Deep below Cheyenne Mountain, a
top-secret Air Force facility holds a mysterious alien artifact: the Stargate.
But it's not really the Stargate itself that's a mystery, but rather the vast
and dangerous galaxy that has been opened up by the discovery of how to travel
through the Stargate. Earth, it seems, was once the domain of the Goa'uld
System Lords, powerful beings whose drive for power leads them to enslave other
planets and peoples... including the Earth once again, if they can. In the face
of both danger and opportunity, the Stargate teams use the gate to explore
other planets and to seek out ways to defend the Earth against the Goa'uld.
SG-1 is the first and justifiably the most famous of the teams, the ones who
have faced the most danger and adventure together; in this third season of Stargate
SG-1, the adventure continues.
Season 3 opens on a strong
note, with one episode after another delivering on the kind of well-paced
action-adventure that Stargate SG-1 does best. Stargate doesn't
have lofty aims, but it does accomplish in excellent style exactly what it sets
out to do, which is to tell fun, entertaining, exciting science fiction
This isn't necessarily as easy
as it sounds. Take a show like Andromeda, for instance, as a
counter-example: that show tries for somewhat the same effect (action,
adventure, excitement in a galaxy-spanning setting) and falls flat. How does Stargate
succeed where another show fails? One major element in its success is its
balance of different story elements. While "action" is certainly
something we see a reasonable amount of, it's never for its own sake. When
there's a shoot-out between SG teams and the Goa'uld, it's for a good reason,
and the stakes are high. The SG-1 team is ready for trouble, but they don't
seek it out for its own sake, which makes any sticky situation that they're in
doubly interesting. Another factor in a balanced "adventure" feel is
the "puzzle" elements: in many episodes, there is something to be figured
out, whether it's how to approach a tricky negotiation or deciphering an
In Season 3, the characters
also start to add some depth to the show. All of them seem more
three-dimensional; instead of being the cardboard figures of the first two
seasons (the Tough Colonel, the Geeky Archaeologist, the Obligatory Woman
Scientist, the Wise Alien), the characters of Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean
Anderson), Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks), Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping),
and Teal'c (Christopher Judge) actually seem like interesting, real people.
This in turn benefits the stories, because it feels like the scriptwriters are
now incorporating the characters and their abilities into the story more
naturally. Even Col. O'Neill's wisecracks (which irritated me to no end in
Season 2) somehow seem better: more a function of the kind of person he is (a
smart-aleck) rather than a forced character gimmick. And sometimes they're even
funny, I have to admit...
Stargate SG-1 is unique
among science-fiction shows in that its "visit the planet of the
week" premise actually makes logical sense in the story universe: doing
reconnaissance missions of newly discovered planets via the Stargate is, after
all, the job of the SG-1 team. Season 3, like the earlier seasons, has a majority
of stand-alone episodes, in which the team encounters some problem or threat
and resolves it by the end of the episode. Because of the way that the episodes
are written and developed, however, the story never becomes stale.
First of all, we know that things
can happen in one episode that will affect later ones on down the line; this
makes the individual episodes take on more excitement and significance. Even
something that doesn't seem at first to have great significance beyond that
episode can sometimes crop up later on down the line. Whereas in another show,
the scriptwriters might yield to the temptation to just invent a new character
or device whenever the story demands it, Stargate seems to follow the
dictum that if something that has been introduced in the earlier episodes fits
the bill, use it. Thus in an episode like "Legacy" an alien device is
discovered that is traced back to an inventor that the team encountered in an
earlier season. For viewers who missed that episode, "Legacy" works
perfectly fine without knowing that piece of backstory... but for those who
have been following the show, it really adds nicely to the sense of the SGC as
a realistic organization and the SG-1 team as real people, who would actually
remember and refer back to what they've learned in previous missions.
In addition to continuing to
use the background laid down in the first two seasons, one of the things I'm
really pleased to see in Season 3 is that the series is moving forward in terms
of the larger story, picking up on the plot threads and characters of the
second season as well as well as developing new characters and plots that are
evidently more than one-shot deals. The Goa'uld threat remains present, but not
static: the team manages to take out certain of the System Lords, but they also
learn more about the larger picture of galactic politics. Rivalries among the
Goa'uld System Lords becoming more significant, highlighting the fact that the
Goa'uld are far from a monolithic enemy. "Fair Game" brings in the
Asgard and opens up hints of even larger problems on the horizon; since this is
an early episode in the set, it does a good job of setting a "hook"
for continued viewing.
Stargate SG-1 Season 3
is packaged in five individual keepcases enclosed in a very classy-looking
cardboard slipcase. The slipcase is much sturdier than the typical paperboard
case with boxed sets, and should stand up to a lot of wear. While the set takes
up a bit more shelf space than some of the more tightly-packed season sets on a
single foldout case, the individual keepcases make it very convenient to watch
the series. The overall case design is very attractive as well.
Stargate SG-1 is
presented in anamorphic widescreen, at the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1.
While the series may have appeared in 4:3 format in most households on its
initial run, the episodes were in fact filmed with the widescreen aspect ratio
in mind, so the wider ratio looks great.
The overall image quality is
excellent, and is a slight step forward from the already decent Season 2 transfer.
Colors are excellent, and contrast is generally pretty solid, though at times
some darker scenes look a bit too dark. I noted in Season 2 that there was a
fairly large amount of noise in the image; it looks like it has been cleaned up
more in Season 3. Some scenes do show a moderate amount of noise, but much less
so than in the earlier seasons; for the most part, the image is nicely clean
and clear. Edge enhancement is minimal, with the result that the picture is
The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is
really put to good use in this set, much more so than in the earlier seasons.
The surround effects are extremely well done, with the side channels used for
fantastic surround and directional effects. One scene with a Goa'uld flyer in
combat will have you believing that the fight is taking place in your actual
living room, with the way the sound of the aircraft convincingly roars from one
side of the room to the other and then back to center stage.
What's even better is that the
full surround experience is used not just in special-effects-heavy scenes, but
also throughout the episodes; the music is nicely spread out for an immersive
experience, along with smaller environmental effects. The dialogue is always
sharp and clear, and in general the soundtrack sounds great. Stargate SG-1 is
at its heart an action-adventure show, and here we get the audio experience to
match the on-screen excitement.
Three short featurettes are
included in the set; each features an "in-character" introduction by
Don S. Davis (General Hammond) and Teryl Rothery (Dr. Fraiser). The
introductions are actually incredibly cheesy; it's incredible how two actors
who perform quite competently day in and day out in the actual series can turn
in painfully terrible hammed-up performances here.
The first featurette is a
12-minute interview with Richard Dean Anderson, discussing topics such as his
character and his role as executive producer. 15-minute pieces called "The
Stargate Universe" and "Personnel Files" offer a look
into the making of the series, with interview clips from various people
involved with the show, from writers to the main actors. All three featurettes
are reasonably interesting, but the trouble with them is that they include a
substantial number of clips from the episodes, including from episodes later in
the season that the viewer has most likely not seen yet, given that the
featurettes are in volumes 1, 3, and 5. Since it's logical that viewers would
watch each featurette after finishing the episodes on that volume, it's
annoying to have spoilers for later episodes.
Menus are well designed on the
whole, and are straightforward and clear. Sometimes it's a bit hard to tell
what's selected in the menu, due to the choice of a tiny arrow symbol rather
than highlighting to show what option is selected. The menu screen for each
individual episode does show an image from that episode that could be construed
as a spoiler, but usually the images are general enough not to give anything
I had never watched Stargate
SG-1 on television before encountering it for the first time in Season 2 on DVD, but
it soon hooked me. Season 3 continues in the same vein, offering a very
entertaining adventure with every episode. In a nutshell, Stargate SG-1
is fun: it's light, but not too fluffy, and it offers an intriguing larger
story as well as engaging individual episodes. With the excellent widescreen
anamorphic transfer and knockout sound on this set to round out the
entertaining content, Stargate SG-1 Season 3 is highly recommended.