Stargate: Season 1 Review

I see very few television series through to completion. Like with books, somewhere around Number 3 (novel, season), I get tired of the whole thing.

There are exceptions, such as shows that only have three seasons. I have also seen all of Star Trek: Next Generation and all of Star Trek: Voyager.

Recently, I decided to watch all of Stargate and all of X-Files. In both cases, I made it to about Season 4. But I figured, Stargate and X-Files are my two favorite cult-classics, so why not finish them?

I've been rewatching Stargate Seasons 1-4, preparatory to watching all of Season 5, all of Season 6, all of Season 7 (rather than just a few episodes here and there) and the remaining seasons (10 altogether). And I figured: why not take notes?

So, here is my review of Stargate SG-1, starting with Season 1. I don't give summaries, just reviews:

Episode #1: Children of the Gods—Pretty good! I've seen it several times. It is "R" rated based on some National Geographic nudity. The nudity isn't offensive, but it is completely disconcerting because Stargate is about as PG a show as I've ever encountered. In any case, Episode #1 is a good "movie" (Stargate movies are, in general, pretty good).

Episode #2: The Enemy Within—Pretty good episode which introduces why the Goa'uld can't just be removed from human hosts (this ups the ante for the rest of the show). Disappointing death of Kawalsky (played by Jay Acovone, one of my favorite "bit part" actors).

Episode #3: Emancipation—Okay episode with a feminist theme and a Star Trek feel. (In general, Stargate episodes are surprisingly non-Star Trek). I suppose some episodes just have to be done, sci-fi-speaking.

Episode #4: The Broca Divide—I really like this episode, mostly for the line where Daniel Jackson says, deadpan, "Oh, you poor man," when Jack confesses that Carter tried to seduce him (in cave woman mode).

Episode #5: The First Commandment—Well-written episode but not one of my favorites. God-complexes just don't interest me that much.

Episode #6: Brief Candle—If you ignore the completely non-professional behavior (Jack should never have eaten the food in the first place), this episode is a good showcase of Richard Dean Anderson's talent. It makes me want to keep track of Richard Dean Anderson and see if he behaves the same way, as he acted, when he is 80.

Episode #7: Cold Lazarus—Okay episode that gives more background to Jack's family history (with his son). This is one of Stargate's very touching episodes (they actually have several); it edges on saccharine but doesn't go too far.

Episode #8: Thor's Hammer—Good episode up until the end. I have very mixed feelings about the end. On the one hand, I agree with Jack that you do what is best right here/right now. On the other hand, dismantling another planet's defense system for the sake of your friend . . . eh . . . that's not so good. (This particular problem is identified and addressed in a later season.)

Episode #9: The Torment of Tantalus—I quite like this episode with its WWII sequences. Young Ernest Littlefield is played by the same actor who plays Dr. Beckett (McGillion) in Stargate: Atlantis. This is disconcerting because the personas are totally different. (For fans, McGillion does have a Scottish background.)

Episode #10: Bloodlines—I rarely rewatch the Chulak episodes, but of course, I had to this time. It's an okay episode. The little boy who plays Ry'ac is seriously adorable.

Episode #11: Fire and Water—One of my absolutely favorite episodes! In fact, this episode is the reason I bought Season 1. I think Michael Shanks does a fabulous job in this episode. Shanks tends to either be ultra-laconic or ultra-hyper. Here he is ultra-hyper, and I love it.

Episode #12: The Nox—Not one of my favorite episodes, but it's nice to watch Armin Shimerman play a sweetie-pie rather than a loathsome principal or Ferengi.

Episode #13: Hathor—Eh. The degree of control exercised by the Goa'uld varies considerably . . . depending on the needs of the writers.

Episode #14: Cor-ai—I quite like this episode; it deals with forgiveness and whether Teal'c should be punished for what he was in the past or forgiven for what he has become. This is also the beginning of many, many episodes where Teal'c is looked after (anointed, perfumed, painted, washed) by women. I'm thinking Christopher Judge wasn't complaining.

Episode #15: Singularity—Another favorite which borders on saccharine. Also, one of the few episodes that goes out of its way to remind us that, for all her military background, Carter still has motherly instincts. (Stargate does this less with its women than a lot of shows; in general, Carter is one of the most truly emancipated—not just token emancipated—women on television).

Episode #16: Enigma—The introduction of Garwin Sanford as Narim. (Garim Sanford is also in Stargate: Atlantis as Dr. Weir's boyfriend who gets dumped when she goes to Atlantis. I was sure he'd been on Voyager too; I was wrong, but he is a sci-fi acting junkie.)

"Enigma" is a pretty good episode, but it does introduce another race with "superior technology" that runs around calling Earthlings "children." This is very annoying. The race's "adult" superiority isn't based on a higher moral standard or better government, just better technology. That is, if they didn't have the technology, they would be just as vulnerable to the Goa'uld and just as unhappy about it. Therefore, their sneers at Earthings' war-like reactions are pretty obnoxious. The so-called superior race isn't unwarlike because it has grown beyond war; rather, it is unwarlike because it can afford to be. I prefer the Asgard, who would help if they could but can't due to treaties and problems at home.

Episode #17: Tin Man—Very fun episode. I was completely surprised by the ending because I thought the episode was going in a Star Trek direction and it didn't! (I've never really understood the putting-people's-brains-back-into-their-heads resolution.) This episode is very nicely paid off in a later season.

Episode #18: Solitudes—Introduction of the second Stargate which is never really used by the show in a way that leads to anything. Eventually, it is destroyed; apparently, too many Stargates=problematic show. I kind of agree.

Episode #19: There But For the Grace of God—One of my favorites. I really like alternate reality type shows where you see the same cast and location, only from a new perspective. What stays the same? What changes? Very cool.

Episode #20: Politics—Episode with rerun flashbacks. The narrative that holds the flashbacks together is really good; the political arguments against the Stargate program are well-written and delivered. The flashbacks are boring; flashbacks always are (but these types of episodes give everyone in the studio a break).

Episode #21: Within the Serpent's Grasp—First of a two-parter. Both parts are well-conceived. It does get funny after awhile watching the team run down corridors, knowing it is the same corridor over and over and over again. I tried not to think about it too hard.


Anonymous said...

Pardon me, but you inner nerd is showing. (only a little)

Kate Woodbury said...

Oh, absolutely! I've reached the stage in life where I'm not sure I trust anyone without an inner nerd. (I do try not to inflict Star Trek on my students too often.)

dorsey said...

You created nice blog. I am big fan of stargate. I watch Stargate regularly.In your blog i find all Season 1 Stargate episodes.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Reviews are really really very nice. I am a big fan of Stargate SG1 TV Show.