Archive for the ‘Stargate SG-1’ Category

Farewell to Voyager

Well folks, I finished it.  All seven seasons in about four months.  Not too bad I reckon.  I have to lend a great deal of thanks to the Spike network for playing the series in sequential order, as well as my DVR for dutifuly recording the episodes each and every day.  I thought I would write a quick post detailing my initial reactions to the series.  You know, before I start thinking about it a little too much.

First and foremost I thought Star Trek Voyager was a great show.  I think they really hit their stride in the third season and things just kept getting better from then on out.  At the same time, I loved the first few seasons (save a few of those Kazon episodes) where Voyager was trying to stand up on its wee little legs.  People who know me will frequently hear me go on a tangent about how TV today is too well written.  Producers and writers know exactly where they want their shows to go and how long it will take to get them there.  TV is too well polished.  First seasons of TV series are no longer delightful disasters to suffer through.  Funny episodes you can watch years later and cringe at – I like that sort of a thing.  It just shows that someone, somewhere had a really good idea, pitched it, got a gig, and ran with it.  They didn’t really know what they were doing, but that was the best part.  Characters and story arcs weren’t set in stone.

Sorry, sorry.  End tangent.  Basically I loved Voyager because it too seemed to have a bit of an identity crisis in the beginning.  For me, this is a good thing.  I love to watch a show grow and develop.  If I wanted to see polished I’ll buy a movie ticket.

Other great things…  Seven of Nine was awesome.  I wasn’t even sad to see Kes go really.  Seven was a much better addition to the show.  Janeway is also an amazing character.  I think she’ll be one of my all time favorites.  Also, the Doctor, Torres, and even Lt. Kim grew on me after some time.  Voyager certainly had a great cast.

This leads me to one of the more difficult issues I had with Voyager.  I have to say at the outset that I struggle with this issue on other TV series as well, it’s not limited to Star Trek.  I am finally confident in saying that I hate ensemble casts.  I just do.  They are TOO BIG!  I don’t like any one character enough to want to suffer through entire episodes either without them, or with limited interaction with them.  I totally get why they are better to work with logistially on TV.  More people means more story lines, less taxing work on the actors, all sorts of other good things as well.  But at the end of the day I want dynamic duos.  Mulder and Scully.  Xena and Gabrielle.  I’ll even take SG-1 (Daniel, O’Neill, Carter, and Tiel’c).  More than four and you lose me.  I guess I like really indepth character development.  I never cared for one moment about Chakotay, Tuvok, Neelix, etc.  If an episode centered around them I really had to grit my teeth and bear it sometimes.  It was too big.  I didn’t like everyone, and even if I did like them I didn’t want a whole episode about them.

I digress again.

In summation, I really did like Voyager.  Was it my favorite sci-fi of all time?  No.  Voyager was something I could pick up and love, but easily put away and not think about for weeks at a time.  Other shows have been much more of a craving for me.  I had to see the next episode.  If it could have been downloaded directly into my brain that would have been better.  Others were SO great.  Voyager wasn’t quite like that for me.  Yet still I loved it.

It is my guess that Voyager will end up being my favorite Star Trek series.  It’s just a guess, but I know myself pretty well.  What can I say?  I ❤ Janeway!  (I think I even said that in my first post on this blog.  Good to see somethings never change!)  If she were my captain, I’d follow her anywhere.

AdmJaneway

The God Complex

I am currently writing a paper for my Law and Technology class on the legal personality of artificial intelligence.  Though certainly not a new area in science ficition, it is relatively new in terms of the law.  The section I am including below (blissfully not full of legal mumbo-jumbo for you non-lawyer types) is in regards to an issue I’ve been thinking a great deal about.  I’m not sure whether this section will make it into the final draft of my paper.  To be honest, it’s sort of a philosophical debate that may or may not lend insight to the rest of my paper (once I get around to finishing it).  For that reason I thought I would post it here.  Offer it up to you for comments and discussion.

The God Complex

Proponents against human cloning, genetic engineering, and A.I. often describe scientists and theorists who work in these various fields as “playing God.”  This negative description seems to capture a fundamental belief by some members of society that creation and alteration of intelligent beings should be off limits, or limited to God.  Is this true?  What does it mean to be God, or a god?  In the Christian faith, God created man in his image.  Similarly, the character of the Doctor on Star Trek Voyager was a holographic computer program that looked exactly like a human.  Were the Doctors creators, albeit fictional, playing god?  Is it indicative of a god complex to create something in your image, in this case the image being a replica of our species, human?  Japan, currently engaged in the most aggressive robot program today, already includes humanoid robots in various aspects of their society.  For whatever reason, there does seem to be a clear goal of creating robots capable of mimicking humans.  This humanity can be in appearance (two arms, two legs, eyes, a mouth, etc.) or in personality (such as giving a computer program a voice and emotion).

Though not important directly to the legal personality or robots and A.I. it is interesting to consider the motivations for creating technology in the image of humanity and what this might say about us.  What does it mean to be a god?  The Goa’ould, a technologically advanced race depicted on Stargate SG-1, repeatedly stated that they were deserving of the status of god because for all intents and purposes they were.  Their technological superiority often made them impervious to weapons, they lived for thousands of years (again thanks to technology), and were followed and worshiped by millions of people.  They were, in many ways exactly what they said, gods.

Is this ability to play god a problem?  Does the court have a right to step in and declare that there are some things that ought not be created?  Can the courts or legislature limit some forms of technological advancement because it crosses some moral line in the sand reserved only for god– if not god, then simply a crude game of chance?  Cells coming together and choosing each other, for reasons unknown, which produce a result we as humans can wash our hands of.  Do we have the right to go beyond our role of dealing with the consequences of creations in which we had no part, or should we have the right to not only deal with the outcome, but also serve as creational architects?

Contemplation on this issue is crucial to the topic of robot rights because this is an area of the law that is currently being formed.  As we consider and construct the system from which we analyze the legal rights of robots we should also consider whether our role, as humans and creators has changed.  At the same time robots are being granted rights (if only to exist), will our rights be limited in regards to what we can create?  Should they be limited?  What is the difference between a god and a creator?  What does it mean when the created can mimic the creator?  Outdo him?  Most importantly, how will this issue resolve itself in the marble floors, wooden benches, and black robes of our justice system?

Thinking about the Prime Directive

The Prime Directive is the guiding force on Star Trek, it provides the moral compass from which all decisions are made.  As a supreme law it seems to work well.  Seeing as there is not actual legal code for the Star Trek-verse, here is the language of the Prime Directive according to Wikipedia.

The Prime Directive dictates that there can be no interference with the internal affairs of other civilizations, consistent with the real world concept of Westphalian sovereignty. …No primitive culture can be given or exposed to any information regarding advanced technology or the existence of extraplanetary civilizations, lest this exposure alter the natural development of the civilization. In addition to exposure, purposeful efforts to improve or change in any way the natural course of such a society, even if that change is well-intentioned and kept completely secret, are prohibited.

The Prime Directive seems so enlightened.  A civilization, or United Federation of Planets, that realizes the importance of the struggle for a societies advancement (in this case technological advancement).  Interference in that process is so egregious that it violates the most important law of the society.  The realization that you could help a society, but that you ought not to is profound.

As I do with most of the notions I stumble across in Star Trek, or sci-fi in general, I try and think of the message in terms of how we live our lives, as Earthlings, today.  What if the United States employed the Prime Directive?  What if every society on Earth applied the Prime Directive throughout history?  Historically its fun to imagine, but I think it’s most interesting to apply it to the current world environment.

Many of the worlds nations would not possess weapons, or at least weapons of mass destruction (as they have been coined).  In order to possess the technology there would have to be an effort on behalf of the countries citizens to seek, know, and understand.  This struggle would eventually become the great equalizer of all nations.  Everyone had to get to the end point on their own steam, and the end point is, by default peaceful in many ways.

This presumption that ultimately technological advancement leads to pacifism is fascinating.  Stargate SG-1 explored this theme a great deal.  In fact, aside from the Goa’ould and Ori, SG-1 encountered very few advanced societies that were not pacifist.  Some of them so pacified and adherent to their Prime Directives that they would not communicate with SG-1 (like the Nox).  I was always impressed at the notions this idea conjured.  A deeper understanding that all of the fighting of today will lead to a peaceful tomorrow.

While researching this topic I found a great clip from The Next Generation of all the senior staff discussing the Prime Directive.

“What we do today could profoundly effect the future.”

Perhaps we should make more of our decisions today with that simple truth in the back of our minds.

Seeing Double

“Deadlock”
Star Trek Voyager

Season 2, Episode 21

Instead of going on and on about how this was, yet another, incredible episode of Voyager I would just like to point out one funny similarity I noticed between Voyager and Stargate SG-1.  It is not, of course, the first time I have noticed a correlation, but I thought this one was worthy of a mention.

Due to a sub-space disruption two Voyager’s were caught in the same space: both in dire straights.  To communicate with one another in a more efficient fashion Captain Janeway from one reality crosses the rip in space-time to speak to herself in the other reality.  If it sounds confusing just imagine meeting yourself and run with that.  The two Janeway’s had great interactions.  Both of them were leaders and had the best interests of their crews at heart.  In spite of their similarities they did bicker a bit, but it was all resolved with the steely Janeway “mama knows best” look.

deadlock

I was reminded of Stargate SG-1 during this episode because there were a few times throughout the series when we got to see two Carter’s working together.  The two Janeway’s discussing the best course of action to merge the two realities back together was strikingly similar to the two Carter’s getting their geek on in Stargate.

carters

Which came first?  Voyager’s two Janeway’s?  Stargate’s Carter’s?  Eh, it’s the whole chicken and egg debate.   If I had more time to research I am sure I could come up with an answer.  Regardless, it is a great plot and a fun story path to walk down.  It really doesn’t matter who did it first.  Seeing the challenges of having to work with yourself played out in front of you is funny, and oh so interesting to consider.