So many great memories from this season.  I’ve included some insights from Trip Down Memory Lane series to accompany each episode’s concept art….

Small Victories…

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I remember sitting in Brad’s office when we first came to Vancouver and having Brad ask Robert how he planned to conclude the season three finale, Nemesis.  Well, Rob knew exactly where he wanted to go with the story and broke it down for us.  I remember thinking “There is no way they’re going to be able to pull this off.”.  And yet, he did.  WE did.  Again and again.  The high point of this episode isn’t the Rick Moranis lookalike taking a face full of acid in the teaser, or the Russian dialogue that, when translated, reads: “What’s that noise” “Maybe it’s that bug from the last episode.”, but the outtakes  – specifically, one depicting a seated Thor requesting a Mokochino and another with the Asgard reaching up to goose Carter and getting his face slapped as a result.  This was also the first episode I saw Director Martin (“AND CUUUUUUUT!”) Wood in action and he was a sight to behold.

The Other Side…

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I remember coming away from this episode impressed by Brad and Robert’s willingness to take chances, especially with regard to our characters.  O’Neill kills someone at episode’s end – and I’m not talking in the heat of battle.  He gives the order to close the iris and then, seconds later, the Eurondan leader apparently steps through and ends up pasted on the other side.  Granted, Jack did warn him not to follow but still – it was a calculated move on the part of the usually happy-go-lucky team leader.  Actor Rene Auberjonois, who played the doomed leader Alar, was a pleasure to work with.  Soon after wrapping production on the episode, he swung by Brad’s office to tell him Alar had a twin brother who’d be more than happy to make an appearance in a future episode. Two other things stand out for me about this episode.  The first was being on set and discovering how they pulled off the chamber-rattling off-screen concussive bursts of the bombings.  Director Peter DeLuise would yell: “Boom!  Shake-shake-shake!”  The actors would feign being rocked while members of the crew would rain dust and sand down on them, unseen overhead.  The second aspect of this episode that will forever stand out for me were those crazy alien glasses that are SO alien that they’re completely counter-intuitive.  In fact, I believe Rick made a gag of it in the episode by going to take a sip, giving the glass a curious look, then turning it around and drinking from the backside.  This was Peter DeLuise at his best and his desire for alien props (from rounded hammers to red spray-painted kiwis) would be a source of endless amusement for Paul and I.

Upgrades…

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This was the episode that introduced me to the realities of the scriptwriting process.  The fact is, as a show’s Executive Producer, it’s your job to make sure the episode is as good as it can be.  As a result, you’ll be asked to cast the best actors, choose the best costumes and props, approve the best visual effects, sign off on the best cut and, most important of all, see to it that the script is as good as it can be.  Often, this involves providing a writer with detailed notes for a rewrite.  Occasionally (but a hell of a lot more than you, dear viewers, will ever know), it involves doing a pass on a script not your own – anything from a dialogue polish to a full script rewrite.  But even in cases where a script is thoroughly rewritten, the original writer will retain sole credit.  And so, more times than I can count, I’ve perused the boards and had to bite my tongue (or cross my typing fingers) as I read posts lauding Writer X, knowing full well that while Writer X’s name may have been the credited writer, the person who should’ve been lauded was Brad or Robert or Paul.  I remember Paul sitting in our offices at one point in our Stargate run, amused because he had two scripts nominated for an award: one, on which he’d been co-credited on that I actually wrote, the other on which he’d received no credit but which he’d actually written.  It’s a strange, strange business.  Anyway, in the case of Upgrades, it was simply a case of a script that was tonally very different from first draft to shooting script.  The original version had actually been very serious but, after Robert Cooper did his pass, it was transformed into a hilarious entry and one of my very favorites.  The highlights of this episode for me was the memorable saran wrap force field (augmented with visual effects, but saran wrap nevertheless – I loved watching the dailies of our hero getting their face smooshed as they ran into the damn thing).

Crossroads…

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In the original version of this script, Teal’c exacts his revenge on Tanith and the episode concludes with, if not exactly a happy ending, then sure a satisfying one.  But Brad suggested that, instead, we end the episode with Teal’c restraining himself and Tanith getting away with Shau’nac’s murder – at least temporarily.  “That’s pretty dark,”I recall Paul saying.  “I like dark,”countered Brad.  And so did I.  The original version of the script also contained a reference to the fact that Teal’c had gotten a (Jaffa) divorce from his wife, freeing him up to pursue that amorous rendezvous with his long lost love.  Unfortunately, for some reason, it didn’t make the final draft and, as a result, Teal’c ended up looking like a big slut to many fans.  All that being said, the high point of this episode for me was the damn pointy Tok’ra digs, everything from the porcupine walls to the lethal high-backed chairs.  It’s a wonder they weren’t impaling themselves all the time.

Divide and Conquer…

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Some point to this episode as the genesis of the grand shipper vs. anti-shipper debate as O’Neill and Carter finally admit their feelings for one another – and I suppose it was, except it didn’t come as much of a surprise.  Shippers rejoiced as, after after three years of unspoken mutual attraction, “Sam and Jack” became canon.  Anti-shippers, on the other hand, were less than enthused.  And the forums lit up!  And it wasn’t just the ship they were referring to.  It was also the death of their beloved Martouf and the continuing presence of the Anise character, introduced in response to then President of MGM Television’s Hank Cohen’s request for “a sexy female alien” (A suggestion he got to repeat onscreen when he played himself in Wormhole Extreme).

Window of Opportunity…

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We had no idea this episode would become so beloved by fandom and yet, looking back, it’s easy to see why.  It’s one of those fun episodes with a fairly straightforward premise that allows our characters to shine in ways unexpected.  Specifically, Jack and Teal’c who, in past episodes, have relied on Carter and Daniel to handle the science and Ancient, and suddenly find themselves having to step into their team members’ shoes.  Yes, it’s our version of Groundhog Day but it works because the time-loop conceit is secondary to the heart of this story: the characters.  And yet, in its earliest form, the pitch for this story was very different, much darker in tone.  It involved the team gating to a planet and becoming trapped in a seemingly endless time loop orchestrated by a dying race seeking to buy more time to come up with a solution to an impending armageddon (which became the backstory of the device’s genesis mentioned in the episode by Malikai).  Rob suggested another spin on the time loop angle and, while I was dubious at first (“Isn’t this Groundhog Day?”I remember asking.  “Yeah,”was Rob’s counter.), I was proven wrong (that happened a lot with regard to some of Rob’s ideas those first couple of years).

A lot to love about this episode but it was the “time off” montage that remains my favorite.  And, like the Ground Hog Day aspects of this episode, it almost didn’t happen.  The episode was timing short, it was clear we would need to come up with some extra scenes, and that gave Brad the opportunity to do something he had always wanted to do: see our characters golfing through the stargate.  And so, several scenes were added (they were all scripted, not improvised as some fans assumed): the juggling, Teal’c’s repeated door run-in, Jack riding his bike through the corridors of the SGC, Jack trying his hand at pottery, the golfing through the gate and, oh yes, THE KISS.  The latter was Paul’s idea and I loved it.  Note: We made sure to have Jack tender his official resignation before dipping Carter and planting one on her, just to make sure we didn’t catch any flak from our Air Force tech advisors.

Watergate…

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Watergate…

A great episode with a lot to love about it, but two things about the production stand out for me.  The first was Paul’s ballistic reaction to the scene in which a frozen Maybourne is discovered.  In this case, Paul (aka Captain Logic) could not accept the fact that someone could be frozen in a standing upright position. Rather, he argued, if you were freezing to death, you would be hunkered down, trying to keep warm.  The fact that Maybourne is discovered on his feet, frozen solid, suggests a sudden freeze – which isn’t what happened here.  Anyway, it wouldn’t be the last logic issue to set my writing partner off, but it was memorable for being a fiery first.  As for the second thing that stands out about this episode for me: the title.  I swear, I thought Rob was kidding when he said he was going to call it Watergate.

Today’s Yes/No…

4 thoughts on “Stargate: SG-1 Season 4 concept art and episode insights!

  1. Thank you for taking us down Memory Lane. Last summer marked 20 years since I started regularly viewing SG-1 (Season 5). I’m still grateful for your blog, GateWorld and other fandom resources that helped me catch up with Seasons 1–4 and discover Gatecon.

  2. Wow! Memory lane can be a fun journey. Thanks for including us on the trip!

    It always amazes me how much work goes into an episode. It sounded like a really fun set to be on.

    Chevon: Sending good wishes on your medical results!

  3. There is a new show coming to Syfy called “The Ark”. The commercials say it is from one of the producers of Stargate SG-1. Did you not warn all your former co-workers against working with Syfy?

    1. It’s none of the team I worked with. It’s Jonathan Glassier who worked on SG-1’s first three seasons.

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