The Stargate franchise is perhaps the sleeper hit of scifi TV. Unlike The X-Files which was an instant phenomenon or Star Trek which has always been there, Stargate launched with a relatively low budget movie that met with middling success but appeared set to end there. It didn’t end though and has spawned numerous spin-offs.
It all started in 1994 with the movie Stargate. Starring Kurt Russell and James Spader, the movie was written by Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, Directed by Emmerich and produced by Devlin. At its heart Stargate is a fairly straightforward action movie but with a very distinctive universe.
Dr. Daniel Jackson (James Spader) and Eqyptologist is invited to join a military project where he will be decrypting hieroglyphics of a stone ring. Jackson cracks the code and activates the Stargate. Colonel Jonathan “Jack” O’Neil is coaxed out of retirement to lead a squad of men (and Dr. Jackson) through the wormhole. The heavy use of Egyptian mythology and stylings creates a unique look for the movie.
The movie did acceptably at the box office. Costing only around $55 million dollars and making around $76 million domestically. Internationally it did noticeably better earning an additional $125 million.
Stargate was originally intended to be the first of three sequels, however Roland and Emmerich moved on to work on the more successful Independence Day and that appeared to be that.
First appeared on Showtime on July 27nd 1997. Developed by Jonathan Glassner and Brad Wright the show ostensibly took up where the Stargate movie had left off (although a number of changes were made).
SG-1, lead by Jack O’Neill (now played by Richard Dean Anderson) are the first exploratory team at Stargate Command. Having established that there are more of the Goa’uld out there. O’Neills team consists of Dr. Daniel Jackson (as played by Michael Shanks), Captain Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping) and Teal’c (Christopher Judge). Don S. Davis played Major General George Hammond, the base commander. After the fifth season SG-1 moved from Showtime to the SciFi Channel who ran it and its sequels.
Stargate: SG-1 ran for a record setting 10 years (longest running US science fiction series)
Stargate: SG-1 ran for a record setting 10 years (longest running US science fiction series) and over the course of several seasons it considerably enriched and expanded on the mythology of the original film. As well as the Goa’uld we were introduced to the Asgard, the Replicators and the Ancients (who built the Stargates). The final two seasons introduced an entirely new menace in the form of the Ori.
In later seasons, a number of other cast members were introduced to replace departing actors. Those include Jonas Quinn (Corin Nemec), Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell (Ben Browder), Major General Hank Landry (Beau Bridges) and Vala Mal Doran (Claudia Black)
In 2004 the SciFi channel started showing a spinoff of Stargate: SG-1 called Stargate Atlantis. Set in the Pegasus galaxy, Atlantis presented viewers with an entirely new alien menace in the form of the Wraith who are energy vampires who had apparently forced the Ancients out of this galaxy. The replicators also have made several appearances in the Pegasus galaxy.
The core team members of the Atlantis expedition are Major John Sheppard (Joe Flanigan), Teyla Emmagan (Rachel Luttrell), Rodney McKay (David Hewlett), Elizabeth Weir (Torri Higginson), Carson Beckett (Paul McGillion) and Aiden Ford (Rainbow Sun Francks).
There has been quite a bit of movement in the cast over the show’s run however, with Ronon Dex (Jason Momoa) introduced in season 2 to replace Aiden Ford, and Jennifer Keller (Jewel Staite) replacing Rodney McKay in Season 4. Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping) replaced Elizabeth Weir in Season 4 and was in turn replaced by Richard Woolsey (Robert Picardo) in season 5.
Stargate: Universe is the name for the currently in development third Stargate series. The idea behind Stargate Universe is that it would be set on a ship that is travelling across the universe. The team would get there by unlocking the 9nth chevron on the Stargate.
The project went on hold during the writers strike but Sci Fi is apparently interested. However it is currently doubtful if the show will be produced at the same time as Atlantis due to the heavy workload for the production staff.
One largely unknown or forgotten Stargate spinoff is Stargate: Infinity which was a short lived animated series. The show was poorly received and cancelled after one season. Set some 30 or 40 years in the future the show focuses on an SG team that has been framed for a crime and must jump from world to world trying to clear their names.
The show is not considered “canon” since it was not produced by the creators of SG-1. Although the notion of cannon with Stargate is particularly difficult due to the contradictions between SG-1 and the original movie.
Direct to DVD
After the conclusion of Stargate: SG-1’s run on television work began on a series of direct to DVD releases. To date two of those releases have been completed and there have been discussions about a third.
Stargate: The Ark of Truth
Stargate: The Ark of Truth concludes the Ori story arc from the final two seasons of Stargate: SG-1. See my review of Stargate: The Ark of Truth for more information.
Continuum was released on DVD on July 29th and features the return of Richard Dean Anderson as Jack O’Neill to the franchise. See my review of Stargate: Continuum for more details.
There are discussions on a third direct to DVD movie, again featuring Jack O’Neill. However a lot rides on the availability of Christopher Judge, Michael Shanks and Amanda Tapping who are all currently working on other projects.
All three branches of the Stargate franchise have had stories written and released.
Between 1996 and 1999 Bill McCay wrote a series of books that were unofficial sequels to the 1994 movie. The novels were written using notes made by Devlin and Emmerich and attempting to envisage where the movies would have gone if the sequels had been made.
- Stargate: Rebellion (October 1995)
- Stargate: Retaliation (September 1996)
- Stargate: Retribution (October 1997)
- Stargate: Reconnaissance (May 1998)
- Stargate: Resistance (October 1999)
Four novels written by Ashley McConnell were published between 1999 and 2001 by ROC. Then in 2004 Fandemonium Press started a new series of tie-in books, however the books were not available in the US until 2006.
- Stargate SG-1 (October 1998)
- The Price You Pay (July 1999)
- The First Amendment (February 2000)
- The Morpheus Factor (February 2001)
- Trial By Fire -Sabine C. Bauer - (June 2004)
- Sacrifice Moon - Julie Fortune - (September 2004)
- A Matter Of Honor (1 of 2) - Sally Malcolm - (November 2004)
- City Of The Gods - Sonny Whitelaw - (April 2005)
- The Cost Of Honor (2 of 2) - Sally Malcolm - (9 September 2005)
- Siren Song - Jaimie Duncan and Holly Scott - (7 February 2006)
- Survival of the Fittest - Sabine C Bauer - (7 July 2006)
- Alliances - Karen Miller - (15 September 2006)
- Roswell Sonny Whitelaw and Jennifer Fallon - (25 June 2007)
- Relativity - James Swallow - (October 2007)
- Barque of Heaven - Suzzane Wood - (January 2008)
- Do No Harm - Karen Miller - (March 2008)
- Hydra - Holly Scott and Jaimie Duncan - (April 2008)
- Rising - Sally Malcolm - (December 15, 2005)
- Reliquary - Martha Wells - (February 2006)
- The Chosen - Sonny Whitelaw and Elizabeth Christensen - (19 April 2006)
- Halcyon - James Swallow - (7 August 2006)
- Exogenesis - Sonny Whitelaw and Elizabeth Christensen - (December 2006)
- Entanglement - Martha Wells - (March 2007)
- Casualties of War - Elizabeth Christensen - (25 September 2007)
- Blood Ties - Sonny Whitelaw and Elizabeth Christensen - (25 November 2007)
A series of Stargate comics were published by Entity comics between 1996 and 1997. These books were based on the movie. These were laters collected and published as a trade paperback Stargate: The New Adventures Collection:
- Stargate: Doomsday World
- Stargate: One Nation Under Ra
- Stargate: Underworld
Since 2003 Avatar press have been publishing comics based on Stargate: SG-1 and in 2007 they began to publish comics based on Stargate Atlantis.
- Fall of Rome - August-October 2004
- Aris Boch - October 2004
- Daniel’s Song - August 2005
- Ra Reborn
- Wraithfall - August-December 2006
Big Finish Productions have a license to produce Stargate audio dramas. These audio books are each narrated by one of the Stargate cast and feature a second guest voice as well as music and sound effects. To date they have released six stories.
- 1 Gift of the Gods
- 2 A Necessary Evil
- 3 Shell Game
- Perchance to Dream
- Zero Point