As Sci Fi Channel's Stargate SG-1 signs off this Friday at 8 pm/ET, TV Guide explores the secrets behind TV's longest-running galaxy quest.
Nothing Could Keep Stargate SG-1 Down
Based on the campy movie about a team of Earth-saving scholar-soldiers, the series launched its 10-year mission on Showtime in 1997. In its sixth season, SG-1 teleported to Sci Fi Channel. Along the way, the show survived several near-cancellations and the exit of star Richard Dean Anderson."I agreed to do the show because I knew the movie had great potential for a franchise,"says Anderson, who's returned several times this season as Jack O'Neill, the wisecracking team-leader turned general. "The movie had a cult sci-fi base, and since MacGyver was a globally popular show, my presence apparently helped kick-start the whole thing. Plus, there was impeccable casting." Ben Browder (Lt. Col. Cameron Mitchell), who came over from Sci Fi's Farscape in 2005, agrees: "You can't actually kill Stargate. It's a vampire that keeps rising back out of its coffin.”
It Isn't Your Typical Doom-and-gloom Sci-fi
“The show is fun,"says executive producer Robert Cooper. "We didn't want you to be depressed when you went away." The series mostly eschewed the torture scenes, angst and sexual content of critical darlings like Battlestar Galactica. (The nudity in the first episode was never repeated. "We fought [having more nudity] tooth and nail," says cocreator Brad Wright.)
The Gate Is Their Enterprise
A portal to other galaxies, the Gate "is a phenomenal storytelling device," says Wright. Adds Anderson: "Whenever we got new scripts, it was always exciting to see where we were going that week, because the possibilities were so endless." One Stargate fan, ER's Goran Visnjic, visited the Vancouver set and tells TV Guide he was "thrilled" to be photographed in front of the 22-foot-tall icon. "I'm massively in love with him, so that was cool," says Amanda Tapping, who'll continue to play Maj. Samantha Carter on the spin-off Stargate Atlantis.
The Military Loves the Show
Air Force personnel were consultants on — and fans of — SG-1, which is about a fictional top-secret USAF initiative. In fact, two Air Force chiefs of staff guest-starred as themselves. "I asked Gen. John P. Jumper during his scene if I was too off-the-wall to be credible as an Air Force colonel," Anderson recalls. "He stopped me mid-sentence and said, ‘Son, I've got guys who are worse than you — keep it up.'" For an upcoming DVD movie, Continuum, the Navy arranged a week of filming at its Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station in the Arctic.
Vala and Daniel Finally Become Lovers — for 50 Years!
The finale begins with the team being attacked by their enemy, the Ori. Carter is able to prevent their destruction by stopping time, but only outside their ship. Inside the ship, five decades pass and the team members age — and die — as she works on escape plans. "With the prosthetics, I look like a ghoul from Tales of the Crypt," says Claudia Black (thief turned team-member Vala Mal Doran). Eventually, hormones take over and Vala and her longtime antagonist, archaeologist Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks; see his TVGuide.com celebrity blog), act on their long-simmering sexual tension. "It's an interesting culmination," Shanks says. "They have to explain and justify the way they had behaved toward each other.”
The Gate Isn't Really Closing
"We wanted to end the show without really ending it," Cooper says. "We want it to continue, so we decided to make a movie that wraps up a lot of the big loose ends." The Ark of Truth, due on DVD this fall, focuses on the Ori's threat to Earth and a device that may deprogram its soldiers. Continuum, coming next spring, will feature an alternate-time-line story in which O'Neill, Carter and Mitchell find themselves in the 1939 Arctic battling Nazis — and an old alien enemy — over the newly discovered Gate. And there could be a new addition to the Stargate TV franchise: The producers are developing Stargate Universe, possibly for Sci Fi next spring.
Guess you really can't kill this show.
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