In 1994, Roland Emerich’s Stargate hit theaters and was a smash hit so it only made sense that a television series would follow. Despite the box office hit that the movie was, the concept of traveling through a wormhole to distant planets opened several story lines for a show.
In 1997, Stargate SG-1 premiered on Showtime, picking up where the movie had left off. None of the original stars made the transition so they needed a legitimate television star who could bring his own fan base with them. Enter MacGyver himself, Richard Dean Anderson who picked up the role of Col. Jack O’Neil from Kurt Russell. James Spader’s Dr. Daniel Jackson was replaced with Michael Shanks. New characters of Lt. Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), Teal’C (Christopher Judge) and Gen. George Hammond (Don S. Davis) were cast to give the series regular characters that the audience would grow to love. As the show went on, Richard Dean Anderson and Don S. Davis left and were replaced by Ben Browder (Lt. Col. Cam Mitchell) and Beau Bridges (Gen. Hank Landry), a fifth member of SG-! Was added as Claudia Black joined the cast playing Vala Mal Doran.
What made both the movie and series work was not the special effects, writing, acting but it was the story telling. The writers had an ability to take Earth mythology and turn it to a storyline from a different planet. They also had a gift for taking current lore and weave it into their story lines. The Asgard may be the best example as they fit the description of “grey” aliens as have been described by many abductees (please watch the Season 7 episode “Fragile Balance” as an example at how masterfully the writers pulled this off).
When it was all said and done, Stargate SG-1 was one of the best shows on television, I still enjoy watching reruns and appreciate the show now more than when it first aired. While it’s two made for DVD movies (Ark of Truth was to be the 11th season) and spinoffs didn’t do as well (I’m happy to make a case that Atlantis wasn’t as bad as Universe), I think it is safe to say that the original will stand for another 20 years.