MGM // 1999 // 973 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Jonathan Nelson (Retired) // June 27th, 2003
"Welcome back SG-1."
"Thank you sir, it's good to be back."
Long ago, I remembered hearing about the Stargate movie being spun-off into a TV series on Showtime. Not feeling it necessary to plunk down $20 extra each month for the privilege to watch that channel, I never saw the series. Ever since my local Fox station picked up the show however, I have caught a few episodes here and there, and much to my surprise found it to be a mostly intelligent spin-off. All the episodes I saw were jumbled up season-wise, and I had no overall idea what was going on with the plot as a whole, but as a series I found every episode self-contained enough that even with my limited knowledge of the series outside of the movie, I could still understand the motives and actions of the characters enough without having scratching my head in confusion.
I have heard from various fan sites and show aficionados that season three is by far the best to date, and from watching the entire season I can easily see where they are coming from. The plot lines that interweave through the season mix perfectly with the pre-established sequence of events from the original movie. There is enough variation of stories that plot overlap is kept at a minimum. Not every episode has the SG team stranded on some alien planet searching for a technological miracle that many Star Trek episodes are prone to have. True, in the Stargate series they do use the "alien" version of Deus Ex Machina, but it feels much less like a cheat than when the Star Trek writers throw in techno-babble to save themselves when they write themselves into a corner.
Here are the episodes included in this season with the description given on the case:
* "Into The Fire"
Hathor captures O'Neill and implants him with a Goa'uld symbiote that could eventually kill him. Meanwhile, O'Neill's rescue party is defeated by Hathor's invincible energy barrier, and time is running out. Is there any way to save O'Neill?
When SG-1 hunts for a Goa'uld lord living on Earth, they discover this powerful alien in the form of a religious leader with a heavily armed cult following. O'Neill faces off with both government agents and the cult in a fiery clash that may destroy them all.
* "Fair Game"
O'Neill attempts to stop a Goa'uld invasion of Earth. But to call off the attack, the Goa'uld lords demand the destruction of the Stargate. O'Neill doesn't trust them -- but the fate of Earth lies in the balance.
A mysterious tablet discovered on a distant planet infects anyone who touches it with a hallucinogen. The remarkable stone infects Teal'c and, before long, the entire team except Hammond. Can Hammond stop it and save SG-1 alone?
* "Learning Curve"
As part of an exchange program with the planet Orban, O'Neill travels to Earth with an alien girl who possesses incredible technical knowledge. But by the time O'Neill discovers the truth behind the child's superior mind...it may be too late for them all.
* "Point of View"
Alternate reality versions of Carter and Kawalsky are found in Area 51. Brought to Stargate Command, they start to deteriorate. However, return to their own reality means certain death, as their world has been invaded by Goa'ulds!
* "Deadman Switch"
SG-1 is captured by Aris Boch, a bounty hunter chasing an evil Goa'uld named Kel'tar. He offers them freedom in exchange for their help. They agree, only to find that Kel'tar is in fact a Tok'ra, whose capture would endanger countless others.
SG-1 encounters a medieval civilization and frees a woman tied to a stake as a sacrifice to a demon. With the woman freed, the demon vows to destroy the village unless the SG-1 team is offered up in appeasement.
* "Rules of Engagement"
SG-1 lands in the middle of a blazing battle between Stargate soldiers and a Jaffa army. Believing the soldiers to be the missing-in-action SG-11 team, O'Neill and the others provide assistance...until the mystery team turns its weapons on SG-1!
* "Forever in a Day"
During a rescue of captured Abydonians, Daniel finds his missing wife, Sha're. But instead of greeting him, she attacks him -- leading to her death at the hands of Teal'c. Distraught over her death and angry at Teal'c, Daniel quits Stargate Command.
* "Past and Present"
SG-1 encounters an entire planet suffering from amnesia The planet's leader, a woman named Ke'ra, returns to Earth with SG-1 to find a cure. But even as Ke'ra and Daniel develop a mutual attraction, SG-1 suspects she may be not who she appears to be.
* "Jolinar's Memories"
Carter's father has been captured on a moon transformed into a literal hell. As no one has ever escaped from hell except for Jolinar, Tok'ra technology is used to access Jolinar's memories from Carter's mind...but not before an old foe shows up to foil the mission!
* "The Devil You Know"
During an attempt to rescue Carter's father, SG-1 is caught by one of hell's denizens, determined to use the information they possess to overthrow the Goa'uld lord Sokar. Using Tok'ra technology, the team is forced to relive painful memories...but how much torture can they take?
During routine medical exams, Dr. Fraiser injects each team member with a sedative, rendering them unconscious. Teal'c awakens and sees General Hammond conspiring with Fraiser and two aliens. What has happened at Stargate Command, and can SG-1 overpower its own "allies"?
When SG-1 is invited to the Tollan planet to attend a ceremony called a "Triad," they are shocked to discover it is actually a trial to determine the fate of their old friend Skaara. Daniel and O'Neill must argue a case against a mysterious Goa'uld named Zipacna to save Skaara's personality.
En route to a paradise plent, SG-1 is secretly implanted with an alien spore that evolves into a being called Urgo. Though Urgo claims to be friendly, the suspicious team members work feverishly to rid themselves of the creature before it destroys their minds.
* "A Hundred Days"
SG-1 visits the friendly planet Edora and gathers to watch the annual meteor shower that lights up the sky like a fiery rain. But suddenly, wayward asteroids bombard the planet, destroying the Stargate. Can O'Neill and the team ever return home?
* "Shades of Grey"
On a mission to Tollana, O'Neill steals a weapon and takes it back to Earth. When Hammond discovers the deception, he suspends O'Neill. But O'Neill's misconduct is only the beginning of a mystery that could have catastrophic consequences.
* "New Ground"
SG-1 journeys to a planet where their arrival ignites a war between two cultures. A powerful spy realizes his side could win the war is SG-1 and the Stargate can be neutralized. Will O'Neill and his team make the same realization and save themselves in time?
* "Maternal Instinct"
Bra'tac arrives at Stargate Command with a wild story about interplanetary warfare with Apophis. Daniel deduces that the battle is over Apophis' child, Harsesis, and races to save the child before Apophis finds him first.
* "Crystal Skull"
Daniel finds a glowing crystal skull identical to one first discovered by his grandfather decades before. When Daniel stares into the skull's eyes, a mysterious force makes him disappear. Now SG-1 must find Daniel's grandfather to unlock the mystery of the skull and bring Daniel back.
O'Neill is kidnapped by the Asgard and taken aboard a ship, where he encounters a swarm of metallic, bug-like creatures on a mission to destroy Earth. O'Neill plans to blow up the ship and sacrifice himself, but can the Stargate team find another way to stop this apocalyptic scheme?
The acting level does appear to be better than usual for this season, and Richard Dean Anderson in particular has some very well done scenes. The rest of the main cast puts in solid performances as well, never devolving to saccharine delivery. Two actors from the movie also make guest appearances in separate episodes, Erick Avari as Daniel's father-in-law and [actor] as his brother-in-law Skaara. Their presence resonates with viewers of the movie, and in keeping with character adds needed continuity, as some of the only actors to stay the same from the movie to the series.
Each episode is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. The picture quality is sharp with only a few noticeable elements of grain, particularly in the heavy fog-laden environments in a couple of episodes. Black levels could be darker, but for a television show the colors stay true to the original broadcast. There was only one noticeable moment of color bleed, in the episode "Jolinar's Memories," but when you are trying to depict Hell and you use a lot of fire, these things can happen.
Three extra features accompany this collection, entitled Secret Files of the SGC: Colonel Jack O'Neill, Secret Files of the SGC: The Stargate Universe, and Secret Files of the SGC: Personnel Files. Each is a short documentary looking at Richard Dean Anderson's character in depth, memorable episodes, and the group dynamic of the cast and crew, respectively. Unfortunately, there are no commentaries for the individual episodes, but there is some commentary from the writers, directors, and cast members during these featurettes to make up for the shameless self-promotion. Particularly interesting is a segment wherein the writers describe how real life sometimes interferes with the make-believe, and how they have to deal with such intrusions. Specifically, Michael Shanks, the actor who plays Daniel, had to have his appendix removed right before filming on one episode. How they resolve this medical marvel in the show definitely put a smile on my face. Just grit your teeth and bear it during the awful "dressing down" Gen. Hammond and Dr. Fraiser give you before each segment, it'll be over soon.
This series demands a lot of pre-viewing knowledge. If you have never seen the original Stargate movie or any of the previous seasons' episodes, you can get lost quite easily. Not that you can't figure it out (you're smart people, you'll figure it out), but it is a much more enjoyable experience with at least a little pre-knowledge of the series before diving into season three.
Fans of the series probably have already pre-ordered this set, and are drooling and foaming at the mouth for the mailman to deliver it. Wipe your mouths, people, this is an expensive rug. Neophytes to the series would be best to watch the original movie before plunging into this season.
Not guilty! The SG-1 team is free to explore the galaxy to protect us from the Goa'uld, but the MGM DVD production team has to stay behind until they deliver more extra features to their eager fans. Case dismissed.
Review content copyright © 2003 Jonathan Nelson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 973 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Secret Files of the SGC: Colonel Jack O'Neill
* Secret Files of the SGC: The Stargate Universe
* Secret Files of the SGC: Personnel Files