Thursday, December 25 2003

A Stargate Christmas

Stargate, the movie. Not what most people would think of as a typical Christmas Eve film, but I’m a bit burned out on anime after the ending of Mahoromatic (although I didn’t feel nearly as betrayed as Steven Den Beste, partially because I’d read the spoilers and they were even worse than the reality. But I digress). After polishing off my traditional Christmas dinner (pizza with pepperoni, onion, green peppers, and extra cheese, with a $20 tip for the delivery driver), I went through my piles of DVDs and picked this one.

Stargate holds a special place in my heart as one of the most godawful big budget science fiction films ever made. Magnificent visuals, but plot holes you could drive a truck through. I am constantly amazed that the producers of SG-1 managed to salvage a mostly coherent backstory out of this turkey.

It was quite a remarkable feat, really. They didn’t just keep the visuals and the names, they managed to use almost every element of the story, jettisoning only the most ludicrous aspects, and subtly tweaked what they kept. Better still, their new material fit in almost seamlessly, creating a rich universe ripe for exploration.

The biggest achievement of SG-1, however, was that it hit the ground running. I don’t think I’ve ever seen another SF series where the actors slipped into character so quickly and believably, and did things that made sense. Even with the occasional weak episode, the on-and-off casting, the rare slip into handwaved technobabble, and the Sci-Fi Channel’s habit of jerking the schedule around, it’s one of the few tv shows I actually look forward to.

I sort of follow Smallville (the first time in history that Lex Luthor has actually had a personality!). I mostly follow Angel (where do they find those women?!?). I usually watch Good Eats. I never miss Stargate: SG-1.

I’m told that the producers of the Stargate film felt horribly betrayed when MGM turned the property over to the people who developed SG-1. They wanted to make a feature-film sequel, taking the story in a completely different direction. To that, I can only say, “thank you, MGM”. I can’t shake the feeling that their sequel would have had all the charm of a flashback to the planet Zeist.

[much like the final episode of Mahoromatic; guess I can’t stop that digression after all. I suspect I’ll be gathering and extending the comments I’ve been exchanging with Steven on this one; I think I can beat his 5700 words and explain why I initially told him that the last five episodes “didn’t suck” :-)]