You Spin Me ‘Round & Round: Stargate Origins, a Review

24 Feb

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Stargate Command is a website and an app for all things related to this series owned by MGM. When the announcement arrived at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con about a new web series during the SG-1’s 20th-anniversary celebrations, I was excited. The fact it’s going back to the basics as imagined by original creators Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich made me giddy. My love for archaeological adventure in the style of the pulps got me anxious.

However, I knew that I did not need to jump into the launch of this service right away; I knew this series would not be immediately coming. Origins had no confirmed release date. Accessing this site for detailed content about the franchise is nowhere as comprehensive as GateWorld.net — which offered essays and detailed synopsis of the entire franchise.

The one-time fee of $20 (online price) or $29.99 (through the app) to watch the everything that made up SG-1 and onwards is very questionable. The premium content, to which there’s only a handful, I found feels scant. When this offer disappears in May, I have to wonder how much of it will be gone? It’s no loss when compared to the content the DVD releases offer, namely all the commentary tracks and featurettes offered. To sell this online service, all these extras should have been included. To have “The Secret Files of the SGC—The Stargate Universe” or “Stargate SG-1: Timeline to the Future—Legacy of the Gate” under one cloud service make paying the fee all the more worthwhile.

When considering the new series, a movie release of Origins is inevitable. Much like how Full Moon Entertainment decided to release Puppet Master: Axis Termination as a web-series, the purpose was to build up to the eventual compilation and eventual video release. With this series, instead of 10-minute segments, they were 30 minutes in length and far more gratifying.

This new story occurs in 1939 where Catherine Langford (Ellie Gall) and her father Paul (Connor Trinneer) are trying to figure out what the strange ring they discovered from Egypt does. When Dr. Wilhelm Brücke (Aylam Orian) bursts into the warehouse with knowledge of how to activate the artefact, nobody believes he is speaking the truth. He reveals a book which has a few answers. With sheer muscle power to spin the ring around and several car batteries hooked up, they turn it on and walk through. The first three episodes make up Act One.

Just where they land is an average sized room of Ancient Egyptian design and who they discover on the other side is, of course, a Goa’uld. She is not pleased Brücke and crew has entered her sanctum. Although her name is never mentioned, the cast credits confirm she is Aset (Salome Azizi) aka Isis.

Episodes four and five move the story slowly forward. Each shows the two groups that have entered through the Stargate. While the Nazi team have met the god, the second led by Catherine arrives hours later only to find one soldier dead. Both teams get captured by the residents of a desert world. The world does not look like Abydos because the sands are more white than beige (the online synopsis, however, confirms it is), and budget notwithstanding, the design is different. It does not match the production design of the movie. This detail I can forgive since this series is made on a budget.

The only advancement in the plot is how Isis desires to continue her reign and is willing to challenge Ra — a name not often heard in the series. Her first prime may well be Sekhmet. Her fighting style is like that of a cat. Credits reveal she is Serqet, a new character with no direct mythological counterpart.

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A few thoughts come to mind when concerning canon. Either Aset is not Isis, or through some wild time travel conundrum, she will one day flee to Earth in the distant past (most likely back to Egypt either to or with her husband Osiris) and both their fate will get sealed by Seth.

While the budget for web-based series does not allow for impressive costume designs, massive sets and grandiose special effects, the hope is with this series acting a gauge to how much fan interest still remains. It has been off the air since 2011. Fans will never see Dean Devlin / Roland Emmerich’s idea for a reboot. That idea died in 2016 according to several sources, like when Devlin spoke to Looper.com

In the photo below, she pulls Captain James Beal (an unwilling soldier stationed in Egypt to help the Langfords) through the gate as part of the help. Catherine has yet to meet Ernest Littlefield and conduct further experiments with the gate. While this series is retconning when the gate was first opened, as shown in the episode “The Torment of Tantalus,” perhaps this story is happening in an alternative universe.

Before any of this future happens, Catherine needs to more allies if she is to rescue her father. He cannot die in Origins. Five more episodes remain to tell this story and they will arrive in two-episode weekly spurts. More story is most likely planned, but to have them produced will depend on the response from fans than the studio heads.


So far, the story is engaging enough to get me interested in Stargate all over again. We get to see what kind of relationship Catherine has with her father. The other character may seem cardboard for now, but the hope is that they will get fleshed out as the series gets the green light to continue.

Streaming this series is a nice upgrade from sorting through piles of DVDs. The online library looks good on my 42″ HDTV; the video grain is hardly noticeable from a distance. When considering the range of cameras used over the years, the early seasons are tough to view on upscaling video players. When forced to 720p, the video grain is not as bad as I recall. But first, the movie and novels which make up its proper sequel must be looked at!

Assuming subscribers have unlimited data for their Internet plan, anyone can go nuts binging on any of the three classic series. Infinity is not available and it may show up later in this digital library at a later date.

 

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