Stargate: SG-1
Season Eight Box Set

Starring: Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping & Christopher Judge
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RRP: 59.99
Certificate: 15
Available 27 February 2006

Fans of Stargate: SG-1 can now purchase the entire eighth season as one complete box set. This collection is basically the six discs that were originally released, but now inserted into a rather attractive cardboard box.

Season Eight is yet another impressive season. To follow are reviews of some of this season's episodes...

Carter and Teal'c fly to the Asgard world of Hala to try and revive O'Neill. Replicators attack them and Carter is taken prisoner. Meanwhile, Dr. Weir and Daniel Jackson attempt to negotiate a treaty with Goa'uld System Lords who wish to unite against a common enemy. The Goa'uld send a mothership to Earth demanding that it prove its superior defences. Dr Weir is deep in negotiations with the Goa'uld while Daniel and the still unconscious O'Neill are beamed aboard Thor's ship where Thor tries to access the knowledge of the Ancients...

Season Eight of Stargate: SG-1 gets off to a flying start with the double length episode New Order. This episode also helps to establish the character of Doctor Weir, who also appeared last season, in order to help migrate fans over to spin-off show Stargate: Atlantis.

There are several major changes to the show's format. General Hammond has left the SGC (it's a shame to see the end of Don S. Davies as a regular cast member - although he will appear towards the end of this season) and is replaced by O'Neill, Carter is promoted and Teal'c has hair! It also sets up what is sure to be an exciting story arc for later in the season.

Daniel Jackson contracts a mysterious illness from a Russian Colonel assigned to the team. O'Neill is convinced an epidemic has infected the base and orders a lockdown. When Daniel comes around he reveals that he was possessed by Anubis who is now loose on the base. The team must do all they can to track Anubis down before it is too late...

Lockdown is a gripping episode which reveals that Anubis didn't actually die last season. Floating around in spirit form, he is attempting to leave Earth through the Stargate, without alerting the Ancients to the fact that he is still very much alive.

There are some great comedy moments in this episode. I especially enjoyed Daniel trying to fathom out which one of the SGC shot him when he was possessed, and O'Neill (who is the culprit) tries to change the subject as quickly as possible.

Gavin Hood is excellent as Colonel Alexi Vaselov - although I couldn't work out how, from the infirmary, his character knew what to do at the right time (sorry, that might sound a bit vague, but I'm trying not to spoil too much here). Entertaining, and not as clichéd as it could have been.

O'Neill finds his plate full when the president visits amid negotiations with the two warring tribes from the planet Amra. But when SG-1 is captured by a Goa'uld System Lord and he's forced to choose between the safety of the team and the fate of an entire planet O'Neill begins to question his competency...

Zero Hour is played mainly for laughs, so it will come as no surprise that it is an O'Neill heavy episode. In the run up to the President's visit to the SGC, just how many things can go wrong? Don't ask! For those who were worried that O'Neill's promotion would mean the end of Richard Dean Anderson's comedy... this episode will stop you fretting.

It was also fantastic to see that Gary Jones's character (Sergeant Walter Davis) actually get to do a lot more than sit behind a desk shouting: "Chevron one encoded..."

SG-1's sudden appearance sparks a civil war on the planet Tegalus, whose inhabitants were unaware of the Stargate's true nature. Intent on easing the situation, Jackson stays behind as the team returns to Earth... but finds himself pitted against a tyrannical religious leader with no tolerance for those who don't share his beliefs...

Icon is an interesting episode. The opening sequence reminded me of Back to the Future. Daniel Jackson wakes up in a strange bed to find a woman watching him. This almost mirrored, shot for shot, the scenes in Back to the Future where Marty wakes up in a strange bed in the past to see his younger mother watching him.

I had a few problems with this episode (although they are really anal and very minor ones). Firstly I didn't understand why humans that were raised on a different planet would have exactly the same fashion as we did in the '40s. And also this episode illustrates why O'Neill is not really suited to the role of commander of the SGC. Sure he's funny, but he is way too flippant and in instances where diplomacy is called for he wades in there and rubs people up the wrong way.

Otherwise, this is an solid story that examines a problem that hasn't been tackled on SG-1 before - how a race of religious people react to the Stargate being activated.

A virtual reality training scenario goes terribly wrong when the simulation begins to learn from Teal'c, trapping him and endangering his life. Jackson volunteers to enter the simulation on a rescue mission. But will he be able to rescue Teal'c or become a victim himself?...

Avatar drags, kicking and screaming, that old sci-fi cliché out of the woodwork - technology gone bad. Yup, plug someone into a computer, tell everyone it's perfectly safe and... oh, no! Everything goes pear shaped.

Remember the Star Trek: Next Generation episode Elementary, Dear Data? Well the bare bones of this episode are not dissimilar - asking a computer to defeat Teal'c in the same way as the Enterprise's computer was asked to defeat Data. This episode also has an element of Groundhog Day added to the mix. The virtual reality equipment is actually the same kit that the SGC acquired in Season Two's The Gamekeeper.

It's not in Teal'c's nature to quit, so when the big fellow realises there is no way to defeat the simulation there is something quite moving about the way he just sits there and lets the events unfold around him again and again.

A great episode that will please fans.

Given clearance to live off-base, Teal'c tries in vain to blend in as an ordinary civilian. But when his unwavering ethical code compels him to help ordinary people in trouble - specifically, a neighbour with an abusive boyfriend - he soon finds himself thrust into the spotlight as the prime suspect in the boyfriend's murder...

Affinity is another Teal'c episode and sees him attempting to fit into a 'normal' way of life. However, his constant insistence on doing the right thing ends up getting him into trouble as he turns into a bit of a vigilante. His new neighbour, who is in her 20's but looks about 16, takes an instant shine to him. But her old, abusive, boyfriend is still on the scene.

This episode is interesting for the way it leads you on a bit of a wild goose chase. Teal'c is wanted for questioning when the abusive boyfriend turns up dead. All the evidence points to someone with immense strength being the murderer and another neighbour heard Teal'c threaten that he would kill the dead man.

Affinity also tackles racism - there are racist remarks made towards Teal'c due to the fact he is an alien. No matter what he may have done for this planet in the past, he is an alien and there are questions as to his motives based purely on his race.

There's also a pretty major plot development for Carter's character - one that should prove interesting in later episodes.

Christopher Judge once again proves what a fantastic actor he is by carrying the weight of this episode on his shoulders. And I loved the way that the opening scene has him pay homage to Shaft.

When a billionaire industrialist threatens to reveal the existence of alien life at a press conference, SG-1 is charged with the job of keeping him quiet. Carter, who has worked with him in the past, tries to explain that the information will cause panic, but ultimately she must decide how far she is willing to go to stop this threat to national security...

Covenant shouldn't really work as well as it does. The premise has been done before (Season Four's Point of No Return), although this time around it is a powerful billionaire who wants to blow the cover on the SGC and not a crazy guy who believes he is an alien from another planet.

There are plenty of problems with this episode if you scrutinise it closely. Firstly (as is pointed out in the episode) why does billionaire Alec Colson insist on getting the government to come clean when he knows that it might mean that the jobs and lives of his employees are at risk - an argument he later uses to protect himself from another problem? A billionaire that doesn't have skeletons in his closet that the SGC can rattle around to discredit him? Does that seem likely? And if he is that passionate about telling the public everything, surely the very first thing he would do after going off world would be to release all his information and tell them about the Stargate project (although I suppose that would make him look like a nut).

However, despite my nit-picking, I really enjoyed this episode. It would have fallen flat on its face if the actor playing Colson was not up to the task. Thankfully Charles Shaughnessy is believable, and likeable, in the role.

During a meeting with Ishta's rebel Jaffa faction on planet Haktyl, Teal'c receives some distressing news: his son, Ryac, intends to marry one of Ishta's warriors. Refusing to give his blessing to the marriage puts Teal'c at odds with Ishta... even as they are ambushed by enemy forces...

Sacrifices sees Enterprise's Jolene Blalock guest star as the beautiful Ishta. This episode was written by Christopher Judge - which explains why he gets to kiss the girl as well as having loads of really interesting scenes. This is yet another episode that proves, if proof is needed, that Judge is not only a fine actor, but an incredibly talented writer.

While Blalock's acting is far from awful, it's not overly convincing either - probably due to years portraying the emotionless T'Pol in Enterprise. Thankfully she has Judge to play off, and the end result is not half bad.

Those wanting an action packed episode or one bursting with humour may be disappointed but, as a self contained episode, this is pretty satisfying. And it's always good to see Tony Amendola's Bra'tac.

When the Stargate disappears in a flash of light, Carter and Jackson's investigation leads them to an industrial warehouse storing VX rockets and vials filled with what appears to be nerve gas. Meanwhile, Teal'c discovers the mass deaths of Jaffa, spread across four planets. Could this horrifying event be connected to the gas?...

Endgame starts of with a bit of a recap on events that have gone before. Sadly this recap spoils the identity of those responsible for taking the Stargate (it's pretty obvious if you have a recap on a certain organisation/race that they will play a major part in that episode). This is a shame because it means that the opening scenes, where the SGC are trying to work out who has cleverly removed the Stargate, are not really as suspenseful as they should have been.

This episode has a great opening - giving, at long last, Gary Jones's Walter Harriman character something more to do than say: "Chevron one encoded..." They really should do a Walter based episode - Jones is so under used and this episode proves (like the audio commentaries last season) that he is a natural comedian.

This episode also drags the Prometheus out of mothballs for no other reason, it would appear, than to remind viewers that it exists before it is used extensively in the next episode Prometheus Unbound.

Jackson embarks on a mission to search for the lost Atlantis team aboard the starship
Prometheus. But when an unseen Super Soldier boards the Prometheus and incapacitates the crew, only Daniel is able to escape. And if he is to save the Prometheus, he must now face the Super Soldier alone...

Prometheus Unbound puts a whole new spin on the Super Soldier plot thread. It also brings back George Hammond - who finally gets to charge into battle. There are some uncomfortable scenes between him and O'Neill - which you could argue mirrors real life. If Richard Dean Anderson had not wanted to take more of a back seat this season then his character would not have been promoted and Don S. Davis would still be a regular in the show.

There are plenty of comedy moments in this episode - mainly through Michael Shanks's and Black's interaction. But the best line sees Jackson telling a couple of aliens that his name is: "Olo... Hans Olo."

It's also great to see that the writers left the ending open, so that Claudia Black's character could return (which she does in more than a few episodes next season).

At a garage sale civilian Joe Spencer comes across a small stone that gives him visions of SG-1 in action. Delighted, he shares the stories with anyone who will listen. But when he inadvertently learns that SG-1 really exists, his excitement turns into obsession. As he slowly alienates everyone around him, Joe resolves to expose the truth about SG-1, no matter the cost...

Citizen Joe stars Dan Castellaneta (who voices Homer, Krusty, Barney, Mayor Quimby and many other characters in The Simpsons) as barber Joe Spencer - an average guy with an extraordinary gift. This episode is really a clips show - which usually send chills running down my spine. However, and not for the first time, the producers of SG-1 have really attempted to hide the fact that this is a cheap episode (although knowing how much The Simpsons's actors get paid this may have been one of SG-1's more expensive episode). The only member of SG-1 that appears (other than in flashback) is Richard Dean Anderson's O'Neill. But as Anderson is such a huge fan of The Simpsons, I'm sure he was instrumental in ensuring that Castellaneta guest starred.

There are several nods to The Simpsons, including O'Neill's insistence that Burns is similar to the Goa'uld. The end result is a very funny and rather touching episode. In fact you almost forget that this is a clips show... almost.

Jackson receives documents that point to the location of a ZPM in ancient Egypt. Hoping that the energy source can be used to power Earth's defences and open a wormhole to Atlantis, SG-1 uses an Ancient time machine to travel back to 3000 BC. But after the team locates the ZPM, Egyptians discover the time machine, and SG-1 must find a way to retake it without altering the timeline...

Any sad 30-something who still remembers fondly the Back to the Future movies will instantly fall in love with the story that unravels in Moebius Part 1 (and for that matter Part 2). There are plenty of familiar faces from SG-1's past (even one who is dead before the episode opens).

Well paced and incredibly well acted (Amanda Tapping and Michael Shanks's alternate universe characters are well conceived) this is certainly one of the best episodes of season eight.

SG-1's attempt to recover a ZPM from 3000 BC has altered the timeline, leading to a present in which the Stargate was never discovered. The alternate-reality Carter and Jackson convince a reluctant O'Neill to take them on their first mission through the Stargate. But when the team is captured by Teal'c, once again the First Prime of Apophis, can they convince his to join their side...?

Moebius (Part 2) improves on the events that unfolded in Part 1. The alternate timeline's Carter, O'Neill and Jackson must travel to where the original SG-1 met Teal'c and persuade him to join their cause. Not as easy as it sounds - especially as they get captured and Apophis decides he's going to torture Jackson. Although why they must get Teal'c along for the ride is anyone's guess. I know it was probably to ensure that Christopher Judge had something to do, but couldn't they have hidden the ancient Egyptian Stargate from Ra without Teal'c's help and then come back later to turn his to their side.

Time travel is something new to SG-1 - something which I hope they don't start to use too often in the future - and going back to ancient Egypt, to the time when Ra was on earth, was intriguing. It was a little like revisiting the movie - Teal'c even gets to sport one of those oh-so-funky Ra style transforming head pieces.

The whole thing finally resolves itself and everything goes back to normal - no surprise there. But this is a mighty fine episode with some of the season's best acting.

I can't think of a finer way to end the show's eighth season.

Extras in this box set include numerous behind the scenes features and as an added bonus (or a reason for fans to buy the discs again) we have numerous audio commentaries - which were missing from their single disc releases.

Darren Rea

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