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Old August 27 2013, 04:43 AM   #36
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Re: Syfy greenlights new pilot ""Timegate SG1""

I can see why Rewind didn't go to series. Some bits were interesting, like the support crew and their quirks, but a lot of it just didn't work very well. The driving premise was too much like Seven Days, and the specific threat to New York was too much like Heroes. I never felt there was a convincing explanation for why Roarke blew up New York just to get someone to go back in time and save his wife. Okay, they said he was insane, which is a handy excuse for things that don't happen for good reasons, but if he were actually mentally ill, that would've impaired him sufficiently that I doubt he'd ever have been granted access to the means and resources to build a nuclear weapon.

Also, why was there no effort to evacuate the city? Sure, it would've been impossible to clear out all of Manhattan in less than a day, probably, but at least they could've gotten some people down into the subways, which might've saved some of them, maybe.

There were a couple of contradictions, too. Like, the lead character is smarter than he looks and able to talk enough science to impress the scientist lady, but he doesn't recognize the obvious notes about wormholes in Roarke's journals. And back in 1929, if they can't hear a train whistle unless they're at least 9 miles from their destination, how come there's subsequently a trainyard just a couple of blocks' walk from their destination?

While some of the characters had some interesting nuances, a number of them were also a bit annoying. The scientist lady was too one-note hostile and condescending for a while, the sidekick was always doing the hero's emotional/backstory exposition for him, Matthew Bennett's military guy was too much a stock mean military guy, etc. And I didn't find the lead actors all that appealing, especially not the guy playing Knox, who was somewhat annoying. (The actress playing his estranged wife/girlfriend/whatever was lovely, though.)

Conceptually, they made a decent effort with the time-travel stuff, but I felt they had too much of a technological edge in their favor, especially that Panopticon thing, a magic machine that tells them the effects of their interventions so there's no real suspense or need for individual judgment. It's not a good idea to give your heroes too many advantages. And the actual "window" didn't quite work for me. The effect was rather unimpressive, and I found it hard to believe people could just stand around unprotected that close to the most powerful particle-accelerator stream in history (or that such a stream would just be a bunch of languidly flowing blue dots rather than searingly intense particle radiation at nearly the speed of light).

And I'm not sure how they could've sustained this as a series. How do you do a time-travel show where the heroes are trying to avoid interacting with the past as much as possible, where they're mainly brainstorming with their team in the present and treating history as just a problem to be gamed? It's too detached. And would there have been a different change every week? From the initial descriptions, I got the impression that it would be more an arc-driven thing where the whole season would be about making incremental changes to bring about a single final result. Which would've been more interesting than the Seven Days rehash they seemed to be going with instead.

So I can't disagree with the decision to pass on this pilot.
Written Worlds -- Christopher L. Bennett's blog and webpage
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