If you’ve followed my reviews, you know that I love Stargate. SG-1 or Atlantis; I can’t get enough of them. When the collection of Stargate Infinity discs arrived at my doorstep, I tore into them like a Wraith into a red shirt. Now the Stargate might be an incredible mystery that delights a legion of fans. What is not much of a mystery is why this children’s cartoon version of the franchise only lasted one year. I missed the original broadcast window and having watched these DVD’s I’m glad I did. I found the series to be an insult to Stargate fans. I understand that the show has been dumbed down and is geared toward the very young, but there’s no excuse for the preachy nature of the stories and the lack of respect shown toward the original material. Unfortunately, even the animation is sub par looking like an early 1980’s Saturday morning cartoon.
The cartoon is so derivative that every story told you’ve heard or seen before. The first episode alone begins with a direct rip-off of Star Trek: The Wrath Of Kahn’s Kobiashi Maru simulation. Within a couple of minutes we have a chest burster ala Alien. The characters are absolutely without any, well…character. Maj Bonner leads the new recruits as an off world team. He’s fresh off a Court Martial, of sorts, for leading his previous team into an ambush. In grand Kirk fashion he is found guilty, but in recognition of his heroic service gets to train recruits instead of time in the brig. His group of recruits is a very unlikable group which includes a blobish humanoid named Mr. Eco. Lost anyone? There is almost nothing beyond the gate itself to even tie this series in with the rest of the franchise. None of the show’s villains or ally races are anywhere to be found. There are a few references to The Ancients, but little more. The new bad guys, The Tlacl’Kahn , use weapons from the original material but are rather stupid looking bear-like creatures. No longer an Air Force operation, the Stargate is also no longer a secret. The Stargate Command uniforms are bulky armor pieces that appear to serve no purpose. We learn they can’t withstand a staff discharge. The premise allows that 30 years have passed since the original film, so it appears the series is not even a part of the mythology. They run around shooting laser weapons, and the Stargate itself sounds more like a zat being fired than the swoosh we have all come to identify as the establishing of a wormhole. If you’re a fan of the franchise, this one will be painful.
Each episode of Infinity (I really hate applying the term Stargate to it) is presented in its original full frame broadcast format. The image was sharp, but there was a very jarring component to it. I’m not exactly sure if it was a product of the actual animation or some kind of compression problem. I lean toward the animation, because it did not appear quite like any digital flaws I’ve encountered before. If that’s the case, the quality of the original work doesn’t even measure up to DVD standards. Black levels are fair. Colors are inconsistent. At times there is a fairly good range of color, while other times it all looks a little faded to me. I never saw the original broadcasts, so this is a very difficult judgment to make for me. In any case you won’t find the video presentation at all impressive.
I guess my expectations run toward the high side even in the audio when I watch anything associated with Stargate. Again I was disappointed. Dialog is fine, but that’s all you’re going to get. Even the cheesy theme song sounds, well…cheesy.
To call these features special is a real stretch. There are two Animation Tests that are each less than a minute. Beyond that there are still galleries that are equally unimpressive. And the box art makes this thing sound loaded.
To be fair I must point out that no one from the SG-1/Atlantis team had anything to do with this release. The DVD is a Shout Factory affair, and the last thing I watched from them was an edition of Elvira. If that doesn’t say something… There is a strong likelihood that this show was prohibited from accessing any material from the other shows. Without knowing the specific contractual details, it is hard to judge the show completely, at least fairly. If rights issues did get in the way, then I have to question the attempt to try and create something with those limitations. I can’t believe that the Infinity crew were oblivious to how the show would be received by Stargate fans, knowing that it is more than fair to question their judgment. “Sometimes you have to make a choice and then deal with it.”