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Everyone shut up about the coolest HBO show for a second and instead turn your attention to one of the greatest series 10+ Brilliant Sci-Fi TV Shows That Aren't Star Trek [Stuff to Watch] 10+ Brilliant Sci-Fi TV Shows That Aren't Star Trek [Stuff to Watch] The best sci-fi movies are often cherished by fans and placed up high upon the mantle, but it's TV shows that make up the bread and butter of any geek's media diet. A good TV... Read More  the sci-fi world Check Out These 6 Sci-Fi Wikis To Kill Some Time On Check Out These 6 Sci-Fi Wikis To Kill Some Time On In my spare time, I read a lot of wikis (I really need a more interesting life). Typically, what happens is that I'll hear of a subject, find a wiki that covers that subject, and... Read More has ever known: Stargate.

It was 20 years ago (that’s right kids, 1994) that the first Stargate film saw Kurt Russel walk through a primitive computer-generated water effect, and the TV series and various spin-offs vastly improve on the original formula. Stargate SG-1 remains one of the most engaging, well-written and above all approachable sci-fi series of all time – and it’s like crack for geeks 8 Movies Every Geek Should Watch (And Love) [Stuff to Watch] 8 Movies Every Geek Should Watch (And Love) [Stuff to Watch] Today’s Stuff to Watch will focus on the geekiest of geeky films. These are films that your average tech lovin’ computer whizz should love - and they’re not all dystopian sci-fi movies either (though there... Read More .

Jaffa kree!

It All Started With A Film

The Stargate franchise began with the release of the Stargate film in 1994. Starring Kurt Russell in a role he refused when it came to making the fondly-remembered TV spin-off, Stargate mixes a present-day sci-fi universe with historical and spiritual elements not often seen in the genre.

It didn’t take long for the TV series to establish itself, with a team consisting Jack O’Neil, Samantha Carter, Daniel Jackson and off-world member Teal’c becoming known as SG-1, hence Stargtate SG-1. Under increasing internal scrutiny the team undertook missions that spawned multiple intertwining story arcs and character nuances.

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Stargate regularly looks to history and folklore to fill in the gaps between our present world and the fictional alien universe, with Egyptian, Nordic and Celtic themes regularly appearing. In SG-1, Enemies take on the forms of “false gods” who use advanced yet ancient technology against primitive peoples – a nod to the brutality of these often glorified ancient civilizations.

Stargate SG-1

SG-1 is the meat and gravy of the Stargate universe. It ran for a full ten seasons, from 1997 until 2007 and MGM spent on average $1.4 million per episode. The show ran for so long that actors age noticeably, character relations mature almost organically and the balance between action-heavy adventures and human and political aspects was fine-tuned to perfection.

Here are a few choice moments from SG-1’s incredible back catalogue of episodes.

Children of the Gods (S1E1)

The beginning is as good a place as any to begin, and Children of the Gods is more like a film than a sci-fi TV show. It was this hour-and-a-half long pilot that tied together many of the loose ends from the 1994 film, introduced new characters and established a base for the Stargate SG-1 crew to call home.

Window of Opportunity (S4E6)

Window of Opportunity takes a very serious problem and turns it into a hilarious running joke. When time suddenly begins to loop after one off-world adventure, only Jack O’Neill and Teal’c appear to notice. Now they’re stuck in an infinite loop, which provides plenty of opportunity for viewers to glimpse the more human aspects of a Jaffa and military Captain.

Think teeing-off into the Stargate, learning to juggle – that sort of thing. Watch it on DailyMotion.

Thor’s Chariot (S2E6)

Another example of how the Stargate takes existing mythology and figures, then re-wires everything to fit its own agenda. Thor’s Chariot refers to Thor’s spaceship of course, and Thor is who else but a small grey alien. Watch it on DailyMotion.

Wormhole X-Treme! (S5E12)

A good sense of humour was key to SG-1’s success for so many years, providing plenty of light moments and even light episodes. Episodes like Wormhole X-Treme, in which a cheap parody of the SG-1 team visit distant planets by walking through wormholes. A truly funny and masterfully written episode. Watch it on DailyMotion.

Redemption (S6E1 & 2)

True to the feature-length roots of the franchise, SG-1 manages to pack in some gripping multiple-part episodes – often at the end of the series. This was a time when producers would make you wait a whole season break to find out whether a character lived or died, and Redemption is a particularly gripping politically-themed struggle from the beginning of season six. Watch Part 1 on Daily Motion.

Beyond SG-1

Stargate survived beyond SG-1’s fateful tenth season, at which point a number of key characters had been replaced with (equally likeable) counterparts. Two films were made to tie-up ends with the SG-1 franchise, the first being Stargate: The Ark of Truth, for which I’ve put the trailer below. It deals mostly with the Ori, a civilization encountered toward the end of SG-1’s original run.

The second, Stargate: Continuum, sees old enemies the Goa’uld return to wage a massive attack. Both films are generally regarded as being worth a watch, particularly if you’ve made it to the end of season ten and are still demanding more from your favourite Air Force personnel.

Next came Stargate Atlantis, which departs hugely from SG-1 in that it is set on an off-world base named after another of earth’s mysteries. While the original crew (particularly Daniel Jackson) do make appearances, this doesn’t take the form of SG-1, and the series doesn’t follow their adventures. It only ran for five years due to a lukewarm response, though Atlantis has plenty going for it.

Stargate’s gloomiest hour came in the form of Universe, a promising show that took two seasons to find its feet before being cruelly cancelled by Syfy in 2011. The worst part of this is that the producers – expecting a third season – left the last episode on a cliffhanger. What’s more, the planned Universe film announced after this news was also cancelled.

Watch It

Should you bother with Stargate: Atlantis, or worry that Universe never took off? No – because Stargate SG-1 consists of ten seasons of wonderful sci-fi that is very watchable to this day. If you’ve never seen it, then you’re lucky – you’ve just stumbled upon one of the most accessible and rewarding sci-fi shows of all time. And if you’re a long time fan, then isn’t it about time you paid homage on this 20-year anniversary and re-discover one of Canada’s finest exports?

If you’re still after more, don’t forget the Stargate SG-1: Unleashed interactive adventure for iOS and Android, at $4.99 per episode.

You probably have your own Stargate and other sci-fi memories – throw them my way, I’d love to get all nostalgic with you in the comments.

  1. Howard B
    February 9, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    Started watching SG-1 when SciFi (now SyFy) started airing the reruns around the time I got home from work at night, and watched it through mid-season 9 or 10. Will have to watch the two finale mini-movies, and the latter part of Stargate Atlantis to see the rest of both great series.

  2. Ednilson A
    February 7, 2014 at 2:35 am

    For lovers aka geeks. Have a petition for broadcast Stargate Universe at Netflix.
    http://www.change.org/petitions/netflix-save-stargate-universe

  3. harindu
    February 6, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Stargate SG-1 was one of the coolest shows on TV... RDA was always refreshing to watch. throughout the whole series everything from story lines to special effects was just plain awesome.. Atlantis was fine too , but too bad SG-U had to end without getting to finish it's story.. Thanks for writing this.. i sure am going to watch it all over again!

  4. John
    February 6, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    My wife and I started the series mid last year. We are on Season 8 of SG1 and Season 1 of Atlantis. We don't watch movies anymore, the conversation usually goes:
    "Should we watch a movie or an eppy?"
    ...
    "Episode!"

  5. Jeff B
    February 6, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    +1 awesome Tim.

    I recently started re-watching SG-1 in commemoration as well and will finish off the series again. While I agree that SG-1 is the seminal experience, Atlantis always held a firmer grasp on me.

    While SG-1 being time-period accurate made for some quality sci-fi under unique circumstances, the amazing acting by the lead cast (making characters very easy to get attached to), and the variety of situations they brought into the series, in my opinion the themes surrounding Atlantis were more inspiring and pulled me in faster. Shepard, McKay (who I hated in SG-1, but loved in Atlantis), and the interaction of the other lead team including Radik and Dr Weir made for a chemistry that was hard to beat. I find Atlantis to be more sci-fi than SG-1 for better or worse, and that just does it for me, space battles, sustained beam cannons, and lots of flying... Can never get enough.

    That said I was suprised that you didnt list the episode: Season 2 episode 16 of SG-1 under your highlights...

    The sequence when XXXX goes to meet the XXXX to get help... the script writing for that sequence makes me say "#@&$ yea mankind" everytime I see it.

    In any case. Excellent post Tim, I also recommend this to every person who has their head in the clouds as I do.

  6. Colapesce
    February 6, 2014 at 3:21 am

    Yay Stargate love! Thanks for this article Tim.

  7. Tom W
    February 6, 2014 at 2:31 am

    I saw the film, but I never saw much of any of the TV series, since it was broadcast on Sky. Recently, though, a channel called "Pick TV" has been airing them. It aired Atlantis first, with the final episode last week, and now it's moved on to (back to?) the original SG-1 series. I'm hoping it does all 10 seasons, because I loved every episode of Atlantis.

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