The Hollywood Reporter. August 18-20, 2006
By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
After 200 episodes, 'Stargate SG-1's' showrunners still adore their space opera but keep their tongues firmly in cheek
It would be understandable if, on the eve of the 200th episode of Sci Fi Channel's "Stargate SG-1," Brad Wright and Robert Cooper were content to rest on their executive-producer laurels. Instead, the pair is busy sculpting scripts, directing episodes and brainstorming as to how to keep the series fresh. Wright, the series' creator, and Cooper, who began as a writer on the show, remain so enthusiastic about "SG-1" that even nine years in, they gleefully recite dialogue bits from the first season - especially the really, really bad ones. Wright and Cooper spoke recently with Rebecca Ascher-Walsh for The Hollywood Reporter about their favorite "SG-1" moments, weakest episodes and the worst line uttered by a character on the show.
The Hollywood Reporter: Where should new fans begin with "Stargate SG-1"?
Robert Cooper: Season 1, with the DVDs - though I'd be happy to publish a list of episodes not to watch along the way.
Brad Wright: I'd be surprised if someone had never seen the show. If you have cable and you're watching TV on a Saturday, you're going to see the word "Stargate" appear quite often - it's everywhere. But sometimes people will come up and say, "I finally watched your show, and it's good," as if they're surprised.
Cooper: It's weird that people might be TV snobs, as if TV was a higher art.
THR: What's your favorite episode?
Wright: When you make 200 shows, you shouldn't have one favorite, and it shouldn't be five years old - but mine is. It's called "2010" (which originally aired in 2001).
Cooper: For me, it's "Heroes," in Season 7, which I like as much for the process that went on behind the scenes as for the product itself. It was shot by the second unit because we were in a budget pickle, but they did such a great job that instead of showing it as an hour, I filled it out to two.
THR: What has been the worst episode, in your opinion?
Wright: "Emancipation," which is one of the first we did. We faded in, then it wasn't good, then credits rolled.
Cooper: Then there's "Hathor" (from late in Season 1), which is so bad that it actually hits bottom and bounces back up. There's a character who delivers the line, "No can do, ma'am; I only take orders from Hathor."
Wright: That one's so bad, it's good. And, of course, there's (Amanda) Tapping's line from the pilot, "Just because my sex organs are on the outside doesn't mean I can't handle what you can."
Cooper: We keep mocking it. Fans know how much that line has been vilified.
THR: After nine seasons, how do you stay interested?
Wright: The fact that we've been there from the beginning is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is, we don't let each other repeat ourselves. Recently, I suggested an idea I thought was so great - as Robert pointed out, it was so great, we did it five years ago. But that happens rarely. The fun is finding untrod ground.
Cooper: You do get bored as a creative person. Circumstances like actors wanting to leave and then wanting to come back has helped keep the show fresh.
THR: When did you feel that the series had "made it"?
Cooper: One of the goals was to distinguish it from the (1994) feature. Kurt Russell (that movie's star) was filming on the lot, and he came by and said, "You guys took a fairly average movie and turned it into a great series." Brad wanted him to do a scene.
Wright: I wrote it. (Richard Dean) Anderson says, "There's another (Jack) O'Neill (Russell's character in the film, played by Anderson in the series) on the base who doesn't have a sense of humor."
Cooper: Kurt declined.
THR: How do you avoid crossing the line between humor and camp?
Cooper: We obviously don't regard the line very highly because we do cross it. Every now and then, we jump over the line. I think camp is when a joke is played for a joke's sake, while humor is what comes out of the characters' reactions naturally. Mocking something in the show is normal, but you don't want to break the fourth wall and have horses run down Hollywood Boulevard like they did in (Mel Brooks' 1974 movie) "Blazing Saddles."
Wright: Although that's a good idea.
Cooper: We talked about it for the 200th episode, but we couldn't afford the horses.
Ascher-Walsh, Rebecca, "Commanders in Chief." The Hollywood Reporter. August 18-20, 2006: p. 30.