Richard Dean Anderson and Brad Wright reunite for Stargate Legacy to mark the 25th anniversary of Stargate SG-1’s first episode, ‘Children of the Gods’.
On July 27th, 1997 – 25 years ago last week – the tarpaulin was torn from Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin’s dormant Stargate. Unassuming channel hoppers to Showtime were hit with ‘Children of the Gods’ (S1, Ep1), the feature-length pilot episode of Stargate SG-1.
For all the episode’s many flaws, the hostile reaction of Stargate progenitors Dean Devlin and director Roland Emmerich, and the growing pains of Stargate SG-1’s first season, it’s impossible not to look back on ‘Children of the Gods’ with fondness. After all, this is where our journey began and Stargate fandom made itself heard.
The 25th-anniversary celebration kicked off with the debut of Wormhole X-Tremists on YouTube, a new rewatch hosted by Dial the Gate’s David Read, and Stargate superfans Nicole Rodrigues-Galdo, and Yvonne Cahill. Twitter promptly lit up with #WeWantStargate, a campaign pointedly aimed at studio MGM and new rights holder Amazon Prime Video. Finally, over a thousand fans joined The Companion live on YouTube for Stargate Legacy, a reunion of Stargate SG-1 co-creator Brad Wright and star Richard Dean Anderson.
The meandering conversation between the two TV veterans, interspaced with some unexpectedly emotional moments (just watch it, words can’t do it justice) ended with a pre-recorded discussion on the 25th anniversary shot during Stargate A.I. Version 2.0. There were a few fresh nuggets of Stargate SG-1 history, some insights into the creative process, and the reveal of a tantalizing detail from Brad Wright’s unmade pilot for a new Stargate series.
The New Stargate Show Might Feature a Man-Made Gate
Part way through explaining how he wanted each show to have its own signature Stargate, Wright let slip some detail from the new Stargate pilot script, confirming that mankind has successfully reverse engineered/Tau’ri-rigged the Stargate technology.
“In my pilot script that I wrote that’ll probably never see the light of day – a couple of years ago from when MGM asked me to write a pilot script for a new show – I had an entirely new human-built Stargate and it just spun up like crazy and then went tchunk tchunk tchunk tchunk tchunk and opened because I thought it’s about time we sped up the process after 25 years, don’t you think? Maybe they’ll do that.”Brad Wright
The Original Stargate Died in the Desert
In what might have once struck Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich as a bruising visual metaphor for their treatment by MGM, Brad Wright explained that he and co-creator Jonathan Glassner had tracked down the original movie Stargate. Sadly, it was beyond rescue.
“I don’t know if it was around [the time we were] casting,” Wright told us, “but anyway, I was in LA working with John on the pilot episode, I think. We drove out to where the Stargate was being stored. I think it was like in Death Valley, at least it felt like Death Valley because it was over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and we walked out and there was just this piece of arched steel. That was all that was left. Everything that was attached to it, everything that made it a Stargate was worn away by the weather.
“I remember stepping into it and looking up and seeing a giant spider coming down towards me in a web. I thought we should put that in an episode. We never did. But yeah, the movie one died in the desert.”Brad Wright
We speak to six of the key players in the first-ever episode of Stargate SG-1, ‘Children of the Gods’, on the occasion of its 25th anniversary
Richard Dean Anderson Was Wary of the Military
Further cementing our belief that we desperately need Richard Dean Anderson to write his memoirs, the small screen icon offered a glimpse into how Stargate SG-1 transformed his relationship with the military. Speaking about being made an honorary brigadier general in the US Air Force in 2004, Anderson said:
“That was actually quite moving for me because of my ongoing relationship with the military in general – no individuals or specifics – but as a constant… Well, let’s put it this way, I wasn’t trying real hard to get into the Vietnam War and it kind of started there.”Richard Dean Anderson
Richard Dean Anderson’s relationship was made all the more complex by his association with military roles which began way before Stargate SG-1’s curmudgeonly colonel entered our lives. As early 1975, the 25-year-old Anderson made his acting debut in a film marking the 200th anniversary of the US Marine Corps, played naval officer, Lt Simon Adams, in the short-lived CBS drama Emerald Point N.A.S, and then came to fame in 1985 as the Vietnam veteran, Angus MacGyver.
Kurt Russell Gave Stargate SG-1 His Blessing
Whilst the movie’s creators may have been nonplussed by Stargate’s new lease of life on the small screen, its original star gave the project his blessing. In 2001, whilst filming crime caper 3000 Miles to Graceland, action movie icon and big screen Jack O’Neil Kurt Russell visited the set.
“He was lovely,” said Wright, “and said ‘Oh, this is a really cool show.’ And walked into our Gate and said this is as good as ours – this is amazing. [He] was lovely to Rick and I wanted to ask him to be in the show and have him stepping out of the elevator saying ‘Hi Jack’. And Rick going in saying ‘Hi Jack’ but not that was never gonna happen. Mainly because the movie he was doing was [3000 Miles to] Graceland and he looked like Elvis.”
In the segment recorded during Stargate A.I. Version 2.0, Amanda Tapping added:
“When he watched me do some takes, he stood in the control room while we shot a scene. And it was so distracting. Him standing off to the side – so weird.”Amanda Tapping
Amanda Tapping made her Stargate SG-1 Audition Awkward
On the subject of the Queen of Sci-Fi, Tapping recalled that during the final stage of her casting as Samantha Carter, she made things weird. Very weird.
“At the very end, they had Rick and I stand next to each other. And Rick, you put your arm around me and I put my arm around your waist and I don’t know what possessed me. But I went, ‘So is this like this swimsuit part of the competition?’ Idiot. And then walked out going, ‘Oh, I just blew it.’”Amanda Tapping
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James Hoare is editor of The Companion. He has been “working in publishing” since the early 1990s when he made his own Doctor Who fanzine to sell in the school playground.You can find him on Twitter @JDHoare