Friday, June 22, 2007

The End of an Era

So, the series finale of Starage: SG-1 is Tivoing right now.  I'm not watching it; I'll likely wait until later in the weekend.

But I can't let its passing go unnoticed.  By surviving ten years, SG-1 has all of the Star Trek series beat by at least 3 years (TNG, DS9, Voyager) and even 6 (Enterprise) or 7 (TOS).  

Its cast has changed several times (Michael Shanks has come and gone, the guy playing...err...Jonas came and went, Richard Dean Anderson and the guy playing General Hammond have left, as has Teryl Rothery).  Some of the main actors' roles and waxed and waned throughout, and new cast members have filled in the holes.

In that, it's been more like ER than Star Trek.

And, like ER, I've watched some seasons, lost interest, and then been wooed back.  (And lost interest again, at least if we're talking about ER.)

It all started in, if I may be dramatic, in 1994 a movie theater in Granada Hills on a day off from school.  My friend Caryn and I went to see the Stargate feature film; I had been intrigued because it combined several interests of mine: archaeology, ancient Egypt, and science fiction.

Despite the running commentary of the idiot behind us, I rather enjoyed the film.  Yes, it took some suspension of disbelief (at one point, Daniel says that the only thing that's changed between ancient Egyptian and the language the people speak now is the vowels, and then proceeds to learn to speak it fluently -- by changing such words as "Necher?  Necher-u?" into "natay" and "naturu," thus making me wonder exactly what this crack linguist thinks is a vowel) but it was interesting and fun.

Plus, Ra was cool.

Apparently, that movie was conceived as the first in a trilogy, and I eventually read the books that would have been the other movies (plus, I think, one or two more).  They were fascinating, if formulaic, I suppose, showing how the Abydans reacted to a human presence on their planet, as well as to Ra's death.

But for whatever reason, that fell through, and in the burgeoning era of cable TV shows (there weren't many originally-produced shows in that age), Showtime decided to make a TV show of it.

To be honest, I was skeptical, because although I'm no huge fan of Kurt Russell or James Spader.  Okay, that sounds bad -- I just didn't much are for them one way or another.

But I watched the premiere when it aired in 1997, I was generally willing to give it a go.

For a few minutes, everything was going well.  Daniel threw a box of Kleenex through the Stargate, a nice nod to his allergies in the movie.  And if Richard Dean Anderson played Jack as a little more easy-going, that was okay.

Then Daniel referred to his wife.


And he called her Sha're.

With no explanation, her name was completely changed.  I is a vast understatement.

Now, if the rest of the names had been changed too, I might have dealt with it better.  But they even kept Skaara's name (the kid that befriends O'Neill in the movie, and who is only mentioned by name once, by Shau'ri, as she calls him into the chamber with the writings) the same.

I might have made a token attempt to watch a couple of more episodes (though I have to admit, watching people get nekkid -- this was a cable show -- around my dad just wasn'  Matter of fact, I think I remember watching an early episode, "The Nox," and despite Armin Shimmerman being in it, I was rather put-off by (1) the fact that all the aliens now spoke English, and (2) that advanced civilizations would have that horrible hair.

So a few years went by.  I went happily about life watching other things, even though Showtime was also, at that time, producing The Outer Limits. My dad apparently liked the show, because he taped all the way through the third season, though I don't recall him ever specifically mentioning it.

In the summer of 2000 (the summer after my dad passed) they started rerunning the episodes on Channel 9 (a local channel).  Now, you have to understand something.  At our old house, we had a C-band satellite in one room; the rest of the rooms had an antenna.  And that antenna worked in an odd way.  In the mornings, you could watch channels 2, 4, and 5.  In the evenings, 7, 11, and 13.

Some afternoons, 9 was the only one that worked.

But that was okay; the third season of Stargate, which is what they were showing at the time (the re-broadcast of both SG-1 and The Outer Limits was a year behind what Showtime was showing) has a lot of good episodes, notably "Urgo," "The Fifth Race," and whatever the one with Ma'chello's earwig things is called.

And, I think, the two-parter beginning with "Jolinar's Memories," which was just a stellar examination of how being taken over by Jolinar had affected Carter.

So I got hooked again, and watched the rebroadcasts until Sci-Fi picked up the show, when I watched until round about the end of the fifth season.

Now, I have no deep and abiding love for Daniel Jackson as a character; I frankly found Teal'c more attractive and Jack more interesting, but whatever.  One thing, as a girl geek, I loved most about those days of SG-1 was that the two biggest brains in the SGC were girls.  I especially loved that Janet figured out the Ma'chello earwig thing while half-insane, while the other (fully sane) doctor had no clue what was going on.

But I digress.

I wasn't terribly perturbed that Daniel got killed off.  It's a sci-fi show -- death is never permanent, and even if it is (witness "Ripple Effect") there are always alternate universes.

And I didn't really dislike Jonas, either.

I just didn't find him...interesting.

So the show lost me for a few years.

When Daniel came back, I tuned back in now and again; I saw the end of the war against the Goa'uld.  But the Replicators smacked of stealing from the Borg, and I just wasn't intrigued anymore.

It wasn't until the Ori showed up that I realized why:  part of the appeal of Stargate for me (and part of why, I think, I'm not too gung-ho about Atlantis) has always been the blend of sci-fi and mythology.  The Replicators were just Borg bugs.


But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The Replicators weren't terribly exciting to me, but when I heard rumors that they were killing off Janet, I figured I'd tune in.  I liked Janet a lot as a character, and (I'll admit it) had come to kinda see the Sam/Janet subtext, so despite a healthy dread of the Drama that would explode on the Internet, I decided to watch "Heroes."

"Heroes," in contrast to Atlantis's "Sunday," was handled quite well.  I especially liked (1) Sam being asked to give the eulogy, although I would have liked to have had the reason for that be explained -- I always rather assumed it was because Cassie was in the audience -- and (2) Teal'c being the one to give Sam the idea for it.

I liked it because it was senseless and stupid, the way that death happens in war.  Janet wasn't on the front lines trying to get shot at, but she got shot nonetheless.  It wasn't a huge Replicator plot, or a Goa'uld out to get revenge for Nirrti, or even an illness she couldn't diagnose.

It was just a random, stupid staff blast.

Anyhow, after "Heroes," the cast changed rather dramatically.  Richard Dean Anderson was faded out; as I recall, Amanda Tapping's role was reduced.  Instead, we got...Beau Bridges and Lexa Doig (as the new nerdy girl doctor -- tell me why we had to kill Janet just to have a Janet double?).  Now...Lexa Doig was good as Rommie on Andromeda, but it never felt like she hit her stride on SG-1.

But meanwhile, the Ori thing was brewing.

And when they started tying in the Arthurian myth -- that's when I started tuning in every other week or so.

Now, I'm not the type to watch something just because an actor I like is on it -- but I did tune into Claudia Black's guest appearances as Vala.  As the character evolved, it was great to see her get to play someone funny.

Then they brought Ben Browder on.

Given that I've probably produced more fiction for Farscape, and certainly more videos, than any other fandom, you'd have thought that would snare me in instantly.

But, again, it took me a while to get back into the swing of things.  When they started looking for Merlin's weapon, when they found Arthur's Mantle -- that got me intrigued again.  When they brought Claudia Black on as a full-time cast member, I was hooked again.

In fact, despite many people complaining that Vala's character was developed at the expense of others -- I don't really care.  Vala is fun and funny, while also very sympathetic, especially with the drama of Adria's birth.

Some of my favorite moments of the last few years have been Vala's: the "I told you so" look she gives Daniel when he asks the Atlantis database about the planets, the way she tries to sneak off in Atlantis to 'explore,' the look on her face when an adolescent Adria displays her powers.  On a more serious note: her reaction to Daniel when she gets her memory back being the most prominent.

Plus, we have the Cameron/Sam interaction (who, me, an equal opportunity 'shipper -- but of course!), like him getting after her for working all night, caring for Sam after she got shot in "Lines in the Sand," and the look on her face when she finds him cuffed to a bed.

I know this is long and kind of rambling, but I just need to put into words my experience with this show as it goes off the air.

At least until the direct-to-DVDs come out!  :-)

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