Ten years wasn't long enoughRating: 6 likes, 0 dislikes
On Sunday July 27, 1997, the first episode of a new science fiction series called Stargate SG-1 was broadcast on Showtime. A spin-off of and sequel to the 1994 film Stargate starring Kurt Russell and James Spader, the series begins approximately one year after the events portrayed in the film. For ten seasons, it chronicled the adventures and misadventures of an intrepid team of explorers known as SG-1. Originally, the series starred Richard Dean Anderson as Colonel Jack O'Neill (two "l"s!), Michael Shanks as Dr. Daniel Jackson, Amanda Tapping as Captain Samantha Carter, Christopher Judge as Teal'c and Don S. Davis as Major General George S. Hammond. For ten long years, we watched the team battle against the Goa'uld, the Replicators, the Ori and many other aggressors. At the same time, they forged alliances with the Asgard, the Tok'ra, the rebel Jaffa, the Nox and the Tollan. They saved the world no less than eight times over the years and never gave up, not until death claimed them. And sometimes not even then.
As with all long-running series, they were numerous cast changes. Michael Shanks left the series in January 2002 at the end of its fifth season in order to broaden his horizons as an actor. Daniel Jackson's successor as the team's resident archaeologist/geek was Jonas Quinn, an alien from a country called Kelowna on the planet Langara, played by Corin Nemec. However, Shanks returned at the beginning of the seventh season in June 2003 and Nemec left at the same time. Unfortunately, he made only one further guest appearance and his character was seldom mentioned afterwards. Don S. Davis left the series at the end of the seventh season in March 2004 as he felt that it was time for him to go. The show's original star and arguably its most popular actor, Richard Dean Anderson, starred in the series throughout its first eight seasons. His participation in the seventh and eight seasons was noticeably less than in the earlier seasons. He finally left SG-1 in March 2005 in order to spend more time with his then six-year-old daughter. Jack O'Neill was by far my favourite character in the series and, truth be told, I never enjoyed the last two seasons as much as I did the earlier episodes for that very reason.
The ninth season represented a new era for the programme. With the departure of its lead actor and the defeat of the Goa'uld and the Replicators in Season Eight, many fans felt the series should go out on a high. Regardless, the series carried on for a further two years with the Ori replacing the Goa'uld as the series' main adversaries. Three new characters were brought in to fill the gaps as it were and help usher in this re-invention. Ben Browder came in as the cocky Southern Air Force pilot Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell, the new leader of SG-1. His Farscape co-star, the lovely Claudia Black, began to play a prominent role in the series as the vivacious, sexy, hilarious and certainly extroverted Vala Mal Doran, a former Goa'uld host and con artist from another planet. A recurring guest star during the eighth and ninth seasons, she joined the cast full time at the beginning of its tenth and final season. Rounding off the cast was the legendary Beau Bridges as Major General Hank Landry, the new commander of the SGC and an old friend of Jack O'Neill and General Hammond. For the last two years, they starred alongside the SG-1 faithful (Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping and Christopher Judge) and became valuable parts of and made equally valuable contributions to the Stargate franchise.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. During the initial broadcast of the first several episodes of Season Ten, ratings dropped considerably, resulting in cancellation in August 2006. After ten seasons and 214 episodes, the dream was finally over. On March 13, 2007, what began with "Children of the Gods" ended with "Unending". The series finale made its world premiere on Sky One in Britain and Ireland before being shown on the Sci-Fi Channel in the United States on June 22, 2007.
In the ten years that the series was on the air, it amassed legions of fans and even eclipsed the science fiction series, Star Trek, in terms of popularity in certain countries. It became the second-longest running sci-fi series in the world, second only to Doctor Who (1963-1989), and the longest-running American produced sci-fi series, having surpassed The X-Files only a few months before it ended.
Stargate SG-1 represents the cornerstone of the Stargate franchise. In 2004, its success and popularity led to the production of a spin-off series entitled Stargate Atlantis, which was regrettably cancelled after five seasons and 100 episodes in August 2008. Although plans for another feature film fell through, two direct-to-DVD films, Stargate: The Ark of Truth and Stargate Continuum, were released in 2008 and more are planned for the not too distant future. A third live-action series, Stargate Universe, is also due to premiere at some point next year. (There was, unfortunately, an animated series, Stargate Infinity, which ran only from 2002 to 2003 but the less said about that the better). Despite the end of SG-1 and Atlantis as continuing series, the future of Stargate looks very bright indeed.
In conclusion, while Stargate has yet to gain the same degree of popular recognition as other major sci-fi television franchises such as Star Trek and Doctor Who, its still relatively new compared to those two sci-fi giants and I have every confidence that it will continue for many, many years to come.
Review posted on Wednesday, August 27th 2008 at 9:56 am