DVD Review: Stargate SG1: Children of the Gods – Final Cut

Stargate SG-1 co-creator Brad Wright got hit with the George Lucas recut flu and decided to recut Children of the Gods, the original 2-part pilot episode that picked up...

childrenofgoddvd

Stargate SG-1 co-creator Brad Wright got hit with the George Lucas recut flu and decided to recut Children of the Gods, the original 2-part pilot episode that picked up where the feature film left off and spawned a franchise that still lives 12 years and 314 episodes later.

Wright felt that there were flaws in the pilot that must be smited. The obvious response to hearing about a DVD like this is to roll your eyes and wonder why mess with the original. Was it a waste of time? No. But was it necessary? Well… I’m not sure.

So, what are the changes? I’m not going to go into too much detail, because that would spoil the viewing experience, but I’ll point out the major changes.

The Good: The obvious fixes are visual effects and music. Here I rate the changes A+ improvements. SG-1 composer Joel Goldsmith’s music works so much better with the story beats in this than the cut & paste score from the 1994 Stargate movie. The visual effect changes include better puddle effects, an extra glider, and much more. Oh, and bringing actors in to ADR (automated dialogue replacement) their dialogue worked out tremendously well with Christopher Judge re-voicing all of his lines in the pilot/movie. None of these changes change the story in a major way and they only help the pilot/movie update its look.

Now the controversial stuff is the editing cuts. They range in significance to small cuts of scenes being moved around, lines cut out (Carter’s infamous, “Just because my reproductive organs are on the inside instead of on the outside doesn’t mean I can’t handle anything you can.”), “family friendly” changes (no more harem or nudity), additions (a female Jaffa), and so much more.

I thought the audio commentary with Richard Dean Anderson (“Jack O’Neill”) and co-writer/executive producer Brad Wright was both entertaining and enlightening. Anderson was hilarious, at times pretending to not know what was going on and at other times just honestly not remembering the pilot. The commentary also points out many of the changes (which is a big help, because I wouldn’t catch many of them) and also gives us a little behind the scenes look at the politics behind certain creative choices.

In many ways this is a good example of how an old episode can be updated, but there are a few things that bother me…

The Bad: I have no problem with visual effects, music, or even improved ADR performances but I cringe at changes to stories. They bring up Star Wars-like ‘who shot first’ flashbacks. I get removing the nudity, that is something that never fit with the rest of the series tone and I get attempts at trying to make things fit better with later established rules (can’t go back through the Stargate without redialing or female Jaffas), but removing dialogue or even cutting scenes is a tricky beast.

This whole -it’s a movie not a pilot thing- that Wright keeps saying blows my mind honestly. It IS a pilot. In the long run this may be the first Stargate viewing experience for new people, so I don’t think there is anything wrong with a little exposition setting things up or the twist of Kawalsky being taken over by a symbiote. There are two types of people that will watch this DVD: those already existing fans of Stargate who will be puzzled by leaving it out and those new to Stargate who (I hope) they want to watching more Stargate (hence, still a pilot, just a fancier one).

Ok, Carter’s reproductive organ line was cheesy, but it happened. I just have mixed feelings about removing stuff like that. Even more so with removing the MacGyver reference and I have a feeling Richard Dean Anderson was a little puzzled too. That line was funny and MacGyver is still well known, so it is still relevant. Why cut it out?

It’s those little things that bug me. Stick with the obvious: visual effects, music, fixing problems (like the scratch in the film), revoicing scenes, BUT think long and hard before changing other stuff.

Final Thoughts: Overall, this “Final Cut” (that is until the next cut 12 years from now) was a success. Except for a few small changes (the MacGyver hating, the “it’s a movie, not a pilot anymore” doctrine and the now missing nude scene), I enjoyed how it turned out. Ok, just kidding about the nude scene, but honestly it was just a few minor changes out of so many changes, which gave me some hesitation.

I’m not sure if there are enough changes to make someone who owns Season 1 to go out and buy this, but I’m sure many fans will enjoy the updated special effects and proof that Judge’s Teal’c has a way better voice now. I would normally think this is a better introduction to the series for newbies, but then again they worked so hard to remove the pilot elements that I have mixed feelings about that.

Ok, I kid and I nitpick. But if a director just has to recut his previous work, then this is the best example to date on how to do that.

Score: 9 out of 10

Marx H. Pyle is an American writer and filmmaker. You can find him on Twitter as MrMarx.

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