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Watching Southern Cross
Posted: 18 February 2006 10:09 AM  
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I finally ordered the DVDs when my tax return came.  I’m not through the story yet, but I’ve already revised my opinion on several points.

First of all, I have to say, the story makes little sense.  I daresay the first saga had fewer plot holes, and that’s saying something.  The intelligence on the aliens alone is enough to make me shake my head in confusion.  If you don’t know your enemy… well, let’s just say it’s not surprising so many lives were lost in the beginning.

Most unrealistic of all, of course, was the 15th.  Don’t get me wrong—by and large, they were great characters.  But not a one of them was soldier material.  The possible exception is Angelo Dante, who, if he would stop picking fights with his squadmates and superiors, might go pretty far in a real military.  But Dana was flighty and much too lenient, gaining almost no respect among her men, and therefore exercising no control over them.  Louie was a tech-head who belonged in a lab, not in a tank, and didn’t seem to come in useful in a fight.  Sean Phillips would have been thrown out of any military I’ve heard of, simply on account of fooling around with so many other officers.  And I’m not even going to mention Bowie’s inadequacies as a soldier.

Clearly the show tried to entertain by making the main group of characters as colorful and wacky as possible—at the expense of realism, unfortunately.  They’re SUCH an oddball bunch that even one of them being tolerated in the military, let alone all of them in the same squad, falls far short of believable.  Dana, confused by her own alien heritage, risked the lives of her team and several civilian hostages because she didn’t want to kill the enemy.  Um, isn’t that what soldiers DO?  And Angelo questioned her decisions so often that if she’d been half the commander material her superiors seemed to think, she would’ve decked him long ago.  Then of course, there was Louie’s little outburst over the pupil-lasers, and the whole group continually whining about being pawns—well, of course they were pawns, they were soldiers.  When your career is to follow orders without question and your only function is as manpower, another weapon on the battlefield, then being used is all in a day’s work.  No soldier can dispute this.  They should have accepted that fact when they signed up, for crying out loud.

Once again, no need to mention Bowie.  It’s not his character—he’s sensitive, artistic and moody, more driven by emotions than logic.  That doesn’t make him a bad person.  However, it makes him an exceptionally poor soldier.  For one thing, no one so sensitive to others should make a career in killing—it’s not suited to him, and is bound to cause psychological problems.  For another, he was clearly unable to follow orders or conduct himself like an officer.  And once he fell in love with Musica, what little reason he’d displayed before seemed to fly away.

Lord, I’ve never seen a squad in worse need of discipline.  Maybe Fredericks should’ve used that riding crop on Dana and Bowie a few times—nothing else seemed to work, anyway.

As for Leonard, I don’t see what the big deal is about him now.  McKinney may’ve painted his character blacker than Nixon, but in the show he just behaves as any military commander would.  (In fact, he may be the only realistic military personality in the entire saga so far.)  At times, yes, he does come off as a little eager to fight, but then, in his mind there’s really no other alternative.  The Masters certainly don’t make any overtures toward peace, or show any interest in humans beyond conquest.  And at least Leonard can think tactically.  The scene where he prepares to send in the 15th, and Emerson protests because he apparently made a promise to Bowie’s parents not to send him into danger (again, why is he a soldier then?), I slapped my forehead.  Even I know that you do NOT let personal feelings influence military decisions.  It’s not fair to favor one soldier while allowing all the others to risk their lives.  It’s not safe, either, to let a kid become a soldier as a favor, even though he’s ill-suited for it—way to get people killed, Rolf.  Emerson basically struck me as a too-soft guy with good intentions, who would make a great father or teacher, but a poor commander.  He just wasn’t ruthless enough to be taking part in a war.  And Leonard, while certainly ruthless when it came to achieving victory, was only displaying sound military thinking.  He wasn’t some kind of xenophobic megalomaniacal monster as portrayed in the novels, or if he was he hid it very well—and subtlety did NOT seem to be his strong point, so I doubt it.

I’m still forming impressions as I go through the saga, but so far I can see the 15th are hopeless as soldiers, Emerson’s priorities are messed up and Leonard is a good example of the kind of command that’s looked for in the military.  I still don’t like him—he’s not a likeable character, the way Gloval or Breetai was—but at least now I can agree with most of what the DOL (the more reasonable members, anyway) say about him.  He’s practically the only voice of sanity in the show.  The only thing I wonder is why he continues to allow these people to serve under him, when they clearly belong elsewhere.

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Posted: 18 February 2006 10:26 AM   [ # 1 ]  
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I think you’ll be surprised at how they end up.  For the most part they are a special group of people but that’s what made them different.  They’ll start to come together in the times that they need one another.

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Posted: 18 February 2006 10:37 AM   [ # 2 ]  
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......... I was light infantry, and I had similar goofballs in my unit. In a unit there is a certain amount of room given for lack of discipline, as long as you know when to be “spit-polish”. And if your C.O. is laid back (which some are, we’d “pick” on one of our Butterbars all the-time ,with him), there is some degree of room for it. The people in charge hafta know they are in charge, if they know it, theres some play allowed (with some ).  Once they get into fighting they are more professional.

  Yeah, Dana’s quirky, but so are many NEW officers, at least she wasnt all rules and reg’s, now THATS annoying. She gave orders, people listened. Would she at that point make a good Supreme Commander, no. But at a Platoon/Company level,(they call it squad sever times, but current T.O.E. puts four tanks at a platoon) she was ok.

  And to remind you , oddball unit is world history have made the difference in war several times.

  Is the unit 100% proffesinal , no, adequate, yes. Remeber most of the military in the time of Southern Cross were of “Green” rating, by the shows description. The vet’s went off to Tirol, this is all of what you had….

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Posted: 18 February 2006 11:30 AM   [ # 3 ]  
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Individual differences mean strength, and within a platoon there is often a lot of camaraderie and goofing off.  What I’m saying is that the 15th was TOO goofy, and furthermore, Dana had little control over them.  Especially Angelo.  With him undermining her authority, and Dana herself continually bucking the authority of her superiors (and getting away with it, despite a line quoted to her at one point stating that “The punishment for insubordination is quite severe”), they were not a very effective unit.  They didn’t know when to cut it out and do what they were told.  The incident with the hostages was particularly bad… Dana was unwilling to kill the enemy due to some vague “feeling” based on her own pro-alien prejudice, and even admitted as such.  As a result of her ineffective fighting, the hostages were taken by the Masters… not that she seemed too unduly upset.  And surprisingly, no disciplinary action was taken… again, why?

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Posted: 18 February 2006 11:56 AM   [ # 4 ]  
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I have many years of service in the Army. There are some units that are really full of goofballs. Also many butterbars (2LT’s) just out of school are more goofy and dangerous than the enemy let alone Dana.
   
As far as efficiency I think the 15th was very efficient when it came time for combat. Apparently so did Supreme Commander Leonard. Consider that he hand picked the 15th for the infiltration mission by saying something to the effect of “I think we all know who the best unit for the job is”.

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Posted: 18 February 2006 12:06 PM   [ # 5 ]  
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Bucking authority and following commanders intent are two different things. When I was in, my anti-armor platoon was one to do things that to an outsider would have appeared to been court martial charges, but we were follwing commanders intent. Quality NCO’s always undermine the authority of new Butterbars because the butterbars don’t know their head from their… posteriors. Yes, the 15th was a little overboard, but then again, looking back at my old platoon, so were we. This is a show, and sometimes characters are taken to extremes. I don’t think the 15th was too far out there, but they were not the spit and polish of “true” military.

The hostage situation, that was bad. I was hoping Dante would have just fired anyways. Dana and the others who were so mortified over killing humaniods was just stupid. But Miyra and Max did the same thing in Macross when they starting m-killing the pods. They should have been just killing them, but they don’t want to kill anymore.

Bowie was a putz, and should have been just drummed out, or killed in battle.

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Posted: 18 February 2006 12:49 PM   [ # 6 ]  
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For all of you who are like “No, it’s completely normal to have squads full of quirky misfits” I’ll just kinda nod that off.  Misfits yes, the 15th… if you think so then fine.  Everything else about how they function as a squad could only really be believed by someone who spends their life wearing a helmet.  Seriously, Dana, on her first day of command leads her squad on a practice run she’s not supposed to go on at the near expense of multiple civilian lives only to end up in a fight on some other base.  She then goes AWOL.  Seriously guys, how quirky can new commanding officers realisitically be?  That quirky?  Yeah, she would have never seen a command again.

That whole series is filled with a bunch of stuff that just makes no logical sense and a bunch of characters that seem to be going for the “lovable losers” title.  For me, finding any of the characters “lovable” was nigh impossible.  Compound upon that the fact that the series does such a poor job gapping The Macross Saga and The New Generation (btw, the series we are talking about here is The Masters, not Southern Cross - which would be the original).  The show gets plenty of opportunities to illucidate the history between the Zents and Masters, the history of the protoculture matrix, the history of the Invid, and the reasoning why everything is taking place… and does NOTHING with it.  Instead we get terrible conversations on The Masters flagship where they reiterate their own ability to be unreasonable instead of better defining their intentions and reasoning.  Argh, this series is such a failure.

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Posted: 18 February 2006 01:38 PM   [ # 7 ]  
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zentraedi_advisor


I just want to briefly say that has got to be one of the most unbiased, well thought out posts on the Master’s saga as a whole.

Kudo’s for not tainting your views with others opinion. 

My last quick thought is for the plot holes. Yes, some things don’t make sense. However, I think Macek did a damn fine job considering the circumstances. That’s all. Good post B-)

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Posted: 18 February 2006 01:42 PM   [ # 8 ]  
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southern cross is slow. watch it with a lot of red bull

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Posted: 18 February 2006 03:48 PM   [ # 9 ]  
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....... I used to hate “Masters”, untill I grew to appreciate the GROPO aspect of it, thats what kicks most people in the teeth, its not a “glorious” show. There is no glory on the ground. But the more I gave it a chance, the more I appreciated it, even grew to recognize similarities with people I “worked” beside. The charachters arent as glorious either, they were hoping Miss Sterling would be a mirror image (or near to) of her father/mother, with the exception of ability, she isnt. However she does show more humanity than either of her parents put together, and more hutzpa(sp?) !!! BTW when Angelo WAS out of line she tended to literally trip him up and put him back in his place!! Angelo grows to accept and appreciate here and becomes loyal (not blindly , however). Its now my second favorite series, New Generation being first, maybee Shadow Chronicles will drop it to third, who knows? But give it more of a chance, and watch it a few more times, it’ll grow on you….

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Posted: 18 February 2006 03:49 PM   [ # 10 ]  
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...... so many people dislike Leonard, he fought a less “glamorous ” war as well…....

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Posted: 18 February 2006 04:34 PM   [ # 11 ]  
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“Everything else about how they function as a squad could only really be believed by someone who spends their life wearing a helmet.”
Micronian Ace 124918Feb06.

While I have wore a helmet(military, flight, and fire types) for most of my life, I don’t think it has impared my judgement like this statement seems to imply. But then again, what do I know in comparasion. I’m just a stupid groundpounder, someone who can’t obviously grasp simple concepts. I have to quit typing now so I can have my diaper changed and the corks put back on my forks.

Warhammer, I think you hit it right on the head. Ground combat is not “cool”. Flying planes is cool. Using music as a weapon is cool. Whatever is cool is right, and no use of logic or experience will ever change that.

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Posted: 18 February 2006 05:13 PM   [ # 12 ]  
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HT, instead of taking that as some sort of attack on you, or anyone else for that matter, you could have discussed how it’s perfectly reasonable to expect Dana to be in charge of that group despite her flagrant misconduct.  You did not so I would think this means you conceed my point as much as you hate me for making it.

Also note, I’m not saying that anyone who likes the show needs to wear a helmet.  I’m saying that anyone who believes that there’s a shread of reality in how the military interactions play out should probably be wearing a helmet (especially when it comes to military discipline).  People who like the show obviously like it in spite of this flaw.  I do not.

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Posted: 18 February 2006 05:54 PM   [ # 13 ]  
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I will dispute your point. In my years in the service I have had the “pleasure” of breaking in quite a few new butterbars and I can tell you that Dana fits right in. While her conduct is unprofessional and crude I can cite many examples of real 2LT’s doing things just as stupid and unprofessional as Dana and still continuing in their careers. 2LT’s while school trained lack the maturity and experience to be truly effective as Commanders. This is the reason that in RL 2LT’s are not Commanders. Put a 2LT in command in RL and watch the circus that ensues. I find the things that Dana did quite consistent with what could/would happen if you put the average 2LT in command. (There are exceptions to this prior enlisted service officers are a different story)

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Posted: 18 February 2006 06:15 PM   [ # 14 ]  
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If you want me to discuss why I don’t feel Dana should be removed (other then the “let’s not shoot them, they’re humaniod thing) from Command of the 15th, I will.

In order to have the highest in unit integrity and cohesion in combat, new leaders must estibilish themselves as not only the leader of the unit, but also that they are someone who the troops can count on during times of high stress.

The best example of how Dana starts estibilishing her position as a leader of a military unit is when she went on that “wreckless joyride” with the hovercycles. She shows the rank and file of the 15th that she can “play the high risk game” by doing those manuvers through town. She begins to form the personal bonds with the troops. Yes, Dante was not very appreciative of her actions at that time, but he also did not do much to stop her either. It is my belief that Dante knew that Dana needed to start the vertical bonding of soldier to leader. Stong bonds can be counterproductive in the case in that you are so bonded with the others that you don’t want them to get hurt. Dana pulled off a mission that interjected danger (moderate to high danger, given that someone could have been hurt) to ensure that the cautionary aspect of unit cohesion did not interfere with later military operations.

Later, when the 15th tangled with Marie’s Black Knights, Dana continued the building process with the troops. She led them in engaging another unit, further building the espirt de corps of the 15th. While the outsider might see these actions as cause for discharge, I see them as a good combat leader managing and encouraging positive combat stress behavior.

I’m not going to say Dana did everything right. She did things that just make me shake my head. But she did a lot of things right. Things that the detractors of the Saga seem to overlook or not understand. You know something Micronian Ace, your helmet comment is exactly right. Only those who have wore the helmet could understand why Dana is a better then average leader who while making mistakes, some severe, she also led a military unit through a series of difficult battles successfully.

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Posted: 18 February 2006 06:59 PM   [ # 15 ]  
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What did her troops learn when she then ran away from the military and hid in the streets after the tangle?

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