UPDATED October 28, 2017
Stargate Origins is the fourth live-action series set in the fictional Stargate universe, and the first mid-form digital series to bear the Stargate name. It was announced by MGM (the studio that owns the rights to the franchise) at a special panel event at San Diego Comic-Con on July 20, 2017. (Watch highlights from the panel.)
Principal photography began on October 14, 2017, with a 21-day shoot.
Unlike its predecessors Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, and Stargate Universe, Origins will not air on broadcast or cable television. It will be available on demand exclusively at MGM’s new digital streaming service, Stargate Command.
Here’s a primer with everything we know about Stargate Origins so far!
The Premise of Stargate Origins
The first season of Stargate Origins tells a previously unknown story from the life of young Catherine Langford, who late in her life would recruit Daniel Jackson into the fledgling Stargate research program. “Young Catherine embarks on an unexpected adventure to unlock the mystery of what lies beyond the Stargate in order to save Earth from unimaginable darkness,” the studio says.
The story appears to be set near or during World War II — the late 1930s or early 1940s — when Catherine is a young woman assisting her father in his work with the gate.
We’ve seen snapshots from Catherine’s history, from childhood in the film to her scientific insight in 1945 (“The Torment of Tantalus”), from being kept away from the Stargate in the 1960s (“1969”) to her reunion with Ernest Littlefield after five decades apart.
But there’s a lot of Catherine’s story we do not know. What did she actually do for a living? Was she involved in shipping the gate across the ocean on board the Achilles at the outbreak of World War II (Stargate: Continuum)? Did she ever marry? What brought Daniel to her attention?
Writers and Director
The Cast & Production
Casting was underway by August of 2017. MGM announced the project’s cast on October 11, with 21-year-old Australian actress Ellie Gall playing Catherine. Recurring Stargate Atlantis guest star Connor Trinneer (“Michael”) will play her father, Professor Langford. Filming began on October 14.The supporting cast includes Salome Azizi (Ray Donovan), Philip Alexander, Michelle Jubilee Gonzalez (Jane the Virgin), Daniel Rashid (Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders), Sarah Navratil (Pretty Little Liars), Shvan Aladdin (#TheAssignment), Tonatiuh Elizarraraz (Jane the Virgin), Derek Chariton (The American West), Justin Michael Terry (Wait Crimes), and Lincoln Werner Hoppe (Touched by an Angel). Additional information about each of their roles is still forthcoming.
Entertainment studio New Form Digital is producing the series along with MGM’s own recently formed Digital Group. MGM is saying that the show will debut around December of 2017 or January 2018.
Though none of the original show creators are involved, Origins will respect 17 seasons of established Stargate canon. This is a significant reversal from what we were going to get: a rebooted film franchise from original Stargate movie-makers Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, which was going to set aside the three television series.
Because SGO is set decades before Stargate SG-1, the writers might have an easier time fitting their story into the existing mythology. One outstanding question: Will Catherine see the Stargate activate? Will she herself actually go through the gate? And if so why doesn’t she tell anyone (or perhaps remember) later in her life?
A ‘Mid-Form’ Series
SGO has been announced as what’s called, in the entertainment biz, a “mid-form” series. It’s not a standard long-form television show, where episodes run between 42 and 60 minutes. And it’s not technically a short-form project, which is often the label given to Internet series with “webisodes” lasting 3 to 5 minutes each.
Origins will be comprised of 10 episodes each running about 10 minutes in length. All together that’s about the length of a TV movie.
Where To Watch Stargate Origins
Stargate Origins will be available for streaming on demand at Stargate Command, MGM’s new device-neutral digital platform. It’s not merely a Web site (though it will live online at StargateCommand.co), but a platform you can access with any device to watch Origins or any of the franchise’s more than 350 episodes and movies.
Stargate Command will also feature new content and goodies from MGM’s 20-year archives, from featurettes previously released on DVD to new and never-before-seen material from SG-1, Atlantis, and SGU. Subscribers will also get access to the Origins writer’s room, with insights on the new show during production. And free content will include news, articles, an online community, and interactive games, polls, etc. So there’s lot more here than the new show.
How Much Does It Cost?
Visitors worldwide will be able to preview the first two installments (roughly 20 percent of the story) for free. “All-Access” subscribers will have first access to the whole show, though it’s not yet known if all 10 episodes will drop at once (Netflix style) or if they will be doled out gradually (as on CBS’s All Access service).
A subscription to Stargate Command All-Access is currently $20 USD. MGM does say that access to some unspecified “premium content” will expire May 15, 2018, though it is uncertain whether that includes Origins itself. All-Access will also offer digital streaming for all three previous Stargate shows and all three movies.
Outside the United States
Pre-launch sign-ups for Stargate Command were limited to U.S. residents; after the service’s September 20 launch fans were able to subscribe to All-Access also in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand — specifically using the mobile app available in the local app stores.
Fans in other countries can access the free portions of the service (including the first two episodes of Stargate Origins when it arrives), but for the time being will not have access to the rest of the show.
The initial teaser video cuts together footage of Catherine as a young girl from the opening scene of Stargate the movie, asking fans: What if you didn’t know the whole story? It was released at Comic-Con on July 20, 2017, before casting was complete and any filming had commenced. (We expect a full trailer of some kind later this year.)
The teaser has been watched more than 1 million times worldwide. Take a look:
Two weeks after filming began MGM released a first-look teaser, with more than two minutes of behind-the-scenes footage from the set:
Will There Be More?
Of course it depends on the relative success of the show whether or not MGM will move ahead with a second season of Stargate Origins — and what form that could take. At this early stage it seems that the sky is the limit, from a second season in the same short format to a full, long-form series. Because the show is not on broadcast anywhere the measurement is likely in site traffic to Stargate Command, in paid subscriptions to the Stargate Command platform, and of course in how much the episodes are streamed.
Could Stargate Origins Become An Anthology Series?
It does seem to be the case that Catherine’s story — at least at this period of her life — will make for a self-contained first season of the show. A second season under the Stargate Origins banner could be about something else entirely, set anywhere in the Stargate universe and at any point in time. A season-long story about the Alterans? Or the Lanteans? The Goa’uld System Lords? How about a Bra’tac-centric story?
The format of Origins makes for a whole lot of flexibility for telling Stargate stories. The fact that it is on MGM’s own digital platform means that the show isn’t beholden to a network, doesn’t have to fit the 1-hour time block of broadcast TV, and so needn’t be as expensive to produce. Catherine’s story could be just the beginning of an ongoing anthology of Stargate tales.
The best thing to do is to subscribe and to make sure MGM knows what you want to see in Stargate’s future.