Stargate SG-1: Volume 37 Review
Before taking a short break from this site - if a year can be described as short - and having developed an interest in Stargate SG-1 thanks to review copies of earlier sets, I tried to watch it on Channel 4. Or rather, thanks to a interminable decision by their marketing and branding department, T4, their teenage strand fronted by the gap-mouthed Vernon Kay and the dizzyingly stupid June Sarpong. Anyway, it was a failure, leading to Stargate SG-1 being the kind of show that this viewer can only enjoy on DVD. Yes, the advertisements got in the way but - crucially for a science-fiction show - it also appears very small on broadcast television, whereas DVD lends it a little more grandeur.
Whilst it wasn't this that brought be out of a brief period of inactivity, the sight of a set of Stargate SG-1 review copies was gently heartwarming, much like returning to the home of an old friend and catching up on events that, through a lack of innovation, are resolutely familiar. Innovation, though, is not always welcome and Stargate SG-1 has lasted as long as it has through steadfastly delivering what it's very good at doing - blockbuster sci-fi, humour and great, big story arcs that are dealt with quite affably rather than seriously. There's also much military fetishism, although this tends to be expressed more in the SG-1 team mucking in together rather than adopting a particular interest in hardware and the entire show is a cheerful romp across the galaxy. This is typified by this two-part episodes opening scene in which Daniel is deciphering a message of great importance whilst Jack nods absent-mindedly and shaves. That something as portentous as an alien message is discussed whilst O'Neill deliberately drops the phone in the water that he's using to clean his razor is the kind of light sci-fi typical of the show.
It is an enjoyable show but not, I suspect, one that offers a life-changing experience. The number of fan sites devoted to Stargate SG-1 on the Internet goes some way to proving me wrong on that matter but, equally, nothing about it seems to encourage the same devotion as Star Trek or Babylon 5. And yet I missed it...strange, that. It may, therefore, be a better show than one might think and, I think, better than the dreadful treatment that it receives by being shown during T4. There's little in life that's improved by having Vernon Kay associated with it and Stargate SG-1 suffers from having the Bolton bollock bookend it. Were they to give it half a chance, these DVD's might not be necessary but, as it is, they're the only way to enjoy it.
Lost City (82m01s): Being the last episode of Season Seven, Lost City is a two-parter that gets a DVD all of its own. Daniel alerts Jack O'Neill and Stargate command of an ancient repository of alien information and with the support of SGC, the team travel off-world in search of it before Anubis can assemble an attack on Earth. As they reach the site where the repository can be accessed, SG-1 come under attack from Anubis' ships and, sensing that no other option exists, Jack allows his memories to be rewritten and re-created by the Ancients before they return to SGC.
Knowing that the next few days will be the last in which he retains his own personality before that of the Ancients takes over, he goes to a country retreat over the weekend, ostensibly to get away from SG-1 but he finds that SG-1 have followed him. As he reports back to SGC, Bra'tac visits to inform SGC that Anubis will be leading an attack on Earth within three days. Jack, however, through his gaining of the memories of the Ancients knows the location of the Lost City, where a large cache of alien weaponry exists.
Meanwhile, Kinsey escorts Dr Weir to the White House for a meeting with the President, during which he invites her to take command of the Stargate project. During her first meeting with SG-1, to which she is accompanied by Vice-President Kinsey, Jack offers to find the weapons cache within the limited amount of time that he has, leading to Carter, Daniel and O'Neill heading off-world whilst Weir fights for support for SG-1 as they seek to prevent Anubis' attack. But as Anubis arrives in Earth's orbit and SG-1 learn that the Lost City is actually back on Earth, will they make it back in time to stop Anubis?
As with earlier volumes released by MGM, Volume 37 is available in its intended aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and looks as good as you would expect. Indeed, if your only experience of the show is the blocky, heavily-artefacted Sky broadcasts, it looks much better than what you might think. The picture can be a little flat but it's never dull and colours and detail are both very good.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround audio track is a perfect match for the picture with little noise, a clean reproduction of the dialogue and no distortion. The rear channels do get used quite thoroughly but not to the extent where you suspect the makers are showing off.
Preview of Stargate Atlantis (22m57s): Currently showing on Five in this country, Stargate Atlantis is the first spin-off from Stargate SG-1 and this bonus feature mixes clips from the show with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew to set up the first Stargate team to be permanently positioned outside of their home galaxy.
Inside Lost City: This is a three-part behind-the-scenes look at various aspects of the last episode of Season Seven. Broken into The Storyboard Process (2m51s), Bra'tac vs Ronan (4m12s) and Stargate Magic (7m07s), there is also an option to Play All. None of it, however, feels at all substantial and much of it resembles footage that was shot for the Director's Series extra but which didn't make it in.
SG-1 Directors Series (13m43s): Director Martin Wood is the star of this extra that is typical of the releases of the show on DVD. It's a short but reasonably detailed behind-the-scenes feature that takes a number of locations and looks into the director's preparation for shooting. Here, we get the sub-Antartic chamber and Jack O'Neill's country cottage with lots of direct-to-camera commentary from Wood.
Easter Egg (1m54s): Richard Dean Anderson recalls his life as the world's worst mime before giving - and it is here that he lives up to his reputation - a demonstration.
Stills Gallery: Forty-four images from Lost City have been included.
Audio Commentary: Director Martin Wood, executive producer Robert C Cooper and actress Amanda Tapping are all together for this commentary on Lost City. Martin Wood certainly isn't bad and Amanda Tapping is always good fun and together with Cooper they offer much technical and behind-the-scenes commentary whilst not taking any of it too seriously.
WWW: And, yes, every Stargate SG-1 DVD must end with a weblink to the Fan Club. This one is no exception.
And yet it's only really two episodes. Whilst those prepared to defend this release might say that it's the equivalent of a Stargate film...it's not really unless a minute-for-minute tally makes it count. It's a good episode but I can't ever imagine paying for it outside of a boxset, which makes it feel rather slight. Should you get the boxset, then fine but, on it's own, Lost City doesn't really amount to very much.