Stargate Infinity: The Complete Series (Shout! Factory, G)

dvd_stargate.jpgThe general level of quality is about one step above the Happy Little Elves videos that show up in The Simpsons from time to time.







In the beginning there was Stargate, a 1994 film starring Kurt Russell and James Spader which got mixed reviews, won a few awards and (most importantly) grossed almost four times the original budget. There’s no arguing with that kind of success, so developers were quick to expand Stargate into a franchise which now includes two live-action television series (Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis), three series of novels, several comic books, various games and even an amusement park ride.

It also includes the red-headed stepchild of a children’s animated series Stargate Infinity, which ran for one season (26 episodes) on Fox and is now available as a four-DVD box set from Shout! Factory. Stargate Infinity sort of a spin-off from Stargate SG-1, but it’s not considered canonical by many involved with the franchise.

Apart from issues of character and plot integration, the truth is that Stargate Infinity is a very poor excuse for an animated series: The general level of quality is about one step above the Happy Little Elves videos that show up in The Simpsons from time to time. Well, no one is brilliant all the time, and if a popular series is allowed to spawn too many imitations too quickly, with nobody exerting much in the way of quality control, one of them is bound to end up with the cinematic equivalent of eight fingers and two noses (and let the record show that I refrained from making any remarks about playing the banjo).

The setup in Stargate Infinity is that everyone knows about the Stargate by now, so not only can humans use it to travel to distant worlds, but aliens can and have used it to travel to earth. A hostile race called the Tlak-kahn is among the latter, and they’ve framed Major Gus Bonner of the Stargate Command (SGC), so he and four hardy young cadets must travel around the galaxy trying to clear his name.

The recruits seemed to have been created for the purpose of hitting as many niche markets as possible within four characters. So you have Harrison the loudmouthed and conventionally handsome young man, Seattle the empathic Native American woman, Stacy the punk-rock chick, and Echo the green alien. The episodes have them traveling to distant planets and encountering various cultures, which have important lessons to teach them: Greed is bad, brave and foolish are not the same thing, and you never know when a sound knowledge of world history will come in handy.

The art is beyond awful: crude, lacking in detail, and with movement so primitive that it would get an "F" if it were a freshman-year project. The voices sound like they’ve been dubbed from another language. And there’s nothing interesting about the visual design, because it’s entirely derivative and even the static compositions frequently poor.

The main markets for Stargate Infinity would seem to be young children who will not be put off by the simplistic stories and obvious moralizing (and the messages are good; it’s just the delivery which is off-putting), and completists who want to see absolutely everything related to the Stargate concept. But the kids deserve better, while I leave the completists to determine their own fate. The box set includes three extras: animated models of two of the characters walking, an "Animated Stargate Effects Test" (the purpose of which remains a mystery to me), and a series of stills of the characters in various poses. | Sarah Boslaugh

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