What with the “Stargate” franchise being dead for the foreseeable future, and since my older kids kinda’ like it, It thought now was as good a time as any to review the series. I’d always wanted to do it in chronological order, but I never have. Also, there are a metric ton of SG1 episodes I’ve never seen, and a lot of SGA eps as well. I really didn’t start watching until it was on Syfy (Then called “Skiffy”), and while they endlessly repeated the earlier eps, I never made an effort to catch up.
Now, I’ve got no intention whatsoever of reviewing the series with the same level of detail I do everything else. Firstly, it’s readily available. Secondly, it’s not at all obscure, and I generally reserve my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for things that are worthy of note, but never get it. Thirdly, everything related to Stargate has been actively discussed ad nauseam elsewhere. Just the same, we recently plowed our way through the first season, and I thought a little capsule overview might be fun.
EPISODES 1 & 2: “Children of the Gods”
A Showtime TV movie that functioned as a pilot for the series. Set a year after the movie ended, it reintroduces us to Jack, Daniel, Skaara, Kowalski, and Shauri (All recast), as well as introducing new characters Carter, Teal’c, and General Hammond. We also get an arch nemesis: Apophis, another Goauld - like Ra in the movie - and a neat new low-budget alien foe in the form of the “Jaffa,” humans who’ve been genetically engineered to serve as incubators for the Goauld larva. (As opposed to being possessed by them).
Despite all this movie isn’t really very good, and it’s got some pointless nudity in it. It seems rushed and yet the pacing is slow. We rented the re-edited DVD movie version, which is about 15 minutes shorter and on the whole much better, though it’s still slow/rushed, and the editing is dodgy in some places (Such as the infamous scene where Carter talks about her genitals, which has been removed from the film. I mean, the dialog was removed, not her genitals, of course). As with all pilots, it’s both lackluster and sets up the series. It’s 2 hours long.
Teal’c, a high-ranking Jaffa, betrays his own kind to help free them, Shauri and Skaara are possessed by Goauld.
EPISODE 3: “The Enemy Within”
Kowalski gets possessed by a Goauld, and is ultimately killed off. The medical stuff is unexpectedly gory. It’s kinda’ Meh. Earth-based episode.
EPISODE 4: “Emancipation”
The first “Planet of the Week” episode. The team meats up with some sexist humans descended from Mongols. They take Sam captive and attempt to forceably marry her off to a local cheftain for political reasons. It’s not bad, it could have been 1st season TNG terrible, but it still kinda’ meh.
EPISODE 5: “The Broca Divide”
The team ends up on a tidally locked planet where one side is eternally day, the other eternally night. The locals are descended from Minoans or something. They occasionally get a disease which turns people into cave men, at which point they’re banished to the night side. SG1 brings the disease back to earth, which infects the whole headquarters, but Dr. Frasier eventually realizes that mega doses of antihistamines cures the disease. This is not before Daniel turns into a cave man and has screaming dinosaur sex with a cavewoman. In the end, SG1 ushers in a new golden age for the people of this planet. (Daniel is married to Shauri, by the way, so even though he was out of his mind at the time, he cheated on her) Kinda’ silly, but well directed, well acted, and a big part for Dr. Frasier.
EPISODE 6: “The First Commandment”
One of the other SG teams (There’s 10) has gone nuts and set themselves up as gods on a planet with so much UV that the stone age locals can’t go out during the day. Ultimately, the SG1 team manages to prove to everyone that they’re not gods, and Carter manages to fix the local environment so it’s not so cruddy. It suffers a bit in that Carter is more stereotypical girl-in-peril here than she normally is, and she can’t bring herself to shoot someone. (Since when?) Slightly better than ‘meh.’
EPISODE 7: “Cold Lazarus”
SG1 encounters sapient crystals, one of which accidentally KO’s Jack, and attempts to take on human form and take over his life so no one will notice. Everyone notices, since Jack keeps trying to find his son, whom, you’ll recall, died prior to the movie in a sloppy gun accident. Carter makes contact with the aliens, who explain that they were largely wiped out by the Goauld, and didn’t realize SG1 wasn’t Goauld, inasmuch as we look just like them. Lots of backstory on Jack - he still loves his ex-wife, he’s still devastated by the loss of his son - it’s all a bit slow, but not a bad ep, and it’s the first non-humanoid aliens we’ve met on the show.
EPISODE 8: “The Nox”
Oh, this one’s just terrible. SG1 is sent to a planet to recover an invisible bird in order for the Stargate Program to turn a profit and justify its budget. Really. There they find a planet of self-righteous alien hippies who look just like humans, but have moss for hair. They can resurrect and turn invisible, and it turns out the invisible birds *can’t* turn invisible. Everyone dies (This is death #2 for Daniel, counting the movie) but the hippies make ‘em better, and Apophis is there, along with his new head henchman, Shackle. Then everyone is sent home, and it turns out the hippies (Nox) are actually a super-highly advanced alien species. Lame. It does introduce the concept that the government is not unconditional in its support of the program, however, and that it’s pricey.
EPISODE 9: “Brief Candle”
The team end up on yet another Greek-oid planet, this one where people only live 100 days, each day equivalent to a year. This was a result of a Goauld wanting to observe human evolution, so he sped it up via nanites, which were all the rage in the late ’90s. Jack gets the disease, either from eating some cake (Which may or may not be a metaphor for sex) or having sex with a local (Which may or may not be a metaphor for eating cake), and ages faster than Captain Kirk in “The Deadly Years.” Carter and Frasier fix it in the end, however, and neutralize the locals. It’s not a very good episode, and if 100 days equals a century to these people, and they’ve been on the planet 3000 years, then it follows that roughly 11,000 years have passed for them, MORE than long enough for them to have some major racial, and possibly evolutionary differences than standard humans. But: nuthin’. They’re still just Greek.
EPISODE 10: “Thor‘s Hammer”
The team go to a Viking planet, where an alien device sticks Teal’c and Jack in a cave, where a hologram informs them they can live here forever (Food and water provided) or they can go to the exit, where a device will allow the human to go and kill the Goauld. This means Teal’c can’t leave, since he’s got a worm in him. They’re pursued by an Unas - an earlier kind of host the Goauld used before discovering humans - and its parasite. Jack and Teal’c manage to escape and kill the Unas/Goauld, but they destroy the machine that kills the parasites in the process, thus ruining their only hope of rescuing Skaara and Shauri. It’s an interesting episode that introduces the Unas, the Asgard, and the idea that the hosts can be freed.
EPISODE 11: “The Torment of Tantalus”
The old German lady from the movie, Catherine Langford, was engaged to a guy who fell through the Stargate in 1945 when the military was experimenting with it. Daniel discovers this, and the team decides to follow, along with Catherine herself. Alas, the DHD is broken on the other end, so they can’t get home, and her surprisingly-not-dead-but-pretty-crazy ex-fiance has been trapped there for 52 years, mostly naked. It’s not great, but it’s not bad, and there’s runes on the walls (Relating to the last ep?) and it suggests that there are multiple powerful races out there which used to meet and negotiate in this place.
EPISODE 12: “Bloodlines”
A Teal’c episode. Turns out he’s got a wife and kid that he abandoned. He goes back home to save his kid from getting a larval goauld implanted, but things go horribly wrong, and it happens anyway. Brate’c is introduced and there’s a lot of running and shooting, and we’re told that due to his betrayal, Teal’c family are outcast and lucky to be alive. It’s ok.
EPISODE 13: “Fire and Water”
The team returns with Daniel dead. A funeral is held. Catherine is there, but only in a very brief cameo at the funeral. Turns out he’s not actually dead, however, he’s just been kidnapped by an amphibious alien that wants to find out if his wife (Last seen on earth in ancient Sumeria or something) is still alive or dead or filing for divorce, or what? This is an interesting premise on both ends, but it’s really padded out.
EPISODE 14: “Hathor”
Ra’s wife/sister is loosed from her tomb in Mexico. She evidently walks all the way to Colorado, where she seduces all the men folk, has sex with Daniel (2nd time he’s cheated on his wife while whacked out of his head), and turns Jack into a Jaffa with a fondness for hot tubs. Then it gets all girly show and Carter and Dr. Frasier take it to the man. Yeah, just that dumb. Carter episode.
EPISODE 15: “Singularity”
SG1 goes to a planet that the USAF has set up an observatory on to watch a black hole. They find everyone dead of a disease, which, for once, they manage not to bring back to earth. They do find a living girl - Cassandra - and try to figure out why she lived. Turns out she’s a trick: she’s got nanites in her that are building a super bomb that’ll go off if she goes back through the stargate, thereby destroying the earth gate. It all ends up happy, of course, Dr. Frasier adopts the girl, and we see a Goauld ship for the first time since the movie. It’s kinda’ interesting. Carter episode.
EPISODE 16: “Cor-Ai”
SG1 ends up on a planet where Teal’c killed a kid’s father while on an errand for Apophis years earlier. He’s arrested and insists on being tried for his crimes, as he’s struggling with a lot of guilt issues. Ultimately it’s found that he attempted to do as little damage as he could, and basically mercy-killed a guy to save the others. Not a bad episode, really, particularly since the locals have a very limited concept of Juris Prudence. But they’re so nice…
EPISODE 17: “Enigma”
Yet another Carter episode, in which she falls in love with a guy who looks just like Alec Baldwin, and sounds like Alec Baldwin, but isn’t Alec Baldwin. He is, however, from a race of condescending startrekian prigs who refuse to share tech with inferior races. As they’re stranded and can’t get home, the SGC attempts to help them. The guys from “The Broca Divide” show up to offer them sanctuary, but the advanced humans are complete wads to them. Ultimately the hippie Nox chick shows up to take ‘em home or something. Generally lame, despite introducing the concept that some human civilizations are more advanced than our own. (Up until this time, it’s generally bronze-age or lower) Points for strict internal continuity.
EPISODE 18: “Solitudes”
Remember the Twilight Zone episode where a rocket crashes on an alien world, and the survivors kill each other off once by one for their remaining supplies, until the last one realizes they’re actually in Nevada? This ep is much like that, only minus the Nevada and the killing, and pretty much everything else. Just the same, a gate malfunction strands a badly injured Jack and a not-at-all injured Carter on an ice world, while the rest of the team try to figure out what happened and find ‘em. Turns out they’re in Antarctica, where a second gate has been all along. It’s actually pretty good, and we find out that Jack was involved in the failed Delta Force raid on Iran in 1980.
EPISODE 19: “Tin Man”
The team are turned into robots. They don’t like it. They don’t get better, but then the original team shows up and takes the place of the robots who were meant to take their place. It’s all confusing, but it makes sense even though it’d take too long to get into here. Suffice to say, it’s a better-than-average episode with a surprising end.
EPISODE 20: “There But For The Grace Of God”
Daniel ends up in a parallel world where Jack’s a general, and the world is being attacked from space by Apophis. They’re losing badly, and everyone on the team makes the wrong choices. It’s actually a lot of fun seeing the spins on the characters. Turns out some friendly aliens attempted to warn earth of this by sending a gate address, but no one was able to figure it out. Daniel manages to escape back to his own universe just as everyone else dies. Catherine is a major part of the ep, too. This is actually far and away the best episode of the season, both for what it is, and also for its subtle implication that the team is the only thing keeping the world going. Since this version of the team never had a Daniel, their world was doomed.
EPISODE 21: “Politics”
And the best episode of the year is followed by the worst episode of the year, a clipshow. Senator Kinsey comes to shut down the program because of the budget. There’s an odd swipe taken at Christianity, too, in that Kinsey starts blathering about how God will save the world from aliens in a very evangelical sense. Noteworthy for introducing Kinsey, and also for stating that the SGC costs $3 billion/year to run, and that it’s listed in congress as a budgetary line item called “Area 52.”
EPISODE 22: “Within the Serpents Grasp”
Season finale: The Goauld attack foretold in “There but for the Grace of God” happens, but the SGC has been shut down and they’re powerless to do anything about it. They try anyway.
To Be Continued…
On the whole, a much better show than I’d anticipated. The first half of the season was a bit ‘why bothery’ but in the second half it really got a sense of what it was, and started playing up internal continuity, internal consistency, and a slight arc. And it always remained swashbuckling fun, which can’t really be said of any other show on the air at the time, probably not even B5. Certainly not any Trek show.
Looking forward to season 2.