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.