Stargate SG-1 is a sci-fi television series based on the 1994 film Stargate. The spinoff was created by Jonathan Glassner and Brad Wright, who were both already known for their work with The Outer Limits. Glassner and Wright executive produced the series, along with a team including Michael Greenburg, Richard Dean Anderson, and Robert C. Cooper.
Distributed by MGM, Stargate SG-1 made its debut in 1997 on Showtime. The show later began to appear in syndication and was eventually picked up in 2002 by the Sci-Fi Channel for seasons six and seven.
The television series is believed by most to be far better than the original movie.
The title of the series refers to a secret Air Force team known as "SG-1" (Star Gate One) that travels to distant planets through the use of a piece of alien technology known as the Chaapa'ai, or "Stargate." In the original Stargate movie, the Chaapa'ai was believed to have only one use—transporting individuals to and from the planet Abydos.
After an archeological dig unearthed the buried Chaapa'ai, a team lead by Colonel Jack O'Neill (played by Kurt Russell) and linguist/Egyptologist Dr. Daniel Jackson (James Spader) journeyed through the Stargate to Abydos, where they found a society that bore a distinct resemblance to that of the ancient Egyptians. The people of Abydos toiled under the authority of the god Ra, who was really just an alien with some neat techno-gadgets.
Ra, as it turns out, once ruled the people of Earth, too; the inhabitants of Abydos were, in fact, just transplanted humans whose ancestors had been sent through the Stargate as slaves millennia ago. Somehow, a long, long, time ago, the humans on Earth managed to overthrow their "god" and bury the Stargate (preventing Ra's return).
To prevent a similar insurrection from occurring on Abydos, Ra banned reading and writing, for he believed the development of a written language is what eventually led to the humans' ability to overthrow him on Earth. And, apparently, this worked quite well; as human society grew and evolved on Earth, Abydonian society stayed pretty much the same, never advancing to the point of overthrowing its false god.
Fast forward to the end of the movie and Ra is destroyed (along with his large, pyramid-shaped starship). Believing that the people of Abydos are now safe, Colonel O'Neill and his team return home sans Dr. Jackson, who stays behind to study the ancient culture (and to get it on with Sha're, the native Abydonian who would later become his wife).
Introduction to the Television Series
The first episode of the television series (#101, Children of the Gods), sets the stage for the rest of the series by introducing us to the Goa'uld, a race of parasitic snake-like creatures that inhabit human hosts. As it turns out, Ra was the leader of this race, and since his death, dozens of fiefdoms have sprouted up as other Goa'ulds rose to take their place among the "System Lords."
Jack (now played by Richard Dean Anderson, of MacGyver fame) and Daniel (Michael Shanks) are reunited on Abydos after the Goa'uld System Lord Apophis launches an attack on Earth through its long-neglected Stargate. Apophis kills several airmen and takes one hostage with him back through the gate. Still believing that the Stargate only works between Abydos and Earth, Colonel O'Neill and Captain Samantha Carter (an expert on wormhole theory) are sent to Abydos to investigate.
At this point, we learn Stargate travel is much more versatile than we first thought. While on Abydos, Daniel discovered a map detailing a number of destination planets on an "alien transit system." As it turns out, one can use the Chaapa'ai to "dial up" hundreds of different planets, so long as one inputs the appropriate series of symbols (similar in concept to a telephone number or, more precisely, an IP address) corresponding to the location of another Stargate. (Thus Apohpis' attack on Earth could have originated from any number of worlds.)
Another attack occurs, this time on Abydos, and Jack, Daniel, and Sam are all taken prisoner, along with several dozen Abydonians (among them, Daniel's wife Sha're and Jack's friend Skaara). They are transported through the Stargate to the planet Chulak where both Sha're and Skaara are implanted with Goa'uld larvae.
Apophis orders the remaining Abydonian slaves to be slain, but he is betrayed by his First Prime, Teal'c. Teal'c helps Jack, Daniel, and Sam free the captives and return them to Abydos. Branded a Shol'var (traitor) to the Goa'uld for his actions, Teal'c flees Chulak and journeys back to Earth with his new found friends.
Teal'c eventually joins SG-1 and the adventure begins: SG-1 spends each episode journeying to new planets, exploring new cultures, fighting the occasional Goa'uld, and trying to protect Earth from Apophis and his buddies.
Off to the Races
Stargate SG-1 introduces several new races, each with its own unique characteristics. This is not an exhaustive list, but rather, some of the major players a new viewer is bound to run across (or at least hear about) after watching a few episodes:
The original builders of the stargate network. Much of the Goa'uld's advanced technology is in fact technology left behind by these ancient peoples. Believed to have moved on to some other universe (or, perhaps, "ascended to a higher state of existance") long ago. Originally part of a peaceful alliance between the Asgard, the Nox, and the Furlings.
A powerful and benevolent ally to Earth, the Asgard are small creatures with large heads and large, black eyes (basically resembling the "visitors from another planet" stereotype we've all grown to love). Consumed by a war of their own, the Asgard made a treaty with the Goa'uld to list certain planets (Earth among them) as "protected planets" that were not to be attacked. Originally part of a peaceful alliance between the Ancients, the Nox, and the Furlings.
Parasitic creatures that forcibly take human hosts and enjoy posing as false gods to less-evolved societies. The Goa'uld use a rather technologically advanced device known as a sarcophagus that seemingly provides them with immortality. Even without a sarcophagus, however, Goa'ulds may live to be very old and can jump from one host to another with ease. The Goa'uld have a thirst for power and often fight amongst themselves, easily breaking into factions for the support of one System Lord over another.
Jaffa are created to serve as human incubators for larval Goa'uld. Originally human, Jaffa are transformed by Goa'uld technology so that they are capable of carrying a Goa'uld larva within a pouch in their belly. When this transformation is complete, the Jaffa loses all of his own immune system and thus must rely on the healing properties of the Goa'uld symbiote. As a result, Jaffa are slaves to the System Lords, dependent upon them in order to live. For this reason most loyal Jaffa serve as bodyguards or solders for the Goa'uld, while others (such as Teal'c and Bra'tac) lead a rebellion against the System Lords. Jaffa are often armed with staff weapons or zatnicketels.
A pacifist, forest-dwelling culture that is surprisingly technologically advanced. The Nox possess the ability to make themselves and other people/things appear invisible. Rather than fight the Goa'uld, they simply hide from them; rather than help SG-1 defeat the Goa'uld, they suggest that the people of Earth are "too young" and deny them access to their technology. Originally part of a peaceful alliance between the Ancients, the Asgard, and the Furlings.
The Tok'ra are rebel Goa'ulds who lead a resistance movement against the System Lords. Unlike other Goa'ulds, they live in voluntary symbiosis with their human hosts, preferring to "blend" personalities with the host rather than take over completely (as the Goa'uld tend to do). The Tok'ra work with the rebel Jaffa and the Tauri to fight against the Goa'uld system lords. They are usually armed with zatnicketels and may occasionally defend themselves using tacluchnatagamutoron ("tacs").
Us. As in humans, or Terrans, or Earthlings, or whatever you want to call us. To everyone else in the universe, the people of Earth (once thought to be a myth) are known as "the people of the Tauri." If you're watching SG-1 for the first time, this can be confusing as hell, so it's important to realize that we = Tauri and Tauri = us.
SG-1 and the other SG Teams
As mentioned above, the "SG-1" in Stargate SG-1 refers to a specific elite Air Force team that travels through the Stargate/Chaapa'ai on various missions. As the numbering system suggests, several different SG teams exist. These include SG-3 (a Marine combat unit lead by Colonel Makepeace, a recurring character), SG-5 (a second Marine combat unit), SG-7 (scientific corps), SG-8 (medical team), SG-9 (diplomatic corps), and SG-11 (engineering corps). All SG teams are headquartered at Stargate Command (SGC) located deep within a Cheyenne Mountain military installation.
As one might expect, we run into characters from other SG units from time to time, but the show focuses on the SG-1 team. This team includes the following individuals:
Colonel Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson)
Jack is the commanding officer of SG-1. He was responsible for killing Ra in the original Stargate movie, after which he apparently retired from the military. Some years later, he was pulled from retirement to lead the first Stargate mission back to Abydos. Since then, he has stayed on with the Air Force to continue leading missions through the Chaapa'ai.
Major Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping)
Sam is the techie behind SG-1. She is highly proficient in astrophysics and engineering and is the SGC's resident expert on wormhole theory. If there's nerdy wiring or tinkering stuff to be done, she's probably the one who will be doing it. Along with Daniel, she helped develop the system the SGC uses to activate and use the Chaapa'ai. Formerly "Captain Carter," Sam was promoted to the rank of Major in episode #303, Fair Game.
Teal'c (Christopher Judge)
Originally loyal to Apophis, Teal'c now follows the Tauri (aka people from Earth). Teal'c is a Jaffa, born and bred to serve as one of the trusted solders and bodyguards for the Goa'uld System Lords. As such, he carries an infant Goa'uld in a pouch within his stomach; this symbiotic relationship provides the Goa'uld with the nourishment it needs to survive, while providing Teal'c with almost perfect health. The downside is that, like all Jaffa, if Teal'c loses his symbiote (as the larvae are called) his immune system will fail and he will quickly die.
Dr. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks)
Daniel is a linguist and historical expert who joined Colonel O'Neill in defeating Ra in the Stargate movie. He spent several seasons with the show, but at the end of season five, he left the show due to disagreements with writers regarding the direction of his character. For much of the sixth season, the Daniel Jackson character continued to make occasional appearances on the show, but he was no longer a permanent member of SG-1. This caused quite a controversy among SG-1 fans, who actually worked quite hard to have the character returned to the show. (See www.savedanieljackson.com for details.) Surprisingly, the powers that be eventually reached an agreement with Shanks and he will be returning as a full member of SG-1 in season seven.
Jonas Quinn (Corin Nemec)
Daniel's absence in season six left a gap in SG-1's roster that would eventually be filled by Jonas Quinn, an alien from the planet Kelowna. Jonas is perhaps best described as a cross between Daniel and Sam; his advanced physiology allows him to learn at an accelerated rate, so he has picked up much of Daniel's linguistic and historical knowledge while becoming a leading mind with regard to human and Goa'uld technology. Jonas' time with the team is limited, however, as he will return with a smaller, recurring (but not permanent) role in season seven, after Daniel Jackson returns full-time to SG-1.
Other Major Characters
There are many other characters in the SG-1 universe, far too many to provide a comprehensive list. Here, however, are many of the important recurring characters who we see time and time again:
General George Hammond (Don S. Davis)
General Hammond is the commanding officer of the Cheyenne Mountain Stargate Command complex. He is responsible for coordinating missions for all SG units, overseeing the acquisition of new (alien) technologies, pursuing diplomatic relations with off-world allies, and defending the Earth from Goa'uld attack. He has a pretty red phone on his desk that keeps him in fairly constant contact with the President, to whom he reports directly.
Dr. Janet Fraiser (Teryl Rothery)
Fraiser is the chief medical officer for the Stargate Command facility. Think of her as the Beverly Crusher of Stargate SG-1. When things go wrong and sick people start dropping like flies because of some weird alien genital-flesh eating virus, she's the one who has to bandage the wounded, heal the sick, and perform similar feats of medical wizardry.
Rya'c (Neil Denis)
Teal'c's Jaffa son, who lived with his mother, Drey'ac, on Chulak until they were forced into exile by Apophis. Rya'c's mother later died, but he formed a newfound bond with his father; he now works off-world with the Jaffa/Tok'ra resistance movement.
Bra'tac (Tony Amendola)
Teal'c's Jaffa mentor, Bra'tac leads the rebel Jaffa in their war against the Goa'uld. Bra'tac has been integral in helping Teal'c deal with his estranged wife and son, in protecting Earth from Goa'uld attack, and in serving as a liaison between the Tauri, the Tok'ra, and the Jaffa rebels.
Jacob Carter (Carmen Argenziano)
Samantha Carter's father, who accepted a blending with the Tok'ra symbiote Selmak because he was dying of cancer. Carter/Selmak then began living and working off-world with the Tok'ra resistance movement. With Bra'tac, he plays an integral role in maintaining the Tauri/Jaffa/Tok'ra alliance.
Colonel Makepeace (Steve Makaj)
One of Stargate Command's highest ranking officers and the leader of SG-3. Colonel Makepeace (and his team) is often called in when SG-1 or any other SG team gets in "over their head," finds themselves ambushed by the Goa'uld, etc. As such, he has a somewhat nasty habit of rushing headlong into battle and getting dozens of his own men killed, yet he always seems to make it out okay. Hurray for him, I suppose.
Where You Can Get More Information
The official MGM website, complete with bios, episode guides, and television listings.
Probably the best fan site out there. Tremendous amounts of information, including interviews, cross-referenced episode synopses, news, and more.
After the Daniel Jackson character was "saved," this website, rather than folding into obscurity, became an excellent source of SG-1 news, interviews, and the like.
The Sci-Fi Channel's official SG-1 page, offering information about the show, archives of interviews with the various actors, and a fairly active bulletin board for fans to discuss the show and post questions.