It’s pretty rare that any television show gets to broadcast 200 episodes, which makes it rather special that Stargate SG-1 joins such an illustrious (and tiny) group of shows which have done it.
Of course, when the time came to make a bicentennial episode, which was the sixth installment of the tenth and final season of the series, it needed to be spectacular. What occurred was a story as bombastic, weird, hilarious, daring, and cleverer than most. And no surprise, it blew the audience’s socks off when it was shown for the first time on 18 August 2006.
Here, we speak to three pivotal members of the ‘200’ creative team about how it came together and what it was like to make.
As Told By
Joseph Mallozzi (writer/producer): Rob [C. Cooper, writer/producer] had in mind doing vignettes. We obviously had to frame the vignettes and initially, he was thinking of something like ‘I Remember When…’ where essentially it would be the rest of the team harking back to previous episodes and filling Cameron Mitchell in on the various crazy adventures they’d had. They would be making stuff up.
I just thought [that] framework didn’t have much to offer and then we thought about bringing Willie Garson back and doing what we’d kind of done with Wormhole X-Treme.
Gary Jones (actor, Walter Harriman): You can only really do that in a 200th episode. They built up enough currency with the fans. It was such a blast to do that episode.
The plot was this: OTT movie writer (and alien) Martin Lloyd, played by Willie Garson returns to Stargate Command to ask for help with ideas for his cinematic version of Wormhole X-Treme, which we’d been introduced to back in the 100th episode during the fifth season. But rather than help much, the crew ends up pitching their own ideas of what a Stargate movie should be. Cue an opportunity for the writers to go wild spoofing different genres and styles, from Star Trek to Ben Browder and Claudia Black’s previous show Farscape, The Wizard of Oz, and even Team America: World Police.
Joseph Mallozzi: Brad [Wright] and Robert loved comic episodes. We just sat in a room and pitched ideas and whoever we liked got to write them. I got to write the Farscape, most of the invisible O’Neill, quite a few of the framing [scenes]. I think the PI one was Rob, [and] Wizard of Oz was Brad. I think we were long. I did a Gilligan’s Island take-off that never got shot because we had so much material, we didn’t have time.
Peter F. Woest (series cinematographer): The biggest thing in my mind was the use of the marionettes – the puppets. That posed a whole set of challenges.
Joseph Mallozzi: Brad and Robert were big Team America fans. We reached out to the Chiodo Brothers, who created the puppets for Team America.
Gary Jones: The puppet thing was hilarious. I never saw [my] puppet. We just filmed those in real-time, as us.
Peter F. Woeste: We had standing sets of course in Vancouver and the puppets had to seem like they were performing on these sets. We shot all the background shots in the studio and then we traveled to Los Angeles where the company was located and photographed the puppets in front of a green screen. We had to keep meticulous notes of all the backgrounds that we shot right down to the lenses that had to be replicated. The two were married in post-production.
Joseph Mallozzi: We had these puppets custom-made. I don’t know how much those puppets cost, something like $10,000 a piece.
Gary Jones: We did it as a regular scene, but the dialogue was hilarious. All this un-Stargate-y dialogue. It didn’t matter if we cracked up during filming because they were going to turn us into puppets anyway.
Peter F. Mallozzi: Brad and Rob certainly made the most of that sequence.
One of the funniest vignettes is where we see the cast, well, recast as a younger, cooler crew – a storyline that includes the late Glee star Cory Monteith as a young Cameron Mitchell.
Joseph Mallozzi: That was a Rob Cooper idea. He dug deep into those CW shows because it was dead-on. It was very teen soap opera. I remember when [Stargate Universe] came out, some of the fans were not very happy… they equated SGU with that teen soap vignette.
The camera team also had to make sure that the different themes fit in with the overall aesthetic of the show, but felt true to what they were spoofing.
Peter F. Woeste: We had a methodology for how we would light our main set, but we tried to pay homage to the original cinematography [of the pastiches].
Of course, by the time of the 10th season, Richard Dean Anderson was basically not in the show anymore, having been promoted to major general and assigned as head of the Department of Homeworld Security. Nevertheless, while it was still hoped that Anderson would appear in some capacity in ‘200’, the writers devised ways of having O’Neill be part of the festivities without the actor needing to be on-set. Luckily for the show, he did want to come back in body, as well as voice.
Joseph Mallozzi: At that point, Rick had not been involved much. The fact that Rick who’d been with the show for so long wasn’t really a huge part of ‘200’ I guess in retrospect was a little bit disappointing. I pitched out the idea of [invisible O’Neill] and they thought it was funny and then they pitched out the idea of the scene where Carter is in the shower and steps out and I didn’t love the idea. I thought it was kind of creepy of O’Neill. So I disassociate myself from that element of that little vignette. I think [Amanda] was fine with it.
Gary Jones: I have a picture I used to sign at conventions of when Jack and Sam get married and I’m sat next to Beau Bridges and I’m wiping a tear from my eye.