Discover a hidden dimension to your favorite sci-fi shows and movies, and test your knowledge
Stargate | Did You Know?
Stargate SG-1‘s Michael Shanks made his small screen debut in 1993 courtesy of another sci-fi movie-turned-TV show, Highlander: The Series.
In ‘The Zone’ (S2, Ep6), the future Dr. Daniel Jackson played a mine owner’s son trying to curb his father’s corruption.
In true Daniel style… he dies.
In the 1994 Stargate movie, the alien beasts of burden were Clydesdale horses in full-body suits. The humps hid their drivers who operated an animatronic head.
In the long shot where Daniel Jackson (James Spader) is dragged across the desert, the creature is played by a dog.
(Don’t worry: according to American Humane, the horses were rotated, rested and watered in the shade, and didn’t wear their costumes for longer than three hours.)
Stargate‘s Chris Judge and Richard Dean Anderson first acted together in a 1990 episode of MacGyver – ‘Live and Learn’ (S5, Ep13).
The future Teal’c plays Deron, a cocky football player, opposite the future Jack O’Neill.
Both are smashing the hair game.
Hold onto your brains, we’ve got a paradox.
The opening credits of Star Trek: Enterprise shows NASA’s Space Shuttle Enterprise, implying that it’s a precursor to the bulky NX-01 of the show.
However, NASA named Enterprise in tribute to The Original Series – the cast was even there for its unveiling – so does TOS exist as a TV show in the Star Trek universe? Because if it does, we have questions…
The name of Star Trek: Voyager‘s Seven of Nine was a homage to AF 709, the lifelike android in the CBS sitcom My Living Doll (1965-6).
As a bonus, AF 709 was played by Julie Newmar, fondly remembered as the 1960s Catwoman.
Star Trek: Voyager‘s Tom Paris began life as Nicholas Locarno in The Next Generation episode ‘The First Duty’ (S5, Ep19).
Both characters are ace pilots and Starfleet Academy dropouts played by Robert Duncan McNeill, but Locarno – who covered up the accidental death of a comrade – was considered irredeemable and the character was given a new name and a softer back story.
Miscellaneous | Did You Know?
David Lynch was contracted to direct two further Dune movies back-to-back if the first one was a success. Dune II was to be based on Frank Herbert’s second book, Dune Messiah, but Lynch admitted: “Dune III is the one that’s going to be trouble for me. I’m not wild about Children of Dune.”
It was a moot point. Butchered in the edit, Dune (1984) was a critical and commercial flop.
Director Philip Kaufman was on the verge of shooting a Star Trek movie in May 1977 when Paramount pulled the plug. Kaufman was told there was no chance of a sci-fi movie earning close to $19 million – the box-office takings of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).
Later that month, Star Wars was released and hit $20 million in five weeks. A year later, Kaufman’s remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers – starring Leonard Nimoy, of course – made $24.9 million.
Jonathan Harris (1914-2002) the original scheming and screaming Dr. Zachary Smith of Lost in Space declined to appear in the 1998 Matt LeBlanc movie, feeling that an “innocuous six-line bit that they laughingly referred to as a cameo” was beneath him.
Harris even rejected an offer to extend his role, as he felt so proprietorial about Smith, then played by Gary Oldman, and loyal to the lighter tone of the ’60s show. Can’t imagine he’d have been impressed by the Netflix reboot either…
Though The Expanse is filled with references to sci-fi noir, the scene in ‘Back to the Butcher’ (S1, Ep5) where Detective Miller (Thomas Jane) is interrupted eating noodles was an accidental homage to Blade Runner (1982).
According to co-creator Ty Franck, the location was chosen because of its unusual shape and textured blue wall – it just happened to be a noodle restaurant.
What they didn’t realize is the production company had issued a ban specifically on Miller eating noodles because they were secretly starting work on Blade Runner 2049 (2017). They got a telling off.
The exact costume worn by reptilian bounty hunter Bossk in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) was previously worn by an astronaut in Doctor Who‘s ‘The Tenth Planet’ (1966).
Similar suits with ribbed vests – actually High-Altitude Windak Pressure Suits used by the RAF – are worn by TIE pilots and their Rebel counterparts across the original Star Wars trilogy.
Battlestar Galactica prequel series Caprica began as an unrelated story.
When BSG‘s creators were too busy to develop a pilot, Universal hooked them up with screenwriter Remi Aubuchon, who had just submitted a script about artificial intelligence that hit a lot of the same notes.
South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker originally envisaged the whole show having a vast alien conspiracy at its heart, but worried it was too similar to The X-Files, which had just begun on the same network.
As a running joke, the alien visitors from the first episode, ‘Cartman Gets an Anal Probe’, regularly appear in background shots.