Production on Stargate SG-1 was a sprawling enterprise, employing hundreds of people to make more than 200 hours of entertainment. Stargate was a cornerstone of the Vancouver film and television industry for years — and that was before it added two spin-offs.
Every once in a while, though … something slips through the gears of that well-oiled machine. A production goof makes it unseen through the layers of filming, editing, and post-production, and onto the screen. And, of course, Stargate fans are there to notice.
Here we’re running down some of our favorite errors from the show’s ten seasons. They don’t detract from the show’s greatness, but they are fun to look for that 100th time you watch a classic episode.
We’re not talking about the little things here. As you’d expect on a long-running show of this nature, there are plenty of times when a camera light is visible in the reflection of Daniel’s glasses, or a military rank insignia is incorrect on a uniform. Sometimes the number of illuminated chevrons on the Stargate doesn’t match what MSgt. Harriman is calling out. And sometimes an actor simply transposes two digits in a planet’s designation number (so that “P3X-989” becomes “PX3-989”).
We’re also not looking at elements of continuity that were established only later, as the show went on (for example how many people fit in a death glider, or why the base stopped shaking whenever the Stargate was dialed). No, this list is of those continuity goofs that are especially unique or interesting to go back and look for.
Are there more you’ve spotted to add to our list?
Episode: “The Enemy Within” (Season One)
In the show’s earliest days of filming every member of the production team — from the actors and directors to the keyest of key grips — were still getting to know the characters, their styles, and their distinctive looks. One thing that grabbed viewers’ attention right away was Teal’c. He’s big, he’s stoic, he’s an alien … and he has a gold emblem with a serpent on his forehead!
The “tattoo” of a First Prime evolved over the years, and of course the makeup team figured out how to optimize the forehead appliance for actor Christopher Judge. But in this case the goof is a simple oversight. When Jack O’Neill enters the room to talk to Teal’c in one scene during the show’s second episode … it’s on upside-down.
Episode: “The Serpent’s Lair” (Season Two)
We’d seen the sarcophagus work its technological magic a few times by the time SG-1 reached the start of its second season. It healed both Daniel and Sha’re in the feature film. So when Daniel is shot and mortally wounded by a Jaffa staff blast, he knows he may yet have a way to survive.
As the rest of his team join Bra’tac in evacuating the Goa’uld mothership before it explodes, Daniel drags his bloody self to the sarcophagus. But when he pops out, right as rain, it’s not just Daniel himself that has been healed. The alien healing device has stitched his clothes and gear back together as well! His walkie is even looking ship-shape.
Episode: “In the Line of Duty” (Season Two)
Teal’c confronts a Goa’uld prisoner in a cell at Stargate Command. The alien creature has taken Captain Samantha Carter as a host … but Jolinar of Malkshur has something shocking to tell him. She is not Goa’uld, but Tok’ra — part of a legendary underground movement that opposes the Goa’uld.
Stunned by the news, Teal’c turns to quickly exit the room. But look closer: when he uses his security pass to unlock the door, he slides it through the card reader with the magnetic stripe facing out.
Of course the door opens anyway. Would you say no to a fuming Jaffa?!
Episode: “Family” (Season Two)
Just like the production team had to gradually develop a character’s look, so too did it take a while for Stargate‘s signature props to be used consistently. In this scene, Teal’c and SG-1 have rescued his son Rya’c from Apophis — who brainwashed the child and turned him against his father.
With no other apparent options, Teal’c and his wife Drey’auc agree to subject their young son to electro-shock therapy. In this case it is a single shot from a zat’ni’katel — incredibly painful, but enough to wipe away the enemy’s brainwashing.
Watch closely when Teal’c fires the weapon, though. The serpent-shaped weapon is supposed to uncoil and fire from an open position. But when it fires in this scene, the zat is still closed.
CITY OF THE FUTURE
Episode: “1969” (Season Two)
SG-1 is stuck in the year 1969, sent back by a solar flare bending the Stargate’s wormhole back in on itself. Now they have to travel from Colorado to the east coast. To show that the team was passing through the city of Chicago during one of the travel montages, editors chose a shot of the skyline with the iconic Sears Tower.
Unfortunately … the Sears Tower did not exist in 1969. Construction was started in 1970, and the building opened its doors in 1973. (Maybe the show is set in a parallel universe, where the Tower was built earlier …)
NOT QUITE DEAD
Episode: “Legacy” (Season Three)
This creepy episode from the show’s third season opens with the team discovering a group of dead bodies on an alien world. The Linvers were a group of ambitious Goa’uld underlings, who met in secret to try and surreptitiously work for their own interests against the System Lords.
The opening teaser ends with a close-up shot on one of these dead and desiccated corpses. But again, look close — just before the scene fades to black, the actor’s eyes move.
Episode: “Crystal Skull” (Season Three)
Stargate accomplished some truly breathtaking special effects on a television budget. But in the early years, sometimes the CG work didn’t quite meet the show’s ambition. In this episode SG-1 finds a massive cavern in an alien structure, and within is a powerful crystal skull. The cavern they step into is visibly a computer-generated set extension. (Hey, it was 1999.)
But when the team later returns to the planet with Nicholas Ballard, as they walk out onto the marble path the background rock face momentarily passes over the top of Teal’c’s head. Ouch!
Episode: “Prodigy” (Season Four)
To try and rescue a brilliant young cadet who is on the verge of washing out of the Air Force Academy, Major Carter offers Cadet Hailey the opportunity to see the future that might lie ahead of her. She is brought to Stargate Command to see the interstellar program first-hand, and even step through the gate.
Wormhole physics established on the show dictate that anything that goes into a Stargate comes out exactly the same way the other side. In this case, the women managed to do a switcheroo while en route: Carter and Hailey come out of the wormhole standing on opposite sides.
Episode: “Double Jeopardy” (Season Four)
Stargate SG-1‘s visual effects teams faced some tall orders over 10 seasons and two movies. But this one was a doozy: “Double Jeopardy” ends with the downfall of a System Lord, and in the final shot the script calls for his Ha’tak-class mothership to land on the pyramid on the planet Juna.
The challenge? How to land a 3-sided pyramid on a 4-sided platform.
There are, of course, 4-sided pyramid ships in the Stargate universe. Ra had one in the feature film. But they are rare on the TV show, and the zillions of shots of Ha’taks over the years have clearly established that its underside has three sides.
Episode: “Revelations” (Season Five)
Thor has been captured by the Goa’uld Osiris, and Jack O’Neill and Teal’c sneak on board to try and rescue him. While they move stealthily through the corridors of the enemy mothership, Sam Carter guides them by radio from the safety of an Asgard facility.
Things get dicey for our heroes when the Jaffa patrols corner them. Sam has to think quick: she projects a hologram of herself to distract the Jaffa. That gave actress Amanda Tapping a reason to be on set with the boys — and why you can see her crouching off to the side of the corridor in one shot.
This one is fun to look for, since it’s an actor caught where their character isn’t supposed to be. But it might actually have a logical explanation: TV in this era was commonly shot to be broadcast in a 4:3 aspect ratio. Monitors on the set show boxes for both 4:3 and 16:9 framing. A 4:3 framing keeps Tapping out of frame in this shot — and maybe that’s how this one slipped through.
BAAL, BAAL, AND … BILL?
Episode: “Insiders” (Season Ten)
A bit of simple CG magic sells the many Baal clones who gave gotten loose inside Stargate Command in this episode from Season Ten. Baal convinces SG-1 to go out and round up all of his rogue clones, gathering them all together in one place. Just in time for Baal to hatch his own dastardly plan.
Shooting the clones on the S.G.C. set involves several look-alikes, who are roughly the same height and body type as Baal actor Cliff Simon. A half-dozen or more of these actors might be in screen in any given shot. The visual effects artists then take over, putting Simon’s face on the bodies of the other actors. But there are a couple of shots where one of the doubles didn’t get his Baal face put on. That’s definitely not Cliff Simon entering that room!
KEEP IT TO YOURSELF, ALEX
Episode: “200” (Season Ten)
One of the 200th episode’s most memorable sequences is “the puppets” — an all-marionette version of SG-1 and Stargate Command. Voiced by the main cast (of course), they reenact a version of the team’s assembly and first trip through the Stargate.
To accomplish this sequence director Martin Wood went off-site and teamed up with the Chiodo Brothers, who had also helped make Team America: World Police a few years earlier. A miniature version of the Bridge Studios set was created including the Gate Room, the Control Room, and that famous dialing computer.
Oh, that dialing computer …
Stargate‘s crew apparently didn’t notice until the episode was finished and sent out to the world that a set designer on the model S.G.C. had left a … shall we say “crude” message in the marionette Walter’s keyboard. Hopefully Alex at least can take a joke.
Have you seen another interesting production goof? Post it below!