What should you watch?
Note that iTunes combines 1×01 and 1×02 into a single episode, so if you’re using iTunes, subtract one from the episode number (e.g. 1×03 is iTunes episode 2).
It takes them a while to settle in to the show, episodes 4-6 are not great. I feel bad for them as actors though, they must have been wondering what they had gotten themselves into filming outdoors in BC, as they must have been freezing for the first episodes (their breath is clearly visible in the early episodes, and even in some later ones).
If you want the super short guide: watch the series premiere Children of the Gods, then watch 1×08 The Nox through season finale 1×22 Within the Serpent’s Grasp, skipping clip show 1×21 Politics.
Also if you’re wondering if SG-1 is all machine guns and energy weapons, I should mention that there are many episodes that are all problem solving, without a single shot fired.
1×01/1×02 Children of the Gods – Key introduction – watch
In Canadian iTunes at least, Children of the Gods shows rather more of Sha’re than one might expect (this was part of the original aired version).
1×03 The Enemy Within – Kawalsky – watch
1×04 Emancipation – terrible – skip
This is generally considered by critics as one of the worst episodes of the series. The Sci-Fi Channel (and possibly the production team) seems to hold it in similar disdain, because it is rarely if ever re-run in syndication. Almost always, when the series is rerunning from the very beginning it simply skips straight from “The Enemy Within” to “The Broca Divide“.
Above info from Stargate Wikia.
1×05 The Broca Divide – all you need to know from this one is they discover the Land of Light – skip
While not as bad as 1×04, they still haven’t hit their stride in 1×05, and it points to an alternative SG-1 that would have been a much less sophisticated show. It’s clear it was difficult to settle on the right tone for the show and its characters. Definitely skip this episode – it’s quite disappointing to see.
1×06 The First Commandment – all you need to know from this one is SG teams can sometimes go awry – it’s watchable, but not necessary – skip
1×07 Cold Lazarus – this is a good episode with a weak and somewhat disturbing ending – if you watch, stop at 38:54 (or immediately after Jack says “no, he’s in here”)
The main group of key episodes begins with 1×08, when the show finally starts to hit its stride in terms of characters and stories.
1×08 The Nox – a key episode – watch
1×09 Brief Candle – this is fluff, but ok – watch
1×10 Thor’s Hammer – a key episode – watch
1×11 The Torment of Tantalus – Catherine Langford – a key episode – watch
1×12 Bloodlines – Master Bra’tac! err and Rya’c and Drey’auc – a key episode – watch
1×13 Fire and Water – a very good episode – watch
1×14 Hathor – a bit hokey and with some plot issues, but a key episode – watch
1×15 Singularity – Cassandra – watch
1×16 Cor-ai – a good episode which raises some key issues about Teal’c which haven’t been previously addressed, marred by a weak ending – watch
1×17 Enigma – a key episode, albeit one with some plot flaws and issues – introduces the Tollan – watch
This episode does a good job of linking together some elements from previous ones (even though there are only a few preceding episodes). It demonstrates that Stargate SG-1 is telling one connected story, not just a bunch of isolated episodes. On the downside, this is the first appearance of Maybourne and the tedious NID plotline.
1×18 Solitudes – this is a very good episode, and also a key episode – watch
The General, Dr. Jackson and Teal’c do seem to arrive at their eventual destination rather more quickly than should be possible though.
1×19 Tin Man – this is a good episode, and Jay Brazeau (Harlan) does a good job of making his character amusing – watch
1×20 There but for the Grace of God – this is a mirror episode and is overall good, although the command decisions that are made seem highly improbable – it provides some key information that sets up the finale – watch
1×21 Politics – clip show, although it takes a long time to get to the clips (15 minutes in) – all you really need to see (at most) is the first 3 minutes, which is a direct sequel to 1×20 (direct as in, a few minutes or at most a few hours later) – introduces Senator Kinsey, who is part of many tedious future storylines – skip
Features some remarkably high levels of confrontation and a final scene extreme in its rancor and improbable appeals to a particular flavour of stereotypical American beliefs. Drama through shouting.
1×22 Within the Serpent’s Grasp – season finale – a key episode and well done – introduces Zat’nik’tel (Zat gun) – watch
Directly followed by conclusion in 2×01 The Serpent’s Lair.
SIDEBAR: If you’ve ever thought “doesn’t O’Neill have a scene where he says ‘Mmm, Goa’uld TV’ when he sees the Goa’uld long-range visual communication sphere?” it’s because there are actually two different versions of the scene. The iTunes one which is the original has him saying “Think it gets Showtime?”. In syndication, they changed it to the Homer Simpson reference. (Information via Wikipedia.) END SIDEBAR
Season 2 episodes examined (although in general you can watch all of them) in followup post: Stargate SG-1 season 2.
NEXT: SG-1 season 2