The stone Stargate ring is one of the more iconic science fiction images of the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 1994 Roland Emmerich and Kurt Russel released a film called Stargate. It had Russell playing Jack O’Neill and leading his team through wormhole – secured by the ring – to the desert planet of Abydos. The film ended with the villain – Sun God Ra being destroyed and the gate buried. The implication of the film was that the gate only went to one place but the follow up TV show Stargate SG1 jumps forward in time and turns this on it’s head making the gate a tiny part of a galaxy (and later multi-galaxy) wide system. Dial the right gate and you can get anywhere instantly. Unfortunately that galaxy isn’t filled with friends and when Ra was defeated it was like kicking an anthill.
I’ve spent the last half hour typing and re-typing ways to describe SG1 and I’ve really not managed it well. The core show ran for over 200 episodes and if you include the spin off TV and movies over double that. At its core the show follows the four person team of SG1 as they explore the galaxy, get themselves and Earth in over our heads and have to recover. The show focuses on the team for the first few seasons but slowly expands out to show Earth developing and becoming more relevant and powerful on the galactic stage. This mix of the small scale personal and galaxy spanning overall arc is unique and partially because of the wormhole mechanic and partially because of the actors involved works wonderfully.
Lets talk about the actors and actresses. SG1 took the unusual step of recasting the characters in the movie and replacing Kurt Russel’s O’Neill with Richard Dean Anderson and replacing James Spader’s Jackson with Michael Shanks and adding Amanda Tapping as Carter and Christopher Judge as Teal’c. All four turned out to be perfect choices and despite the fact that they re-interpreted the characters hugely from the film managed to end up with a perfect combination.
Price: ± From £10 per season (SD)
About Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner
Wright and Glassner were the two producers that took the original 1994 Stargate film and turned it around from a single freestanding product that was a niche hit to something that was flexible enough to spawn a 10 season show with multiple spin-off shows and movies. Wright cut his teeth on the Outer Limits and Glassner started in Jump Street and CSI Miami and CSI NY.
SG1 is available for around £10 for the first season rising to £15 in the later seasons but the first two episodes – Children of the Gods is available from Amazon for free. Each season is 22 episodes of 45 minutes each. There were also two direct SG1 made for TV movies and three separate spin off TV shows – Stargate Atlantis, Stargate Infinity and Stargate Universe.
Stargate SG1 is one of those shows that had it all. In it’s 10 season run it had great acting and character development, space opera and an expansive universe, quotable quotes and “big honkin’ space guns”. It turned out to be much more successful than the movie it followed up and if you’ve never dug into the universe it’s well worth the investment of time for any sci-fi fan.