Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stargate SG-1 The Magazine: Of No More Interest To Me Than The Television Show.

The Good: Good pictures, Generally informative articles, Light on ads
The Bad: Lousy diction, Outdated stories, Self-promotional and fluffy.
The Basics: A mediocre magazine, Stargate SG-1 Magazine is not enough to get those not into the show into it.

As an avid fans of science fiction and fantasy works, it is surprising to some that I never got into the television show Stargate SG-1 or its assorted spin-offs. The premise never did anything for me and in the single episode I watched, I found myself unimpressed by the writing, the characters and even the acting. I decided I could safely continue on as a geek without ever truly caring about the show. But recently, I found myself waiting for a car repair to get done and in the waiting room, the magazines were a disturbing collection of children's magazines, outdated infotainment publications and the Stargate SG-1 Magazine. Unable to get into the Pynchon novel I was reading that day, I picked up the glossy magazine and gave it a decent read-through. Following that, I still don't care about the show.

In other words, if you're not a fan of Stargate SG-1 or Stargate Atlantis or the Stargate movies, Stargate SG-1 Magazine is not likely to make you a convert.

Long-since last published, Stargate SG-1 Magazine followed the on-set and on-screen exploits of everyone associated with Stargate SG-1, the science fiction/military television series on cable. For years, it provided fans with information on all that was going on with Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, the new Stargate movies and even the novel and comic book adventures in the Stargate SG-1 universe. Since the show was canceled, the magazine disbanded and now the only remnants of it are the back issues. Looking back at the magazine, it is hard to get excited about it.

Stargate SG-1 Magazine is the ideal magazine for fans who will cut it up and hang pictures from it on their walls, much like other publications based upon television shows. Outside the fan base, and now the reminiscing fan base, readers will find the magazine problematic in one form or another. Those who are only casual fans of the Stargate SG-1 franchise will find the articles too in-depth to comfortably enjoy and process, those who are die-hard fans will already know everything printed within these pages, especially considering how the magazine is no longer published and all of the information that was hinting at future developments is now well-past. The issue I found myself reading was clearly trying to generate enthusiasm for Stargate Atlantis, which was not yet on the air, so clearly it was an older issue.

Stargate SG-1 Magazine, like many fan-oriented print publications, should have been another casualty of the Internet - effectively it was - and given how far behind the times print magazines are compared to the Internet, anything printed in Stargate SG-1 Magazine was already available to those who would want the information long before the magazine hit newsstands. Now, there is something ridiculous about going back to read the magazine as the musings within it are all commonly distributed on fansites around the Internet and allude to events in the Stargate universe that have been encapsulated onscreen for years now.

Stargate SG-1 Magazine is a glossy, sixty-five page magazine that was published every two months and bears a cover price of $6.99. It was packed with full-color pictures and includes as much information as can be squeezed in about the Stargate SG-1 franchise, the current gossip on the lives of those who participated in the television series', and fans gushing over the series.

The average issue of Stargate SG-1 Magazine has a cover story, usually focusing on one of the characters/actors from one of the Stargate series. This feature is usually based around an interview with the celebrity wherein the interviewer asks softball questions that allows the celebrity to both gush about their experiences on whichever Stargate series they appeared on as well as point fans toward their current works. So, I was actually excited to read about Don S. Davis, whose work I enjoyed on Twin Peaks and The X-Files, until I thought about interviews I read from him when he appeared on The X-Files. Stargate SG-1 Magazine captured the same generic enthusiasm about the current project as Davis had back in the day on the other series! Richard Dean Anderson also had information presented on non-Stargate projects and the article on him was very clearly Anderson working the press circuit for his new project while trying to engage his Stargate fanbase.

Despite the emphasis on Stargate SG-1 celebrities there were occasional a theme issue, like the villains or background characters in the universe, where Stargate SG-1 Magazine devoted its attentions to one race within the Stargate SG-1 universe. Still, looking back now, the information is seldom audacious or even especially interesting. It is written such that twelve year-olds can read the magazine and the low-level of diction only reinforces the idea that the show was teen-oriented science fiction fare, as opposed to a serious adult program.

In addition to a primary feature on one actor or character, Stargate SG-1 Magazine usually had a secondary feature on one of the behind-the-scenes personas who is able to leak information about the franchise to the magazine. Episode directors seemed to get good coverage to talk about their body of work in the series as well as promote upcoming episodes and projects, like Stargate Atlantis. While the information was hot in its day, it was almost always trumped by the speed of the Internet and the Stargate SG-1 Magazine remained more the fodder of fans who wanted posters and photos for their walls. As well, the magazine stands now as a collection of episode guides that fans who would want the magazine likely do not need. As a person who was not a fan of the show, none of the articles were so engaging that they made me want to check the series out.

As well, there is usually a two to five page article on a secondary character or actor who appeared somewhere in the franchise, complete with full-color pictures. As well, Stargate SG-1 Magazine tends to include several pages updating fans on birthdays for the celebrities from the franchise and projects the actors are currently involved in, like Richard Dean Anderson's side projects. By the time Stargate SG-1 Magazine hit the stands, all of this information was already widely available on the Internet.

In addition, Stargate SG-1 Magazine usually highlights one aspect of production - direction, lighting design, scoring - from Stargate SG-1 or Stargate Atlantis and presents a feature on that. This information tends to be interesting, but so esoteric that casual fans or those flipping through the magazine will be totally turned off by it. And because there was so little merchandise for Stargate SG-1, the magazine offers features on current video games, trading cards, and toys that were hitting the market at the time.

On the plus side, Stargate SG-1 Magazine is very light on advertisements. The issue I counted out had eight pages of advertisements and two of them were for back-issues or subscriptions to the magazine itself! Rather oddly, because the merchandising for the show was so light, several of the advertisements were for publications related to other cult-following science fiction shows like The X-Files, Farscape or Star Trek!

Finally, Stargate SG-1 Magazine is packed with beautiful, glossy full-color photographs. The problem here is that many of them are simple promotional shots that are widely available elsewhere. Stargate SG-1 Magazine is hardly a wealth of great, heretofore unfound rare shots from the sets or obscure screen shots.

As a result, Stargate SG-1 Magazine is a bit of a tough sell, even to die-hard fans. But now that the information is not current, it truly is just for those who want pictures to hang on their dorm, apartment or parent's house-allotted room wall.

For other magazines reviewed by me, please check out my take on:
Rolling Stone
Reader's Digest
Playboy's Women Of Starbucks


For other book and magazine reviews, please be sure to check out my index page for an organized listing!

© 2010 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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