The first time I tried to watch Stargate SG-1 nearly a decade ago I lost interest in it almost immediately. Last week I decided to give it a go, and I watched half a season in four days. I love it!
I’m a born and bred Star Trek fan. I have vague memories of Riker’s beard and the dartboard in Quark’s bar from evenings lying on the floor while I watched TV with my parents, and while I was in college I made a point to watch all of The Original Series, and then The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and even Enterprise! I’m actually fighting my way through a second rewatch of Enterprise right now, after which I’ll have seen all of Star Trek at least twice.
The thing is, though, while I’m a huge fan of Star Trek in general, Enterprise is really a drag for me. It has just never felt right, but I’ve been pushing through it anyway, out of some weird, completionist sense of obligation.
To ease the burden, I’ve been putting it on in the mornings, when I take on full responsibility for our nine-month-old to give my wife a bit of a break. He’s at the age where he’s starting to be okay with wandering around our baby-proofed living room amusing himself, but not old enough to not need someone sitting there with him to make sure he doesn’t bash his face against the wall, which is one of his favorite hobbies.
Last week when I sat down with the kid I just couldn’t bring myself to watch another episode of Enterprise, so I put on Stargate SG-1 instead.
So How’d It Go?
To put it in a word: well.
When I tried the show before, I sneered at it as a cheap knock-off that was just trying to cash in on the “Star __” naming convention. This time around, almost immediately, I found myself sucked in by how it stood apart from Trek, and it even gave me a new perspective on Enterprise, which has made that show better for me.
For the uninitiated, the basic premise of Stargate SG-1 is that a big, mysterious metal ring found on Earth can open wormholes to other planets, mostly populated by humans who were seeded across the galaxy by an alien race. Humanity realizes the threat that having a doorway to other worlds could be, so the US Government sets up a military/exploration organization to keep watch on the Stargate and to pop through every once and awhile and see what’s out there.
On the surface level, both Stargate and Star Trek are about exploring strange new worlds and seeking out new life and new civilizations. But the government in charge of Stargate has a clear focus on the military first, while the United Federation of Planets that runs things in most Star Trek shows is all about the exploratory side of things.
SG-1 primarily follows four characters as the main crew. O’Neill is pure military, Daniels is all about science, Carter is a bit of both, and Teal’c is a weird pseudo-alien warrior who lived his life among the aliens who spread humanity to so many planets.
This ensemble makes for a nice balance where the characters we care about usually are looking at things from a science/exploration/history perspective, even if they are ostensibly a military organization.
But How Does This Relate to Star Trek?
Enterprise is a prequel series that shows the crew of a ship called the NX-01, which predates the formation of the United Federation of Planets. Instead, the series tells the story of humanity first venturing out into the galactic community. The implied mission here is to go out and make friends. But the captain of the ship, Archer, is super bull-headed and gruff and imperialistic, so he ends up just wandering around the galaxy bullying people into doing things the way he wants…which just makes the show not feel like Star Trek to me.
I’ve always understood that the supposed idea was that this was showing how humanity used to be in the Star Trek timeline, and how they are building up to where they are in the other shows, but I never really bought it…until I met Colonel Jack O’Neill on SG-1.
If Stargate can be accused of ripping of it’s general idea from Star Trek, then Star Trek: Enterprise absolutely has to be accused of stealing it’s leading character from Stargate.
Wait…STOLE From Stargate?
Yes. Let’s look at why I say this:
Jack O’Neill is an Air Force officer who constantly feels like he’s annoyed at having to follow a bunch of nerds around as they get excited about all the discoveries they make on the planets they visit through the Stargate. He’s gruff, he’s brash, he thinks his way is the right way, he probably drinks Bud Light with Lime and drives a Ford truck.
Seeing Jack as a military man who is just a bit unsuited for the mission of exploration he’s fallen into made the character of Jonathan Archer on Enterprise make so much more sense to me. Because…he’s the same guy.
Archer, like O’Neill is a former pilot who came up in some sort of military and responds to every obstacle that he comes across from that perspective. It doesn’t make either of them wrong, but it does make them very different from Ben Sisko or Jean-Luc Picard or Janeway or even Kirk.
Well, they’re closer to Kirk than the others, but still.
I’m not sure how Stargate SG-1 managed to illustrate that character better in the half a season I’ve seen than Star Trek: Enterprise does in it’s entire run, but I think it’s awesome that the one show has made the other better for me.
Now I’ve got options on which show to watch in the mornings with my son. He’s made his preference clear, though… he couldn’t stop giggling when the Nox were on the screen.
Stargate SG-1 images are property of SyFy. Star Trek Enterprise images are property of CBS.
In the United States, Stargate SG-1 is available on Hulu, and Star Trek: Enterprise is available on Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, and CBS All Access.