Saturday, June 26, 2004

"I Thought I *Ordered* You To Get A Life."

I bought the season one DVD of Stargate:SG-1 a couple of weeks ago. SG-1 has always been one of those shows that, when I sat down to watch it, I pretty much knew I would be in for an hour of solid, well-written, and well-acted TV. There is an overarching storyline throughout its seven or eight seasons that I haven't quite been keeping up with, but individual episodes do a great job of drawing me in nonetheless. It helps that it is always a hoot to watch Richard Dean Anderson, Amanda Tapping, Michael Shanks, and Christopher Judge (Col. Jack O'Neill, Maj. Samantha Carter, Dr Daniel Jackson, and Teal'c, respectively) interact with one another and with the things going on around them.

A lot of characters in sci-fi shows wind up looking extremely self-conscious and humorless... Star Trek:Voyager and (ack) Mutant-X are guilty as sin in this regard. Although Teal'c has a consistently morose expression on his face, he plays well against O'Neill's irreverent candor, and actually somehow manages make that face work during the truly dramatic moments. Carter and Jackson are the perfect geeks (albeit extremely attractive geeks... how convenient), and some of the show's funniest recurring moments involve O'Neill telling them to do something along the lines of "Get A Life".

So I've always enjoyed the show, and it made sense to me to finally go out and start collecting the DVDs. A word to the wise: I paid $70 for the season one set, but later I found it for $40 at Sam's Club. It's only $30 to get a membership, so if you're intending to collect them all (pika-pika!) it's actually worth it. Anyway, I've been going through the DVDs at a good pace, and so far it's what you'd expect from a first season. The pilot was alright, and set the characters up quite well for what is obviously going to be a long, ongoing conflict with the Goa'uld, SG-1's resident villainous aliens. The rest of the season so far (I'm about two-thirds through) has been a hodge-podge of extra-planetary visits. A couple of them, are, unfortunately, quite lame. So I've already seen something I've never seen on SG-1: a lame episode. I guess you could say I've gotten my money's worth.

The other episodes are mostly in the above-average range. There's only so much they can accomplish with planet-of-the-week episodes. I suspect the payoff for sitting through these will come later when the SG-1 team revisits planets they've been to before, and the war with the Goa'uld gets into full swing.

There is one episode, however, that stands head and shoulders above the rest. It does something that every good sci-fi show ought to be able to accomplish at least once per season. It made me weep like a sissy. Seriously! Any sci-fi show can throw fictional characters and their fictional toys at you, but *good* sci-fi leaves a dent in your heart. I won't say much about the episode (that would take too long), except that it's called 'Cold Lazarus', and it shows the soft and broken side of the tough and crusty O'Neill without ever compromising the character's plausibility. The way they accomplished that, I thought, was absolutely brilliant, and (SPOILER ALERT!) the best use of a doppelganger I've ever seen in sci-fi.

Ok, well, I've still got a couple more DVDs to watch, and I also just bought the second season. That's a lot of time to spend on the papasan chair, so I'd better get cranking.

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