This month marks 25 years since viewers were introduced to Stargate.
The original movie in 1994 brought us on a journey with the (then) Colonel Jack “O’Neil” and Dr. Daniel Jackson as they stepped through an alien portal and found themselves transported across the cosmos and into the unknown.
Despite the film receiving a mixed reception at the time, MGM obtained the rights to the franchise and in 1997 we were given Stargate SG-1. Since then there have been a number of spin-offs, including the short-lived Infinity animated series, and the more successful Stargate Atlantis and Universe productions. While Universe was the last to air on television, 2018 sparked some excitement for fans with a brand new, 10-episode Web series, Stargate Origins.
Looking back, the franchise has enjoyed an impressive run — with fans still wishing and asking for Stargate to return on a regular basis. But it also doesn’t feel like Stargate has already had a 25-year history. I mean, seriously, where has the time gone?
People often say time is relative, and I guess it’s true. Recently, I celebrated a birthday milestone of my own and — even though I don’t mind turning another year older — there was one particular card I received that made me pause. The card highlighted the year I was born, plus a selection of important events and moments that occurred within those twelve months. For example, the World Wide Web was invented. The Berlin Wall came down. Archaeologists unearthed a 4,400-year-old mummy at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Cheops. Nintendo’s Game Boy made its grand entrance.
And, the very first episode of The Simpsons aired on our screens. Jack O’Neill (two Ls) would be proud!
It was that final snippet of information — once I stopped chuckling at the memory of Jack’s “Burns as Goa’uld” analogy in “Lost City” — that I realized Stargate has played a key role in my life for the past two decades.
I’d have argued it was maybe ten years at the most, but when I thought about it, Stargate was the show I grew up with. Every afternoon when I came home from school and before any homework was completed, I watched Stargate SG-1. I followed the characters and their adventures religiously. I remembered the first time I saw the wormhole spring to life, or how my laughter filled the room as I watched Jack and Teal’c’s antics during the infamous time loops in “Window of Opportunity.” And I recalled the night when, through my tears, I witnessed the events of “Heroes” unfold into two hours of the show’s finest (and most heart-breaking) storytelling.
Now, I’m a great one for reminiscing, and those memories gave me a yearning to go back and start watching the show again. As luck would have it, later that evening as I settled down with a slice of birthday cake, I flicked through the television channels and stopped when I saw Stargate SG-1 on the program guide. It was, in all honesty, the first episode I had watched in years. But within minutes I remembered just how much I loved this show.
The characters, the storylines, the moments of humor amidst the tension. It made for great viewing — and left me wanting more. So I unearthed my DVD collection, which had been stored away with the rest of the vast and varied Stargate-related items I’d managed to amass over the years.
I have now started to pick out random episodes to watch on my free evenings. And I’m honestly surprised at how much I am rediscovering about the show … and this is from somebody who used to pride themselves on their knowledge of SG-1 (especially when it came to Seasons One through Eight). Honestly, if you had a question about an episode, it was a certainty that I knew the answer! But all this knowledge faded into insignificance as I really started my rewatch.
BACK TO THE BEGINNING
Yes, I remembered the different episodes and a few quotes here and there … not to mention those key moments that are forever ingrained on a fan’s mind. But I’m not sure if it’s because I am older since I first discovered the show, but the notion I had in my head — that the series was mainly eight years of the fight between good and evil, Earth versus the Goa’uld — barely scratches the surface of what is there on the screen.
For example, early in Season One we see Sam and Daniel (and quite possibly O’Neill too) clash in “The Broca Divide,” over whether or not to intervene and stop what Daniel refers to as a “pre-historic” mating ritual. In today’s society it would be considered rape, and I was surprised to see just how divided the newly-put together team was over this issue.
Then, in Season Three came “Learning Curve.” This episode introduced the idea of individuals — in this instance children — being ‘sacrificed’ for the greater good of their society. Again, we see Jack strongly make his feelings on the matter known, while others — such as Daniel — take a different stance.
Another excellent example of these ethical dilemmas is in “The Other Side.” Earth’s willingness to support one size of a civilization at war, followed by Jack’s decision to let their racist leader Alar splash against the iris, leaves viewers pondering a series of moral issues. The episode also leaves us wondering about the potential fallout that Jack and Daniel’s respective positions will have on their friendship, and on SG-1.
My rediscovery hasn’t been all negative, though (there’s actually more positives to be found!). So far one of my all-time favorite scenes is in “A Matter Of Time,” when O’Neill asks Carter to explain, once more, what exactly a “wormhole” is. He soon gets lost in her answer, but it’s his reaction that makes me smile. He is genuinely trying to understand the science behind what it is they do, and it’s a nice exchange between the two teammates — especially as Jack had given the Captain such a hard time about her scientific insight during their first meeting in “Children Of The Gods.”
AN ENDURING LEGACY
Like I said: I know these episodes. I’ve watched them dozens and dozens of times over the years. But it is only now that I can see the bigger, fuller picture of SG-1 and its legacy.
Yes, it’s a show that provides some light relief in a busy, crazy world. But I also appreciate its ability to be serious. There are real, hard-hitting messages that the writers have seamlessly interwoven into the episodes to challenge us and to make us think.
There are storylines that unfold in such a way that highlight the difficulty that S.G. teams often faced of knowing the right thing to do, versus doing the right thing.
There are those moments that give us an insight into the characters — both positive and negative — and it’s refreshing to see that they are not perfect (as much as we might like them to be). Their flaws are also presented to us as an audience and it makes them, and the show, more relatable as a result.
What has become clear is that SG-1‘s best qualities have not faded over the years. For me, Stargate is a perfect example of a franchise that has been able to stand the test of time. And I’m looking forward to delving back in from the beginning and seeing just what it’s like to rediscover the franchise — 20 years later.
All this month GateWorld is celebrating 25 years of Stargate! In the days ahead we’ll explore the franchise’s characters, themes, and the family that is Stargate fandom. Post your memories below or use the hashtag #Stargate25 on social media.