The second season of Stargate SG-1 isn’t worse or better than its first.
I realize that this doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement to you. I graded the first season a solid B.
In my personal quest for self-actualization, I’ve gained some knowledge about myself. Not all of this knowledge has been flattering. Not easy to face in the light of day. But, I digress—
One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I may be an easy grader. I seem to be reluctant to give a poor score to most of the things I watch in my neverending pursuit of entertainment. I think that this may make me an ineffective critic. But, I don’t think it necessarily makes me a bad reviewer.
Talking about a series, movie, book or video game from a perspective that at least begins from a place of optimism seems more true to my character. I genuinely want to like everything I spend time watching, reading or playing. Why else waste my time?
As I’ve said before, I tend not to write reviews for the entertainment selections that I didn’t, at least in part, enjoy. I also won’t continue to watch something, generally speaking, that I don’t like.
My go-to example for this in recent years was the series American Woman. I watched one episode with Sharon, then bailed, after writing a review that was the writerly equivalent of scraping something foul from the sole of my Crocs. Maybe the series got better before it was cancelled. I seriously doubt that.
There are other examples, too numerous to list, not limited to just television shows and movies. The older I get, the more precious my time seems to me. I will not hesitate to throw away a book or video game that disappoints me (although “throwing away” may actually be a euphemism for putting said items in a box to donate later).
I may be reading more into it than is actually there, but it seems to me that some professional critics enjoy tearing apart something they didn’t like. Maybe if someone were forcing me to review something by offering to pay me for the service, I would do likewise. But, they’re not paying me. I’m a complete independent. Maybe a too lenient grader as well, but what can you do?
The truth is that I’ve liked the first two seasons of this series.
Season 2 kicks off with the resolution to the first season’s cliffhanger finale. Apophis and Klorel arrive at Earth and attempt to destroy it. They fail.
That’s a rather glib summation of what was a pretty good episode (I gave it 3.5 stars), although I think it was an accurate statement.
As we move into the season, we are introduced to the Tok’ra, who—in the fictional Stargate universe—are the “good” Goa’ulds. They are the Rebel Alliance to the evil Goa’uld Empire. These symbiotes do not take hosts unless they have consent, and they never use sarcophagi to regenerate. They become new allies on the series. Eventually, Capt. Carter’s own father, who is dying of cancer, becomes a Tok’ra host willingly.
Armin Shimerman—Quark on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine—appeared as one of the Nox in the first season. Season 2 marks the appearance of the second major Trek actor in the season. Dwight Schultz—Reginald Barclay on various Trek series (as well as Howling Mad Murdoch on The A-Team)—appears in an episode as The Keeper, who captures the members of SG-1 in suspended animation virtual reality couches.
This was a year before The Matrix was released, I should add.
As we travel through the season, we discover that the Asgardians, in reality, resemble the classic Roswell aliens.
We get some drama with Teal’c’s family, and with Dr. Daniel Jackson’s wife, Sha’re, who is pregnant with Apophis’s baby. We find out that humans—the Tauri—are on their way to achieving a promotion to the fifth major race in the galaxy, along with the Nox, Asgardians, the Ancients and the Furlings. I’m not sure who the Ancients and Furlings are. We find out that opening a wormhole to a planet close to a black hole is a dangerous thing to do, and we get some psychedelic science in this episode that’s guaranteed to make a true nerd squee.
In the penultimate episode of the season, SG-1 somehow travels back in time to 1969 because of solar flares or somesuch technobabble explanation. This is a fun episode. No paradox, because apparently General Hammond knew it was going to happen because he knew SG-1 all those years ago. Mind blown.
I wish “1969” were the finale episode, in fact. The real finale was underwhelming. Another clip show. I’ve never really been a fan of the clip show.
I’m glossing over much of the season in this review. We get to know more about the members of SG-1, but they are no longer strangers to us. I found myself growing more accustomed to hearing words such as naquadah and kelno’reem, while meeting new people like the Tok’ra, the invisible Reetou, and the Unas (the original hosts of the symbiotes). I forgot to talk about sarcophagus usage as a metaphor for drug addiction. Dr. Jackson becomes a sarcophagus junkie in one slightly subpar episode. Also, the second stargate—the one which was in Anarctica last season—has been secretly moved to Nevada, and then to Utah. Also, the Goa’uld Sokar may have been the basis for Satan in Christian religious beliefs (do what thou wilt with that secular statement), so now the Devil himself is one of our Big Bads.
There are episodes that remind me a lot of Star Trek, in both good and bad ways. The Native American episode is one that reminds me, unfavorably, of a Star Trek: Voyager episode. At least, I think it was Voyager. And, the episode in which SG-1 lands in prison and mistakenly helps someone known as the Destroyer of Worlds escape gave me strong feelings of deja vu. I felt like I had seen the episode before, even when I knew I hadn’t. Maybe a similar Trek episode.
There is some science talk on this series, but this is nowhere close to hard science fiction. It’s science-fantasy, where advanced alien technology smells a lot like magic. But, that’s okay. While there is some genuine drama and suspense on the show, this is generally more lighthearted television fare. Sometimes as airy and seemingly insubstantial as popcorn, while being similarly satisfying. Many of the plots will seem familiar to you if you’re already a science-fiction fan.
They have gone to the O’Neill’s-dead-son well one time too many for me, though. For some reason, heavy drama doesn’t play well on this series. At least not for me.
The real pleasure to be found in the series is in the relationships between the members of our found family. Col. Jack O’Neill, Capt. Samantha Carter, Dr. Daniel Jackson and the renegade Jaffa Teal’c. General George Hammond and Dr. Janet Frasier are adjunct members of the family as well. The individual plots of most of the episodes don’t really seem to have a lasting impact on the overarching big-picture story of the series. Still, most of these are entertaining.
The concept of galactic travel using the stargates is a mind-expanding one, suggesting many potential plot threads that haven’t been explored yet. The Goa’uld are always handy when evil bad guys are integral to the episodic stories being told. But, honestly, we could substitute Cylons or the Borg or a dozen other science-fiction type villains without losing a step. The Egyptian motif popular with the Goa’uld is often my least favorite part of the show.
I’ve liked this series so far. I didn’t think I would. That’s the best reason I can give you for recommending that you watch it, too.
Firewater’s Undomesticated-Equines-Could-Not-Remove-Me Report Card: B
I’ve already copped to being an easy grader. If this series had an entry in the Guide, it would be: “Mostly harmless.” I am usually entertained by the episodes, but most fail to leave a lasting impression in my memory. There is, however, nothing wrong with just being entertained.