The 1994 movie Stargate
was originally intended as the start of a franchise, but creators Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin were distracted celebrating their Independence Day
. Episodic TV treatment was the natural next step. Since neither Kurt Russell nor James Spader would be able to commit, it gave the producers licence to tinker with the cast and the universe they'd explore. Replacing the roles of Colonel Jack O'Neill and Dr Daniel Jackson respectively are Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Shanks. They're joined by Captain Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping) and guilt-stricken former alien baddie Teal'c (Christopher Judge) to form the teacher's pet primary unit SG-1 With a seemingly endless network of Stargates found to exist on planets all across the known universe, their mission is to make first contact with as many friendly races as possible. Chasing their heels at almost every turn are the "overlord" Pharaonic Goa'uld--the ancient Egyptian Gods who are none too chummy after the events of the original film. The welcome notion of a continued plot thread sees offshoots that follow the reincarnation of Daniel's wife; Sam's father literally joining a renegade faction of the Goa'uld; and Jack in an unending quest to out-sarcasm everyone. There's something of The Time Tunnel
to the show's premise, but amid a dearth of derivative look-a-likes, Stargate
has held its own with stories that put the science fiction back into TV sci-fi.
On the DVD: To resolve the Season Two cliffhanger "Out Of Mind", General Hammond rounds up every conceivable ally to rescue the SG-1 team from Hathor's clutches and gets a much-needed field trip in the process. "Into the Fire " is actually a weak opening for the new year, but does boast some impressive visuals as Hammond and Brat'ac pilot a shuttle through an open Stargate (euphemistically called "threading the needle"). In the next episode, the team are troublingly advised that the ancient God of Evil--"Seth"--has been hiding on Earth for thousands of years. Daniel miraculously tracks him down in about five minutes through a quick surf on the Web! In "Fair Game" O'Neill is "beamed up" to his chum the Asgard Thor in the middle of Carter's promotion to Major. Thor warns him that the Goa'uld System Lords are miffed about his team thwarting Hathor in "Out of Mind". All manner of underhand trickery and subterfuge then follows at a treaty meeting between three representatives and the hapless Jack. "Legacy" on the other hand is a strange connection back to Season Two's "Holiday" when Daniel suffers a mental breakdown courtesy of scientist Ma'chello. Some unnerving imagery (slugs in the ear akin to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) makes this one of the series' darker instalments. --Paul Tonks
Opening four episodes from the third season of the popular sci-fi series. In 'Into the Fire', the SG1 team are taken prisoner on Hathor's world, and it is left to Hammond and Teal'c to formulate a rescue plan. 'Seth' sees the crew attempting to track down an ancient Goa'uld who is on Earth posing as a religious leader. In 'Fair Game', Carter attempts to expose Thor's double-dealings with the Goa'uld when the latter plan an attack on Earth. 'Legacy' sees the SG1 team forced to make an enormous sacrifice when they discover a deadly parasite.