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Stargate: Origins is the latest installment in the sprawling Stargate franchise, a prequel starring Ellie Gall as archaeologist Catherine Langford. Airing as a 10-episode webseries, it’s meant to entice fans to MGM’s Stargate Command streaming service, where you can watch every Stargate movie and spinoff to date.
Fans know Catherine Langford as the elderly founder of the Stargate Program, but Origins takes place when she was a young woman in the 1930s. Essentially, it’s Stargate’s answer to Marvel’s Agent Carter. We spoke to director/producer Mercedes Bryce Morgan about introducing the franchise’s first female protagonist and returning to Stargate’s comedic tone after the grittier mood of the last TV spinoff, Stargate Universe.
You’ve worked on a few genre webseries… Could you tell me a bit about your background as a director, and how you landed the job on Stargate: Origins?
I do a lot of genre stuff, the first thing I did was called Virtual Morality that went viral and was reviewed by all the top YouTubers, and ever since then, I’ve done a lot of music videos and a lot of other digital series. And so all of those led together to me pitching for this at MGM.
Stargate already has a massive existing canon. Between you and the writers for Origins, what was your vision for what you’d bring to the franchise?
What we really wanted to do was show them the gap between where the movie ends off and where the series starts, because there’s a lot with Catherine’s backstory that isn’t really answered, so we wanted to provide the answers for those questions.
Fans know Catherine as an old lady, so how would you describe her role as a young woman?
I’d say that as a young woman she’s different. She was also very headstrong when she was older too, but she knows what she wants and without asking for permission she just goes and gets it, which is awesome. But sometimes that leads her into some sticky situations. So we see how when she tries to lead a group of people, how that goes, as she goes on her adventures.
This is the first Stargate show with a female protagonist, in a franchise that historically hasn’t had many women working behind the scenes. Was that something you had in mind while working on the series?
Yeah. What’s funny is a lot of people are about, “OK, we need to have more women in the industry,” which I’m 100 percent onboard with, but I think if you happen to constantly work with women, that’s who you bring onto things. With this, we had a very diverse crew, very female, a lot of LGBT, and that’s just because the crew I happen to work with just happens to be like that.
That’s exciting because I feel like Stargate’s one of these shows where there is this strong female fandom, but it’s not necessarily always been recognized behind the camera.
It was great, we actually had a fan show up on set because she won a contest, and before she showed up people kept referring to her as a “he” because they just assumed that a Stargate fan would be a guy. But that’s not the case, there’s a lot of women Stargate fans.
So when you were working on the show, did you have any particular inspirations in mind? Either from the Stargate franchise, or things like Indiana Jones, which has maybe a similar vibe?
It totally has a similar vibe to Indiana Jones. What I really love about that is that we definitely are something different, but we wanted to keep it comedic. You know, it’s some really out-there fantastical sci-fi content where we’re mixing these civilizations and this mythology with a sci-fi/futuristic world. As for inspirations, when we were prepping for the shoot we went through and we watched a lot of the show and some other things because we wanted to introduce a new style. In the series we’ll see things shot differently than the way they were shot before.
Could you tell me a bit about the new characters?
Besides Catherine we have her dad, Professor Langford. And then we also have two of her teammates, we have Captain James Beal who is a British army officer, and we also have Wasif, who is an officer from the Egyptian region.
Stargate: Origins premieres on Feb. 15 on MGM’s Stargate Command streaming service.
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in sci-fi movies and superheroes, she also appears as a film and TV critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she co-hosts the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor