Stargate SG-1 and Original Movie Discussion

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a bit on some of my recent viewing habits. Over the last year or so, I’ve been watching a lot of the free content on Roku TV, especially the Bob Ross Joy of Painting and Mystery Science Theater 3000 channels and some of the other movie offerings. Along with the Roku-related viewing, I have also somewhat recently returned to a long-time favorite of mine – the sci-fi series Stargate SG-1. That’s actually quite a lot of television watching relative to my usual habits, but it’s been a while since I’ve been interested in any video games, so I guess it makes sense.

Over the last month or so, I’ve found myself gravitating towards rewatching the Stargate series again. At this point, I can’t for the life of me even remember what kicked this binge watching episode off. I think it was a random article, or possibly something on Reddit (was it a meme? Definitely possible). Whatever it was, I started watching an episode here, part of an episode there, and then eventually snowballed into multiple season’s worth of viewing. Now, I’ve even cycled back around to the beginning of the series, since my rewatch journey initially started somewhere in season 3 or 4.

If you’re not familiar with the show at all, Stargate SG-1 was based on the original movie starring James Spader and Kurt Russell. Essentially, the plot (minor spoilers for a 27 year old movie) is that the ancient pyramids in Egypt were built by a race of aliens, who utilized a “Stargate” to travel between worlds. Spader’s Dr. Daniel Jackson, an archeologist, translates an ancient tablet and figures out how to activate the gate. The Air Force sends a team through the gate, led by Russell’s Colonel Jack O’Neil. They find the alien dominating the population of this new planet by posing as a god, just as it apparently did to the ancient Egyptians.

Overall, Stargate was a decently fun movie, but not a great one. The show took these interesting concepts and greatly expanded the mythology and world building, in my view vastly improving on the foundations set up by the movie. Basically in the show, these aliens were called the Goa’uld, who were parasites who needed human hosts to live. They spread humans across the galaxy to use as slaves, and the U.S. Air Force used the Stargate to visit these various worlds populated by ancient ancestors from Earth. They also made some tweaks to the Colonel O’Neill characters (now with two Ls), casting MacGuyver himself, Richard Dean Anderson as a funnier, more sarcastic, less serious lead. This was an important change from Kurt Russell’s extremely no-nonsense version of the character. Spader’s Jackson character was mostly unchanged, with Michael Shanks taking on the role. They also expanded the team with some additional main characters, like Teal’c (Christopher Judge) and Major Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), and had an excellent supporting cast.

Obviously, I am a fan of the show and consider it to be a significant improvement from the original movie. The earlier episodes from the first season were somewhat rough… even a bit cringe-worthy at times. In particular, episode four (Emancipation) I recommend skipping entirely; the tone feels pretty far off from what the series becomes. But once the show gained its footing (arguably a bit less than halfway through the first season), you could start to see the potential. It eventually grew into one of my favorite shows of all time. As is often the case, once I become interested in something, it often becomes the subject of some artwork. Stargate is no exception, and actually ended up becoming multiple pieces.

The drawing above is the second sketch I started. The first one was very similar; some configuration of the main cast standing together, probably looking off at some new world. The arrangement of characters didn’t quite work for me though, so I tried a different one. This second version seemed better at the time because some of the faces were larger, which is usually easier for me (more real estate for facial details).

I am not so sure I made the right choice looking back though, because I ended up being disappointed with this version of O’Neill. I can’t believe I didn’t realize at the time, but the way his hat completely obscures his eyes is not my favorite thing. I tried to improvise a bit, but it was unfortunately an unsuccessful attempt, which I think I was barely able to save. I do think Jackson and Carter on the left turned out pretty decently, likely because they are closer in frame. Somewhat surprisingly (since he is farther back and smaller), I think Teal’C turned out mostly pretty well.

This was an interesting process because I actually finished it about a month ago, moved to other things, then re-evaluated it recently. Looking at it with fresh eyes, I realized I wasn’t ready to be done with it. So, I dove back into it by adding additional shading and layers. I think this version is much improved from the original that I thought was “complete.” In hindsight, it’s strange to imagine that I ever had the thought that the first version of it was ready to be done, and that I’d be okay moving on from it. I’m going to embed a comparison here to show the difference.

It seems there were quite a few little details that were left unaddressed; some significant shading for Carter and Jackson (the characters on the left) and some weird texture on O’Neill’s face (the middle guy). I think Teal’c (the right side guy) was mostly the same, but maybe with some smaller touch-ups. An argument could be make though, if I want to play devil’s advocate, that the earlier version has it’s merits too. For example, continuing to lay down additional shadows probably resulted in some color muting;

Left side is the original (slide to the right to view). Right side is after coming back and adding some shading (slide to the left to view).

This post ended up becoming longer than I thought it would be. But, I think I referenced earlier having drawn a couple different Stargate related scenes. One was basically just another version of this pose, with four characters arranged looking at something. But the other is a bit different and centers around O’Neill and Carter and their relationship. I’ll write more about that in a separate post!

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