Judge David M. Gutiérrez still gets a busy signal when he tries to dial his ex-girlfriend's Stargate.
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 Third Season (published June 27th, 2003), Stargate SG-1: The Complete Sixth Season (published July 12th, 2004), Stargate SG-1: Season Seven (published February 9th, 2005), and Stargate SG-1: Children of the Gods (published July 21st, 2009) are also available.
They're putting the band back together.
Stargate: SG-1: The Complete Ninth Season reaches a turning point as a mission ends, new cast members arrive, and old cast members leave. Does this spell disaster for our intrepid team of interstellar and outer-dimensional adventurers? Or are we witnessing a show rebirth?
Facts of the Case
Hidden in a Colorado Air Force base is a key to wonder and adventure left behind by an alien race—a wormhole, a Stargate, that carries people from point A to point B instantaneously. Sanctioned and bankrolled by the U.S. Government, expeditionary teams search for allies and new technology in their war against the Goa'uld, an alien civilization that became the basis for Egyptian mythology.
Finally victorious over the Goa'uld, the SG-1 team has split up. General O'Neil (Richard Dean Anderson, MacGyver), Major Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping, Earthsea), resident Goa'uld Teal'c (Christopher Judge, Snow Dogs), and Dr. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks, Andromeda) have gone their separate ways. As a reward for his service against the Goa'uld, Colonel Cameron Mitchell (Ben Browder, Farscape) is given his choice of command. He wants SG-1 and he wants the old team back together. He manages to get them all under his command, save General O'Neil. Now, Mitchell leads SG-1 against a new intergalactic threat, the Ori, a group of deadly religious pilgrims.
Usually in a review for the ninth year of a series, I'd advise that starting this far into a show is counterproductive. Not so here. While the show takes most of the first six episodes to assemble the new SG-1 team, it simultaneously supplies Colonel Mitchell's backstory, introducing the main villain for the season, giving the old viewer a quick refresher, and giving the new viewer a chance to get acquainted with all things Stargate: SG-1.
Year Nine retains much of what has come before but with a little something extra. Like the Goa'uld, the Ori are a powerful alien threat, but they appear to be the strongest opponents SG-1 has faced. They're a bit nebulous in the source of their power, but they can easily level civilizations and have the religious dictatorship thing down pat. They can even count Julian Sands (Warlock) in their ranks.
One of Stargate's famous elements is explaining how alien races shaped earth mythology. The Ancients, an extremely powerful and enlightened alien intelligence, may be the basis for the Arthurian legend, for example. As interesting as this may be, it occasionally crosses the line from interesting to goofy. Seeing knights in armor and wizards around body-armored commandoes creates an odd juxtaposition. I like the idea; it just comes off strangely in execution.
The new recurring and regular cast members are among this season's high points. Browder's turn as Col. Mitchell works well; watching him go from naïve and enthused groupie commando to assured team leader is engrossing and enjoyable. He works well with the rest of the cast, making the loss of Richard Dean Anderson easier to take. Vala (Claudia Black, Farscape), the intergalactic thief, returns for a chunk of episodes to assist the SG-1 team and herself. Not only does she add sex appeal and loads of dark humor, she also nearly steals every one of her scenes. She's probably one of the most natural and gifted genre actresses I've seen in a long while. Beau Bridges (The Fabulous Baker Boys) slips comfortably into his role as Maj. Gen. Hank Landry. He plays Landry as though he's the embodiment of every great coach that ever lived.
The returning members of the cast—Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge, and Michael Shanks—prove that their ninth year on the show amounts to more than just putting on a pair of familiar shoes. At this point, the trio could easily do their roles while comatose, but they still put in all the enthusiasm and enjoyment the show's viewers have come to expect. As far as this reviewer is concerned, they remain the show's compass and soul.
The writing remains strong, mixing humor and adventure along the way. The directing on the show is equally strong, always retaining its quick pacing and excitement; Martin Wood and company never take the stance that it's just a television show they're directing—they're making 45-minute movies.
Stargate: SG-1: The Complete Ninth Season doesn't skimp on the extras. All 20 episodes feature a commentary by cast and crew, though some are more interesting than others. Each disc includes a "SG-1 Director's Series" featurette that highlights and explains the evolution and changes of specific episodes. Also included are "SG-1 Beyond the Gate" featurettes delving into various aspects of production. Finally, each disc contains a still photo gallery. If you've watched the episodes, you can skip the photos.
One thing this DVD set has going for it is its picture quality. Always sharp and crisp, Year Nine looks terrific. Unfortunately, the sound didn't quite measure up to the picture, but comes very close. The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound allows you to hear every laser blast and explosion clearly.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
To some, Stargate: SG-1: The Complete Ninth Season might just be a big rerun. True, the show hasn't reinvented its own wheel, but does it have to?
Yes, one must suspend one's disbelief quite a bit with Stargate SG-1. Everyone speaks English, everyone dresses like they are from the Middle Ages, and everywhere looks like Canada. It's a show on a budget and sometimes you can see the price tag.
Stargate: SG-1: The Complete Ninth Season is one great ride. New characters, new enemies, and a fresh helping of the stuff that made it great to begin with make this show work. See it.
All charges against Stargate: SG-1: The Complete Ninth Season are hereby dropped. Go save the galaxy. Case dismissed.
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Scales of Justice
• Commentary tracks by cast and crew
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