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If only it were possible to jump from planet to planet in a matter of seconds. We could be investigating new worlds and discovering old civilisations. In the world of Stargate SG-1 that very impossibility is achievable thanks mainly to the discovery of an ancient interplanetary gateway. In secret the US Air Force have been given the responsibility to investigate, and SG-1 is the name of their primary team.

Stargate SG-1: Vol. 36
Episodes
Volume 36 contains 4 episodes numbered 17 to 20 from season 7. They are Heroes Part 1, Heroes Part 2, Resurrection and Inauguration. What makes this volume even more important is that Heroes Part 2 is Stargate SG-1's 150th episode, which is quite an achievement.

Heroes Part 1
A camera crew are sent into Stargate Command (SGC) by the Air Force to help document the work of the Stargate initiative. The plan being to show the documentary at a later date once the existence of the Stargate project becomes public knowledge. This would be achieved by interviewing the principle personnel in charge of the project and carry out some fly-on-the-wall filming of every day activities. Unfortunately for civilian reporter Bregman (Saul Rubinek) and his Air Force appointed crew, General Hammond isn't welcoming to the idea, and decides to follow the rules to the book. Most of the Stargate personnel have a similar opinion, and it is up to Bregman to bring them around to his way of thinking if he is to succeed in producing anything worthwhile.

Heroes Part 1 takes us on a slightly different journey compared to the usual Goa'uld related stories, which allows for a more character driven episode. Although this is a good thing, the fact that they spread Heroes over two episodes makes it feel padded and too slowly paced. Normally a two parter is something full of adventure and action, but this part especially isn't.

Heroes Part 2
As you'll have already guessed, this is a continuation from Heroes Part 1. As well as the ongoing events at SGC involving Bregman and his documentary, there's a large off-world battle happening against the Goa'uld. During the battle one of the main Stargate personnel is killed and a load of others seriously injured, this in turn promotes a government investigation by Agent Woolsey (Robert Picardo). Now the Stargate team have to deal with a lost colleague, a civilian documentary maker intent on making a name for himself, and a serious internal investigation initiated by a high ranking Washington official.

Stargate SG-1: Vol. 36
The second part is the better of the two, helped mainly by an impressively long action packed special effects battle sequence. Though as before the episode is slowly paced and towards the end becomes somewhat cheesy and too patriotic for my liking. The patriotism isn't without reason mind you, one of the main characters dies during the episode and the viewer needs to given something as a reward.

Resurrection
In a plot that resembles the style of a typical X-Files episode, secret government organisation - the NID - join forces with SGC to investigate a heavy smoking rouge scientist – Keffler - who's been experimenting for the good of the world. Essentially he's created a Goa'uld-human hybrid, caged her up in the middle of an old darkly lit large industrial building and tried to extract the inherited information from her. Unfortunately for the mad scientist bloke something has gone amok and all his colleagues have been killed with just himself and the hybrid left alive.

This fascinating episode was written by Michael Shanks and directed by Amanda Tapping. It's a visually appealing episode with long running shots that give it a movie-like feel. It's also the first episode to be directed by Amanda Tapping, and as such I look forward to seeing more episodes directed by her. This is my favorite episode on the disc.

Inauguration
Nothing much to say about this episode. It's one of those annoying low cost clip show episodes to help complete the season episode quota. There's a new president who has to be brought up to speed with the whole Stargate story. Essentially it's just like the previous season's clip show with a different setting and some extra clips from the recent batch of episodes. To be honest, I wish those that commission television series would make it a clause that these sorts of episodes cannot be included in the season as they are a waste of space – no matter how well they are done.

Video
As with all the other Stargate DVDs that I've reviewed, this disc includes an excellent transfer from film with nothing noticeable enough to mention. That is, unless you include the clip show, which of course uses clips from older episodes where quality varies.

This volume's visual quality of special features has improved dramatically since the last volume I reviewed (previous season), though they still aren't afforded the same level of excellence as the episodes.

Stargate SG-1: Vol. 36
Audio
There's decent 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtracks available in English, German and Castilian (Spain's standard language). Surround channels aren't used that much, there's a small amount of action in the first episode and then there's the big battle sequence in the second, but apart from those it's all dialogue.

Extras
When the disc is first loaded you are given the option to select one of three languages supported by the menu system, these include: English, German and Castilian.

In this volume there's two SG-1 Directors Series programmes. The last time I reviewed a Stargate SG-1 disc, which was volume 31, these promotional titles weren't as polished as they are now. If I remember correctly previous renditions involved one of the crew carrying a digital camera around whilst filming. They would suffer from heavy use of compression, or perhaps the digital camera wasn't up to much. These two Director Series on the other hand, for Heroes and Resurrection, are good quality. One is presented in widescreen and the other in full-screen, though both are non-anamorphic.

SG-1 Beyond The Gate is an interview and behind the scenes show covering Actor Amanda Tapping's move into directing. Many will find this an interesting insight into television directing and of course Amanda Tapping fans will enjoy it. The commentary for Resurrection, which is discussed later, covers similar topics in more detail. It is suggested here that Amanda wouldn't have stayed with SG-1 if she were not given the opportunity to direct an episode.

As for the commentaries, there's the usual one per episode affair. Here's a quick description of each:

Heroes Part 1 is discussed by Director Andy Mikita and Director of Photography Andrew D. Wilson. This commentary turns out to be somewhat technical in nature, at the beginning concentrating on lighting, editing and camera angles. The main point of discussion is that Heroes was essentially a second unit production, that was carried out over an extended time frame with a lesser priority to that of the other episodes. Mikita and Wilson point out the various side effects of this second unit only method, and explain why Heroes, which was intended to be a single episode, ended up a two-parter. Overall this commentary was fairly interesting, though if I were listening to it rather than reviewing it, I would have stopped listening after a few minutes.

Stargate SG-1: Vol. 36
For the Heroes Part 2 commentary we hear from Director Andy Mikita, Writer and Executive Producer Robert C. Cooper, and Directory of Photography Andrew D. Wilson. This time with the addition of Cooper the commentary takes on a totally different dynamic to the previous. It's more jokey, with Cooper throwing in the odd self-deprecating comment every now and again. As with Part 1 they mention the low budget, second unit approach used to film the episode but then go on to mention the side effect of extending the story into a two parter, which was a much larger budget that was used for a long drawn out special effects action sequence. Another talking point is the death of one of the lead characters. I recommend this commentary but my interest levels did tail off at the halfway point and went downhill afterwards.

The third commentary for Resurrection involves Director and Actor Amanda Tapping, and Camera Operator William Waring. Resurrection marks Tapping's debut as a Stargate SG-1 episode director. It is clear from the commentary that she has done a lot of research before taking up the role of director, and is particularly interested in the visual aspects. They discuss: scenes, imagery, camera movement, lighting, texture and transitions. She's notably fond of single long running and meticulously planned shots (on both cranes or steady cam), which isn't common in television. I suppose this commentary will be particularly suited to those interested in becoming a director of some sort.

Inauguration's commentary is provided with the help of Director and Director of Photography Peter F. Woeste and Executive Producer Michael Greenburg. This is definitely the weakest of the four commentaries which isn't surprising given the subject matter. All they were really able to talk about was the concept of the clip show, the white house set and of course the strong cast. Expect lots of long gaps.

The only aspects of the special features not yet covered are the photo gallery which seems to go on forever and of course a promotional item advertising the website for US and Canadian fans.

Stargate SG-1: Vol. 36
Overall
Comparing this volume to previous discs, I am somewhat disappointed. There was of course the bog standard clip show which I don't count as an episode. There's a two parter that really should have been a standard episode. About the only highlight in my mind is the resurrection episode. Commentaries were reasonable but nothing stands out, and whilst the promotional items are more professionally done this time around, they miss out on what I considered the more interesting aspects.

Those wishing to start purchasing Stargate DVDs should - going on previous Stargate DVDs that I reviewed - probably have a look at volume 29 instead. For long term collectors of the series, well my opinion wont matter as you'll all be buying it anyway – or at least waiting for the cheaper entire season box sets such as  the US editions.


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