STARGATE SG-1 - THE ESSENTIAL SCRIPTS
Edited by Sharon Gosling
Review by Mike Hadfield
Stargate SG-1 is one of those series which polarises the
science-fiction community. You either love it or loath it. I am proud to
say I belong to the former. I can’t wait to get my weekly fix of the
adventures of Colonel Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson), Major Samantha
Carter (Amanda Tapping), Dr Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) and Teal’c
original Stargate movie formed the springboard for this magnificent
series that has taken the themes and mythologies from the movie and
expanded them to a whole new level. It’s a refreshing change to be able
to say that, for once, this is a TV spin-off which far surpasses the
heights of the movie which gave birth to it. One reason the programme
works so well is the dynamics of the cast. Richard Dean Anderson plays the
central character with just the right amount of authority and humour. He
is backed up by the other cast members who are also well-rounded
individuals with distinctive personalities and backgrounds. This has
helped the series go from strength to strength. It’s just embarked on it’s
latest eighth season and has launched a spin-off of it’s own –
Stargate: Atlantis - that aims to carry on the legacy for many years
This rather hefty tome from Titan Books collects together six scripts,
specially chosen by the show’s writers to demonstrate Stargate SG-1
at its very best. At 352 pages, you need to put a bit of time aside to
work your way through it but you will be amply rewarded for your efforts.
The six episodes selected are all pivotal episodes in the series history.
Some are notable for their laying down of the mythology and back story of
the Stargate universe (The Torment of Tantalus) while others
mark milestones in the production such as the 100th episode,
book is divided into sections, one for each script. Each of these sections
consists of an introduction, the script itself and finally a postscript.
The introductions are very informative detailing key points in each
scripts' development. They provide a fascinating insight into the way
episodes come about and how they change from inception to final editing.
The conclusions nicely round off each section by giving the writers' final
comments and thoughts on how the episode turned out. Sandwiched between
these are the scripts themselves. But here is the twist which makes this
book an invaluable addition to Stargate fans' collections: they are the
original shooting scripts and differ somewhat to what eventually ended up
Rather than just transcribing the final programme into a script (as many
officially-sanctioned, sanitised "script" books do), what we have here are
fascinating documents showing what the writer originally envisage. There
are numerous examples of scenes being dropped, added, split or moved.
These are easy to spot thanks to the grey box-outs detailing the changes
made. You get an opportunity to discover scenes that have been lost from
the final version. These may have been dropped for reasons of timing or
story flow or whatever.
It’s also interesting to see which lines have been changed by cast members
themselves during shooting. There are more instances of this than you
might think and goes to show how well the actors identify with their
characters – to the degree that they sometimes know what the character
would say in a given situation better than the writers! The scripts
included in this tome are The Torment of Tantalus, The Fifth Race,
Window of Opportunity, 2010, Wormhole X-Treme! and Abyss.
FOUR OF THE EPISODES FEATURED IN THE BOOK
While the information contained in this volume is excellent and
informative, unfortunately the book is not without its faults. The layout
is rather boring. The pictures used to accompany each script are poorly
reproduced in monochrome only – colour would have been a better choice and
should not have significantly increased the price tag.
these were the only problems then I could have given the book a
wholehearted recommendation. BUT, due to one inexcusable problem I feel
unable to do this. There are actually whole blocks of missing text! These
are at the end of several of the introduction sections. You are reading to
the bottom of a page and are part-way through a sentence when it just
stops – dead! Turning the page reveals the start of the script – what
happened to the rest of the introduction text? Maybe it’s been sent
through a wormhole…who knows? This is something which Titan should have
spotted at the proof-reading stage and corrected.
Even with these problems it’s still a good book, but with a bit more care
from the publisher regarding layout and checking, it could have been a