The beat goes on for Stargate SG-1
in this five-disc set containing all 20 episodes from the show's eighth season. If that beat is now a bit more faint than in previous years, that's not particularly surprising when a franchise has been around this long; what's more, if Season 8 has some fairly odd aspects to it ("Threads," which appears to have been planned as the final episode of the entire series, is followed by two more in this set alone
not to mention an unexpected renewal that led to an all-new Season 9), that too isn't exactly unusual in the wacky world of series television.
Some significant changes are apparent in Season 8. Jack O'Neill (series star Richard Dean Anderson) has been promoted to Brigadier General and is now top dog (as he puts it, the guy who "spent my whole life stickin' it to the man" now is the man). The existence of the stargate, an artificially created "wormhole" through which one can instantly travel to different worlds light years away from Earth, is no longer a well-guarded secret. And Stargate Command itself now exists primarily to "develop new weapons and technologies to defend the planet" from our various alien antagonists--principally the "Replicators," relentless little bug-machines poised to take over not only Earth but the entire galaxy.
The rest of the SG-1 core cast (Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge, and Michael Shanks) is intact. But whereas Anderson, who has steadily reduced his role in the show, wasn't much missed in Season 7, one wishes there were more of him this time around; O'Neill's general insouciance and aversion to techno-speak are a welcome antidote to the kind of sci-fi gobbledygook (discussions about "a time dilation field on the planet Hala" and such) that now threatens to take precedence over the action and fine special effects that distinguished earlier seasons. Most of all, while there are still all manner of villains (Anubis, Ba'al, the ever-present Goa'uld) to contend with, as well as a few good guys (the Asgard, the rebel Jaffa) to help our heroes fight the good fight, Stargate SG-1's writers and creators may be running out of steam. Hence we get an episode like the very peculiar "Citizen Joe," featuring Dan Castellaneta as an average guy who sees "visions" (i.e., clips from past episodes) of the SG-1 team in action and becomes obsessed with proving that the whole stargate project really exists; an uneasy combination of self-parody and self-congratulation, this episode, while not unamusing, sticks out like a sore thumb.
Bonus features include audio commentary (mostly by the various directors) on 19 of the 20 episodes, along with photo galleries and one featurette per disc. --Sam Graham