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Stargate SG-1: Season Four

Having saved the world from thousands of replicating metal bugs at the end of Season Three, the fourth season of Stargate SG-1 kicked off with Col. Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) and the SG-1 team discovering that one Replicator bug escaped destruction when Thor's ship crashed into the ocean — and it's found its way onto a Russian submarine where it's killed the crew and is busily, well, replicating. So O'Neill and Teal'c (Christopher Judge) take to the sub with a slew of armed commandos while Carter (Amanda Tapping) goes to Thor's home planet to try and help destroy the replicators there. After a less-than-sparkling third season, SG-1 got back in the groove in Season Four, with surprisingly complex character development — especially for nice-guy Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks), who got to exhibit a bit of his dark side — and a subtle-yet-undeniable attraction between O'Neill and Carter. Episode highlights include the often-hilarious "Window of Opportunity," in which O'Neill and Teal'c get trapped, Groundhog Day-like, in the same recurring ten-hour time cycle; "Beneath the Surface," which finds the team toiling in an underground alien power station with no memory of their previous lives; "Entity," in which an alien intelligence downloads itself into the SG command center's computers — then starts to build itself a new "body" while sucking up information from the system; "Double Jeopardy," with the team battling the evil, evil Cronos with the help of their android doubles; and "Upgrades," in which a Tok'ra scientist outfits O'Neill, Teal'c, and Carter with armbands that give them extraordinary strength and speed — and which, they discover, are not only endangering their lives but can't be removed. Each season of Stargate Sg-1 ends with a thrilling cliffhanger, and Season Four was no exception — in "Exodus," the SG-1 crew travels to the Tok'ra home world, outs a Goa'uld spy, and ends the episode on board a crippled ship far from their own galaxy, with Apophis (Peter Williams) and his fleet closing in. Yikes! MGM's boxed set includes all 22 episodes on five discs in letterboxed widescreen (1.78:1) with Dolby 2.0 Surround audio. As with Season Three, the picture quality is excellent, rich and saturated with sparkling detail. Extras include (for the first time) optional commentaries on every episode by SG-1 directors, visual-effects supervisors, and cinematographers; these are geektastic yack-tracks, with an immense amount of technical detail and background information (frequent show director Peter DeLuise's tracks are especially entertaining); featurettes on visual effects and the show's alien races; and the excellent 25-minute featurette "Stargate SG-1: Timeline to the Future — Legacy of the Gate," part one of a three-part documentary, which starts with the show's conception and covers a lot of ground from casting to some genuinely surprising details — like the fact that the 22-foot-high stargate created for the show actually turns and locks into place via computer operation, with keyboard commands determining the combination of chevrons for the gate's "address." Five keep-cases in a paperboard slipcase.
—Dawn Taylor

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