The Ninth Season
The television series Stargate SG-1 was based upon the Hollywood film, Stargate. After the show's initial debut, it quickly became a success. In the series eighth season, a spin-off series Stargate Atlantis was launched, which has also turned out to be well-received by viewers. However, despite the apparent success of Stargate SG-1, the series was recently cancelled and it is currently in its final season. Season nine marks the second-to-last season and it is very entertaining. For those unfamiliar with the series, Stargate SG-1 is a science fiction show about a military organization comprised of military and civilian personnel and their alien allies who travel throughout the universe by means of a Stargate. In their travels, they forge alliances and acquire alien technology with the specific goal to defend Earth and other planets from enemies who wish to make them their latest conquest. For more details about the series, please refer to DVD Talk's reviews of season one,
season seven, and season eight, as well as the Stargate Atlantis review of season one.
In season nine, the series' dynamic takes a different pace in terms of both its characters and major plotlines. In regards to characters, the series' leading character leaves the cast. In season eight, Jack O'Neill took over command of the SGC (Hammond was promoted to Head of Homeworld Security), and left the field work to Carter, Jackson, and Teal'c, although he joined them on a few occasions. Season nine sees O'Neill getting another promotion and taking Hammond's position as Head of Homeworld Security, which means he stops being a regular figure in the show. O'Neill and Hammond still make guest appearances.
Major General Henry Landry (Beau Bridges) joins the SGC as its new commander. Also joining the SGC is Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell (Ben Browder), who is SG-1's new leader. Mitchell was the pilot who led a squadron of 302s in the season seven finale to save SG-1 in Antarctica. He almost died in the battle and was given his choice of any duty post. He selected assignment to SG-1. When he first comes to the SGC to join SG-1, he finds out he is SG-1. Daniel has put in for reassignment to Atlantis, Carter is heading R&D out of Area 51, and Teal'c is off world on Dakara serving on the Free Jaffa Nation's High Council. Landry informs Mitchell to assemble his new team. However, with the appearance of Vala Mal Doran (Claudia Black), the "old band", as Mitchell refers to it, gets back together to face a new growing threat. Vala made her first appearance in the season eight episode "Prometheus Unbound", when she tried to steal the Prometheus from SG-1 and sell it on the black market to the Lucian Alliance. She joins the cast as a reoccurring character in season nine and becomes a permanent SG-1 team member in season ten.
Both Browder and Black are well-known for their roles on Farscape. They are good additions to the cast. At first, I was skeptical about Browder, because, well, he's no Anderson. Despite, after seeing Browder in his role, I found I liked him a lot. Browder brings a brazen, fun personality to his character, which is somewhat similar to what Anderson brought his character. While Browder is no substitute of Anderson, he still brings a solid character to the series. Black is also a fun character. At times, she can be little on the annoying side, but overall tends to have a fun contrast with the others, especially Shanks. Bridges is good in his role and presents an able and likeable leader.
The other big change for the series is the direction of the plotlines. In the past eight seasons, the Goa'uld have been at the center of almost every plot as the galaxy's most fearsome villain. In the end of season eight, the system lords were out of power and other major villains like the Replicators had been defeated. Without any major villains to face, new ones are introduced. A new story arc dealing with the Ori, a group of rogue ascended beings who believe they are true gods is addressed. The Ori instruct their followers to spread the teachings of "origin". And unlike peaceful missionaries, the Ori are not at all peaceful. They expect unbelievers to accept the word of origin or be purged. Their powers grant their missionaries known as Priors with the power and knowledge to revive the dead, infect masses with deadly plagues, build gigantic weapons of mass destruction, and powerful space ships. They are a foe unlike any other.
When Vala appears in the season premiere episode, she convinces SG-1 to join her on a treasure hunt that leads to a communication device. The device allows Jackson and Vala to take control of the bodies of two individuals in a far off galaxy. While there, they find themselves in a world unlike any they have seen. The populace is controlled by the Ori. Jackson and Vala learn the Ori are ascended beings who require their followers to worship them without pause. Anyone who resists their teachings are killed. Jackson and Vala inadvertently inform the Ori about a galaxy that had been sheltered by the ancients. Afterwards, a massive campaign to purge the unbelievers is put into effect. The storylines about the Ori deal with SG-1 trying to find ways to stop the Ori, as well as the Ori's campaign to convert unbelievers.
Also following the downfall of the system lords is the formation of the Free Jaffa Nation. In season eight, Bra'tac and Teal'c led many Jaffa who desired to be free of their oppressors and they were successful. In season nine, the Free Jaffa Nation's fate is being determined by the High Council. Bra'tac and Teal'c push for a purely democratic nation and their hopes are shattered when the council decides they will be led by the councilmember with the most military assets. That Jaffa is Gerak (Louis Gossett Jr.). Gerak becomes a severe complication for the SG-1 team, especially when he allies the Free Jaffa Nation with the Ori. The story arc intertwining Gerak, the Jaffa's, and Ori becomes very intriguing.
Other storylines revisit old bad guys. The first is the Lucian Alliance, which formed after the fall of the system lords. They are a group of well-organized traders, brigands, and thieves who command a vast fleet of Goa'uld vessels and control many planets. They become a problem for SG-1 in a couple episodes and even into season ten. Another enemy revisited is the Trust, which was a private organization formed on Earth of wealthy and influential businessmen who wanted to control alien technology for profit. The former system lord Ba'al takes control of the Trust and presents a formidable enemy for SG-1 to face on their home turf. Anubis, while killed in the end of season eight, returns in an episode. SG-1 finds a man named Khalek (Neil Jackson, Blade: The Series) in stasis and he turns out to be a genetic-hybrid clone of Anubis. He is Anubis' "son".
Another interesting story arc introduced in this season is the formation of the International Oversight Advisory (IOA) committee. In the early part of season nine, the SGC attends a hearing with the appropriations committee and the chairman Senator Fisher decides to drastically cut the SGC's funding. With the Goa'uld and Replicator threat nonexistent, why should the United States citizens continue to fund the multi-billion project. However, they agree by allowing a civilian body to oversee portions of the operation, funding will continue. Acting as the IOA liaison to the SGC is Richard Woosley (Robert Picardo, Star Trek: Voyager) and he only adds to the SGC's growing list of complications.
Overall, season nine of Stargate SG-1 has more than enough action, drama, and all-out fun to keep viewers interested and wanting more. While the show has had some significant changes in terms of cast, villains, and direction of the story arcs, the changes work quite well. The stories with the Ori are exciting and engaging, as well as are the political with the Free Jaffa Nation, Ba'al and the Trust, and getting to know the new characters Mitchell, Vala, and Landry. In the end, season nine is a must own for the fans.
1. Avalon, Part 1: Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell, the newest member of the SG-1 team, sets out on a mission with Daniel Jackson, Teal'c and Vala to uncover a stash of ancient riches.
2. Avalon, Part 2: Still bound together by the Jaffa bracelets, Daniel Jackson and Vala are transported to a distance galaxy populated by worshipers of a strange and potentially threatening authority.
3. Origin: Daniel and Vala learn that their reactivation of an ancient communications device has inadvertently exposed Earth to the wrath of a group of unforgiving deities.
4. The Ties That Bind: Daniel and Vala embark on a series of missions in their quest to unlock the Jaffa device that seems to have bound them together for eternity.
5. The Powers That Be: When Daniel and Vala attempt to undo the teachings of the Ori on a distance planet, they and the planet's inhabitants find themselves subject to their foe's vengeful wrath.
6. Beachhead: Samantha Carter returns to SG-1 to join the team on a mission to free a distant planet from the Ori's control.
7. Ex Deus Machina: The team intervenes when an ongoing conflict between Gerak and Ba'al puts the United States at risk.
8. Babylon: Lt. Col. Mitchell disappears while trying to contact a band of legendary Jaffa warriors.
9. Prototype: Landry and his government overseers disagree over what to do about a dangerous, genetically engineered Goa'uld creation.
10. The Fourth Horseman, Part 1: As SG-1 tries to stop the spread of a deadly virus, Gerak works to convert the Jaffa to worshippers of the Ori.
11. The Fourth Horseman, Part 2: As Gerak Amasses forces to rise against them, the Stargate team races to find an antidote to stop an Ori plague from becoming a devastating global pandemic.
12. Collateral Damage: Complications arise when Mitchell becomes the victim of a powerful new technology that allows individuals to share memories.
13. Ripple Effect: Stargate Command is baffled by the sudden arrival of several virtually identical SG-1 teams.
14. Stronghold: Daniel fears the worst when Teal'c mysteriously disappears.
15. Ethon: The team sets out to destroy a deadly weapon invested by their increasingly powerful foe, the Ori.
16. Off The Grid: Landry and the team plan an offensive when they learn that Ba'al is once again regaining power.
17. The Scourge: A crop of genetically engineered insects turns deadly, forcing the SG-1 team to destroy them before becoming their next victims.
18. Arthur's Mantle: While Teal'c sets off to investigate foul play on a Jaffa planet, Mitchell, Carter and Daniel become "out of phase" while experimenting with a powerful ancient device.
19. Crusade: Vala returns to Stargate Command to deliver startling news: The Ori have been steadily building military forces, and plan to launch a crusade against their dissidents in the near future.
20. Camelot: As the Ori's attack looms closer, Mitchell and Daniel race to locate a device that will obliterate the enemy once and for all.
The video in this release is given in an anamorphic 1.78:1 ratio widescreen color format. The picture quality is quite good. It suffers from a slight grain, but detail remains to be sharp and clear. However, there are moments when the picture suffers noticeable compression artifacts. Overall, the picture is relatively clean and should look good on big screen televisions.
The audio track in this release is in English 5.1 Dolby digital surround and a dubbed track in French Dolby surround. In general, the sound quality is very good and it provides an audible and clean track. The dialogue is usually a little flat while music and sound effects come off rich and vibrant. Additionally the 5.1 track is dynamic and makes good use of the surround sound capability.
There are subtitles included in English and Spanish, as well as support for closed captioning.
The Stargate SG-1: Season 9 box set comes with a lot of extras. The collection contains twenty episodes spread across five discs. Each disc has four episodes, each with an audio commentary with cast and crew, two featurettes, and two photo galleries. That gives us twenty episode commentaries, ten featurettes, and ten photo galleries. It is a lot of content and great for the fans. Here is the breakdown for each disc.
Disc 1 Special Features
It Takes A Crew To Raise A Village (14:04) is a featurette with Robert Cooper showing the process of putting together the village used in the episode "Avalon". It also features Bridget McGuire, Chris Beach, Thom Wells, Jim Menard, and Martin Gero. SG-1 Directors Series: "Avalon" Featuring Andy Mikita (11:16) stars director Andy Mikita talking about different aspects of directing the episode: Science Lab, Cave, Small Cave, Main Cavern, Stunt Rehearsal, Origin Village (day), the new characters, on-set chemistry, and the burning of Vala. There is also a Photo Gallery and Production Design Gallery related to the disc 1 episodes.
The disc 1 commentaries include "Avalon, Part 1" and "Avalon, Part 2" with Director Andy Mikita and Executive Producer Robert Cooper, "Origin" with Executive Producer Robert Cooper and Directory of Photography Jim Menard, and "The Ties That Bind" with Director William Waring, Writer/Executive Producer Joseph Mallozzi, and Creative Consultant Martin Gero.
Disc 2 Special Features
Inside the Stargate Prop Department (15:23) stars Peter Deluise, Dean Goodine, and Kenny Gibbs. They talk about prop development, design and modeling, and show off various season nine props, as well as discuss the P-90 weapon props. SG-1 Directors Series: "The Powers That" Be Featuring Will Waring (11:21) stars director Will Waring talking about different aspects of directing the episode: Throne Room, supporting performances, face of the Ori, shooting the dunes, shooting for visual FXs, power of the Ori, bringing it all to life, and tech survey. There is also a Photo Gallery and Production Design Gallery related to the disc 2 episodes.
The disc 2 commentaries include "The Powers That Be" with Director William Waring, Executive Producer Joseph Mallozzi, and Writer Martin Gero, "Beachhead" with Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Savela and Visual Effects Coordinator James Rorick, "Ex Deus Machina" with Director Martin Wood and Executive Producer Joseph Mallozzi, and "Babylon" with Director Peter DeLuise and Actor Gary Jones.
Disc 3 Special Features
Inside the Stargate Special Effects Department (18:36) takes a look into Stargate SG-1's special effects. It stars Peter DeLuise, Wray Douglas, Dan Shea, and Melissa Stubbs. They talk about everything from small to big explosions to dangerous stunts to safety. SG-1 Directors Series: "Prototype" Featuring Peter DeLuise (13:54) talking about different aspects of directing the episode: poignant performances, a quiet evil, owning screen time, stunts: big and small, giving it his all, and a different type of episode. There is also a Photo Gallery and Production Design Gallery related to the disc 3 episodes.
The disc 3 commentaries include "Prototype" with Executive Producer Robert Cooper and Writer Alan McCullough, "The Fourth Horseman, Part 1" with Director Andy Mikita and Writer Damian Kindler, "The Fourth Horseman, Part 2" with Director Andy Mikita and Producer Paul Mullie, and "Collateral Damage" with Director William Waring and Director of Photography Peter Woeste.
Disc 4 Special Features
Stargate SG-1: An Introduction to Ben Browder (21:20) is a featurette about Ben Browder, with interviews from Joseph Mallozzi, Ben Browder, Peter DeLuise, and James Bamford, behind the scenes footage, and clips from season nine. The general discussion is about Browder and his new role, but specific topics include stunts, motivation, and Browder answers some fan mail. SG-1 Directors Series: "Ethon" Featuring Ken Girotti (15:01) stars director Ken Girotti talking about different aspects of directing the episode: upping the ante, shooting at Rearview Hospital (with Michael Shanks), drawing on history, old hands and fresh blood, prefect chemistry, and coming back for more. There is also a Photo Gallery and Production Design Gallery related to the disc 4 episodes.
The disc 4 commentaries include "Ripple Effect" with Executive Producer/Writer Joseph Mallozzi and Visual Effects Producer Michelle Comens, "Stronghold" with Director Peter DeLuise and Actor Gary Jones, "Ethon" with Writer/Supervising Producer Damian Kindler and Actor Barclay Hope, and "Off The Grid" with Writer Alan McCullough and Director of Photography Jim Menard.
Disc 5 Special Features
Profile On: Brad Wright (20:45) discusses an integral part of Stargate SG-1's success, Brad Wright. The footage includes interviews with Michael Shanks, Brad Wright, and Paul Mullie. The topics include Brad's producing style, when SG-1 found its legs, the general success of the series, and Brad answers some fan mail. SG-1 Directors Series: "Crusade" Featuring Robert Cooper (15:16) stars director Robert C. Cooper talking about different aspects of directing the episode: the return of Vala Mal Doran, Claudia's performance, the challenges of "Crusade", the success of the episode, and staging the scene (with Joseph Mallozzi). There is also a Photo Gallery and Production Design Gallery related to the disc 5 episodes.
The disc 5 commentaries include "The Scourge" with Executive Producer/Writer Joseph Mallozzi and Visual Effects Producer Michelle Comens, "Arthur's Mantle" with Writer Alan McCullough and Director of Photography Jim Menard, "Crusade" with Writer/Director Robert Cooper and Director of Photography Peter Woeste, and "Camelot" with Director Martin Wood and Actress Amanda Tapping.
When I first saw the ninth season of Stargate SG-1, I did not care for it. The problem is how I saw the ninth season. I saw it completely out of order watching re-runs when I could find them. It did not make for the best introduction to the new characters or the new stories. But as I watched the season ten episodes this past summer, I got to know Mitchell, Vala, and Landry, all of whom I like. Watching the entire ninth season in the proper order made for a much different experience. I found the stories much more entertaining, engaging, and compelling. Season nine features some great story arcs with the Ori plot, the sinister Ba'al taking control of the Trust, SG-1 and the Lucian Alliance crossing paths, the internal politics of the Free Jaffa Nation, and the International Oversight Advisory committee in the SGC's hair. Overall, season nine makes for a great watch and should be an exciting experience for any fan of science fiction. It easily deserves a Highly Recommended recommendation.