So, it has finally come to an end. Ten seasons of Stargate SG-1 and it is over. Was the final season any good? Definitely. Perhaps not quite as good as the years when it was at its peak, but it was definitely a cut above the last season or so, which saw the quality suffer as the cast went through some changes.
This final season focused primarily on the battle with Ori, which I never found to be quite as compelling as the Goa'uld, but this season went a long way to making them more interesting. When it finally did end, it didn't climb to faux-operatic heights, but rather played out on a more sedate, personal level. It was a nice finish, but more on that later. The bottom line is that this is a fine season and a nice capper to a great run.
Stargate began life as a movie back in 1994, directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Kurt Russell. It was a good film that went on to have decent success. Then, three years later it arrived in a new form as Stargate SG-1, with some recasting, bringing in Richard Dean Anderson in the role of Jack O'Neill (Russell in the film). Apparently, the series was well received during its early run on the Showtime cable network. I never watched those early seasons, as I never – gasp – subscribed to Showtime. Things changed following the fifth season, when the show moved to the Sci-Fi Channel, where it was paired up with Farscape. It was here that I first got hooked (though never quite as much as I was to Farscape).
Anyway, I remember that the original plan had been to run through seven seasons and then transition back to the big screen. That never happened, and the popularity of the show carried it three seasons beyond that, making it the longest running US science fiction series, besting The X-Files by a season. Dr. Who, I believe, holds the worldwide record. Also, unlike The X-Files, the series survived some major cast changes during the last couple of seasons. Yes, quality did dip in the eigth and ninth seasons, but it came back to a strong finish in its final season.
In the last few seasons series star and producer Richard Dean Anderson scaled back his role, leaving altogether after the eighth season. In response to that, they brought in Ben Browder (from Farscape) to fill that hole. Also joining the cast from Farscape, initially as a guest star and then a regular, was Claudia Black as the comical alien Vala. They brought their chemistry to the show in a new dynamic during this final season.
Anyway, this final season was really quite good, chemistry among the team was at a high point and the Ori were developed as a pretty big baddie, a worthy successor to the Goa'uld.
Season ten had its share of standalone stories that ran parallel to the overarching thread. The Ori invasion and the strained relationships with the Jaffa take up much of the primary story, while we also get episodes featuring Mitchell and Gen. Landry "relaxing" in the woods, Vala getting a A History of Violence sort of story, Mitchell going to his high school reunion, and a personal favorite, the fun 200th episode which concerns a television series/movie treatment, and the settings they are put in (including Star Trek, The Wizard of Oz, and Farscape).
Stargate SG-1 came to a close with the episode "Unending." The Ori launch an attack attempting to prevent the passage of all of the Asgaard's knowledge to SG-1 as they prepare for extinction. Sounds like a big one, doesn't it? It isn't, not really. Yes, it is the final episode, and it does seek to bring a satisfying ending, but it is much smaller and personal in its scope. The final episode rests almost entirely on the five core members. They stop time using the new Asgaard tech to prevent being destroyed, but it essentially traps them in time without an escape. We get an entire lifetime condensed down to the hour time frame. It is wonderful in that we get to see how their relationships could play out over decades. It was a surprising choice, and one that feels satisfying, yet sad.
The performances have always been good, and I was amused at how this show came to be home to actors from a variety of other science fiction series. Ben Browder and Claudia Black from Farscape, Lexa Doig from Andromeda, and Morena Baccarin from Firefly. Sure, they were not all regulars, but the familiar faces are always pleasant.
Well, this series may be over, but we still have Stargate Atlantis which has grown over its first few seasons into a good show in its own right. Stargate may never be the top science fiction series, but there is no denying the quality it has delivered for a decade. It is a very good series with an interesting mythology, and will live on in reruns and DVD releases.
Audio/Video. The presentation is very good, better than the television broadcast was. It is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and it looks very good, images are nice and crisp, no evidence of any defects or artifacts. Audio is a nicely realized 5.1 Dolby digital track.
Extras. This final season comes packed with extra material spread across its five disks. I have not been able to explore everything yet, but there are commentary tracks on all episodes from various crew members, photo galleries, deleted scenes, a variety of featurettes on the behind the scenes goings on, and a Director's Series episode on each disk focusing on a different director and a different episode. It is a very nice collection of material for the fan to dig into.
Bottom line. Strong finish to the long-running series. The final season had a strong arc tying everything together, yet it still had the good single episodes. Character chemistry is strong, performances are good — it's just an all around good season. This is a must-have for fans, and will be there for those still waiting to discover the series.
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