The UK free-to-air channel Pick TV has just finished its run of Stargate: SG-1 episodes. I haven’t watched every single one (annoyingly, I missed a critical one when a certain cast member was changed, which I also missed when it was aired originally) but I have seen the vast majority.
Anyway, after many months of watching the series it seemed fitting to write a review. I’ll endeavour to keep spoilers to a minimum (incidentally, I haven’t seen the subsequent made-for-TV films that were made with the SG-1 cast).
Stargate: SG-1 followed the original Stargate film. Two characters (played by differing actors in the shift to TV) were retained, namely Colonel Jack O’Neill and Dr. Daniel Jackson, an archaeologist. Dr. Jackson’s character is relevant to a sci-fi show because a race of alien parasites known as Goa’uld pretend to be gods, and (although they use advanced, and often stolen, technology) take on roles from various mythologies. As a result, the lore of the past is relevant to the current state of play in the galaxy.
In addition to O’Neill and Dr. Jackson, the main team (SG-1) consists of Captain Samantha Carter, an airforce pilot/scientist and Teal’c, a laconic alien. The two other regulars for most of the show were General Hammond, their commander, and Dr. Janet Fraiser, the head of the medical staff.
Generally, I loathe the term ‘for all the family’. It tends to be used about children’s shows to try and make them sound less ‘kiddy’. But SG-1 actually is something anyone can watch and be entertained by. I was watching it (when first broadcast) whilst at school, and at that time a relative (with whom I suspect my viewing habits do not frequently coincide) also watched it. I’ve been watching it for months now, and thoroughly enjoyed it.
So, what’s good about it?
Humour. Whilst in sci-fi a certain suspension of disbelief is necessary, the general lack of humour (or good humour) in certain shows grates a bit. It isn’t overplayed in SG-1, and is both entertaining and well-delivered. One of the last episodes ended thus:
Great characters. There isn’t a weak link in the initial cast, and there’s a great group dynamic. Later on Ben Browder and Claudia Black both join, which I found a bit surreal because I’ve also watched most of Farscape (in which they both also star, making later SG-1 feel a bit like I’ve fallen into a parallel universe).
Good lore/backstory. The ancient myths referred to (mostly Egypt, initially) are perfect because they’re familiar enough not to need extensive explanation/info-dumping but unusual enough that they’re not hackneyed and have room for some interesting revelations.
It’s an odd feeling not having SG-1 to watch anymore. The closest comparison I can think of is when I finally finished Outlaws of theMarsh, which is a bloody enormous Chinese classic of over 2,000 pages. When I reached the end it seemed strange not to spend an hour or two a day with Song Jiang and Li Kui anymore.