Fan favorite sci-fi series Stargate has proven to have some life left. Starting as a 1994 film starring Kurt Russell and James Spader, the property quickly expanded with shows Stargate: SG-1 as well as additional spin-offs. Stargate is returning for a reunion show. This reunion will bring back Stargate’s beloved characters, though perhaps not in the way that fans expect. While the original writer Brad Wright is involved, the entire script was written by Google AI. That has something to do with exactly who Wright chose to appear in the episode.
While the majority of the script is written by AI with very little human input, it was important to the Stargate brand to bring back characters meaningful for the show. Speaking with Bleeding Cool, Wright said, “I wanted it to be [Michael Shanks] and [Amanda Tapping] as core members of SG-1. Then it became, ‘Oh, let’s do the scientists.’” So along with Samantha Carter (Tapping) and Dr. Daniel Jackson (Shanks), Rodney McKay (David Hewlett) and Jennifer Keller (Jewel Staite) are also involved.
The relatively small number of characters is due to the AI writing the episode. Wright refers to the AI’s involvement as being a science project, but there are other reasons for revitalizing Stargate with a hands-off approach to creativity. To write an entirely new story, Wright would have needed to get the approval from MGM. Google’s AI enterprise was a way around this. The AI watched 300 episodes of the original show and based off of that, produced an entirely new script.
If you’re waiting for the big names from the Stargate film to show up for a reunion, don’t hold your breath. For example, fans may recall Michael Shanks is not the first actor to portray Daniel Jackson. Shanks is beloved for playing Jackson on SG-1 for ten seasons, but the character was originally played by James Spader in the 1994 film. Spader has been notorious for his criticism of the film and refusal to return. But that doesn’t stop the series from being meaningful to the fans.
Another important alum is Jewel Staite who is reprising her role as Jennifer Keller. Staite is well loved from her role as Kayleigh in Joss Whedon’s short-lived series Firefly. After her final appearance as Kayleigh in Serenity, Staite went on to appear in Stargate: Atlantis for 33 episodes. Now she is also returning for the table read.
There are many reasons why the Stargate universe should come back after all this time. Among other things, the recent success of Dune has shown audiences are ready for high concept sci-fi. The time has never been better for a resurgence of Stargate.
To this day the show and subsequent spin-offs remain in the league of classics such as Battlestar Galactica, which has supposedly been given new life in the upcoming continuation, though this doesn’t include the showrunner from the last Battlestar Galactica series which premiered in 2004. Stargate’s virtual event will premiere on November 6th with Wright’s partnership with The Companion.