Folding, spindeling, and mutilating lauguage for fun since Aug, 2004
Sunday, 16 March 2008

One of the things I love about Stargate SG-1 is the characters…but not just the primaries.

There’s all these great secondary and tertiary characters that you just get to know so well, and they jump off the screen.  Like the hapless but stoic Sylar, or efficient and humorless Walter, or the very dapper and urbane (but very, very evil) Ba’al.

But the one I probably am the most impressed with is Woolsey (played by Robert Picardo).

Woolsey is an efficient and relentless bureaucrat for an international organization which helps fund the Stargate program.  He’s an unlikeable man, doing a difficult and unpopular job.  And yet, for all that, he’s incredibly sympathetic.

After all, civilian oversight is an important part of our government.  We WANT someone watching those that we are giving use of our money and power…to see that it is exercised properly.

Woolsey obviously takes his job very seriously.  He doesn’t have any kind of a political agenda.  Whenever he is in conflict with Stargate Command, he is professional and unyielding.  He is not cowardly, and he is not to be intimidated nor dissuaded with bribes nor blackmail.  He’s a straight shooter when it comes to imparting intelligence, and he’s an honest broker when it comes to arguing courses of action.  He's intelligent, thorough, and earnest.

He is the perfect bureaucrat; except for one little thing.  

He constantly forgets that he is there for the purposes of ACCOUNTABILITY.  Instead, he constantly steps in to uh…”pre-correct” is the kindest word I can think of for the activity, the actions and decisions of the professionals whose job it is to make the decisions and take the actions in question.

Instead of letting them do their damned job, and then hold them accountable afterwards if what they did was wrong…he often steps over the line from doing HIS job, to messing with THEIR jobs.  And he just can’t seem to get that this is the problem.  He feels badly about being wrong, and he takes responsibility for the bad outcomes, and he doesn’t flinch from admitting he was wrong…but he doesn’t get that he’s wrong because  He.  Doesn’t.  Know. What. He’s Doing.

He’s like so many people you come across who think they know someone else’s job better than they do.  He thinks he knows what the risks and the pay-offs are, but he has no way of knowing because he doesn’t have the training or the experience to know.

He is trained to analyze facts and results in retrospect, not to respond to a fluid situation in the moment.  He gives inappropriate weight to certain facts, and has different expectations becasue he is used to dealing with situations that have already happened, where the outcome is known.  He's not equiped to handle them on the fly and put his butt on the line based on that analysis.

I hope that he learns, eventually.  But then, of course, he will not be nearly the useful plot device that he has been in the past. 

 

J

Sunday, 16 March 2008 22:09:54 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00) | Comments [2] | #
Monday, 31 March 2008 06:24:01 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
And your last line says it all. There's no dramatic need for a character that just says "atta boy!" or "I told you so!"... ;-)
Monday, 31 March 2008 08:18:51 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)
dracut,

But that's what I really like about SG-1 and Atlantis too for that matter.

Characters that fill the position Woolsey does in other shows tend to be cardboard cut-outs whose job it is to act as an obsticle. so the writers reach for an easy standard stereotype and plug him in to function as a roadblock to be overcome. With Woolsey, they made him complex and, if not sympathetic, certainly easy to relate to. You may bot agree with him, and you may not like him, but you can't just go "Oh! He's wrong and they should ignore him!" he's earnest, thoughtful, hard-working, and if the show were about him, we'd be rooting for him, as certain of his rightness as he is.

And should he change and grow as a person, I'm confident that the writers will find new and interesting ways to keep him at odds with the team. And perhaps if he becomes a character on Atlantis (as is constantly being hinted) he will even be right from time-to-time.

I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with him.

I'd like to see another couple of conflicts and some closure between him and Daniel.

If two people with that much history and animosity could ever work toether productivly, it would be those two.

It would make for a gripping couple of episodes, at least.
Teresa
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