I’d held off watching any of Stargate: Origins and there’s a couple of reasons why. The first was that I didn’t fancy seeing just 10 minutes of it at a time. It made more sense to wait until all 10 episodes were released so I could see them back to back. The second, well I just wasn’t that interested in it. As you can probably tell from other posts here, I love the franchise. But, the thought of going back to the past to see an adventure years before it even began just didn’t appeal. In saying that though, I was happy to watch it with an open mind. I haven’t seen any reviews of the show to bias my opinion so for all I knew, it could have been great. Was it? Well…
Stargate Origins- Review
No. No, it’s definitely not great. In fact, Stargate’s return to the screen after 6 years is average at best. Questions have to be asked as to why this story was chosen as the one to bring the franchise back. It’s a story set just after the gate was discovered that features Catherine Langford, her father, and a bunch of Nazi’s seeking weapons to help out Hitler. It’s an odd bunch of things to throw into the pot and the resulting story is one that fails to come to life.
Let’s start with what I liked. Ellie Gall is one of the bright spots here. Catherine isn’t brilliantly written, yet she is able to bring something to the character that I could get behind. She helps to create a fiesty character that at times is great fun to watch. If Stargate comes back with a fourth run, I’d be happy to have Gall recast as someone else in a leading role. It’s also brilliant to see and hear some classic Stargate things again. The noise the gate makes, the sound of the rings teleporting down; it provides some nice nostalgia that, along with the classic music, made me smile
But that’s it for the most part of what I enjoyed. Sure it was nice to see Connor Trinneer again, but he doesn’t get a huge amount to work with other than some fun trickery with ancient Egyptian language. It’s also amusing that he is called an elderly man when he looks no older than Trinneer’s actual age of almost 50. The main problem here is the story. It really isn’t all that interesting. I didn’t feel any wonder at going back through the gate and I certainly didn’t care about any of the characters who were at various degrees of danger.
Actually, let’s talk about the characters for a second. Catherine and her father, Paul, were fine. The rest? Not so much. If anything, what we have here is a collection of some of the most frustrating characters the franchise has seen. James, Catherine’s boyfriend, is just as bland as they come. There’s nothing to like about him, he shows no real personality and it’s actually odd that someone like Catherine would even give him the time of day. Dr. Wilhelm Brücke is a laughable villain- as are all the Nazi’s here actually. Other than one moment late on, he shows no menace and no signs that he should be taken seriously as a villain. And then there’s the comic relief. Wasif is, for the most part, a chore to watch. He’s there to be amusing but fails at every moment. He does improve slightly as things go on, but he grated on me every time he appeared on screen. The worst though? Some Nazi officer who is there seemingly just to provide awful slapstick comedy. The problem is, it’s just embarrassing as opposed to funny. He pops up after the first episode in a couple of post-credit sequences that those writing it must have felt were hilarious. Whereas Stargate of old was usually great at giving us comedic moments, these scenes give the impression that the writers have no idea what nuance is- nor do they understand the type of comedy this franchise needs. I fact, I woud go as far as to say that all these characters who I couldn;t stand were the fault of the writers, not the people playing them.
The writing, on the whole, is pretty sloppy really. Take Catherine and James. In the first scene, we see the two of them sharing a sweet moment that shows they are clearly in love. Fast forward to them going through the gate and they’re bickering like a typical will they/won’t they couple. It comes from nowhere and just indicates that the writers don’t have a handle on these characters or who they are. The show lacks any kind of structure and fails to craft a story that’s compelling or in any way intriguing. The overall plot doesn’t help either. We know Hitler didn’t get his hands on technology like the ones they are after- so where is the jeopardy? It’s certainly not with any of these characters and the risks they are taking. The only one who mattered to me was Catherine and it’s already established that she lives to meet the likes of Daniel Jackson. This is a prime example of why going backward to tell stories is rarely the right way to go. The Stargate universe is ripe for storytelling possibilities in the present day- did we really need to learn anything else about the old days? Apparently not, because Stargate Origins didn’t really give us anything. Even with Kasuf. Yeah, it was nice to see a younger version of him, but couldn’t he have just been anyone?
Production standards range from good to poor. There are some instances where the show looks great and yet other times it looks cheap. The final episode is a perfect example of this. I spent a lot of it thinking it was looking great, only for an explosion at the climax to make me laugh. Oh and the spinning camera that’s used to close out each episode? I never want to see anything like that again. Stargate Origins was already seeming like a below average fan project, weird gimmicks like this definitely don’t help.
Catherine: You’re a dead man.
Brücke: I would watch what you say lest you find yourself standing behind your fathers grave. Remember, he’s the only thing you have left.
Catherine: If he’s all I have left then I’ll stop at nothing to find him.
That’s genuinely the only line of dialogue I felt was good enough to highlight.
Ellie Gall does a great job with the crummy material she has been given. As I said earlier in the review, I’d be happy to see this actress pop back up in a future version of Stargate as someone else.
As nice as it is to see Stargate back on the screen, this wasn’t the way to do it. Poor writing, poor direction and some questionable acting make this seem like a bad fan fiction- far below the standards we’ve come to expect from Stargate. It’s not all bad and there are some bright spots, they are few and far between though. Let’s hope that the next time it returns, it has some writers working on it who know how to handle something of this calibre.