Why we need Stargate back in Vancouver.

The world of science fiction seems to be in a state of flux right now. The next Doctor will be a woman, the Orville is more Star Trek than the current “new” Star Trek Discovery. Budgets are getting bigger and visual effects are breathtaking. And yet, there seems to be something missing. I miss optimistic shows. I miss relatable characters. I miss the now dormant franchise of Stargate which was shot and produced here, in Vancouver.

Stargate is special to me. The movie may have started it all off but it was the TV show, Stargate SG-1 that I remember watching in 1997 on Network Two (an Irish TV channel) late at night while being in university. It was SG-1 that inspired me to come to Canada and train as an actor. My dream; to touch the titular Stargate and to work with, my idol, the fabulous Amanda Tapping.

Why do we need this franchise back firing on all chevrons as it were?

Firstly, the characters. I’m tired of superheroes, robots, aliens, ghosts, AI’s (evil or otherwise) and everything in-between. Stargate SG-1’s premise is simple. The American Air Force runs a secret programme under Cheyenne mountain called the Stargate Program. Its mandate is to seek out technology and allies to defend earth against alien invasion by travelling through the Stargate, which forms wormholes connecting to other gates around the galaxy. Three quarters of SG-1 are human. You have Colonel Jack O’Neill, the commander, Captain (later Major and Colonel) Samantha Carter, the brains of the unit. Doctor Daniel Jackson, the historian/diplomat and Teal’c, the alien muscle. We get to watch these characters grow and develop over ten years and their actions have consequences. Even the supporting cast get a lot of attention and this is one of the franchises strengths.

For me, the stand out character is Amanda Tapping’s Samantha Carter. Sam, is a soldier and scientist and the only woman on the team. In the pilot episode, she gives a rather forceful speech about where her sex organs are located and asserts she is just as capable as any man. Over the show’s run, we see her scientific prowess as she handles “technobabble” like a professional. We see her lead the team on occasion, more so in season six and seven. Her family plays a large part in the show too. Her father becomes host to an alien ally and she gets to portray a wonderful father-daughter dynamic that feels authentic, despite the sometimes ridiculous situations. Most of all, we see her struggle with men. Here is a woman who can blow up a star but can’t hold on to a man. This is a vital part of her life that remains missing even into the spin off shows Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe. She leads the Atlantis expedition for a year, before taking command of an Earth designed battlecruiser in Universe. It is implied that she is in a relationship with O’Neill, who is soon to be retired, but this is never made canon. This makes her possibly, in my opinion, the most relatable character in the show and watching her grow into a leader was a treat.

I’ll admit to being totally bias here. I love this character and actress, and meeting her a few years ago was one of THE highlights of my time in this country. When the franchise comes back, I would suggest that Sam should be in charge of Stargate Command; to be the seasoned confident leader that will continue to inspire us all.

Another reason to revive the franchise is the mythology. Stargate SG-1 and its spin-off shows amounted to seventeen seasons worth of television. Each show was centred on the idea of people going through a Stargate on a weekly basis but each show had a slightly different focus.

SG-1 was the first show and it was all about Earth and the drive to protect it from the Gou’ld, Replicators and Ori. Gradually, Earth acquires technology to fight these aliens. I loved this aspect of the show. Seeing the first F-302 fighter, or the X-303 Prometheus emerge from its hangar gave me shivers. Earth was always a hair breath away from destruction and it being the underdog of the galaxy made the show so much fun to watch.

Stargate Atlantis was set in another galaxy in the lost city of Atlantis. The concepts of a team travelling through the Stargate was retained but this time, they were looking for a power source (a ZPM or Zero Point Module) to dial the gate back to Earth and warn them about the vampire-like Wraith that had been awakened due to human error. The first season of this show was amazing. They were cut off from Earth and the threat of the Wraith was always looming in the background. After season 2, they made contact with Earth and had a handy battlecruiser jumping between the Milky Way and Pegasus galaxies. Nothing was the same again, even with Samantha Carter leading the Expedition in season 4.

Stargate Universe was the bravest show of all and probably doomed from the beginning. It was much darker and like Atlantis, stranded a group of mostly scientists on an Ancient ship called Destiny. This show had amazing production values and was accused of “borrowing’ a lot from the rebooted Battlestar Galactica. I was a fan but the tonal shift was jarring, if understandable. But it wasn’t really Stargate. It was trying to be something darker, more cerebral. As a result, the Stargate franchise ended with Destiny travelling on a faster-than-light energy wake into oblivion and it is a crying shame.

There is so much that could be done to revive the Stargate franchise. Keep the original mythology and cast if possible. Have a hybrid show combining the production values of Universe with the characters of SG-1 and the sense of suspense and mystery from Atlantis. Call it something like “Stargate Destiny” Keep Samantha Carter in command of the BC-304 “George Hammond”. Have the ship equipped with Atlantis’s wormhole drive and send them on a mission to find Destiny, while seeding their route with Stargates to act like a bridge back to the Milky Way galaxy. You could have a larger cast with a younger cast that make up the “new” team that go on adventures. Limit the number of episodes and have a five-year arc that has a clear beginning and end point. Have Netflix pick up the show or even a web series. Something, anything to get the revival moving.

Lastly, Vancouver is a hugely talented city and although many shows are now shot here, none of them are Stargate. Right now, is the perfect time to get the gate spinning again. Like the X-files revival, there is a market and a fan base. In these dark times of terror and economic uncertainty, the sound of the gate’s seventh chevron locking into place is as iconic and comforting as the thrum of the Enterprise’s warp core, or the swish of a light sabre. Stargate has earned its place in the annals of science fiction and the time to bring it back is NOW.