On this date in 1997, the TV show Stargate SG-1 premiered. To this day, 25 years later, that still elicits “wait, like that 90s film Stargate?”
The series soldiered on through 10 seasons and a couple wrap-up movies. Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe followed, and a legion of fans are still very much around for this lesser known, but very much beloved “star” franchise.
Over at Inverse, Ryan Britt details some of the ways that Stargate SG-1 became an unprecedentedly successful reboot of sorts. He does slight the original ’94 movie a bit sharper than I would (my dad and I saw it in the theater and found it to be a perfectly adequate “Doctor Who story with a budget”). However, I can’t deny that the TV series far eclipsed the film, doing worldbuilding far beyond anything that one could possibly imagine for a feature nor would expect when confined to filming locations in British Columbia.
I caught the first season when it first aired, but then only saw episodes intermittently, only really sitting down to watch the whole series (and then Atlantis and then Universe) after they were all off the air. If you’re a fan of military sci-fi, the early episodes are easy to jump into, with its Star Trek-meets-G.I. Joe styling. What really gets fun, however, is as the seasons progress, and the upstart humans of Earth really start to improve their technology as the bad guys begin to realize they’re more than a nuisance.
And besides the honest-to-goodness arms race that goes on over the seasons, there are the characters you really come to enjoy along with some absolute standout episodes like “Window of Opportunity” and the two-part “Heroes.” Indeed, I’ve thought of what sort of playlist I could concoct to get introduce people to Stargate, get them to “Window of Opportunity,” and hopefully get them hooked on watching the whole series.
If I sound enthusiastic for the show, I’m not alone. Eleanor Tremeer has a great piece in Gizmodo noting the achievements Stargate and providing a lot of fun history behind the production, the people, and how they all evolved — and her interviews really illustrate what made the show work so well — and why it has fans even though it’s been off the air for over a decade. (Fans do not seem to want to acknowledge Stargate Origins, a web miniseries from 2018. I have yet to seek it out.) She also hints at the beginning and then at the end of the future of Stargate, something I’ve seen buzzing ever since Amazon bought MGM, the Stargate rights holder.
Naturally some people are very passionate about what Amazon should do. Adam Barnard has a plea to uphold the legacy and continuity over on GateWorld — and I can’t say I disagree. General Carter would be wonderful to see. Stargate Universe ended in such a way that one or more of the characters could appear at any time in the future. There’s a rich backstory they built so that any sort of Stargate: The Next Generation doesn’t need to ignore all that has gone before. As Jack O’Neill would say, “We’ve been in worse situations than this.” Lock that chevron. Lock it, I say!