While you may not think so from watching the 200th installment of "Stargate SG-1," airing Friday, Aug. 18, on Sci Fi Channel, the episode could have been a lot wackier than it is.
"I did cut the 'Gilligan's Island' skit from the script," says executive producer Robert C. Cooper, who co-wrote "200" with Brad Wright, Joseph Mallozzi, Paul Mullie, Carl Binder, Martin Gero and Alan McCullough.
Preceded by a one-hour special called "Sci Fi Inside: Stargate SG-1's 200th Episode," the landmark outing brings back Martin Lloyd (Willie Garson), last seen in the show's 100th episode. At that time, he was doing a TV series called "Wormhole X-Treme," based on the SG-1 team and the Air Force program of using alien "stargates" to travel between worlds and fend off alien invasions.
In "200," Lloyd's failed series is being revived as a movie, and he needs the help of the SG-1 team to finish his script. Along the way, team members pitch different variations, which include spoofs of "The Wizard of Oz," "Star Trek," "Team America: World Police" (with puppets created by the movie's Chiodo brothers) and "Farscape," which starred current "SG-1" actors Ben Browder and Claudia Black.
"Isn't it lunacy?" says Michael Shanks, who plays "SG-1" anthropologist Dr. Daniel Jackson. "You're so used to playing the high stakes, to be goofballs for a while and mock ourselves was fun, because we do that on a daily basis on the show anyway, while we're rehearsing."
There's also an appearance by former SG-1 team leader Gen. Jack O'Neill, played by Richard Dean Anderson, who left "SG-1" after eight seasons for semi-retirement and full-time fatherhood. He's done the occasional cameo since, and in this case, the urging came from his 7-year-old daughter, Wylie.
"My daughter has gotten used to having me around," Anderson says, "although she's the one who said, 'Dad, if you want to go to work, it's OK.' I said, 'What about me? Maybe I'll miss you.' She just put her hand on my shoulder and said, 'You'll be OK, Dad.' I went, 'Oh, my God, that's beautiful.'"
Once Anderson got up to Vancouver, his one episode on "Stargate SG-1" expanded into a couple on its spin-off "Stargate Atlantis," one of which airs right after "200." He even had a flashback there to his duties as an "SG-1" executive producer.
"I did at one point yell, 'Quiet!' loudly," he recalls. "It was necessary. I'm not one of the producers, but I was trying to help Brad get some things done, and there was this din of humanity, albeit trying to do their jobs, but doing it far too loudly."
Just in case Anderson didn't want the gig in "200," Cooper had alternate plans, including O'Neill being invisible. That's when things get really odd. Director Martin Wood suggested that the invisible O'Neill come down a hall, carrying a visible coffee cup. That would require an actor to don a special green suit that would allow him to be removed later using special effects.
Cooper recalls "Martin said, 'Well, Rick's going to be there to do the dialogue anyway, so why don't we just put him in the green suit?'
"So where we have a scene that was originally conceived because we weren't sure we were going to get Richard Dean Anderson in the show, but we wanted his character there. And he's putting on a green suit so he can not be in the scene. There's a whole level of comedy there that I guess maybe those of us close to the show can appreciate."
At the conclusion of "200," there are faux backstage interviews with the "stars" of "Wormhole X-Treme." Included are a few comments about the "Wormhole" fans that "Stargate" fans may or may not take in good humor.
"I read [those speeches]," Shanks says, "and I went, 'Wow, that's pushing a few buttons. In certain instances, we cross the line between polite parody and absolute scathing commentary, and that's one of those instances."
Since the episode was shot, Dean Devlin, writer and producer of the original 1994 "Stargate" movie -- but who has had no involvement in the series -- announced at Comic-Con International in San Diego that he's considering doing two film sequels he had planned long ago, which wouldn't reference the TV series. This comes as a result of his new development deal with MGM Studios, which owns the "Stargate" franchise, big screen and small.
"People have been asking me left, right and center if that's going to happen," Shanks says, "and first of all, I have no idea. ... I thought that was a PR move on his part, that he was trying to stir the pot to see what people were going to say about it and whether or not it would push MGM to make a decision."
With "Stargate SG-1" in its 10th season, there is talk of whether there'll be an 11th (ratings are down a bit), whether there might be a second spin-off, or whether "SG-1" itself could become a feature film.
"'Stargate' is a franchise," Cooper says. "It's not just one show. There are still stories to be told within the 'Stargate' universe. We definitely have ideas about what those could be, and there are business decisions to be made that will hopefully allow them to come to fruition."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun