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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]
SGA thoughts

Yeah, bored at work. I'll make some stuff up to do tomorrow.

Meanwhile, since I've been immersing myself in it the past few months, I'm going to give some thoughts about Stargate:Atlantis, even if I've seen maybe half the episodes. Yeah, thinking seriously about the DVD, except we need to get through Firefly first.

Fan fiction writers love alternate universes. They let you end an episode better, or get the proper characters together, or even let you see your favorite guys or gals in a different setting. Some series don't lend themselves well to that - Sports Night just has to take place in CSN, I think. Others, like TS and DS, seem made for playing with.

I've never seen so many AUs as in SGA. The writers play with setting, with the timeline, with jobs of the characters. I've seen Rodney as a veterinarian and John as a mail-order bride, Weir as the head of a company and Carson as a prince. There's a series of stories going on now with John and Rodney as ice skaters.

Some of this can be laid at the door of sga_flashfic's Harlequin challenge (somehow, it all manages to be cesperanza's fault, doesn't it?) - this challenge, which pretty much begs for AUs, was so popular that the moderators had to extend the time *and* it spawned a community. However, that only hit on something that already existed, I think.

I got sucked into SGA fandom even though I'd only seen one or two episodes, and I felt comfortable there. It can't be the plots - we have fascists and space vampires. It can't be the science - I'm still laughing over the "science" in Inferno. The only thing that's left is the characters themselves.

And these are the strongest crop of characters I've seen in a long time. More than that - we know there is more to them than we see on the surface. We know so little about John Sheppard, but we know he's hiding more than his intelligence - and why is he hiding that? Rodney seems all surface, but there's something underneath that mess of insecurity and brilliance. All of them have secrets they're not telling us and we want to know.

Here's the thing. One could write a story putting them in...oh, Victorian England. And one can even eliminate all talk of flight, citrus fruits and diplomacy (I wish we'd forget the citrus fruits. Certainly the show writers have...) and we'd recognize the characters. It's not just quirks or speech patterns. It's that Rodney will always awkward in social situations and John will always risk his life while pretending he doesn't care, and Elizabeth will always betray her ideals for her people and Carson will always push all of his own boundaries, because this is their character.

I've only seen this level of development in due South - and DS has its own share of Alternate Universes. On the other hand, DS's characters all have *quirks*. Other than Rodney, who is really just the standard genius who has a hard time reading normal human behavior, the SGA crew *aren't* quirky. They're just recognizable.

Which may be why the last sga_flashfic explosion happened. Not only was it a different challenge - postcards take a different skill set than writing, and one that takes less time - but it was almost completely dependent on knowledge, either canon or fanon (who is this Parrish person and why is Lorne in love with him?) of the characters themselves. And it, too, spawned a community.



*whimpers cause she so doesn't need another fandom yet set a season pass for SGA a few weeks ago*

But ... but ... but ...

Ice skaters???? *perks like a perky thing* You have a link?

Yeah, I'm falling hard. :)

Out of Bounds.

Pets the sheltiepup.

Was it norabombay that came up with - or at least publicized - the idea 'what if they gave a fandom and everybody came?', and then realized that it had already happened to SGA? That could be part of it - all the fanfic writers came to play, all bringing their varied histories, likes and dislikes, and so you've got the near infinite number of AU's.

Oh, that's a *big* part of it, and AUs are fun to play with. SGA also has a lot of strange stories - penquins and dinosaurs and many, many fun aliens, and that comes along with all the fanfic writers allowing themselves to be silly. No one is taking things all that seriously, and that's fun, too.

But the AUs *work*, and that's harder.

Just to be fair, the dinosaurs are actually *canon*. In the ep where Teyla finds out she has Wraith DNA and Bates is all suspicious, SGA-1 comes through the gate hot because they're being chased by what looks like a T-rex.

I fucking *love* this show! *g*

I think part of it is that we know so little about the Pegasus galaxy, and what we know about it is so weird, that it allows total free rein when it comes to imagining what else might be out there. Planet full of talking sheep? Sure. A mostly-water planet ruled by a tribe of gilled half-humans? Bring 'em on!

I didn't understand the true meaning of "crackfic" until I started reading SG:A fic.

Oh, yeah. ONe of the things that makes it all so much fun.

They did the weird alien things for SG-1, too, but that show was so much more...serious.

I can answer one question:

Major Lorne is a military officer, who appeared on an episode or two of the original SG1. He got pulled over to Atlantis this season, and basically pops up as the second in command on the military side. He has his own expedition teams, he leads missions, and there is a sneaking suspiscion that he does a lot with the day to day running of the military forces- Sheppard certainly doesn't.

Parrish is a botanist. He appears for about 45 seconds in the beinning of the episode where they meet Ronan. Parrish has about three lines of dialogue, all of them about fungus.

However: He spends those 45 seconds trying to sell Lorne on the joys of fungus, as Lorne stands around with a gun and hopes that somebody comes so he can shoot something.

Thus the entire Lorne/Parrish paring was born. 45 seconds. Fungus.

But it provides for a thematic contrast, and a needed bit of secondary characters for the 9 million McKay/Sheppard fics.

And, it lets people do a lot with the botany jokes- Katie Brown, the girl Rodney went on one date with? Botanist.

I knew who Lorne was - he's pretty.

Parrish showed up for 45 seconds? That's long enough - I think TPM fandom is based on 4 minutes. :)

I see why they needed a secondary soldier/scientist m/m pairing.

Can you explain the Stackhouse thing, then?

As for Sheppard doing the day to day stuff - yeah.

He needs a second, doesn't he?

Actually, the Williamsonia that he gets so excited over is an extinct (on Earth, like Jurassic time-scale) seed plant-- which hits on the whole dinosaurs thing, too, come to think of it.

I think the other thing that hit people's slash glasses with Parrish and Lorne is that they're very touchy and ignoring personal space right from the outset (Go look at http://www.stargatecaps.com/sga/s2/203/html/stargate3724.html and the several numbers following (i.e. change 3724 to 3725) to see).

Oh, and Lorne ignores the advice of the physicist (Rodney) in favour of his botanist in regards the danger of the radiation on the planet...

And besides, who can resist a pairing whose portmanteau nickname is 'Porne'?

I think you're totally right about the AU thing. I've had similar thoughts about AUs in other fandoms (pop, of course, has the reality effect where we're not already one fictionally removed, but there are other fandoms with overproportional numbers of AUs and some where AUs just don't seem as appealing). I do believe beyond the inner character issue (which, yes, it what AUs rely on and also allow you to play with, right? How much of John's behavior is "him" and how much is long military training etc.) there's also a dynamic identity that translates easily (I'd argue that's the case for TS AUs...it doesn't matter who and where they are, they're always sentinel and guide, etc.). Interestingly, in SGA, the more successful AUs, to me, include the entire group dynamic rather than just the chosen pairing. That makes it harder but, ultimately, much more satisfying...

I will not rant about Sentinel and Guide. I will not wrant about sentinel and guide. I will not rant...

I do agree - the more of the original group, the more fun the AU is. Especially all the ways to fit in Ronon...

sorry *hides*

oh, you wanted to talk *quality*??? :-)

seriously, though, regardless of what you call a dynamic, if there is a way the pair relate to one another, if there is a particular dynamic, i think that also allows translation into AU in a way that more generic characters with less pronounced interaction don't... [and yes, part of that dynamic as well as the characterization may end up being fan agreed upon shorthands and interpretations shared within a given fannish community...aka fanon *g*]

Re: sorry *hides*

I was caught up in a TS flashback, you see.

I do agree, though. Whatever you call the relationship between Jim and Blair, it was not only real, it was the basis of the entire series - they were truly partners, even if none of it was mystical.

It was just a *thing* of mine - I didn't use the word "guide" (although Shaman got a workout, since it fits Blair so well. I think if he'd been born 200 years earlier, he'd have been a great Chasidic Rebbe.) I also didn't describe their eye color.

The John/Rodney relationship - friendship or more than friendship - is also in the heart of this series. They balance each other so well.

I think, oddly enough, so much of these characters' "recognizableness" stems from the comedy of the show. Sure, there are often oversued and cliched comic setups (see John and the women of "The Tower") but a lot of it comes from the very characters themselves (see all of Rodney in "Grace Under Pressure" [hmm, and note the relative quality of those two episodes]).

I was surprised by how well Atlantis does comedy, at times it's in the vein of Aaron Sorkin and Joss Whedon. Toby and Giles aren't "funny" characters in the way Xander is supposed to be, yet they often create humor just by being who they are in the situations they happen to be in.

I've found that that kind of comedy builds three-dimensional characters (in canon and otherwise) far better than dark and heavy episodes where characters either fall under the fight or flight responses. I've learned more about John and Rodney (and all the other characters) by what they find funny and what jokes they make than I have by their impassioned speeches in dire situations.

There's a psychoanalytic theory (though by now, it's a common thing) that what you try to pass off as a joke, is really what you believe (or want, or think, in other words, the unconscious self or the core of a person's being) but the only way to make it acceptable is to turn it into a joke. John, no matter what AU he is in, is still retains the same sense of humor, leaving his core-self intact (which I think determines the successfulness of an AU. If that core of the character, most obviously defined through the sense of humor, remains, then the AU is successful).

I think the writers of the show absolutely get their characters in this sense (most of the time, when they aren't shilling for a quick laugh or forcing a light moment where there doesn't need to be one) and write them consistently.

With such clearly defined characters in that sense, the fandom is made for AUs. Add in a universe that can support just about anything (hello, life-sucking space vampires!) and it seems like Atlantis can accomodate writers with almost any prediliction.

And that? Was much longer and thinky than I had intended.

That's a very good point. After all, drama can come from outside the characters - attacks, crises, accidents - but comedy comes mostly from inside.

And I think it supports my argument - the AUs are so common for that same reason. We recognize John the stripper/bartender/grad student (I love rageprufrock) because it's *still* John - still his somewhat askew way of looking at the universe.

I'm working on that crossover, at least in my head.