I’ve finished watching the first season of Stargate: SG-1 now, and… well, it probably isn’t fair to compare the two franchises, but given a straight choice I’d much rather be watching a Star Trek show*, for these two reasons:
Firstly, Trek has a premise (and a budget) that allows for a far more exotic range of alien encounters. Although both shows often confine their newly discovered “worlds” to a couple of rooms and a handful of indigenous citizens, at least with Trek you get a wider variety of make-up designs, costumes and architecture to gawp at. Since most of the “aliens” in SG-1 are actually descendants of long-ago-abducted Earthlings, they all tend to look like everyday folks dressed in old-timey threads. Meh. Trek can also fall back on its “universal translator” technology to explain why all these strange and unlikely creatures seem to speak perfectly understandable American-English, whereas SG-1 just brazens it out and hopes that no one in the audience will ask the obvious question. “They just do, okay! Deal with it!” While we’re on the subject, the original Trek series was nice enough to stock its ship with a few faux-foreigners, to better represent the population of the planet they originated from… whereas SG-1 keeps banging the drum for America’s unquestionable awesomeness under the administration of a pally President they can phone up any time they like to call in a quick favour! Meanwhile, ‘Catherine Langford’, an important figure in the history of Earth’s Stargate, was played by the Swedish actress Viveca Lindfors in the movie, but the character has been recast for the series, and seems to have lost her accent in transit!
Secondly, there’s something about SG-1’s sense of humour that I find quite grating… I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “cheesy”, but the smart-alecky quips always seem a little forced and desperate to me. Consequently, my favourite character overall would have to be the base’s chief medical officer, ‘Dr. Janet Fraiser’, played by Teryl Rothery… a smart, strong, compassionate woman, who gets the job done (repeatedly saving everyone’s lives) without stooping to smug wise-cracks. She didn’t actually join the show until ep #1.05 (“The Broca Divide”), and only cropped up in seven episodes after that, but she definitely made a strong impression. She even got to kick a little ass in ep #1.13 (“Hathor”), when a re-awakened Goa’uld queen used sultry sex-magick to bewitch all of the male members of the base’s staff, leaving the ladies to defend their honour (and puny human flesh) for them. As far as guest characters go, I was quite partial to ‘Lya’ (Frida Betrani), a friendly female from the faerie-like Nox race, who helped to heal the team after they encountered a Goa’uld hunting party, while off-world (ep #1.08, “The Nox”). It probably helps that she actually looked a bit “alien”, with her painted skin and twiggy-wig… but she was also very pretty and sweet, and I dug the idea that her seemingly vulnerable and clueless family of conscientious objectors was actually far more powerful than the close-minded military-types could imagine. And it was good to see her return in a later episode (ep #1.17, “Enigma”), to rescue a band of highly-advanced refugees from the unenlightened Earthlings. Hee!
* Sadly, I don’t have access to any more Trek… but I do have access to the entire run of SG-1, so I’ll most likely end up watching it anyway (and, yes, kvetching about it here. Sorry).