Starring: Robert Carlyle, Ming Na, Lou Diamond Phillips
Running Time: 436 minutes
A group of soldiers, scientists, and civilians fleeing an attack, is stranded billions of miles from Earth on an Ancient ship known as the Destiny. Locked on an unknown course, they must fight to survive and find a way home. The danger, adventure and hope they find on board the Destiny will reveal the heroes and villains among them.
SGU is another iteration in a long line of Stargate series. This DVD set contains the first 10 episodes from Season 1. Which is a problem. It has become de rigeur for TV Series to have their seasons broken up during their initial broadcast. Which is fine and well within the rights of the creators to do so. Unfortunately this type of scheduling has now trickled down into the release of DVD sets. Which is a practice I entirely frown upon. It is akin to buying half a book or paying to see half a movie. TV series that are serialized tell a story over an entire season. To sell a DVD release the does not include an entire season is an affront. Since I have not watched the show until this release I can only give an opinion based on seeing half of the product.
The StarGate franchise is one that never caught my fancy so I approached this iteration with trepidation. In this permutation of the StarGate franchise the show does a Lost In Space/Star Trek: Voyager riff with mixed results. Primarily the issue lies with the cast. The headliner here is Robert Carlyle as perpetually stand-offish and angry scientist as Dr Nicholas Rush. In the first ten episodes he remains a closed book as he purposefully isolates him from the rest of the crew. Any interactions he does have are of an abrasive and distancing nature. There is a brief scene which shows Rush has lost someone; probably his wife. There are also constant undertones of his mental stability and intimations that he is operating with an agenda that does not align with the rest of the crew’s desire to find a way home.
The rest of the cast is a Stargate standard of TV actors that include a mix of newcomers and veterans that usually appear as guest stars on other sides. There is a triangle between a soldier, and two cilivians one a politician’s daughter and the other a loner nerd type. In the ten episodes available the rest of the cast does not have sufficient screen time to establish characters of much dimensionality. Occasional StarGate veterans from other series show up occasionally most notably Richard Dean Anderson. Lou Diamond Phillips is a semi-regular as well.
One of the interesting conceits the show has is that the crew of the Destiny are able to communicate with Earth in a manner that allows them to exchange bodies through a communications device with a receiver on Earth. In this way they are able to ‘visit’ home in someone else’s skin. It is an intriguing idea and the way show blithely ignores any moral implications and have characters using another body for personal matters is rather mind blowing.
Crave Factor – 7
1.78:1 Widescreen with a subdued palette. Since most of the interiors are aboard the starship Destiny this is to be expected as the ship consists of mostly monochromatic grey interiors. Surprisingly this subdued palette extends to exterior shots be they location or sound stage. Skin tones are consistently pale.
Beyond that, and being of recent vintage, the video is blemish and dirt free.
Crave Factor – 7
The Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio matches up with other TV level productions. Directionality is subdued but dialogue is clear and easily intelligible.
The English track is presented in 5.1 and the Spanish track is in 2.0. Both tracks come with corresponding subtitles. The English subtitles are SDH enhanced. French subtitles are also available on the English track.
Crave Factor – 7
- Exclusive extended version of the pilot episode “Air”
- chatting with the cast of the SG-U
- Stargate 101: Presented by Dr. Daniel Jackson
- Kino Video Diaries including 5 DVD exclusives
- Audio commentary by cast and crew on all episodes
Whatever misgivings I have with these half season releases this set has a fairly beefy set of extras.
Extended version of the pilot episode “Air”
The extended premiere episode is about 18 minutes longer and clarifies certain story points that newcomers to the StarGate franchise may find helpful. Mostly though the extra time is composed of minor scenes that add little. The one exception iis a more complete and satisfying opening segment. The other small bonus is that the extended version comprises the first two episodes removing any breaks.
Audio Commentaries on each episode is mind blowing for a TV series. Each episode has a different mix of people which keeps things fresh. The ones I sampled were laid back and conversational affairs. They are very organic in nature and subject roaming is rampant. One moment could be about SFX discussions, the next off camera shenanigans, the next a humorous anecdote, and so on. Fans will be highly engaged.
Kino Video Diaries – are video blogs done by the various members of the crew to record their thoughts. Sort of a Captain’s Log if you will. A Kino is a self-propelled and hovering capable video probe found aboard the Destiny. They are a riff on the Star Wars Jedi Training Combat Orbs seen in the original movie. A mixed bag.
Contains Video Featurettes be they cast interviews or featurettes. They are found on the second and third disc.
Stargate 101: Presented by Dr. Daniel Jackson – is a 6 minute overview of the StarGate Universe hosted by Dr. Daniel Jackson aka StarGate alumni- Michael Shanks.
Crave Factor – 8
Menu & Packaging
A standard Amray case. No booklet is enclosed.
Crave Factor – 7
Conclusion & Final Thoughts
With only half a season to view it is difficult to get a read on the series. There is enough there to intrigue that watching the second half of the first season would not be an issue. However, neither would I actively seek it out.