When I was a kid, I never quite understood my parents’ nostalgia for “old” music and movies and TV shows. They’d reminisce about the entertainment they grew up with, and always got excited when they’d find reruns while flipping channels.
I must admit that I’m finally “old” enough to truly appreciate the feeling now.
It hit me recently as I pulled out my DVDs to rewatch Stargate SG-1. The science fiction adventure series began in 1997 originally airing on Showtime but switched over to Syfy Channel later (it was still spelled the “Sci Fi Channel” back in those days). It concluded in 2007 after 10 seasons and 214 episodes.
To say I was a fan of the series was probably an understatement. I discovered the series when I was in high school after a recommendation from a friend who also enjoyed watching anything science fiction related. The series conveniently aired new episodes on Friday nights, and so I was ready each week in front of the television to see what strange adventure the quartet of main characters would have. And then I’d discuss the new episode with my friend, laughing over the best quotes and speculating about what would happen in upcoming episodes.
If you’re unfamiliar with the series, the premise was quite simple. The team (known as “SG-1”) would travel through the “Stargate” (housed in a secret Air Force base under Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado) to explore the galaxy and defend Earth from the threat of evil aliens who’d like nothing more than to take over our planet if given the opportunity. (For added fun, the evil aliens were essentially snakes who can possess human bodies!) The television series began as a continuance of the 1994 movie “Stargate”, picking up the storyline of the two main characters from that movie. Richard Dean Anderson (who you may also remember previously as MacGyver) starred as the main character, Col. Jack O’Neill.
I’ve only got one season on DVD unfortunately (season four), but perhaps the most striking discovery from my recent rewatch was the change in technology since those episodes first aired. Season four of the series began airing in June 2000. Two decades ago might not seem like a long time to some of you, but it feels like ages to me because I first watched it as a young teen and now I’m an adult.
Today, cell phones are commonplace and computers are designed to look thin and sleek. But remember the clunky computers of the late 90’s and early 2000’s? There’s plenty of them in Stargate. There’s even one episode where a character pulls out a 3 and a ½ inch floppy disk full of crucial data he doesn’t want anyone else to have. I only vaguely remember using those kinds of floppy disks in middle school. I’d almost forgotten they once existed! Can you imagine what kids today would thinking seeing a piece of technology like that?
What was really mind-blowing to me, however, was an episode about midway through the season entitled “2010.” The episode takes place ten years in the future (hence the title, 2010) where seemingly friendly aliens have made life better for the people of Earth. As with any science fiction story though, the aliens aren’t as nice as they seem, so the team has to figure out how to change the past to prevent the future. Pretty standard stuff for a Stargate episode. But it was fascinating to me watching it now in the year 2020 to see how the people who produced the episode in 2000 envisioned what life would be like in 2010. It was cool just seeing how different the fashion was. My memory of what I wore in the real year 2010 didn’t match up at all!
I understand that nostalgic feeling better now. Old television series and other media can be an intriguing time capsule look into the past. We can see how technology has changed along with fashion and ideals and everything else. For science fiction series in particular, we can see how we envisioned the future and now compare to see if we got any guesses right.
I guess part of the appeal of nostalgia is actually watching “old” things to potentially discover something “new” along the way.
But perhaps the funniest thing I realized while watching Stargate SG-1 again was that no matter how much things change over the years, some still manage to stay the same. In the series, the character Jack O’Neill is a big fan of “The Simpsons” and references it occasionally. That animated series was well-established and pretty popular back when Stargate was still airing on TV… and even here in 2020, the series is somehow still going!
Which “old” series still makes you feel nostalgic?
Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer at Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at email@example.com or 252-332-7206.