Alibi V.27 No.7 • Feb 15-21, 2018 

Idiot Box

Rah, Rah, Ra

“Stargate Origins” on StargateCommand.com

Whether we lowly consumers are aware of it or not, the entertainment industry is in the midst of a Balkanization process the likes of which we’ve never seen in pop culture. Studios are forming their own exclusive cable channels (Paramount Network, launched on Jan. 18), networks are branding their own subscription streaming services (CBS All Access, which debuted “Star Trek Discovery” in September of 2017), and Hollywood brands are looking for ways to restrict access to their product. (Expect Disney to pull all its content from Netflix and launch its own exclusive, direct-to-consumer streaming service starting in 2019). In a few years time—and this is no alarmist conspiracy theory—viewers are going to have to shell out $9.99 a month for access to each individual corporation’s product. Want to see the new Warner Bros. film? That’s $9.99 a month. Craving the latest episode of CBS’ “Blue Bloods”? Fork out another $9.99 a month.

In this dawning era of corporate gerrymandering and enforced brand loyalty, then, it’s no real surprise to see the latest iteration: an “over the top” service (industry speak for audio, video and other media transmitted via the internet without the need for intermediate operators such as cable or satellite) for one TV show.

StargateCommand.com is a dedicated to giving fans of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich’s 1994 adventure/military/sci-fi film Stargate access to all things Stargate (except for “Stargate Infinity,” the animated series that aired on FOX’s Saturday morning lineup in late 2002). For the one-time-only fee of $20, you get unlimited access to the original Stargate, plus the direct-to-DVD movies Stargate: Continuum and Stargate: The Ark of Truth. On top of that you can watch 10 seasons’ worth of “Stargate SG-1” (sooo much Richard Dean Anderson), 5 seasons’ worth of “Stargate Atlantis” and 2 seasons’ worth of “Stargate Universe.” But wait—that’s not all! Starting this Thursday, Feb. 15, you’ll be the first fans in the universe to watch the brand-new series “Stargate Origins.”

This prequel comes to us in meager 10-minute episodes, like a fan-made YouTube series. It’s set in 1939 where Professor Paul Langford (Connor Trinneer from “Star Trek: Enterprise” and “Stargate Atlantis”) and his daughter Catherine (Australian actress Elle Gall) have discovered the ancient Egyptian artifact we know as the Stargate. While grappling with its many mysteries, they’re approached by Nazi occultist Dr. Wilhelm Brücke (Aylam Orian), who offers to help (while hiding a sinister motive—duh). Even at 10 minutes, the show is talky and slow-moving and looks like a cheap knockoff of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Locked-and-loaded fans might appreciate this deep-dive look into the past of series staple Catherine Langford (played by Kelly Vint and Viveca Lindfors in the movie, Nancy McClure, Glynis Davies and Elizabeth Hoffman in “Stargate SG-1”). But even stretched to 10 episodes, this feels more like a DVD bonus track and less like a full-fledged new series.

Although the delivery method is new and confusing, forking over $20 for a whole bunch of Stargate content isn’t all that bad. If you love the franchise and don’t want to crowd up your living room with DVD box sets, this might be a the way to go. And it might just be the way of the future.