Stargate SG-1: Volume 22 Review
As I have previously reviewed a disc from the fifth season of Stargate SG-1 I will direct you to my general comments of the state of the show here. This review will therefore concentrate on the episodes contained on this disc, which are:
Between Two Fires
The SG-1 team revisit the Tollan home world for a funeral and discover that they have inexplicably reversed their policy on sharing technology. What seems like a great deal to exchange trinium for advanced weapons begins to look sour when Carter’s Tollan friend Narim (Garwin Sanford) warns them that there is more to the deal than it first seems.
As a follow up to the episode 2010 the SG-1 team make contact with a new race who appear to have much to offer as a powerful new ally. But these are the Aschen, who were encountered with disastrous results in the future. With only a bizarre note from a future O’Neill to raise suspicions, Carter, O’Neill and an ambassador negotiate, whilst Daniel Jackson and Teal’c dig deeper (literally) to find the truth.
Sam Carter is abducted whilst at home on Earth. O’Neill sets out to investigate, forcing him to team up with disgraced Colonel Harry Maybourne (Tom McBeath). Crossing paths with Simmons (John de Lancie) and the NID, the trail leads to a reclusive billionaire named Adrian Conrad.
The 100th episode of SG-1. A spacecraft approaching Earth is linked to a ship found on Earth via alien Martin Lloyd (Willie Garson) in the episode Point of no return. When they track down Martin they find him consulting on a low-budget cable TV show called “Wormhole X-treme!” which bears an uncanny resemblance to the real SG-1. Martin meanwhile, has no memory of his previous encounters with SG-1, or that he is himself an alien.
On long running shows such as this the quality of every show cannot always be of the highest level, but the quality of season five has generally been good, and in these four episodes we have some of the better examples. Three of these episodes are direct follow-ups to previous stories, with 2001 in particular being a very good “pre-story” to the earlier 2010. This disc also features a nice balance of the different styles the show features, with Earth based (Measures and Wormhole) and alien based (2001 and Between Two Fires), serious episodes and comedy ones (Wormhole). Which brings us to Wormhole X-treme!, which is a very funny episode and a great way to mark reaching 100 shows. It hilariously sends up SG-1 and in fact many shows of the genre, by ruthlessly picking plot holes in the concept. “Do you think aliens eat apples?” Martin complains to the props guy. “Why not, they speak English!” he replies. Why, asks the “Wormhole” actress to the crew, when her character is out of phase so that she can walk through walls, she doesn’t fall through the floor as well? Their reaction is priceless. It’s a funny and affectionate send up of the SF genre in a similar way to Galaxy Quest.
In summary, four decent episodes of a great SF television show. The dedicated fan will get more out of knowing the previous back story to several of the episodes here, but even the casual viewer should enjoy the Wormhole X-treme! episode.
As I’ve said on previous SG-1 reviews, the picture quality is a lot better than the TV broadcast I’ve personally seen these on before, certainly than the lousy analogue cable signal I currently receive. The 1.85:1 anamorphic image also presents the whole picture, rather than the chopped-down-the-middle 4:3 picture that can be seen on Sky One. The only complaint was that there was just the tiniest of artefacting on one scene in Desperate Measures, but not enough to get too worried about.
Again the sound quality is better than TV broadcasts, being in Dolby Digital 5.1. Whilst by no means the most aggressive 5.1 track ever heard, there is enough multi-channel use to improve the listening experience over analogue surround.
There are also 5.1 tracks dubbed into German and Spanish available here.
Now that we have reached season five of the show, the extras are following a set pattern on these discs. These include:
There are commentaries for each of the four episodes featured here. Each are group of three efforts, all featuring the director, which in this case is either Peter DeLuise or William Gereghty, the visual effects supervisor James Tichenor, and either director of photography Jim Menard or producer Joseph Mallozzi. Unlike other discs there are unfortunately no cast members contributing here. Pick of the bunch is for Wormhole with DeLuise, Tichenor and Mallozzi. As this is a fun episode they enjoy themselves talking about all the in-jokes, and how things aren’t so very different filming the actual show. Largely screen specific, pointing out such things as how extras masquerading as crew really are crew, they briefly fly off on a tangent and discuss plot holes in The Six Million Dollar Man. Well worth a listen. Previously going through the commentaries on SG-1 Vol 20 I personally found Peter DeLuise a little too jokey, but on this and 2001 with the same group, he does a very good job. 2001 isn’t quite as entertaining as Wormhole, but they do visit the topic of why all alien races speak English, and point out an entire constipation sub-plot that you would have probably have missed!
The other two episodes feature commentary from director William Gereghty, Tichenor and Menard. Gereghty is a lot drier than DeLuise to listen to, but does have some interesting information to deliver. Given that the other two participants are the visual effects guy and the director of photography then unsurprisingly these are more technical commentaries. On Between Two Fires they talk about the effects design – and how they would have liked to have improved some of them with a bigger budget. Amongst other things on Desperate Measures they discuss how happy they are to be shooting widescreen rather than in 4x3 old-style television format. Certainly for the show’s fans, worth a listen.
The video diary section continues, this time featuring Teal’c actor Christopher Judge. This one is a little different as although it begins in the usual hand-held camera method, Judge focuses specifically on the production of the episode The Warrior - as he had developed the story for it. Talking with director Peter DeLuise, they focus on the filming of key scenes, notably a major hand-to-hand combat sequence, and look at the filming methods used. If you haven’t seen the episode in question (which you won’t have done if watching on these discs for the first time) then I’d avoid this featurette, as it gives away all the elements of the story.
The rest of the extras include something labelled as “WWW”, which is in fact a brief fanclub plug. Finally there are episode previews for the four shows on the next disc. Taken from US TV trailers, they are appallingly crass and make the show seem like it is on a par with Wormhole X-treme!. I beg you, do not watch these!
These discs could be ripe for ROM content, but alas none is provided.
Four more quality episodes of SG-1 on a good quality disc. This disc is particularly worth obtaining for the Wormhole Xtreme! episode, but the other episodes are also good here. The usual extras of commentaries for all episodes and the video diary featurette make these SG-1 discs essential purchases for all fans of the show.