So I decided to start Stargate SG1 over from the beginning. I got to tell you I came very close to skipping the pilot. When I first was introduced to SG1 by my husband we very logically started at the beginning, and I will be honest with you...Children of the Gods did not encourage me to give up my righteous stance of 'The movie is better! The tv show RUINED any chance of there being a sequel to the movie!". It felt a bit tacky, boring, and kind of exhaustive.
I was pleasantly surprised however, in my second viewing just this afternoon to find that it was actually quite good this time around. Though I suspect it might only be so because now that I know the characters, where they go, and how they act it was kind of interesting to see 'where it all began' to use a cliche. I am not saying that this is the only way Children of the Gods can be enjoyed...I am just saying I am pretty sure it's the only reason I enjoyed it. :)
So to start off. I have to say it still felt a little bit tacky in the beginning....I mean it kind of really felt as though they were all but waving a flag that said "We've seen the movie! We know what happens! This pilot is supposed to take place after the movie!"...not necessarily because of what they were saying but HOW they were saying it. Most of the dialogue that involved plot points from the Movie just were said really stupidly, like they kind of stuck out like a sore thumb. Especially Kowalski's line about "remember he kept saluting you?" when referring to Skaara. It was kind of like...yeah maybe a nostalgic line or two about how Skaara was idolizing O'Neill would have been good...but they just came out sounding like Lt. Major Dorkus.
I have to say it's really quite hilarious seeing how differently the characters act in the pilot, some of them have reason to act differently and you can draw a series of events to point to how their character arcs and changes...some others are just acting plain weird for no apparent reason other than that the script writers didn't actually have any idea how they were going to end up writing the characters in the future. Captain Sam Carter is a chief example of this. Not only is she highly competitive with O'Neill for almost no reason other than the fact that he thought she was a guy when he heard the name Captain Carter, hurling inflammatory and highly obnoxious lines at him that make her sound like a very un-practiced feminist. I mean the whole line about "...just because my reproductive organs are on the inside instead of the outside, doesn't mean I can't handle whatever you can handle.". Okay firstly...for seriously? And secondly...pretty much the only thing you accomplish when using a line like that is remind folks that you have private parts....real nice.
The funniest thing about Carter is that about five minutes later she's a totally different person! I mean from all accounts when we saw her at the conference table we pretty much get the impression she's going to be whining and moaning about how the guys are treating her differently or "if you think I can't do this because I'm a girl then..." and instead we get such sincere lines as "You know you really will like me when you get to know me" and "Don't worry Colonel, I won't let you down". It's kind of a confusing moment. It's like "oh...were you just being a jerk back there to show off for all the dudes in the room or something?" And we all know (if you've seen more than the first episode) that this is not even remotely how Sam is! She's way too confident in herself and her abilities to be a feminist.
General Hammond is also completely different, he's kind of....well....totally grumpy and meanish. Although that more makes sense because all he knows of these people is that Jack doesn't follow orders, Sam is a whiny scientist, and Daniel didn't come back to Earth the way he was supposed to. He hasn't formed relationships with these people yet, he doesn't trust them yet so his personality makes sense. Daniel definitely is a lot different in this pilot too. He's not as quirky-funny as he usually is...though we can reason that perhaps the reason he isn't is because his wife got kidnapped and now has a goa'uld in her....though I get the feeling watching him that that's not the reason he's not quirky-funny..you know when you just know a character had to have been envisioned differently? Even if there's a good reason why he isn't acting the way you know him to act?
Another thing....Skaara definitely should probably have chosen a different outfit by now....cause....like whoa.
Something I totally missed the first viewing around was Sam's classic line when she has her hands on the dialing device, she's talking about how it was the one thing that was missing at the dig in Giza and she says "It took us 15 years and 3 supercomputers to MacGyver a system for the gate on Earth". O'Neill as she says this makes a really funny face that we can translate into "You knew they had to bring that up at some point...". (Note from Andrew: Actually, you didn't miss this- when we watched the Final Cut version, this line was omitted.) For those of you who've grown up locked away in your basement and have never seen the light of a television screen...Richard Dean Anderson (O'Neill) played MacGyver in the long running television show. Which just happens to be a show SO iconic that fans are practically SALIVATING for there to be some kind of secret nod or code word that lets them know that Richard Dean Anderson knows they are watching and knows they remember who he played. I know...cause I'm one of them. It's almost as if you feel like it's a moment that's meant just for you when someone throws an in-joke in like that. Now...if only they would've gotten Scott Bakula to come and play some cool role beside Richard....I mean how cool would that have been? I mean they came close with the episode 'Shadow Play" that had Dean Stockwell in it...I mean...close...but no Sam Beckett. (Although interesting Geekynote: Don S. Davis was the surgeon in the AWESOME disney tv movie "I-Man" which starred Scott Bakula. I just think this is too cool for words...for obvious geeky reasons)
I was just kind of laughing to myself about all the things that they didn't keep up with from the Movie and this episode....although they could possibly have come up with solutions for them at some point during the series and I am just forgetting. Number one would be Daniel's allergies. He had them quite often in the movie, and they used that in the pilot with this cute scene where O'Neill sends a box of kleenex through the gate so that Daniel will know that it's them. And throughout the pilot there are a couple (okay one) scenes where Daniel sneezes....but I am as far as season six and he's definitely not been having trouble with allergies. But I will keep an eye out as I move on through season one.
Number two...and this is a biggy....the effects of a jump through the gate. We are told that you feel as though you've gone through a blizzard naked, and not only that but usually you kind of want to puke everywhere once you've gone through it. Now I can understand building up a tolerance to puking, I mean pilots do that all the time. But....building up a tolerance to the "compression your molecules undergo during the millisecond required for reconstitution"? Not so likely. The other thing that makes no sense is that when they DO do the 'pukey freezy' thing in the pilot, no one seems to be suffering from it whenever they return from Abydos....it's like...does it ONLY happen when one is leaving ones own homeworld? I am pretty sure that's not how it works...but watch the show...I am pretty sure that not once (when they are actually following the rules that you get sick and frozen) when they return to the gate room are they ever sick or frozen. (Note from Andrew: Actually, they do deal with this later- the jump FROM Earth is so rough because we are not using a properly calibrated DHD- just our own rough approximation dialing computer, which was not correctly calibrated. Gates returning to Earth are DHD-generated and have no such issues. In the first or second season they mention they used to have that problem but Sam had corrected it. Presumeably it happened just after the pilot. Sorry if I'm stealing your thunder! :-) )
And I know that the show made the whole Stargate thing it's own thing...yes I realize this....but my thing is that I cannot stop being annoyed at how they changed Sha'uri's name!!! Oh my WORD! My husband can attest to the fact that pretty much any time Daniel says her name I just repeat it incredulously. I mean...how did we go from Sha'uri to Sha're??? It's like...do they ever explain this? Did her name get changed for some odd reason? Was Sha'uri the only copyrighted thing in the whole of the Stargate franchise?? I mean....as my husband pointed out they changed O'Neil's name by adding the extra 'L"...but at least that wasn't so....obvious! Sha're....it just...sounds so...weird.
But...I digress. (always wanted to say that!)
By far the most interesting was to see Teal'c, and know what was going on in his mind....to be able to see the conflict on his face. It was pretty amazing. Also I was really appreciative of how they had those emotional establishing shots when we would get the closeups of his face when Apophis kept asking his little goa'uld mate if the new nakey girl on the slab of a table was 'pleasing to her"....okay...now I have to comment on THAT part. For seriously!? Like...why? Why....why do they have to be naked? It's like....okay I could buy that maybe they just want to be sure they are getting the best 'speciment' (gosh that's an awful word)...but for reals...it's just...so yuck. Which brings me to my OTHER 'what the heck?!" moment....(This is the un-good edition of Children of the Gods aka: the nc-17 type one, that I am commenting on, which means if you've only seen the very much more classy and better done new version you might not have some of these scenes) why in the heck-world would the girls that they gathered for potential queenship be in like a little harem thing wearing pretty dresses? Especially if they are only going to have their pretty dresses taken off anyways in like five seconds? It's so stupid! There's REALLY absolutely NO reason whatsoever for them to be in there....to the best of my knowledge the Jaffa wouldn't be able to go hang out with the Harem girls, nor does it seem like Goa'uld have any interest in....shall we say....taking "advantage' of humans that are not hosts. So it just felt like....pointless and kind of dumb. Which brings me to my NEXT 'what the heck?!" moment...which is....What the heck is that half naked guy doing on that chaise with that girl using a hand device? He's just sitting there....and for a second I thought it was girl but then I realized the muscles were all wrong for a girl and then I saw the hand device and it was kind of like...."Whaaat?" I mean...I am guessing maybe he was healing her of her imperfections or something? Calming her down? Maybe she had a headache? I don't even know. All I know is that I definitely like the remastered version because the nudes are totally out of the pilot in that version and it's just so much better. The whole thing just doesn't fit with the show AT ALL and it feels kind of like they were desperate to hook viewers...i'd like to think that the viewers would have been hooked just as effectively with good storylines and characters, that people can like a show without having to have the whole "LOOK IT'S A NAKED WOMAN....AND SHE'S NUDE TOO!" aspect thrust at them to get them interested....people just aren't that dumb, and it seems the makers of the show agree with me since they pretty much used that line of gathering viewers from the next episodes on. (Note from Andrew: Aparently, as the pilot was produced for Showtime, this nudity was forced on them under protest- an apt parallel to the scene in question- and they immediately took it out as soon as they had control of the pilot, including syndication runs.)
Anyway...back to Teal'c. I feel like his character was handled so wonderfully in this episode, like I said the establishing emotional shots just make it totally acceptable that he rebels against everything and helps O'Neill and the others escape. This could have been a really terrible scene kind of akin to the "I escaped somehow!" scene in Thumb Wars. We could have been like "What the heck!? That's so conveniant, it's insulting! Why would he just suddenly help them!?" Because of those few shots where Christopher Judge so adequately shows us that Teal'c is totally disgusted with this, that he wants to be done with this life, that he knows these people he serves are evil, we totally buy that he wants to help our team of heroes.
I loved the scene we got when the last couple people escape through the Stargate from Chulak, when we get a rare view of the Stargate from behind as people jump through it...it's pretty cool! (Although just before that part, there was this scene with Apophis and 'Sha're', and Apophis looks up at the death glider above him and then looks down...and I had to rewind it to be sure but the film was TOTALLY reversed! It's so obvious! I am guessing it was either REALLY important to them that Apophis look down at the end of the scene...or more likely...there was more death glider scene than Apophis scene so they had to loop it to make it last longer) Also seeing the hardly ever seen secondary window above the main window in the gate room where Hammond and that whiney guy are standing near the end of the pilot. Although I kind of laughed a little bit when Sam came flip flopping onto the ramp when she jumped through...cause she kind of clearly just normal ran through the Stargate...it's kind of like...unless her molecules were being flung faster than normal or came together sooner than expected just before she came through the event horizon...you usually always come out of the Stargate the same way you went in.
I had to rewind the part when both Sam and Daniel are yelling "Hold your fire!" when Teal'c and that giant guy come through the gate, for some reason unknown to me...it was an extremely cool scene.
Although not even that scene could top the extreme WOW of the scene that takes place at about 1 hour 35 minutes I believe...when we get a little tast of whats to come with Sam, Daniel, O'Neill and Teal'c standing together framed beautifully by the Stargate behind them. Now THIS is definitely a moment that you can't really appreciate fully unless you've seen and loved the show because when you are first watching the pilot you obviously don't know whats to come and therefore can't appreciate the whole "THERE THEY ARE! TOGETHER! It's SG1 and they don't even KNOW IT yet!....OH MY WORD THAT'S SO BOSS!" moment. That's the best thing about this show, is that it's got 'replay' value to the extreme. It's not a show you watch once and then give away to someone, it's something you watch over and over again and notice something different every time, it's got an amazing internal continuity that no other show has. It makes you realize that they KNOW we remember, that we really want to hear references to past episodes, plights, solutions, friends. It's one of the only shows that when someone dies in like say episode 56...it's not like, in episode 57, everyone suddenly has amnesia and is all like "Bareil? Bareil who?", people actually remember and go through the hard emotions that come with losing someone. It makes you realize that the people who make and write and act this show aren't lazy bums who don't want to have to remember past continuity because it's NOT easy writing and remembering everything that happened in the past and making sure that what happens in the future reflects that (anyone who has tried to write a book can tell you that). But it makes the world of Stargate SG1 so much more rich and vibrant and real! It feels so real because that internal continuity! And I seriously know of no other show that does it like SG1....which is why it is tied for first place on my top five list of favorite tv shows. :)
All in all this was a good episode, It would have held my attention had I gone into it not knowing what Stargate was but I think I would have been a little skeptical about what it could do.
I give this episode 2 1/2 Grenade Lobbing Giants out of 5.