Being a giant Stargate fan, I was super excited when this blu-ray set was announced. However, after doing some research on the company and their releases, I became pretty apprehensive. These concerns were confirmed when I received the set and started going through the episodes and features. I should be clear that my one star rating for this set is for the overall quality of this blu-ray package and not the actual quality of the show itself. The show is amazing and it truly deserved to be treated better than this.
I'm going to start with the best thing this set has going for it: the special features. This set includes *almost* all of the special features from the AMAZING 2004 DVD set. The features are all in upscaled HD from the original SD DVD sources. This set does organize some of the features in the early seasons just a bit strangely. As with the original MGM DVDs, all of the featurettes that are included for Seasons 1-3 were *actually* produced during the fourth season of the show. They feature mostly interviews with the cast that were obviously filmed during the fourth season and even include clips from the first four seasons of the show. If you have never seen the show before and are adverse to spoilers (as minor as they are in these featurettes), don't watch any of the special features for Seasons 1-3 until after you have seen the first four seasons. But like I said, this was an issue with the original DVDs as well. And weirdly, Teryl Rothery's video diary which she did for Season 5's "Meridian" is placed on the fourth disc of Season 4. From Season 6 on, many of the special features are episode-based and those features are included on the same disc as that episode. The only features missing here are the excellent Stargate SG-1: The Lowdown and a brief fan club spot for Season 7.
Now lets get to the video presentation of the episodes. As most fans know, the show was presented on television in standard definition for its first 7 seasons. It appears that VEI has taken the original masters from SD tape and upscaled them to 1080p (similar to what they did with Farscape). That all sounds well and good, but this upscale goes off the rails just a bit. When VEI upscaled the first seven seasons, they definitely were quite liberal with the DNR (Dynamic Noise Reduction). While these episodes have less compression artifacts than their dvd counterparts, they also take on a bit a "waxy" look as a result of the DNR. Seasons 1-3 originally had quite a bit of grain since they were filmed on 16mm film. All of that film grain is pretty much gone now. Many nerds online debate the use of DNR and just how much is too much. I think most would agree though that too much was used in the first seven seasons here. Seasons 8 through 10 were filmed in HD with digital HD cameras so thankfully there was no upscaling needed with these seasons. There still seems to be just a bit of DNR present but nowhere near as egregious as the first seven seasons.
As for the picture quality of the special features, I haven't had a chance to watch all of the features on all of the discs but from the ones that I have, it would appear that not much care was paid towards upscaling these features. Quality does vary on these a bit but for the most part... the video quality on these features is a hot mess. Some of them are stretched horizontally just a bit and when I took screenshots of features from the original dvds and these new blu-rays and compared them side-by-side, the features on the dvds appeared crisp with a good amount of detail (for standard definition) but features on these blu-rays have significant compression artifacts AND are cursed with the "waxy" look of the season 1-7 episodes. Since most of the features on the original discs were interlaced, VEI has used a deinterlacing filter on these features... and HOLY CRAP did they screw it up! It is most evident when text comes up on the screen. The text looks wobbly and moves around rather than staying still. This can be distracting at times. I noticed it especially on the feature "From Stargate to Atlantis". The funny thing is that companies include standard definition content on blu-rays without upscaling them all the time. I don't really understand why VEI went through the trouble of deinterlacing and upscaling this content as it just increases the amount of disc space needed to include them AND on top of that the upscaling was done so poorly. They would have just been better off just using the original MPEG-2 video files from the source DVDs.
And now lets talk about the audio presentations for the episodes. With the original DVDs, Season 1 was presented in Dolby Surround and then the rest of the seasons were presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Those 5.1 tracks were fantastic at the time those dvds were released (especially for a television show) and they still hold up pretty well today. For all ten seasons these blu-rays include both Dolby Surround AND Dolby Digital 5.1. Sounds great right?! Not so much. It would seem that whoever encoded these blu-rays was doing so while working from home and day-drinking because for all of the episodes from Season Two through Season Ten, when you watch the episodes with the 5.1 track (which, by the way, you have to manually select before playing the episodes), you get what I can only describe as "bizarre stereo". It appears that stereo sound is coming from all five of the speakers. To confirm this, I actually imported the Dolby Digital 5.1 files from some of the episodes and compared their waveforms to the Dolby Surround tracks. What happened here is the left channel sound from the Dolby Surround track plays out of the left, center, and right speakers. And the right channel sound from the dolby surround track plays out of the surround left and surround right speakers. This is obviously some kind of encoding error but the unfortunate result here is that the excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks that were included on the original DVDs of Seasons two through ten of Stargate SG-1 have essentially been jettisoned in favor of these highly flawed audio tracks. I am truly baffled as to how this happened without anyone at VEI noticing. It is a colossal mistake and if VEI were a reputable home video company like Shout Factory, they would announce a disc replacement program immediately. That said, the Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks that are included on Season One are actually quite nice and especially welcome since the original DVDs for that season were only in Dolby Surround.
The menus and navigation for these blu-rays are actually quite nice. The animated menus look good and are well designed and laid out save for some awkward text spacing in some places. The navigation is rather simple but that's fine. My only gripe here is that I wish you could change audio and subtitle options within the popup menu while you're watching the episode... not that the audio part of it matters because one listen of those atrocious 5.1 tracks and you'll be immediately changing back to the default Dolby Surround.
The packaging of this set definitely leaves a lot to be desired. It comes in a single large blue case with a slipcover. The discs are housed in sleeve booklets inside. While I do actually prefer this to the original 2007 Complete Series set that forced owners to put their discs in these bizarre cardboard holders that scratched up their discs, this presentation comes across as a bit cheap. As for the design of the outer packaging, based on the font choices, layout, and photoshopping on display here, it appears that VEI hired a graphic designer straight out of college to design the outer packaging of this set.
I would probably give this set three stars if it weren't for the disc authoring mistakes that were made by VEI. Those Dolby Digital 5.1 issues make recommending this set difficult. But If you're fine watching the episodes in stereo on a smaller television set, then I guess this set is right for you. But if that's the case and you have the original dvds, you may be better off just sticking with those.
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