During yesterday’s Dark Matter Monday panel (check it out here) Meteorologist Katie mentioned she’d been meaning to check out Stargate, but wasn’t sure where to start. Of course, the prospect of watching 350+ episodes of sci-fi television can be foreboding for the non-gating neophyte. While it would be logical to start at the beginning with Children of the Gods, I’d argue that SG-1’s first season is drastically different from its last both in terms of narrative and tone. Atlantis is more updated but still steeped in the mythology established by SG-1. Universe is newer still yet, clearly, a tonal shift from the preceding two shows. Ultimately, each series offers something different and liking or disliking one does not necessarily mean you will like or dislike the others.
So where to start if you’re new to the franchise and uncertain about wading through all 17 seasons of television? Well, after giving it some thought, I’ve put together this handy list of The Top 10 Stargate Episodes for first-time Gater. Ten episodes not overly encumbered by past storylines or show mythology that work well as stand-alone examples of the very best this franchise had to offer over its fifteen year run.
Presented in the order in which they aired. Two-parters counted as two episodes.
#10. The Fifth Race (Stargate: SG-1, Season 2 Episode 16)
Colonel Jack O’Neil encounters a mysterious device that downloads a repository of alien data into his brain. As Jack starts to lose himself, his teammates scramble to recover the vast storehouse of information he holds – and save his life.
#9. Window of Opportunity
Jack O’Neil and Teal’c find themselves trapped in a time loop following a visit to an alien world.
#8-#7. Heroes I and II
An off-world excursion results in a tragic loss, and a powerful reminder of the risks and sacrifices inherent in every away mission.
#6-#5. The Storm/The Eye
Atlantis is infiltrated by an enemy strike force during a massive storm.
What secret lies behind Lt. Michael Kenmore? Why can’t he remember his past, and why are some of his fellow Atlantis denizens so openly hostile to him? The answer proves as shocking as it does horrific.
#3. The Shrine
Dr. Rodney McKay falls victim to a disease that slowly erodes his mental capacities, gradually rendering him to a childlike state. His only hope lies in a purported cure located within a heavily-guarded alien outpost.
While exploring an alien world, the crew discovers a recording of their first visit to the planet – one they don’t remember making.
#1. Twin Destinies
Eli’s plan to use the power of a star to dial Earth is opposed by a time-hopping Dr. Rush.
Honorable Mentions. These are fun, stand-alone episodes – perfect for the first-time viewer:
SG-1: Upgrades, Point of No Return, The Curse, Wormhole X-Treme, Revisions, The Ties That Bind, Collateral Damage, Family Ties
Atlantis: Harmony, The Last Man, Remnants
So, which episodes would you recommend to a Stargate newbie?