Mon
Mar 14 2011 5:30pm

Four Reasons to Love Stargate SG-1

My name is Amy, and I love Stargate SG-1. There, I said it. I’m not positive why, but when SG-1 comes up in conversation I hear myself listing qualifiers. It's not in a “come to my fandom” way either, it’s like I’m making excuses. It’s time to stop that nonsense. SG-1 is an entertaining show, and I am a proud owner of all ten seasons and the movies.

As with most things, I came late to the party. Though I enjoyed the movie, I didn’t think the story could extend into a television show; I was wrong. I started watching just before the seventh season aired. I don’t think I’ve ever watched six seasons of a television show so fast.

The series took a different tone than the film. It didn’t take itself as seriously and that worked out. The changes in character and cast made the show stand on its own. When I think of Stargate now, it’s SG-1 and Richard Dean Anderson that come to mind first. Other people probably agree. In an era when networks have twitchy trigger fingers in regards to science fiction series, SG-1 lasted ten seasons. Fans came back week after week for years; it’s just the type of show that inspires loyalty. What could a show have that is so good? Four things come to mind.

Comedy

Few people can deliver a one-liner like Jack O’Neill (two L’s). He was in charge and serious when he had to be, but he had a knack for lightening the mood. Comedy is worked into most episodes, but some, like “Window of Opportunity,” are meant to be hilarious. The writers were not afraid to embrace the silly or campy, and it played well. Don’t draw the wrong conclusion—there is drama. The main arcs cover serious topics and the show can be downright bleak at times. They still fit laughter in between those things, and it doesn’t feel forced or faked.

Bad Guys

The villains in the SG-1 universe were numerous and varied. Goa’uld parasites were a constant threat to the galaxy. They were the resilient bad guys who liked to sell themselves as exotic gods to hapless people. One of them always survived. From them you go to the Replicators, little bug-like hunks of metal that self-replicate and can devour a spaceship in the span of a few minutes. Then the Ori came along with their fanatic followers and fancy tricks. Several minor baddies made appearances in between. Earth was in peril a lot, and you actually believed (more than once) that it was going to be destroyed.

Characters

Teal’c was enough reason to tune in, but most of the characters had something to offer. O’Neill had a troubled past and nothing motivating him to keep moving forward. Over the years, Dr. Jackson went from an awkward, timid archaeologist to a confident and valuable member of the team. You could relate to the characters and therefore you got attached to them. You wanted to come back and see what adventure they would go on next. For me, it never got old.

Reality/Fiction Balance

The show is called Stargate. It’s obviously fictional. The aspects that had ties to reality were well done though, and those details helped forge a stronger connection with the audience. The creative team took the extra time to work closely with military advisors so that everything related to the Stargate program’s base, uniforms, and ranks mirrored real life. Then, in the opposite direction, we have the mythology the writers created. It was based on real legends like Atlantis and then spun and twisted into something fresh. The show was familiar, but still new and exciting and getting that combination right isn’t easy.

The combination of these big factors plus countless tiny things made the show entertaining and dear. I’ll never make excuses for my love of SG-1 again.


Amy Ratcliffe is a fan of most things sci-fi and fantasy.  When she’s not writing, she’s either dressing up as Han Solo, reading comics, playing D&D, or attending conventions.  It usually happens in that order.  Visit her blog Geek with Curves for rambling on all those topics.

24 comments
E M
1. herewiss13
I think what I liked about it wasn't so much a narrative arc, but a strategic arc. The characters had a mission, and not some vague mission like "to boldly go where no man had gone before." They're defending the earth, seeking intel, allies, tech and other bases...and as the series continues, they make progress with these goals. It's not like all the episodes are strung together...you can miss one or two (or five) and still know what's going on, but the show itself is not static...and I find that impressive.
CRAusmus
2. CRAusmus
Thanks for posting.

I'm going to have to start watching again with Children of the Gods, and moving completely through seasons 1-10. Like you I was a huge fan. I got started in season 3 though so I was very sad to see it go and then when they canceled Atlantis the following year, I was begining to realize the franchise was coming to a close. All of that has me much less vested in Universe, but it remains one of the highlights of my week. At least I can always go back and watch the stories as they progressed anytime I want. From SG-1 to Atlantis, to Universe. Stargate was an amazing show when you look at the whole world the writers created.
Zayne Forehand
3. ShiningArmor
I loved certain aspects of SG-1, Daniel, the more subtle humor, the team dynamics, and the space battles. O'Neill was actually one of my least favorite parts of that show. I actually enjoyed the show more in the later (Fargate) seasons with Ben Browder and Claudia Black. My love for Arthurian legends may have something to do with that too.

While I don't think SG-1 was bad by any stretch, I think Atlantis and especially SGU outstripped it in character development. To me, Jack O'Neill was the exact same person for 9 seasons. My favorite character in the show, Daniel, was the person who I think grew the most and he kept me coming back on a weekly basis. Even his replacement, Jonas, outshone the others in terms of character development during his too-short stint on the show.

While I know a ton of people loathe the new storytelling of SGU, I've found it incredibly refreshing and I'm deeply sad about its cancellation.

I think SG-1 was a fantastic sci-fi/adventure series but for my personal tastes, I'll take the developing arcs of SGU any day.
CRAusmus
4. politeruin
Enjoyable hokum sure but if the superior farscape was cancelled just to churn out more of this then that is unforgivable!

One thing that always seemed to niggle at me; the film was released in 94 yet the event horizon cgi always looked better than in the series. What's that all about? If you watch the film that bit still looks amazing.
Fake Name
5. ThePendragon
It's funny you should mention this now of all times. Lat night I just finished my re-watch of the series. All the characters were great, but I think Jack and Daniel were my favorites by far. The interactions between those two were just amazing. Even in the later seasons, I really enjoyed Cam and Vala, and that lead me into a love of Farscape as well. Also, Jonas Quinn. He was only there for a single season, but I wish they had done more with him in later seasons, like given him a role on Atlantis.

I think one of the best things about the comedy was how genre-aware it was. Most of the characters were, for that matter. It was funny, insightful, dramatic and a truly memorable series. Probably my favorite TV Series ever.

I'm going to to rewatch the two movies in the coming weeks and am really looking forward to it. It was really a great show and I hope we get the third planned movie.
John Skotnik
6. ShooneSprings
Window of Opportunity is my favorite episode, followed by the Series Finale, Unending.
I was upset when Jack left, but I'm hopeful that his appearance in the the next (and probably final) SG-1 movie (Revolution) will bring back the Jack of old. Sadly, with all the prop auctions for Stargate merchandise, it seems less and less likely that we will see another Stargate movie (be it one for Atlantis or SG-1).
Liza .
7. aedifica
Here I thought your four reasons were going to be Sam, Jack, Teal'c, and Daniel. :-) I'm watching my way through for the first time, I'm up to the middle of season 6 now. I got hooked on it by SG-1 fanfic, actually--I loved the fanfic I was reading, wanted more of the characters, and so I turned to the show to fill the lack. *grin*
CRAusmus
8. Sandra Sookoo
I agree. I also came late to SG-1. Currenly I'm working my way through season 7. Every one of the characters works and if you'd removed one, it would fall apart. I like how each different character reacts to the conflict just like his/her character was drawn originally and they never waver. It's great writing. Would I like to write fanfic sometime? Yeah, but I'm a little busy with my own writing career. lol SG-1 is what got me hooked on writing sci-fi. Good stuff!
john mullen
9. johntheirishmongol
I enjoyed SG-1, especially the first few seasons. I thought it got stretched the last couple of seasons, though I liked the characters added, the plots got a little redundant. I thought the Ori were pretty lame.

I did enjoy the first couple of seasons of Atlantis til I thought they jumped the shark, and couldnt get into it again.

Universe is frankly boring. I watched it but it has no humor and no direction and I feel like I have watched this before but better (with Voyager) and thats why I think its being cancelled...no ratings.
Erick Chase
10. TheMarchChase
A fun show that I was sad to see end. Farscape was better, though.
CRAusmus
11. Angela Parson Myers
Fell in love with Richard Dean Anderson as MacGyver (yes, I am THAT old) and still think he's hot. Loved Stargate, though I agree Farscape (and Firefly) were better shows when you view them as literature. They jumped immediately into strange universes, tho, and Mr. and Ms. Average Viewer have trouble with that. (I don't, but I've been reading science fiction since I was about 10 years old.) Stargate started and frequently returned to "home" so we could regain our balance. Maybe that's why it had so much staying power. Have enjoyed all subsequent iterations, tho not as much as SG1.
CRAusmus
12. mirana
I got married in December and walked down the aisle to the SG-1 theme, so that's how much the show meant to me and my husband.

I loved the original film and I loved Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver and Batman were my first crushes, so... ;), but when SG-1 aired I watched maybe one episode and dismissed it as not being the original and not worth watching. Years later a friend forced seasons 1 and 2 on us (while the show was still airing) and we immediately loved it. For me, the success comes in the ability to #1 have engaging characters that have depth, motivation and work well together as a team and #2 Exploration and the unknown in the story lines. SG-1 could continue to tell new stories for so long because the exploration of the universe, and motivation for intel made the possibilites endless! Honestly, though I enjoyed the whole run, I missed the exploration stuff in later seasons. And of course Jack, though I fully respect RDA's decision to spend more time with his family.

I haven't really tried Atlantis beyond a few random episodes, yet. I just find McKay's character so. damn. annoying. that he promptly kills any enthusiasm I have for other interesting characters or storylines. He's not funny to me at all. Stargate Uni was trying so hard to be Battlestar Galatica to me (though I haven't seen that either) that it was a total turnoff. We only watched the first two eps b/c we were so bored with it. Better to not call it Stargate at all, and just make it it's own series, because it had none of the humor, charm or atmosphere of the other series.
Cori Hull
13. yarnandtea
The Stargate television shows have created one of the most flat-out
entertaining universes I have ever watched. Sure there may be some shows out there that outshine it in quality from time to time. Over, what, fourteen years, the writing and effects are bound to wobble a little bit. But it is such a fully realized fleshed out universe that I keep coming back to it again and again, and Atlantis and SG-1 are always going to be right up there as my favorite series ever.

I started watching Atlantis when it began airing, actually (because I
have always been interested in the lore of Atlantis) and after a season
and a half, I wanted to know more about the universe, so I started
watching SG-1 halfway through season nine. It didn't take me long to buy and watch the rest of the first series on DVD, and I have never looked back. I also have really enjoyed Universe immensely (as different as it is from its sister shows) and am so sad that it is going away. No new Stargate on air makes me incredibly sad indeed. To those who claim there is no humor or charm in the new series, I can only say, you clearly haven't been watching, and shrug my shoulders at your loss.

But that is kind of the beauty of the Stargate franchise, isn't it? There is something for everyone.

But it is for all of the reasons you list that the franchise not only lasted as long as it did, but also still manages to regularly hook new viewers
and keep old ones coming back again and again. I am glad to see you'vestopped making excuses. There really was never any need for them. :o)
CRAusmus
14. RobinM
SG-1 is one of my all time favorite shows. My favorite characters are Daniel and Sam, but Jack makes me laugh. I only own the movies t because I can watch the tv seasons for free from the library. I just finished going through all ten years in January. I might have to go buy season 6 beacause part of it is gone and I want to hear the commentaries. I do have all five seasons of Atlantis and hope they finally get to make Extinction. SGA seasons 3 and 4 are the best of the five years and I'd give them shot mirana . SGU I don't like and am just holding out for the McKay and Woolsey crossover episode but will stick it out until the end.
Todd Tyrna
15. Ezramoon
I'm rewatching the series now as well, so it's very ironic you posted this article! One of my favorite shows, and I'm really enjoying going through it again. I stopped watching during season 5 the first time around, so once I get there again the rest of the series will be new for me! I also enjoyed Atlantis and Universe, which I'm sad to see go, but SG-1 beats them out by far in my opinion.

Anyone who doesn't have the entire series and wants it, you can find it for like 80 bucks new, free shipping on Amazon and a few other places. It's really come down in price and worth every dime if you ask me.
CRAusmus
16. Emlymom
Thanks for you article, Amy. I had previously blown off SG-1 after watching a few scattered episodes over the years, but I see there is something more significant going on there that I am missing. I will have to start watching it (Netflix). Always looking for something fun, interesting, great characters, and with depth.
CRAusmus
17. ritab2610
Stargate SG 1 brings good memories, I have the complete series, incl. movies and SGA on dvd. The first 6-7 seasons I liked most. The Go'auld were great enemies, the Replicators were ok, didn't like the Ori very much. But my 4 reasons are: indeed the characters.
Jack O'Neill grew from a bittered man filled with self-blame about the death of his son and stepped through the Stargate as meant a suicide mission to a leader that cared for more people than only his team and became a respected member of the Airforce.
"Captain Samantha Carter, reporting for duty, Sir" was that nice sweet lady and enthousiast phycisist who joined the army for adventure. She really got that but she also became a true hero, saving Earth many times and showing that women are not to be underestimated, she was always eager to learn and found her place in the team where she was loved and respected.
Daniel Jackson, with his theory about the pyramids, a shy and nerdy archeologist, irritating Jack, interesting Sam, he grew the most, yes he became not only the intellectual, prefering dialogue "pain-in the-ass" but he became a tough soldier and even found enlighting.
And then Teal'c "first prime of Apophis" who had his doubts with his false gods, who wanted his people to be free of slavery and therefor left his home, wife and son to join with an alien race (humans) for several years to finally succeed in his goal.
The Story: some may think it's far-fetched..but hey it's science-fiction and it was well ballanced between the science and the fiction. I loved the physics and archeology based on real life facts.
The reality of Life: almost every episode starts on Earth or with just a recon-mission, or a problem, or a meeting with new people to see if they can become friends or foe. Then you step through the Gate and the world of phantasy is there. Although it was sometimes phantasy with a touch of reality. When SG1 was on Earth they had their every day life, military, weekend. So comparable to daily situations. They only had a "strange" job.
Egyption Mythology: since I was a kid I was fascinated by it, loved history-class about Ancient People and their gods. It was so cool to see all those "gods" brought to life again. Like you were part of their life.
And the writers did their homework. They knew their mythology.
Just my four reasons for watching that show for 10 years, I knew the characters as if they were family, they came visiting every week. A visit I was looking out for. There is so much to say about the show, like - someone already said - the humor (Jack's one-liners) the human relationships, the military part, the off-world stories. It is a show that will stay in people's mind. Thank God for dvd's.
I grew in Atlantis, loved it and was sad to see it end. SGU is not really my thing.... miss something there. It's not the real Stargate.
Anyway I'm thankful for a show like SG1, it always made my day.
And yes, I'm a big fan and I'm not ashamed to say as an older woman (almost 60) that I love Stargate SG1 and I always will.
Liza .
18. aedifica
mirana @ 12, you're not alone in finding McKay that annoying. I'm planning on never watching SGA because he's in it--the episodes of SG1 he's been in have been more than enough for me. :-(

I think part of what I dislike about him is that he ruins the fantasy for me: everyone else on the Earth side of the gate respects Sam and her abilities, and I'd been happily (and until McKay, unconsciously) assuming this was a parallel universe where women were maybe not quite equal to men, but close enough that nobody would dream of insinuating Sam got her position on SG1 based on anything but skill and talent--and then McKay goes and shatters that illusion with his over-the-top sexism. Blech.
CRAusmus
20. Virginia O'Connor
What can I say? These shows were a part of my life, and a part of my personal history that I find much more palatable to recall than anything in the so-called REAL WORLD! Like Star Trek, Star Wars, and the wonderful Wheel of Time books, the characters are like old friends and the worlds fondly remembered and always worth revisiting.

It's sad not to have any Stargate on the air any more. It was a smart and funny and entertaining show in all three of it's incarnations. it will be missed. Thank heaven for DVDs!
CRAusmus
21. Darury
One of my favorite scenes in any TV show was early when O'Neill was explaining how he wasn't happy about Samantha joining the team due to his distrust of "her type". She goes on a rant about reproductive differences, how she's more than capable, etc. After a few minutes he says "I was talking about scientists".
Richard Weeks III
22. DayTraitor
Stargate was the best series out there and even their spinoffs where great. I am sad to see Stargate Universe ending. I hope but dont expect to see another series.
Great article.
CRAusmus
23. Willb
I loved SG-1, have the box set of all the seasons.... but for some reason have yet to finish it..... they were about midway thru the Ori when I, for some inexplicable reason, stopped watching. 3 day weekend ahead, guess I got something to do now!
CRAusmus
24. pezzerman29082908
SG1 is the greatest show ever. It really had everything. It explored much of our known mythology and used that as a manifestation of the ancient astronaught theory..It covered saving the world, saving the galaxy, time travel, time dilation, the eternal struggle between good and evil, the meaning of life and our place in the grand scheme of the universe, the multiverse and parallel universes, it had charm, comedy, and followed a great personal voyage of the core characters in their life stories. it had bad guys, really bad guys, unstoppable replicators followed by even more badass human replicators followed by RepliCarter! And even they were usurped completely by ascended beings who live in a different plane of existence. Im not sure how any new sci-fi can introduce anything new after 10 seasons and 3 movies.
CRAusmus
25. mrjosh
I've recently finished watching all of Stargate -- SG-1, Atlantis, and Universe -- and wow, was this the best franchise ever, or what? I really, really hope they bring it back in some form or other.

I loved Atlantis -- especially David Hewlett, who was hilarious -- but SG-1 was my favorite, because of the characters. The cast had amazing chemistry; it really did feel like they're friends. No matter how zany the series got, the people always seemed real. I actually thought that Jack, Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c were inspirational people, characters you admired. And I have to say that I was really drawn in by the relationship between Jack and Sam. Stargate really knew how to build believable relationships between people -- subtly, over time, after we really get to know the characters. Amanda Tapping and Richard Dean Anderson were absolutely incredible. I guess the odds of a new TV show are very slim these days, but I haven't given up hope for that third movie, where we see them together!

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