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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Stargate SG-1 Season 5 Boxed Set
Stargate SG-1 Season 5 Boxed Set
MGM // Unrated // January 20, 2004
List Price: $69.96 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted November 30, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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Highly Recommended
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The movie

Stargate SG-1 has ended up becoming one of my favorite science fiction TV shows, and for good reason. It's a show that recognizes the importance of high-quality storytelling on an episode-to-episode basis; Stargate SG-1 has plenty of "wow!" moments in its episodes, but what really makes the series work is how it always makes sure all its ducks are in a row for a thoroughly entertaining experience. We've got a nifty idea, consistently solid writing, good characters, a commitment to internal consistency, the productive use of backstory, and a willingness to take on big stories that actually have consequences. What's not to like?

Season 5 follows up on an outstanding Season 4, so there's quite a high standard to live up to. Those high expectations may be part of the reason why it feels like Season 5 doesn't start out on as strong a note as the previous season. The season premiere, "Enemies," is excellent, as it continues with the events from Season 4's finale: the SG-1 team and Samantha's father Jacob are stranded in a faraway galaxy on board a Goa'uld ship... along with Apophis, who managed to escape destruction and follow them. This solid episode, however, is followed by the weakest of the entire season: "Threshold," in which a brainwashed Teal'c undergoes a Jaffa ritual designed to bring him to his senses. (You know it's a bad episode when the episode revolves around the characters just sitting around a hospital bed, talking.)

After this early stumble, the series begins to get back on track with a number of solid stand-alone episodes. "Ascension" has a few weak spots in terms of plot (which is surprising for a Stargate episode) but it makes up for it in some very nicely done humor, which (as usual) I can't comment on without spoiling the storyline, since it's very much drawn from the situations and characters. "The Fifth Man" is a nicely done piece in which the SG-1 team is convinced that they have a fifth team member... one who doesn't show up in any SGC records and who is remembered only by SG-1. The story turns out to have an intriguing resolution, and on top of that we see the recurring character of Col. Simmons (John DeLancie). "Red Sky is a reasonable adventure that references the Asgard, and the otherwise only so-so episode "Rite of Passage" is enlivened by the discovery of a new Goa'uld adversary, which is particularly interesting since Stargate is adept at using loose story ends like this into subsequent episodes.

As the middle of the season approaches, things start to heat up with more and more episodes that pick up on recurring story threads, characters, and situations from previous seasons and episodes. For instance, the Unas aliens (who stand as an example of outstanding makeup and design – they look unnervingly real) are at the heart of "Beast of Burden," and the SGC's new and shaky cooperative relationship with the Russians is put to the test in "The Tomb." Stargate is never afraid to venture into gray areas or have plots that don't wrap up neatly, as we see in the excellent "Between Two Fires," in which the highly advanced Tollan people unexpectedly renew their contact with Earth. "2001" is a direct sequel to last season's outstanding "2010," and as we get closer toward the end of the season, we get some major events going on with the Goa'uld and the Tok'ra, in episodes like "Summit," "Last Stand," and "The Sentinel." And without spoiling anything for viewers who haven't seen these episodes, there are some significant events that happen in the last two episodes of the season, "Meridian" and "Revelations."

While the main focus of the series is on action and drama, let's not forget that Stargate SG-1 also manages to be a surprisingly funny show. Humor is a very hard thing to get right, and science fiction shows in particular often struggle with it (Babylon 5, we're talking about you...). But Stargate SG-1 gets its humor exactly right, with Col. O'Neill's wisecracks being an essential part of his character (as well as being really funny), and touches of humor springing up unexpectedly in various episodes that are otherwise perfectly serious. As with the previous season, Season 5 also has an episode that leans almost entirely to the comic side: in this case, it's "Wormhole X-Treme!" which even manages to fit nicely in with the overall continuity of the series.

The DVD

Stargate SG-1: Season 5 is a five-DVD set, with each disc packaged in its own keepcase, and the five discs enclosed in an attractive and very sturdy cardboard slipcase, as with the other seasons. This isn't the typical flimsy paperboard slipcase, but a durable hard cardboard shell that will support a lot of wear and tear while still looking nice. Menus are attractively themed to the series while also being very clear and easy to navigate.

Video

Stargate SG-1: Season 5 appears in its original widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is anamorphically enhanced. As with the previous season, the image quality is excellent. The image is clean-looking and free of noise or flaws, though I did spot one instance of an odd colored halo around the edge of a character. Colors look excellent, with an overall natural but also vibrant appearance, and contrast is handled well.

Audio

The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack provides a solid, enjoyable listening experience for all the episodes here. The overall sound is crisp and clean, and the surround channels are used effectively throughout the episodes, from ordinary sound effects like the stargate opening to intense action sequences.

Extras

Once again, fans have plenty of reason to thank MGM for supplying a really nice DVD collection. Every episode in the set has a full-length audio commentary, and what's more, they're good commentaries, with interesting insights into the making of the episode. The participants vary depending on the episode, but we always get some combination of the episode's director, the visual effects producer, the director of photography, and the writers. Amanda Tapping also contributes to "Red Sky."

Apart from the commentaries, we get a few minor special features spread across the discs. Three "SG-1 Video Diaries" appear here, each about 10 minutes long. Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge, and Michael Shanks were each given a camera and told to go film behind-the-scenes material for the DVD, and each takes a slightly different tack. Tapping gives more of a broad overview, showing the sets and introducing the crew (we get to meet the stand-ins, for instance), Shanks takes a light-hearted approach that includes a "behind-the-scenes look at the behind-the-scenes" material, and Judge's contribution (the most interesting) is somewhat more focused.

For miscellaneous material, we have an incredibly lame featurette called "Inside The Tomb," which is basically just a 6-minute recap of that episode, and a 6-minute piece called "Dr. Jackson – A Tribute," featuring Michael Shanks reflecting on the evolution of his character.

Final thoughts

Stargate SG-1 has been on a roll, turning out season after season of high-quality, intelligent science fiction and proving that a show can feature action and adventure while aspiring to more than just lots of explosions and fight scenes. In addition to many excellent stand-alone episodes, Season 5 continues to develop the struggle against the Goa'uld, and makes great use of drawing on backstory as well as adding new and interesting elements to the mix. With a nice transfer and a full slate of audio commentaries to boot, Stargate SG-1: Season 5 is highly recommended.

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