Children of the Gods: Final Cut
Stargate SG-1: Children of the Gods - Final Cut is a recut of the pilot episode for the popular science fiction television series Stargate SG-1. This version features new special effects, alternative scenes, and a few other adjustments. For those unfamiliar with the series, it was based on the 1994 film Stargate. A combination of scientists and military personnel unlocked something called a stargate, which allowed them to travel to distant worlds. The series followed the adventures of an elite team that ventured into different worlds, faced alien enemies, and made new discoveries. It ran for ten seasons from 1997 to 2007 and had two direct-to-video movies. For more information about the series, please refer to DVD Talk's reviews of Stargate SG-1: season 1, season 2, season 3, season 4, season 5, season 6, season 7, season 8, season 9, season 10, Ark of Truth, and Continuum.
As previously mentioned, "Children of the Gods" is the pilot episode for Stargate SG-1's first season. The episode takes place after the events of the 1994 film. The original mission was led by Lieutenant Jack O'Neill and Dr. Daniel Jackson. Through the stargate, they found a planet called Abydos and killed a tyrant named Ra. At the end of the mission, Jackson stayed behind with the people of Abydos and O'Neill falsified his reports in order to protect the existence of the innocent lives on Abydos. As the episode begins, a group of aliens come through the stargate. They kidnap a female airman and kill some of her peers. As a direct result, O'Neill is brought on site and debriefed again about his trip through the stargate. He reveals that he did not nuke the planet and Jackson is still alive on the other side.
From this moment, O'Neill is given a new mission to go to Abydos and look for clues about a new threat and to find the kidnapped airman. He is teamed up with some of his former teammates and Captain Samantha Carter. When they arrive in Abydos, they are reunited with Jackson and the people of Abydos. As they look for clues, some of the people of Abydos are kidnapped, which includes Jackson's wife and a boy close to O'Neill. This act makes the situation personal. Carter and Jackson are able to figure out additional secrets of the stargate and how to use it to travel to other worlds. They travel to where their people were taken. As the episode continues, O'Neill and team are forced to fight for their lives and race against clock, before a nuclear weapon is unleashed in the event that they fail to return through the stargate.
For the most part, the final cut of "Children of the Gods" offers a similar experience to the original pilot episode. I did not find that there were really a lot of major differences to make it a completely new experience. However, that is not to say final cut is without noticeable changes. There is a new music score, which makes it feel more in line with the television series versus a pilot episode. Teal'c's voice was dubbed to match the remainder of the series, which does leave an impact.
Beyond, there were many other modifications to the episode. Some are smaller than others, but they are there. For example, there is a different opening title sequence versus original that went directly into the scene with the airmen playing poker and showed the television series' credit sequence after the first scene. The opening sequence was also edited. The female airman does not walk up to the gate before the wormhole is established. The scene also moves into the fight scene much sooner. Throughout the episode, there are many other minor alterations. For instance, when O'Neill is shown the dead Jaffa, the doctor also unveils a dead female Jaffa, which was not in the original pilot.
Overall, "Children of the Gods" is a decent cut. If you have not seen the show yet, it is a good way to get an idea of what it is all about. On the other hand, if you already own the first season on DVD, then it really does not change the viewing experience enough to warrant re-purchasing the pilot episode. In the end, it will make a good rental.
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. Subtitles are included in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, and support for closed captioning.
- Audio Commentary: is included with Brad Wright and Richard Dean Anderson. The commentary has some pretty good information from Wright and Anderson. They are also lively with their dialogue. Fans of the show should enjoy it.
- Back To The Beginning (7:30): is a featurette with executive producer Brad Wright and visual effects supervisor Michelle Comens. It opens with Wright discussing how he saw the pilot and thought that he could really make it better. As the featurette continues, Wright and Comens highlight some of the major improvements with the final cut, as well as some of the flaws with the original pilot. It is very interesting to get a firsthand perspective about the problems and difficulties with the original pilot. This featurette would have been better with more content and more side-by-side comparisons of the two versions. Nevertheless, it is interesting and should be good for fans.
example of new visual effects: original versus final cut
Stargate SG-1: Children of the Gods - Final Cut features the director's version of the series' pilot episode. There are minor and major adjustments to it. For the most part, the new content will not revolutionize the viewing experience. The original pilot still gets the job done. However, as pointed out during the audio commentary and featurette, there were some imperfections corrected. The final cut does feel more inline with the remainder of the television series. But again, it did not appear significant enough to warrant re-purchasing the pilot episode if you already own the first season set on DVD. In the end, it will make for a solid rental. Fans will want to check it out for the extras, albeit it would have been nice if the featurette had been longer, and newcomers should take advantage of the opportunity for a good introduction to the series.