I recently shelled out more money than I really
have to spend on the first season of
Stargate: SG-1. I probably shouldn’t
have; now that I have a taste for the show, I’ll
likely end up buying more, assuming they sell
them. Read more for more detailed thoughts, or
post your own comments.

Cast

Richard
Dean Anderson
as Colonel Jack O’Neill
Michael
Shanks
as Dr. Daniel Jackson
Amanda
Tapping
as Captain Samantha Carter
Christopher
Judge
as Teal’c
Don
S. Davis
as Major General George S. Hammond
Teryl
Rothery
as Captain Janet Frasier
Numerous notable guest stars

Crew

Numerous directors and writers. The IMDB page
that lists them can be found here.

Original Airdate

The first season aired during the summer of
1997.

Synopsis

The series starts a year after the movie ends,
when Apophis (a
relative of Ra) came through the Stargate on
Earth and captured a
woman. Colonel O’Neill was brought out of
retirement as an advisor,
and we learn that he lied in his report about the
state of the
civilization on the other side. He is allowed to
lead a recon
mission, and learns that Daniel Jackson is alive
an well on Abydos,
and that the Stargate lead to many other worlds.
Nine exploration
teams were formed under the command of Major
General Hammond. The
first team, SG1, is the focus of the series, and
is lead by Colonel
O’Neill. It also includes Dr. Jackson,
astrophysicist and Air Force
Captain Samantha Carter, and Teal’c, an enemy
soldier who defected.

A little more information about the enemies was
revealed in this
series. To begin with, the enemies are the
Goa’uld, and they are
actually worm-like parasites that inhabit human
hosts. (The
habitation aspect is consistent with the movie,
but the shot of Ra’s
face before the nuclear warhead detonates is more
consistent with the
idea that the aliens are actually those we saw
later in
Independence Day. In the movie
mythology, Ra fled and
inhabited a human, while the rest of his race
became the parasitic
scavengers we saw in the next Devlin and Emmerich
production.) Their
soldiers are Jaffa, who serve as living
incubators for maturing
Goa’uld. Teal’c is a Jaffa. Some small part of
the host human
survives when the Goa’uld are inhabiting their
bodies.

High Point

It’s nice to see the aliens of the week return in
another week. There
were a lot of little moments that referred back
to previous episodes.

Low Point

The pilot episode. It was strong for a pilot
episode, but there were
some moments that didn’t wash. Teal’c’s
defection is one, for
example. I also find it hard to swallow that no
one on Earth thought
that the Stargate went anyplace other than
Abydos. The SG1
FAQ
on
the official
site
says the
Stargate has 39 symbols. They used seven in the
movie. What the heck
did they think the other 32 were for? Why would
Dr. Carter’s program
only come up with 2 or 3 destinations per month
when it’s a simple
permutation that uses some astronomical data as a
sanity check? The
only reason I can think of is that it makes the
average time between
trips about the same as the average time between
episodes on the show.

Possible destinations

In meatspace, I’m a math and physics geek. It
was a simple
calculation to figure out how many destinations
there can be, so I did
it. Assuming the home coordinate is never used
as one of the first
six symbols, there are 1,987,690,320 possible
destinations in a seven
character address. Many combinations were
guessed over the years. If
we assume that only 1 out of every 39 had the
correct home coordinate,
that leaves about 50,966,418 possible
combinations to try at random.
They found one that worked at random. Let’s
assume for the moment
that they averaged one attempt per day over 80
years. (There were
many more attempts per day on the days the
program ran, but many days
when it didn’t run.) That gives us 29220
attempts, with one that was
successful. At that success rate, that gives
about 1744 possible
destinations for the Stargate to use with a six
character destination.
So, it is perfectly reasonable for them to
continue finding new worlds
every episode for 79 seasons of 22 episodes each.

Season One and the rest of the series

I haven’t been watching the rest of the series.
I enjoyed the first
half of the first season when it originally
aired, but I don’t get
Showtime and lost track of which time slot my
local independent was
airing it in. To those readers who have been
keeping up with things
since: how consistent is the acting, writing,
and production style
throughout the later seasons?

Comments on the DVDs

One of the most irritating aspects of watching
the show on normal
stations is the horrid cuts to commercials.
Since the original
broadcast on Showtime does not include
commercials (or so I’m told)
the show isn’t edited for them, which makes it
easy to watch on DVD.
(Compare this to, say, Robotech, which includes
the “We’ll be right
back” and “Robotech has now returned” segments.)
These are well
produced DVDs, in 16:9 widescreen, which is used
well. I’m honestly
not sure what portions of the image I’d matte out
of some shots for
the 4:3 broadcast. The only complaint that I
have is that many of the
shots seem grainy when shown in the DVD
resolution.

Also, I should note that the pilot episode
contains a scene of full
frontal female nudity that I don’t remember from
the original
broadcast. There’s also a mild profanity in the
season finale, which
may not have made it to air on all stations.

The Review

This is a show that was inspired by a movie, so
it’s hard to be
original, especially if you don’t want
to contradict the
original story. There was only one mild
contradiction (about the
nature of the aliens) that I noticed, and that’s
very minor. (I’d
probably prefer to forget Independence
Day
entirely, myself.
Even the SG1 writers mocked it in episode 20,
Politics.)
Some of the ideas are sci-fi standards, such as
the robot replacements
in Tin Man, but even those are often
handled in a unique
way. Using the same example, rather than being
forced to destroy some
evil robot replacement, the team had to deal with
the idea that they
were the replacements, and the originals were
still alive and well.
For originality, I give it 4 out of 6.

The visual effects were, quite frankly,
more than I thought a show
with these ratings can afford. Although some
footage seems to be
straight out of the movie, the new footage (like
the scenes involving
the Jaffa’s Goa’uld, the make-up effects in
The Broca Divide,
cutting open the robot arm in Tin Man,
disappearing creatures
in The Nox, and the staff weapons
seen in many episodes) are very well produced.
Some of the blue
screening in Tin Man still had matte
lines, but most effects
were very well done. I give the season 5 out of
6 for effects.

As far as the story goes, the rating
will really be an
overall impression of all the stories. Most are
well written, and
several didn’t end the way I thought they would,
such as The
Nox
, Singularity, Enigma,
Tin Man, and
Solitudes. There were several episodes
that were very
predictable, though, including Children of
the Gods
,
Brief Candle, Cor-ai, and
There But For The
Grace Of God
. Despite predictability, most
of these were still
interesting. The summer airdates circumvent the
temptation to
save the stories with long term impacts for
sweeps weeks, which seems
to help with maintaining consistent writing
quality, as well as the
ability to have an important episode at any point
in the season. I
give the stories an overall score of 4 out of 6.

The acting was impressive in most cases.
Richard Dean
Anderson is much better at this now than he was
in those old
MacGyver reruns I watched last month.
(How did I ever think
that show was good? At least I have the “I was
in elementary school”
excuse.) Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping, Don S.
Davis, and Chris
Judge are also very consistent, showing very
little change in how they
play these characters throughout the season.
(ie. no learning curve)
The guest stars are almost invariably good, as
well. I give it 4 out
of 6.

Many episodes did not elicit an emotional
response
from me.
Some did very well at this though. The elevator
scenes in
Singularity, for example, did have me
going. (For a second
there, I thought the show had real guts. Then
they tacked on the
happy ending. If distance from the Stargate were
that important, they
should have noticed an uneven decay rate.) I
give it 3 out of 6.

The production was, for the most part,
very good. Aside from
a couple moments of what looked like last minute
editing (which it may
very well have been) they pulled it off very
well. I’d give the
production 4 out of 6.

Overall, this is a DVD set of a TV
season that’s well worth
the reasonable price. I still can’t find it on
at a consistent time
on my local stations, but I’ll keep buying it on
DVD if they keep
making them (unless the show has taken some nasty
turn I’m not aware
of.) I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, the entire first season of Stargate
SG-1
received 29
out of 42.