REACHING OUT INTO THE UNIVERSE AND BACK – STARGATE UNIVERSE, STARGATE ORIGINS AND THE LEGACY
With the cancellation of Stargate Atlantis and the announcement that the new series of Stargate would be going after a younger, sexier demographic; Stargate Universe was already on a back foot before a single scene had been shot. The loyal audience of Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis felt ostracized by the producers of Stargate Universe with the announcement. It didn’t help that they also decided to take the series in a darker direction, capitalizing on the success of the recent Battlestar Galactica remake which was getting high critical acclaim. Because they copied the grittier tone of Battlestar Galactica, the sense of humor was almost entirely stripped away from the series- this left the fans feeling like it wasn’t a Stargate series at all. Add to it that most of the characters in the series were seen as bland or downright unlikable, there was this feeling of disassociation from the brand that turned off many Stargate fans away from the series. The series also took too long to find its direction- many of the early episodes felt like their hook was literally just about what resource they needed to replenish this week.
With the success of Stargate SG1 the producers started to think of ideas on how to expand the Stargate universe. They started coming up with several different ideas on how to continue the franchise. The initial idea was that SG1 would end and the spin off would pick up where it left off. The SGC would have relocated to an ancient base under Antarctica and the series would have taken place in our galaxy still. When they realized that there was no way they were going to be able to wait for SG1 to finish because it kept getting renewed, they decided to run both series concurrently and move the Atlantis series to another galaxy.
Moving the series to the Pegasus Galaxy freed the producers and writers up to tell different stories and introduce new and different races and cultures that were not bound by the canon that SG1 had established. It also meant that they needed to establish a new antagonist species to the series. They didn’t want to re-tread old ground on the type of enemy they had for Atlantis– they wanted something different from the Goa’uld. The Wraith were the result. Vampiric in nature, the Wraith feed upon human beings- draining their life energy and absorbing it into themselves. This makes them incredibly resilient to damage and allows them to heal quickly (especially if they have just recently fed). It was decided that the Wraith would have a matriarchal society with Queens being the top of the chain, much like bees. They took a lot from the hierarchy of bees in designing the Wraith.
Due to the success of the original film, there was intention for Stargate to continue, the original creators of the film envisioned a trilogy of films-whilst others had a different idea. Producers Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner had been working on The Outer Limits together and both of them, independently from each other, approached MGM with the same idea: a TV series based on the Stargate film. Upon realising they had the same idea, they decided to work together on the project. They spent three months studying the original film to learn the mechanics of the Stargate and came to a conclusion: there was no way that the Stargate would only go to one place. From the idea that the gate requires 6 symbols and the point of origin to establish a connection (and there are 38 symbols on the gate itself, not including the point of origin), you can deduce that there are 1,987,690,320 different permutations of gate addresses possible. That’s a lot of potential addresses to go to. So, it makes sense that there are Stargates all over the galaxy rather than just two.
I’m going to pretend for just one minute that I didn’t start watching Alien Nation because the main character’s name is shockingly close to my own. I didn’t see an advert for it on the Sci-Fi Channel at the age of 13 and hear “Detective Matt Sikes” and think to myself, “That’s almost my name! I have to watch this show.” No- it was the incredible social commentary that drew me in, the social commentary that was entirely absent from the advertisement. The truth was, 13-year-old Matt Dykes heard Detective Matt Sikes and saw an action-packed cop-show advert that happened to have aliens in it and wanted to watch the show. But you know what? I am so glad I saw that advert because when I was able to sit down and watch Alien Nation, I was blown away by the series. It wasn’t long before I was recording them on video. Once the DVDs were finally released in the UK, my pre-order was placed immediately. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have watched all 22 episodes of the series close to 30 times over the last 18 years. What is it about the series that drew me in, apart from sharing a very similar name to the main character? The answer really is this: everything. The characters, the setting, the stories, the music, everything about the series. It was interesting, it was different and it had something to say.
I remember a time when a film was released, people watched them. And if they didn’t enjoy them or they didn’t like them, they might have gotten annoyed about it or they maybe complained to their friends about how shit it was. Now people seem to think that if they don’t enjoy a film or TV series, they have a right to petition the makers to go back and remake it to how they want it. I, for one, am sick of it.
We have written a few articles on this site about fandom, nerddom and the like, but I feel that we often spend the majority of the time condemning fans for wanting things they love to match their expectations- without ever really trying to think about things from their side.
I’m going to do something out of character: I’m going to try to see how I’ve been wrong and dive into why the angry fanboy is right- even if what they do with their anger is wrong. No matter how much you hate any piece of media, you can trust that people (not all of them, sure) poured their blood sweat and tears into it and any personal attacks are not only a waste of time, but outright cruel. To do this, I’m going to be looking at some recent films and TV shows and spoil the hell out of them, so be warned….
A BRIEF RETROSPECTIVE OF A UNIQUE TELEVISION SERIES THAT BROKE THE MOLD OF THE ACTION-ADVENTURE GENRE.
The whirring of the engines, the whooshing of the rotors, and that iconic theme song. Airwolf was a TV series that broke the mould of the action-adventure genre of 1980s television. Looking back, the pilot episode doesn’t feel like a TV program at all; it feels more like a feature. From the opening shots of the desert and the close-ups of Airwolf to the intense aerial photography, the TV pilot has some serious production value behind it. The storyline of the pilot also includes some rather dark themes. The series would last for three seasons totalling 55 episodes before being cancelled in 1986.
A LOOK AT WHAT MAKES THIS CARTOON SO COMPELLING FOR SO MANY PEOPLE.
Growing up as a 90’s kid retro cartoons were readily available thanks in large part to the Saturday morning ritual of too much sugary cereal (looking at you Fruity Pebbles and Trix!) being offered up to the God’s Hannah and Barbera. The old 60’s adventure cartoons always stuck with me so when Adult Swim first aired a show that spoofed Johnny Quest, the Hurculoids, and even the old Fantastic Four Cartoon (the one with H.E.R.B.I.E. and not the Human Torch because the executives were worried kids would pour gas on themselves and then light themselves on fire because kids are stupid,) I was all for it.
The Venture Bros. combines that same self-indulgent 60’s campiness with something far more original. It takes the superhero and adventurer genre and turns it on its ear. Filled with pop culture references that never seem dated and science fiction tropes that never fail to entertain, Doc Hammer and Jackson Public, two men who I have spoken to personally, have created a timeless program filled with twists and turns that rival some of the best shows on prime time.
I don’t exactly remember when I got into the Venture Bros. It was just one of those things. It was streaming on Netflix and I was bored and through that boredom, I fell in love with some of the best characters created for television.
What appeals to me the most about this show is its fanbase. Maybe it’s just me but there doesn’t seem to be the same toxicity other fanbases suffer from. There are no rabid Venture Bros. fans lining up at McDonald’s to get their hands on special sauces and gatekeeping newer fans from joining in on the fun. I believe my wife said it best when she said that Doc would shut that shut it right down and never make another episode if he found out there was any sort of shenanigans like that going on.
No place is this welcoming fanbase better represented than at Dragon Con in Atlanta. Last year I cosplayed as the Blue Morpho and met up with some fellow VB Cosplayers at the fan booth in the Hilton. We all just sort of hung out together, laughing and having a great time getting our pictures taken. There is a great picture of me with a half-naked Traester wrapped in an American flag with a post-it note saying “Fix It!” I mingled with St. Cloud, a half dozen Henchmen, A Killinger and so many Monarchs and Dr. Mrs. The Monarchs.
The funny thing is, it’s such a low key and welcoming fanbase because Doc and Jackson created characters who are pretty welcoming when you think about it. Rusty is a damaged character and surrounds himself with equally damaged people who have, in a lot of ways, become a tight-knit family. His relationships with his sons, though strained, often lead to emotional gut punch moments like when Rusty asks “Brock, am I a bad person?” It so often comes out of nowhere that you are left slack-jawed because this show shouldn’t be that serious and heavy but it is and we’re grateful for it.
Paul Landri is a fledgling novelist who does human services work in beautiful Atlanta, Georgia. When he isn’t busy saving the world he is an amateur voice actor, Tiki enthusiast, Jazz, and cigar guy and dog lover. He is married to a marine biologist and he thinks that is the coolest thing ever.
Television as a medium has become the place to tell long-running stories and translate novels into a visual medium, but it wasn’t always that way. For the majority of its life, television was the place for simple, self-contained episodes that were easy to jump into at any point without knowing what happened before. There were several shows that broke new ground in the way television works, but none so game-changing as Babylon 5, a creation from the mind of J. Michael Straczynski that would change in how audiences watched TV.
A DEEP DIVE INTO THE SERIES THAT WOULD PUSH THE BOUNDARIES OF TELEVISION AND INSPIRE COUNTLESS PEOPLE
You unlock this article with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sixty years of a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just started reading an article about The Twilight Zone.
OK, so I’m not Rod Serling, but this is an article all about The Twilight Zone. A television series that would not only push the boundaries of television, but would go on to inspire writers, directors, actors and many more for decades to come. It would also be parodied, remade, referenced and lauded for just as long and will continue to do so for many more years to come. Each episode was played out as a self-contained story, which allowed the writers a huge amount of freedom to tell whatever story they wanted to tell. Every week, viewers tuned in, not knowing if the show was going to be about aliens, monsters, witches, devils, ghosts or any number of supernatural and extra-terrestrial beings.