How We Dig Ourselves Out of This Hollow Earth Mess in 45 Minutes or Less

MajorSamFan October 26, 2011 No Comments »

When I taught a summer writing class a few years ago, I suggested a way to give feedback on the writing shared. For this review of Sanctuary’s season four episode two (aka part two of the season premiere), “Uprising,” I will offer “what I liked about it” and then “what I think would make it even better.”

***This review contains episode spoilers throughout.***

What I liked about “Uprising”:

Sadly, my favorite thing about the episode was the references to other shows; writers throwing those little gems into the dialogue make me happy.  Henry’s “Better…faster…stronger” line harks back to the 70’s TV show, Six Million Dollar Man. Will uses a line from The Princess Bride: “Have fun storming the castle.” Whether intentional or accidental on the writer’s part, Tom McBeath as Villanova makes an allusion to his Stargate SG-1 character Colonel Harry Maybourne and an episode in which he figured prominently, “Foothold.”

I noticed that Pascale Hutton (as Abby Corrigan) looked lovelier than ever, which made her Captain Kirk routine – leaving a lover at every mission location – more believable. Frankly, in the past, she has appeared almost frumpy and a lot less competent. She deserved Magnus’s, “Well done, you.”

We do receive some preparatory explanation for Kate’s future absence from episodes.

I’m enjoying more Bigfoot involvement beyond serving tea and growling. We see Biggie – rather than one of his less hairy counterparts – figure out someone has a “different agenda.”

While obscure genre references, focusing on competency, laying the groundwork for future developments and using existing (interesting) characters more all improve a show, I had a few bones to pick:

I understand the show runners’ choice to separate the “Victorian England” action and storyline from the present-day action into two different episodes. While that afforded Amanda Tapping another opportunity to direct without juggling a demanding role as well, the dearth of Magnus/Tapping makes for a fairly dull episode. Faced with the daunting task of making all the talking heads on computer monitors interesting, Tapping did the best she could with the material given; I chalk this one up to bad (boring) writing.

Helen’s (uncharacteristic) almost immediate revelation to Will of her whereabouts jarred me; Helen has always maintained more mystery than that. I think I might have enjoyed it more had she refused to tell him anything.

Speaking of Dr. Zimmerman, I also do not buy the others making him head of the Sanctuary Network on even a temporary basis. Most of the other heads of household have worked for the network for many years. Regardless of his position as Magnus’s protégé and the elimination of his glasses and Will-vision, he in no way inspires my confidence in him – nor obviously that of the world leaders who refuse to take his calls – as Person In Charge of a Starbucks much less the whole network. I think the show runners have taken this step prematurely. It could have been even better if…there had been at least *some* discussion and/or disagreement to them handing him the keys to the kingdom rather than unanimous agreement.

Sometimes the little things bother me. For example, Henry spends a whole conversation packing a messenger bag that Villanova’s goons take from him before he enters the compound; they could have eliminated the useless actor “business” or had Henry fight to keep his toys. The writers attempted to humanize Villanova with the story about his son’s death, but his annihilation of large numbers of sentient beings spoke volumes more, making that scene obsolete. Without a firm grasp of David Milchard’s other work, I will chalk up his wooden characterization of Garris, the reluctant Hollow Earth leader, to the cat’s-eye contacts; I have no excuses to offer the young woman who played the empath (and looked like she had appendicitis) nor Agam Darshi’s sudden turn as a coy schoolgirl telling Garris she’s going with him. A scene in which Helen asks Kate to go would serve better.

If we take this as part two of a two-part season opener, I remain optimistic for the season; as a stand-alone, this episode disappoints.

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