Stargate SG-1: Season Four

The cult sci-fi TV series returns to DVD, this time packed with extras. Season four maintains the fine mix of action, adventure and sci-fi featuring Jack O'Neill (star Richard Dean Anderson), Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks), Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), and Teal'c (Christopher Judge). New developments abound. There are more bad guys, more Earth-based stories and the Russians reveal their own Stargate program and ask the Americans for help. Season Four is the most ambitious to date. The Stargate itself is a mysterious alien artefact that is the gateway to a vast galaxy. A top-secret U.S. Air Force facility deep below Cheyenne Mountain controls the Stargate, and whose teams use the gateway to explore other planets and defend Earth against evil aliens. The first and most famous Stargate team is SG-1, whose exploits we follow (adapted from the Kurt Russell movie). Fans of the show will be happy to discover that this box-set is a serious improvement over the last. Though both boxes from seasons three and four include three featurettes, Season Four carries audio commentary for every episode. Writers, directors, producers, editors and visual effects supervisors reveal secrets about locations, casting, story ideas, performances and even the lyrics to the show's theme (episode 19, "Prodigy"). There's a little too much back-slapping at times, but overall the commentary is chock full of production anecdotes and technical information. The featurettes are less fluffy and more insightful this time around. The best one is "Enhanced Visual Effects," which details the CGI process behind Stargate's many effects. Plus: featurettes, more. (MGM)