Stargate SG.1 - Series 6 - Vol 26


Reviewed by: Martin Gray

And here's the first four episodes of the sixth series of the US sci-fi show about a bunch of military folk having adventures via a series of wormholes. They venture to the cheapest planets in the universe, most of which look like Canada or, on a particularly bad day, an MFI car park full of Christmas trees. How one longs for orange styrofoam rocks!

The lack of a Wow factor is what's kept me away from Stargate S.G.1 for, what, six years? I tried the first few episodes, but it was boring stuff and I was unconscious quicker than a red-shirted extra in Star Trek. Then there was the fear that the original top biller Jaye Davidson will turn up and, in a bid to recapture his finest moment, recreate a scene from The Crying Game and show off his own wormhole.

Well, something has changed in the intervening years. Perhaps the writing is better, maybe the actors are more comfortable in their parts. It's certainly not a sudden infusion of orange styrofoam rocks. Whatever, at some point, Stargate S.G.1 got entertaining. Sure, it doesn't have the Cosmic Threat of the Week, or visual oomph of the Star Trek franchise - heck, it doesn't have the visual oomph of Crossroads - but it does have some of the best-written characters I've come across on television - and that covers all genres. Not having watched so much as a whole episode before coming across it again, I quickly felt I knew the leads, and wanted to know where the episodes would take them.

The stories here are something of a turning point for the series, original star Michael Shanks - the part played by James Spader in the movie - having left and Corin Nemec joining as another alien who, like Teal'c, looks distinctly human. The first two episodes, Redemption Parts 1 and 2, deal with his bid to become part of the Stargate away team against the background of wannabe god Anubis trying to destroy the earth by sending something nasty through the planet's stargate. There's a subplot, involving some idiot child - think Wesley Crusher meets Arnold from Diff'rent Strokes - from Teal'c's homeworld, possibly his brother, although a bit of research pinpoints the brat as Ryac, who's upset 'cos . . . no, mustn't spoil! - and Carter's love-hate relationship with Pentagon boffin Mackay (David Hewlett in a sweet performance that cries out for a regular gig on the show). The various strands knit together nicely and, in all, it's a good way to start the season. Does Nemec's remarkably charming - and fit - Jonas get to join the regular team? Hmmm, you'll never guess.

Descent uses Star Trek default plot 13b - abandoned spacecraft needing investigation - which, diffused through the Stargate filter, is diverting enough. There are some good character bits - especially nice interaction between Carter and her father, apparently an ex-airman who now dresses as a space hippie - and three episodes in, Richard Dean Anderson's O'Neill has become one of my favourite TV characters, thanks to a combination of witty dialogue and subtle playing. What particularly excited me about this episode were the new opening credits - you now get to see the regulars . . . so much more interesting than a close-up of a mysterious ring. Apparently not everyone finds the politics of US telly credits fascinating - who gets to be a regular, who gets the prestigious "Alyson Hannigan as Willow" closing spot, and so on. Their loss.

The weakest of the four sections is Frozen, which uses another standard sci-fi plot, but the execution fails to transcend the idea. This is the old chestnut, in which something alien is found in the Arctic - the only question being, will the producers go with the Rampaging Bug option, or the Carrying a Bug option? Again, I shan't spoil things for you - it's entertaining enough and fans of tech porn will love the episode (ooooh, those snowcats!), but it just seems rather generic.

While not all home-runs, the episodes are well worth watching, more for the characterisations than the science fiction.

Reviewed on: 02 May 2003
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Stargate SG.1 - Series 6 - Vol 26 packshot
Four episodes of the TV sci-fi series that challenges Star Trek in production values.
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Director: Martin Wood, Peter De Luise

Writer: Robert C Cooper, Joseph Mallozzi, Paul Mullie

Starring: Richard Dean Anderson, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge, Corin Nemec, Don S David

Year: 2003

Runtime: 180 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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