Stargate SG-1: Volume 29 Review
The 1994 science-fiction film Stargate was one of that year's surprises, being a low-key film from the director/producer team of Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin prior to the globe-straddling success of Independence Day. As in the original film, a small team of military and science types pass through the Stargate to another world, where, much like Sam Beckett's quantum leaping or the travels of Kirk and Picard's versions of the Enterprise from planet to planet, the SG-1 team - actually one of many Stargate exploration teams - can now travel across the galaxy to explore new planets, discover alien technology and, when the opportunity arises, fight the Stargate team's enemies, the Goa'uld.
The television show continued with Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Shanks taking on the roles of Jack O'Neill and Dr Daniel Jackson - Kurt Russell and James Spader had these roles in the film - before Shanks left during Season 6, requiring his replacement by Corin Nemec in the part of Jonas Quinn, an off world scientist. Otherwise, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge and Don Davis complete the cast, as Samantha Carter, Teal'c and General Hammond, all of whom are assuredly led by Richard Dean Anderson, joining the cast following the wrapping up of MacGuyver.
Sight Unseen (42m14s): When SG-1 return through the stargate with an alien artefact with an unknown function, Jonas reports seeing aliens passing through the walls of the facility. Despite this being investigated as a medical condition, soon there are others within the base reporting these sightings and, as O'Neill leaves for a weekend's fishing, a local garage owner reports seeing aliens passing through his roadside sign. As Sam and Jonas come up with a cure, the sightings spread outside the SG-1 facility and despite the team closing off the local area, the garage owner leaves town, forcing O'Neill to track him across the US.
Smoke & Mirrors (42m14s): Continuing a story line from a previous episode of Stargate SG-1, which is summarised in this episode's opening minutes, O'Neill becomes the lead suspect when a senator is assassinated. Under arrest and with evidence mounting against him, including a troubled relationship with the senator and CCTV footage of him leaving a hotel opposite the site of the assassination, O'Neill requests that SG-1 investigate on his behalf. As Carter, Teal'c and Jonas take on three different leads, they find that duplicating technology gained from alien investigations at Area 51 was used to frame O'Neill and that Senator Kinsey is still alive, hoping to use the assassination attempt to gain sympathy in his run for the presidency.
Paradise Lost (42m10s): Once again, the events of a previous episode of Stargate SG-1 carry through to the present as Colonel Maybourne calls in on O'Neill claiming to have access to a cache of alien weapons but demands a presidential pardon for leading SG-1 to its location. Once O'Neill agrees to accompany Maybourne to the alien planet alongside Carter, Maybourne shoots Carter and passes through the locked access doorway with O'Neill in pursuit. As Maybourne admits that there was no weapons cache, simply that he wanted a way off Earth where, being on the run, he had little future, he and O'Neill realise that they are not where they had planned. As SG-1 investigate but fail to reopen the doorway, they call on the Tok'ra for advice but not even scans of the destination planet reveal O'Neill and Maybourne's location, leaving Carter to examine video footage in search of her colleague.
Metamorphosis (42m14s): When a Russian Stargate team is brought back to the US facility with one of Nirrti's test subjects, she testifies that Nirrti had been experimenting on changing DNA to produce more perfect humans. Before any testing can be carried out, the test subject completely breaks down into constituent matter, leaving O'Neill to take the SG-1 team and the Russians to Nirrti's planet in order to prevent any further experimentation. Before they can act against Nirrti, however, the two Stargate teams are captured, leaving Nirrti free to experiment against them.
Stargate SG-1, being a relatively recent television show, has been transferred in its intended aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and looks fine if not as remarkable as other recent shows like The Shield or Boomtown. Indeed, without exception, the show looks cheap when compared to the treatments given to other series but the transfer onto DVD is good with few noticeable flaws on the image.
Unlike the broadcast of the television show, although this may depend on the region in which it is watched, Stargate SG-1 has been transferred with a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround audio track but which never offers that much presence from the rear channels. With most of the audio information from the front three speakers, the rear two are used mainly for ambience and sound effects but the audio track is clean and the dialogue is clear against the effects and background music.
Volume 29 of Stargate SG-1 has been transferred onto DVD with the following range of extras:
SG1 Directors Series, Smoke And Mirrors (5m41s, 1.33:1, 2.0 Stereo): Peter DeLuise, director of Smoke And Mirrors describes the direction of one scene from this episode - the sniper shot on Ronny Cox - and the involvement of the cast and crew on preparing for this shot, which lasts no longer than a minute in the show.
SG1 Directors Series, Metamorphosis (6m35s, 1.33, 2.0 Stereo): Once again, Peter DeLuise has been interviewed on set, preparing the cast and crew for two scenes from the episode Metamorphosis.
Season 6, Stills Gallery 5: There are forty still images taken from the episodes on this disc and PR shots
Sight Unseen Audio Commentary: Director Peter Woeste, Director Of Photography Andrew Wilson and Chief Lighting Technician Rick Dean provide a commentary that, despite the roles of the three participants is much less technical than otherwise threatened. Whilst there are moments when lighting and direction is dwelled upon, this begins in a chatty fashion but periods of silence begin to creep in as time passes.
Smoke And Mirrors Audio Commentary: Clearly getting someone in who's more used to time spent in front of, rather than behind the camera, can do a commentary no harm as actor Gary Jones joins director Peter DeLuise and Visual Effects Producer James Tichenor to record an irreverent, occasionally funny commentary on anything from auditioning, pronunciation of Teal'c's name by relations and
Paradise Lost Audio Commentary: Executive Producers Robert C Cooper and Michael Greenburg provide a dry commentary
Metamorphosis Audio Commentary: Peter DeLuise and Visual Effects Producer James Tichenor
Volume 30 Episode Previews:
- Disclosure (46s, 1.33:1, 2.0 Stereo)
- Forsaken (46s, 1.33:1, 2.0 Stereo)
- The Changeling (46s, 1.33:1, 2.0 Stereo)
- Memento (46s, 1.33:1, 2.0 Stereo)
WWW (Weblink, 16s): Weblink to the Fanclub site but done live-action with Amanda Tapping.
The issue with shows on Sky and other digital satellite channels, that eventually get picked up on Channel 4, is that they can get lost within the schedules. Channel 4 are quite the worst culprit at this, often pushing US imports late into the night or early in the morning, whilst Sky schedule so many repeats that it's difficult to know where one is the complete run of episodes when dipping into a single show.
DVD is the saviour for many a television show, presenting up to four episodes of a show like this on a single disc and allowing viewers to soak up three hours of Stargate SG-1 in a single sitting. As a result, it's only on DVD that I've discovered Stargate SG-1, despite liking the movie, but it's easily an equal for Star Trek, albeit without the occasionally pious storytelling.
Anderson is clearly the star of the cast, with Tapping offering good support and amongst the excellent effects, which are as good as has been seen on television, it's the warmth of the interplay between the characters and the mix of humour, action and emotion that marks Stargate SG-1 out as a good, if never groundbreaking sci-fi television series.