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Well, I just finished watching the series finale of the longest running sci-fi show (10 years!) in American history, and certainly my favourite TV show for the past 6 years: Stargate SG-1. The show has declined in quality somewhat in the last 2-3 years. At one point, it was undeniably the smartest, most original bit of science fiction programming on mainstream US TV, and proudly featured a mostly Canadian cast and an entirely Canadian production team. In fact, its set has become somewhat of a tourist fixture in Vancouver, where the show was filmed for the duration of its run.
And even though the quality suffered in the last little while, it was still a very enjoyable show, mostly for the effortless and consistent characterization of its principle characters, and –most importantly– for the genuine science fiction nature of its story lines. This wasn’t gratuitous “aliens and ray guns” TV sci-fi, even though there were aliens and ray guns aplenty. Rather, almost every episode was grounded in a solid sci-fi tenet, wherein speculative science was at the heart of both the episodes’ crises and their resolutions. But far from being a geek wet dream, SG-1‘s strength was how it seemingly effortless melded this rigorous science fiction traditionalism with genuine, heart felt characterization.
In that vain, I’m proud to report that its finale, Unending, was both epic and intimate, and was again grounded upon a solid science fiction premise. It had equal parts romance, loss, adventure, heroism and sadness. It was an excellent send-off for a show that, quite literally and unironically, filled me with hope for the visual narrative tradition. As a series finale, I would rank it highly, though not approaching the perfection of the final Babylon 5 episode, Sleeping In Light, a piece of broadcast television that should have been hand delivered to the Smithsonian for safe keeping immediately after its first transmission.
SG-1 has always been comfort food for me, and I will hunger in its absence. But I take solace that its weaker spin-off, Stargate: Atlantis is still around, three direct-to-DVD movies are already being filmed, and an unnamed third TV series is being planned.