Sunday, February 27, 2011

SciFiNow: Best & Worst Episodes Of Stargate SG-1

Is it me or do you miss this guy too? Okay, call it a man crush, but I loved Richard Dean Anderson as Jack O'Neill. He was a big part of why I loved Stargate SG-1. This image from Abyss is arguably one of his most memorable performance in the series. Of course, there were many...

It's time for a bit of fun with the latest SciFiNow Top 10 list.

Thinking about it, I began writing this blog as Stargate SG-1 the series was coming to an end. I viewed it in its entirety watching on DVD. That was the last science fiction program I had watched before beginning Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic. It was much easier to watch science fiction without having to write about it. I don't watch science fiction nearly as often as I'd like as a result of the writing, but I do enjoy the creative outlet.

I initially generated my own Sci-Fi Fanatic Ten Best before I decided to give that column a name dubbed the BIG 10. Here. Let's see how SciFiNow stacks up with my own list and your feelings on the series regarding the best and worst of Stargate SG-1.

This list is extracted from the SciFiNow Timewarp Collection.

The Worst:
1. Emancipation [Season One]
2. Citizen Joe [Season Eight]
3. Out Of Mind [Season Two]
4. Insiders [Season Ten]
5. Politics [Season One]
6. Urgo [Season Three]
7. Ascension [Season Five]
8. It's Good To Be King [Season Eight]
9. Ripple Effect [Season Nine]
10. Tangent [Season Four]

To contain things a bit, we'll work our comparisons within each specific season of the ten season run. Taking a look at the worst pick selections I couldn't agree more with the magazine's assessment of Emancipation, a truly preachy mess of a start to the series in Season One. It's defensible as the series was just getting off the ground, but it's a poorly written effort by Kathryn Powers who also penned the equally awkward Code Of Honor for Star Trek: The Next Generation Season One. She's done better.

I actually really enjoyed Citizen Joe with guest star Dan Castellaneta. It's a completely stand alone episode, but it's a joy to watch Castellaneta's performance even if it doesn't feel entirely like Stargate SG-1. You can't place it among the worst.

Out Of Mind may not be the best season-ender in the Stargate SG-1 series, but it's far from the worst. Season Two easily has other options from which to choose. One False Step is a good example.

Insiders is a solid entry focusing on the Baal character. This is not the worst moment of Season 10.

Politics is essentially a clips/filler episode and a bit of a bore at that. I can't argue against this selection. It deserves a placement among the worst. You'd be hard-pressed to locate something worse than Politics in Season One. Emancipation, of course, but that might edge out this one.

Urgo, guest-starring Director Peter DeLuise's father Dom DeLuise, the one and only classic comedian, simply isn't funny and drags. A perfect selection for the worst list unfortunately for Peter.

Ascension from Season Five is not particularly memorable, but I'm not sure it's a candidate for the worst list featuring good performances from Amanda Tapping and guest star Sean Patrick Flanery. You could make a case for others from the season. Unfortunately the honor for the worst should go to Wormhole X-treme! starring yet another DeLuise family member, brother Michael DeLuise. Sorry Peter. Truthfully I love much of Peter DeLuise's work. I know I sound like a DeLuise detractor here and that's really not the case.

It's Good To Be King really deserves a place outside of the worst list. It's better than that. In fact, SciFiNow has selected two entries from what I consider to be a very strong Season Eight on the whole. Citizen Joe and It's Good To Be King aren't that bad and I would suggest looking outside of Season Eight for other options.

Ripple Effect is a fine example of a reasonably solid Season Nine of Stargate SG-1 with its addition of Ben Browder (Farscape). It's hard to pick a bad episode from the season. Thematically the season is unified in its approach and story. It was solid overall.

Finally, Tangent isn't perfect, but it's an interesting idea and delivers a good episode with strong performances. The material is simple, but it's not thin. One could easily look elsewhere within Season Four for a candidate.

These lists are always subjective, but there are some episodes that are almost universally scorned or loved. Here is a look at the best of Stargate SG-1.

The Best:
1. 200 [Season Ten]
2. Talion [Season Ten]
3. Babylon [Season Nine]
4. The Torment Of Tantalus [Season One]
5. The Changeling [Season Six]
6. Abyss [Season Six]
7. Heroes [Season Seven]
8. Window Of Opportunity [Season Four]
9. Within The Serpent's Grasp [Season One]
10. There But For The Grace Of God [Season One]

I'm not sure 200 deserves a spot in the best, but in terms of sheer creativity it's a classic in that way.

Talion? Really.

Babylon is not the worst, but is hardly memorable in terms of classic status. As I mentioned earlier, Season Nine is strong and noteworthy for its uniform genius following the departure of Richard Dean Anderson. Still, Babylon isn't the best episode in that season. I preferred others including Beachhead and Camelot to name two.

Season One's The Torment Of Tantalus is certainly a fan favorite and it is a beautiful episode. I can't argue with its position here among the best. It is indeed a deserving entry and one that seems to grow stronger with time. An early appearance by future Stargate Atlantis regular alum Paul McGillion makes a brief cameo here long before landing the role of Carson Beckett for the spinoff.

The Teal'c-heavy The Changeling is good, but I would choose something other than that entry from Season Six. I think the Teal'c-heavy Redemption might be even better.

A much better Season Six choice for the best list is Abyss. This is a beautifully directed and classic episode. In fact, how I missed this one when I wrote my original list is something of a mystery. Abyss would easily supplant something from my own list. It is a great selection and a fan favorite. Here is a wonderful moment from the episode starring none other than Richard Dean Anderson. It's not the entire performance, but a nice example of his talent on display in Abyss.

The Abyss pick is quickly followed by another masterpiece in Heroes. The events that unfold coupled with the superb direction and action of the two-parter are mind-blowing. It made my list and this is an easy recommendation for a best list. It is also a fan favorite.

Like The Torment Of Tantalus it's easy to understand why Window Of Opportunity is on this list. It is arguably one of the best episodes of Season Four. To underline my earlier point it was directed by Peter DeLuise. It is an impressive installment within the franchise. Call my natural affection for the Carter and O'Neill relationship (with potential) what you will. This shipper loves it. See my post on O'Neill and Carter for a bit of fun.
Within The Serpent's Grasp is easily acceptable as one of the best entries of Season One. Personally, I would look elsewhere for a Top 10 placement even though the choice is logical. At least this one makes sense.

There But For The Grace Of God is another sentimental favorite from the Stargate SG-1 early years. There's definitely a great deal of love represented here for Season One. I can't argue against the episode. It's a solid entry.

Ultimately, Stargate SG-1 is a tough series to place in a Top 10 bottle with over two hundred episodes to choose from, but there's plenty for fans to make cases for and against. Overall, what a solid science fiction series from start to finish for a host of reasons. It's a truly remarkable achievement. Indeed.


le0pard13 said...

Fine overview of these episodes, SFF. I only sporadically watched Stargate SG-1 through the years (guilty as charged). But there was a lot to be said about Richard Dean Anderson assuming the role (though, Kurt Russell's intro portrayal from the film remains a firm fixture in my mind) and getting away from the MacGuyver pigeonhole he found himself in. Enjoyed reading this, my friend. Thanks.

SFF said...

Funny you mention Kurt Russell. I'm a huge fan obviously, but this is indeed one of those rare instances where I have forgotten about his portrait of the role. Anderson really took the role to new heights. He was a amazing and he owns the part.

Never caught on to the whole mullet look and the whole MacGuyver show. I just never watched it so my impressions of Anderson going into Stargate were a completely blank canvas. That makes a difference with any actor and role I'm sure.

Thanks L13 for making me further consider why I enjoyed Anderson as O'Neill.

Todd W in NC said...

I'm not as familiar with the earlier half of SG-1's run because I didn't have Showime and caught some, if not most, of those episodes later in syndication & Sci-Fi Channel reruns, but not necessarily in the right order.

It's getting a little late and this is another rush job, so I would possibly change my mind on these later. But, here's my initial stab at...

Top 10 Episodes of Stargate: SG-1
4.06 "Window of Opportunity"
7.17 "Heroes, Part 1" (top 5)
7.18 "Heroes, Part 2" (top 5)
8.19 "Moebius, Part 1" (top 5)
8.20 "Moebius, Part 2"
9.06 "Beachhead"
9.15 "Ethon"
10.03 "The Pegasus Project" (top 5)
10.06 "200" (top 5)
10.20 "Unending"

Honorable Mentions
2.15 "The Fifth Race"
2.21 "1969"
3.16 "Urgo"
4.03 "Upgrades"
7.22 "Lost City, Part 2"
8.01 "New Order, Part 1"
8.07 "Affinity"
8.08 "Covenant"
8.12 "Prometheus Unbound"
8.18 "Threads"
9.13 "Ripple Effect"
9.20 "Camelot, Part 1"
10.08 "Memento Mori"
10.13 "The Road Not Taken"
10.15 "Bounty"
10.16 "Bad Guys"

SFF said...

Well another stellar selection despite your sck of familiarity. Your top 10 are among my faces and beachhead was my favorite of that season.

Loved pegasus and anything with Stargate atlantis. Unending is a Beauty as endings go.

I'm a little more mixed on your honorables, but loads of solid choices. Loved threads and lost city. Cheers Todd.

Thanks again

Rushing off myself... Take care

Anonymous said...

1. Window of Opportunity
huge gap
all other epizodes

SFF said...

I agree that Window Of Opportunity is an exceptional entry. Tks.

Anonymous said...

I have to express my surprise at some of the opinions about best and worst...especially regarding "200" - the absolute worst, most self-indulgent bit of tripe from the entire Stargate franchise. I don't recall all of the episodes listed, but I did love "Window of Opportunity" and "Foothold," as well as most of the time travel (or parallel universe) episodes - except for "1969". (Couldn't make sense of the paradox issue.) I really liked "2010" (and its sequel "2001") and am quite surprised actually that so many fans don't, in fact hate it.

SFF said...

Well, again, love Window Of Opportunity.

And I know what you mean about 200. It's a good bit of, as you said, "self-indulgent" fun, but certainly would not rank among the finest of its 10 year run.

Heck I would put a good, solid episode like Beachhead above 200.

Also, good call on Foothold, a solid entry.

Episodes by our favorite franchises that take liberties can be fun, but don't normally measure up to the standards set within the rules established by the given franchise and thus can either be successful or unsuccessful. I liked 200 but it wouldn't be in a Top 10 or even 20.

Thanks for your input.

Ducks Dont Fly said...

My favorites have always been Seth from season 3 and Fail Safe from season 5. Both are great stand alone episodes, and it was fun to see how SG-1 handles the classic "asteroid" scenario. Also, Message in a Bottle is one Ive watched many times. Everyone I know does not like it that much for some reason

SFF said...

Thanks for writing and Happy New Year. I can't say Seth made much of an impression, but like you I realy like Message In A Bottle, one of the truly dramatic entries in the franchise where the characters really let down their walls.

Also, I can't remember Fail Safe all that well. You have me very interested in giving that one another look. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

for me it has to be upgrades that ep just was so fun to watch and i also enjoyed in a matter of time the way they made a whole ep about the SGC being slowly sucked into a black hole was great

SFF said...

Paul. A couple of quality episiodes you mentioned.

I particularly have such strong memories of A Matter Of Time and need to revisit that soon. What a terrific episode.

Thanks so much for the reminder.

Unknown said...

My favourite episode is, and will always be, Menace. I cried pretty hard at the end and thought it had a great deeper look into what the term "life form" really meant.

SFF said...

Excellent pick by the way. Menace is a great choice and one I may have overlooked.

Thanks for reminding me about it.

Another worth another look is Singularity.

Thanks for writing.