Well, it’s arrived … sort of! The final season of Stargate Universe has now entered our homes on DVD. I feel the need to borrow the old lady’s words from the Wendy’s commercial. “Where’s the Blu-ray?”
No one knows. Fact is my iTunes copies are crisper in quality to what I’ve poked in my DVD player to write this review. But it’s important to point out that the iTunes copies do not have commentaries or special features, not to mention the nifty menus.
Like the other SGU “disc” releases, the main menu settles on a scene from the Destiny observation deck. But for Season Two they went ahead and added visuals of the ship coming out of F.T.L. near some stellar bodies (one of which you may recognize).
Every single episode of SGU Season Two has been given a commentary. Normally these pieces are filled with the writers, producers and actors who were key in bringing the episode to life. Sometimes they bring in one of the secondary characters for the fun, which is nice. Though Jennifer Spence may not have been a key player in a particular episode it is nice to have her voice brought to the scene. She and Brian J. Smith share a couple of commentaries together and the two make quite a set.
Special documentaries is one area where Stargate fans have anticipated good content for years, and Ivon Bartok and his team did not disappoint in this set. Season Two includes 20 featurettes ranging from two minutes to approximately 25 minutes. These clips cover virtually every aspect of Season Two, from visual effects to stunts.
I find the stunt featurettes particularly interesting, because you get to see just what a person will put up with to make a dramatic sequence for the screen. In “Lt. Scott Gets Hit By A Car”, we get to see an unedited cut of one of James Bamford’s stunt men actually getting hit by a vehicle. BamBam explains the secret pivot to how the stunt man prevents himself from getting seriously injured, but at the same time you can’t help but rewind the scene and watch him get hit again and again.
“Louis Ferreira vs. Colonel Young” had me laughing my guts out. The character of Young completely disarms you for the partying fiesta that is the actor behind the role. He tapes a mustache to his face and he’s someone completely different. It’s quite a treat that several of these moments were captured on film. Meanwhile they are inter-cut with the stoic and serious Colonel Young. It’s hard to believe these two are the same man.
“Deconstructing Destiny” is an entire disc of special features which delve deeper into the ship’s design. This is a truly fascinating piece because the folks in charge explain their reasons for why they designed the ship like they did. Brad Wright talks about turning built-in disadvantages into opportunities to tell great science fiction, like Destiny‘s Achilles heel in only recharging within stars. This crux has spawned some of the more interesting episodes in my opinion.
As with most of the DVD sets, Ivon and his team throw in a “spoof” documentary once again. This time taking the stage is Peter Kelamis and Patrick Gilmore, SGU‘s Adam Brody and Dale Volker, respectively. In “Pitches: A Journey of Friendship and Discovery”, these two men team up to pitch an episode of SGU. The joke carries on with clips from the cast and crew discussing the two actors as they write their opus, but after about ten minutes I began to look at my watch and wonder when it was going to end. Fifteen minutes after that, it did. A good farce which almost killed itself by running long.
As good as these special features are, the variety still falls a little short for my taste. The team is great about composing production and post-production featurettes, but what I’m really interested in is the pre-production stuff. I want to sit down in the writers room alongside the likes of Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper and watch them plot out the nucleus of an episode into a fully realized script. I want to see and hear the conversations that they have with one another about what works and what doesn’t, and the complicated rivers they must forge to get such an intricate product to the screen. In all these years of special features we’ve never gotten anything of that sort. It almost feels as though this is off limits. What we did get this year was Volker and Brody making a script, but that one was fake.
Missing yet again are the deleted scenes from the episodes. For one reason or another deleted scenes have failed to make the cut on Stargate DVDs. Yes, we have gotten them with a few episodes on the later SG-1 and Atlantis sets, but there is a large pool of them missing. We have to assume that the product that appeared on the screen at the end of the day is the journey the creative team intended for you to take, but still it would be fascinating to see the discarded bits of character development that were sacrificed to bring the show down to time.
The journey of Stargate has come to an end on the TV screen for the time being, and I can’t ask for a better set of goodies to do the job.
For a DVD release, this set once again proves that Ivon Bartok and his special features team have still got it. No, it’s not Blu-ray, but I hold out hope that Fox will offer a complete series Blu-ray release in the near future should the numbers hold enough to make it worthwhile.
My advice? If you want the Blu-ray, go out and buy this DVD release. The price is right for the 20 episodes and hours of extras you get for it, and you’ll be showing that the DVD market still has a few Stargate fans left in it. You can always resell your DVD copy on Amazon. Atlantis has a complete Blu-ray set coming out, and if that sells well hopefully there will be an SG-1 set behind it. Let’s complete the franchise on Blu-ray!