If you’ve been keeping up with us in our trip down memory lane in our Thirteen Weeks for Thirteen Years (13-4-13) series, you’ve probably noticed all the warning signs that Stargate SG-1 was heading toward a major change for a season that they didn’t even know they were about to have. Richard Dean Anderson had been cutting back his time with the show for several years prior to the renewal, aiming to have more time with his young daughter in California, and finally he declared that Season Eight was his last. With his exit and the show’s renewal, as well as the fact that many of the storylines were ended in Season Eight, the show had to make a fresh start.
In addition to needing a new leading man, the show also had to accommodate Amanda Tapping’s multi-episode absence at the start of the season while she was on maternity leave. With only two members of the SG-1 team remaining, show-runner Robert C. Cooper made the choice to have the legendary team disband. As a matter of fact, because of all of these changes, Cooper felt that the show should have been ended and replaced with another spin-off. “I’m sure many of you have heard how season nine was at one time supposed to be season one of a new series,” Cooper wrote in the Afterword in Stargate SG-1: The Illustrated Companion: Season Nine. “If you hadn’t heard, you’re now up to speed. We even had a title: Stargate Command….However, for various reasons a nondisclosure agreement does not permit me to discuss, the show continued on as Stargate SG-1.”
Farscape‘s Ben Browder finally said ‘yes’ to the producers and became the show’s new leading man. His character Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell also became the new commander of SG-1, even if for a little while, SG-1 as just “SG-Me” as Mitchell had to pick the members of his new team. As fate would have it, that would change as the new threat was revealed in the Ori and the talents of the original remaining members were needed on the front line once again.
Another new cast member was seasoned Hollywood actor Beau Bridges. His Maj. Gen. Hank Landry became the new commander of Stargate Command to replace Anderson’s O’Neill who had received another promotion and had become the new commander of Homeworld Security in Washington, D.C., replacing the retiring Lt. Gen. George Hammond.
And finally, Claudia Black returned as Vala Mal Doran from the previous season’s ‘Prometheus Unbound’ to make life difficult for Daniel Jackson and the rest of the galaxy. She was given several episodes at the beginning of the season to not only fill in for Amanda Tapping’s absence, but also to drive the story forward. Tapping didn’t want her pregnancy to be written into the show’s storyline, but interestingly enough, Black’s own pregnancy was made a crucial part of the show’s main story arc. Although her name didn’t appear in the opening credit sequence for this season, Black’s valuable contribution is acknowledged with a section of her own in this article.
This season also saw the debut of Robert C. Cooper as a director as he helmed an episode that he wrote, ‘Crusade.’
Going on to Season Ten seemed a sure thing, given all of these changes and a new story to tell. Apparently MGM and Sci Fi agreed, and news of the renewal for a record-breaking tenth season was announced in October 2005.
SG-1 Season Nine
Please make sure to vote in our poll for your Top 5 favorite episodes of Season Nine.
From “Perfect 10” in Stargate SG-1/Atlantis: The Official Magazine, issue #17 (Jul./Aug. 2007):
“I would argue season nine is season one of a new series. In fact, Robert and I pushed very hard for that to be the case. We thought it would have more of a chance of running more than one or two years if it were re-branded and altered. We would have changed it even more significantly than we did. But Sci Fi wanted it be Stargate SG-1 and they had their reasons for that. And actually, it was MGM that wanted it to be Stargate SG-1 more than anything else. At the end of the day it didn’t matter, because it was still going to be a continuation of the same mythology.
“It allowed Robert to recreate and bring in new life and new blood, and thank God for it. For me it was exciting. One of the highlights was being on the phone with Beau Bridges and having him say he’d like to come on board. I’ve always been a fan of his work. And Stargate Atlantis was going on too, so there we were, struggling [doing] two seasons again back to back. We said we could do it for one year, and of course season nine was the year we did it for the second year! It was quite exhausting, but very rewarding too.
“Obviously I liked ‘Beachhead,’ because I wrote it! It was the one that I was most involved with. But I think the first three episodes were incredibly strong. ‘Origin’ and ‘Avalon’ are very, very strong. I think Claudia brought something to the show that was wonderful and really ensured a season 10 with her spark. Claudia Black was—I wouldn’t say a surprise, because we all knew she had it in her—but we weren’t quite sure how much life she would be breathing into the show. And that really helped us, and when Amanda came back in my episode, that was another breath of life. Like I keep saying, people come and go and it adds something. It’s emotional when they leave and it’s joyful when they come back.”
Robert C. Cooper
From “Writer/Director/Executive Producer Robert C. Cooper Answers Your Ark of Truth Questions – And Then Some!” at Joseph Mallozzi’s Weblog (Jul. 27, 2008):
“Hey, we thought we ended SG-1 several times. For me, the last chapter was ‘Moebius.’ It was a new story after that. The show just happened to have the same name and some of the same great characters and I was happy to have a job. I don’t ignore criticism but at the same time, I can’t obsess about the fact that some people don’t like everything I do. If I did, I would be paralyzed to the point of inaction. I’m not always happy with everything either. Or the circumstances under which things unfold. Or the way they ultimately turn out. But I do the best I can at the time, try to understand what I can do better and make choices that will hopefully satisfy me when I look back in the future.
“If I write one thing for too long I tend to get bored. That’s how Vala happened. Doesn’t mean I don’t like the old stuff. I loved it at the time. I still love the old SG-1 characters but when things start to get stale it always helps to mix in a new personality. Vala for example. Daniel has always been a great character. Early on, it was his passion for finding Sha’re that drove him. But eventually that was resolved. I think Michael Shanks would agree, Vala reinvigorated the character of Daniel. In general, I do love writing the bantering dynamic of two characters at odds. Like Daniel/O’Neill or Daniel/Vala. Two people who always agree might as well be one.”
From “Stargate SG-1 Finale Focus: Robert C. Cooper, showrunner” at M2tv (Jun. 2007):
“I think we’ve been consistent [with the touchstone moments]. Right out of the gate in Vala and Daniel bonded in a way that made their characters interwoven. They have a depth to their relationship that happened right out of the gate. The moment she was burned [in ‘Avalon Part 2’] he went over to her and held her. It was incredibly powerful; it was very well directed and acted. Michael did a wonderful job, Claudia did a brilliant job. Vala’s façade was gone for just a few moments. That’s what I wanted to play with and expand upon in ‘Crusade,’ to see what Vala was like when she was around the team and what would happen when she fell into a situation where she really did start to feel comfortable again, even though there was something wrong with the situation.
“Some of this [consistency] is just the talent of the cast and they know that’s what makes the show work. … It doesn’t just happen naturally, it’s work, you have to work at it. It comes a little bit from the chemistry of the cast. The moment is there on the page but it was made into a powerful moment on screen by Michael and Claudia. And there are times where you write and it just doesn’t happen and it doesn’t work the way you imagined it. And there are other times you haven’t imagined it. You’ve written it but you haven’t imagined it quite that way and it happens and it’s a surprise and it’s wonderful and natural. So, I do think there have been those moments in Stargate.
“When Mitchell—this was something that happened as much off screen as it did on screen—but when Mitchell is fighting the knight in ‘Avalon Part 2’ and he’s unwilling to quit and absolutely killing himself and giving his all to get past this challenge, the other characters felt like, hey, this guy is a good guy to have in your foxhole. He’s willing to go to the ends of the earth. That was a thing that happened on set as well, Ben just went all out, physically and energy-wise, to actually do that sword fight. He nearly killed himself throwing himself around the set that day.
“And the other actors kind of looked at him and thought, ‘[This guy cares.] This guy is the kind of guy who isn’t just doing a job, punching a time clock.’ That was that something that helped the chemistry between the actors. He watched all the previous episodes. We said there were some we would prefer he didn’t watch but he said ‘no, no, I want to see the dogs too. I want to see the failures as well as the successes’ because sometimes the failures are the result of reaching. You’re trying to do something that either ends up being too esoteric or production-wise didn’t ultimately work out or is something that you thought would work but just didn’t. In many cases, some of our lesser episodes are really more a result of trying to do something that ultimately just didn’t work as opposed to not caring.”
From “SG-1: Directors Series: Ep: 919 ‘Crusade'” in the Season Nine DVD set:
“I always wanted to be a director; that’s what I grew up wanting to do. I went to the movies and I saw the director as the guy who was kind of making the movie, and that’s what I wanted to do.
“I was seven years old when my dad took me to see Jaws, which was an odd choice, but I didn’t sleep for the next two years, and that is when I realized that I needed to control the power that the director had to affect people’s lives.
“Writing was always a part of that, but it was not necessarily the thing I even thought I would do best, so I think having worked on the show for nine years really prepared me for the process of directing. I didn’t feel as though I was completely a babe in the woods when I appeared on stage. It was still a very exciting and challenging experience and I recognize that it requires a tremendous amount of skill and talent, and I spent a lot of time with our regular directors—Andy Mikita, Peter DeLuise, and Martin Wood—picking their brains and planning what I was going to do.
“I have to give a tremendous amount of credit to Peter Woeste who was the director of photography on this episode and one of our regular directors as well. … He has a tremendous eye, he’s a brilliant cinematographer, and he was like a right arm in this process and invaluable in helping me to get what I want and sometimes tell me what I should want.
“Good directing tells the story without drawing too much attention to the camera; you don’t want to make people aware of the directing. You want to be able to keep people immersed in the story, but at the same time use all the ‘magic tricks’ at your disposal to try and be as inventive and tell those story points in an interesting way.
“There’s always challenges, and I think I always understood those challenges as a producer, but living through it as a director is a different experience.”
From “Work in Progress” in TV Zone Special #64 (Jul. 2005):
“I had met Brad Wright at Comic Con back when we were promoting The Peacekeeper Wars. Prior to that, I’d met Joe Mallozzi as well as Paul Mullie at the Saturn Awards, and had also shared a plane ride from Los Angeles to Canada with Michael Shanks. Then Claudia Black happened to call and told me that she thoroughly enjoyed her experience working on Stargate, and that speaks quite highly of them. She’s a discerning lady and we know each other pretty well having worked together on Farscape.
“So when the character of Cameron Mitchell was first being talked about, I got on the phone with Brad, Rob Cooper and a few other people involved with the series. Things sort of took off from there. Eventually they felt it would be a good idea for me to fill the fourth slot on the SG-1 team, so here I am today.”
From “Sci-Fi Guy” in Starlog Magazine #344 reprinted at Ben Browder Portal (Feb. 2006):
“I did have copies of the Stargate Illustrated guides, and I also watched the series from the beginning to the end in one giant couch-potato session. I literally viewed the entire series, Seasons One through Eight, which was more TV than I’ve seen in the last decade. It’s quite an experience to sit down and watch that amount of work in a relatively short space of time; it’s almost surreal. But that’s what I did to familiarize myself with the Stargate mythology. I had a conversation with Richard [Dean Anderson] while I was still in LA, just to touch base, say hi and maybe pick his brain a little bit to see what advice he might have for me. I don’t know if it was useful; it was probably more comforting than anything else. He spoke very highly of everyone up there, and everything he said was true.”
From “Work in Progress” in TV Zone Special #64 (Jul. 2005):
“What I can speak about with certainty is the fun I’m having working with the SG-1 cast. Chris Judge is a terrific presence on set. Anyone who thinks he’s anything like his character of Teal’c is sorely mistaken. In fact, I’m always trying to draw a little more Judge out of Teal’c. Michael Shanks is a consummate professional who works diligently at his craft. Because he’s played his role for so long, he has a great perspective on the show and is very much the pace and rhythm of the series. As for Amanda [Tapping], I think she’s amazing to be back at work and be a mom at the same time. She has an incredible ability to focus on the task at hand as well as remember her lines and do everything that she actually does. To top it off, she’s a real sweetheart.”
From “Creating Cameron” in Stargate Official Magazine Yearbook (Mar./Apr. 2006):
“I think I came in without expectations. My first job was to figure out where to fit in and to figure out the routine. It takes a while to do that. Even now, six or seven months later, some days I’m still figuring it out. The last six months have flown by. You get into a rhythm of shooting the show, and after a while it’s like watching a deck of cards being shuffled: they blur in front of you. It’s gone by very quickly.
“Mitchell has been busier in the second half of the season. In the first six episodes they were not yet a team so there was no team to lead. There was less adventuring, as it were. So, once you get the team back in place there’s more for all of SG-1 to do, in a way. As team leader, if SG-1 is busy, then Mitchell is busy.
“He doesn’t really have a standard interaction with any of the characters. He has a fairly clear response in a different way to each. So, depending on the situation and who he’s interacting with he has a very different way of operating. For the team as a whole the question is, where is Mitchell’s place, what is his voice? He is kind of back to the roots of the show, in his enthusiasm for getting out there, and a certain naivety and innocence, even though he is neither particularly naive or innocent. So it’s fun to play, because you have characters he’s surrounded by who have saved the world 160 times. So for me there’s a fun element in being able to go, ‘Wow! Check that out!’
“He’s an interesting sort of hybrid leader. His leadership style within the context of the team is not how most people perceive the military to be, which is a regimen of orders. His leadership style is more akin to what occurs in elite teams like Delta units, where everyone participates to the fullest of their abilities and when you need a specialist, you defer to the specialist, and defer quickly. It’s an interesting thing because Mitchell doesn’t have much in the way of technical expertise, and certainly has no technical expertise above and beyond any of the other characters. The only thing he has is enthusiasm and the ability to be a pivot point for the team. That’s an element of all forms of leadership. When you’re dealing with a team it has to do with adjusting to the team. A really good coach is always adjusting his form of leadership. Mitchell is in a very unusual situation, and he has a rather unusual team to ostensibly be leading. Hopefully, he’s done a good job of it.
“I like the guy, which is a good thing. No self-loathing for Mitchell! Especially as the series has gone on… I think he’s revealed a bit more of his foundation as the year has continued. The more it goes on, the more interesting a character is. Not necessarily the ‘dark side’ either, but here’s this beat, here’s that beat. It informs you as you move on to the next stage of playing him.
“I am always wary of saying where the series is going. Particularly with introducing a character like Mitchell into the fray of these already well-established characters. I worry about concocting a definition of the character too early, and saying, ‘This is what the guy is.’ Then you’re locked into a place which may or may not work for the breadth of the story. You trust the writers and the other actors, and that the story will unfold at an appropriate time.”
From “Lights…Cameron…Action!” in Dreamwatch #138 (Feb. 2006):
“I think ‘The Scourge’ turned out well. Ken Girotti came in as a director for that and I’ve got a lot of time for Ken. He directed [season one’s] ‘Cold Lazarus,’ which is an episode I really liked. ‘The Scourge’ was one of the scripts I wasn’t too sure about when I got it because it skirts into different territory for us, but I think it’s going to be a good episode. It’s got a great guest cast, which includes Robert Picardo.
“I also like the season ender, ‘Camelot,’ a lot. There’s a good mix of team stuff, where all four people accomplish tasks. I think we’ve all got a really good feeling about ‘Camelot.’ I had the best day I’ve had on the Stargate set doing that episode. I had 40 pounds of mud on me and I was carrying a large sword. That’s my idea of a good day! It was great. And, of course, I had a much higher level of comfort doing that episode than I did when I first joined the show.
“It’s a big galaxy out there, so there’s a lot of ground to explore. We’re in the early days of Cameron Mitchell—the very early days of Cameron Mitchell. It will be interesting to see how he develops, because I’m not a fan of static characterization. I don’t believe in it. As people know from Farscape, I believe characters should evolve and change. I like to see the effects of the story as they play out on the character.
“For me, the more interesting days as Cameron Mitchell are to come. And I’m excited about doing a 10th season of Stargate because of that.”
From “Curious Mind” in TV Zone, Special #64 excerpted at MSOL (Jul. 2005):
“We bring back Vala, played by Claudia Black, an amazing actress, and our two characters spend a great deal of time kind of joined at the hip and doing their frick-and-frack routine, which you saw a bit of last season. They end up going to the Ori galaxy and crossing paths with these guys, and in doing so bring their wrath to bear upon Earth’s galaxy. Yes, Daniel inadvertently unleashes this threat as only he can do it. He’s like, ‘I’m just so curious about you. Oh, oh, wait, it’s a mistake! It’s a mistake!’
“Throughout the years, my character’s naivety and curiosity has always been a key factor in creating all sorts of obstacles for the team. This time around, he creates a massive one for our galaxy and introduces this little black cloud of a nemesis that will hang over their heads this season. Not only does Daniel have to accept responsibility for this, but he also has to help try to clean up the mess. Naturally, that’s easier said than done.”
From “Daniel Dares” in Stargate SG-1 * Atlantis Official Magazine Yearbook excerpted at Solutions (Mar./Apr. 2006):
“There’s a lot that’s been based around the character [this season], especially with this new villain. It’s based a lot on what Daniel’s through-line has been for the last several years, which is all about these Ancients, and Atlantis being their original home. We’ve taken that detail a little bit further and thought, if we’ve got this good group of Ancients, we must also have this bad group of Ancients.
“I really like this villain. I think they’re far more interesting than the Goa’uld, just because they’re veiled in mystery. There’s a wonderful way to peel away layers and keep finding out different things. It keeps the audience interested.
“With Daniel’s knowledge of the Ancients, he takes a central role in terms of how we’re going to deal with them and all the technologies that we’re going to find—especially at the beginning of the year, when he opens Pandora’s Box by visiting that galaxy with Vala and letting them know we exist on this side. A lot to do with our main antagonists has to do with what Daniel dredged up, and so it’s been a lot of fun from that perspective.
“We’re also breaking in a new colonel, so to speak. Ben [Browder] and I have talked about this. As much as his character being the leader of SG-1, it’s kind of in title and theory only, because in actuality he doesn’t lead by dictatorship, he leads by suggestion. He’s leading a group of people who are far more experienced than he is, one of which is equal rank with him in the military, one’s an alien, and one’s a civilian. So there’s not really a lot of hierarchy for him to draw on because of his lack of experience in certain sectors. With O’Neill, Daniel was able to trust that [the action] side of things was looked after a lot more. So Daniel’s had to take a little bit more of a leadership role in certain sectors of the storytelling, not just as an advisor who sits back and watches but to make sure and saying, ‘No, we’re not going to do it that way, we’re going to do it this way, I understand your point of view but you don’t really know the lay of the land.’ It’s been a balancing act all season, I think, to find when those moments are. We’re also finding where those voices mesh together.
“They did a very good job of making sure that Ben’s character didn’t walk in and was given too much assumptive knowledge. I think the audience would have rejected the idea that this person was just embraced wholesale. He’s got to earn his stripes, and both Ben and the character of Mitchell have slowly evolved that. This guy can hold his own, he’s got his own strengths. There’s a layer of reality in the characterization—we play these characters so many times for so much of the year that, obviously, some of our own personal dynamic has to take hold of these characters. I think that they did a good job of making sure that his character is as Ben is—very enthusiastic and gung-ho about stuff, but very uncertain about a lot and it’s up to us to advise him. It’s been a very natural dynamic.”
From “Team Player” in TV Zone Special #67 excerpted at Solutions and MSOL (Dec. 2005):
“With the first six episodes of this season it was almost like a completely different TV show. Richard Dean Anderson was, of course, no longer there, we had Claudia Black replacing Amanda [Tapping] in our first five stories, and Ben Browder, Beau Bridges and Lexa [Doig] had come on board, too. After those initial episodes we headed back into more familiar territory, but at the same time it was somewhat confusing ground because we had established a new rhythm when we started the year. So in the remaining 14 episodes of Season Nine we were still trying to find our sea legs and mine the depths of our new characters.
“Working with Claudia is like working with an old best friend even though the two of us had never acted together before doing ‘Prometheus Unbound.’ So the relationship between Daniel and Vala in those first six episodes this year was a very easy one because it was one that Claudia and I had previously discovered.
“Establishing Daniel’s dynamic with Ben’s and Beau’s characters was far more challenging. With Daniel and Mitchell it would have been extremely cliché to go back nine years to the original dynamic of Daniel and Jack O’Neill, which was the military versus the diplomatic. None of us wanted to be repetitive in that regard, so we tried to figure out a way for Daniel and Mitchell to work side by side, find some commonality and still have an entertaining rapport with one another.
“With Beau’s character, he started out as someone who was frustrated with Daniel’s exposition, technobabble or whatever. General Landry quickly got beyond that, though, and was able to see the person he was working with, so he warmed up a bit to Daniel. Even so, there wasn’t a strong bond that I could list all the dimensions of. I revere Beau Bridges as an actor and sometimes I’d be sitting there like a little kid doing a scene with him and thinking, ‘Don’t kick me out of your office.’
“It was especially tricky working with Amanda and Ben in this episode [‘Arthur’s Mantle’] because Daniel isn’t supposed to acknowledge their characters’ presence. There were scenes, however, where Carter and Mitchell are having a conversation with each other and Daniel is in the same room and talking with someone as well. We had a few good guffaws where Ben would improvise a line that I wouldn’t expect, so I’d just sort of look at him and say [jokingly], ‘Shut up already.’
“The one [episode] I enjoyed most is probably the last story, ‘Camelot.’ You have SG-1 fighting the bad guys, solving riddles, and interacting with aliens from different cultures. It just felt like good old-fashioned classic Stargate.
“I certainly enjoyed the different character interactions this year and I’m just hoping we can take those relationships to the next level next season. I want to see more of who these people are, and I’m sure the fans do as well.”
From “Maternal Instinct: Amanda Tapping” in TV Zone Special #64 excerpted at Solutions (Jul. 2005):
“Obviously, Sam had been away … and during that time a whole new dynamic had built up among Daniel, Vala, Teal’c and Mitchell and with the actors who play them. For the first couple of days I felt like the captain of the school chess club trying to hang out with the football players, do you know what I mean? I can make jokes about the captain of the chess club, seeing that my twin brother was one.
“Sam has to be slightly different because I’m quite a bit different. Last year we focused a great deal on her soul and the woman who is Carter, and I’m pleased that this season we’re somewhat suppressing that and taking her back to her roots, those being the scientist and the soldier and what makes her strong.
“However, having done so much exploration into her heart and soul, she has a softness to her now. We’ll see what happens, though, the next time she’s in battle. By that I mean with me, Amanda, there’s the mother lion in me now. I’ve realized that for the first time in my life I’m actually capable of killing, and that makes me cry. If anyone tried to lay a finger on my child I’d kill them, and that’s quite a revelation. I relate that to work insofar as there’s a new level of fierceness to Carter that we’ll see. I always knew that as a soldier she could kill, and she has, but now there’s an entirely new drive behind it, because as an actress I can bring that to the table.”
From “Carter and Co.” in Stargate Official Magazine, Issue #6 excerpted at Solutions (Sept./Oct. 2005):
“I just feel like the strength of this character and the joy of playing this character is the fact that she’s a strong, capable, smart and powerful woman. I love the fact that there are so many sides to her—I loved the Pete side, because I loved working with David Deluise, and the whole ‘Jack and Sam’ thing was fun to play at times and a bit of a pain at other times. We were exploring all of the different sides of her, which is great. Now we know that she’s capable of love and she’s capable of hurt and all these things to do with her heart and soul. We know all that, so now lets [sic] get back to what made her the character that she is!
“So I think it will be interesting. As long as I don’t become exposition girl—because that’s what I was for a while. … I want to have a pro-active role on the team. She’s back, so let her be back. Let her be pro-active. We know enough about her backstory now. It’s there, it’s settled. We don’t have to show her breaking up with her boyfriend and making eggs in the morning. It’s time to go back to the old Carter. I was starting to feel a bit that the whole angst over Jack was weakening her, and I think the fans were finding that too. We’re going to go back to what SG-1 was about, with a new vigor.”
From “Sam Kind of Wonderful!” in Stargate Official Magazine, Issue #07, excerpted at Solutions (Nov./Dec. 2005):
“You know, I have an interesting thing about [Mitchell’s] being the leader of SG-1, because Ben and I have this constant thing—hey, we’re both of equal rank, but I’ve been on SG-1 much longer. How come you get to lead? I actually went up to Rob Cooper after this one episode that I had just read and said, you know, Carter kind of takes control of this mission and does all the intel on it—how come Mitchell comes in and ends up calling in the troops and leading them? That seems terribly unfair, you know, when they’re both the same rank. And Rob said, no, no, you’re right, — you’ll be leading that mission.
“And I think that we were doing that [sharing command] last year when Carter was ostensibly the leader of SG-1. She always deferred to Daniel and Teal’c out of necessity and pure respect. You know, you can’t know everything. And I hope that’s the way the show is going.”
From “Coming Home” in TV Zone reprinted at AmandaTapping.com (Jan. 2006):
“This past Spring I really did question whether or not I’d made the right decision as an actor, a mom, and a person to come back to work. Character-wise, I definitely felt Sam Carter needed to return. For me, though, as I sit here now with only seven days left until we finish filming Season Nine, I know that, yes, I made the right choice. This season of SG-1 has gone really well, and I’ve had my daughter here with me every day and we have a wonderful nanny on set. I’m lucky in that Olivia is such an easy-going baby and is much-loved as well as treated wonderfully by this cast and crew.
“Acting-wise, this season has been about me trying to figure out how Sam fits into this new dynamic without making it obvious that I’m trying to do so, if you know what I mean? My character has always been so centred at the SGC. Sam is comfortable there and so aware of her surroundings and how she deals those surroundings. It felt good for her to walk back into such a familiar place again.
“Conversely, there’s this brand new dynamic she’s dealing with when it comes to the Colonel Mitchell character and what he’s all about. At times, he’ll say something and Carter will think ‘What?’ and then other times she’ll be like, ‘OK, I get it.’ It’s interesting because he leads very differently than Jack O’Neill did, and then, of course, there’s the question of why is Mitchell and not Sam in charge of SG-1. That’s something I hope the writers will explore further next season. After all, it could be an ensemble team where there is no patriarchal line of command, or maybe Mitchell and Carter could share the leadership responsibilities. However, because Sam is military and a good military girl, she will do exactly what she’s ordered to do. It wouldn’t be so bad, though, to see her rebel every now and then against an order she truly does not agree with.
“One relationship I thought was going to be fleshed out and explored in Season Nine was the one between Carter and Dr. Lam [Lexa Doig]. The show’s producers and writers had talked about doing that but, again, there just wasn’t time. I’m hoping we can address that next season because I always enjoyed the dynamic between my character and Teryl Rothery’s [Dr. Janet Fraiser]. They had such a beautiful and special friendship and I think it would be neat if Sam could strike up a similar type of rapport with another woman at the SGC.”
From “Got Carter” in Stargate SG-1 * Atlantis Official Magazine Yearbook reprinted at AmandaTapping.com (Mar./Apr. 2006):
“Because of the nature of ‘Ripple Effect,’ it wasn’t our Dr. Fraiser and Martouf. There is a clear recognition, but somewhere the lines of communication are not the same. It’s not the same perspective, and we don’t speak in the same vernacular because we’re dealing with different experiences. So it was weird. It was like, ‘But Janet, come on, it’s me!’ The one thing that I wished for in ‘Ripple Effect’ between Carter and Janet. I think it was a matter of telling as good a story as we could in the short period of time as we had. We had a big story to tell in 44 minutes. There wasn’t time to show all the interpersonal relationships. Carter had to deal with Martouf. So if we had had a Carter and Fraiser scene, then we wouldn’t have dealt with the story as well. But that’s the one thing with ‘Ripple Effect’ that I missed. That was a scary one. I looked at that [script] and went, ‘Oh, crap. No sleep for the next seven days.’ Up at 4 o’clock in the morning, sitting with a breast pump trying to learn my lines…”
From “Coming Home” in TV Zone reprinted at AmandaTapping.com (Jan. 2006):
“The SG-1 episode we’re filming at the moment [‘Camelot’] is big, really big. I was speaking earlier with [director] Martin Wood and we have something like a half million dollar visual effects budget. This is also an interesting story in that, and I don’t believe I’m giving away any spoilers by saying this, it’s a cliffhanger in the truest sense of the word. Any number of things could take place. It could signal the end of a particular character or even characters, and then again, everyone could survive.”
From “Woman of Substance” in TV Zone reprinted at AmandaTapping.com (Jul. 2006):
“I think that [my scene in ‘Camelot’] was the final thing we shot last year, and it was me in space and wearing a full NASA spacesuit. They even have a specialist who comes up and helps you get into it. The suit itself is quite heavy and it really weighs on your shoulders. Afterwards I literally felt like my back was permanently curved because you’re sort of crunched into the thing, so it’s really uncomfortable but it looks great on screen.
“Martin Wood directed this episode and for these scenes he had me up on a platform and lying on a jib arm or camera crane [long pole] that they hoisted up in the air. I’m not a big fan of heights, but it was kind of cool. The difficulty with a scene like this is that it was all green screen and one tiny piece of set, which was the Ori Supergate. There I was ‘floating in space,’ and meanwhile poor Martin is down below yelling, ‘And there’s a battle going on overhead, and one ship blows up! Now they’re firing on each other, and then the gate kawooshes. Oh, my God, look at that!’ You have to react not only to Martin who, God bless him, is just amazing, but also to something that’s clearly not there. It’s really tough to know whether you’re going over the top or what you’re doing is enough.
“The trickiest part about doing Sci-Fi and dealing with green screen is paying the proper credence to it. The idea is to give it the right amount of weight without making it look hokey. So you basically have to dial in and put 110% belief in what you’re saying and what’s happening, all the while praying that you don’t look like a fool. That’s the nature of the genre, I guess.”
From “Got Carter” in Stargate SG-1 * Atlantis Official Magazine Yearbook excerpted at Solutions (Mar./Apr. 2006):
“I don’t know what the line up is going to be next year—who will be here and who won’t be here. But we’re looking at going to 200 episodes, and I want to be here for that! It’s worked this year with Olivia, and it’ll be easier next year because I won’t be breastfeeding.”
From “Judge for Yourself” in Stargate SG-1 * Atlantis Official Magazine Yearbook excerpted at Solutions (Mar./Apr. 2006):
“The last thing I thought they were going to do was turn Teal’c into an orator! It’s been fun, getting to do scenes with all these great actors and actually talk during them. I never envisioned that. I’ve said more in these last two seasons than I have in the previous seven put together. I had a talk to the writers about getting Teal’c back to the ‘less-talk, more ass-kicking’ character he was before. So I think for next season, he will talk when it is appropriate, but he’ll also do a lot more ass-kicking!
“Getting to work with Lou Gossett was wonderful. I had it in the back of my mind that Gerak was really Teal’c’s father. I think that would have been a very interesting thing to explore, because they seemed to have a very uneasy relationship. I would have loved for that to have happened. But I think him going over to the Ori was also very interesting, and it shook the relationship up.
“Teal’c realizes that there are some limitations as to how day-to-day he can be with the outside world. He has to be respectful of the fact that the populus of the Earth doesn’t know that we have made contact with aliens. He’s learned that through his time off base [in season eight’s ‘Affinity’]. And I just think he’s being respectful of the situation and that the time will come [to move off base], there’s no need to push it. He just thinks that it will take some time. Whether or not that will become a reality or not depends and how many more years we go!
“I think it’s been one of our best seasons. We’ve just scratched the surface of this ensemble, and I think we’ve got another few years in us.”
From “Loyal Warrior” in TV Zone Special #67 excerpted at Solutions (Dec. 2005):
“I’m ecstatic to be doing yet another season of SG-1, and I can’t wait believe we wrap next week.
“I’m enjoying the mythos that we’re delving deeper into now that our heroes have come to what they think or hope to be Camelot. They’re in search of a device that Merlin may or may not have left behind and in the process become entangled with some of the townsfolk. There are other things that also happen during the episode which I’m not at liberty to speak of, but the climactic scene is truly just that. It’s a terrific way to end the year, and will leave fans on the edge of their seats for next season.
“This episode [‘Camelot’] is a wonderful example of how our characters have come back together as a team this year. The first few stories were really to establish our new characters, including Ben Browder’s Colonel Cameron Mitchell, with viewers, as well as reintroduce them to the Vala character, played by Claudia Black. Once everyone got to know a little bit about just who these people are, we were then able to focus on the team dynamic.
“I’m happy that our old characters have found the beginnings of their relationships with our new characters and vice versa. Ben and I have discovered our onscreen niche, which is that Mitchell and Teal’c are both warriors and leaders. I think in those first few episodes my character was a bit taken aback by how gung-ho and yippie-io-ki-ay he was. That’s because Jack O’Neill was more reserved. However, I feel Teal’c has grown to appreciate those attributes in Mitchell, and I certainly have grown to appreciate them in Ben as an actor.
“Because the Vala character is so ‘out there’ I wasn’t sure if Teal’c could ever truly like her. However, in one of the scenes we shot just the other day [in ‘Crusade’], Vala was talking about a man she’d met in another universe and had grown to love and what he’d been through and what he would be going through. What she was describing was Teal’c’s life. It was truly beautiful the way in which Claudia related this whole series of events, and it got to me not only as Chris the actor but as Teal’c as well. It was like a light switch had been turned on. Suddenly I realised that there is honour in this character and what she’s doing, so I finally had a platform from where I could take Teal’c’s relationship with her next season.
“It’s funny, you eventually find yourself in a place where you know your character and the other characters so well, you know what you’re going to do here, here and here, and no one rocks the boat. Well, that’s exactly what Ben and Claudia do, but in a totally good way. They love to challenge you and I love to be challenged as an actor. That’s a great thing they’ve brought to SG-1, and it’s increased everyone’s energy and focus. We still play around as much as ever, but I don’t think there’s been a time this year that we haven’t all been on top of our game. To have that level of professional commitment and still allow yourself to have fun, too; it’s the perfect work environment.”
From “You Be the Judge” in TV Zone Special #64 excerpted at Solutions (Jul. 2005):
“So we started out SG-1’s ninth season with great hopes and dreams, and Ben and Claudia as well as Beau Bridges and Lou Gossett, Jr have not only met but far exceeded anything we expected insofar as how they would fit in and what their work ethic would be. It’s been absolutely terrific. … We’re having so much fun, and to have this new dynamic is incredible. It’s as if the first eight seasons we were building the rocket and now this year we’re blasting off to even greater heights.
“I used to think that being successful had to do with where your name is in the credits. Sure, that’s great, but in the big picture it doesn’t really matter. Nowadays, I wake up in the morning happy to be alive, happy to have my family, and happy to be working on a TV show like Stargate. So for me, I’ve got it all.”
From “Legendary General” in Stargate SG-1/Atlantis: The Official Magazine, issue #17 (Jul./Aug. 2007):
“A couple of years ago Brad [Wright] and Robert [Cooper] called me and asked me if I would be the new general on Stargate SG-1, and I said, ‘Well fine, send me some of the scripts.’ I hadn’t seen too much of the show at that time, so they sent me a bunch of episodes from the past, and I really liked them. I liked the stories that Brad had written. About 10 years before, he had written a two-hour show that I was in, called Sandkings. It was a pilot for The Outer Limits, a series which also ran for almost 10 years, so Brad and I had that in our history.
“There was no script, so the character was really unformed. It was just a blank sheet of paper, but I knew they were a talented group of writers. I liked the actors, so I said, ‘Well, do you have any idea who this general is?’ We started talking and they invited me to be a part of thrashing out this guy’s back-story.
“Robert Cooper and I started talking about who we wanted this guy to be, and we kind of came up with the character between the two of us. It was a collaboration, and I really liked that—it was a lot of fun. We made him a fighter pilot in Vietnam. He’d flown a lot of missions, fell in love with a Vietnamese woman, they married and had a child, but he’s estranged from her because he’s never home, he’s flying all the time and getting into undercover stuff. That’s where he meets Jack O’Neill, and he spends even less time with his wife and daughter. He gets totally estranged from his family and divorces his wife. His daughter doesn’t speak to him, she goes off to medical school and becomes Dr. Lam [Lexa Doig], and Jack arranges for her to come to work at Stargate Command. I liked the whole story.
“I remember thinking, ‘Okay this is good’ because I think leaders have challenges in life just like everybody else. That’s what makes it possible to get into some interesting dynamics. Without it, I’m just the usual, ‘Go get the Ori,’ or whatever else is out there. He’s an interesting man. He’s a leader but he’s got a sense of humor. He can be tough when he needs to be, but he’s got problems at home, and that makes him more human.”
From interview at The SciFi World (Jun. 23, 2007):
“And because I was stepping in a pair of shoes that I’ve not experienced—I’ve been in positions of leadership, but I’ve never been a general before—I went out and researched all the American generals from General George Washington up to present and made a collection of things they said and believed. Wrote it all down and then actually put it into categories, because the generals, I found out, were talking about things they had in common: like family, battle strategy, life, death, and all these things. So I categorized all my notes, my findings, and then I handed that into the producers and the writers and they used a lot of that in developing my character. I had played presidents before, the head of the CIA, and guys who were in positions of leadership, and have directed films before, so I have been in positions of leadership myself. I also had two men that really impressed me in my early life, who were leaders: that’s my dad Lloyd Bridges, who was an actor and kind of a leader in his field, and also my college basketball coach, John Wooden, who was one of the most successful college basketball coaches that ever lived. He won ten straight national championships. I use those guys as inspiration a lot. My father, my coach. That’s kind of how I came up with General Landry.”
From interview with About.com (2008):
“He’s a man who really loves his service to his country, loves his job. He’s sort of married to that aspect of his life. And because of that, that’s one of the reasons he had problems personally, with his family—he loved his job so much, he kind of short-shrifted his wife and his daughter. And I think he’s the kind of guy who—if you meet him out on the field of battle, he’s the kind of guy who’s going to enjoy the fight. And the tougher the odds, the stronger the enemy, that just jacks him up, because he’s that kind of a warrior.
“And even though, because of his age, he’s not the young buck going out and killing the dragon, he still felt very motivated and very excited about the whole proposition of it and being a master tactician. And also he’s good at getting out of his troops the things that he needs, the people that work for him. I liked doing him. Because I think as a younger man, he had been there, done that. So it wasn’t a problem in terms of not being on the battlefield himself, because he’d been there. He felt that he owed it to the people he was sending out there to make sure they had what they needed, and gave them the best advice he could before the battle.
“And when I came into the show—yeah, it was a transitional period, and as the new general coming in I felt it was time to kick ass and take names [laughs], and tighten the ship. So I was a pretty serious guy and had a short temper. As the show went on I became more relaxed as an actor in the show, and so did my character, and more of the practical joker aspect of his character came out—it was neat, you don’t often have a chance to have that kind of evolution for a character.
“I must say they were really gracious to me coming in in the ninth season. I didn’t really know anybody there. I had met Richard Dean [Anderson] years before, but he was not really doing them anymore. But the rest of the people, they were just so kind to me in welcoming me to the show, it made me feel really at home quite quickly. So it wasn’t a tough transition at all. And Ben Browder, who also was new to the show with me, we happened to live very close to each [other] in L.A., so we got together before I even came out, which was nice. And we’ve become good friends.
“…I think the whole milieu of science fiction is [‘very today’], the fun thing about is you can take on really heavy, modern problems and discussions and have fun with them, you don’t have to be so serious as you would if you were using the names and characters of people and cultures living today. And I think also what really stands out with Stargate is they have such a great sense of humor about it. Richard Dean was one of the guys who had the most hand in that, and I tried to bring as much of that in my own way as I could to Landry. Because I think that’s what the fans enjoy about it.”
From interview at The SciFi World (Jun. 23, 2007):
“I had one [favorite], I really love an episode, I forget which season it was in, but it was with Dr. Lam, with Lexa Doig, and we were beginning to break through our estrangement and I had basically asked her for forgiveness when I thought I was going to die. And it was a good scene. One of those scenes that you never know quite how it’s going to turn out but you hope for the best. And in this case I thought it turned out pretty good.” [Note: Bridges is referring to ‘The Fourth Horseman Part 2’.]
“…I love Stargate. I enjoy watching it. And I hadn’t seen too many before hand. They sent me a bunch to watch and I liked them because of the stories. I think it’s fascinating how Brad Wright and Robert Cooper are able to create this whole world. It’s just amazing. And I think one of the things that drives them is they feel a responsibly, as all the actors do as well, to this incredible group of fans that we have that who are so dedicated to the show. So we always want to make it the best we can. It starts with the guys who write it. And I think Rob Cooper and Brad Wright and all the wonderful team of writers they have turned out some great stories.”
From “None More Black” in TV Zone Yearbook excerpted at Solutions (Dec. 2004):
“Apparently, the casting people from Stargate were trying to track me down for a while. They had, in fact, contacted me last year about a part, but the timing didn’t work out. When you’re on a long running show such as Farscape, people discover you and want to use you in their project. However, you either never seem to be around, or are in the wrong country. If both sides are lucky, you’re eventually able to connect, which is what happened here.
“Initially, I didn’t think I’d be able to do Stargate. When I got the phone call, I was in Australia doing Automated Dialogue Replacement work for the Farscape mini series. Obviously the ADR work was a priority, but as luck would have it, I finished a day or two early. The Stargate people told my agent, ‘If you can get Claudia to the embassy, get her work papers, and on a plane to Canada, we can do this.’ So that’s what we did.
“Let me tell you, it was the worst case of jet lag I’ve experienced in my entire life. That said, I wouldn’t have missed doing Stargate for the world. It’s funny, when you’ve been a regular on a TV series, you sometimes forget how lucky you are to be working.
“When I guest starred on Stargate I was one of those people who was in awe of everything around me. It was an absolute blast and I was lucky enough to bring with me all that I had learn’t as an actress from doing Farscape. I mean, David Kemper has always said to me, ‘You were fine when you came on the show but everyone gets better with time.’ There are things that you won’t even realize you’ve learn’t and they will just come naturally to you now. It was wonderful to be able to walk onto a new set in a foreign country and be able to get on with the people and do the work quickly as well as deliver a solid performance. It was just an amazing experience and the cast and crew were very good to me.
“As soon as I read the script [for ‘Prometheus Unbound’], I fell in love with the character of Vala. She’s a hoot. Talk about a real piece of work. I’d never played someone who was that manipulative, and I thought it would be a wonderful acting challenge for me.”
From interview in Starburst #328 reprinted at Vala-Dictorians (Oct. 2005):
“Vala tends to fit and suit the moment in terms of survival, and I think the textures and layers we saw of her in ‘Prometheus Unbound’ are typically all she’s willing to give away about herself. What’s interesting with her six story arc this season is that just when you think you’re peeling away another layer of the character, she’ll flip everything on its head again, which I believe is just a part of her survival mechanism. So she’s intriguing to me. At the same time, there’s a potential for the character to become a one trick pony. I was lucky though, in that she was important to the story. Vala drives the story forward in the beginning, because she brings the adventure to them, the SG-1 team, even though she’s not part of the group.
“One of the most memorable things for me is the spirit of the cast and crew. Everyone was extremely enthused about starting their ninth season with some new people in the mix, and I was very taken by their positive outlook. As for the episodes [‘Avalon 1 & 2’] themselves, I was impressed when I read the scripts and discovered how dense they were, how many layers there were to the story and the scope of it. In part one for example, Ben had to do this long and really exhausting fight scene on his own, and Vala is standing on the sidelines making the odd sarcastic quip. Going back to what I said earlier about her helping drive the story, if Vala wasn’t actually doing that, she had to then be saying something cheeky or else shouldn’t be in the scene at all. Vala is such a loud character that you almost expect something obnoxious and funny to be coming out of her mouth. She’s a total joy to play and such a total opposite in terms of character type, to Aeryn, that I was challenged by the comedic aspects of the role. However, that type of challenge, I enjoy.
“I’m an adrenalin junkie, so I love doing slightly dangerous things, but in a controlled setting and around a team of professionals. When we were shooting this [death] scene, they to put a mat across the fire, rather than extinguishing it when it got too hot for me and I needed to get out of there. As I stepped on the mat though, all these flames sort of shot out from under the mat and towards Dan Shea. I said something not fit for publication. I ended up staying in the shot for quite a while. I remember thinking how cool this would look for director Andy Mikita and for his sake, let’s keep the camera’s rolling for as long as possible. Obviously they used a professional stunt person for the final bit, and then one of the stand-ins, Nicole, who had been doing a lot of stand-in work for me, was put into what someone referred to as the ‘crispy critter’ make-up. That’s when you saw Vala after she had been burnt, and Nicole did some incredible stuff. She got herself into positions that were both very uncomfortable and visually amazing. Much of the footage wound up being too brutal and violent so it didn’t make the final cut. However, we shot extensively and with real stakes, pardon the pun, in the sense that storywise it actually happened. Apart from Vala being resuscitated by one of the Ori minions, who are called Priors, she really does go through that death experience. There’s no wink to the camera about it at all.”
From “Vala Unveiled” in Stargate Official Magazine Yearbook (Mar./Apr. 2006):
“As we started to get into the more macabre elements, such as when she’s burnt [in ‘Avalon’], I was actually very impressed. I really didn’t think they would go that far with it. I know that that would have been disturbing, because it is an early time slot and it’s got a big family audience. So in terms of the story telling I was very impressed that they took that risk and they took it that far, because it’s rare to be surprised in television these days. So that’s when I started to feel as if I was edging more into the Aeryn territory, when things were getting a bit more tragic and serious. But it’s a welcome texture and shade to her as well, and I think it’s important for Vala to have those layers and levels of complexity. I think that she operates in a very childish way, on a superficial level. But she’s had to survive a lot. Robert [Cooper] and I have talked about this. She has been damaged. A good liar always keeps as close to the truth as possible, so I would say a lot of the time when she is talking about what’s happened to her, most of it is true. She will lie and steal and do whatever, but she has a moral compass.”
From interview in Starburst #328 reprinted at Vala-Dictorians (Oct. 2005):
“The producers have left it in such a way that it’s possible to bring her back if my schedule permits and if it appropriately fits their story. I as an actor and Vala as a character, are at our best when we’re heavily involved in the action. Michael Shanks would often joke with me and say I was spending all my time chewing the scenery and milking absolutely everything, but you kind of need to know what Vala is thinking and doing all the time because she reveals so little of herself. So the character was very alive in every shot in every story, and if she does come back and we can keep her at that same level it would be wonderful. But Vala is something to be treasured and perhaps, enjoyed in small doses.”