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review added: 5/17/00



Stargate SG-1
1997 (2000) - MGM

review by Brad Pilcher of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Stargate SG-1 Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A-/A-/C

Specs and Features

185 mins, R (pilot) & unrated (episode 1 & 2), "anamorphic full screen" (appears as letterboxed widescreen at about 1.78:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, dual-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, film-themed menu screens, scene access (pilot: 24 chapters, episode 1 & 2: 8 chapters each), languages: English, French and Spanish (DD 2.0), subtitles: French, Spanish, Closed Captioned


"At the edge of the universe, lies a gateway to adventure."

When Stargate made an impact on the big screen, Jonathan Glassner and Brad Wright (of the new Outer Limits TV series fame) seized on the idea for a series. Thus, Stargate: SG-1 was born and we got a show that picked up where the film left off.

In the pilot, which runs at around 90 minutes, now retired Colonel Jack O'Neill is summoned back to the Stargate. A man that resembles Ra has just popped through the gate, along with his well-armed buddies, and shot up a bunch of soldiers. O'Neill leads a new team back through the gate to the planet Abydos in search of Daniel Jackson, the scientist left behind in the movie. What they find is that the Stargate can go to far more places than just Abydos, and when Jackson's wife, Sha're, and O'Neill's little protege, Skaara, are kidnapped by the Ra-look-alike, the adventure goes all over the galaxy.

Episode One, entitled The Enemy Within, flows right out of the pilot and shows Major Kawalsky infested with one of the parasite cousins of Ra. Episode Two, Emancipation, sees the SG-1 team going to a world filled with misogynistic Mongols. The team must show them the way of women's liberation in order to save their own butts.

The acting here is almost across-the-board good. Richard Dean Anderson picks up where Kurt Russell left off with the character of O'Neill, and does an impressive job of playing the part. Michael Shanks takes over the Jackson character from James Spader, doing an even more impressive job. There's a scene on Abydos where Jackson is explaining that the Stargate can go to multiple worlds, where I swore I was watching the original actors. The believability of their performances is top-notch, but there's more to this. Richard Dean Anderson makes O'Neill more human. And Shanks makes Jackson less nerdy.

This, however, is not just a product of new actors. The Jackson is not just a scientist anymore. When we open with the pilot, he's a married man who's spent over a year on Abydos as the leader of its people. That can definitely kill off most of the nerdiness in a person. Meanwhile, O'Neill isn't just a soldier who just saw his son die. He's had over a year to reflect on his loss and the experiences of the first film - it makes sense that he's more human. It's a testament to the quality here, that the two leads realized these things about their characters and portrayed them well. The other performances are great too, with the notable exception of Don S. Davis as General Hammond. Sometimes he hits... other times he misses. But he's the only major weak spot.

The video on this disc is also solid. This series is Emmy-nominated for its special effects, and they all come nicely to life here. While there is some grain here and there, overall there's just not much to gripe about. The color tones are well balanced, and the darks aren't too dark. The one thing to note, is that the SG-1 base is a decidedly muted set. In Episode Two, we get many vibrant colors on the Mongol world, but any scenes that take place back on Earth are going to lose that. You can't fault a TV show for this, especially since it's being true to most real-life military installations. The video is also "anamorphic full screen" according to the packaging, which basically means that if you're watching on a standard TV screen, you'll see a letterboxed image that looks about 1.78:1.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is also solid, although not too deep or heavy. The sound in this series is great and it comes across well here. The score is equally impressive, and the only complaint I have is that the audio just doesn't hit you the way you would expect. That's probably a by-product of this being a TV show as opposed to a feature film. Still, the sound does its job well here that fans are sure to be more than happy.

So where's the downside on this disc? The extras. There aren't any, although this is forgivable. Squeezing a feature-length pilot and two episodes onto one disc, while still having it look this good, makes up for the lack of extras. You can only complain so much under these circumstances.

If you're a fan of the original film, you'll be pleased to know that the story has been very well adapted to the small screen. The acting is just fine and the special effects are quite good. Like any TV series, not all of the episodes are great. But they're all generally pretty good. Hopefully, MGM will see fit to deliver more of this series to DVD. Pick this disc up while it's still this side of the Stargate.

Brad Pilcher
bradpilcher@thedigitalbits.com




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