Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 21


"Within the Serpent's Grasp"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Excellent

Stargate Command is in the process of being shut down.  Daniel is still trying to convince his teammates that the events in “There But For the Grace of God” were real.  Daniel wants to go against orders barring further gate travel, and journey to the co-ordinates he brought back from the alternate universe Earth.  The possibility that a vast Goa’uld force could attack Earth outweighs any punitive repercussions for the team, and they all decide to go.  SG-1 commandeers the vacant stargate control room, and activates the gate, using Daniel’s coordinates.

SG-1 arrives in a Goa’uld storage area, empty except for crates.  The task of verifying Daniel’s experience, in order to keep the SGC going as Earth’s first line of defense against alien attack, changes when the team is stranded in Goa’uld territory, with no way to contact Earth.  Alone, SG-1 must try to stop the Goa’uld, and their Jaffa, before all civilization on Earth is destroyed.

A fast paced episode that provides lots of action, and surprises.  Events that began in “Children of the Gods” come to a head in this season finale.  A few of the characters introduced in the first episode return, and they are powerful, and not happy with Earth.  Tension builds from the start, ending in a cliffhanger.

Stargate SG-1’s ensemble cast is in the groove.  Carter is finally allowed to be an extremely intelligent Air Force officer, without side trips into “just in case you haven’t noticed, she’s a woman!” sketchy story lines.

In the first view of the stargate in this episode, the gate room is vacant, and the stargate is draped with a large cloth, ready for storage.  This scene is reminiscent of the first view of the stargate in the “Children of the Gods.”  A very nice touch.

21st episode broadcast.
21st episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
The Goa'uld stargate being in an empty storage area is a mild stretch, but not so far out there as to be unbelievable.  Also, considering that SG-1 is surrounded by a Goa’uld force, they don’t run into very many Jaffa.  The episode is so good that I don’t mind these lucky circumstances.

O’Neill’s statement that, “Hammond’s given up,” is literally true, but annoyingly worded.  General Hammond put forth a lot of effort, and tried to call in favors, to keep the SGC from being shut down.  The wording doesn't acknowledge Hammond’s efforts.  Irks me every time I hear it.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 20


"Politics"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Very Good

This episode begins immediately after the events in “There But For the Grace of God.”  Daniel is in the infirmary getting medical treatment for his injuries.  He is in the midst of trying to convince the rest of SG-1 that they need to take quick action to avoid suffering the same fate as the alternate reality Earth.  Although they do not understand how Daniel became injured by a Jaffa staff weapon blast, no one is buying the idea of an alternate reality.  Carter thinks alternate realities are only hypothetical; Teal’c is doubtful; and O’Neill believes that Daniel dreamt, or hallucinated, the events.

Major Samuels, last seen in “Children of the Gods” is now Lt. Colonel Samuels.  Always a bit of a twerp, he is now a complete twerp, oozing smugness.  Transferred from SGC to the Pentagon since he was last on the show, Samuels is back at SGC for a hearing with the powerful Senator Kinsey.  The topic: shutting down the stargate program, something Samuels always advocated.  Stargate missions, primarily SG-1 missions, are put under a microscope, and found wanting.  Senator Kinsey, and Samuels, want the SGC shut down.

This is a clip show, a compilation of scene snippets from the season’s previous episodes.  I usually loathe clip shows on general principle.  I understand they save money due to lower production costs, still, I think of them as wasted episodes.  However, I like this clip show because of the awesomeness that is Ronny Cox playing a bad guy.

Ronny Cox perfectly portrays the domineering, arrogant, and patronizing Senator Kinsey.  Kinsey fears the potential of the stargate more than he opposes the monetary cost of running SGC.  Kinsey is deaf to any viewpoint other than his own, and not afraid to wield power like a club against any who oppose him.  The Goa’uld are a powerful enemy of Earth.  Senator Kinsey is a powerful enemy of SGC.  Kudos to Mr. Cox.

20th episode broadcast.
20th episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
It is a clip show.  However, most of the inherent wrongness of this sort of episode is negated by the acting talent of Ronny Cox.

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 19


"There But For the Grace of God"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Excellent

SG-1 gates to a planet where the stargate is inside of a sophisticated building.  They find a wealth of interesting objects, but no life.  Teal’c recognizes a large symbol that Goa'uld leave as a warning on planets where they have destroyed the civilization, and contaminated the planet with radioactivity.  O’Neill orders the team back to Earth.  Daniel, distracted by the collection of artifacts, lags behind the rest of the team.

Forgetting a basic rule from childhood -- look with your eyes, not with your hands -- Daniel fiddles with a large, mirrored item.  He calls to the rest of SG-1 to help carry the item back to Earth.  Not finding any of his teammates, Daniel thinks he has been left behind, and gates back to Earth.  Upon arrival, the usual contingent of armed military personnel in the gate room aim their weapons at Daniel.  No one, not even familiar faces, know who Daniel is.  A prisoner, Daniel strives to figure out what happened, but he does not have much time as a threat looms that could destroy Earth’s civilizations.

Michael Shanks excels as a confused, and confounded, Daniel Jackson.  The ensemble cast is superb as they interact with a Daniel they do not know.  This is one of my all time favorite Stargate SG-1 episodes.  A taut, tense story that flows smoothly, with surreal surprises, and great action.

This episode establishes the 38-minute time limit for maintaining an active wormhole, which has a vital impact in future episodes.

19th episode broadcast.
19th episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
Only one.  Near the beginning of the episode, Daniel assumes that the rest of SG-1 left the planet without him.  Daniel did not know the reason O’Neill ordered the team back to Earth.  Even so, I don’t buy leaving a team member on a planet, without any explanation, is such a regular occurrence that it doesn't surprise Daniel.  Otherwise, this episode is stellar.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 18


"Tin Man"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Very Good

SG-1 arrives on a planet on which the stargate is located in a large, windowless, multi-floored complex.  There is a lot of machinery, and the equipment appears more advanced than Earth’s, but is in disrepair.  While examining some of the equipment, an electronic whine begins to sound.  With a lesson learned in "Thor's Hammer," O’Neill tells the team to retreat to the gate, but they only get a few steps, before dropping unconscious due to a stun beam of some sort.

When SG-1 members regain consciousness, their weapons and uniforms are gone, and they are wearing some sort of leisure tracksuit.  Soon, a humanoid enters the room, Harlan, who is the last being on the planet (which is called Altair).  Harlan is puppy dog friendly.  However, he is not forthcoming when asked direct questions by SG-1.  Harlan admits only to making the team members “better.”  Frustrated with not getting an explanation of “better,” SG-1 heads back to Earth, leaving Harlan.  Harlan warns that they will return to Altair.  Back at SGC, O’Neill, Sam, Daniel, and Teal’c discover what Harlan meant by “better,” taking subjective interpretation to a new level.  SG-1 gates back to Altair, possibly leaving Earth forever.

O’Neill shines in this episode, followed by Daniel.  O’Neill is the first to comprehend the ramifications of being made “better.”  Anderson is great as O’Neill wrestles with the urge harm Harlan, and the realization that only Harlan can undo making SG-1 “better.”  Shanks is very good as Daniel, who is bemused by both Harlan, and the idea of being “better.”

Jay Brazeau is wonderful as Harlan.  The most noticeable aspect of Harlan is humor.  What I enjoyed most about Mr. Brazeau’s portrayal were the non-funny moments.  Harlan’s sense of loss, and wistfulness, when describing how he became the last one of his society.  His confusion when SG-1 is not delighted by being made “better.”  Harlan’s worry when some of the machinery stops functioning, something that could result in his, and SG-1’s, demise.  Harlan is a clown who smiles and laughs while decimating your life.  Not because he is evil or cruel, but because he is so focused on existing, he has forgotten what it means to live.  Bravo, Mr. Brazeau.

I really like the Altair set used in this episode.  A cramped maze of patched together machinery.  Very nicely done.

18th episode broadcast.
17th episode in the DVD set.

Note:  An instance when not being in broadcast order affects the story line, albeit minimally.  O'Neill's experience in "Solitudes," 17th episode broadcast, dovetails nicely with his reactions in this episode.  Not a huge impact, but one worth noting.

Failures:
SG-1 took their weapons, and equipment, with them the first time they left Altair.  They returned to Altair without any equipment.  Without transmitters to get SGC to open the iris, how did SG-1 get back to Earth the second time they left Altair?

I’m good with everyone in the universe speaking the same language.  While not particularly feasible, it does ease the viewing experience, and keeps stories from being bogged down with endless translating.  I’m less forgiving when everyone in the universe uses the same measurements for time, or distance.  How does Harlan know about Earth hours shortly after SG-1 regains consciousness?

The SGC has the best resources to help Daniel in his search for Sha’re.  Although his ability to search for Sha’re is crippled by Harlan, and he may never be able to search for her, Daniel never mentions Sha’re.

I can think of a number of explanations for all three instances I mentioned above.  However, I believe there’s a line between filling in the blanks, and writing part of the story.  These three inconsistencies cross into the viewer writing part of the story.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 17


"Solitudes"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Good

SG-1 immediately heads back to Earth after being attacked with a barrage of heavy weapon’s blasts shortly after arriving on a planet.  Teal’c and Daniel manage to make it back to the SGC, but before Carter and O’Neill can come through, the Earth stargate’s power systems overload, damaging the gate.  The wormhole destabilizes and shuts down.  The crew at Stargate Command works around the clock to repair the stargate.

O’Neill and Carter did get away from the planet.  Instead of SGC, they find themselves trapped underground in a glacial chamber, on an unknown planet.  Carter, and a severely wounded O’Neill, must survive in frigid conditions while Carter works on finding a way home.  Simultaneously, their teammates work to find Carter and O’Neill, and bring them home.

This is a Sam Carter-centric episode.  Amanda Tapping does a respectable job portraying Carter -- concerned about her injured teammate, resourceful, and as always, very intelligent.  Carter’s adherence to logic is a counterpoint to O’Neill’s unsubstantiated belief that things will work out for the best.  He is a good commanding officer, one who offers encouragement when needed to keep hope alive.

This episode marks Dan Shea’s first appearance as Sergeant Siler.  If you think Mr. Shea looks familiar, that may be because he is Richard Dean Anderson’s stunt double in every episode of Stargate SG-1.  Beginning in season three, he is also the show’s stunt coordinator.

The ice cavern looks very impressive.

17th episode broadcast.
18th episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
Nothing, really.  The episode isn’t an epic success, or failure.  It isn’t inspiring, or annoying.  It’s okay.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 16


"Enigma"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Fair

SG-1 arrives on a planet in the midst of major volcanic activity.  A few people are found, barely alive, near the stargate.  Given refuge at SGC Omac, the leader of the survivors, states that the planet is called Tollan.  Tollans are human, and their technology is much more advanced than any on Earth.  Some members of the U. S. government want to force the Tollans to stay on Earth.  Many members of SGC want the Tollans to be free.

The story is about an advanced society not wanting to share its techno-goodies with a less advanced society.  There is Stargate SG-1 info that is applicable to future episodes. 

Acting performances are fine, with two standouts.  First, Tobin Bell as Omac.  Anyone speaking with Omac is usually scowling within the first minute of conversation.  Omac is arrogant, condescending, patronizing, and brusque.  Such types are usually cliche.  However, Mr. Bell’s portrayal of Omac never crosses that line.  Mr. Bell presents Omac as exhibiting bad behavior, not as being solely defined by bad behavior.  There is more to Omac than just his attitude.  Well done, Mr. Bell.

Next, Tom McBeath as Colonel Maybourne.  Maybourne replaces Colonel Kennedy, who is last seen in “The Enemy Within.”  Kennedy was promoted.  The two colonels are very different.  Kennedy had a “mad scientist eager to dissect” vibe.  Maybourne comes across as coldly corporate, with an undercurrent of ruthlessness.  He views the Tollans as assets for acquiring.  Something to extract information from, and discard if they are of no more use.  Very nice, Mr. McBeath.

The opening scene on Tollan looks very impressive.

16th episode broadcast.
16th episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
The timeline between the M. A. L. P.’s arrival on Tollan, the volcano, and SG-1's arrival on the planet, does not track.

After examining the Tollan’s devices, and not understanding their purpose, SGC gives the devices back to the Tollans.  I don't think so.

The Tollans do something that serves no purpose other than demonstrate their advanced technology, which they do not want to share with Earth.  Why show off what the devices can do?

Samantha Carter is subjected to scifi insta-love, aided by advanced technology.  I question the necessity.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 15


"Cor-Ai"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Very Good

Signs of recent activity are evident when SG-1 arrives on a planet, but no people are in sight.  Curious, the team searches the area.  Suddenly, SG-1 is surrounded by people armed with crossbows.  The people, who call themselves Byrsa, are human, snatched from Earth by the Goa’uld at some point in the past.  The Goa’uld continue to return to the planet via the stargate to forcibly take people, which is why the Byrsa hid from SG-1.

One of the Byrsans, a man named Hanno, recognizes Teal’c as the Jaffa who killed his father.  Hanno’s father was killed when Teal’c was still Apophis’ First Prime -- the top rank for a Jaffa, identifiable by the emblem on their foreheads being raised and gold, rather than a flat, black tattoo.  Teal’c must face Cor-Ai, the Byrsan’s version of a criminal court.  Teal’c is found guilty, and the penalty is death.  Without support from Earth, or Teal’c, the remaining members of SG-1 struggle to prevent Teal’c’s death.

Superficially, the episode is a straightforward “I won’t let you kill one of my people” story.  However, the underlying aspects are complex.  Jack is a warrior, who like Teal’c, has done unsavory things while following orders.  Jack’s orders were from commanders who were literally not as inhuman as Apophis.  Jack does not think Teal’c accepting punishment for actions ordered by Apophis is justice, and he is very frustrated by Teal’c’s acquiescence to the Cor-Ai.  O’Neill tries to get Teal’c to believe that staying alive to fight the Goa’uld is a better legacy for his victims than quietly going to a Cor-Ai mandated death.

Based on what is learned about the Goa’uld, and the Jaffa, in previous episodes, it is not difficult to believe that Teal’c committed some heinous acts during his time as Apophis’ First Prime.  This episode shows the toll those acts take on Teal’c’s soul.  A scene late in the episode demonstrates that Teal’c is not suicidal; he is not actively seeking death.  Teal’c accepts the Cor-Ai sentence not just for killing Hanno’s father, but in his mind, for every being he harmed, or could not help.  Teal’c mourns for his victims, and knows that no amount of atonement will bring those people back to life.

A very thoughtful episode.

15th episode broadcast.
14th episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
Byrsans are afraid of who comes from the stargate, so why live right next to it?  They don’t use the stargate, so why not move farther away from it?  They take measures to avoid the Goa’uld, but those measures are not always successful.  Their proximity to the gate is necessary for the story, but not logical.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 14


"Singularity"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Excellent

SG-1 gates to a planet to help SG-7 document an astronomical event.  Stargate Command (SGC) established an observatory on the planet three months earlier.  The planet’s residents are human (probably snatched from Earth by Goa’ulds, but it is never mentioned).  They are peaceful, and live in a nearby village with an agrarian society.  SG-1 finds the body of a native near the stargate.  With more searching, they find additional bodies.  Something killed SG-7, and everyone in the village, except for one survivor.  After taking the survivor back to the SGC, a chain of events is set in motion, which may end with the destruction of SGC and the deaths of many people on Earth.

Katie Stuart is wonderful as Cassandra.  She does not speak at first, yet even in silence, Ms. Stuart eloquently expresses her character’s emotions.  Kudos to Ms. Stuart.  Stargate SG-1’s ensemble cast act as a cohesive unit, supporting each other, and doing well individually.  Kevin McNulty makes another appearance as Dr. Warner, which is always a pleasure.

General Hammond, from this episode, “ … the decision is quite easy.  The consequences are what’s difficult.”

A slam-bang, rollicking, shoot-em-up action sequence can be thrilling.  However, such scenes get stale if the heroes never have to face tough questions.  Such as what to do when the enemy isn’t a gun-slinging alien bent on destroying the Earth, but an innocent who, through no fault of their own, is a threat.  Sometimes, there is not a good choice to resolve a situation, only the right choice.  Stargate SG-1 shines by asking these types of questions, and by not shying away from the hard answers.  The show reflects on such questions from the point of view of being Earth’s front line defense from alien attack, and from the viewpoint of complex individuals absorbing the realization that there isn’t always a “happily ever after” option.

“Singularity” is an example of why the show lasted for 10 seasons.  It has it all: action, emotion, and some new developments that keep the series fresh.

14th episode broadcast.
15th episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
Amanda Tapping is an excellent actor.  Sam Carter (Tapping’s character) is an experienced Air Force officer.  Carter gets super weepy at times in this episode.  I think that Tapping is skillful enough to show Carter conveying the same intensity, and type, of emotion without all the tears.  I think Carter’s sogginess is about underestimating the audience.  We do not have to see a character that is portrayed by a talented actor crying to the point of risking dehydration to “get” that they are not happy.

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 13


"Hathor"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Poor

A sarcophagus etched with Egyptian hieroglyphics is found in a Mayan temple.  Hathor, Egyptian goddess, arises.  Somehow, with only an eye-catching outfit, and an attitude, Hathor makes her way from Mexico to Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado -- the location of the stargate -- in a remarkably short time.  Upon learning that Ra, her father/husband/jailer, is dead, Hathor begins to build a new empire on Earth, beginning with the SGC.

Suanne Braun does a good job portraying Hathor.  Every actor has a respectable performance.  However, the performances cannot overcome the writing, and the story is what makes this episode terrible.  It is a misogynistic mess.  The writers seem to have two points they want to get across.  First, women are pheromone factories who bend poor, helpless men to their will.  Second, women, no matter how intelligent and successful, play the vixen card to bend poor, helpless men to their will.  The writers do present a moment of whining, which I think is their view of female empowerment.

The entire episode takes place at SGC, except for the brief time at the Mayan temple.  I am usually disappointed when there is not any off world, stargate travel, although I realize that such episodes are money savers when it comes to production costs.  No matter.  Off world travel would not have helped this episode.

The first season of a series is a testing ground, to explore possibilities and lay the foundation for the series’ future.  What I like about this episode is it demonstrates the wisdom of Stargate SG-1’s creative team.  They wisely disregarded virtually every idea presented in “Hathor” when creating future episodes.

13th episode broadcast.
13th episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
There is one point that is relevant in future episodes.  Mostly, there is non-canon balderdash woven around enormous plot holes.  All with a plethora of cringe-worthy moments.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 12


"Fire and Water"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Fair

Waiting thousands of years to learn one, vitally important, bit of information can make a being seem noble, and make an episode epic.  Unless, the time is spent on a backwater planet, literally waiting for the one bit of info to drop out of the sky, or in this case, the stargate.  Then, it can make a being seem dense, and make an episode lame.  Hint: this episode is not epic.

SG-1 makes an early return from an off world mission.  Daniel is missing.  Dead.  O’Neill, Carter, and Teal’c vividly remember Daniel’s last moment before his death, and planetary conditions too hostile to even attempt to retrieve Daniel’s remains.  Yet, … for no justifiable reason, SG-1 members feel that Daniel is alive.  What happened to SG-1, and Daniel?

I think there probably is an algorithm that you can use to figure out if a TV series character is dead or not.  Not having the algorithm, I use a simpler method, one I call, “he dead.”  If it is said no more than twice that a character is dead, then, most likely, “he dead.”  However, the more times a character’s death is mentioned, the more likely that the character is alive.  Daniel’s death is mentioned so many times that if used as the basis for a drinking game, participants would get alcohol poisoning.

Daniel missing, or dead, and SG-1’s memories are scrambled.  Who is the what which is holding Daniel?  The answer is so random, that you will have a moment of wondering whether something messed with your mind, and you may have forgotten parts of the story. Bad news/good news: it's the story, not you.

This episode is watchable, however, you will not miss anything if you skip it.  Except Daniel Jackson yelling because that is Michael Shanks' acting choice when Daniel Jackson is profoundly frustrated.  He raises his voice, shouts out words, and the yells are sometimes accompanied by non-obscene gesturing with his hands and arms.  That is only flaw I can remember seeing in Shanks’ performances as Daniel Jackson.

12th episode broadcast.
11th episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
The episode is not bad.  It is just pointless.  Still, for being just over mid-way through the first season, the ensemble acting is meshing quite well, and a number of the other episodes form a strong foundation for the next nine seasons of the show.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 11

"Bloodlines"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Good

Not wanting to jeopardize his status with his relatively new allies the Tau’ri (humans on Earth), Teal’c keeps a secret from his human companions -- he has a wife and young son on Chulak.  Teal’c's son is nearing the age when Jaffa are implanted with a Goa’uld larva.  Teal’c understands the connection between the Jaffa being Goa’uld slaves, and the lifelong dependence upon having a Goa’uld larva.  He wants to break the cycle by preventing implantation in his son.  Teal’c risks everything to return to Chulak.  Reluctantly, General Hammond green lights SG-1 for a mission to Chulak -- get Teal’c’s son.  And, maybe, snag a Goa'uld larva, or two.

Back on Chulak, Teal’c discovers some of the consequences for his defiance of Apophis.  His house is destroyed, and his family is missing.  Teal’c encounters one old acquaintance, his first teacher, the Jaffa Bra’tac.  Master Bra’tac knows the Goa’uld are not gods, but remains in service to the Goa’uld doing what he can to help their victims, and also doing what he can to work against the Goa'uld.  He longs for the time when the Jaffa will be free of Goa’uld oppression, and the need for implantation.

Pleased to see Teal’c, and unimpressed by the humans of SG-1, Bra’tac leads Teal’c to his son.  Opponents, both expected and unexpected, attempt to interfere, to keep Teal’c from stopping the implantation of a Goa’uld larva in his son.  Overcoming all other challenges, one small adversary forces Teal’c to choose between allowing the implantation, or watching his son die.

This episode allows a peek at another side of Teal’c, something other than Teal’c being a fearsome warrior.  Aspects of Jaffa society are slowly revealed.  The society is very complex, with many layers of class, and societal constraints for interaction.  Jaffa are a contradiction: proud, intelligent, warriors; and yet also subjugated, superstitious, slaves.

Most of the Jaffa introduced in the series are like Teal’c.  Stoic, not much for smiling, and quiet.  Bra’tac is quick to smile, with a sharp wit, and is quite a talker.  Tony Amendola is wonderful as Bra’tac, saving Jaffa behavior from being one note.  He uses his talent to breathe life into Bra’tac.  Bravo, sir.

Neil Denis is Rya’c, and Salli Richardson-Whitfield is Drey’auc.  Denis as Rya’c is good, cute without being precocious or annoying.  Richardson-Whitfield performs well.

11th episode broadcast.
10th episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
It makes sense that Teal’c is willing to fight his way out of SGC to get to Chulak.  It doesn’t make sense that SG-1’s mission to Chulak was suddenly given a go.  I know that many in the SGC care about Teal’c, but it was such a quick turnaround,  felt like I blinked and missed something.

SG-1 Season 1 Awards: Voting is Open!


WHERE: SG-1 Season One: Official Ballot at Gateworld
WHEN:  From now, until around August 30, 2011
HOW:  Sign-up with Gateworld - it's free, quick, and non-invasive


From Gateworld:

"For the past two weeks we’ve been taking your nominations for your favorite episodes and character moments from SG-1 Season One.  The most nominated are listed [below] on the ballot.

You don’t have to be a Rewatch participant to vote, but please vote only once.

Voting will close on or around August 30.  We’ll announce the winners in each category at the end of the month as we wrap up the first leg of the Rewatch.  Nominations for the best of SG-1 Season Two will open on or around September 1."

My nominations for six out of the seven categories made it to the ballot.  Ex-cellent.  [cue dry washing my hands]  It's already at the mid-point of the SG-1 season one re-watch.  Wow.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 10


"The Torment of Tantalus"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Excellent

Synopsis:
While going through old government film footage of research on the stargate, Daniel comes across proof the stargate is first activated in 1945.  Also in the footage is a man walking through the event horizon of the active stargate, just before it shuts down.  Daniel contacts Catherine Langford, who recruited him to do research in the movie Stargate. Catherine's father worked on the stargate in 1945.  She did not officially participate in stargate research back in 1945, and was unaware of the successful activation of the gate at that time.

The gate co-ordinates used in 1945 are viewable on the film, and they are not on the Abydos cartouches found in "Children of the Gods."  Possibly proof that the Goa’uld did not build the stargate system.  More importantly, the gate traveler, whose name is Ernest Littlefield, might still be alive.  General Hammond authorizes a mission for SG-1 to check out the planet, and search for Ernest.  SG-1 finds Ernest alive, fifty years after his trip through the stargate.  Ernest shares some of his discoveries, made while he has been stranded, including information that significantly impacts Stargate Command’s existing knowledge of the Goa’uld, and expands the scope of Stargate SG-1.

SG-1 prepares to return to Earth, with Ernest, and his discoveries.  However, no one is departing the planet as planned.  Why Ernest didn’t return to Earth is revealed, and it threatens to trap SG-1 on the planet, as well.  Time is quickly running out, as the crumbling edifice housing the stargate is hit by a huge super storm that may destroy the building, and drop the stargate into the roiling sea below.

This is a hallmark episode for the series, with many milestones.  New possibilities concerning alien races unfold, and they mesh perfectly with the Goa’uld story line.  Notice that people have stopped flying out of the stargate as though they were being thrown.  Now, they exit the stargate at the same velocity they enter the stargate, something that has been changing over the past few episodes.  Also gone are the ice covered faces previously seen after gate travel.

Keene Curtis as Ernest is amazing.  He brings Ernest to life, whether he is expressing stunned disbelief, doubt, hope, or wisdom.  He tells so much with just a few words, a look, or a gesture.  Excellent.  Elizabeth Hoffman is Catherine Langford, and provides a different feel for the character than Viveca Lindfors did in the movie Stargate, but retains Catherine's elements  -- her intelligence, grace, wisdom, and daring.

Early in the episode, there is a great visual, a transition from 1945 to the series’ present day.

10th episode broadcast.
9th episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
None.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Seaon 1, Episode 9


"Thor's Hammer"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Excellent

Synopsis:
Based on his research of Earth mythologies, Daniel Jackson believes that the Goa’uld were not the only alien race to visit Earth.  He believes that there were also good “gods” who helped humans.  Daniel thinks the Viking god Thor is a good alien, one whose race may be technologically equal to, and an enemy of, the Goa’uld.  Teal’c recognizes the symbol of Thor’s hammer as belonging to the planet Cimmeria, a planet that the Goa’uld avoid.  SG-1 is off to Cimmeria.

Arriving on Cimmeria, SG-1 sees something that might be Thor’s hammer.  Positioned a short distance in front of the stargate, the hammer-shaped sculpture begins to emit an electronic whine after SG-1 arrives.  A number of blond men passing by the stargate, laugh at SG-1, and begin to chant Thor’s name.  The pitch of the electronic noise increases, and O’Neill orders SG-1 back through the stargate.  Before Daniel can dial home, a blue light emanates from the top of the sculpture.  The light painlessly scans the human members of SG-1, before locking onto Teal’c and causing him a great deal of pain.

Attempting to get Teal’c out of the beam’s path, O’Neill tackles Teal’c, and both men, and the blue beam, disappear.  Carter and Daniel remain at the stargate, stunned, and try to determine what happened to Teal’c and O’Neill.  By now, the blonds had scattered.  A woman rides up to the stargate on a horse.  Her name is Gairwyn, and she confirms that the people on the planet are Vikings, and the sculpture/beam emitter/monument is from Thor.  She doesn’t know what happens to people taken by the beam; however, a woman named Kendra has personal experience with it.  Gairwyn takes Carter and Daniel to Kendra.

The episode splits into two stories -- O’Neill and Teal’c, and Carter and Daniel.  O’Neill and Teal’c must find their way out of a grim, underground labyrinth, but they are not alone.  Something else, something old and evil, hunts within those passages.

Carter and Daniel must convince a justifiably frightened Kendra to lead them to O’Neill and Teal’c’s location. Daniel is enthralled by the possibility of having a way to get the Goa’uld out of Sha’re, his wife.  Kendra bounces between determination, and fear, as she tries to remember (or, tries to want to remember) where she emerged from the mountains ten seasons ago.  Carter is cranky with Daniel, and often short with Kendra.  Not a deal breaker for the episode, but not consistent behavior, either.

Tamsin Kelsey as Gairwyn, and Galyn Gorg as Kendra, are both very good in this episode.  Gairwyn is solid: caring, pragmatic, and judging by that big ‘ol sword she carries around, quite a warrior.  Gairwyn believes in, and respects, Thor.  She does not fear Thor.  Kendra is all over the place: haughty, flighty, strong, fearful, and unsure.  This is not an uneven acting performance; it's Kendra coping with having been host to a Goa’uld, and being asked to help save a Jaffa (Teal'c).  Very nicely done, Ms. Gorg.

A very exciting episode, and one of my favorites.

9th episode broadcast.
8th episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
Minor.  Okay, Daniel’s hypothesis that nice aliens visited Earth in the past is a bit out of left field.  Ditto for Teal’c knowing the gate address for Thor’s planet.  Still, Jackson’s idea stays within the series’ framework of Earth mythology, and alien races.  The no muss, no fuss, presentation of Daniel’s idea, and Teal’c’s knowledge, keeps the episode from being bogged down.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 8


"Brief Candle"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Fair

Synopsis:
Do not accept cookie-pizzas from strangers when visiting an alien planet.  And, if that stranger then does an interpretive butterfly dance for you, you are probably doomed. Despite this initial silliness, there is an interesting story in this episode.

SG-1 gates to a planet, named Argos by its inhabitants.  The inhabitants are humans snatched from Earth by the Goa’uld.  The Argosians are a happy, simple people, under the effect of Goa’uld induced physiological changes that the Argosians are too happy, and simple, to initially comprehend when SG-1 tries to explain it to them.  Turns out that the Goa’uld use humans for other things, besides a place to park their parasitic selves, or slave labor.  Previously unseen Goa’uld technology is uncovered, and we learn that the Goa’uld have a written language (not surprising), and that Teal’c can read the language (mildly surprising, as the Goa’uld aren’t big on educating others).

Richard Dean Anderson does a nice job as O’Neill becomes like the Argosians, without all the happy and the simple.

Not a phenomenal episode, but worth watching for the new bits of information about the Goa’uld.

8th episode broadcast.
6th episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
In the end, O’Neill’s recovery is very neat, and pat.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 7


"The Nox"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Good

Synopsis:
The political administration is not happy with the lack of technological discoveries made by the stargate missions.  Keeping Stargate Command functioning is not cheap, and politicians who know about the stargate program want more concrete results, which is politic-speak for advanced weaponry.

Teal’c suggests a planet that may provide what the administration wants, a planet visited by the Goa’uld in search of true stealth -- a creature capable of invisibility.  SG-1 heads to the planet, and while searching for the creature, they run into a group of Goa’uld, who are hunting for the same creature.  SG-1 decides to capture a Goa’uld, and take him back to Stargate Command for interrogation.

In addition to the invisible flying critter, the planet has humanoid inhabitants, the Nox.  They are truly humanoid, not humans taken from Earth by the Goa’uld.  The Goa'uld never knew the secretive Nox existed. The Nox stay in huts in the forest, with no clear means -- nor any apparent inclination -- to defend themselves.  SG-1’s initial attempt to capture a Goa'uld fails, leading to the Goa’uld learning of the existence of the Nox.  SG-1 strives to protect the Nox from the Goa’uld, while trying to solve some mysterious occurrences on the planet.

This episode has some interesting moments, and characters.  The story’s pace is slow at the beginning, with its bucolic setting, and the pondering of mysterious events.  Not a total thrill ride, but an interesting episode.

7th episode broadcast.
12th episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
One of the Goa’uld’s audio dialog is not on the English audio track.  It is on the French and Spanish audio tracks.  The missing English dialog can be read using the close caption option.  Fortunately, that character doesn’t say much.  Quality control rating for this flub: epic fail.

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 6


"Cold Lazarus"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Fair

Synopsis:
SG-1 discovers numerous shattered crystals on a planet.  O’Neill is knocked unconscious by a blast from a large, relatively undamaged, crystal.  The crystals are an intelligent life form.  They are capable of manipulating energy, can take human form, and can read human thoughts.  Yet, the crystals are essentially defenseless and … and … oh, it doesn’t matter.  It’s all a plot device for the real story -- Jack O’Neill’s unresolved issues connected to the death of his son, Charlie.

We first met Jack in the movie Stargate, sitting in his dead son’s room.  He is distraught, and holding a handgun, apparently on the verge of committing suicide.  The events in Stargate, and Stargate SG-1, moved Jack out of that dark place.  However, the death of a child is not lightly brushed off.  This episode reveals the inner turmoil, and anguish, buried in Jack’s heart over Charlie's death.

The episode isn’t mired in maudlinism.  Since an alien crystal entity mimicking Jack is expressing the emotions, there isn’t a disconnect from the Jack O’Neill persona established, so far, in the series.  This is primarily a character driven episode, with a smattering of action.

6th episode broadcast.
7th episode in the DVD set.

Failures:
The rationale for the crystal impersonating Jack is kind of creaky.  Also, for being poor, defenseless life forms, those crystals exhibit some powerful abilities.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Announcement

I had found my groove for re-watching episodes, and writing up reviews.  Sweet!  Next up, episode 6, "Brief Candle."  Except ... "Brief Candle" is only episode number six on my DVD set.  Based on when it was first broadcast, "Brief Candle" is episode number 8.  What?  I did a quick comparison, and a few episodes on this DVD set are not in broadcast order.

Season one's 21 episodes are all on this DVD set.

The episodes on the DVD which are not in broadcast order are stand alone episodes, so story continuity is not affected, as best I remember.  If I come across such a problem, I'll note it in the review for that episode.

For this blog, I will review the episodes in broadcast order.

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 5


"The First Commandment"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Very Good

Synopsis:
Many cultures found on other planets believe that anyone who comes through a stargate is a god. A holdover from their time under the rule of the Goa’uld. When SG-1 gates to a planet to check on the welfare of SG-9, they discover the commander of SG-9, Captain Hanson, has decided he is a god. The cave dwelling people on the planet are subjugated by their new “god.” SG-1 must confront a madman backed by hundreds of people willing to kill for him, on a planet where exposure to the harsh UV radiation of their sun leads to death.

Only a few episodes into their inaugural season, and the show is not afraid to tackle tough questions. SG team members are trained, tested, and screened for duty, but no system is perfect. It’s impossible to consistently predict someone’s behavior. Did Hanson's experiences on the planet cause his madness, or was he always more than a little crazy? Some sketchy, pre-existing personality traits are hinted at, but there isn’t one particular reason that fully explains Hanson’s behavior.

William Russ is very good as Jonas Hanson -- SG team leader, and self-proclaimed god. Russ’ portrayal of Hanson is serenely brutal, evincing cruelty disguised as benevolence. Very high up on the creepy scale. Hanson’s madness is wrapped up with his belief that harsh strictness is the way to move the cave dwellers to a better life, no matter how many have to die to accomplish his goal. Kudos to William Russ.

Failures:
Hanson’s great looking hair.  After six weeks in very harsh conditions, Hanson’s hair looks fabulous. A minor point that doesn’t impinge on my enjoyment of the episode.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 4


"The Broca Divide"
image used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating:  Good

Synopsis:
Some of the folks rescued in “Children of the Gods” saw part of the gate address used by Apophis, Sha’re, and Skaara.  Extrapolation provides a possible gate address to their location.  A probe is sent to the gate address, sends back information about the locale, but no visuals.  SG-1 and SG-3 go to the planet to investigate.

Arriving in a dark forest, SG-1 is attacked by a band of primitive humanoids.  SG-3 repels the attackers.  Continuing to reconnoiter, the SG teams find the group of primitives. Suddenly, another group of humanoids drives off the primitives.  Determining that the newcomers are not Goa’uld, the SG teams follow the newcomers to their city.  The people of the city are Minoan descendants snatched from Earth by Goa’uld.

There is a clear demarcation between sunlight, and darkness, on this planet.  The city is located in the light.  The rustic forest is in the dark.  The human-appearing city dwellers are known as the Untouched.  The quasi-humans who dwell in the dark are known as the Touched.  Mercifully, we viewers now stop being beaten with blunt force symbolism.

Not finding the Goa’uld, or any technology that could be used to fight the Goa’uld, the SG teams return to Earth.  Shortly after returning to the SGC (Stargate Command), personnel begin to exhibit aggressive behavior, and they begin to physically resemble the Touched.  A very contagious, extraterrestrial virus has been brought through the stargate.  Daniel, and Teal’c, return to the planet for blood samples from the Untouched, in hopes of finding a cure.

The performances are good, with moments of sparkling dialog.  Dr. Janet Frasier is introduced in this episode.  Dr. Frasier is the only regularly recurring female character on Stargate SG-1, until the end of season 7.  Technically, she is a recurring guest star. Samantha Carter is the only female who is a regular cast member. There are many women on Stargate SG-1, however, they are extras, or guest stars making a few appearances.  On the plus side, the female characters are usually successful, and intelligent.  Stargate Atlantis is more generous in regard to having strong, recurring, female characters.

Failures:
This episode concerns the possibility of a harmful contagion being brought to Earth via the stargate.  I rated this episode Good because the notion of an extraterrestrial disease getting loose on Earth is approached, but not really addressed.  No threat of using the base self-destruct.  No apparent changes in gate travel protocol.  Just a “shoot anyone who tries to leave” quarantine.  I think a good premise for a story has to have a solid resolution.

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 3


"Emancipation"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Poor

Synopsis:
SG-1 goes to a planet populated with people of Mongolian descent who were snatched from Earth by some Goa’uld or another a long time ago.  The Goa’uld haven’t been back to the planet in quite some time.

Samantha Carter, Sam for short, is treated like a subservient sex object by the native folk because she is female.  Jack, and Daniel, think this is funny.  Sam is kidnapped by other native folk for use as a subservient sex object because she is female.  Jack, and Daniel, do not think this is funny.

While held captive, Sam is threatened with being beaten, and the possibility of being raped is implied, however, neither of these things happen.  Instead, she is sent to do chores.  After being freed from captivity, Sam beats the snot out of the leader of her captors.  Then, SG-1 goes back to the stargate.

If my review makes this episode seem interesting, or implies that the episode has any worth at all, then I did not write the review correctly.  I think this is the worst episode of SG-1, ever.

Fortunately, the quality level of the stories picks up immediately with the next episode. There are many stellar episodes coming in this, and subsequent, seasons. The badness that is this episode is the exception, not the rule.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 2


"The Enemy Within"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overal Rating: Very Good

Synopsis:
Occurring within a day, or so, of the events in “Children of the Gods,” the title says it all. The new Stargate Command, Earth’s main line of defense against the Goa’uld, and base to the SG teams, is rife with enemies, and their goals are woven together.

The Goa’uld: who are attempting to attack Earth through the stargate, but an iris shield covering the stargate (installed in “Children of the Gods”) prevents completion of their assaults.  Teal’c: still thought of as the enemy by many, but not by the members of SG-1.  Colonel Kennedy: who views Teal’c as a specimen for study, is sent to Stargate Command with orders to take Teal’c away for questioning, and testing. And, the one enemy no one is aware of: a young Goa’uld larva, which attached itself to Kawalsky during the fight to escape Chulak, Teal’c’s home planet, during the previous episode.

The entire episode is set in the underground headquarters of Stargate Command. There isn’t much opportunity for the characters to stretch and grow within this episode, with two exceptions: General Hammond, and Major Kawalsky.

Don S. Davis’ portrayal of General George Hammond is given room to show Hammond as being the perfect person to be in charge of Stargate Command.  Humane, but not naive, nor a pushover. He never forgoes his orders, yet never forgets that he is dealing with unique individuals, and the lives of actual people, all while in an extraordinary situation.

Jay Acovone shows some impressive acting chops, switching from Major Kawalsky, to the very different personality of the Goa’uld within him, in the blink of an eye. I never doubt that Kawalsky is brave, afraid, pragmatic, and hopeful. I never doubt that the Goa’uld within him is arrogant, and ruthless. Jay Acovone’s performance not receiving recognition from his acting peers in the form of an award nomination is disappointing.

In every episode, Joel Goldsmith’s music score is phenomenal.

Overall, a very good, very intense, episode. Many tidbits about the Goa’uld are learned, as well as some surprising information about Earth humans.  One of the last shots of the episode became an iconic image for this show.

Failure:
Colonel Kennedy is one-dimensional. Not because of the actor’s performance, though. Because only one-side of Kennedy is presented in the episode, with no explanation for his behavior. I'm never sure if Kennedy’s motivation is patriotism, sadism, or if he is just a jerk.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Stargate SG-1, Season 1, Episode 1


"Children of the Gods"
images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Excellent

Synopsis:
Beginning a year, or so, after the events in the movie Stargate, the stargate on Abydos is believed destroyed.  The stargate on Earth is idle.  Most of the research on the stargate is shut down, with only a skeleton crew of military personnel in the area near the artifact before it is put in storage.  Unexpectedly, the stargate activates, and a group of humanoid beings -- including one who is reminiscent of Ra -- emerges from the stargate.

Contemptuous of the armed humans near the stargate, this new menace deals death, and kidnaps a sergeant, before returning through the stargate.  Jack O’Neill is called back by the military, his fabrication about the final events on Abydos exposed.  With a new team assembled, O'Neill heads through the stargate back to Abydos, determined to discover the source of this new threat.  The mission takes the team to alien worlds, where they meet new friends, making new discoveries, and new enemies.

Many characters from the movie are back, most being portrayed by different actors.  Richard Dean Anderson as Jack O’Neill (now spelled with two Ls) maintains Jack's stoicism, and warrior attributes, while adding the dimension of wry humor.   Michael Shanks as Daniel Jackson is eerily similar to James Spader's Jackson, however, over time, Shanks will put his own stamp on Jackson, without distorting the character.  Other returning characters in this episode who are portrayed by different actors are Sha’re (formerly spelled Shau’ri); Kawalsky, and Ferretti.  New characters mesh well, including: Sam Carter; General Hammond; Teal’c, and Apophis.

Joel Goldsmith’s music score is phenomenal.  Grand, haunting, powerful, and iconic.

Stargate SG-1 is not a sequel to, or a re-make of, Stargate.  The movie Stargate, gave us a tiny peek at the use of a stable wormhole - the stargate - to travel a vast interstellar distance to one other planet in seconds.  This pilot episode of SG-1 throws the door wide open, allowing us to enter, and fully experience the extraordinary possibilities available with a network of stargates, going to many different planets.  I admire the deft touch used to decide which aspects of the movie to keep, and which to alter for the television series.

I think this is the most difficult review I’ll write for Stargate Re-Watch.  “Children of the Gods” is a transition from the movie, to the television series, which lasted for 10 seasons.  Describing virtually any scene from this episode would be a spoiler, as new characters are introduced, new scenarios set up, and the end thread of the movie is spun into a fantastic fabric of adventure.

For those who want spoilers, visit Gateworld’s "Children of the Gods" page.  There you can view a summary, and a full transcript, of this episode, and lots more.

Monday, August 8, 2011

SG-1, Season One DVD Set - Content

I will rate each season’s DVD set before reviewing the season’s individual episodes.  My rating in this post solely reflects the DVD content, options, & extras (or lack thereof), not episodes.


Overall Rating for the Set: Poor
No commentaries, and no "play all" option.  The episodes are not in broadcast order.  The episode, "The Nox" is missing English audio for one of the characters.  No English subtitles.

This is a five disc set, with 21 episodes.  The pilot episode, “Children of the Gods” is 1 hour 36 minutes long.  All other episodes are 44 minutes long.  A re-edited version of “Children of the Gods” was released on disc in 2009.  The version of the episode in this set is the original.  (see *note below)

All episodes are widescreen, anamorphic 1.78:1.

Sound: 5.1 Dolby Surround for English; Dolby Surround for French, and Spanish.

The set is not rated, except for "Children of the Gods" which is rated "R".  The special features are unrated.

Audio languages on the set are: English, Spanish, and French.  There are subtitles in Spanish, and French.  Although there are not English subtitles, the discs are close captioned.  You can use the close caption option on your television to view.  The special features are not closed captioned.

Watch disc one as soon as you load it into your DVD player.  A voice says, “Enter the stargate.”  You will see a stargate on screen.  When you press “play,” the onscreen stargate activates, and shows a “ka-woosh” effect.  Very cool.

There is not a “play all” option.  Episodes have to be accessed, and viewed, one at a time.

There are no commentaries on any of the episodes.  However, there are featurettes:

Disc 2:  “Cast and Crew”
Disc 3:  “Profile on General Hammond”
Disc 4:  “Profile on Captain Carter”
Disc 4:  Behind-the-scenes with the Producers of Stargate SG-1
Disc 5:  “Costume Design”

*Note:    My limited understanding of the rationale for re-editing, and re-issuing, the pilot episode was producer unhappiness due primarily to a brief nude scene, the only nude scene in any episode of Stargate SG-1.  The scene is very brief, and not lascivious.  Stargate SG-1 began on the premium channel Showtime, although I have no idea if this was a factor in the nudity.  Don't start rumors.  Personally, the nudity didn't surprise me as much as how easily the character's intricate outfit snapped off in one move.  That puppy popped right off.  Dang ...

The stand alone, re-edited episode is available on DVD, and digital download, as "Children of the Gods - Final Cut".  At a run time of 92 minutes, compared to 96 minutes for the original, more than just the nude scene was cut, although additional scenes were added.  I don't own the disc, but I read that it has commentary, trailers, and a featurette.  I adore Stargate SG-1, but nothing short of the disc being delivered to me by Richard Dean Anderson is going to get me to cough up $14.98 (less, if it's on sale) for one episode.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Review: Stargate (1994 motion picture)


images used above are courtesy of Gateworld and MGM

Overall Rating: Very Good
DVD version -- Ultimate Edition, Extended Cut


Stargate is a science fiction adventure film, flowing with an interesting and straightforward plot; strengthened by solid acting; and accentuated with amazing sets, visuals, and music score.

Synopsis:
Long before the building of the pyramids, an alien spacecraft visits Egypt.  In 1928, an artifact, unlike anything seen before, is uncovered at an archaeological dig at Giza, Egypt.  In the present day, a team of scientists decipher symbols on the artifact, leading to the activation of alien technology -- the stargate.  Has a door been opened to unimaginable knowledge, or to the ultimate doom of the human race?

The Film:
The design of the stargate is outstanding, evincing functionality, while being different enough to be believable as alien technology.  The effect of the stargate opening (known as the "ka-woosh") is spectacular.  The set designs of Giza, and Abydos (the name given to the planet in the series Stargate SG-1) are exquisite.  From the lighting, to the details of the village, and pyramid, you can feel the heat, dust, and sand.

David Arnold’s score is subtle, and grand, fitting the mood of a given scene perfectly.  The opening music is intricate, and beautifully tells the coming story.

Main characters are introduced at pivotal points in their lives.  Who they are is shown, not explained with long exposition.  The extraneous is omitted, allowing the film to focus on the development of the characters, and the progress of the story.

Actors:
Kurt Russell as Jack O’Neil is solid, denoting O’Neil as a complex character, not a one-dimensional stereotype.  James Spader as Daniel Jackson is intense, and obsessed, all without being weird.  Look for excellent performances by Viveca Lindfors as Catherine Langford, Mili Avital as Sha’uri, Erick Avari as Kusef, and Alexis Cruz as Skaara.  Derek Webster as Brown, and John Diehl as Kalwalsky deserve honorable mentions.  Richard Kind’s screen time is limited, but a joy to behold.

Jaye Davidson’s portrayal of Ra is uneven.  Sometimes he is menacing and powerful; sometimes petulant and pouty.  Ra keeps an entourage of young children around him, which is supposed to be creepy.  An adult who surrounds himself with young children is creepy.  Davidson’s appearance is too fey, and youthful.  It just looks like he is hanging with his peeps.

Failures:
There are moments of humor in the film.  The best are when the humor occurs organically, happening naturally from the interactions of the characters.  When forced, the humor falls flat.

An important plot point revolves around two beings found at Giza in 1928, who tried to go through the stargate in ancient times, after it was buried.  They don't look like they were ever living beings. Instead, they look like artwork, a bas-relief sculpture, so the importance of their discovery is never made clear.

Overall
The movie is a rare mix -- well portrayed characters, and grand spectacle successfully combined with action, and mystery.

DVD Extras:
Audio commentary by Director Roland Emmerich and Producer Dean Devlin -- well worth listening to as the discussion stays focused on the pertinent aspects of the movie on screen.

Featurette, Is There a Stargate?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Vote for Best Episode SG-1, Season 1


WHERE: Stargate Rewatch: SG-1 Season One Nominations
WHEN:  From now, until August 8, 2011
HOW:  Sign-up with the Gateworld Forum - it's free, quick, and non-invasive.

 Vote for your choice of the best Stargate SG-1 episode in season 1.  The poll will be open through August 8, 2011.  While there, you can also make SG-1, season 1, nominations for the next poll in the following categories:
  • Best Jack Moment
  • Best Daniel Moment
  • Best Sam Moment
  • Best Teal’c Moment
  • Best Team Moment
  • Best Guest Star (based on one specific episode)
Lurkers are welcomed at Gateworld Forum.  You can read posts without signing up, or in.  However, you do need to sign up, and sign in, to post to the forum and participate in polls. Joining Gateworld is free.  Membership is international.  You must be at least 13 years old to register on Gateworld.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Blog Mission


This blog is the repository of my reviews of Stargate movies, and series, as I re-watch with other fans.  You are welcome to join via this blog, and at  Gateworld.

What is Stargate?  Stargate is a science fiction franchise which began with the motion picture Stargate in 1994, and continued through 2011, evolving into 3 distinct television series, two additional motion pictures, and one animated series.

Starting in 1997, Stargate SG-1, the first series, ran for 10 seasons, and two motion pictures.  Stargate Atlantis, the second series, ran for 5 seasons.  Stargate Universe, the third series, ran for 2 seasons.  Now, for the first time since 1997, there are no new productions being made from the Stargate franchise.  However, there are still legends of Stargate fans.  The folks of the amazing web site Gateworld - the preeminent source for all things Stargate (and more) - came up with the idea to have a Stargate Re-watch.  Beginning in 2011, through to the end of 2012, fans are re-watching Stargate's many incarnations, and together, we are preserving the goodness that is viewing Stargate.

There's a lot to re-watch, and I am relishing that fact.