“Stargate” was always meant to be a TV show. The movie wasn’t terrible – it set up the mythology and introduced us to potentially interesting characters, but it lacked personality and charm, and its characters were left lacking real emotional depth. The stargate itself was obviously the perfect tool to create distinct and creative stories on an episodic basis. Teams of humans could travel virtually anywhere in the galaxy, meaning that writers could never run out of stories to conger up. Each episode could be on a different planet, and no planet must look the same. “Stargate” confirms that space is the ultimate storytelling medium.
While other kids in elementary school were still watching “Sesame Street” (bleh) and “SpongeBob,” I was watching “Stargate.” I think it was fourth grade that my parents introduced me to the show. I immediately became obsessed with it – the mythology, the characters, everything. I started reading up on the military, Ancient Egypt, and Ancient Greece – as you can tell, “Stargate” was actually far more intellectually stimulating to me than the other “educational” kid shows. I created a secret language using gate symbols. I wrote the names of my elementary school crushes in them on a piece of paper (ugh, I can’t believe I’m admitting this) and locked it in a safe. Just recently I came across that paper and had to consult my Ultimate Visual Guide in determining what the hell was written on it. I was embarrassed just reading it alone and immediately tossed it.
But that’s not all.
I dressed up as a member of SG-1 for two Halloweens. I printed off the badge icons on paper and glued them to a cheap long-sleeved black shirt. I bought olive green pants, put on black boots, and went out trick-or-treating. Needless to say, no one knew who I was.
At home, I put together a P-90 made of a combination of toilet paper and paper towel rolls. I had some contraption with little beads in it that I taped to the top of my scrappy “gun” that synthesized a full round of bullets. Yes, I made the “pew” sounds when firing. I set up a hula hoop in our rock pile in the backyard, and would proceed to run across the grass, the rocks, and jump through the hula hoop, all the while crying out dialogue from the show during the most intense moments. Sometimes I’d say “damnit” or “hell,” and my dad would run out and tell me to immediately stop that. “Just because Colonel O’Neill says it, doesn’t mean you can,” he’d tell me. That reminds me, I learned how to spell colonel from my Ultimate Visual Guide…
There are more embarrassing stories I could tell, but the point I think has been made. Putting aside all the feelings of nostalgia I get anytime I watch an episode of the show, “Stargate SG-1” is one of the greatest and most successful science fiction shows of all time. Even as a sci-fi show, its brilliance and charm could rival that of any drama, fantasy, or action show to this day. 10 seasons, two movies, and two spinoffs showcase just how successful the franchise was. Its fanbase remains active and loyal, and is second only to that of “Star Trek.” I hate saying that “Stargate” was the next “Star Trek” at the time of its release, but it really was. It was the next big thing in the realm of science fiction.
The show starred Richard Dean Anderson (aka MacGyver) and first aired on Showtime in the summer of 1997. RDA brought to the show exactly what the movie was missing – charm and personality. The additions of Amanda Tapping as the brilliant and beautiful Samantha Carter, Christopher Judge as the stoic and imposing Teal’c, and Don Davis as the steadfast and loveable General Hammond set up a rich, diverse cast that would grow into what felt like a family over the course of a decade. And of course, there was Michael Shanks as Dr. Daniel Jackson – the archaeologist who was the laughing stock of the entire community for his “absurd” theories that the pyramids were used as landing platforms for alien spaceships. Shanks initially channeled his predecessor (James Spader) so closely that they were almost indistinguishable. In Season 3 though, he began to finally show his own take on the character.
What really made “Stargate” a fun and enjoyable experience was the team chemistry. “SG-1,” as they were known, featured Col. O’Neill, Capt. Carter, Dr. Jackson, and Teal’c – all of whom brought something unique to the show and each of which had identifiable characteristics. I greatly admired Jack O’Neill. His mantra of “never leave a man behind” was inspiring. His dry, irreverent humor cracked me up daily. He was a resolute man with courage and integrity.
Over the course of 10 seasons, countless villains (Goa’uld) were killed off, and new, more powerful villains rose up. Cast members left and were surprisingly well-replaced, even if just temporarily. The regular guest stars always brought enticing elements to the show. The writing was ingenious. Story lines examined life forms and life styles, anchored by mythological, philosophical, and political underpinnings that weren’t entirely fictional in nature. Some episodes took place exclusively on earth, while most incorporated a mix of domestic and interstellar scenery. There were always multiple plot threads going through each season, some spanning multiple seasons. The stakes were always high. The tone of the show was originally adult and experimental, but quickly morphed into more family-friendly. It’s a show that is suitable for anyone.
I can’t touch on everything in this review, and if I did, then why would you watch the show? There’s no denying that “Stargate” holds a special place in my heart and brings back childhood memories – but even as a mature adult, I can still say that “Stargate SG-1” is an incredible time that incorporates myth, passion, action, and humor in the most compelling way possible.