Stargate SG1-Volume 4 (Season 2) (1998)
|Category||Science Fiction||Main Menu Audio & Animation|
|Year Of Production||1998|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
Twentieth Century Fox
Richard Dean Anderson
Don S. Davis
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Auto Pan & Scan Encoded||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Gee, it has been so long since I have reviewed a Stargate SG-1 DVD that I had almost forgotten that they existed! Well, rest assured that in a leisurely manner over the coming months, we will hopefully be bringing these reviews up to date. So where did we leave off with Volume 3 way back in April, 2001? Ah, yes - ranting about the presentation of this series on DVD in Region 4. Sorry folks, nothing has changed and we have to continue to endure the lamest and least consumer-friendly issuance program from MGM Home Entertainment this side of the black stump. At least those lucky folks with multi-zone players and the wherewithal can start to import Stargate SG-1 from Region 1 in season by season box sets, commencing with the available Season One (most of which we have missed out on thus far)...
Whatever the complaints about the presentation might be, there are certainly no complaints about the series itself. As we progress through Season Two, the shows continue to tighten in storyline and there is a much smoother feel to the characters' interactions. As indicated previously, production values are high and little here betrays the television origins of the series. So what does this mean? Well, it all contributes to this being one of the more consistently watchable science fiction shows on television, without resorting to fluff filler stuff that occasional bedevils almost all television series at some time during their second and third seasons in particular. Slightly off topic, thereafter most television series go into "routine" mode that usually leads to their cancellation somewhere between their fourth season and their seventh season. Any that last beyond seven seasons tend to do so despite the lack of any artistic merit (the concept is dead but the overpaid stars don't want to know it).
Anyway, the episodes on offer are:
Let me see, if I remember correctly the next big moan about the Stargate SG-1 DVDs was the fact that they featured more grain that the Western Australian wheat belt during a bumper crop. Sorry, the harvest still remains and obviously MGM Home Entertainment are having some trouble shifting the crop...
The transfers are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and are 16x9 enhanced. The DVD is also Auto Pan and Scan encoded, for those of you wishing to see the series in a less than complete and acceptable form.
Like the previous Volume 3 in the series, this is only a decent transfer as far as sharpness and definition go, but still on the acceptable side of things in the overall context of the series. The generally soft definition just robs the transfer of a degree more detail than I would like and this is compounded in spades when the grain loading takes place. Shadow detail still needs to be improved somewhat but I suppose for television material is about as good as we could expect. Watching the transfer sort of reminds me of the before and after views of a window washed with Windex - only rather than switching from before to after, we keep switching between the two at random as the grain harvest loads into the wagons. In other words, clarity is somewhat variable. There might be issues with low level noise in the transfer but they are effectively hidden by the grain harvest.
In general, the colours come up pretty well, and unlike previous instalments they seem to be a little more consistent. This of course may be due to the passage of twelve months since I last reviewed a Stargate DVD! The fairly typical darkish tone of the transfers remains here, although the bleached look that afflicted earlier volumes seems to have been reined in. There did not appear to be any issues with oversaturation at all, nor did there seem to be any colour bleed problems.
Apart from some indication of pixelization during Bane around the 38:50 mark, there did not appear to be many significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There were no significant instances of film-to-video artefacts at all, which was most pleasing. What little aliasing is here is very, very minor and barely noticeable in the overall transfer. There were no problems with film artefacts either.
This is a Dual Layer formatted DVD, as I cannot detect any layer change during the episodes. It is therefore presumed that the first two episodes are mastered on one layer with the other two mastered on the other.
There are three subtitle options on the DVD, although I restricted myself to only the English for the Hearing Impaired effort. These are very good, missing very little in the way of dialogue and certainly nothing of import. Interestingly, the subtitle options on this DVD are slightly different to those on the first three DVDs in the series - Dutch has given way to Spanish.
There are also some differences in the audio options on the DVD when compared to the previous three instalments. The three previous efforts have featured two soundtracks; English and German in various formats. There are actually three soundtracks on this DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded soundtrack and a German Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack (which is sort of standard), to which has been added a Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded soundtrack. Notwithstanding this added option, I stuck with the default English soundtrack. As another difference, after the 256 Kb/s soundtracks of the first two DVDs (remembering that PowerDVD had problems with Volume 3), the bit rates here drop to 192 Kb/s. I did not notice any great difference as a result.
The dialogue comes up well and is quite clear and generally easy to understand throughout the episodes. There did not seem to be any issue with audio sync here at all.
The original music comes from Joel Goldsmith in general, with the aid of Richard Band in the episode Bane. Once again fairly typical of what we would expect from a television series, and it does its job pretty well and is quite supportive of the show throughout.
Once again there is nothing much wrong with the soundtrack on offer. It is not quite as distinctly surround encoded as Volume 3 (perhaps reflecting the lower bit rate?) but the front surrounds get a fair deal of work. You can basically forget the rear surrounds though. I really wish that they would go with Dolby Digital 5.1 remasters for the show, as I am quite sure the presentation would be much enhanced as a result.
|Surround Channel Use|
Some audio and animation enhancement makes these okay efforts - even if they really have nothing much to do.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
As far as we are aware, this has not been slated for release in Region 1 yet. However, it should be pointed out that Season One in its entirety was released in a box set and it is to be presumed that Season Two will be so released, too. Personally, I would probably wait for that eventuality...
Despite the ever-present grain problem, unfortunately something SG-1 fans are having to get used to, Stargate SG-1 - Volume 4 is perhaps the most consistent presentation yet in the series. Okay, it is not the way we want it presented, but if you want Stargate SG-1 in Region 4, short of a major change of heart by MGM Home Entertainment this is the way you are going to have to suffer it for now. Note that some early DVDs of this volume released in Australia might have been coded Region 2 only. Large screen owners would again be well advised to audition this DVD before purchase (if the section around 5:35 of Spirits does not bother you, you should be able to watch the whole DVD). By the way, the back cover blurbs are about the most laughably inaccurate summations of episodes I think I have seen thus far.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|