Re-Opening the Gate – Stargate SG1
Due to the success of the original film, there was intention for Stargate to continue, the original creators of the film envisioned a trilogy of films-whilst others had a different idea. Producers Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner had been working on The Outer Limits together and both of them, independently from each other, approached MGM with the same idea: a TV series based on the Stargate film. Upon realising they had the same idea, they decided to work together on the project. They spent three months studying the original film to learn the mechanics of the Stargate and came to a conclusion: there was no way that the Stargate would only go to one place. From the idea that the gate requires 6 symbols and the point of origin to establish a connection (and there are 38 symbols on the gate itself, not including the point of origin), you can deduce that there are 1,987,690,320 different permutations of gate addresses possible. That’s a lot of potential addresses to go to. So, it makes sense that there are Stargates all over the galaxy rather than just two.
What really appealed to Brad Wright about the series was the fact that it was humans of today who were going out and having these adventures (unlike Star Trek, where it’s set hundreds of years in the future). It was people like us. When they were breaking down the characters, they knew that they wanted to bring across Colonel Jack O’Neill (now spelt with two L’s) and Dr Daniel Jackson, but they had to also deal with the other two surviving members of the original Stargate expedition: Majors Kawalsky and Feretti. In the film, Kawalsky was portrayed by John Diehl, who they approached to see if he would be interested in reprising the role. When he turned them down, they then decided that instead of keeping the character around they would simply kill him off. Jonathan Glassner pushed for a strong female character to be one of the leads as he felt that they would better capture a female audience. He felt a character who was not your standard ‘damsel in distress’ that was usually seen in television at the time would appeal to women watching. They also wanted an alien member of the team to provide insight into the worlds that they would be exploring, so they weren’t always blindly wandering around the galaxy.
For the role of Jack O’Neill, they knew that they needed an experienced actor to lead their cast, and John Symes (who at the time was president of MGM Worldwide Television) had worked with Richard Dean Anderson on MacGyver at Paramount. Symes approached Anderson and asked him to have a look at the original film. Upon viewing the film, Anderson told Symes to “forget it”- he wasn’t interested in playing a serious military character like that for -what he knew could be as long as – 7 seasons after his experience on MacGyver. Symes went back to Anderson and explained that they had a forty-four-episode commitment from Showtime and that Anderson would be free to take the character in whatever direction he wanted. Despite not being a fan of Sci-Fi in general, the freedom to take the character where he wanted to was what convinced Anderson to take the role. He would also very quickly step up his role in the series to that of Executive Producer.
One of Anderson’s stipulations was that the cast would be an ensemble and not just one lead character with supporting characters. Each character was in their own way a lead, as he didn’t want the burden of being the single lead in the TV series as he had been previously. His other stipulation was that it would be fun. It would be a fun set to be on and that people would have fun making the series. Anderson wanted to inject his own sense of humour into the character of O’Neill, giving the character a sarcasm, which would help to really show the edge when the character went to darker places. In an early interview, he was asked about how O’Neill compared to his MacGyver character. He described them as complete opposites using the left side/right side of the brain comparison. MacGyver was a softer character whereas O’Neill was a harder edged character; there were softer sides to O’Neill but overall, he was a rigid military officer. The sense of humor really helped to offset these hard-edged elements to the character and made it fun for Anderson to play. He also started to inject more of himself into the O’Neill character including his love of dogs, fishing and The Simpsons.
The episode Cold Lazarus was written specifically to help O’Neill fully deal with the loss of his son. Whilst the character started out quite sarcastic, there was always this lingering part of the character regarding his son. He never fully got over the death, but the episode really helped O’Neill process the loss and start to fully enjoy life again. It was this which allowed them to give the character more of a sense of humor rather than the occasional sarcastic quip. The idea behind the sense of humor of the character was to add credibility to the role-if the character had remained the humorless person from the film then it would be boring to watch, and the audience would find the character less relatable. It was also a factor in Anderson taking the role, because he finds characters that can have a laugh much more interesting to play and feels that audiences find them much more interesting to watch. I believe that this trait of the character really helped the show to be as successful as it was, because the laughs set it aside from a lot of other Sci Fi series out there.
Anderson had been told before that in order for audiences to understand things in TV and film, they need everything dumbed down for them. He found this quite offensive, and in his capacity as Executive Producer, really pushed for more intelligent stories to be brought into the show. To give the audience the benefit of the doubt of their intelligence- they don’t need to be spoon fed everything. The rest of the production were already on his side and found it helpful that they had someone else ready to fight for intelligent stories. Initially, during table reads, Anderson would change lines here and there to make them funnier and, whilst it did make the cast laugh, it began to upset the writers – who felt that their writing was being disrespected. Brad Wright took him to one side and talked with him about how the writers felt, and from then on Anderson made sure to not only ask for permission to change lines, but actually worked with the writers to come up with something else. Eventually, the writers found it easier to write the O’Neill dialogue as they got used to how Anderson thought in terms of what he would say.
Because they had an established star in their lead role, the producers were able to cast unknowns in the roles of the remaining characters. Michael Shanks had studied the original movie (in particular, James Spader’s performance in the film) before his audition. When he walked into the audition, he did a perfect impersonation of Spader from the film. He was cast immediately. The Daniel Jackson role initially started out as the token translator, however, when they quickly discarded a lot of the translation required for the characters to do, (as they didn’t want every episode spending half the episode figuring out what the language was) the Jackson character became the moral center of the team.
At 26 years old at the beginning of filming, Shanks was a relative newcomer. With only a few small minor roles under his belt, he was the definition of an ‘unknown’. But, he was a very talented unknown. He spoke in an interview, detailing the reason he got interested in acting- it was because one day at the beach he saw a crew shooting a TV series and saw the star of the show. The show that was being shot was MacGyver and the star he saw was Richard Dean Anderson, his future co-star. Over the course of the series, Shanks’ Daniel Jackson would slowly come out of the shadow of the James Spader imitation that he did in his original audition. Shanks brought a sincerity to the role that was impressive- considering his relative inexperience. He embodied the character of Daniel Jackson and worked little mannerisms into the character wherever he could. From the way he would put his glasses on, to the way he would stand with his arms folded, the little subtleties that were brought into the character were what made his performance so good. He would also branch out in his roles in the series- most notably he would provide the voice of the Asgard Thor. However, his turn as Ma’chello was of particular impress. In the season 2 episode, Holiday, Shanks would go through a rigorous make up process to play both Daniel Jackson and the elderly Ma’chello. It really helped showcase his abilities as an actor that he was able to seamlessly play both characters with the vast majority of the audience being unaware until the end credits rolled that it was Shanks in both roles.
It wasn’t just the episodes where he played other characters that Shanks excelled. He brought so much to the character of Daniel Jackson that he elevated the character from the cliched, geeky archaeologist to a deep, three-dimensional character. The first main character arc of trying to save his wife was what drove the character throughout the first three seasons, but after that was wrapped up it was his wondrous nature that kept him going. The character had a need to explore; to amass knowledge- as the mythology of the series grew deeper, it was Daniel Jackson who was there to uncover its secrets and that was why audiences fell madly in love with the character. Although, as the series got on and the character had less to do, it would be these repetitive traits to the character that would ultimately drive Michael Shanks away from the series (but we’ll get to that later).
Captain (later Major and then Lt. Colonel) Samantha Carter: what can I say about Sam? One hundred percent the first crush of my adolescent years, as I’m sure she was for a lot of Stargate fans my age. She wasn’t just a beautiful woman though; Carter was smart, tough and funny. Her brain was her most powerful weapon and it laid on the shoulders of a young actress called Amanda Tapping to handle the majority of the techno-babble of the series. Whilst the Daniel Jackson character dealt with the mythological and historical aspects of the series, it was Sam Carter who had to deal with the futuristic technological marvels and explain them to us.
Amanda Tapping was in her early thirties and had mostly only advertisements on her resume when she won the role of Captain Samantha Carter. She made the decision very early on to thoroughly research the science that she was going to talk about in each episode. The main reason for this was that she wanted to come across as authentic and not like someone who is just reading from a script. This commitment to the role is one of the reasons the character came across as so genuine. She would get into the habit of spending about 2 hours each evening doing her own research into the science she would be talking about the next day. It was Jonathan Glassner who pushed for a tough female role for the series and not only was she tough, but she was the brains of SG1, particularly when it came to the science. Some of the dialogue in the first season that she had to say was a little cringe-worthy- the reproductive organs line especially being particularly bad. According to Brad Wright, it was Jonathan Glassner who really pushed for that line to be in the original pilot. When they were editing it, Wright would remove it, and he would go back after Glassner had been in with the editor to find it re-inserted.
Tapping hadn’t realized initially how physical the role was going to be, but she was really glad for all the physical stuff she got to do and was even happier as the series progressed that it was expanded. She threw herself into the physicality of the role-sometimes a little too hard though. During filming the second episode, her character is thrown against the back of an elevator and Tapping launched herself so hard against the wall that when she hit it, her head impacted hard and she gave herself a concussion. The shot of her slumping down to the floor in the lift was not acting- it was real. It looks great because of it, but she was dissuaded from causing personal injury in the future. Tapping said that initially her character felt very one dimensional, but as the series progressed and her character evolved, she found that it became a dream role for any actor. This was because she got to play so many different sides of the character. She had the intense philosophical debates, the technological wizardry, the intense physical scenes, the light-hearted comedic scenes and the heart wrenching dramatic scenes. Amanda Tapping described the character as a mixture of Colonel O’Neill and Daniel Jackson.
Teal’C was a hard character to cast for the producers- that was until Christopher Judge walked in for his audition. They took one look at him and said “OK, send everyone else home”. What really sold them on casting Judge was his intense physical presence and his ability to turn off his emotions and deliver lines in a stoic, almost robotic, manner. The irony being that Christopher Judge himself was the exact opposite to Teal’C- in Judge’s own words, he is loud and obnoxious. He and Richard Dean Anderson got into the habit of trying to out fart each other- it was almost like a contest to them. The character of Teal’C started out very subdued and more like a robot than a living person, but as the series went on more the character developed and we saw more of his emotions coming out. Judge spoke about when he went to the audition there were people from all kinds of ethnic origins waiting to read for the role. He only found out about the role because he was at his friend’s house and overheard his friend’s roommate reading lines. When he went out, Judge took a peak at the script and immediately called his agent and told him that if he didn’t get him an audition then Judge would fire him.
Teal’C was an interesting character because when we first meet him, he is the right-hand man to the main villain, Apophis. He started out as a wooden and almost robotic character, however, as the series continued on, he became more and more-dare I say-human in his interactions with the characters. To the point that, by the end of the series, he is referencing pop-culture. Whether or not that was a step too far is debatable, however it was the natural progression for an alien character who starts to assimilate themselves into human culture, that they would pick up elements of our pop-culture. Teal’C’s backstory is explored throughout the course of the whole series- we meet his family, old flames and his mentor, a fan favourite character Master Bra’Tac. Teal’C’s knowledge of Goa’uld culture and organization became invaluable to the team in their travels through the gate and the exploration of the crimes that Teal’C committed (whilst under the service of Apophis) made for interesting viewing. It asked the question of whether there was enough good the character could do to make up for all the bad they did in service of the Goa’uld. This was explored in detail in the season 1 episode, Cor-ai.
Christopher Judge, over the course of the series, would push for more episodes that explore the Jaffa culture. Not necessarily even Teal’C centric episodes. He would write several episodes that explored the Jaffa as a race and contribute to the development of the species. Sometimes these contributions would be unintentional, as with the inclusion of Kelno’reem. Kelno’reem is a Jaffa meditation technique that was created because, in the earlier seasons, Judge would go out partying until the early hours and spend most of the filming day hungover if it was a light day for him. One day, after a particularly heavy night, Judge was sat at the briefing room table and had his eyes closed. When being asked if he was asleep Judge responded with something about meditating because Teal’C meditates. A few episodes after this Kelno’reem was introduced. This became a huge part of the Teal’C character and they expanded on it using it to delve into backstory and push stories forward in later seasons. Judge also had a connection with Richard Dean Anderson- he had guest starred in an episode of MacGyver in 1990 as a high school student that MacGyver mentors. Richard Dean Anderson has since admitted that he didn’t remember working with Judge on MacGyver.
Because Michael Shanks, Amanda Tapping and Christopher Judge were the unknowns, they also were the ones who were paid the least. The three of them stayed in the same hotel whilst they filmed the pilot which helped build up their friendship. Amanda Tapping described it as they lived out of each other’s pockets during filming the pilot. The three of them grew very close and when the series was picked up their friendship stayed strong. Once they all got to know Richard Dean Anderson, the four of them gelled so well that the set became a very fun place to work for everyone.
Don S Davis rounded off the main cast as Major General George Hammond. He was introduced to replace the character of General West from the original movie. If Colonel O’Neill was the older brother to the team, General Hammond was the loving father to them. However, his character didn’t start off that way. He was quite a stern person in the early seasons, but they did work on lighter, more caring moments for the character, but it took a little longer to soften the character to what he became. Even though the character started off as hard-nosed, even in the first season there were moments where you saw that he had the backs of everyone who he commanded. Throughout the seasons, the character softened and even begun to smile on a regular basis. We started to find more out about his family and his history in the military. Even the set decoration built up the back story for Hammond- they decorated his office with medals and commendations including a knife that was awarded exclusively to Vietnam Veterans. It was Davis himself who tried to soften the character of Hammond by adding the different dimensions to his character, off handed remarks about his grandchildren were added at Davis’ request. Davis was himself a real military veteran, he served as a Captain in the US Army and was stationed in Korea during the Vietnam War. As a personnel and administration officer he worked alongside a lot of Generals and stated that experience was something that helped him in his portrayal of General Hammond.
Don S Davis was used to playing authority figures as he had portrayed many of them throughout his acting career. He also had a connection to MacGyver– he was the photo and occasional stunt double for Dana Elcar, Elcar played MacGyver’s boss in the series. It was a weird closing of the circle that he had doubled for Richard Dean Anderson’s boss and now was playing his boss.
The series had a rocky first season with some episodes being incredible, and some episodes being downright awful. A first season is usually difficult as everyone is getting into a rhythm of who their characters are, the writers are getting used to what the show is, and directors are trying to establish a look for the show. The pilot was a strong start but throughout the first half of the first season, the quality of the episodes was not great. They also had to contend with interference from Showtime from time to time- the most notable instance is the full-frontal female nudity in the pilot episode. That was all Showtime- Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner were completely against it as that was not the kind of show they wanted to make. Showtime gave up trying to sex up the show during the first season but some of the early episodes show that influence in them. Wright and Glassner were able to push back more against the inclusion of nudity as the show went to a full series. The latter half of the first season was a definite improvement on overall quality from the first half, with the season ending on a nail biting cliff-hanger- the knowledge that they were coming back for certain and they could afford to end the season on a cliff-hanger.
The forty-four-episode order from Showtime was an unprecedented commitment to a first run cable show. What was even more unprecedented was that half way through the first season, they doubled their order to eighty-eight episodes. So, the producers knew for certain that they were going to get four seasons. This meant that they were free to set up long running arcs and continue them running for longer without fear of them being cut short. The fact that the series got off to the strongest viewership figures Showtime had got for a premiere episode certainly helped their decision- 1.5 million households tuned in on July 27th, 1997 to the premiere episode. Wright was certain that if they had been on any other network than Showtime, then the series wouldn’t have made it past its first season. Despite some initial attempts to influence the producers, Showtime, for the most part, left them alone to take the show in whatever direction they wanted.
Throughout the first season they had a lot of one- or two-time directors shooting the episodes, but it also had an episode in the latter part of the season directed by a man who would become synonymous with the big epic episodes. Martin Wood directed the season 1 episode, Solitudes, for that episode they shot on a refrigerated Sound Studio and brought in real snow and ice instead of simulating it. The shoot was a difficult one for the cast and crew due to the freezing temperatures. The sequence when Carter slips and slides down the ice wall was not scripted- Amanda Tapping actually slipped when climbing up and slid all the way down the set. Martin Wood would go on to direct a further forty-six episodes of Stargate SG1, including the epic two-part Season 7 finale The Lost City. If the episode had huge action then more often than not, it was Martin Wood who was behind the camera. Wood’s direction and meticulous planning assisted the series in having these huge spectacular action set pieces on a television budget. For any new set that was being created, he would receive preliminary sketches followed by small maquettes (models) of the sets that he would use to come up with ideas on how to shoot scenes. This allowed the episode to be story-boarded with how the set was going to look well before the set was constructed. This saved a lot of time in the shooting schedule. When shooting the season 6 episode, Frozen, Wood refrigerated the very same sound-stage he had refrigerated for his very first episode and they did the same thing for The Lost City as well.
Another regular Stargate SG1 director was Peter DeLuise. DeLuise, son of comedy actor Dom DeLuise, started out as an actor himself. His most famous role was opposite Johnny Depp in the 80s TV series 21 Jump Street. DeLuise’s first episode was the season 2 episode, Serpent’s Song, and he very quickly became a prolific SG1 director, directing a total of 56 out of the 214 episodes. If Martin Wood was the go-to director for the huge epic episodes, then DeLuise was the go-to director for the smaller character-driven episodes. As a director, DeLuise was what you would call an ‘actor’s director’- he knew his craft as a director, but he also knew how to direct people. This was partially down to his experience as an actor. DeLuise started a tradition of episode directors appearing as background characters in their own episodes. Martin Wood would pick up this and would usually be seen hanging around with Sgt Siler and a giant wrench. DeLuise would usually be in the background or have a very brief speaking role in the episode. His characters names would also reference characters he had played in the past- the Airman uniform he wears in several episodes has the name Penhall on it, a reference to his 21 Jump Street character. As a director DeLuise would often pay homage to other films in his style. DeLuise is a huge cinephile and loved watching films. He took inspiration from all kinds of films and injected that inspiration into his own work. He spoke of being inspired by the 1985 film Enemy Mine for his episode The First Ones and he talked about how, for the episode Allegiance he took heavy inspiration from the film Predator, even to the point of copying some of the camera moves from the film.
As the most prolific of the SG1 directors, both Wood and DeLuise would have long stretches of episodes in a season where the directorial duties of each episode would alternate between each of them. In particular, season 4, where for the first ten episodes the director would alternate from Wood to DeLuise and back to Wood and then back to DeLuise. The episodes worked so well because each director brought their own unique take on the material, but at the same time no episode felt out of place. Where Wood was a director primarily, DeLuise also tried his hand at writing for the show as well. He wrote 13 episodes, including the episode The First Ones, which took a more in depth look at the Unas and their origins. DeLuise and Christopher Judge worked together on the season 5 episode The Warrior. In the episode, DeLuise included several Capoeira practitioners to establish some sort of Jaffa martial art and it was only by chance that he found the Capoeira people. He had seen a sign up for classes when he was at the gym and went along to watch, DeLuise brought each of the Capoeira practitioners onto the episode and they worked with the stunt team to design fight scenes. These same fighting techniques would be used again in the season 7 episode, Orpheus. Of all the writers on the series, it was DeLuise who sought to explore and expand the Unas and the Jaffa and their respective cultures more than any others.
When it came to the writers, series creators Brad Wright and Jonathan Glassner worked on a lot of the first season’s scripts. The fifth episode of the series, The First Commandment, was written by Robert C. Cooper. Cooper would rise through the ranks from staff writer all the way up to Executive Producer and co-creator of spin offs Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe. When you look at Cooper’s episodes, the quality of the stories varies a lot. He wrote some excellent episodes such as The Fifth Race, Nemesis and Meridian but to name a few, however, some of the episodes he wrote were also seen to be some of the worst the series had to offer. The writing team of Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie joined the series in season 4 and their first episode, Window of Opportunity, is seen by many SG1 fans to be one of the best- if not the best- episodes of the whole series. Interestingly enough, when they originally pitched the idea to Brad Wright, he turned them down due to a very similar episode having been made on Star Trek The Next Generation. Mallozzi and Mullie worked on their idea a bit more and came up with the idea of it just being O’Neill and Teal’C who had any memory of the loop, Wright went for it. Mallozzi and Mullie wrote quite a lot of Earth-bound episodes in their tenure as writers on the show and in an audio commentary on one of the DVDs, Peter DeLuise joked that Brad Wright had to keep reminding them that they had the Stargate to go to other worlds with. Various other writers also joined the team and some writers would write one or two episodes of the series before leaving. Even though Brad Wright was more of a producer, he would still write episodes all the way into the final season of the series.
The writers had a knack of being able to quickly adapt the scripts for unexpected events or changing them when something better than they had originally written had become available. One such unexpected event was during the season 3 finale and just before filming was to commence, Michael Shanks appendix blew. They knew that there was no way that Shanks could be in the episode, so they quickly wrote him out and then worked tirelessly to come up with a reason why he was not in the episode. Robert C. Cooper thought, why not just have his appendix blow? It was an interesting idea, as we had seen them fight hordes of enemy soldiers and be OK, but there were still the regular things that could affect them. The scenes with Daniel Jackson in the episode were shot weeks after principal photography had completed, as Shanks was still recovering for quite a while. The season 4 opening episode Small Victories originally had a fishing trawler being the vessel at sea that was taken over by the Replicators. However, a real Russian submarine became available to shoot on, so they changed it to a Russian submarine. Interestingly, the plot point of it being a Russian Submarine would actually form part of the larger arc regarding the inclusion of the Russian government into the Stargate program.
The stunt team was led by Dan Shea, who also portrayed Sergeant Siler on the series. Shea would have his team performing stunts and using techniques that were typically only used on feature films (such as rachet pulls and air rams) to propel people into the air. Without these spectacular stunt performers literally risking life and limb, the show wouldn’t have had the action-packed elements that kept audiences returning. They would do quick in-camera switches between the stunt double and the actual actor to sell it that the character was doing these incredible fights and it worked, the way they used the camera to hide the stunt performer’s face and then have the real actor swap in was seamless.
The series had the full cooperation of the United States Air Force during filming, and they had an Air Force liaison who would work with the producers and oversee the scripts for any errors in how the Air Force operates. It is quite easy to see at what point in the first season the Air Force advisors came on board. This is seen as General Hammond would go from wearing his full-dress uniform in briefings to a white duty shirt, as the full-dress uniforms were never used for just every day briefings. The Air Force provided valuable insight to the inner workings of their organisation so that the series could be accurate in their portrayal of the service. Because of the cooperation with the USAF, the production crew were able to get access to the real Cheyanne Mountain complex to get several stock shots for establishing the location. It was rare that they outright objected to anything the writers wrote, however, when it came to a relationship between O’Neill and Carter, they said that officers of their positions would never be allowed to engage in such a relationship. They stuck so vehemently to this that they insisted on O’Neill resigning before kissing Carter in one of the time loops during Window of Opportunity.
Not only did the Air Force give them notes on keeping things accurate, they also provided them with equipment from time to time. Most notably, in the episode Watergate, they had a real C-130 detour to Vancouver specifically for the SG1 crew to shoot it. They weren’t allowed to shoot on the plane flying due to Canadian air space rules, but the USAF pilot who was flying the C-130 said for them to jump in and they shot footage out of the open back of the C-130-which made it into the episode. In the season 6 premiere episode, they also had real USAF F-16 fighters in the background of several shots on an airfield. Not only would they provide the production with Air Force equipment, but also personnel. They had not just one- but two- US Air Force Chiefs of Staff appear in episodes; the first was during season 4 when they had General Michael Ryan appear; and then in the season 7 finale Lost City General John Jumper appeared. Whilst filming with General Ryan, Richard Dean Anderson asked him if his portrayal of an Air Force Colonel was at all accurate. According to Anderson, Ryan stopped him mid-sentence and said, “Son, we have Colonels in the Air Force like you, and worse. You’re doing a fine job”. I remember reading in a magazine called SFX when it was announced that General Jumper was going to appear in an episode, that when he was made Chief of Staff of the USAF, he jokingly said in a speech, “Now, when do I get to be on Stargate?”
In 2004 Richard Dean Anderson was invited to Washington DC to accept an award on behalf of the series for all the work they had done to show the Air Force in an accurate light. He was incredibly honoured by this, and to his utter shock he was also honoured himself with an honorary rank of Brigadier General in the USAF and presented with a set of stars by General Jumper. Of this experience, Anderson said that he was incredibly humbled by the whole affair as the people who were at the dinner were the real deal and he was just an actor.
The art department on Stargate SG1 was one of the most inclusive teams; they worked alongside pretty much everyone. They would work closely with the production designers and the visual effects teams to make sure that the look of the show was consistent throughout. Richard Hudolin had been brought in as the lead production designer on the pilot episode. He was tasked with recreating the Stargate from scratch. He flew out to Los Angeles and found the original prop (which was in serious disrepair) and managed to take several casts from it to build their production Stargate from. There were a few changes he made to the Stargate; the inclusion of light up chevrons and retooling the dialling sequence, so that each symbol locked in place on the very top chevron. The Stargate itself was computer controlled and they could stop it anywhere they needed with ease. The smoke that was generated by the Stargate whilst it was dialling was created by simply putting some dry ice into slots on the Stargate itself.
Even though the Stargate was an impressive prop, what was more impressive was the set that it was held in. The Gateroom, corridor, Control Room, Briefing Room and General Hammond’s office were all one huge set. It was impressive and gave directors the ability to have someone come through the Stargate, walk into the Control Room and then up into the Briefing Room all in one take. It was one of the largest single sets for a television series at the time. Hudolin wanted it to be even larger; he had originally designed a three floor set but was told that he could only have two floors for it. The set was expanded even further as the series went on and the room on the other side of the Gateroom was actually a multipurpose room that they used for the infirmary, gymnasium and cafeteria- amongst other sets. The wall behind the Stargate was moveable as well and had a green-screen behind it so they could easily superimpose the Stargate puddle. To save money on some shots, they would do the gate effect just reflecting on the actors. This was achieved by projecting a light against a reflective sheet held up with a stand and off camera a grip would gently shake the pole the stand was on.
The briefing room scenes were always difficult days as they usually consisted of a lot of dialogue and it got to the point where they struggled to do anything different with the shots, because they had the issue of the table being so huge. One of the directors had the idea of cutting the desk in half so they could easily move the camera around. This allowed them more freedom on shooting the briefing room scenes. However, they were still difficult days to shoot as they were mostly heavy dialogue scenes, and sometimes when they were behind, they had to shoot multiple camera setups. On Lost City, they were running behind, and instead of the usual two camera setup for the briefing room scene they had a four-camera setup.
Whenever they had to shoot on a Goa’uld ship they would have to build a set. It got to the point where it was costing them so much to keep building Goa’uld ship sets, that between season 6 and 7 they decided that they would create a standing Goa’uld ship set for season 7 and put different lighting rigs in place so they could light it differently. This helped keep the costs down and because they could light it in multiple different ways, it would never look like the same set from episode to episode. Having said that, they did have nearly $100,000 worth of lighting rigs built into the set, so they could light it in so many different ways.
For location shooting they had a portable Stargate that took 6 people an entire day to set up and several trucks to transport to the location. Where the SGC gate was completely computer controllable, the on-set one wasn’t. It was also made from rubber rather than fibreglass. They shot in and around Vancouver whilst on location, their main base was at Bridge Studios where they would end up using 75% of their studio space including holding the production offices.
Rainmaker Digital Effects provided the visual effects for the series throughout its 10 season run. One of the visual effects artists in the first season was Neil Blomkamp, who went on to become a successful film director. The visual effects were achieved with various different methods- sometimes the blending of live action with the visual effects and sometimes they were 100% computer generated imagery. The kawoosh effect of the Stargate activating was initially done in the same way to how it was created on the film- by firing an air cannon into water, but this became too costly to keep doing so they had a computer model built of the kawoosh to reduce costs and allow them more freedom of movement in the placement. By the time season 4 came around, the VFX department had advanced to the point where they could create a fully CGI Asgard and the sequence of Thor walking through the Stargate in the episode Small Victories was a CGI effect. They would still use the puppets to cut down on costs when they could but now, they had the ability to show the Asgard walking around which they couldn’t do before.
The VFX team would sometimes have to fill in missing parts of a set or a prop, for example, in the Season 6 episode, Redemption, they built a cockpit for the X-302. The wings and fuselage were all created in CGI and blended seamlessly with the live action photography. The use of matte paintings blended with CGI effects was used quite often and by the time they were in the seventh season, they started using green-screen more, which made a camera set up a lot quicker to achieve as they were able to set up the green screen a lot quicker. It also gave them more freedom as to what they could show on the background. The VFX work was not cheap though- even minor changes that effected the VFX could cost thousands. In the episode The Tomb, just before walking through the Stargate, Richard Dean Anderson decided to mime slapping the event horizon and they didn’t get a version of the shot without him doing that. That slap cost the VFX team $3,000 and the additional expense was actually taken out of Anderson’s pay check. Director Peter DeLuise got into a bit of trouble from the producers for not shooting a version without the slap.
The Asgard puppets went through several different designs; the original one was very basic and had very little articulation. With each new iteration of the puppet, the design became more and more advanced thanks to advances in puppetry. The puppeteers liked to have fun on the set-there is apparently a gag reel somewhere of the Thor puppet doing a very adult stand-up comedy routine. During the shooting of Small Victories, the puppeteer controlling Thor moved the hand up and touched Amanda Tapping’s bum. She turned around and slapped the puppet. Almost instinctively, she then apologized to the puppet before realizing that she had just said sorry to a latex covered puppet. Of the Thor puppet, Richard Dean Anderson used to joke that he was his favorite actor to work with.
At the end of the third season, Jonathan Glassner left the series and Robert C. Cooper took his place, Glassner still kept a consultant role on the series for a couple more seasons. Showtime would pick up the series for another twenty-two episodes taking them to a total of 110 episodes. They would decide to not renew the series past the fifth season. The producers were not content with ending after a fifth season, so they started approaching other networks to see if they had any interest. The series was doing quite well in syndication on other networks, so they were certain that someone would be willing to pick them up. However, Michael Shanks had grown tired of the series and decided to not renew his contract. Shanks cited creative differences and feeling that the Daniel Jackson character was being underused as the main issues that caused his departure. He also wanted to take on more challenging roles. Instead of killing Daniel outright, the producers decided to have him ascend so they had the option to bring him back if Shanks ever reconsidered. In a convention after the series had ended, he was asked why he left after season 5, he jokingly replied that he hated Robert C. Cooper. He then on went to explain that he wanted to explore other roles and do theatre work, but some people do feel like the Cooper comment was not entirely in jest as he had also said previously that he didn’t like the direction the show and his character were going in. Fans revolted at the thought of Daniel Jackson leaving and even set up a Save Daniel Jackson website- the national coverage that came with this campaign was what convinced the Sci-Fi Channel to pick up the series for a sixth season. The series would remain on Sci-Fi until its cancellation at the end of its tenth season.
With Daniel Jackson out of the series they needed a fourth member of the team to replace him with: enter Jonas Quinn. Corin Nemec was hired to take on the role of an alien banished from his homeworld who would join the SG1 team. Amanda Tapping spoke of her decision to be harsher towards the character of Jonas Quinn in the first episode to be true to the friendship between Carter and Jackson. Jonas was not well received by the fans of the series and I feel that the main issue with that is down to how he was introduced. He is partly responsible for the death of Daniel Jackson and even goes along initially with his government’s attempts to smear Daniel’s name. Even though the writers did provide redemption for these actions, the audience never really came around to the Jonas character. Whilst Corin Nemec tried to differentiate his character from Daniel Jackson by being much more enthusiastic, the character took on the Jackson role on the team which led to fans referring to Jonas as a knock off Daniel Jackson. Personally, I didn’t mind Jonas as much as other fans, however I do appreciate their viewpoint and I can understand where they are coming from with their criticisms.
The season 6 opening episode, Redemption, had originally been envisioned as a single episode. They had so much to fit into the episode, along with fully introducing the Jonas character, that the episode ended up becoming a two-parter. Amanda Tapping and Christopher Judge found the first few episodes without Michael Shanks really strange, as the three of them had grown so close over the course of the series starting with the pilot. As I mentioned earlier, they had been living out of each other’s pockets throughout the course of the making of the pilot, which forged their friendship. Michael Shanks did return for three episodes during the sixth season; the first was Abyss where he comforts O’Neill whilst he is being tortured by the Goa’uld Ba’al. When speaking about returning to the series for guest appearances, Michael Shanks said it was a lot of fun to see everyone again and knowing that he was only there for a few days meant that he could really have fun and then go off and do something else. Season 6 also introduced a new concept for the series: an Earth built Starship, the Prometheus. The episode that introduced the ship was not one of Richard Dean Anderson’s favorite episodes to shoot, as he found the scenario of the episode quite ludicrous and suggested several changes which were taken on board. The reason he didn’t like the episode so much was because the idea that a camera crew would get past background checks and not be discovered to be rogue NID agents just seemed so absurd to him. He was able to channel his frustration at the setup into his performance which is why O’Neill is so aggravated when confronting Major Davis.
The season 6 finale, Full Circle, was originally slated to be the series finale, and from here on out, every season finale was expected to be the series finale, which meant that the season finales had much larger budgets. Full Circle took the team back to Abydos in an attempt to stop the Goa’uld Anubis from obtaining the Eye of Ra. The conclusion of the episode left Abydos destroyed with a spectacular explosion of the Pyramid. Director Martin Wood spoke in a behind the scenes special about the episode that the initial budget for the model Pyramid they had come in at $50,000- to which he thought that was an impressive amount of money for a single effects shot. When the final budget came in for the Pyramid it was $100,000- which just blew his mind. The effect was certainly impressive as they designed the Pyramid to explode in sections, starting at the top and going down towards the ground. They added a shockwave effect in post to complete the look but for the most part, what you see is a practical explosion of the Pyramid.
When they returned for a seventh season Michael Shanks had been convinced to return to the series- much to the fans delight. Also, at the beginning of Season 7, Richard Dean Anderson had a much-reduced schedule (as his daughter had been taken back to Los Angeles by her mother and Anderson did not want to miss out on her growing up). The producers worked out a way to make it work, and Anderson would work 3 days a week and every month have a whole week off. The benefits of his reduced time meant that the other characters were able to get more screen time and be developed further.
The episode Heroes was originally intended to be a single episode, but when the script was finished it was about fifteen pages too long, not wanting to cut anything they decided instead to add to it and turn the episode into a two-parter. The episode was originally envisioned as an on-base episode where you would follow the film crew and never see anything that they didn’t see. However, with the expansion they wrote off world scenes- including one of the most intense battle sequences Stargate SG1 had throughout the entire series run. Season 7 also introduced the Kull Warriors, a new type of Goa’uld soldier. These Super Soldiers were introduced as a reaction to more and more Jaffa rebelling and the Goa’uld having less trust in their Jaffa. Whilst the episode was being written, the writer, Damien Kindler, would be in constant contact with the art department getting updates on how the soldiers were going to look. Kindler spoke about coming up with an idea for removing one of the helmets, and a load of mucus being on the inside of the helmet and speaking to the art department to see if that were possible. The art department would then alter the design to make it possible. The collaboration that the writers and art department had on a lot of episodes was fantastic, which is why they were able to turn out feature film level productions week after week.
Again, with season 7 being spoken of being the last season, they designed a series finale that, in part, was designed to set up the spin-off series that Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper had come up with. The Lost City was originally intended to be a feature film, but as time went on, they realized that the likelihood of them getting a feature deal was becoming less and less, so they decided to use the idea as what they thought would be the series finale. The Lost City was a huge two-parter, which had a huge budget and so many VFX shots that it was not the last episode to be shot- because the post production team needed so much time to complete the VFX work that they had to shoot it earlier. Whilst shooting The Lost City, Amanda Tapping was also prepping her directorial debut episode, Resurrection. When they realised that they would be picked up for an eighth season, the producers knew that they would be running SG1 and the spin off series Atlantis concurrently.
With season 8 came a lot of changes. Due to Richard Dean Anderson’s reduced schedule, it was becoming more and more difficult for him to be the leader of SG1. Don S Davis also departed the series due to health problems, which opened up the commander of the SGC to be filled. To help work around Anderson’s reduced schedule, they promoted O’Neill to Brigadier General and put him in charge of the SGC. Another promotion came to Major Carter who was promoted to Lt. Colonel and given command of SG1. Another change was the episode run was cut from twenty-two episodes to twenty, although the same production team were also producing twenty episodes of the spin off Stargate Atlantis, which meant they were actually producing forty episodes instead of twenty-two. Another huge change was that Teal’C was sporting a full head of hair. In a behind-the-scenes special for season 7, Christopher Judge talked about his hope to have hair before the series ended- for season 8 he was finally allowed to grow his hair. With this change, Teal’C also started to grow more as a character. In an episode of season 8 he even got a place to live off base.
The spin off series Stargate Atlantis (which I will cover in the next part), had more attention given to it by the network, so SG1 was able to get away with a few things more than normal. The episode Prometheus Unbound is an example of this, as it was quite broad in its comedy, which Michael Shanks didn’t think they would have gotten away with if they tried to do the episode in season 7. Prometheus Unbound guest starred Claudia Black as Vala Mal Doran, a thief. But much more than a thief, she was once a host to a Goa’uld. Black and Shanks had such great on screen chemistry and her character was so popular, that they would bring her back later on.
The producers had expected from season 5 onwards that each season would be the last so when it came to season 8, they decided it was time to wrap up the Goa’uld storyline and end the series. Season 8 was heading towards a huge showdown, and we ended up with a three-episode arc; one of the episodes when it aired in the UK was an extended episode as well, which finished off the Goa’uld’s domination of the galaxy. It was an incredible end to the story; epic in scope and blew my mind when I first saw it. The season 8 finale, originally intended to be the series finale, capped off the whole series by returning SG1 back in time to 3000 BC, when Ra was ruling the Earth, then creating an alternate timeline that brought back many characters from the first season including Apophis and Major Kawalsky. The series had a satisfying ending- the characters main arcs were all nicely wrapped up and the galaxy was safe. Then they were renewed for season 9.
With the renewal of the series for a ninth season, there were more changes. Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper had toyed with the idea of changing the name of the series beginning with season 9 and calling it Stargate Command- not focusing on SG1. When they realized that the audience would not like that, they kept it with SG1, but they knew that Richard Dean Anderson was done as a regular. Anderson didn’t want to leave because he had so much fun shooting the show, but his daughter was getting to the age where he wanted to make sure that he was around a lot more for her, so he made the decision to leave the show and go into a state of semi-retirement. In response to this, a new set of characters was introduced. Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell and Major General Hank Landry were brought in, played by Ben Browder and Beau Bridges respectively. Wright and Cooper had initially wanted Browder for the lead role in Atlantis, but he was unavailable due to his commitment to Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars. When creating the character of Cameron Mitchell, Wright and Cooper had Browder in mind.
Browder fit in with the cast quickly and both he and Christopher Judge formed a close friendship- they would often screw around on set together having lots of fun. It did start to annoy Michael Shanks a little- to the point of during filming an episode the hijinks got to such an extreme level Shanks actually put earplugs in, so he didn’t have to listen to them. Browder had a similar sensibility towards his job as Richard Dean Anderson did, he was there to have fun and he wanted to look after the crew as much as his fellow castmates.
Michael Shanks spoke about returning for season 9, and that he really enjoyed it because the introduction of the new cast members. The return of Claudia Black meant there was a renewed sense of enjoyment for the role because it felt fresh and new. He also spoke about the decision to have Jackson sporting a beard for the first few episodes, and according to Shanks, that was to differentiate Jackson from Mitchell, as there were concerns that new viewers would be confused as they felt that Browder and Shanks had a similar look to them.
The cast and production team felt that Beau Bridges brought with him an air of class to the series. Bridges had been in the business since he was a child and came from a family of Hollywood royalty-his father Lloyd Bridges was a well renowned actor of his generation and his brother Jeff is an even bigger star. Acting is in his blood and it shows in his performance. He had such a presence on the screen it was easy to buy him as a Military General.
Season 9 and 10 of Stargate SG1 felt somewhat like a different show- for the most part the Goa’uld are gone (save for a few small factions that were trying desperately to hold onto their power), the Jaffa were free and forming their own government. In some ways, Season 9 feels like the denouement to season 8- the wrap up of the story after the big evil has been defeated and how life in the galaxy has changed. The introduction of the Ori so late made the series feel like something completely different, and for some it was quite disappointing. The main issue I had with the Ori was that the characters had just defeated an enemy who demanded people worship them as Gods, and the next big villains who enter the scene are an enemy who demand people worship them as Gods. Add to it that due to her pregnancy, Amanda Tapping did not really return to the series until episode 6. There was something un-SG1 about the first quarter of Season 9.
Despite these early issues, season 9 still had some fantastic episodes. The two-parter, The Fourth Horseman, is a particular standout, and the season finale –Camelot– ends season 9 on their first cliff-hanger ending since season 4.
Season 10 would be the last season of Stargate SG1; it was announced shortly after the 200th episode aired that the Sci-Fi Channel would not be renewing the series for an eleventh season and that the tenth would be the last. There was an outpouring of emotion from the cast and crew at the announcement, as well as pleads from the fans to not end the series. The continued interested from the fans would yet again save SG1 from complete oblivion. Whilst the series would not return, MGM commissioned two direct-to-DVD movies- the first was to wrap up the Ori storyline, whilst the second was a time travelling epic that would be reminiscent of the SG1 episodes when it was at its peak. Stargate SG1’s final episode, Unending, aired on 22nd June 2007- almost ten years after the airing of Children of the Gods. Instead of a bombastic action packed spectacular, the series finale was a more subdued and moving episode that saw SG1 in a time dilation field growing old. It was not the finale we expected for the show but nonetheless is was a beautifully produced episode.
The first of two direct-to -DVD movies, Stargate: The Ark of Truth, was written and directed by Robert C. Cooper and released on DVD on the 11th March 2008. It was made on a budget of $7 million and returned to using 35mm film (as from season 8 they had shot on HD video). The film was primarily a way to wrap up the Ori storyline and whilst it did that, there was -what I felt -an unnecessary subplot involving the Replicators. I feel that they could have used the time that the replicator subplot used to better explore more of the Ori plot. The follow up film Stargate: Continuum, I felt was the stronger of the two films. Continuum was directed by Martin Wood and written by Brad Wright. The film was a time travel yarn which had Ba’al going back in time and sinking the Earth Stargate as it is being transported across the Atlantic Ocean in 1939-which meant that the Earth humans never opened the Stargate. The film was shot again on a budget of $7 million and brought back Richard Dean Anderson along with the rest of the regular cast. The most impressive part of the film is the sequence in the Arctic, which they actually shot on location in the Arctic. A sequence that involved a real US Navy Submarine surfacing through two feet of ice, they would also shoot on board the Submarine itself. The film was released on both DVD and Blu-Ray, the only SG1 starring Blu-Ray release so far and got a much more positive reception than Ark of Truth. A third SG1 film was planned but never went into production.
The series, as a whole, boasted an impressive main cast, but also a fantastic set of regular recurring guest stars who themselves became integral to the main unit that was Stargate SG1. Teryl Rothery portrayed Dr Janet Fraiser in seventy-seven episodes of the series- her character started off as a one-off guest appearance who didn’t even have a first name. Rothery and Amanda Tapping built up a great on-screen chemistry and a very close off-screen friendship which was probably one of the reasons she was continually brought back. In real life, Rothery is 5’2, so in order to for them to be able to frame shots better she would wear special shoes with large lifts in them as most of her male co-stars were over 6 feet tall. The character of Fraiser would be developed more and more throughout the first seven seasons of the series, before she is given a hero’s death in the emotional season 7 episode, Heroes. Her death was both shocking and indicative of the character, she dies trying to save a life.
Another recurring character is one who was one of the few characters to appear in both the first and last episodes of the whole series. Sergeant Walter Harriman, the man who, for the majority of the series, would announce “chevron seven LOCKED!” The character was just in the scripts as ‘Technician’ for the majority of the series, even Gary Jones, the actor who portrayed him, didn’t know what his name was. He was told that his name was Harriman Davis, the flight suit he wore had the name Norman Davis and Richard Dean Anderson adlibbed his first name as Walter in the episode 2010. It wasn’t until season 8 his name was officially established as Walter Harriman. Walter was, in some way, an integral part to the series as his voice became the announcement for most of the activity around the Stargate.
There were other recurring characters who appeared less often, but their characters became fan favourites very quickly. Two that spring to mind immediately for me are Master Bra’tac, portrayed by Tony Amendola, and Jacob Carter, portrayed by the late Carmen Argenziano. Bra’tac was described to Amendola as a Medieval, futuristic, Roman, Samurai Warrior when he was first cast. One of Amendola’s favourite memories from the series was whilst shooting the episode The Serpent’s Lair. He and Richard Dean Anderson were locked in one of the Death Glider’s together for several hours and Amendola spoke about being a hair claustrophobic. When they started to bolt the canopy in place, he started to feel it more. What got him through was Richard Dean Anderson and he really enjoyed getting to know Anderson and they laughed and joked throughout the shoot.
Carmen Argenziano was cast as Samantha Carter’s father, Jacob, in season 2 and started a story arc that would last into the eighth season. Jacob would become a part of the SG1 family- his character had backstory with General Hammond and he would become the human envoy to the Tok’ra, a resistance against the Goa’uld. The Tok’ra were Goa’ulds that opposed everything that the System Lords and other Goa’uld stood for. They were all wanted fugitives who the Goa’uld hunted down. Jacob became our conduit to the Tok’ra as they fought the Goa’uld with the SGC. The alliance would waiver throughout the run of the series, but it would endure despite the mistrust that started to build up between each race. Argenziano portrayed Jacob Carter with a playfulness but he also managed to get across the feeling of a character who has two separate personalities sharing the same body.
When it came to guest stars, word began to spread that the Stargate SG1 set was the most fun set to work on and it was this that allowed them to get actors such as Ronny Cox, William Devene, Michael Rooker, Robert Picardo, John de Lancie, Louis Gossett Jr., Issac Hayes and Saul Rubinek -to name a few- to make guest appearances. They even had Dan Castellaneta, Homer Simpson himself, make an appearance- which was one of Richard Dean Anderson’s favorite moments in the series. Anderson was a huge fan of The Simpsons and would even try to slip in references to The Simpsons where he could. They would also have several actors who would appear in different roles throughout the series; most of the time their faces covered with prosthetics, so you didn’t recognize them. One of the most prolific was Dion Johnstone, who portrayed several different aliens including the Unas Chakka, which became a fan favourite character.
The villains were mostly guest stars, even though their arcs would last for seasons in the series they would be used sparingly. One of the most popular villains of the series remains the original Goa’uld, Apophis. Peter Williams brought an intensity to his performance that all other Goa’uld aspired to reach and whilst the writers wrote more powerful enemies, none of them had the sheer gravitas that Apophis had. The way he spoke had such a power to it; whilst some of that is down to the flanging effect they used on the voices, a lot of it was also down to the way Williams pronounced the words. The flanging just emphasized what was already there- nobody said “Shol’va” quite like Apophis did. David Palffy was brought on to play Sokar, and whilst the actor only appeared on screen as Sokar in two episodes, he impressed the producers to the point where they brought him back for the last big bad Goa’uld System Lord, Anubis. Because Anubis did not have a face that we could see, they were able to get away with this as there was no way to recognize Palffy from his brief stint as Sokar. Each actor who portrayed a Goa’uld System Lord brought their own flavor to the role.
Mythology was a huge part of the series- the Goa’uld took from a number of Earth mythologies, not just Egyptian, but also Greek, Indian and others. In the pilot episode, Apophis is identified as the Serpent God who ruled the night, whilst Ra was the Sun God who ruled the day. They toyed with these because of the comparative nature of mythologies, the Goa’uld were the same Gods from each different culture, they didn’t always choose their Egyptian versions. I think this was a deliberate choice by the writers to draw in more mythologies. Mythology didn’t extend to just the Goa’uld. The Asgard took the Norse Mythology of Earth and used it in their protection of humans. Asgard is a term in itself that relates to the Norse Gods. Our biggest Asgard ally was Thor, and the idea of Thor’s Hammer was brought into the series in the first season. Norse mythology has become more mainstream now with the Marvel Thor films, however it was Stargate SG1 that introduced me to a lot of the concepts that are more well known. Ragnorak is referenced in the season 2 episode, Thor’s Chariot. And Norse Gods Loki, Heimdall and Freya are introduced as Asgards. The series used mythologies and used them to create the characters they wanted to introduce, when bringing in Anubis they wanted a character who embodied death and destruction and what better than the Egyptian God of the Dead?
A huge part of any film or TV production is the music and Stargate SG1 had a film music legacy in the form of Joel Goldsmith, son of the great Jerry Goldsmith. Joel composed the music for Stargate SG1, Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe. His scores could get the heart pumping for the intense action scenes, but also break it for the deep emotional scenes too. The music was performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and some of the themes were literally created from producers humming down the phone at Joel and him translating that into actual music. He was an extraordinary talent and I wish there was more of his music from all the Stargate shows available. There is enough content to fill a dozen CDs easily.
In an early behind the scenes special, Brad Wright made a joke about there being at least ten seasons worth of stories, and they got their ten seasons. It became one of the longest running American Science Fiction television series, not even any of the Star Trek series made it past 7 seasons and a series with a smaller fanbase made it where Star Trek couldn’t. The series had its ups and downs but, in the end, it was a huge success and one of the most entertaining Sci-Fi television series of its time and in my mind, it is still one of the best shows. Martin Wood said that he believed that the sense of humor the show had was what made it so successful and I agree. Typically, Sci-Fi is quite a serious genre, but here was this show that had some very serious moments in it but offset it perfectly with this wonderful sense of humor.