Years ago, a movie came out that established a modern sci-fi mythology. Stargate was the first movie to have its own website promoting it. It told the story of an ancient artifact found by archeologists before World War II, that secretly was the Stargate, or as mistranslated, the “gateway to heaven.” After a brilliant young Egyptologist named Daniel Jackson figured out how to work it, Jack O’Neill, an Air Force colonel on the verge of a breakdown led an expedition through the gate. The heroes found a world similar to our own before eventually having to kill Ra (yes, that Ra) and finding their way home. And that was the end of a decent science fiction movie. But what came later, was even greater.
Sg-1 was the sequel. It wasn’t what was planned by the writer/director of the movie, but caught MGM’s attention and was debuted on Showtime. It ran for five seasons before swapping to the new network, called Sci-Fi. The show is still brilliant today. I recently began watching it and have to say there is nothing like it on television today, and that includes Stargate Universe, its second sequel on Sci-Fi. So what was it that made it so good?
For one thing, the show featured wonderful performances by the casts. Richard Dean Anderson, formerly known as McGuyver, transformed the role of Jack O’Neill. At first, you could still see the pain he felt which was a major focus during the movie. Soon, however, the character began to move on, and that is when the genius of Anderson shined through. He was able to play “sad O’Neill,” but was laugh out loud funny, when the situation was called for. The second lead was Micheal Shanks. He took the role of the young Egyptologist Daniel. He too had many roles to play. In several episodes, his mind was taken over by aliens, requiring him to play multiple roles in the same episode. One of the best was from the seventh season. In that one episode, he had five distinct personalities he had to showcase, and each was portrayed convincingly. Dan Davis, sadly lost last year, portrayed the general of the base. Amanda Tapping and Christopher Judge also do a wonderful job with their roles. Judge was especially funny in his role as the alien Teal’C.
Another thing that made the show stand out was how it dealt with important social issues. For example, several episodes dealt with adoption, when a young alien was found alone on her planet. The show also was the sounding board for whether or not the military should be willing to cross lines such as genocide or poison gas weapons. One of my favorite episodes was about an alien culture that “harvested” information from children’s brains, and although this was a barbaric practice, it was the way the culture learned new information. And although the ending did not end the way I had hoped, it discussed the value of doing your duty even when others may not appreciate your decisions.
My main reason I enjoyed the show though was the way they merged classical mythology, modern day life, and science fiction. Instead of just a random show about aliens, the aliens were the “gods” of ancient cultures. I learned more about Egyptian mythology from watching this show than I ever did due to school (Note: to those who do not know, yes, they get a lot of the myth “wrong”). The science fiction made sense, and you get the chance to see them slowly develop new technologies based on the contact with alien life. It actually takes them several seasons before they get a single ship that can take the fight to the evil aliens. And yes, the good guys use machine guns to gun down the bad guys.
To me, SG-1 is the best show of all time. There are many reasons I didn’t even go into. The characters are noble and willing to sacrifice for the greater good. There is a logical progression to the story. Characters lived and died. If you ever get the chance to watch the show, give it a chance. It’s ten of the best seasons of TV ever produced.