To keep going on the absolutely trivial theme, I don’t regularly watch any of the Stargate series or their reruns, but I do catch bits and pieces of them now and again. And it turned out yesterday that I saw the very beginning of an episode of now defunct Stargate: Atlantis. The group of four main characters — U.S. soldiers, aliens and scientists with the full backing of the government and the use of alien technology — have tracked a strange fluctuation that is probably an alien/Atlantan artifact. They find what appears to be a doorway and it seems to have some sort of field in front of it.
So instead of, say, any special equipment to test the field to see if it’s deadly, they throw a rock to test it. The rock goes through the field, which seems to be mostly a cloaking field, and disappears on to the other side. So now they know there aren’t any death rays to the field, but they need to see what is on the other side, and they don’t just want to send a human through unprepared of course.
So then they get out their robot camera, like the kind they use for bomb squads, and send it through. Oh wait, the most important scientists/military unit in the world doesn’t have a robot camera. No robots of any kind actually to help keep them safe from injury. But they do have a regular digital camera and some twine, and they get — a stick! A stick that you tie the camera to on one end and hold with your bare hand at the other end and poke the camera through the cloaking field. What could possibly go wrong with this ingenious plan? I mean, it’s not like there might be an alien on the other side who would grab the stick and pull, is there?
And indeed, nothing goes wrong. The camera goes through and shows them a picture of nothing there but a cave. Yay! So now a human can go through — because again, now that we’ve cleared it with the rock and the stick, nothing can go wrong — and it’s the tough military guy of course. And of course, they give the guy the camera but they attach a feed to the camera back with them so that when the guy’s on the other side, they can see what happens to him, and safety tow ropes with a harness, and a hazmat suit. Oh wait, they don’t do any of that. He just sticks his hand through. And says that it hurts. And they try to pull him out of the jello cloaking field with their bare hands, but he’s stuck and it’s dragging him in, so they have to let him go, with no rope round his waist even, and he disappears on to the other side.
At that point, I had to go and I don’t know what happened in the episode. My guess is, from the inscription one of the team was reading, that time probably moves differently on the other side and he will age really fast. But then they will save him before he dies and the old age make-up gets too much. But that’s a guess.
Now, I do like the Stargate series. They have great actors (Richard Dean!) and fun scripts and an often interesting mythology. And I know that they are low budget, t.v. cable scifi that has to save a lot of their money for the big giant ship next to a planet shots. But seriously, a rock and a stick? How hard or expensive could it have been for the special effects prop people to buy a remote control toy truck and trick it out as a robot to which you could attach a camera? I mean, Japan has a lot of cheap stuff now. You could get the Star Wars R2D2 robot for a fairly good price and change it up and use it for many, many episodes. I’m not expecting explosions and people flying through the air (though they have those sometimes.) Just a pack of main characters on expeditions who have at least basic equipment and do not act like morons when dealing with alien technology. Or if they are not going to have basic equipment and are going to act like morons, kill them off and have a bigger rotation on the cast.
I can only hope that the current Stargate: Universe series, which has bigger special effects in their recreation of Star Trek: Voyager, occasionally employs some basic, human, robot equipment. But then again, maybe they just rely on stones and sticks they pick up from planets they run into.