Stargate SG-1: The Complete Tenth Season – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

Cast:
Christopher Judge… Teal’c
Amanda Tapping… Colonel Samantha Carter
Michael Shanks… Doctor Daniel Jackson
Ben Browder… Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell
Claudia Black… Vala Mal Doran
Beau Bridges… Major General Hank Landry

Running Time: 871 minutes
Release Date: July 24, 2007
The Show

In many ways, season eight was the final season of Stargate: SG-1; both the major villains were dealt with (the Goa’uld were overthrown and the replicators were wiped out) and it was the last season featuring Colonel Jack O’Neill as a regular cast member. Season nine was almost like a spin-off series based on the first eight seasons of SG-1. While many of the elements and characters were the same, there were also new cast members introduced as well as a new ‘Big Bad’ in the form of the Ori. And, as is often the case with the first season of a series, the results were a mixture of good and not so good elements. Season ten attempts to build on what worked, while toning down the stuff that nobody cared about. Unfortunately, the results were somewhat mixed.

The new additions to the cast are a definite plus. Vala Mal Doran’s promotion from recurring character to regular member of SG-1 was a good move. Not only did adding Vala help freshen up the SG-1 team dynamic a bit, Vala also had a connection to Adria, which added a little something to the various confrontations between Adria and SG-1.

The introduction of Adria as a messianic leader of the Ori definitely helped to flesh out the Ori. In season nine, whenever the Ori turned up, they were lead by a Prior. While some of the Prior’s were suitably creepy, there was no main Prior and none of them were ever given much in the way of character development (or even names). With Adria, the Ori finally have a face.

For a while, the show does a great job of building on season nine. The first 2/3rds of the season, while far from flawless, really do a great job of building up the Ori threat and even the filler episodes are largely entertaining. Unfortunately, part way through the season, two things happened. First, Sci-Fi decided they were not going to be ordering any more episodes once season ten had concluded and secondly it was decided that the Ori story arc would be wrapped up via a DVD movie. This combo of announcements ends up killing the momentum of the series. It feels like the writers had an idea for a movie that required only a few changes to the situation with the Ori. As a result, for the last six episodes of the season, there’s only one episode that has anything in the way of real plot advancement; the rest feel like filler. While there’s nothing wrong with stand-alone episodes (some of the best episodes of SG-1 have been stand-alones), it’s never a good idea to run a whole series of them in the middle of a major story arc (a lesson the good folks at Battlestar Galactica would be well served to learn).

The series just doesn’t have a satisfying ending. I applaud the writers for not giving in to the urge to make the show end on a huge cliffhanger to set-up the movie; I just wish they had opted to do something a little more eventful. Even though there are a couple of major plot developments, neither of them is likely to have any real impact on the upcoming movies (not to mention, one of the developments is really stupid). Not only is the episode somewhat meaningless, it’s a reset button episode. To end your series with a reset button episode is mind-bogglingly stupid. The final scene was a nice way to end the show, but the rest of the episode left a bad taste in my mouth. It was no “These are the Voyages,” but hardly a satisfying way to conclude after ten seasons.

The Episodes

Disc 1

“Flesh and Blood” – After SG-1 finishes surviving the series of seemingly unsurvivable events that served as the cliffhanger ending for season nine, Daniel ends up hiding out on an Ori ship. Elsewhere on the same ship, Vala gives birth to a little bundle of Orici.

“Morpheus” – SG-1 visits a new world in an attempt to locate Merlin’s mythical weapon. Instead of finding the weapon, they find sleeping sickness.

“The Pegasus Project” – It’s crossover time! In an attempt to stop the Ori from making use of their supergate, SG-1 travels to the Pegasus Galaxy. While there, Daniel and Vala use the Atlantis database to conduct some research.

“Insiders” – Ba’ll approaches the SGC, offering them information in exchange for capturing all the Ba’ll clones. Of course each subsequent Ba’ll claims to be the real one, and offers his own deal. Wackiness ensues.

Disc 2

“Uninvited” – Landry plans a retreat for himself and SG-1. A series of unusual animal attacks prevent the rest of the team from arriving, leaving Mitchell alone with Landry, much to his dismay. Soon however, unusual animal attacks begin to occur around the cabin.

“200” – The 200th episode of SG-1 sees the return of Martin Lloyd. Wormhole Xtreme is being into a motion picture, and the members of SG-1 have been enlisted as creative consultants. This result is an episode filled with meta-humour, returning characters and some brilliant skits. Definitely one of the major highlights of the season.

“Counterstrike” – Remember the weapon used to wipe out the replicators? Well, the Jaffa council decides to use it to deal with the Ori. The device has no way to distinguish between Ori followers and non-Ori followers, of course, so it is instead used to wipe out all life an Ori controlled planet. Neither the Ori nor the people of Earth are very happy with this new development.

“Memento Mori” – Vala is kidnapped by the Trust so an old enemy can pick her brain. Unfortunately a botched rescue attempt fries not only the device used to probe Vala’s mind, but Vala’s memory. The newly memory-less Vala soon finds herself working as a waitress at a diner.

Disc 3

“Company of Thieves” – When the Odyssey, along with Colonel Carter, is captured by the Lucian alliance, it’s up to the rest of SG-1 to find the ship and save the day.

“The Quest, Part I” – Vala has a dream which puts SG-1 back on the trail of Merlin’s weapon. Unfortunately, Ba’ll and Adria are also on a similar quest and the three sides have no choice but to work together. This episode was the last prior to the mid-season break. Unfortunately, while the episode is good, it ends on one of the lamest cliffhangers in Stargate history.

“The Quest, Part II” – After dealing with the cheesy CG dragon, SG-1 and Ba’ll find Merlin in suspended animation and escape Adria’s clutches. With Merlin’s help can they escape with the weapon before Adria catches up to them?

“Line in the Sand” – SG-1 attempts to use phase technology to hide an entire village from the Ori. When something inevitably goes wrong, Mitchell and a seriously wounded are the only ones hidden from the Ori and Vala is reunited with her husband.

Disc 4

“The Road Not Taken” – Sam’s playing around with the phase device when an accident transports her into an alternate dimension. The new Earth is expecting to face a major Ori assault in the very near future. General Hammond and President Landry agree to send Carter home in exchange for her help against the Ori.

“The Shroud” – The team finds Daniel. The only thing is, he’s been turned into a Prior. He claims to have a plan to use Merlin’s weapon to wipe out the Ori. But in order to do that, Earth has to stop blocking the supergate. Can the team trust Daniel’s plan? Or is the whole thing an elaborate plot to allow a massive Ori fleet into our galaxy?

“Bounty” – Netan’s really annoyed at SG-1 for constantly foiling his plans. When they sneak on to a Lucian Alliance cargo ship, Netan has them tagged with a unique form of radiation and puts a bounty on their heads. This leads to aliens turning up all over Earth (conventions, bookstores, high schools, etc), attempting to kill off various members of SG-1. Now, if I were Netan, I’d just tag them with a lethal form of radiation, and cut out the middle man, but I guess that’s why I’m not in charge of an interplanetary piracy federation. This episode, while a lot of fun, marks the beginning of the all filler, all the time thing I complained about earlier.

“Bad Guys” – When SG-1 mistakes a museum for a pyramid, they wind up stranded on another world. While attempting to find the DHD, they inadvertently crash a government function. When they are mistaken as rebels, the team has no choice but to take the guests hostage until they can figure out a way to get back home.

Disc 5

“Talion” – And the filler just keeps on coming. An old, but never before mentioned, enemy of T’ealc’s detonates a bomb at the site of a Jaffa meeting, leaving many dead and seriously wounding both T’ealc and Bra’tac. When T’ealc recovers enough to walk again, he sets to find and kill the man responsible.

“Family Ties” – Vala’s dad (Fred Willard) contacts Stargate Command, offering to provide them with intel on a plot against Earth in exchange for sanctuary. Vala’s doesn’t get along with her father, so she is less than thrilled with this development. It also turns out that Vala’s father is quite the shyster; can the SGC trust him? Or does he have a hidden agenda?

“Dominion” – Finally an episode of importance. After a series of misleading dreams, the IOA decides that Vala’s a security risk and order her to be confined. Vala’s not going to stand for that however, and so she steals a cloaking device and heads through the gate to another planet. Before too long she runs into her mother and it’s revealed that all is not as it seems.

“Unending” – Apparently the Asgard really go all out for their scientific experiments. One such experiment, intended to help keep the Asgard species going, went wrong and now all the Asgard are at death’s door (Really, when performing dangerous experiments, it’s probably best to do some limited testing on a handful of individuals rather than expose your entire species to potential extinction). The good news is they’ve decided to give all their knowledge (and some handy ship modifications) to Earth.

Unfortunately, these upgrades somehow make it possible for the Ori ships to track the Odyssey wherever it goes. In an attempt to buy time to escape, Carter drastically speeds up the passage of time inside the ship. All of the crew, save SG-1 and General Landry were evacuated before this happened, and so it’s up to our heroes to figure a way out of their predicament. There are a number of things in this episode (like the death of the Asgard), that seem to exist only to make this episode feel more important than it actually is. As a regular episode, it’s decent enough, but it’s pretty weak for a series finale.

The Video
The video is presented in 1.78:1 and it looks great. On the rare occasion something looks bad, you can blame the CG, not the video quality.

The Audio
The audio’s Dolby Digital 5.1 and is mixed pretty well. There’s rarely a need to reach for the remote due to a sudden increase or decrease in the sound levels.

The Extras

Episode Commentaries
For the most part there’s one commentary per episode. There are two exceptions however; “200” has two commentaries, and “Bad Guys” doesn’t have one. There’s only minimal involvement from the cast – Amanda Tapping does a few commentaries, and Christopher Judge does one – but there are lots of directors/writers/producers/etc around to keep you well informed.

SG-1 Directors series
A bit of a behind the scenes look at “Insiders,” “Memento Mori,” “Company of Thieves,” “The Shroud” and “Unending.” These featurettes run about ten minutes a pop and are hosted by the episode’s director.

The Ori: A New Enemy
A twenty minute piece on the Ori. This really seems more like it should be in the season nine DVD set. The Ori aren’t really new any more by season ten and almost all of the featured footage is from season 9 (the only exception being the part that deals with Adria).

Setting the Mood with Lightning Director Jim Menard
An in-depth look at how the series is lit. If you’ve ever had questions about lighting, this feature is for you.

Life as a Tech: With Gary Jones
Gary goes around asking the cast and crew about their fave Walter Harriman moments; they, of course, don’t have any. A totally tongue-in-cheek feature and rather entertaining.

Photo Galleries
If photo galleries and production design shots float your boat, you’ll be quite happy with the plethora of pictures available here.

Deleted Scenes with optional commentary from Joseph Mallozi
A collection of deleted scenes from “Morpheus,” “The Quest,” and “Memento Mori.” There are quite a few deleted scenes for “Morpheus” and “The Quest,” but only a little for “Memento Mori”. As the commentary explains, most of the scenes were cut simply because the episode was running long, though a few really didn’t work. Some of the scenes were obviously cut during filming, as some shots are missing (replaced with a black screen stating what that shot should be).

The Inside Pulse

The season starts off really well, and the tension builds quite nicely for a while. But the final third of the season loses all momentum and never really recovers. This ends up hurting the first two-thirds of the season as well, as all that nice build-up never gets paid off. Still, if you’re a big fan of the series, and you’ve already picked up the other seasons, it’s worth getting, if only because there are some great episodes to be had (like “200”) and, of course, it is the final season.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for SG-1 Season 10
CATEGORY
RATING
(OUT OF 10)
THE SHOW

6
THE VIDEO

9
THE AUDIO

9
THE EXTRAS

8
REPLAY VALUE

7
OVERALL
7
(NOT AN AVERAGE)

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