HAPPY NEW YEAR!
We’ve got thirteen Fridays until Stargate Universe returns to Syfy on April 2, 2010, with episode 11, “Space”. Amazingly enough, this number also corresponds to thirteen years of Stargate since Stargate SG-1 made its debut in 1997!
So, to keep us a little occupied until new episodes grace our screens, let’s take a trip down memory lane and celebrate the ten seasons of Stargate SG-1, five seasons of Stargate Atlantis (three of those seasons ran concurrently with SG-1), and the first year of Stargate Universe.
SG-1 Season One
Sure, we could all rewatch the episodes—there’s more than enough time in a week to see the whole of the first season, which is available to our US readers on Hulu, by the way—but let’s take a look at the years through interviews and images. But just so we don’t leave the actual episodes out of the discussion, here’s the poll:
As always, hearing from you is greatly appreciated. We’re, after all, a fan site that’s built by fans for the fans! 🙂
From “Perfect 10” in Stargate SG-1/Atlantis: The Official Magazine, issue #17 (Jul./Aug. 2007):
“Jonathan [Glassner] and I approached MGM [separately], hoping to turn Stargate the film into a television series. We both had our own ideas about how to do that. When MGM made us partners, I thought, ‘Okay—I love working with Jon, it’ll be fun.’ But the problem was, MGM insisted we also executive produce The Outer Limits. So here we were, showrunners of our own series but employees on The Outer Limits. Our time was not our own. We had to steal and beg and borrow time to work on it together. We were in Los Angeles, working all day long with the other writers for season three of The Outer Limits. Everybody would go home and then Jon and I would continue working on Stargate SG-1.
“In the middle of the the pitch [for SG-1 to studio and television executives]—I get kind of excited when I pitch a story and a series idea—I’m animated and I’m telling the story and I’m talking about the structure… I remember saying the words, ‘Imagine teams like the astronauts of NASA going out for the first time through this ‘gate…’ and the fire alarm goes off! The president of Showtime was very annoyed, and turns to his assistant and says, ‘How much is the fine if we don’t leave?’ But his assistant insisted that we leave. So instead of standing there finishing my pitch, I’m standing in an underground parking lot with Jonathan, the president of Showtime, the president of MGM, and Pancho Mansfield, who is now the head of Spike TV—these were a big powerful people to me. I’m standing beside them, confused, hoping this will be over soon, and Pancho leans over and says, ‘Don’t worry. I think he’s already bought it.’ So the good news was that I went back to the second half of the pitch feeling much better about how it was going. At the end of that we knew we were doing 40 episodes of television, which is something that [not] very many television producers can ever say has happened in their life. It was wonderful.
“In terms of the storytelling, to be brutally honest, I thought we started poorly. I know a lot of people love the pilot and the beginning, but I honestly don’t think we found our feet until ‘Torment of Tantalus,’ and got into a nice run of episodes where we were actually writing for the team. Jonathan and I were able to focus more on Stargate SG-1 itself than The Outer Limits at that point. So I’d say that the second half of season one is quite good, but I think we started rather weakly. I’m not crazy about ‘Emancipation,’ ‘First Commandment’ or ‘Broca Divide’—I think they are weak episodes.
“When you’re not happy with the way something is going, you work your butt off to fix it. You can’t throw up your hands! We had MGM’s support, and I had Richard Dean Anderson’s support, eventually. I started getting comfortable, the show started to really improve. Shows like ‘Solitudes’ and ‘There But For The Grace of God’ are good stories. I think that’s where I started saying, ‘That’s Stargate SG-1.’ As soon as I identified what we all knew it should be, we started writing more of it.”
Richard Dean Anderson
From the Foreword of Stargate SG-1: The Ultimate Visual Guide (2006):
“When I was but a wee lad, contemplating a continued life of laziness and inactivity, I lit upon an old friend in the name of John Symes, who, by life’s design, was running the castle at MGM—he in turn introduced me to a couple of fellas, one of whom became a good friend in Brad Wright. I was presented with the pilot script for Stargate SG-1 and was asked to sign on for a two-year stint as Kurt Russell’s stand-in. With the promise of potentially rapid advancement in the company, and, times being what they were, I said no. Then I was told by all my new friends to actually read the script. This was a new concept for me, one normally reserved for kids these days who seem to be perpetually fondling the tendrils of modernity. But heck, I really wasn’t in the mood to cash it all in (it takes real energy to quit) and, times being what they were, I read. And thus the seed was sown.
“From the beginning there was always more to the concept than met the third eye. Once the series found its legs, and subsequently its creative rhythm, it became painfully obvious that we were to be pleasantly mired in the oddly flavored webs of longevity. Out of the gate I recall suspecting enormous potential for the show. Story lines examined foreign life forms, life styles, and forms of life; with particular attention paid to the philosophical, political and spiritual underpinnings of any number of cultures, foreign and domestic. Our heroes made friends, our heroes made enemies. They traveled a lot, garnering enough frequent flyer miles to skin a cat and back again. The ultimate goal then is to assist our viewers in recognizing the great and grand possibilities of a sweeping acceptance of ALL races…throughout the universe and the whole, wide world.”
From “A Multidimensional Actor Likes ‘Stargate’ Challenge” (Sept. 19, 1998):
“I liked the franchise; all the elements kind of fell into a good place. I said, why not give it a shot?
“You can’t fool an audience with smoke and mirrors. You can throw up all kinds of special effects and blow things up every few minutes, but the audience sees through that. I know I do. I get bored. If it’s a good story, you can paint. You’ve got the canvas—you just dab in the explosions here and there.”
From “TV Gen Chat with Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Greenburg” (Sept. 9, 1998):
“I am a little torn on this one, because my favorite one to do as an actor was ‘Brief Candle,’ when I got to age to 100 years old, and went through all the stages of makeup, etc. The episode itself was never fully realized in my opinion, because we had mistimed it, and basically it got edited down to the point where a lot of that process was not seen.” [According to Michael Greenburg in the same interview, “We had to cut out 16 minutes, which is a quarter of a 42-minute show.”]
“‘Cold Lazarus’ was kind of fun to do as an actor because there was a duality of role that I was able to play, and it also had an emotional story line to it in the discovery and confrontation with O’Neill’s lost son that was fun to play. It also had a motion control special effect that allowed me to talk to myself. We’ve done that a couple of times actually. We’ve also done a split screen, I forget the title of the episode, where I got to play two different O’Neills [‘Tin Man’]. That was fun to do.”
From “Removing the Chains of Gravity” in Stargate SG-1/Atlantis: The Official Magazine, issue #17 (Jul./Aug. 2007):
“I had just finished my second year at Stratford, in Ontario, and I was couch-surfing at various friends’ houses and my girlfriend’s place in Toronto, when this casting came up. I thought, ‘This is a great role, they’ll never give it to me.’ I watched the movie again, because I’d seen it originally when it came out, and then I auditioned. I thought that it was one of those things that would go a little while and give me some nice experience or whatever…
“One of my favorites is ‘The Torment of Tantalus.’ It’s been said by different people, but I really felt that when I was doing it, it was a neat show and a good episode. I watched it in its finished format and I said, ‘We’re singing here, this is where we really sit well.’ Our show is about mysteries unraveling and contemporary interaction intermingled with this enigmatic exterior of a world that we’re really exploring. It’s not about repeating some formula, or the Neanderthal of the week, or the big fight. It’s all about intellectual understanding of the nature of science fiction, which is about the ‘what ifs?’ We’re really about to probe into the nature of human existence, through these ‘what ifs?’ even if it’s completely projected and completely our own idea, people get really enraptured by that.
“The show is based on mythologies, mythologies that are unexplained, and we’re able to project our own comprehension of what those might be. That was the fascinating part about the movie, about the nature of Ancient Egypt, that maybe these pyramids were ancient lightning pedestals. It’s a pretty simple concept but then you take that and develop it because there are so many mythologies on this planet that we can take and just say, ‘Hey, what if it was this?'”
From “Guardian at the Gate” in Starlog #245 (Dec. 1997):
“Daniel is a dreamer, an idealist. He has a boyish curiosity and a love of humanity and life. He’s driven to search out the best in people, and he has a very romantic viewpoint when it comes to history, life, love and people. He’s a consummate optimist. He’s always looking for answers—for what made us who we are today, what we’ve learned, what we can learn from others around us. At the same time looking for a home he can call his own, a place where he can hang his hat.
“He’s surrounded by military people, so he looks like a pacifist. But I see it differently: In a given situation, he tries to understand people. Instead of just hitting them over the head with a hammer, he tries to figure out what makes them tick. He doesn’t take the confrontational approach right away. He’s the one who, when faced with a conflict, looks to find a mutual resolve as opposed to finding a way to simply conquer a given situation. He tries to work [cooperatively], with an eye toward mutual understanding.”
From “Through the Looking Glass” in TV Zone #109 (Dec. 1998):
“The relationship between O’Neill and Jackson was pretty much outlined in the movie. There still is and always will be, I think, that strong polar opposite relationship that existed from the beginning. They’re just two very different people, but because of these differences and their dependence on each other for things the other is incapable of doing there’s also a trust and a respect as well as friendship that’s developing.”
From “The Genius Club” in Stargate SG-1/Atlantis: The Official Magazine, issue #17 (Jul./Aug. 2007):
“Long story short, I had to wait and wait because I guess that everybody wanted me except for one executive. I was cast, finally, and I had two weeks to pack my bags and move to Vancouver and start filming, it was pretty crazy. And then, as the story goes, this particular executive phones shortly after the first week, I guess, and had seen all the dailies and said, ‘I have never been wrong in my career before, but I’m wrong now. You guys made a great choice.’
“Season one sticks out in my mind very vividly as so exciting. It was a season of discovery and enjoying each other and new friendships and moving to a new city. Everything was new. Season one was pretty magical and the shooting of the pilot episode was amazing.
“…but for me, ‘Singularlity’ was the first time that my character showed any emotional depth and I will always remember playing those scenes. Going on to the glacier and shooting up in Pemberton on this crazy glacier, those kind of moments are memorable. […] There are episodes I think were really great like ‘The Torment of Tantalus,’ which wasn’t a huge episode for my character, but it was an amazing episode.”
From “No Nookie on Stargate SG-1” (Dec. 2, 1997):
“When we first started the series, there was talk of starting up something between Jack and Sam, or Sam and Daniel, and we all [nixed] that. Richard and I right away said, ‘Never.’ A, it could never happen because he’s her superior officer, and B, we don’t want it to kill the show. I think the beauty of the relationship between the four of us on the team is this great friendship that we have, and this wonderful respect and admiration for each other. Adding anything into that mix would be silly, because I think right now it works as a team of really good friends.”
From “Doctoring the Gate” in Frontier (1998):
“[Sam Carter is] incredibly smart, determined, very loyal, and warm. She’s warming up. I wouldn’t have said that at the beginning. But I think her best trait is that she’s incredibly loyal. Very singular and very determined. I did research about the military, and the obvious research on astrophysics, which I didn’t delve too deeply into because I had this set piece to learn. I watched Stargate the film, and then I tried to find a warmth that wasn’t written. I tried to find an accessibility that wasn’t in the lines. I did the scene from the pilot where she first meets Jack O’Neill, and a scene with Daniel Jackson where we discover all the different stargate addresses. They were very straightforward scenes, so I had to find—especially in that first scene with O’Neill—the warmth, and that for me was the challenge in the audition. To go in and hopefully give them something completely different from what was written. What I tried to do was add a certain warmth and sense of humour to her and give her a different dimension. When I got the script I thought you could play this one way, this very singular military, almost bitchy determined woman, but she had to have some more layers than that. And once I got the part, the challenge for me has been finding those layers then talking to the writers about discovering some different layers of this character so that she is a proper representation. With an all male writing team, it can be a challenge.”
From “TV Gen Chat” (Sept. 9, 1998):
“As I understand it, they had pretty much seen all the actors in LA and New York and Canada, and I kind of heard about the audition through a friend, called my agent, and told him to get me in. So I actually came in on one of the last days of casting. I read, they put me on tape, and two weeks later I went in for my screen test, and pretty much found out at the screen test that I had got the part. It was obvious to me, because everyone else that had come in to screen test, they sent home. So I had a pretty good inclination that I was going to get the part.
“Honesty. I think that’s what I admire most. With him there is no gray area. With him, it is either it is or it isn’t. He has such an advantage over some of the other characters, because everything to him is either right or wrong, and there is no in between. So every question that he takes is clearly defined by those parameters.
“I think that’s one of the nice things that the writers have allowed me to do, is to bring what they refer to as ‘Teal’c-isms’ to any situation that might occur. Because they do give me the credit of having fleshed out Teal’c more than they have. So they give me a pretty wide berth when it comes to interpreting my lines. And also subtextually, they are always open to what Teal’c might be thinking underneath what he says, even if it’s exactly what they had in mind. So I’m very fortunate in that regard. I just hope that we are living up to what our viewers think the show should be, and could be. I hope that we continue to expand and grow, and flesh out everyone’s characters and personal developments, because this show has the unique opportunity of touching on the “what if”, but still being launched from reality, and I certainly hope we live up to that.”
From “Living Among the Gods” in Stargate SG-1/Atlantis: The Official Magazine, issue #17 (Jul./Aug. 2007):
“Well, he started as a guy who was monosyllabic He was basically a child—here was a character whose first moments of free thought and free expression were episode one. Before that he didn’t have the ability to think for himself. He followed orders; he was a soldier and a slave on top of it. So you really saw his genesis as a free-thinking, free-willed person. As humans you start to develop as children, but for Teal’c [it started] when he was—how old? I think 97 [laughs].”
From interview at Sci Fi Weekly, excerpted at Christopher Judge Online (Aug. 20, 2007):
“When we started, [the producers] didn’t know what Teal’c was. In our screen tests, there were three Daniel Jacksons, three Sam Carters, three Gen. Hammonds, and there were 10 Teal’cs there. And they were all colors. They were not really sure what they wanted this character to be, so they allowed me a great deal of influence in the original shaping of the character. And it has continued through the arc of the show, from the way he talks and the pronunciation of ‘Ja-ffah’ as opposed to ‘Jaffa,’ and ‘Go-a-oould’ as opposed to ‘Goa’uld,’ and things like that. I mean, that was all stuff that when we originally did—and I would save certain words, you could see people go like that, and it actually sounds kind of cooler. It was nice to be involved that much in the building of the character, and [my involvement] continues to this day.
“A lot of science fiction has caught up with us, but in 1997, when we started, there was that new millennium looming over us and there was a lot of wonder, a lot of excitement; and, I think, there was a resurgence of science fiction at that point. We came along at a time where, not to be disparaging, but let’s face it: the Star Trek franchise was dying out, X-Files had peaked and was on its way down, and we happened to come along where there was a gap in programming. There was the right formula, there was a movie that had been successful and that could be expanded on, and you have MacGyver and then three other mooks. And then you have a guy like [longtime writer and executive producer] Brad Wright, who already had success with The Outer Limits [running things], and all the pieces fit; the timing was right and it just all worked. And we were lucky enough to grab a fan base.”