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Stargate SG-1: Season 1

Stargate, the 1994 movie, was a great big stinker. The premise was intriguing: In the ruins of Giza, scientists have discovered a "stargate," left behind by the ancient Egyptians. Sensitive, allergy-prone science guy Dr. Daniel Jackson (played by James Spader) and wise-cracking, suicidal action hero Col. Jack O'Neill (Kurt Russell) lead a squad of soldiers with automatic weapons through the stargate to check it out. On the other side, the nutty god Ra (The Crying Game's Jaye Davidson), rules a desert planet called Abydos, where spaceships use pyramids as landing pads and millions of humans (the descendants of transported ancient Egyptians) are enslaved and used as hosts for the worm-like aliens. When they report what they've found, Jackson and O'Neill are given the assignment of returning with a nuclear device and blowing it to smithereens, eliminating the threat to Earth but killing the innocent humans. Wow — an action/adventure/sci-fi film based on the premise that the ancient Gods were evil, space-travelling aliens! It sounded so good. But in the hands of the crap-making team of Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, the movie was bad bad bad bad bad. HOWEVER! The Showtime Original series Stargate SG-1, which debuted in 1997, somehow manages to achieve something rarely seen in television: It's a TV show that's eons better than the lame-ass movie that inspired it. Picking up a year after the film ended, O'Neill (Russell replacement Richard Dean Anderson, who owns the role from the moment he appears onscreen) and Jackson (the eerily Spader-like Michael Shanks) are called back to the Stargate project, located in a military facility deep in the bowels of the Earth below a mountain in Wyoming. Bad guys have come to Earth through the Stargate — not just any bad guys, but their old Goa'uld enemy Ra and his snake-hat wearin', Pharoah-wannabe foot soldiers. Joining them is their boss Gen. Hammond (Don S. Davis) and — much to the science-phobic O'Neill's dismay — is eager stargate expert Capt. Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), who's not only an astrophysicist, but one tough pilot, to boot. The crew soon learn that there are thousands of stargates scattered throughout the universe, with thousands of human-inhabited planets that they can visit, seeking new technologies and looking for ways to battle the Goa'uld menace. At the end of the 90-minute pilot, they're joined by a resistance fighter from Abydos, Teal'c (Christopher Judge), who carried within him an immature Goa'uld parasite. MGM's first season DVD box-set of Stargate: SG-1 offers the season's full slate of 20 episodes, including the 90-minute pilot "Children of the Gods" and outstanding episodes like "Thor's Hammer," "Brief Candle" (with Anderson in spiffy age makeup), "Fire and Water" (Daniel Jackson and a giant fish-man in a sort of homage to Enemy Mine), and the suspenseful season-ender "Within the Serpent's Grasp," where the SG-1 team, against orders, transport themselves into the heart of the Goa'uld attack headquarters. Presented in letterboxed widescreen (1.78:1) with audio in Dolby 2.0 Surround. Extras include cast and crew featurettes, plus one focusing on Amanda Tapping and one on Don S. Davis; a behind-the-scenes promo featurette; and a featurette on costume design. Five keep-cases in a paperboard slip-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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