I write this review just one day after the news that the Sci-Fi Channel has declined to renew STARGATE SG-1 for an eleventh season. It would normally be hard to feel too bad about a show that has had ten full seasons, but it seems a shame to cancel a show that has not only demonstrated a remarkable consistency for the past ten years, but an ability to recreate itself. The show’s executive producers insist that they are not giving up yet on the series and harbor hopes of transferring it to another network. I personally hope they succeed. While we’ve had ten great years of stories about the SG-1 team, I’d welcome two or three more seasons, especially with the new team and the new threat to the galaxy introduced in Season Nine.
For most STARGATE SG-1 fans, Season Eight was something of a disappointment. It was no secret that Richard Dean Anderson was burnt out and wanted to leave the show. When SG-1 went into the field it was as a trio and not as a quartet, and Anderson’s anarchic sense of humor was severely missed. The show clearly needed to change if it was going to continue to be worth watching. When Anderson left the show at the end of Season Eight, some fans lost all interest in the show. But Ben Browder in replacing Anderson brought some fan interest of his own, having starred in the critically acclaimed, fan favorite, and tragically cancelled FARSCAPE. Although for many fans Browder could not fully replace Anderson, he definitely brought a great deal to the show. And most important, he helped restore some balance to the cast by injecting some of the same irreverence that Anderson had.
Season 9 was unfortunately interrupted by real life concerns. Both Amanda Tapping and newcomer Claudia Black had their participation in the show interfered with by pregnancy. Tapping missed the first part of the season having her baby, while Black, who was to be an ongoing part time character, had her participation limited to several episodes at the beginning and a couple at the very end. As delighted as I am that Black was able to have a child, from the standpoint of the show her unavailability was unfortunate, since she instantly brought an energy and sense of outrageousness that the show had always lacked. Of course, we didn’t know this until she appeared, but it became obvious from her guest appearance in Season 8. Black and Ben Browder had, of course, played the star-crossed lovers Aeryn Sun and John Crichton on FARSCAPE, and I was somewhat uncomfortable at the prospect of their appearing together on STARGATE. They had, of course, been involved in the greatest Sci-Fi romance story in the history of TV Sci-Fi. I was afraid that there would be attempt to throw them together on the new show. Luckily, the writers decided to loosely pair Claudia Black’s Vala with Michael Shanks’s Daniel Jackson instead of Ben Browder’s Cameron Mitchell. Nonetheless, the presence of Black and Browder on the show caused many fans to refer to it as FARGATE.
Season Eight of the show had seen the almost complete demise of the Goa’uld, so there was the need for a new enemy. The one chosen was one particularly relevant to the times: the Ori. These religious fanatics go about the universe forcibly making people conform to their religious faith or killing them. In a time when fundamentalists are rampant both in North America and the Middle East, this particular enemy has a particular topical relevance. (There are a number of vague political references throughout SG-1. The new president in Season 8 is said by O’Neill to be a “shrub,” a term that has often been used to deride George W. Bush, though all in all the show leaves its politics vague, usually refusing to explore the political ramifications of the show, largely for narrative reasons.)
All in all, I thought Season Nine was a wonderful recovery after the rather listless Season Eight. Ben Browder brought back a lot of the energy that was missing in Anderson’s lessened participation in the show while Claudia Black brought a delightful outrageousness in her episodes, something that she has continued after becoming a full time character in Season Ten. In other words, the show needed to redefine itself after Season Eight, and it did so successfully. Fans of the show how will have to hold their breath while we see if Season Ten will be the show’s last.
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When I first saw the movie “Stargate”, I was captivated by the storyline: A portal that is connected to other worlds, allowing almost instantaneous transfer, is finally figured out by us lowly humans, so of course we go to investigate. So I was thrilled when it became a series, although I was only able to sporadically watch the shows at first (I have since filled in all my gaps with my DVD collection of the series). The cast choice was perfect to me, and I was happy that it stayed together as long as it did (I was extrememly happy when Michael Shanks rejoined the cast full-time). I thought it might go downhill with the departure (full-time) of Richard Dean Anderson. Thankfully, the cast and crew were able to make it through Season 8, and in Season 9, they successfully integrated new members into SG-1. Now, I’m also a huge fan of FARSCAPE, and even though I love it, I cringed when I heard that Ben Browder was going to be part of the team; I didn’t think he would fit into this scenario. However, he proved me wrong; his sense of humor is what the team needs, and even though he’ll never truly replace RDA, that’s not what I wanted anyway. He’s carved his own niche into the team, and what he’s brought is fresh and funny (when it needs to be). I was unaware that Claudia Black (again from FARSCAPE) was going to be brought in, and I again cringed, thinking that they were going to try and pair her and Browder together. Thankfully, they kind-of-paired her character “Vala” up with “Daniel Jackson”, and that has actually had me rolling on occasion. The new additions to the cast are welcome in Season 9, and even though we’ve all heard that Season 10 will be the last, I’m hoping it isn’t. This series has continuously captured my imagination, has injected their techno-geek-speak with some honestly hilarious moments, and still has more life to live!!!
The Ninth season of Stargate SG1 has some major casting changes and the show handles it about as well as it can be done considering all that has come to pass.
Last season ended some major plot lines and new ones are needed. The principle new adversaries are the Orai, an offshoot of the Ancients who seek to force their worship upon everyone. This does not mean that the Goa’uld are completely beaten. They too have some surprises in store for the SG1 team.
The team has a new commander and he gets off to a rocky start, both within the show and in his part but he soon seems to fit in. He is not as humerous as O’Neill but he is a worthy leader.
The newly freed Jaffa are in tumult over their own leadership. Louis Gossett Jr. does a good job of playing a leader in opposition to Teal’c.
It’s a new world but it still has more than its share of problems.
Episode Synopses follow:
Avalon parts 1 and 2: SG1 has a new commander, LTC Cameron Mitchell, but he has a problem. All of the old SG1 team has transferred elsewhere and he has to put a new team together from scratch. He is not having much luck. Help comes from an unexpected source. A former Goa’uld host turned con artist shows up. In her scheming, Vala gets Daniel Jackson to try on a bracelet. He does and finds himself locked to her. They cannot be separated for more than a short while without them both falling ill. She did not expect this. She was conned by the person she stole the bracelets from. This gives the new colonel an excuse to get the old gang together to try and fix the problem. In an attempt to shed light on the mystery, they begin to work on Arthurian mythology and find an outpost of the Ancients in England. It was the Avalon of King Arthur. They find the place but it is protected by a series of riddles. Solving the riddles reveals that this outpost was built by a group of the Ancients who did not ascend. Jackson and the con artist are still bound by the bracelets but they have a clue that might help them get free of them. To do so they will have to use an alien communications device and try to contact the Ancients.
Origin: Jackson and Vala make it to another galaxy using the communication device but they find that only their minds have been transferred. Their bodies are still back on Earth while their minds are borrowing the bodies of a couple of locals. They find a medieval culture subject to a religious tyranny run by men called “priors”. The priors, in turn serve the Orai. The Orai want worship and they are pleased to learn of a new galaxy in which they can send their priors. They also want to suppress any knowledge which will conflict with that aim. It seems that the Orai are an offshoot of the Ancients who took a very different path than non-involvement.
The Tie that Binds: Jackson and Vala are still tied together by the bracelets and are getting desperate for a way to get them off. She finally agrees to seek guidance from the guy she stole the bracelets from. He agrees to help but only if she returns a piece of jewelry she stole from him. She has already unloaded it but agrees to try. This is difficult because the person she sold it to refuses to return it unless she first returns a power coil she traded it for. When the owner of the coil is tracked down, he refuses to return it until she gets back the trading ship she took from him. This involves stealing it back from the thieves she left it with, lots of danger and a few buffoons. Eventually, the tangled web is untangled. This is not one of the better episodes.
The Powers that Be: The Orai are sending out priors to proselytize out galaxy. When the SG1 team learns of one attempt, they head off to try and prevent it. They expect to be aided by Vala who has a history with that particular planet. What she fails to tell them is that her connection is that she was the host for the Goa’uld who was there god. She played this up after the death of the parasite so that she could continue as a god. When she returns, she chides the locals for turning their backs on her. Things go poorly, though when they overhear her talking about being a false god. That puts the locals squarely in the camp of the Orai’s priors as a battle for hearts and minds ensues.
Beachhead: A prior establishes a beachhead on a Jaffa planet and the locals want nothing to do with more false gods. This hacks the prior off and he establishes a force field around the entire planet fending off all the Jaffa who attack him. Meanwhile, Stargate Command gets a message from a renegade Goa’uld who offers to help in the fight of the Orai. Samantha Carter shows up to help out in the fight. They take the Prometheus and a Naquadria enhanced nuke to blow up the gate. Things get more complicated when a free Jaffa fleet shows up to try and destroy the gate. When the superbomb goes off, it makes the expansion of the…