Our reviews of Stargate SG-1 (published March 6th, 2000), Stargate SG-1: The Complete Second Season (published September 3rd, 2002), Stargate SG-1: The Complete Sixth Season (published July 12th, 2004), Stargate SG-1: Season Seven (published February 9th, 2005), Stargate: SG-1: The Complete Ninth Season (published November 29th, 2006), and Stargate SG-1: Children of the Gods (published July 21st, 2009) are also available.
"Welcome back SG-1."
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.
Facts of the Case
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"
• "Fair Game"
• "Learning Curve"
• "Point of View"
• "Deadman Switch"
• "Rules of Engagement"
• "Forever in a Day"
• "Past and Present"
• "Jolinar's Memories"
• "The Devil You Know"
• "A Hundred Days"
• "Shades of Grey"
• "New Ground"
• "Maternal Instinct"
• "Crystal Skull"
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.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
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.
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Scales of Justice
• Secret Files of the SGC: Colonel Jack O'Neill
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