville was a show designed to grab the 90210 market with a super-dash of geek dropped in. It was, for all intents and purposes, a show about the "what if" relationships of DC Comics' Clark Kent a.k.a Kal-El, the last son of Krypton, the future Superman of the Justice League. No matter how much I eventually fell in love with this show there was no denying that at least 50% of its full ten year run was very close to being utter rubbish and chock a block with "filler" episodes the likes of which I can't even recall. The acting, and I'll be shot down for saying this - "especially from Tom Welling himself", was way under par and sometimes just downright lazy, even though it grew in time. However the show had its good moments, some of them incredible, and the season cliffhangers were some of the best on TV, leaving geeks across the globe dying for the resulting new season opener.

Having Lex, Lana, various superheroes, villains and wayward powers (no proper flight for 10 years!) was extremely difficult for Superman fans to swallow and at times even I found myself shouting at the TV for its blatant disregard for its source material. Cameos from various famous stars and original Superman actors such as a wheelchair bound Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder (playing a villain!) upped the coolness ante considerably and when the old John Williams score popped up now and again it gave you massive goosebumps. Episodes with Justice League characters ended up being some of the best whilst decisions to get rid of characters like Lex and Lana felt sickeningly fake, underwhelming and wholly necessary at their related plot points and were just another lazy way of moving on the story to get to where the creators needed to go. There were so many moments of "will they, won't they" that fans were probably throwing their remotes through their TV screens. Most were massively relieved for Lana to leave the show just so the opening was made for Lois, but the way in which she left was so bat-s**t crazy it defied belief... Making her superpowered and Kryptonite infused? Jesus Christ...

Either way Smallville ended last week and although reviews I've read were very mixed I personally loved it and balled my eyes out like a geeky baby for the full hour and a half. What can I say, I'm emotionally weak and devoted to my shows and even things like Pixar movies set me off as I've said on here before. The finale tried its hardest to set Superman history back on its original track (it failed in a lot of ways) but scenes like the wedding, Jonathan Kent, Jor-El telling Clark he was proud of him, Clark flying (or hovering at first), Clark seeing his 10 years of super-antics flash before him, Tess's death, Lex returning, Clark and Lois looking at each other through Air Force One's window (wasn't the President supposed to be in a secret bunker, not on the plane?), Superman in space and then his final slow-mo shirt ripping sequnce on the roof with the Williams theme tune in the back ground... Oh how I geeked out... And cried... But yeah, in the end Smallville stiffed all of us and Tom Welling's promise of "I'll never wear the suit" was held up as we only got distant CGI shots or a dash of CGI red flapping cape in closer shots. We never got to see Clark fully kitted out in the actual suit and the internet is weeping because of that... Not unlike when the whole Doomsday arc ended, what the hell Smallville?

Anyway once again I'm going to cover my thoughts on a select few of the main cast:

Tom Welling as Clark Kent - Liked. OK so I gipped Tom's acting skills, but you can't deny that he certainly grew in the 10 year run into Superman. He looked the part and when he was doing his "super-stuff" you believed in him. His best on screen moments were when he was drugged on red Kryptonite or playing an alternate version of himself which was a little ironic, and his final years with Lois were believable, emotional and gratifying to watch. His various "pre-Superman" outfits were just plain bad and he had some terrible filler eps to get through but in the end I feel Tom succeeded in bringing a young future Superman to our screens.

Allison Mack as Chloe Sullivan - Liked. Apart from having a massive crush on Allison from day one I have to admit to being a big Chloe fan. Some fans truly despised her, but I personally thought she was always Clark's central grounding force, his conscience and the one person he could always always rely on. She rescued Clark so many times (sometimes without him even knowing) and protected him with such a scary vengeance and was quite obviously his one true love and soul mate (in a platonic way), not Lana, even though it shouldn't have seemed that way. She sacrificed so much over the 10 years you just wanted to see her happy. Which in the end it looked like she was. She wasn't killed off as people thought she would be, had a son (with Green Arrow it seemed) and when we saw her 7 years later she was truly happy.

Kristen Kreuk as Lana Lang - Hated. "Despised" I should say. I'm sorry to say it but Lana Lang was quite possibly the most annoying character (and maybe Kristin was, for me, an annoying actress) and I found myself wishing every season that she'd just leave, or die... Becoming kick-ass and almost an evil genius? Her final episode where she became superhuman and laced with Kryptonite was downright terrible, the creators should have been shot for that and I thank God she left the show.

Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor - Disliked. OK so "disliked" might be a bit harsh as Michael was actually really good as Lex, but I never found myself liking his scenes and I found his whole "death and cloning" storyline a total crap-fest. Returning to the show for its final episode was a great move on his part considering we were led to believe he'd never come back, no matter what. It was a nice conclusion but his final parting shot where he loses his memories of the last 10 years due to a retro-virus given to him by a dying Tess was the biggest cop-out the show has ever had...

Erica Durance as Lois Lane - Liked. Lois started out as an annoying addition to the cast but slowly grew into that essential element that Smallville needed, right when it needed it most. Her scenes with Clark in the final two seasons were somewhat amazing and I found her emotional and strong willed input to be fantastic by the end. Plus she was possibly one of the most beautiful actresses on a sci-fi show... 

John Glover as Lionel Luthor - Liked. Another character who shouldn't have been around in the original Supes mythos, John Glover brought an air or brilliance and sophistication to his role as Lionel. The original Lionel ended up being a hero of sorts and Clark's most avid protector, only to be unceremoniously offed by Lex by being pushed out of a window. His alternate universe version of himself was played really well and felt realistically evil and downright creepy, although his death, subsequent Darkseid possession and final fight (if you can even call it that) with Clark was terrible, rushed and wholly unnecessary. Yet another cop-out by the creators. 

John Schneider as Jonathan Kent - Liked. I can't say much about Jonathan as I honestly don't remember a lot about him, which can't really be good, but his death and his appearances in the final season, especially his alternate dimension self and his "ghost" in the finale were extremely emotional and well played. It was great to see him return and you always believed he was actually Clark's father and not just an actor playing the part.

Annette O'Toole as Martha Kent - Liked. Superman III's Lana Lang playing Martha Kent in the Superman TV series? Strange, and cool, but very much loved. Although a large portion of the latter seasons wrote Martha out so that Clark could grow without her and have a life with Lois etc her return as the Red Queen was epic for me. Wrong for the cannon history, but played so well by Annette due to her strength on screen, and her finale scenes were again emotional and much needed for a completed story. Always beautiful Annette was an essential part of Smallville in many ways.

Justin Hartley as Oliver Queen/ Green Arrow - Liked. Although the obvious choice for a superhero friend for Clark would have been Bruce Wayne/ Batman it turned out that Green Arrow pulled it off well enough. Justin had just the right amount of charisma and on screen strength that carried him through five seasons and into a series regular. A crappy scene with him killing Darkseid's minions in the finale not withstanding Justin was a solid addition to Smallville.

Laura Vandervoort as Kara Zor-El/ Supergirl - Liked. Not the best actress on the planet (sorry Laura) and she was heavily underused for a long while, but Laura Vandervoort's Supergirl was a very welcome addition when she joined in 2007. She was a little dopey to begin with and was purely carried by her looks, lets be honest, but she worked. Why she couldn't have taught Clark how to fly when she was able to do it straight away (as did Major Zod) I'll never accept, but obviously Clark's impotency when it came to flying was only ever going to be 100% sorted in the finale, and every fan knew that. She disappeared for far too long (and went over to the unsuccessful "V" remake) but showing her in the finale going into the future to be with the Legion was well played. And yeah, little major crush on her too.


I'll leave the rest of the characters as there are way too many to go over from 10 seasons, but sufficed to say that Smallville jumped the ravenous shark numerous times and out of a sea of loveable crap came a fondly remembered show. Again, Smallville you will be missed.


And just for the fans of the lovely ladies for these two TV shows -  here are some pics! :P










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