View Full Version : FAN REVIEWS: 'Whispers'
September 4th, 2008, 07:56 PM
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<FONT SIZE="4"><A HREF="http://www.gateworld.net/atlantis/s5/507.shtml" STYLE="text-decoration: none">WHISPERS</A></FONT>
<FONT SIZE="1">EPISODE NUMBER - 507</FONT>
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Sheppard and Beckett join a team investigating a hidden Wraith laboratory where Michael has been conducting genetic experiments.
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September 8th, 2008, 03:45 PM
Previous episodes have felt like transparent homages (or blatant ripoffs) of other shows or popular genre plot devices, so it’s no surprise that “SGA” finally comes around to its inevitable “zombie” installment. In fact, right from the beginning, this felt like “Stargate: Resident Evil”, right down to the high female population.
I’ll be honest; I find the zombie-esque subgenre to be rather boring in most cases. The plot is always the same, and it all comes down to the quality of execution. Right now, of course, zombies are all the rage, so why wouldn’t the Stargate producers want to throw their brainpans in the ring? The benefit of the current status quo is that the zombie concept was easily tied to Michael’s genetic experiments. Since I actually like the Michael plot thread when it appears, I was intrigued.
I was a bit annoyed at first when I noticed that Sheppard and Beckett were the only regulars. Instead, the supporting cast was populated by an all-female team. How remarkably convenient that the team to be victimized in the “horror” episode is, sure enough, a quartet of hot young women. Not that I’m complaining, but it does seem to fit into the tropes of the zombie genre just a bit too snugly!
Even so, I liked the interplay between Beckett and Porter. It’s always a treat to see Nicole de Boer on my screen, and I’ve missed her since “The Dead Zone” ended. I wonder if she’ll reappear with Beckett in the future. I also liked Dusty’s relative disdain for their attraction. It may have been an inside joke; Janina Gavankar played a role on “The L Word”. (Yes, it’s probably reading into things, but it’s more fun that way!)
Visually, I thought the premise was sold well, especially after remembering the show’s budget is smaller than it used to be. I liked the creature design, and the mood was well-maintained throughout the episode. Considering the fact that I’m usually not entertained by zombie stories, I was surprised to find this episode enjoyable. It’s nothing more than derivative, but I suppose that made it easy to sit back and enjoy it.
Reprinted with permission
Original source: c. Critical Myth, 2008
All rights reserved
September 15th, 2008, 05:03 PM
In this episode i saw a lot of thing taken from the movie Grudge. I was still captivated in watching to see what was in the shadows. I also liked this episode due to the fact John and his team where not the lead team. It was nice to see him in as a leader seeing what his people have discover. All thought I did think it odd he being top officer not knowing all team leaders or how they are broken down . You would think he would have to go over reports ect. their for would be more aware of what is going on. Then a again he is painted as a lad back kinda officer.
I liked seeing Nicole de Boer. I loved how Beckett and Porter got alone with each other. Nice to see him having a bit of Kirk action.lol..
I only wish this could have come out a bit closer to the end of october. That would have made the episode more in tuned with the ghostliness of the episode.
September 18th, 2008, 07:44 PM
Stargate Atlantis made an entry into the horror genre with the episode “Whispers.” The result is a mixed bag. While the story was intriguing and tied nicely to the ongoing arc of the Michael saga many of the horror elements seemed overdone or forced, or to put it simply, it tried too hard.
“Whispers” opens with an attention grabbing sequence in which we see a creature being hunted and killed by someone, or something, in a gas mask. Fast forward a year and we have a team from Atlantis discovering a lab on that same planet. The scenes do a good job of setting up a tense anticipation of what may come as it puts the viewer in the position of knowing more than the characters – at least at that point. Also, the part of this sequence that introduced Carson back to Atlantis was well written as the reason given for him being gone, back and now leaving again was not only plausible but well suited for his character.
On a whole the episode was enjoyable and entertaining. The story was solid and the characters were, for the most part appealing. It incorporated elements of the Michael saga as well as enough scifi to provide a solid foundation in Stargate Atlantis mythology. What it lacked was a wow factor. It seemed the episode used almost every standard horror movie cliché available. From the spooky fog, to the crazy villager, deserted lab, a killed female character and the strange creature grabbing people in the dark it was all too much. It would have been better if the writers had taken a few more chances – stretched the boundaries of the genre a bit more. The female team was a nice concept, but again it was a cliché application. Pretty females seem to be a staple in most horror movies. However, in this instance, much to everyone’s credit, they were not the helpless, screaming females one usually encounters in horror stories but strong, competent professionals.
Joe Flanagan as Sheppard and Paul McGillon as Carson worked well together as these are two characters that have rarely had any episodes that focused on the two of them outside of a medical situation. Both Flanagan and McGillon are excellent actors and bring a lot of substance to the characters/episodes they are in. Even with their great job there was a sense of emptiness in the episode as, other than a brief appearance by McKay at the beginning and the end, the other team members were missing.
The actresses who portrayed the female team members also did a great job. Most notable were Christian Cox as Major Anne Teldy and Nicole de Boer as Dr. Alison Porter. In particular Cox did a great job of the tough and competent Teldy and de Boer was the perfect counterpart and companion for Carson Beckett. The two complemented each other well and they did seem to have a bit of on screen chemistry. The character Sgt Dusty Wells was a bit annoying and overplayed as the tough, cynical team member - again it just seems every horror movie has to have a character like this.
Special effects were good. The fog sequences were outstanding. Cameras angles and shots of the creatures were different and felt a bit jarring at first but they eventually made sense and added to their creepiness and unnatural origins.
“Whispers” was an entertaining episode and while it did not offer any new or dramatic twists in the horror theme, it did offer an interesting story and did a good job of mixing sci fi and horror elements as well as basing it on Atlantis's own ongoing Micheal storyline.
October 1st, 2008, 03:29 AM
Whispers is a step outside the box marked 'Stargate: Atlantis' with a story set in the universe but using different characters from the norm to tell it and taking a side-step from sci-fi into the horror genre. However, Whispers never strays too far from the box; lead character Sheppard is fully in the mix, Beckett returns to add another familiar face, and the story while standard horror fare is rooted in the recent Atlantis mythology.
It’s not often Stargate widens the zoom and focuses on characters that are outside of the usual team within its main plot. Usually when it does it gets mixed reviews and Whispers is no different, primarily because it’s difficult to obtain a warm welcome for an entire story focused on characters that the audience doesn’t know and by definition doesn’t care about. The concept has always worked better when the other characters inhabit a sub-plot such as in Heroes Part 1 which successfully peeked at Colonel Dixon and his team.
Whispers is definitely full focus rather than a peek and given the parameters of the story – horror with characters in danger – it had to build support for them quickly for the audience to care whether they lived or died. Whispers doesn’t do a bad job in that regard, primarily down to the actors who pull off good performances to bring them to life. Vega really gets killed off too early and has too few lines for Leela Savasta to achieve anything beyond mild interest, but Nicole deBoer, Janina Gavankar and Christina Cox really do an excellent job.
Gavankar in particular shines as Mehra; a female Ronon but with a tendency to say what everyone else is thinking but are usually too polite to say. Yet, while Mehra could be considered a cliché, there are some nice quirks: her concern for Porter and the more familiar ‘Ally’, her reading when they stop for the night, the bubble-gum chewing during the ambush op. There are hints that there is more to Mehra than the tough cookie front. Quite frankly, if they’re looking for characters for Stargate Universe, Mehra gets my recommendation; she’s interesting and Gavankar is a good actress.
Admittedly, I’m a fan of deBoer. She does an excellent job with Doctor Allison Porter who comes across as a normal person; a warm, compassionate geek unused to the fire-fights but up for the adventure the Pegasus galaxy presents. The hint of possible romance between Beckett and Porter is played up in the writing (and part of what makes Mehra so enjoyable is her poking fun at the two) but, for me, there isn’t enough chemistry between deBoer and Paul McGillion to make it believable. However, the exchange in the lab where Beckett notes that cloning is more of a third year thing is well done.
Cox also does a good job with Teldy. She’s mostly called upon to be Sheppard’s sidekick for the story but she definitely pulls off playing a competent military woman with maybe a small feminist chip on her shoulder. Overall, the team is an interesting bunch and by the end, there is enough interest to worry whether they will survive. But that all said they’re not Teyla, or Ronon, or McKay, and if given a choice, I’d rather have been watching the characters I do know and care about than characters I don’t.
The inclusion of Sheppard and Beckett are presumably meant to ensure interest despite the lack of the rest of the regular cast. Beckett’s inclusion is nicely seamless given the ‘Michael’s creatures’ plot and McGillion does a great job as usual. There were two lovely standout moments – the one in the lab where his evident discomfort at his resurrection is highlighted and the other in the initial conversation with Sheppard and the throw-away comments over their stasis experiences. But as much as it is a joy to see Beckett, with all the other non-regular characters, another regular may have been more appropriate for balance than a recurring.
As the only regular character for much of the episode, Flanigan does a superb job at anchoring it. The story doesn’t call on Sheppard to do anything more than be the leader, and he does lead; he sets traps; he gives orders, and he still puts himself in danger to save the team. But this is a story which really doesn’t call on Sheppard to develop as a character or for Flanigan to show off his acting credentials. As such Sheppard is merely there rather than his situation engaging the audience.
To be fair, McKay does also appear and the scenes with him and Beckett that bookend the episode pretty much are lovely; short, sweet and funny. But these scenes provide a tantalising glimpse of what could have been if the rest of the story had included the full cast. More, the inclusion of a scene at the top with two villagers running around in the fog rather spoils the bookend effect. There was no need for the scene and the episode would have worked better without it – especially given it’s yet another scene that focuses on ‘other’ characters.
Despite this, the overall story is well constructed if standard horror fare (a group of people roaming around in fog avoiding monsters); the lab, Michael’s experiments, the local villager who ends up releasing the creatures…it’s all nicely rooted in the Michael plotline. I’m not a fan of the horror genre although I thought Vengeance was well done; here, I can see the set-ups far too early to be surprised or horrified despite the direction, the great fog and the musical underscore – there is just not enough tension and not enough anxiety about the characters.
Ultimately, Whispers is not a bad episode; its an OK story told using mostly non-regular characters but because it is just an OK story, it needed better balance with the usual regular characters to really excel as an episode. As it stands, the final execution means that the episode ends up being more of whisper than a roar.
October 12th, 2008, 03:17 AM
In what are now becoming our last precious episodes of Atlantis, at least for a while, I sat there watching Whispers thinking - what on earth is happening here? Horror movie rip-off effects, tons of dry ice, flashing lights...ooh there's a monster in the well...all the characters hole up in a rickety shed and then some of them decide to go outside... MISTAKE... Was this an attempt to see how many cliches can be crammed into 45 minutes? Jack O'Neill would have had a field day here!
I have a friend who is a Captain in the British Army. She is a nice, friendly, personable woman who happens to know how to use a gun. She watched this episode with me and by the end of it she was ready to crawl up a wall [and she's not a zombie]. Her list of cliches went something like this - the gum chewing 'gun totin' sergeant trying to be tough and butch, the dykey major, the 'all girl team' out to prove themselves [totally not how it would work in the military anyway - people get selected for action based on their skills, whether they are male or female]... this depiction is demeaning to real women out there doing real military jobs. In SG1 Sam Carter never needed to resort to such obvious ploys and became a very positive role model for military women.
Anyway, back with the episode, hats off to Joe Flanigan for hanging in there, he held it all together, he looks great in those moody light and shade effects, and in the end he came up with a plan as ever. I felt that it was a shame that this was one of the few episodes for Carson in this series, and it did little to advance his plot arc. Are we to understand he's now off to try and single-handedly offer medical help to hundreds of planets? These untidy almost throw-away elements in the presentation just don't make sense.
I love this series, I've followed it from the beginning, and as it draws to a close I am just sorry to see opportunities for real character development as well as action being missed. Full of flash and no substance, that was this episode.
Zombies Rise from the Sea
October 10th, 2012, 05:47 PM
Here's an interesting fact, one of the characters in this episode is named after an established user on Joe Mallozzi's Blog, "Anne Teldy" who has managed to gain the notable milestone of being the millionth user and winning a watch plus obviously, having a character named after her. It's also a shame when that user dies, I haven't personally communicated with or heard of her before I did this reviewing but I could imagine what her personality was like, it would of been a blast for her to communicate or less likely it would of been a depressing, psychological experience. Still, this episode is entitled to her legacy and all of those posts, all of those magical moments and all of the bonds and friends that she made in the blog will live on forever; however, I would of liked a better episode to uphold that legacy.
This episode is a sendup of a horror movie much like previous episodes "Submersion" or even "Vengeance" and while it does share DNA with those two, it feels less like a take and more like a ripping off of generic horror movies featuring thick mist, lights not working properly, derelict villages and scary creatures. This seems odd for a crew who not long ago managed to take their inspirations and make it their own; while they do use scientific explanations for what's going on and they even include Michael, even they cannot excuse the fact that this is barely different from all those shows out there which do the same thing. Previous episodes of the horror nature have had some sort of a plot or at least a character nature but there isn't much of that here, instead much as it is the crew shooting at these creatures while creepy camera angles try to suggest the fear with the occasional shot where they have a camera shot following a person from a distance or more likely to a place, which gets boring instantly; fans of horror movies may get a kick out of them shooting down what appears to be their version of zombies, the quick saves that happen throughout, the various sudden shocks that are common for the horror genre but really, this is what's wrong with horror movies today; overemphasis with scary crazy elements, dark lighting, awkward camera angles, people screaming without showing emotion and forcing a creepy environment.
Sheppard and Beckett are there but oddly enough, McKay, Ronan and Teyla are absent. It's quite disappointing to see the team members go off in separate ways when just a long time ago, they were a cohesive unit; sure they both try their best (and sometimes succeed) but there's not much Sheppard's catchphrases and Beckett's friendliness can do on their own; McKay's humor and Ronan's coolness have always added a certain entertainment and charm and it's an essential ingredient to episodes like this but alas, we're without them but they're not alone, this is the episode where the female SG-team appears which features the aforementioned Teldy, Dr. Porter, Vega and the fourth member; they do appropriate various roles of the team, (Teldy is Sheppard, Dr. Porter is McKay, somone is Ronan and Vega is either Beckett or Teyla) but they manage to diverge from the path just a little bit with the various backstories combined with their slight differences brining some character in them. Alas, they feel like a gimmick. The writers feel like if there's a female SG-team then maybe, maybe this episode won't be so generic but there's nothing interesting about them that dilutes the genericy; once the appeal of the team wears off then they become people who help out Sheppard and Beckett and not much else. The only thing of note that manages to remain decent is the relationship between Porter and Beckett which is natural, sweet and almost beneficial to his character as a whole.
Also of note is what Anne Teldy requested herself for the character; in her email to Joe, she requested that her character not be a space bimbo, that Sheppard growl out "Anne!" the same way he'd do McKay and that McKay do a rant on her. Those two things didn't happen but her character is graceful and adamant. I can't help wondering just what would of happened had these two things been included, it would of been lively for Sheppard to scream out his name, the idea of a possible connection between the two and McKay's rant, well that could of provided a hint into Teldy's character and the possible traits she has. In fact there's a whole lot that could of been done; this could of been AR episode where they were the female versions of the team combined with a male taking a place for Teyla; Just imagine, a slight difference in the female version of McKay with her being overly defensive or the male version of Teyla being a sophisticated voice... or if McKay/Ronan/Teyla actually managed to show up, it would of been cool to see Porter arguing with McKay over their differences or Ronan arguing with her female counterpart; the fans would of wilded up, they would of been posting on the GateWorld forums for weeks but this is what we got... This is where Anne Teldy's trust in Joe Mallozzi lead us.
At least Sheppard has company.
This is a wasteful, boring episode of SGA and a deterrent to the legacy of Anne Teldy as a whole. Somehow it manages to be an oddly generic horror episode with barely any plot, any character and any uniqueness whatsoever, barely covered with fancy drapes that do nothing to hide the episode's flaws. I will say that the settings were nicely done and some of the lighting was good but this is from the guys who previously provided unique homages and they should of done better than the requisite "zombie movie with tons of mist". RIP Anne Teldy; you really deserved better than this.
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