Stargate is a science fiction franchise comprised of a movie and no less than three television shows totaling seventeen seasons of broadcast time. The 1994 movie by Roland Emmerich was a huge success and led to the creation of the first television series, Stargate SG-1, on Showtime starting in 1997. Clocking in at 214 episodes, Stargate SG-1 holds the record for the longest North American science fiction television show. Let's take a look at some things that you might not know about the series.
1. Roland Emmerich, who created and directed the 1994 movie Stargate wanted to turn the franchise into a series of movies. He actually loathes the subsequent television series.
2. Michael Shanks, who played Daniel Jackson, and Vaitiare Bandera, who played Daniel Jackson’s wife Sha're, were once romantically involved. They had a daughter together named Tatiana.
3. Colonel Jack O’Neil from the Stargate movie was played by Kurt Russell. Colonel Jack O’Neill from the television series was played by Richard Dean Anderson. Notice the difference? One name has one ‘l’ and the other has two. Anderson instituted the change because he didn’t want to be tied to the way that Kurt Russell played the character.
4. The show’s producers maintained a close working relationship with the US Air Force. Two Air Force Chiefs of Staff, Generals Michael Ryan and John Jumper (right) made cameos on the show. In 2004, Richard Dean Anderson received a special award by the Air Force rarely given to civilians in order to thank him and the other people behind Stargate SG-1 for their very positive portrayal of that organization. Anderson was declared an honorary Air Force brigadier general. 5. But that didn’t stop the Air Force from executing some script control. At one point, the writers had O’Neill joke about aliens at Area 51 in the episode “Touchstone”. The Air Force insisted that this wasn’t true and that it was unacceptable for Stargate SG-1 to even joke about it.
6. References to Anderson’s work on MacGyver occasionally creeped into the show, such as this ad-libbed line (which never made it into the show) by Amanda Tapping.
7. The late Don Davis, who played General Hammond, had a doctorate in theater. He was a stunt double for Dana Elcar on MacGyver. Dan Shea (left), who played Sergeant Siler, was a stunt double for Richard Dean Anderson on that same show.
8. The service ribbons that the Air Force characters wear on their uniforms were carefully chosen to correctly reflect the characters’ biographies. General Hammond, for example, wears the ribbon for the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with bronze palm because he was awarded with it after experiencing combat in Vietnam.
9. The production crew had two stargates -- one in the gateroom set and one that was portable. The second would be used to depict offworld locations and didn’t have a moving inner ring. These props were molded from the stargate prop that appeared in the original movie and contain parts salvaged from it.
10. Director Peter DeLuise usually appeared somewhere in any episode that he directed, just as Alfred Hitchcock always made cameos in his own films. DeLuise appeared variously as a guard, a Tok’ra, and a technician. In the episode “Urgo”, starring his father Dom DeLuise, he appeared as the younger version of his father’s character (above).
11. Director Martin Wood did the same thing. He was usually depicted as Sgt. Siler’s wrench-holding assistant (above). 12. The episode “Nemesis” opens with Daniel Jackson recovering from an emergency appendectomy and showing his scar. That was written in because Michael Shanks had just had an emergency appendectomy and that was his real scar.
13. The scene in “Window of Opportunity” in which O’Neill and Teal’c hit golf balls through the stargate was added to the episode because the filming ran three undertime.
14. Producers kept up with the opinions of fans of the show. The episode “Ascension” was directly inspired by ideas left in message board comments.
15. The swooshing effect of the Stargate opening was created with a jet engine and a pool of water.
Sources: Gibson, Thomasina. Stargate SG-1: The Illustrated Companion, Seasons 1 and 2. London: Titan Books, 2002. Print. Ritter, Kathleen. Stargate SG-1: The Ultimate Visual Guide. New York City: DK Publishing, 2006. Print. Storm, Jo. Approaching the Possible: The World of Stargate SG-1. Toronto: ECW Press, 2005. Print. Topping, Keith. Beyond the Gate: The Unofficial and Unauthorized Guide to Stargate SG-1. Prestatyn, UK: Telos Publishing, 2003. Print. Images: MGM, US Air Force, MilUniforms.com