Stargate SG-1 is now seen in 120 countries with over 10 million viewers, plus merchandising and a spin-off series in Stargate Atlantis. Producers believe it survived intitially because “we haven’t had the pressure of having to deliver the meteoric ratings the way network shows do,” Cooper explained.
Which is a good thing according to executive producer Brad Wright. “If SG-1 had started out on a broadcast network as opposed to Showtime, I think we would have been canceled after six episodes,” he said. “Honestly.”
The show got new life after being picked up by The SCI FI Channel in 2002 for its sixth season. The series was a great boost for the basic cable network, where it became its highest rated original series and propelled the network into cable’s top ten.
Now with new cast members Ben Browder (Cameron Mitchell) and Claudia Black (Vala Mal Doran) — the leads from SCI FI’s hit Farscape — and legendary actor Beau Bridges (Hank Landry) as the commander of the S.G.C., new life has been infused into the show. But the big news is the return of its former leading man as a guest star. Richard Dean Anderson (Jack O’Neill) will return for multiple episodes in Season Ten (story). Despite his retirement last year, Anderson stressed that his continued participation is up to the producers and MGM.
“As long as people want to come to work every day, and it doesn’t become a chore, I think this show has a chance to go several more years,” co-star Christopher Judge (Teal’c) said.
Even so, the series is rarely on the top of critic’s lists for most popular shows.
“Honestly, it can be a little frustrating,” Amanda Tapping (Samantha Carter) admitted, “because our show is so successful. And I think we really came into our own, or people started to recognize the show, in our later seasons, which is sort of odd. Usually by season seven, shows are petering out. We were really ramping it up and gaining new momentum.”
“So it’s kind of weird to start out floating under the radar, on Showtime, to move to SCI FI and to start to gain a bigger audience,” Tapping explained. “But now we’re getting sort of usurped by the Battlestar Galacticas and the Losts. But we’re like the little show that could.”
Mainstream audiences are just beginning to find the show. It airs on broadcast television in syndication one season behind cable. Does this lack of recognition for a show going into its tenth season and 200th epsiode bother the executives?
Cooper pointed out that even genre stalwart Star Trek wasn’t a hit when it was in production in the 1960s. “It wasn’t until 30 years later that people started looking back at it and realizing it was a milestone,” he said. “I think we secretly hope that 10, 15, 20 years from now, that Stargate will be considered in the same way.”
Read more about the 200th episode celebration at the Seattle PI. Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis are now filming for a summer premiere this July!