SG-1 was about to attain the loftiest of broadcast heights – its 200th episode – and we wanted to do something special.  Something unique. Something everyone on the production would enjoy as much as the longtime fans watching at home.  The initial idea pitched out was something called “Remember When…”,  trip down memory lane in which our characters’ reflections would form the frames of the varied flashbacks to outrageous missions.  While everyone loved the idea of the outrageous missions, the premise of the episode felt too diffuse. We wanted an actual story that would form the heart of the episode. After much discussion, we elected to pay tribute to the franchise by referencing our last milestone – episode 100 – abd bringing back Martin Lloyd and the show within a show, Wormhole X-Treme.  But the fun we poked  at the franchise through that spoof production was nothing compared to what we had in store for 200…

We finally meet the furlings!

Sort of.  Even though it never really happened and we end up getting them killed in the end.

Back in the show’s fourth season, not long after joining the production, I was summoned to Exec. Producer Robert Cooper’s office.  He was doing his pass on our first script, Scorched Earth, and needed something from me: the name of an alien race.  When pressed, he admitted naming alien races was not his forte and, as evidence, offered up “the Furlings”.  I have to admit that whenever I heard the name, I always imagined a cosmic version of the Care Bears, giggling and snuggling their way through various adventures.  As evidently, did everyone else on the production.  The fans, however, were all sorts of curious and nary a week would go by without a fan or two posting a message board request for a glimpse of the elusive beings.  As time wore on, those requests continued  and, at one point, Brad suggested an episode in which we actually did get to meet them: a race of gaunt, towering, hairless, grey-skinned creatures.  But that idea was quashed and the production went on its merry way, choosing to keep the race a mystery.  But with 200 came the opportunity to honor those fan requests, and the viewers at home finally got to see those lovable furry creatures who turned out to be a cross between an ewok and a deranged koala.

And then we SG-1 went and got their planet blown up.

Of course, we quickly reveal that the incident never actually happened and it was part of a pitch for a revival of the defunct Wormhole X-Treme t.v. series, a show that last an inglorious three episodes before being cancelled.  But thanks to an impressive second life on dvd (following in the footsteps of Family Guy and Futurama) the show is being revived – and General O’Neill, in a desire to maintain a cover of plausible deniability for the Stargate program (and, let’s face it, screw with his old teammates) charges SG-1 with the task of creatively contributing to the production.

Mitchell takes on the living dead.

Every once in a while, actor Ben Browder would drop by the offices to pitch out an action sequence for his character – so I thought it appropriate that, given the opportunity, his character would pitch out an action sequence for – uh – his character.  And, really, nothing says action like zombie hordes.  Just ask fans of The Walking Dead.  This sequence also allowed us the rare opportunity of witnessing Harriman getting his head eaten.  Double bonus!

MItchell’s idea is shot down and Martin gets on the phone with a representative of the studio.  He is clearly frustrated and Mitchell asks: “Studio executives, huh?”  Martin responds: “What? Oh, no Charlie? He’s a great guy. He’s the only one I trust.”  This was a reference to longtime MGM Exec. and Stargate supporter Charlie Cohen, one of the smartest, kindest studios executives I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with.  As much as he was a fan of the show, we at the production were fans of Charlie.

Martin is outraged because they lost their lead.  How, he wonders, can they do the show without their lead.  “You just bring in a character to replace him,”suggested Mitchell – an obvious reference to the introduction of Cam Mitchell which followed soon after the departure of longtime SG-1 lead Jack O’Neill. Carter then goes on throw out some alternate ideas for keeping the lead alive: “Well, you could have the other characters refer to him all the time. Maybe, get him on the phone once in a while.”  Yep.  Been there; done that during SG-1’s seventh and eighth seasons.  And then, someone references that time O’Neill was invisible…

The idea of doing an Invisible O’Neill segment was actually a joke I threw out.  That ended up making the script.  That happened a lot in this episode.  As with all the segments, we went off and wrote them individually, and then everyone weighed in and they were tweaked.  There’s one beat in this segment that wasn’t part of my original draft, the moment in which Carter catches O’Neill spying on her in the shower.  I thought it was a little…oh…creepy.

Anyway, the Invisible O’Neill idea was embraced because we wanted Richard Dean Anderson to come back and do a cameo on this all-important episode, but didn’t know if he’d be able to work an appearance.  So, we figured we’d get the next best thing: his voice.  As it turned out, he was able to swing the appearance, making 200 all that more special.

The Getaway

Martin then pitches out a tale of high adventure, placing our heroes (SG-1) in an impossible position – and then simply cutting to them escaping through the gate.  This was a tip of the hat to the many fans outraged by a similar scenario in a past episode (don’t remember the name) in which our heroes (SG-1) are surrounded by Lucian Alliance soldiers only to effect some miraculous unseen escape.  During the ensuing argument over the merits of the pitch, Martin attempts to come up with a reasonable window of time for the team to reach the gate and dial.  Ten seconds is too short and thirty seconds is too round a number.  He decides on 38!  Which, coincidentally, is the same number (of minutes) a stargate can stay open.

Timing is, of course, everything, and nothing says action like a ticking clock.  Which prompts the following gem from Martin: “Trust me, jeopardy plus ticking clock is box office. It’s the E equals M C squared of the entertainment world. Ask any executive.”  Indeed.  If there were two notes we received more than any other during Stargate’s long run, they were: “More jeopardy!” and “We need a ticking clock!”.  Having a character race a timer to defuse a bomb?  Didn’t get much better than that.

They’re off to see the wizard!

Next to The Simpsons, The Wizard of Oz was probably the most referenced piece of pop culture over SG-1’s decade-long run.  The fans certainly took notice and which resulted in one particularly memorable piece of artwork being sent to studio – it depicted the original team as the cinematic classic’s adventurous foursome.  So, I suppose, it made perfect sense to reference the show referencing by including a little Wizard of Oz sequence in the episode as well.

Mitchell’s line: “Now, how can something work perfectly fine for ten years, then all of a sudden, it doesn’t work anymore?” was an in-story reference to the gate suddenly stopping operations – and, interestingly enough, could have been interpreted as a comment on the the show’s cancellation.

Okay, that’s enough for today.  I’ve got a caponata to make and, time permitting, some kasu ice cream.  Ivon, Lawren, and Rob are over tomorrow for some football – and, of course, to cheer on my Snow Monkeys.

GO SNOW MONKEYS!!1

36 thoughts on “October 1, 2011: 200!

  1. We do enjoy those ticking bombs.. and impossible positions.

    I never thought Jack was peaking… I just assumed he was in the locker room just to mess with her. Boy, am I naive.

    The Furlings turned out to be a great name for an alien race… So that’s what they really looked like? I thought it was just the team’s imagination and they probably were not furry care bears. 😉

    Loved the zombies, love the Wizard of Oz… love the episode!!! Fun blog tonight.

  2. i had three skits i really liked: invisible jack, the puppets, aaand the sam/jack wedding! 😛

    the wizard of oz thinger should have been sam-jack-daniel-teal’c, the original members when the whole oz references started. at least to me.

  3. Great post…that was a great episode and this was a lot of fun to read through.

    I have to say, that very top picture is fantastic: Although she’s even more stunning in up close and in person, that’s a pretty sweet picture of Amanda Tapping.

  4. Thanks, man.

    Back when you started reminiscing about your experience, I couldn’t wait for the behind the scenes tales of 200. I love how everybody gives Cam the stink-eye when he says “You just bring in a character to replace him”.

  5. 200 was just pure AWESOME! 🙂 Love that episode! Soooo much fun! 🙂 I loved every minute! Though, my favorite parts are the Star Trek skit…the Farscape skit and the puppets. 🙂

  6. I really loved 200, whereas i didn’t care all that much for Wormhole Extreme….go figure.

    I loved all of the in jokes….my mother on the other hand didn’t understand the episode at all….I had to try to explain it to her….have you ever tried to explain something involved to an older person? I think she thought i was crazy…haha.

    First day of my holiday….for the second year in a row they hadn’t made up the villa for us….had to move us to another one….fortunately it has a much better location, closer to the pool/spa/gym etc and we got $60 in food vouchers at the restaurant. Score!!

    Tomorrow we’re going on a seal cruise…should be fun.

    Enjoy the football with Ivon, Lawren & Rob. Which game are you watching? I’m really sucking in my FF league.

    Cheers, Chev
    @imwebgurl

    p.s. I have NO idea what caponata is LOL

  7. I love this blog so much. I’ve always wondered, though, what happens if you walk into a Stargate the opposite way? Such that After Gate A has dialed Gate B, you walk into the event horizon of B?

  8. Great blog post. I think of the 200th episode as a big hug to Stargate fans. Building the episode around Wormhole X-Treme was genius. I love this episode.

    “Make it spin!”

  9. Go Snow Monkeys!!! Have fun with the guys. Does your kasu ice cream have alcohol in it? Ever made pepperoni rolls? Loved the ‘200’ episode. Enjoy the day!

  10. Loved reading about everything that went into making this episode. It was one of my favorites.

    Have a great day!!! Wishing your Snow Monkeys luck!!!

  11. Only 3 days and so much new stuff on your blog!
    So first, Dark matter looks terrific. The idea of a TV show!!! With the band back together!!! What can I say? Stop… too late, I already have the all picture in my head! Now you can’t disapoint me, it has to happen. (kidding! almost)
    Second,currently I’m reading one of the book you talked about “Fast forward 1” so nothing new for you. Sorry!
    Third, thank you for your memories on SG1.The last two seasons are my favorites. Too bad we didn’t get more! Vala was so much fun. I enjoyed the dialogues of “uninvited” (it was very funny) and the interactions between the members of the team.That ‘s why I love your first picture with the team all together. (And yes, the way the creature died was very strange.)
    I can’t wait until tomorow to know what comes next.

  12. I’m curious to know in which episode there was a scenario where the SG-1 team is surrounded by Lucian Alliance soldiers and pulls off a miraculous unseen escape, specifically left many fans outraged. Anybody know which episode?

  13. Bonjour! Comment allez vous?

    Wow, la saison 10 c’est vraiment ma préféré de toutes! Etrangement j’apprecie beaucoup plus le personnage de Cameron que celui de Jack. Et l’arrivée de Vala dans l’équipe à vraiment apporté un vent frais dans la serie. Si un jour je deviens milliardaire je paye une suite à chacune des franchises stargate ;)!

    Bon week end.
    Anais.

  14. Joe, how hard is it for television producers to move to producing Hollywood movies? I was curious if Hollywood considered producing for television the same experience as producing for the movie screen.

  15. I was always in the minority– I didn’t see Fur lings I saw Furl ings and imagined winged creatures who furled their wings tight except in flight.

  16. …Mitchell said, “Now, how can something work perfectly fine for ten years, then all of a sudden, it doesn’t work anymore?”…

    Yep – how indeed??? Still pretty lame to have been cancelled…

  17. “200” was great all around, but you forgot one of the best moments.
    Siler: “Why does this always happen to ME?”
    🙂
    That, and the Farscape reference, of course.
    – KB

  18. A Stargate fan request for you Joe:
    Do you have any video that show the ‘creative process’ of the writers discussions for a particular episode ? How animated was it ? How does it usually structure ? How long does it take ?
    Just curious. That SG1 200th episode brought that question. Thx

  19. Joe,

    The comedic and bizarre elements of scifi have been surfacing in a more blatant fashion these days, it seems, like with the one-off goofy or shark-jumping episodes done in shows like Fringe (the s.2 retro detective/musical (and quite hilarious) episode, the s.3 bizarre animated episode), possibly a comedy episode in s.4 of Sanctuary (Amanda Tapping mentioned an interest in that at comic-con), and, of course, SG1’s 100th & 200th episodes. There’s also the notion of an entire series being a comedy sci-fi, which has been done before, most notably the old but beloved Red Dwarf.

    Let’s say a comedy sci-fi series was pitched to a studio/network like, say, an actual Wormhole X-Treme series or Starcrossed (Hewlett’s) series.

    If a studio & network were to pick up the new comedy sci-fi series and offer you a position as writer/producer, would you go for it or would you prefer a different type of series?

    It would be great to see an actual Wormhole X-Treme comedy sci-fi series! I’m sure it’d be a huge hit. Likewise with Starcrossed.

    The fad of the more dramatic sci-fi programs inserting the occasional comedic or bizarre episode is really nice but it’d be even better to get an entire series like that.

  20. The initial idea pitched out was something called “Remember When…”, trip down memory lane in which our characters’ reflections would form the frames of the varied flashbacks to outrageous missions.

    i guess that explains why hulu had it listed as remember when…. (200).

  21. 200 was very hit or miss for me. Some skits were awesome – the puppets, Star Trek. The premise of Mitchell actually *counting* the number of times he went thru the gate…. too weird, but one more way to show the totally expected with the fanboi ‘leader’ characterization (aka painful to watch). Others – The Wizard of Oz being the most obvious – were closer to memory lane but with tweaks that destroyed that memory. As in Vala being front and center in the place that was Sam’s, though as she seemed to take over female lead in deed if not name anyway it makes sense you all would find it amusing. The interviews with the Wormhole actors… I could see where it was going with the in-jokes but I didn’t find them at all funny, indeed I found them fairly crass. I’d rewatch about 15 minutes of the ep. Assuming I owed the season.

    I check out the blog every so often because I do like some of the thoughts/activities you have,. Hope you get everything organized to your specifications soon. Moving is such a pain.

  22. I loved 200. So much fun. I loved the Wizard of Oz bit, as I’m a fan of that, but one thing always irked me about it from the first time I saw a promo pic for that ep, and it still irks me when I think about it. Why was Daniel the Cowardly Lion and Teal’c the Tin Man? The whole point of Oz was that the characters’ main assets were exactly those things they didn’t think they had. Thus, the Cowardly Lion was the bravest of them and the Tin Man had the most heart. It would have been so perfect if you’d done it the other way around. As a fan who likes to play with these ‘recasting’ sort of crossover scenarios in my mind, such a miscast is like some terrible itch that can never be scratched.

  23. Oh, although it would have been extra-perfect if you’d done a MacGyver bit. Especially if RDA was there, of course, but any sort of obvious MacGyver reference would have been funny at that point. (The coconut transmitter and the clip someone else posted made me think of that.)

    The more I think about it, the more I think it’s really too bad this wasn’t, like, a special two-hour episode, just so you could have fit in lots more hilarious scenes and references.

  24. My second favorite quote (after “Trust me, jeopardy plus ticking clock is box office. It’s the E = mc² of the entertainment world! Ask any executive.”): “Easy, just bring in a character to replace him.”

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