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Stargate SG-1: An Undiscovered Gem

Category: Rants and Raves

Published July 7, 2004

For years, I’ve been told by various fans that I need to get myself interested in Stargate SG-1. I always put the idea off, telling myself that I didn’t need to get myself addicted to yet another sci-fi show. But unfortunately, there’s been so little quality sci-fi television available in the past year. There are only so many Star Trek reruns that I can watch before getting tired of it all!

So, when the Sci-Fi Channel started airing reruns of Stargate early this year, I made sure to start watching. At first, I wasn’t all that impressed with the series — there were hardly any story arcs, no groundbreaking characterization, and no glitzy spaceships. But the more reruns I watched, the more I got interested. I went from watching maybe one or two of the reruns per week to catching almost every single broadcast. But even though I was hooked on the show, I was confused — where was the groundbreaking storytelling? Where were the grand arcs? Stargate seemed to be just a plain old show based on the tried-and-true episodic formula. (The episodic format did make it easy to miss individual episodes, though!)

Then it hit me: though it’s not groundbreaking or grandiose, Stargate is just plain fun. Whether it’s Carter’s technobabble or Daniel’s overeagerness or O’Neill’s witty one-liners, it’s always a hoot to watch the SG-1 team.

Currently, I’m watching the reruns in order, having obtained the season DVD sets from a family friend — right now my family and I are at the start of season two. (I have watched sporadic episodes all the way through season five, though.) So, I can’t comment too much on how the show develops as a series overall, because I don’t quite have a grasp of its over-arcing plot. I can tell that there is a plot, though, based on what reruns I’ve seen and the promos for the seventh-season episodes on SCI-FI. So I know that I’ve got a lot to look forward to.

That’s not saying that what I’ve seen so far has been bad, of course! Some of the episodes have struck me as formulaic at best, or rehashes at worst. But others take old ideas and spin them to affect our characters directly — as all good stories should. The first season’s “Cor-Ai” strikes me as one of the best examples of this kind of episode. True, it’s a standard the-team-runs-afoul-of-local-laws story, but it’s got an important twist: Teal’c was part of a Goa’uld raid on the planet in question some years before. And so, rather than the team trying to invoke the “idiot clause” to get themselves out of the pickle... Teal’c actually is guilty! Thus, even though we know that Teal’c is going to be let go by the end of the hour (this is episodic television, after all), we’re left to think about just what else Teal’c might have done in the past, and whether he really “deserves” to be where he is now.

There are other great episodes too, such as “Solitudes” or “There But For the Grace of God”... both of them simple in their own ways — “Solitudes” just stuck Carter and O’Neill into the freezer for an hour, and “...Grace of God” is the old alternate-reality story, with Daniel tossed into a same-but-different universe. What was cool about the latter episode, though, was the fact that alternate realities were only theoretical. It was funny to see the team’s reactions to all these weird situations and juxtapositions ("Engaged?“).

I could go on about other things that make Stargate a great show, but I’ll leave those for another time.

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