Stargate SG-1 - Volume 2
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Details At A Glance
||Main Menu Audio and Animation
Cast & Crew
||Language Selection, then Menu
Fox Home Entertainment
||Richard Dean Anderson
Don S. Davis
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame
||Auto Pan & Scan
||English (Dolby Digital 3.1 L-C-R-Sub)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio
||English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement
|Action In or After Credits
Refer to my review of Stargate
SG-1 - Volume 1 for the full rant. Suffice it to say, where
exactly are episodes 102 through 118? It might be nice to see them, especially
since one of the characters in the episodes on Stargate SG-1 - Volume
2 appears during one of those episodes and the appearance here does
not make much sense without knowing that.
Obviously these are continuing episodes of the television
series Stargate SG-1, in my view one of the best science fiction
shows on television in the past decade. Volume 2 starts us off at,
rather surprisingly given the presentation of the series thus far by MGM,
the start of Season Two. If you need a slight backgrounder to the series,
then again refer to Stargate SG-1 -
The episodes on offer are:
The one immediate improvement in Season 2 is the greater
chemistry between the main cast and these are good representations of the
quality of the episodes of the second season. Overall, good production
values are matched to good performances making this eminently watchable
The Serpent's Lair (Episode 201) - the continuation of the
final episode of Season One, the members of SG-1 find themselves trapped
on a Goa'uld transport ship heading towards Earth to deal it a lesson that
it will not forget. Naturally enough, they have not given up and are determined
to do damage themselves. Things are looking up after they have placed enough
C-4 explosive on the ship to give every one a severe headache, but then
fate turns around and gives them a kick in the guts as they are captured
and imprisoned. With the aid of a renegade jaffar, they manage to escape
and still have the opportunity to save the planet - and perform another
minor miracle of rehabilitation.
In The Line Of Duty (Episode 202) - the SG-1 team find themselves
on a rescue mission to a planet that after hundreds of years of peace is
subjected to a Goa'uld attack. Whilst evacuating the locals, Carter finds
herself trying to resuscitate a dying man. As he expires, the Goa'uld that
is entirely unexpectedly inhabiting his body transfers itself to Carter.
As SG-1 return to Earth, a deadly hunt is spawned as the Goa'uld turns
out to be a renegade of sorts, a member of the Tok'ra, and one of the rescued
locals turns out to be an assassin tasked with finding and killing the
Prisoner (Episode 203) - on a rather innocuous reconnaissance
of a rather non-descript planet, the SG-1 team are about to return to Earth
when they aid a man who stumbles out of the forest towards them. Unfortunately
this does not turn out to be a bright idea as the man is a criminal - a
man charged with murder. As they are captured by the local judiciary, it
turns out that the planet operates under a zero tolerance policy that makes
Singapore's look like the loosest tolerance policy on Earth. Their innocent
aid makes them accessories to murder and they are sentenced to the mandatory
sentence for every crime - life imprisonment in an underground hell hole.
There they befriend a woman who seems to wield the power in the jail, and
with her aid they power up the stargate and escape back to earth - indirectly.
Once home they aid the woman, who turns out to be a little more than they
The Gamekeeper (Episode 204) - the SG-1 team are exploring
a very beautiful garden on a rather alluring distant planet when they happen
onto an unusual building. Inside they find some sort of suspended animation
beds in which are incarcerated people - alive, nurtured and for all intents
and purposes enjoying a very deep sleep. Investigating four empty beds,
the team suddenly find themselves captured and unconscious. They awaken
to find themselves partaking in events from their past - or at least the
past of Jack and Daniel, and it seems that someone has a sick sense of
humour as they are reliving the worst days of their lives. But everything
is not kosher and Jack and Daniel, with the aid of T'ealc and Sam, slowly
Once again I welcome the arrival of anything of Stargate
SG-1 on DVD on Region 4, but again am afraid that it can only be a
lukewarm reception. Having missed out on the bulk of Season One, to jump
into Season Two is not satisfactory and that is before we even consider
the state of the actual transfers themselves. Whilst I doubt anything I
say would really stop fans of the series from indulging in this DVD, really
we would all be better off boycotting the DVD until such time as MGM give
us the presentation we want and transfers that actually match the quality
of the programming.
You may well recall that the predominant problem with
SG-1 - Volume 1 was more grain than that seen in the Wheatbelt
during harvest time. Indeed, the general appearance was such that I was
tempted to suggest that it was an electronic NTSC to PAL conversion, but
that made little sense in view of there being no equivalent Region 1 release
issued. Well guess what? More of the same I am afraid, although this time
the grain harvest was not such a bumper crop.
The transfers are presented in an aspect ratio of
1.78:1 and are 16x9 enhanced. The DVD is also encoded with Auto Pan &
It really is a shame that the grain is once again
such an issue, but it really is very difficult to ignore the problem. The
first episode on the DVD is especially badly affected to the extent that
I found it almost unwatchable. Whilst I am certainly not expecting anything
approaching feature film standard, I would have though that given its recent
origins, the transfer would have been a lot less afflicted with grain than
it is. Overall sharpness suffers as a result of the grain and really this
is not much more than an average transfer for its age. Detail is decent
enough, although shadow detail could perhaps have been a lot better. Clarity
is obviously quite average too, and there are indications of problems with
low level noise in the transfer at times (most notably in some of the darker
colours of the third episode on the DVD).
In general, the colours have come up pretty well.
This is aided a little by the brighter feel of the final episode on the
DVD, but the enclosed environments still dominate the colours, with a natural
darker tone to the whole transfer. Given the setting of the episodes, the
overall result is quite natural, and the exterior locations especially
allow the colours to come up quite bright and vibrant. There is no problem
with oversaturation nor colour bleed in the transfer.
There did not appear to be many significant MPEG
artefacts in the transfer, although again there were hints of blockiness
in the background on a number of occasions. The most obvious MPEG artefact
though comes at 10:07 in the fourth
episode, where there is an almost ghost-like loss of resolution in a rapid
movement shot of O'Neill rescuing his fallen comrade. Most off-putting.
There seems to be more of a problem with film-to-video artefacts in this
transfer, with the first episode being especially blessed with huge amounts
of shimmer that really does not combine well with the grain. Most episodes
display some shimmer, but nothing quite as bad as that first episode, which
is also blessed with some moiré artefacting at around 3:24.
There are no real problems with film artefacts here at all.
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.
Video Ratings Summary
There are two soundtracks on the DVD, being an unusually
configured English Dolby Digital 3.1 (L-C-R-Sub) soundtrack and a German
Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Since my German has still not improved, I
stuck with the default English soundtrack. PowerDVD had plenty of problems
with this DVD and the bit rates for the soundtracks could not be determined.
The dialogue comes up well and is quite clear and
easy to understand throughout the episodes. There did no 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 and Kevin Kiner.
Once again fairly typical of what we would expect from a television series,
there is not much here that is liable to be confused with a masterpiece,
but it does its job pretty well and is quite supportive of the show throughout.
For a television show, this is not a bad soundtrack.
There is a fair deal of action through both the left and right front channels,
although the rears are obviously not brought into play here. It certainly
is not going to be confused with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There
did not really seem to be much in the way of action from the bass channel.
Whilst the whole show would certainly benefit from a good Dolby Digital
5.1 soundtrack, there really is not not much to complain about here.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use
Another amazingly poor effort on the extras front -
although given the average quality of the video transfer, perhaps they
did not want to push the envelope any more by including any extras. The
only real inclusion is a little promotional pamphlet for Fox and MGM releases,
as well as a little feedback form which would indicate that Fox, already
the enemy for going the rental window route with DVDs, are polling the
DVD world for feedback on a move to up the price of specially packaged
Special Edition DVDs by up to $5.00.
Some audio and animation enhancement makes these decent
efforts - even if they really have nothing much to do.
R4 vs R1
There is no equivalent release to this in Region 1 at
this time. When it does eventually come, I would not mind betting that
it will be part of a Season Two box set, since that is the way MGM are
going for the balance of Season One it seems.
Stargate SG-1 - Volume 2 would again normally
be welcomed with open arms by me and a whole bunch of fans of the show.
The presentation however is again sub standard, in not being part of the
preferred complete season box set and in having a rather problematic video
transfer. If you especially hate grain, then you should not come within
... you know the deal. Large screen owners would probably be especially
well advised to steer clear of this effort. Again, even fans of the show
would be advised to rent this first to see if they are less affected than
I by the video transfer.
© Ian Morris (have
a laugh, check out the bio)
12th February, 2001.
||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output
||Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD
version of Video Essentials.
||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version
of Video Essentials.
||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears
EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL