StarGate: Rodney

I wrote this last week, but failed to post it. Seeing tonights Rodney show, I decided to go ahead and post it… 

Most sci-fi shows have a small group of 3-4 core, primary characters. StarTrek had Kirk, Spock and McCoy; StarGate had .. well the team of four.

Atlantis seems to have Rodney. Ronan was a really promising character, but they softened him up more than a year in Seven’s corset would and now he and Taylar seem to be there to exchange the occasional grunt or one liner. Espiodes that aren’t about Rodney seem to lack any oomf, and Rodney episodes seem to consist of Rodney dialog garnished with other cast member one liners or discussion of Rodney.

They really need an enemy. They’re lost. 90% of the episodes feel like filler until they think of something.

And after this week’s show, make that 95%.


You’re right. Without an enemy, Rodney is the core. This is actually very similar to Cheers, where Frasier was actually the core, even though Sam and whoever were the romantic ‘leads’. He wasn’t the lead star, but he was the foil. There’s a similar idea in the LA Lakers offensive strategy in the late 80s, where a player whose name I forget was actually the key to every play, even though Magic Johnson, Kareem, and others were the star point leaders. Every play was designed to go to him for the score, but there were endless permutations and modifications which gave the scoring play to others.

Most shows do have a core 3 or 4, surrounded by others for a ‘Seven Samurai’. Such as:

The Magnificent Seven
Yul Brynner (the leader, the man in black)
Steve MacQueen (the competent second in command)
RObert Vaughn (the high-strung killer on the run)
Charles Bronson (strong man, good with kids, sympathetic)
James Coburn (quiet specialist: knife thrower)
Brad Dexter (the greedy guy looking for an angle)
Horst Buchholz (the hot-headed kid trying to prove himself)

Star Wars:
Han (-> Lando Ep 6)
Obi Wan (-> Yoda Ep 5)

Star Trek: TOS

Star Trek: TNG

Star Trek: DS9

Star Trek: Voyager (had too many to start, could be part of why this show didn’t last as long. Fans of Neelix and Kes? Anyone? Anyone? No? Exactly.)

Star Trek: Enterprise

Firefly: (two too many: though the Jayne, Shepherd and River characters didn’t have too much going in, IMO)


Dam, Bloo, very good.
But what about SevenOfNine?

What about Darth Vader?

Darth Vader is not part of the heroic team. I should have thought that was obvious. But there is probably a similar pattern for Villains. I bet villains come in threes: Emperor, Darth, and Tarkin. Sidious, Maul, Dooku. Sidious, Grevious, Dooku -> Anakin. Sylar, Linderman, Mr. Bennet -> Thompson.

Seven of Nine was a later addition to the already overpopulated Voyager. Kes -> 7o9.

Bloo has thought this through oftern I guess!

Just like the rest of us Sci-Fi freaks. :-)

Actually, for at least an entire season, 7 was Voyager’s Rodney – and, as I commented before, they missed a golden opportunity. They should have given Janeway some real motivation to want to try and save 7, and then made 7 far more resistant. For someone with assimilation tubules, she’s a total pushover in just about every situation.

Since they used her nanoprobes for good again and again, they could also perhaps have allowed her to use them elsewise — a couple of episodes where 7 used limited assimilation would have been nice…

A few times, yes, Mwhitman. Though in the broader context of successful ensemble action fiction. Seven Samurai, Magnificent Seven, these are not sci-fi. But, there aren’t all that many examples of enduring ensemble action. I think Kubrick’s The Killing might also has seven, I’ll have to watch it again.

Certainly, there are counter examples, but seven seems to be successful in episodic television fiction.

Because ‘Trek only ran 3 seasons and all 3 of them struggled, it never really expanded much beyond its core 3 – same with Enterprise (Trip, Archer, T’Pol – and Trip felt more primary than Archer because it turns out Bakkula wasn’t acting in Quantum Leap, he just is that way)

TNG lasted long enough that people got cycled – secondary characters include Worf, Chief O’Brien, Troi, the Doctors… The primary 3 – overall, were Picard, Riker and either Data or Geordie depending on the season.

By primary 3 – I mean you’ll see them on every episode, even if their character doesn’t feel very primary.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer also had its ‘Threesome’: Buffy (Kirk), Willow (Spock) and Xander (McCoy). Muscle, Brains and Emotions. Mind, Body and Soul. Id, Ego and Superego. These three characters were in every single episode of BtVS with the exception of one episode where Xander did not appear.

SG-1 kinda altered that basic threesome somewhat. You had O’Neill as the Main Character with T’ealc (Kirk), Carter (Spock) and Jackson (McCoy) providing the various threesome ‘aspects’ for O’Neill.

And Firefly/Serenity was similar in setup as SG-1. The Main Character was obvisously Malcolm Reynolds, with his Crew providing the various aspects (and thus conflict), with Jayne being the clear embodiement of the Id, Simon the Superego and Zoe the Ego.

Most shows have the 2 or 3 centeral characters, with the rest being bit players. As shows get older the bit players get a bit more, odd episode set around them, etc.
The central 2 or 3 don’t usual change, although it has been known.
Lets face it it’s a pritty standard TV formula that has worked over the decades, and TV & film exec’s have a history of repeating what works!

OH, and Bloo, Fraiser the core of Cheers???
Not convinced about that, he wasn’t even in the show the first 2 years!


The Cat

Rimmer and Lister were definitely mains, I defy you to find an episode without both of them ;) Kryten became a main once he was introduced. I can’t remember the early seasons well enough to remember if Holly counted as a main – (“we’ve run out of dog’s milk”)

So, if the rats were a show what would you be. A TV show.

Hey, here is a cash flow problem solver. A new hit reality show. Life inside an online game shop.

I would pay for a BIG BROTHER inside Rats quarter…

What about placing 6 or 10 cameras on rat house and place them online for extra $$$$???

I disagree. Lister was always THE Main character. Every other character is there to support Lister…Holly kept Red Dwarf running (barely) and thus kept Lister alive. The Cat kept Lister’s ‘dream’ alive (fiji, etc.). Kryten kept Mr. Lister’s clothes all ironed. And Rimmer kept Lister ‘sane’. And there were two seasons where Rimmer showed up in half or less than half the episdoes. In fact, Dave Lister is the only character to appear in every single episode of every season.

Curiously enough, you can draw parallels between RD and SG:A, referencing back to your OP. Rodney is, essentially, SG:As Rimmer. He’s also evolved into the most ‘interesting’ character, but, if you’ve watched the show since the beginning, he was clearly meant to be a supporting main character for SG:As intended MAIN, Main Characters: Elizabeth and Sheppard (btw, he wasn’t nearly as interesting a character back when he was guesting on SG-1 since back then he was mostly played for laughs). Where SG:A and RD diverge is that neither Elizabeth nor Sheppard are as interesting a character as Lister and are thus constantly being upstaged by their ‘Rimmer/Rodney’ where Dave was not.

He’s the “captain” – the central character – but Rimmer was definitely a “main” character in the context being described here. Spock and Bones were clearly supporting characters, but they were mains.

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