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Perhaps most noticeable is the reduced role of star Richard Dean Anderson, who opted to limit his number of trips to Vancouver, where Stargate SG-1 is filmed. But that's not a bad thing. The show's ability to poke fun at itself has always been a strong suit, and while Anderson still brings a welcome sense of humor to his portrayal of wiseacre and loose cannon Col. Jack O'Neill, his act is getting a little smug by now. What's more, the other principal cast members have taken up the slack, both behind and in front of the camera: Michael Shanks (Daniel Jackson, who rejoins the cast in episode 1) wrote one episode and co-wrote another; Christopher Judge (Teal'c) wrote one as well; Amanda Tapping (Lt. Col. Samatha Carter) directed episode 19, "Resurrection"; and even Corin Nemec (Jonas Quinn, who appears in just a few episodes) contributed one story.
The seventh season also finds the series somewhat more earthbound than in the past; indeed, there are episodes in which the Stargate (the "wormhole" our heroes use to travel to different worlds) doesn't appear at all. On balance, the stories are more personal, and more political--especially the final two, with the newly elected U.S. President (William Devane) struggling to decide the fate of the Stargate program (and, of course, the fate of the entire known universe as well!). And then there's the ultimate villain, Anubis, who makes perennial nemeses the Goa'uld (of which Anubis is one... sort of) look tame. He's a combination of Star Wars' Darth Vader and evil Emperor, but hey, at least these guys borrow from the best.
Stargate SG-1's production values remain first-rate. The bonus DVD features are also much better than they once were, with audio commentary (mainly by directors and writers) for every episode, as well as director profiles and "Beyond the Gate" featurettes focusing on individual characters. --Sam Graham