UNENDING (1020)

Word had come down a couple of months earlier.  Stargate: SG-1 was finally coming to an end.  And, to be honest, despite the countless 11th hour reprieves that saw us coming back year after year, the many changes the show had undergone, the fact that we were producing a lofty tenth season of the series, I was genuinely surprised.  And disappointed.  With the re-shifting of the show creative two seasons earlier, and the promotion of Claudia Black to series regular that year, I felt the show had been revitalized and could have gone another season – at least.  There were still stories to tell and I would have loved nothing better than to get a shot at telling them.  And, we almost did. Soon after we got word that the show had been canceled, talks were underway to save it, talks that actual bore fruit.  The plan was to produce an eleventh season of SG-1 as an online exclusive, anticipating a business model that has saved several shows since.  All the pieces were falling into place and it looked like we were going to save SG-1 – and we would have, if not for a contractual obligation that ultimately killed the plan.

Looking back, I have nothing but fond memories of the show and the many, many individuals who brought it to the small screen, contributing to a series that ran an astounding ten seasons and produced an incredible 214 episodes.  Although I disagreed with the decision to cancel us, putting things in perspective, it’s hard to find fault with a network that rescued us halfway through our marathon run.  If not for SyFy (formerly known as SciFi), Stargate: SG-1 would have ended with its fifth season on Showtime.  There would have been no Mitchell or Vala, no Ori or Anubis, no Landry, no McKay, and, perhaps most crucial of all, no Teal’c unwittingly attending a reading of the Vagina Monologues.  It was a great ride but, like all rides – great or otherwise – it finally came to an end, in this instance with the ironically titled Unending, episode #214, written, directed, and produced by longtime Stargate Exec. Producer Robert Cooper.  It was clever in that it offered the best of both worlds: a glimpse into the future of the characters viewers had grown to know and love over the show’s many, many years, and the promise that their present-day adventures would continue.  Which they did, in two direct-to-video movies: Ark of Truth and Continuum.

You can’t please all of the people all of the time and, while many fans loved the series ender, other took issue with – well, take your pick: the end of the Asgard, the absence of O’Neill, Daniel and Vala finally getting together, Sam and…Teal’c(?!).  Still, I loved the way it provided answers and, even if those answers were undone at episode’s end, they nevertheless hinted at possible things to come.  I was sorry to see the Asgard go (after so many years, I’d come to delight in the antics of those genderless, passive-aggressive know-it-alls) but I was equally sorry to receive their parting gift, the Asgard core that has been consigned to Area 52 for long-term R&D.

Rob saved the shot of the team heading through the gate, one last time, for the very end.  From what I hear, they didn’t get around to it until well after midnight.  I thought it bittersweet that, while everyone behind the scenes was saying their goodbyes that night, the scene that had preceded the farewells not only left the door open to future adventures but suggested a familiarity and routine that would continue, albeit unseen.  Although the fans wouldn’t be privy to these future off-world travels, they could take solace in the fact that SG-1 was still out there, doing what it did best: keeping the galaxy safe for the rest of us.

43 thoughts on “November 9, 2011: Ending my SG-1 trip down memory lane with Unending!

  1. I love Unending (despite what I felt as Daniel’s needlessly cruel speech to Vala – by which, I don’t mean to say I didn’t agree with the choice to put it in, it was absolutely characteristic of Daniel. It’s just always painful for me to watch since I felt Vala had really changed by then). The Christmas scene makes me tear up every time. (And thank god for Syfy because I don’t know what kind of void I’d have in my life if Atlantis had never been created.)

    Heh, speaking of The Vagina Monologues, I’m attending auditions for that tomorrow. It would be the first time performing in it, though I’ve seen it at least 4 times. Hopefully I’ll do Teal’c proud. 😀

    Hope the puppies are doing alright!

  2. I’m firmly in the “love it” camp. Unending was a great episode that is in my top 10 list.

    With Unending, Family Ties, and 200, season 10 was a total winner in my book. I would have liked to see season 11, but I’m glad we had the movies.

  3. other took issue with – well, take your pick: the end of the Asgard, the absence of O’Neill, Daniel and Vala finally getting together, Sam and…Teal’c(?!).

    i had issues with all of the above. unending is one of the series enders that i skip when i do re-watches.

  4. great run through of all the seasons of SG1. It is one of those tv series that will have a long long life in Scifi history.

    For some reason i always gravitate towards SG1 over the other stargate series even in reruns. That 4 person team running through the stargate always seemed to be that simple and perfect formula to get me to watch.

  5. I loved the ending – it was exactly what I wanted – the team continuing on, the adventures continuing on. Far too many series either couldn’t do a final episode (including, sadly Atlantis and Universe) but others did a final episode that totally violated the series and betrayed the fans (St Elsewhere, anyone? Mad About You? Even my beloved Quantum Leap’s final episode left a bad taste in my mouth, and I couldn’t watch reruns of that show for years).

    You never would have made everyone happy; couldn’t happen. If you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. I thank you for all of Stargate SG1, and Atlantis and Universe. I miss the franchise, but I am richer for having partaken of it.

    cheer.

  6. An FYI for the CANADIAN Readers Here…

    If you’re on TWITTER – PLEASE checkout @WeAreTheDead — It’s an hourly listing of Those Canadian Military Who have DIED in War over the last century.

    Honour THEM with a “FOLLOW” and a “RT” to your Tweeps — Start a Trend!

  7. Overall I liked unending, it was always going to be diffcult to end a show with 10 years history, at least you had the warning and were able to do something.

    i look forward to the SGA memory lane trip !

  8. I really enjoyed Unending. Even more so when I compare it to other series finales, like Lost or 24, which were both underwhelming.

    I was also puzzled by the extinction of the Asgard race. They had served the show really well. Couldn’t one of the ancients have stepped in and saved one of them, maybe Thor?

    Anyway, thank you for all the thoughts and memories.

  9. One of the greatest episodes of a great series. Thanks so much Joe for these memories. I just got my nephew watching my entire set of of SG DVDs. He’s almost done the first season of SG1 and loves it already! I tell him it just keeps getting better.

    I hope you’re going to continue on with SGA!

  10. I liked Unending a lot. It was a great episode and a great farewell (with movies to come). I’d put it on the level of “All good things”, the series finale of Star Trek: The Next Generation which also was followed by several movies.

    The only thing I hated was what was done to the Asgard. It would have been nice to see them in the movies, SGA or even SGU. (Loved the lost tribe that turned up in SGA but they were not quite the Asgard we all love).

    Let me ask you, Joe, what do you think about SyFy developing a new starship-based-show not related to Stargate or Star Trek, as reported at gateworld? Sure there’s not much about it yet but I meant what do you think of SyFy developing a new show in this genre (I think people call it Space-Opera)

    I’m not sure if I even will give it a try since SyFy’s gonna axe it somewhere in the middle anyway. What do you think?

  11. other took issue with – well, take your pick: the end of the Asgard, the absence of O’Neill, Sam and…Teal’c(?!).

    Did Coop hate RDA? Seriously? Thor doesn’t even ask about Jack? Not one of his friends seem to miss him in 50+years? Sam and Teal’c wasn’t scripted? Coop was either an accomplice for what the actors did (Amanda and Chris) or incompetent (he didn’t realize what they were doing) or he simply didn’t care (it’s my no 1 explanation)
    Unending is one of the reasons I was glad Sg-1 was over (by then I was much more excited about SGA anyway), because it meant that TPTB couldn’t frak up too much with established canon

  12. Unending was a masterpiece, especially the scenes with Claudia Black and Michael Shanks. They were magnificent.

    How is Max doing? We are worried about him.

  13. If you’ll permit a question about Unending, how did the inclusion of “Have you ever seen the rain?” come about? It’s the perfect song for the haunting loneliness conveyed in the episode. But, I don’t recall SG-1 using modern, established music from any other occasion.

    (And while I’m on the subject, the music in Vegas was fabulous and fit as well. Kudos to your music supervisor.)
    Amanda Ball
    musician/songwriter

  14. Loved this write-up. Your affection and pride in the show really comes through. And put me firmly in the “loved it” camp for Unending.

  15. Loved Unending! 🙂 I thought having the gang together was wonderful. Loved all the interactions with Daniel, Cameron, Teal’c, Vala, and Landry. Loved the dynamic of these characters. My favorite scene was Daniel and Vala. I understand Daniel’s rant at Vala. Vala has tormented him ever since they met, and has poked fun at his expense. And…I think Daniel just wanted to understand where they stand. Daniel is frustrated with his own feelings because he finds himself attracted to Vala, but has a hard dealing with his feelings. He’s afraid of getting too close ’cause he doesn’t want to get hurt again. I think Daniel was also trying to understand his own feelings as well as Vala’s. He just wanted Vala to be sincere and completely honest with him so he can also confront his feelings for Vala. I thought Michael and Claudia did and excellent job on that scene.

    🙂

  16. I agree with Viq. The ending was great, and I loved the idea of the team’s adventures continuing. I especially agree with the last thing Viq said:

    <<>>

    Thank you.

    Hope you have a great day!!!!!!

  17. I never saw Daniel & Vala as a long-term relationship, but I could go with it in ‘Unending’ because, after all, it was special circumstances.

    Dramatically speaking, I think the whole point of Daniel’s ‘mean speech’ was that it was harsh: Vala had spent so long winding Daniel up and showing him a mask and not her true self that his reaction was understandable, if not very nice. When she was finally sincere, he didn’t recognise it.

    I can’t remember if Sam & Teal’c having a relationship was real or only implied; but I think it’s sweet. They’re such close friends, after all, and have been through so much together, why wouldn’t they become even closer? Again, special circumstances.

    O’Neill would have been a better fit, given it was the final episode, but getting him into the story without it feeling forced might have been a struggle. And maybe the studio didn’t want to pay for him?!

    My only real issue was the sudden, perfunctory extermination of the Asgard. I understand that shows need to have real jeopardy and big things at stake etc etc, but to kill a whole race off, one that had been in the show from the early days, and had done so much for our guys just seemed, I don’t know, kind of pointless and unnecessary. And it made me sad, ‘cos I like the Asgard. 🙁 I was happy to see them back in SGA, even if they were eeeeevil. 🙂

    (And, is it just me, or does the Terra Nova theme sound alot like the refrain used for the Asgard in SG1?)

    ‘…I was equally sorry to receive their parting gift, the Asgard core that has been consigned to Area 52 for long-term R&D.’

    By this, Mr. M, do you mean that having an Asgard core was ‘too powerful’ a story device, something like the beaming technology & the subcutaneous transmitters (in which case I agree)? Or am I missing the point??

    ‘There would have been no Mitchell or Vala, no Ori or Anubis, no Landry, no McKay…’
    Noooo! Unthinkable!!! Especially the McKay bit. 😀 So, thanks SyFy-formerly-known-as-SciFi.

    But I still can’t believe they cancelled it. 🙁

    I really do feel lost without Stargate. Many big bouquets to all who made Stargate happen.

    Hope Maximus Cuteness is doing better.

  18. Aw, this is a lovely account of SG1’s ending. The show is still gaining new fans all over the world. It’s pretty darn amazing.

  19. Just found this at SFX mag website:
    http://www.sfx.co.uk/2011/11/09/the-spaceship-show-is-back-on-us-tv/

    Why didn’t they just keep Stargate…any Stargate??? 🙁
    Stargate was a/had a:
    (a) proven success
    (b) crew, producers, writers, actors etc that were experienced & efficient
    (d) crew, producers, writers, actors etc that were good* at jobs
    (e) y’know, GOOD* SHOW.
    (f) etc etc

    The other 2 shows sound okay, I guess, but the space-ship show with Andromeda-Guy?

    I feel grumpy.

    *Some may say ‘excellent’ but I didn’t want to appear too slavish. 😉

  20. I loved “Unending” – in fact, I have the CCR song on my iPod and it’s this montage I see in my head every time it comes on (it’s one of the best IMO).

    Why did I love Unending? Well, I loved the tragic, lonely Sam (while I could accept that maybe she’d turn to Teal’c for comfort…I didn’t pick up the vibe and I tend to prefer to think of the angsty, sadness of being alone and living with the guilt of not being able to fix things). I love Daniel going off on Vala (because I think it was well deserved. I love Vala, better than Daniel, and while I don’t really “ship” them, Unending convinced me that maybe, *maybe* under the right circumstances they could have had a fulfilling relationship).

    I was *very* sad that O’Neill wasn’t a part of it. I understand the logistics, but my SG heart goes “Whyyyyyyyyyyy…” but we got Continuum and that was nice 😉

    Now I’m kind of sad again that there’s no Stargate to watch 🙁

  21. Just a quickie! Really pressed for time. Had company over last night, and they made fudge…delicious chocolate coconut fudge. I can’t stop eating this stuff…I’m gonna be the size of a house! WITH a two-car garage!

    Gotta run!

    das

  22. If only you could have given Atlantis an ending. Instead we left Sheppard hanging, more alone than ever, with those he saw as his family all moving away into separate relationships… he seemed to be slowly falling apart, especially after having to let the returned “Elizabeth” walk through the gate. Any chance you could tell us what his arc would have been, had the movie been made?

  23. Thanks for your insightful summation of the series and episode in this posting. You hit many of my same thoughts. I was sad to see it end, but end it did. Of all the relationships in the series I some how felt that Vala and Daniel would get together under the right circumstances. It was one of those opposites attract in which the protester (in a Shakespearian way) will finally gives in. I did not believe in the Jack-Sam gambit though I was a minority in that line of thought. With Sam and Teal’s I guess it was like the song “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you are with.” Yes, the two characters already had great fondness of each other from all the years working and fighting together.
    But how could you end it any other way but for the time walking through the gate one last time? I loved the chemistry and relationships between the foursome. Even in the most serious moments you writers could put in some good humor and the actors pulled it off like in the episode “Lockdown” (which I watched last night) when Daniel asks, “Who shot me?” I was happy you were both able to get Ben and Claudia for the show, they worked well together and blended well with the group.
    An interesting note, over the years you were alway worried that the series as at an end. However just when you thought things were going continue on, they end it. Also, I agree with Viq’s posting.

    Best wishes you, your family including the dogs and Akemi.

  24. Other than the horrible old people makeup, this was a fantastic episode, definitely one of my favorites. Then again, knowing it was the end was tough!

  25. sg1’s not over for me not until every last ounce of interest (from the makers to the viewers) is gone.

    i know you say that the likelihood of our tv franchise sg1 continuing is slim to none, BUT, i’ve still not given up hope that something couldn’t happen down the line. i’m giving it 3 to 5 years max, before i think it’s too late (for the tv franchise actors).

    call me silly or stupid, but i’ve seen things ‘resurrected’ before, so… i’ll wait.

    ~and if i can see sam and jack together as a loving couple *before* the characters or myself are in walkers, i’ll die a happy woman :p~

    *hugs joe*

  26. ‘And, we almost did. Soon after we got word that the show had been canceled, talks were underway to save it, talks that actual bore fruit. The plan was to produce an eleventh season of SG-1 as an online exclusive, anticipating a business model that has saved several shows since. All the pieces were falling into place and it looked like we were going to save SG-1 – and we would have, if not for a contractual obligation that ultimately killed the plan.’

    Sigh.

    @cccdsah
    ‘Thor doesn’t even ask about Jack? Not one of his friends seem to miss him in 50+years?’

    Good point!

    I’m still grumpy.

  27. ‘There were still stories to tell and I would have loved nothing better than to get a shot at telling them.’

    Couldn’t agree more, Mr. M. Even if you just revisited past episodes (not that you would have ‘just’ done that, of course), there were literally dozens of stories to tell. To wit, here are some random storylines I would have liked to revisit:

    *The Tollans. Last seen being bombed back into the Stone Age in ‘Between Two Fires.’ But, chances are there would have been survivors, maybe even Sam’s admirer Narim; and it would be nice if SG checked up on them, & Earth helped them rebuild (wasn’t it Earth’s fault the Tollan’s were attacked?).

    *The Aschen, from ‘2010’ & ‘2001.’ They can’t be pleased with Earth. What are they up to?

    *The Tok’ra. I’ve always liked the Tok’ra. I’d have liked to see them find a new Tok’ra queen so they could have baby Tok’ra and save their race. 🙂

    *Martin-the-Alien’s companions from ‘Wormhole X-Treme!’ That’s another SF show in its own right: A group of aliens whose civilisation was destroyed by powerful aliens masquerading as gods wander the galaxy in their spaceship…doing stuff.

    *Cassandra. Remember her?

    *Daniel’s grandfather. Whatever happened to him? Still happily exploring the galaxy with Quetzalcoatl?

    *Young-Cloned-O’Neill. How old would he be now? University age? What’s he up to?

    *And the other guys from ‘The Other Guys’? Have they been fired yet? 😉

    *Jonas Quinn. How’s he doing? Was his world hit by the Ori? What about other worlds that SG1 were involved with, such as Cimmeria (Viking-World), Mongol-World (‘Emancipation’), the world with the valuable mineral from ‘Spirits’, Vyus (the world with collective amnesia after the war-criminal from ‘Prisoners’ unleashed a chemical), the alien/human world from ‘Space Race,’ Tegalus (‘Icon’ & ‘Ethon’), the world from ‘Bad Guys’…etc etc 😀

    *The Nox. What were they doing while the Ori were out and about?

    *Orlin, from ‘Ascension.’ Love to see him back. (In adult form, please! ;-))

    *The AU from ‘The Road Not Taken’ – what happened next?

    *There must still be one or two goauld out there, on the run, or causing trouble. Camulus or Amaterasu, maybe, or Zipacna…

    *Rodney McKay. Whatever happened to him? 😉

    Oh, so many possibilities. And that’s just revisiting earlier stories.

    Sigh.

    Still grumpy.

  28. I hated that episode the first time around, but 2nd time around I enjoyed it a bit more.

    Killing off the Asgards hit a raw nerve among your fans I would say. You shouldnt have done it *g*

  29. I completely agree with what “am” said. I would add that it was obvious that R Cooper was fraking up the franchise at the end. I’ve never posted this before but I also believe that the powers that be at MGM took the reins of stargate because of Cooper. Which also leads me to believe that within a year MGM wi reboot the franchise with all new producers. Say what you joe, I’m not blowing smoke, but YOU wrote the vast majority of the BEST episodes of all the stargate shows. If you were the main exec. producer there would probably be a stargate show (or two) on TV right now.

  30. Thank you very much for all the SG1 behind the scenes memories that we didn’t know about until now. 🙂

  31. I loved Unending. Yeah, some parts bugged me, but it left me really quiet and solemn, thinking a lot about the characters had gone through. And there was a real tension that was missing again until SGU, because I had no idea what was going to happen to the characters.

    The “indeed” line was a little cheesy, but whatev on that. It was the best finales of any of the Stargates.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.