Its difficult to know where to start with Stargate Origins. Full of awkwardly placed humour, contrived, wooden acting and a simplistic plot line, Origins lacks the finesse seen in the previous series’ in the franchise. Those new to Stargate may well find some enjoyment here but the questionable decision to limit all episodes to the Stargate online portal feels like a ploy to target those already invested in the Stargate franchise, who are sure to find numerous issues with this prequel series.
With each episode hovering around 10 minutes each, the story moves at breakneck speed, beginning with young Catherine Langford (Ellie Gall) and her father Professor Paul Langford (Connor Trinneer) finding the Stargate portal in the Egyptian desert. It’s here that the story jumps forward 10 years and introduces us to the main antagonist of the series, Dr. Wilhelm Brücke (Aylam Orian), a Nazi who seizes control of the portal and opens it up to the past. Hell bent on finding an ancient weapon to aid Hitler in the war, the story splits between the Nazis and Catherine as they travel back through time to Egypt courtesy of the Stargate itself. There are certainly glimmers of nostalgia here; the familiar orchestral theme and wonder the previous series’ had help to drive the narrative forward but compared to the likes of SG-1 and Atlantis, Origins pales in comparison.
Although the formulaic story plays out at a breakneck pace, the real issues lie with the characters and their acting. The script does no favours for the actors either who oftentimes stand around awkwardly waiting for their line of dialogue. An early argument between Catherine and her father typifies this, as the emotionless bursts of aggression come across as forced rather than emotionally charged as they stand rooted to one spot. The acting doesn’t really improve late on either although the attempt to inject humour is a welcome one, it rarely hits like it did in SG-1 and Atlantis which is a real shame.
Despite the plot and character issues, Origins does have some pretty good CGI effects. Seeing the familiar burst of ocean-like blasts from the Stargate is as impressive as its ever been and some of the outdoor locations are impressively rendered to. Of course, the obvious budget issues are evident with many of the indoor locations that feel bland in comparison.
So really it comes down to who Stargate Origins is really targeted toward. Massive fans of Stargate will probably hate Origins which pales in comparison to the excellent SG-1. The wooden acting and lack of characterisation for anyone is a real issue too and at 10 minutes a piece for each episode, it was possibly inevitable the show would suffer with these issues. Those new to the Stargate franchise may well enjoy this series that aims to fill in some of the early lore of the show but realistically, Origins’ placement on the Stargate website feels tailored for existing fans of the franchise. It’s an odd decision, especially given the substandard work done in comparison to what’s come before, but if there’s one thing this sci-fi web series does do, it whets the appetite to go back and watch the Stargate series of old. There’s certainly potential here but its squandered with numerous issues that plague the show, ultimately making this a disappointing effort.