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  1. #1
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    Arrow2 FAN REVIEWS: 'Harmony'

    Visit the Episode GuideATLANTIS SEASON FOUR
    HARMONY
    EPISODE NUMBER - 414

    Colonel Sheppard and Dr. McKay must protect a child princess on a pilgrimage before she can become queen, and learn that she has dangerous enemies threatening her life.

    VISIT THE EPISODE GUIDE >
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: FAN REVIEWS: 'Harmony'

    4x14 Harmony --- A repeatable episode

    A light episode. A filler episode. A laugh out loud episode. I liked it.

    From the beginning of the episode, it is obvious that it is not going to take itself seriously. McKay tells Sheppard the sisters have been ‘suckered in by the whole clichéd heroic thing you’ve got going.’ And that’s the point, the whole story is clichéd. It is a fairy tale, a simple, predictable background to set our heroes in and provide situations for banter and snark. It is a chance for the viewer to take the time to enjoy these two wonderful characters without the seriousness necessary to most other episodes.

    Sheppard and McKay together are inspired. The synergy between them sparkles. They are the main characters in SGA and the best thing about the show. The one thing this season that has been missing is enough Sheppard and McKay on screen together in full snark. Harmony can’t make up entirely for the insufficiency during the rest of the season, but it was a good start. JF and DH are both fine actors and they do comedy well. The McKay character is defined to be funny. Sheppard, on the other hand, in the past has often been written as too funny and too immature for the military commander he is supposed to be without enough offsetting seriousness. He is being written more seriously now, in a season that is taking itself more seriously. This season the comedy has been relegated to more appropriate times and episodes. Harmony, like Travelers, is played for humor. Travelers has a lot going on and lots of information and sci-fi, whereas Harmony is simply laugh-out-loud and cheer, funny. Travelers provides Sheppard with a humorous outlet; Harmony does the same for the Sheppard and McKay friendship that has become so integral a part of SGA.

    The acting of the three main characters is excellent. Jodelle Ferland as Harmony lived up to all of the preceding praise. For someone so young she has a very good grasp of concepts and emotions. She made a great foil for JF and DH. JF’s expressions though out the episode are marvelous. His expressions are a large part of what makes Travelers and Larrin’s participation in BAMSR so entertaining to me. DH is wonderful as McKay, as always.

    Harmony was wonderfully written by Martin Gero. Harmony has some of the best dialog in some time and more good lines than in any episode I can think of off hand.
    The best of the character development is in the talk where Sheppard tells Harmony some of his beliefs on leadership.
    S: You’ve got to put the needs of your people before anything else, including your own.
    H: Some of the time, yes.
    S: Oh, pretty much all of the time.
    …. S: Well, hard earned lessons along the way.

    Sheppard is in professional mode here. It is McKay that is apparently smitten with the sisters. Sheppard does not pay them a lot of attention. He is ready to leave, McKay wants to stay. Sheppard’s primary focus is maintaining the trade partnership. When McKay calls dibs on the third sister, Sheppard says, ‘I don’t need your love life screwing up our trade relations.’ He says ‘no’ to escorting Harmony until the good sister extorts his compliance by threatening their trade arrangements. I love Gero because he is a master of misdirection. He makes one thing appear as another and leaves viewers with conflicting beliefs. As examples: who was right in The Hot Zone, the shooting of the Wraith in Siege I, reactivating the nanites in Adrift and Wallace’s death in The Hot Zone. This bit of misdirection is minor by comparison. The sister is acting very sexy while she is threatening Sheppard. Sheppard has already told McKay not to let his love life effect their trade, would Sheppard compromise their trade relations by being involved with the sister? Is this double entendre or not. Both views are possible.

    Harmony is annoying. Her being annoying helps drive the plot and it creates conflict and humor. McKay descends to her level and Sheppard takes on the role of reluctant parent. None of the three are changed by their experience. Neither Sheppard nor McKay ever warm up to the kid. The kid never changes her attitude much. Not the usual fairy tale ending, but the right approach here. Sheppard stayed the leader, resigned to the mission and only tolerated the kid. McKay actively disliked the kid, fought with her and wanted her out of the way. Only Harmony’s perceptions/affections changed. It seemed fitting.

    There is not much sci-fi in Harmony, but what is there is interesting. Harmony must have been chosen because she has the gene, whereas, her sisters don’t or have a weaker version of it. McKay did say there was Ancient tech in the castle. It’s new to require a second Ancient device or key, the pendant in this case, to activate another device. An interesting development. The mini drones were cool. There must be all kinds of Ancient ruins, labs, test facilities, ships, factories etc. all over the galaxy. Ancient stuff is always interesting. They should spend more time finding it.

    This episode only had Sheppard and McKay. None of the other usual Atlantis characters was shown. There was no ‘B’ plot and only the previously mentioned sci-fi elements. These are some of the same arguments that made ‘Missing’ such a misstep to me. But Harmony doesn’t take itself seriously; it succeeds at being funny. The real difference is the characters. Teyla and Keller are generally uninteresting to me when they are alone and in ‘Missing’ Keller was written and played completely wrong. In contrast, Harmony has two great characters, both played by good actors, in character and in great form. There will never be enough Sheppard and McKay for me. They will never get old.

    Favorite scene: Sheppard pulling the stunner out of McKay’s hands and stunning the Genii.
    Favorite Line: Too many to choose.
    Good stuff: McKay calls Sheppard ‘John’ again; “What did they teach you in Genii school?”; McKay’s calling Harmony the Royal Pain and The Bad Seed; Sheppard’s calling Harmony ‘Little Lady’ three times; Harmony with her pocket knife and survival skills; Harmony’s crush on Sheppard and his and McKay’s reactions to it; McKay’s wanting to stun her; Harmony actually doubting herself when the device wouldn’t light up; the bird’s heart; Thumb screws; Unnerstay; dibs; etc. etc.

    In the end Sheppard steals the pendant and activates the pedestal (under fire to save their lives), thus incurring Harmony’s wrath for usurping her place. McKay trips in his attempt to escape, taking Harmony down with him, making her think that he was protecting her. And, thus alliances shift. McKay, who wanted to stun her and thought about handing her over to the Genii, becomes the hero and Sheppard is shoved to the rear.

    The painting says it all. It was all in fun and fun it was.

    “Yep, that’s pretty much how I remember it.”

  3. #3
    Chief Master Sergeant entil2001's Avatar
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    Default Re: FAN REVIEWS: 'Harmony'

    The increased emphasis on character this season has been an answer to my hopes and dreams for the series since the first season. The writers are stretching out in some good directions, and generally speaking, I have few complaints. Unfortunately, since this has not been the strength of the writing staff in previous seasons, the occasional misstep comes with the territory.

    I’m not entirely sure that this is a problem with the character development itself, though it is ultimately part of the overall effort. The issue comes with the story itself. The plot is chock full of clichés, predictable to the point of tedium. I found my attentions wandering throughout the entire episode, and that includes the requisite glamour shots of Harmony’s older sisters and their endowments.

    Harmony is the youngest sister of three, and the one who has been chosen to be the new queen of Generic Human Planet #87924803. Harmony needs to complete a trial to seal the deal, and sure enough, Team Atlantis gets roped into playing chaperone. (Or, rather, Sheppard and McKay, the default characters for any cookie-cutter episode.) As one would expect, one of the older sisters wants to be queen, so assassins are sent against Harmony and her protectors. Hilarity ensues.

    The writers had to know that anyone with a third-grade reading level knows this story better than their own family history, so they tried to emphasize other elements to make up for it. Sheppard gets to lord it over McKay for most of the episode, with Harmony happily helping the process along, until an amusing reversal puts McKay on top. I cannot fault the comic timing; it is easily the best aspect of the episode. Many fans will love it simply on those merits.

    But in the end, this episode tells us nothing new about Sheppard and McKay. Sheppard is a bit less flippant, in contrast to previous seasons, but that’s been the case since the flight from Lantea. McKay is simply McKay, who will only change in the most subtle of ways, regardless of the circumstances. Some will no doubt compare this to “Missing”, but at least that episode managed to say something about Teyla and Keller.

    One also gets the feeling that the Genii were shoehorned into the story in some valiant attempt to muddy the waters. Unfortunately, the end result was evidence enough that the attempt failed. The Genii were treated so generically that any assassination squad would have served the same purpose. Granted, this incident could come up in the future to redeem the idea, but for now, it felt unnecessary.

    In the end, the real problem is that this episode was reminiscent of so many other Sheppard/McKay adventures from previous seasons, and such comparisons only serve to remind the audience how often those characters have been overused in the past. In fact, much of the emphasis on character development this season was a response to that criticism. The episode feels like a step backward as a result.


    John Keegan
    Reprinted with permission
    Original source: c. Critical Myth, 2008
    All rights reserved
    Link: http://www.criticalmyth.com

  4. #4
    Mistress Organizer Rachel500's Avatar
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    Default Re: FAN REVIEWS: 'Harmony'

    A fantasy tale of McKay and Sheppard escorting a child through a forest on a quest to become queen really had the potential to be a complete disaster, yet Harmony turns out to be a surprisingly successful story. The writing is tight; the direction and photography beautiful; and the acting by all three main actors wonderfully executed.

    The story skims the fantasy cliché right from the start; the mock medieval setting, the two beautiful sisters, the rite of passage for the young queen-to-be. The flirting with the cliché continues with the beast in the forest and an evil sister plotting to kill her sibling. Yet somehow the tale maintains its integrity despite these clichés and lack of originality. In part this is due to the final denouement which brings the tale back to sci-fi and Atlantis with the pendant being a key to the Ancient technology that enables them to defeat their enemy. This marries the fantasy with the sci-fi heart of Stargate extremely well and elevates the story above its fantasy standard fare.

    If I take one issue with the actual story it is in the use of the Genii as the evil bounty-hunters. Given that Ladon and the Genii are considered allies of Team Atlantis, their sudden turn to child killers in order to attain a trade agreement is a little unsettling. Yes, we know the Genii are ruthless; yes, there is an explanation provided in the dialogue; but it still feels awkward. It feels like there was a need to have an outside enemy and someone suggested the Genii in order to negate the necessity of having to create something new. While I appreciate that a completely new group of soldiers who we’ve never met before would have been difficult to explain within the parameters of the story, it still feels a little odd that it’s the Genii when a group of random bounty hunters from Harmony’s own planet would have fit the bill.

    Still, it is a minor irritant and the rest of the story is extremely well-written. Kudos has to go to Martin Gero. The banter between the characters is snappy and witty – humorous without getting too childish – and the plotting of the tale and events extremely well-crafted. It all flows wonderfully. Will Waring’s direction is also just superb. The pacing is fantastic; the shots all seamlessly executed. The fantastic panorama views are just stunning and the photography of them elevates those shots to art. Beautiful; simply beautiful.

    The writing and direction provide a good framework and hold the story together but the success of the piece is heavily reliant on the quality of the acting as with such a thin plot, the interaction between the characters is key. The decision to use McKay and Sheppard is good because the dynamic continues to be the strongest between the Atlantis characters. Their back and forth is perfectly timed; their knowledge of each others’ strengths and foibles just adding realism to their partnership. Joe Flanigan and David Hewlett have this down to a fine art; the looks, the repartee – it’s all excellent while the material never stretches them.

    If the Atlantis regulars put in accomplished performances so to does Jodelle Ferland who is just fantastic as Harmony. The character could have so easily become a caricature but Ferland delivers a very talented and mature performance. She demonstrates the regal, arrogance of Harmony, the girlishness of the child who is not yet a woman, the child-like vulnerability of disappointment and the stubborn brattishness. Harmony springs from the screen as a three-dimensional character as a result. In fact, I would go as far to say that I wouldn’t mind a revisit from the character in another episode – which is somewhat of a surprise to me.

    The story also works well to redeem McKay’s character somewhat beyond the events of the previous episode. If Quarantine showed the worst of the character, here is a more rounded view. The character can be arrogant, whiny and heavily into self-preservation but he’s also heroic in his own way even if that isn’t an obvious heroism in contrast to Sheppard. It’s good to see the juxtaposition.

    The humour of the piece is well done and relies on the natural comedy of the situation and the characters rather than any particular set pieces beyond the last scene with the portrait – that was worth it for the expression on Sheppard’s face. Harmony and McKay’s ‘I don’t not like you’ exchange; the ‘what do they teach you in Genii school?’; Sheppard’s ‘I know which way I’m leaning’ to Harmony’s proposal. All is neatly interwoven.

    My only other complaint about Harmony is that there is no explanation why McKay and Sheppard are there without the third member of the team, Ronon. Teyla’s absence is no surprise given the arc but there is no clear reason given for why Ronon isn’t with them. At least the character is mentioned though which is an improvement on the ‘let’s not mention them at all’ approach which seems to be in place for the female characters.

    Minor irritants aside, Harmony is a well-executed tale. The fantasy clichés, the child actor and the humorous focus of the story had the potential to create a disaster but instead deliver a credible episode. While it possibly doesn’t qualify as a classic episode in the way of a Sateda or Common Ground, it is a solid outing for cast and crew, and very enjoyable.

  5. #5

    Wink Re: FAN REVIEWS: 'Harmony'

    Harmony is another stand alone episode with superb acting; an average plot; very good characterization; fine music scores, scenes, special effects, props, and costumes; good dialogue though injected humor is limited; and excellent camera shots and directing.

    Beginning scene seemed a little corny with male swooning over the sisters and the banter between John and Rodney. Plus, Rodney's whole attitude infused with levity was poor timing following the episode where he was going to become engaged, but apparently the loving relationship ended.

    Yet another episode where an off world team does not even check-in with headquarters before jaunting off on an assignment. This time a two-day trek is being undertaken without sufficient rations.

    Ferland made an excellent Princess Harmony, mirroring the Rodney character to near perfection. The writer(s) provided the words; Ferland and Hewlett worked them seamlessly from one scene to another.

    Plus, her crying crocodile tears was one of the few funny moments in this rather lighthearted tale. I favor the lightheartedness in this Stargate fairy tale of such a young princess. The music also reflected this mood throughout and the wildlife sound effects were well placed.

    The positioning among actors and also with props seemed noteworthy; i.e. Rodney and Harmony with the first three Genii through John shooting them, later with the candles and he treasonous sister; and in the cave with campfire, the flashlight lantern. The princess with the pocketknife was priceless, especially in the cave.

    John handled both brats well, and everything else that was thrown at him.

    All costumes of the sisters were unique and conveyed the fairy tale concept. Scenery and horizon shots were magnificent.

    Interesting aspect of mini drones used in drone technology development. I found it inconsistent that the mini drones killed roaming Genii patrols, but not all the Genii at the ruins. Early it was stated only those with the ancient gene were immune from attack.

    The plot twist from John being Harmony's prospective king to Rodney being that and the conquering hero went smoothly. The picture that speaks a thousand words, also provokes a thousand laughs. Excellent prop! I hope they sell posters made from that prop.

    This entire episode would have been enhanced it if had not followed last week's character driven, stand alone episode and if; it had been placed between two serious, heavily dramatic episodes.

    With all these excellent attributes, I still only rate the show 7-8 out of 10, because it lacks substance by only using half of the team members. I am not suggesting Teyla and Ronon should have been included. I am suggesting a perfect score requires meaningful participation by all four and possibly acknowledgment of the base commander's approval or the team's deliberate act against orders. I don't expect to see this episode in a fan favorite marathon, unless Rodney-specific fans want it. However, it would be fitting to see Ferland receive a best supporting actor nomination from one of those award shows.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: FAN REVIEWS: 'Harmony'

    Harmony

    Who knows how the writers come up with ideas for episodes; I'm guessing they go out for inspiration, rack their brains in the writers room or even watch the TV/go to the movies. I can only theorize on the conception of this episode but my theory is that one of the people must of caught an episode "Babar", more specifically the episode "To Tell or Not to Tell" and thought "hey, this very concept would make a good episode of Stargate Atlantis!"

    The concept of babysitting a child is something that has been done many times before but what makes this particularly special is that it shares more with the aforementioned then it does anything else; McKay and Sheppard (with the rest of Atlantis MIA) play the roles of Pom and Alexander respectively, the special guest star Harmony playing the role of young Isabelle, the inclusion of a candy bar, the child always playing them and more importantly, running off while she's supposedly asleep. You can almost predict how it's going to go down; the characters think this will be easy, someone's being annoyed at constantly getting played, them getting pissy at the child, their respective intelligence being brought down to fit the antics but there are some things that makes it different. For one everyone is about 10x older which means the dynamics are changed slightly (involving more adult subject matters), they're protectors rather then babysitters, there is the inclusion of a threat we all know and love that brings a sense of danger to the table and Harmony has some characteristics that set her apart from the pack of babysat characters.


    Just Pom, Alexander and Isabelle McKay, Sheppard and Harmony...

    Regardless... What you see on screen is exactly what you think would happen; while the girl is a lot older, she doesn't exactly scream cute, more so she screams excessively annoying, stubborn, bratty and well... grating to the nerves. Viewers will be turned off en masse by what is the most unrealistic combination of what they think kids are with a sprinkle of Stargate in there, her emotions don't exactly scream convincing, her performance doesn't know what it's trying to do and the justifications they try to utilize (comparing McKay for example.) will just leave you frustrated. It would be less of a problem if she did more innocently cute stuff that contrasted with the crew. The various scenes where McKay is constantly getting played by the girl are unfunny, predictable and somewhat annoying; his hate for kids would come into good use here but instead it's diluted by the behaivor and actions of Harmony, thus making his performance sterile, also seeing him getting played every time end up tiring mainly because there is only so much you can take of the whole "It wasn't me!, she did it!". I will say that I did like these scenes better then the one in "To Tell or Not to Tell" mainly because the intelligence of the characters are still there.

    The attempts to add danger are admirable if only to prevent this episode from being "Harmony tricks McKay 100 times in a row"; the behind-the-scenes deals that are being made, the ferocious Genii out there, the ominous beast, it helps to add an ominous feeling to the episode that makes this episode more, even possibly engage the audience at times with it's above-average acting and it's serious stakes; the very feeling of shifty dealings should elevate this episode into something more but instead it feels like something designed to prevent the episode from collapsing on itself. None of this feels natural, the Genii are awkward trying to place themselves as a menacing threat through the various scenes they appear making us think about how far they've fallen since Season 1; sure, they've got guns and numbers but they feel more like drama rejects then any serious foe. The beast itself is better but it oddly enough seems less threatening because of content itself; It does work in McKay and Sheppard's favor as they're given a sense of fear and uncertainty they can utilize in their conversations, enhancing the mood and growing their characters in the progress, having scenes Harmony talked to Sheppard about leadership and McKay talked to Harmony about what he feels deep down showed the warmth of the characters.


    Serious.

    It does gets really good near the end when the pair stumble unto what can be considered an Ancient history lesson and a setup for one of the most exciting parts of the episode. Everybody steps their game up here, Sheppard shows his heroic self, McKay shows his scientific self and even the girl manages to find something inside her; the sense of emotional weight and danger appears more then it does any other scene, the thought of not getting a second chance, taking up and stand charge are things that make these scenes engaging but this comes across as too little, too late. What's worse is that they dilute the end by trying to be "comedic". Harmony's declaration of McKay as a hero may seem ironic (if to make Sheppard look like the coward) but it's not for three reasons. 1. McKay tripping over her didn't really feel convincing both filmed and explained, 2. It seems really sudden and illogical (considering he saved her "during" battle and not when the going was getting tough.) and 3. Taking into account the scenes with McKay and Harmony, it feels more like an awkward love plot than what a child would go through. Then there is the painting which I admit looks awesome (if not a bit out of place) but has the opposite effect mainly because Sheppard actually looks kind of cool with his hands waving out instead of cowardly, I would personally love to do that in combat just to stand out; I think it would of been better to have Sheppard hide behind Harmony or more likely McKay, that way the intended feeling would of gotten out more clearly.

    In the end, this turns out to be a very painful episode to watch to. It doesn't know what it wants to be, a light babysitting episode (inspired by another) or a serious episode with dark implications and as a result it's a confused mess; the lighter side ends up annoying and pandering (thanks to the girl) while the darker side ends up being too overly-serious, everybody tries their best to go through it but they're aware of the insufficient qualities which makes their attempts feel flat. While there are good moments, they're very far and few inbetween and you'd have to endure a majority of the episode just to find them. Simply put, a misfire.

    2.0/10

    <Snipped.>
    Last edited by Bagpuss; September 22nd, 2012 at 08:03 AM.
    Back from the grave.

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