As I said in a previous post, when it comes to preparing a meal, Akemi places as much emphasis on appearance as she does flavor. Pictured above is one of her latest creations, inspired by the 30 bite salad at Tokyo’s Chez Tomo. Her version is closer to 20 bites but, I’m sure, equally laborious.
On to my memories of Stargate: SG-1’s ninth season…
I was vacationing in Hong Kong when I received an email from Executive Producer Robert Cooper informing me that SciFi was considering picking Stargate: SG-1 up for a ninth season. The only catch was Richard Dean Anderson’s departure left a big hole in the show and the network wanted to know who were planning to bring in to fill it. Well, as far as I was concerned, it was a no-brainer. “Get Ben Browder,”I emailed back. I loved Ben Browder’s work on Farscape and came away deeply impressed with the guy following our brief meeting at the Saturn awards years earlier. Turns out Executive Producer Brad Wright and Ben had met at a recent SciFi party and hit it off as well – so the wheels started turning.
By the time I got back from Asia, Ben was all but signed and Robert informed me that they were considering bringing in not one but TWO new characters for the show’s ninth season: Ben’s character would be joined by Vala Mal Doran played by Claudia Black. It was going to be a Farscape reunion and I couldn’t have been happier. Unfortunately, the network put the brakes on that idea for exactly the same reason: it was going to be a Farscape reunion. And so, Ben was signed for that season’s full twenty episode run while Claudia was signed for a seven episode arc. But when those first few episodes delivered, the network quickly changed its mind and requested MORE VALA! Unfortunately, given the number of scripts already written (or in the process of being written), it wasn’t a request we could honor – but we were able to bring her back for two more episodes at season’s end. And, of course, there was always the possibility that in the likely event we got a record-breaking tenth season pick-up (!), she could be back as a regular…
AVALON 1 (901)
One of the things that stood out for me about Ben Browder’s first episode was Ben behind the scenes. While he was great onscreen, he was equally great off-screen as well – passing on R&R in his trailer in favor of staying on set to deliver his off-camera lines. He was happy to be on the show and eager to help out in any way he could. The guy was committed. How committed? Well, for starters, by the time he’d hit Vancouver, he’d already watched every episode of SG-1 (eight seasons worth!) in preparation.
My only regret with regard to the Cameron Mitchell character was the way he was introduced – specifically, the fact that he was brought in to lead SG-1. Only problem was SG-1 already had a leader in Samantha Carter. Well, theoretically she was except that, by the time season nine got underway, SG-1 was no more. With the defeat of the go’auld, the team members had gone their separate ways. And so, it fell on Mitchell to get the band back together. My writing partner Paul flagged the potential problem in the writers’ room, arguing that giving someone else command of the team (or merely suggesting as much) was disrespectful to the character Carter. A heated debate ensued and, in the end, a compromise was reached. Carter and Mitchell would share command team. Which, in retrospect, did little to quell some of the angry fan response.
AVALON II (902)
Claudia Black demonstrated her talent for comedy in previous episodes, but this one showcases her considerable dramatic range as well. I remember watching this episode thinking “Damn. She WOULD make a great series regular!”. And the onscreen chemistry between her and Michael was electric.
A bit of controversy surrounding this episode’s fiery death scene. It was pretty damn horrific – the original edit even more so – and we went back and forth on how much we wanted to show. In the end, I’m surprised that the network allowed us to show as much as we did. It was by far the most unsettling scene in my 11+ years on Stargate.
With Jack O’Neill transferred to Washington, the SGC found itself under the command of General Hank Landry played by veteran actor Beau Bridges. Beau reminded me a lot of Robert Picardo (Richard Woolsey) – both were very successful, incredibly experienced, and always made it a point to come by our offices to run prospective dialogue changes by us rather than simply surprising us in the dailies. Like Bob, Beau would always make the time to come up and see us to request even the tiniest of changes. Both of them were class acts and I have nothing but terrific memories of working with them.
THE TIES THAT BIND (904)
This episode, originally titled “Treasure! Treasure! Treasure!”, ran long and, as a result, I had to cut one of my favorite exchanges, part of the scene where an undercover Mitchell encounters alien mercenaries Tenat and Jup:
Tenat eyes Mitchell.
TENAT: Your name?
MITCHELL: Cam Mitchell, bounty hunter.
TENAT: Never heard of you.
MITCHELL: I try to keep a low profile, let my work speak for itself. Don’t like to brag, but I’ve captured some of the most dangerous criminals around.
TENAT: Such as?
MITCHELL: Well … Grabthar the Hammer.
TENAT: Never heard of him.
MITCHELL: The Olsen Twins of Omega 3? Moesha the Vile?
MITCHELL: Trebek the Destroyer?
Jup pipes up –
JUP: Him I’ve heard of.
This was one of my favorite scripts of my 11+ year Stargate run. I loved the opportunity to write an all-out comic episode – and greatly appreciated the fact that I was supported by actors who could deliver the funny. From our series regulars to this episode’s guest stars, all did a terrific job on The Ties That Bind.
Another scene that I had to cut at the script stage sought to answer the question many curious fans had been asking for years: “What happens if you need to go to the bathroom on a cargo ship?”. In the scene, Jup is at the ship’s controls when the door behind him slides open and Tenat enters, pulling up his pants. Tenat “flushes” by initiating the rings that transport away whatever he just left behind in the back. Question answered. And then my fellow producers made me cut it. 🙁
One of the many amusing memories of this episode concerns guest star Wallace Shawn (Vizzini in The Princess Bride. Inconceivable!). Prior to his arrival, I was told he was very excited to be working on the show because he was, in fact, a huge fan of SG-1. So, on the day of his costume fitting, I went downstairs to say hello and welcome him to Stargate. “So, you’re familiar with the show,”I said. “Oh, no, I’ve never seen it,”he informed me. “I don’t even own a t.v.”.