Wormhole X-Treme!EPISODE #512
ORIGINAL AIR DATE: 09.08.01
SYNDICATION AIR DATE: 02.24.03
DVD DISC: Season 5, Disc 3
STORY BY: Brad Wright & Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie
TELEPLAY BY: Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie
DIRECTED BY: Peter DeLuise
GUEST STARS: Willie Garson (Martin Lloyd), Michael DeLuise (Nick Marlowe / Colonel Danning), Peter DeLuise (Director), Jill Teed (Yolanda Reese / Stacy Monroe), Robert Lewis (Tanner), Benjamin Ratner (Studio Executive), Teryl Rothery (Dr. Janet Fraiser), Christian Bocher (Raymond Gunne / Dr. Levant), Don Thompson (Props Guy), Peter Flemming (Agent Malcolm Barrett), Herbert Duncanson (Douglas Anders / Grell), David Sinclair (Bill the A.D.), Kiara Hunter (Alien Princess), Mar Andersons (Bob), Laura Drummond (Security Guard), Keath Thome (Head SF)
A massive space ship in the outer solar system roars to life, and begins an approach toward Earth. The United States military picks it up while it's still a few days away, and discovers that the energy signature matches that of Martin Lloyd's escape pod ("Point of No Return"). It's up to SG-1 to find Martin and see what he knows about the ship and its intentions, knowing that his fellow aliens are hiding out somewhere on Earth.
The Air Force tracks down Martin, and the S.G.C. receives a surprising video tape – a preview for a television show based on SG-1 and the Stargate program. Nick Marlowe stars as "Colonel Danning" in Wormhole X-Treme!, which Martin sold to the studio and for which he is now the "creative consultant." But they decide not to shut it down in the interests of national security, since the existence of such a show gives the government plausible deniability about the existence of the S.G.C.
Jack O'Neill is appointed as the Air Force special advisor on the show, and heads straight for Martin's trailer on The Bridge Studios lot. He confronts the socially-inept man, believing that he sold them out by revealing the real Stargate program – although the show itself is an off-the-wall, accidentally comical farce.
But Martin doesn't remember him – in fact, he has no memory of his experience with O'Neill and the real-life Stargate one year ago. O'Neill suspects that Tanner and the others have drugged Marty again, and finds vitamins in his trailer that he sends off to be analyzed. Dr. Fraiser soon reports that they contain the same chemicals that Tanner and his men once used to suppress Martin's memory.
On the set of Wormhole X-Treme!, Jack watches as the flamboyant director tries to hold together a cast of hack actors who take themselves too seriously – especially Nick Marlowe, who plays O'Neill's counterpart. Every script seems to call for "Colonel Danning" to shoot up a room full of aliens, and always – always – get the girl.
The cast also includes Yolanda Reese as Major Stacey Monroe (a brilliant scientist), Raymond Gunne as Dr. Levant (Daniel Jackson's brainy counterpart), and Doug Anderson as Grell the robot (who never seems to get any dialogue).
Meanwhile, Sam Carter and Daniel Jackson monitor Martin's home. They find that he is being watched with electronic surveillance, and soon discover that one of Tanner's men (and an alien, like Martin) is working on the set of Wormhole X-Treme! They find out where he lives and wait for him to arrive, but when they break into his apartment he is nowhere to be found.
As the ship draws nearer to Earth, Teal'c serves doughnuts to the show's crew, and Jack confronts Martin with the truth. He tries to get him to remember their first meeting a year ago, and that Martin is from another planet. But Martin, longing for the power and prestige of television (where he still doesn't get any respect), thinks that O'Neill is pitching a story to him.
Martin is paged to an empty studio lot, and O'Neill follows. He thinks that the crew is just playing another joke on him – until Tanner and his men show up. They tie Jack and Martin to two chairs, and inject Marty with a drug that breaks down the memory block. He remembers everything, and realizes that he subconsciously pitched the real Stargate program as an idea for a TV show.
Carter and Jackson trace the men who have been watching Martin, and find an N.I.D. team hiding out in a local warehouse. The N.I.D. – a secret arm of the U.S. government, with whom the S.G.C. has had frequent troubles – knows that Martin is an alien, and have been waiting for just such an opportunity as this. When the powerful and advanced alien ship arrives, they will seize it.
Jack and Martin manage to get free, and head to the studio set to find the control device that Martin took from Tanner last year – which is necessary for gaining access to the ship, once it arrives. Since Martin didn't remember what it was, it's being used as a prop on the show. O'Neill gets his hands on it in between takes, but he and Martin are again cornered by Tanner and the others. They allowed Martin to get free, so that they could follow him to the control device.
The massive ship arrives overhead, and the cast and crew are stunned – but make sure to get it all on tape for the show! Tanner reveals that he and his men only wish to leave Earth – there is nothing for them there. The ship is on automatic, having been programmed to return for them as a back-up plan. With the N.I.D. closing in, O'Neill hands over the control device, and the men transport away.
Martin, though, has apparently found his calling in life. He remains on Earth, as the creative consultant for Wormhole X-Treme!
- Jack implies that the Air Force has knowledge of and control over television programming development. While the military cannot, in fact, shut down any program it wants to, it could have shut down Wormhole X-Treme! if it decided that the show violated national security – although such a move might have been an even greater security risk, implying to network and production employees that the show had some basis in fact.
- The trailer for Wormhole X-Treme! featured famous movie trailer voice-over artist Don LaFontaine.
- The Air Force allowed Wormhole X-Treme! to be produced for the sake of plausible deniability about the existence of the real Stargate program. Should anyone try to expose (or threaten to expose) the program again (a serious threat made by a reporter in Season Two's "Secrets"), it's easy for the government to point to this show as the source of the "false" information.
- Martin tells O'Neill that he isn't sure how exactly the studio got ahold of his idea. Perhaps it's a throw-away line, but it poses an interesting question. Was Martin's series proposal sent to the network by the N.I.D., or someone else trying to expose the Stargate program? Did the Air Force pass along the idea, looking for plausible deniability for the real Stargate program?
- "Steve Austin" – one of Tanner's men – gets out of his apartment without Sam and Daniel being able to figure out how. He probably got out using his species' transporter technology, which is how the three men get on board their ship at the end of the episode. The technology is apparently something they can take with them, and does not rely on the technology of the ship itself.
- The N.I.D. has had Martin Lloyd under surveillance, probably since his experience with the S.G.C. a year ago ("Point of No Return"). They were most likely motivated by the desire to find any alien technology he still possessed, or to locate Tanner and the others, should they ever choose to recontact Marty. (It seems a bit strange, then, that they would not have confiscated the alien device that Martin took from Tanner.)
- Agent Barrett tells Sam and Daniel that the N.I.D. has been given full authority over the investigation of Martin Lloyd. By whom? True, the authority of the S.G.C. does not go outside Cheyenne Mountain ("Desperate Measures") – but it was the Air Force that appointed O'Neill as advisor to the television show in order to make contact with Martin and find out what he knew about the approaching space craft. From whom does the N.I.D. get its orders, and to whom are they accountable?
- Tanner's willingness to blow up their alien escape pod ("Point of No Return") was probably influenced by the knowledge that they had a space craft waiting nearby, which would eventually return for them if things on Earth didn't go as planned.
- The prop master on Wormhole X-Treme! was working with the N.I.D. In fact, he was most likely an N.I.D. agent planted inside the crew, as O'Neill was planted (though less covertly) by the S.G.C.
- Tanner was fully aware that the N.I.D. was after them, and that they wanted to take possession of the alien craft. Perhaps he is extremely astute – or, perhaps they have had run-ins with the N.I.D. over the past year. Indeed, the N.I.D. may have been charged with the task of hunting down Tanner and his men after Martin helped to expose them.
- Tanner knows that they owe Colonel O'Neill a favor. Might they return one day to pay him back for letting them go? Their technology would no doubt be an asset in the war against the Goa'uld. It seems as though they would have a strong motivation for aiding in that cause, as the Goa'uld destroyed their own world.
Before this could happen, of course, Tanner and his men would need to overcome whatever it was that made them desert their own people during their war with the Goa'uld.
- Did the alien vessel once have a full crew? If Tanner, Martin and the others arrived in Earth's solar system without anyone else on board, it's entirely possible that they stole the vessel from their own military. It seems unlikely that such a large and advanced ship would operate with such a small crew.
Another explanation may be that the entire ship's crew deserted, and went to hide on other planets – or even on Earth.
- "Wormhole X-Treme!" is the 100th episode of Stargate SG-1, and the producers pulled out all the stops when it came to cameos and sci-fi "in jokes!" Here's a fairly complete list of jokes the episode made about SG-1, other shows, and the sci-fi genre in general:
- The props man wonders why every alien speaks English.
- Time is measured in different units, a la Battlestar Galactica. The alien princess tells Colonel Danning, "It's been many bleems ..." – a unit of time actually from Mork & Mindy.
- Martin volunteers that the first shot from a ray gun should stun, the second kill, and the third disintegrate – just as SG-1's zat guns operate.
- "It's continuity" ... something sci-fi fans are rabid about. If the alien bodies aren't where you left them in the last shot, we viewers will notice!
- Actress Yolanda Reese poses a classic question to Martin and the director: If Major Monroe is "out of phase" with normal matter, why doesn't she fall through the floor? Stargate fans have pondered the same question about Daniel Jackson's experience in "Crystal Skull."
- Martin suggests that matter can only travel one way through a wormhole – something he may have learned during his dealings with the real-life Stargate.
- Most cleverly, Martin's character is used to poke fun at this very episode of Stargate SG-1. When speaking about a show for which he doesn't have much respect, Marty tells O'Neill, "So what they got a hundred episodes!"
- O'Neill tells the woman at the security check point that an Air Force general is doing a guest spot on the show – a nod to real-life General Michael E. Ryan, who made a cameo appearance in Season Four's "Prodigy."
- One of Tanner's men works for the production studio, under the alias "Steve Austin" – the name of Lee Majors' lead character on The Six Million Dollar Man, of course.
- Yolanda Reese ("Major Monroe") complains about never getting to kiss anyone – something that rings true of Amanda Tapping ("Major Samantha Carter").
- "The real money is in syndication!" – where MGM will testify that Stargate SG-1 has been quite successful.
- Martin criticizes O'Neill that their situation is "the stupidest Act 4 opening ever." The line comes at the beginning of Act 4.
- When Martin's memory is restored, he realizes that he's threatened to expose the Stargate program with his TV show. O'Neill reassures him, "Don't worry – it's on cable." SG-1, of course, gets its first run on Showtime – a premium cable network.
- One of the N.I.D. agents is named "Agent Smith" – a possible nod to the plain-named villain in The Matrix.
- Grell has no lines whatsoever in the episode, just as fans have complained about the writers' side-lining of Teal'c in recent months. Not only that, but Dr. Levant and Major Monroe deliberately ask Grell his opinion in one scene – but just as he opens his mouth, he's interrupted by the alien space craft arriving overhead.
- Martin enthusiastically proclaims that they'll win an Emmy for the space ship's appearance – in the Visual Effects category. Not only are science fiction shows rarely nominated for other categories, but Stargate SG-1 itself has been nominated in this category (and only this category) several times (though the show has not won an Emmy to date).
- We're playing "Spot the Crew Member!" You can play along at home:
- The director is played by Peter DeLuise, veteran Stargate SG-1 director – who also happened to direct this episode. DeLuise is famous for getting cameo appearances in most of the episodes he directs.
- Nick Marlowe / Colonel Danning was played by Michael DeLuise – none other than the director's brother. (Father Dom DeLuise has also appeared on SG-1, as the title character in Season Three's "Urgo.")
- The writer on set (who Martin scolds with, "Go write something!") is played by Stargate SG-1 writer and executive producer Robert C. Cooper.
- The man trying to get a doughnut from Teal'c is SG-1 writer Joseph Mallozzi, who co-wrote this episode. The man beside him (in the pink shirt) is producer N. John Smith.
- As Martin and Jack walk outside toward the limousine, keep your eyes peeled for the two men who hop in and drive away. One is speaking on a cell phone – that's Stargate SG-1's newest writer / story editor, Ron Wilkerson. The other is MGM Television President Hank Cohen, who delivers the line, "What the show needs is a sexy female alien!" (Fans often bemoan the 3-episode guest appearance of actress Vanessa Angel as the Tok'ra Anise in early Season Four.)
- Veteran SG-1 director Martin Wood played one of the N.I.D. men.
- Herbert Duncanson, who plays "Grell the robot," is Christopher Judge's ("Teal'c") stand-in on the show.
- And who are those two random guys looking up at the space ship as the episode ends? It's none other than executive producer Michael Greenburg (with the longer hair) and executive producer / co-creator Brad Wright.
- The preview for Wormhole X-Treme! lists the principal cast as:
- Nick Marlowe as "the rock, Colonel Danning"
- Yolanda Reese as "the brilliant Major Stacy Monroe"
- Raymond Gunne as "Dr. Levant"
- Douglas Anders as "Grell the robot"
- Martin's original title for the series was Going to Other Planets.
- Will Wormhole X-Treme! make it on the air? What network will air it?
- How did the network get ahold of Martin's idea for the show?
- How did "Austin" get out of his apartment? Did he use transporter technology?
- Was SG-1 really set up by the N.I.D., as Carter surmises? Why?
- How long have Tanner, Martin and the others been on Earth? Their space craft has been hiding in the solar system, unmanned, for more than a year.
- Have Tanner and the others had previous dealings with the N.I.D.?
- What species is Martin, Tanner and his men? Are they humans, originally from Earth? How much of their technology remains, now that their world has been decimated by the Goa'uld?
- Where will Tanner and the others go?
- Will Wormhole X-Treme! be a hit? Will there be Web sites about it? Will fans examine every angle of every minutia of the show?!?
- Wormhole X-Treme! is filmed at Bridge Studios in Vancouver, British Columbia – the same place where Stargate SG-1 is filmed, of course.
- On production design documents for this episode, the faux pilot episode for Wormhole X-Treme! bore the title "Empire of the Dlu'aog." (That's "Goa'uld" spelled backwards.)
- Recognize actor Christian Bocher? He plays Raymond Gunne / Dr. Levant in this episode. But his first Stargate SG-1 roll was as Neumann, member of Colonel Maybourne's rogue offworld Stargate team in Season Three's "Shades of Grey."
- "It's going to be pretty special. One of a kind – where we truly intend to make fun of ourselves and share that fun with the fans." (Executive producer and co-creator Brad Wright, in an interview with Cult Times magazine)
- "[Willie Garson] is not a regular; he plays Marty. We're getting ready to start filming our 100th episode. Willie will be coming back. He's a very funny little man. Because he's so funny, I had the most fun with him." (Richard Dean Anderson, in a chat at the RTL2 Web site)
- "I promised a bunch of people, when we started this, that I would make sure we got to a hundred episodes and that we would be healthy when we got there. Well, we're here." (Brad Wright, in an interview with the Vancouver Sun)
- "Rather than do a heavy, expensive big episode like we normally would do, we did a show that was in fact something of a parody of ourselves, kind of a 'Galaxy Quest' version of Stargate SG-1. [It allows] one of the characters that we've already introduced ... to end up doing a parody television series of Stargate called Wormhole X-Treme! ... It's very funny. It is a balls-out comedy, as opposed to many of the episodes that we do." (Brad Wright, in an interview with Sci Fi Wire)
- "When we were writing it, we knew everyone was going to get their hands on this one. To me, it wasn't even so much a question of the pressure to be funny; but, since everybody had an idea [for the episode] anyway, I thought we'd just write 50 percent of it, and then everybody will come in with an idea for a gag. And that's what happened. Even when we were working on the outline, people were coming by and saying, 'You know, you should do this.' Everybody pitched ideas involving who they were on the show. It was a big collaboration, with a lot of stuff added to it."
"It was easy to do all of the spoof elements. It was having an actual Stargate story underneath all of the parody that was actually the hard part. But it had to be there, because otherwise the episode wouldn't mean anything." (Writer Paul Mullie, in an interview with Cinescape.com)
- "One of the best scenes not to make the cut: while SG-1 is watching the promo for Wormhole X-Treme!, there is one take where Teal'c bursts out laughing at the site of Grell on screen. Everyone at the table just turns and stares at him." (Writer Joseph Mallozzi, in a chat with the SG1 Fans club)
- "The lunch room scene was much different in the first draft. O'Neill approaches and picks up a sandwich off the tray. Teal'c says, 'O'Neill, your selection is nothing but empty calories. I suggest the tuna fish.' Jack takes the tuna fish and asks, 'How's it going?' Teal'c: 'I was berated for failing to put mustard on the sandwiches.' Jack: 'Well, that's show business.' I approach and ask: 'Where's the doughnuts?' Teal'c: 'The producers consumed them. None remain.'" (Writer Joseph Mallozzi, in a chat with the SG1 Fans club)
- "Also, we got a friendly dig in at [Star Trek:] Voyager, which was also cut from the first draft. ... It also included a reference to the whole Sam/Jack relationship." (Writer Joseph Mallozzi, in a chat with the SG1 Fans club)
- "Some day I'm going to write up at addendum for 'Wormhole X-Treme!' so all the fans can get the in-jokes. All those dead aliens were a direct reference to 'The Fifth Man' in which Jack kills off about a hundred Jaffa. We were all sitting there watching the final poignant scene and there's our team stepping through bodies to get to the gate! We had to edit the scene in such a way so as to not see most of the bodies." (Writer Joseph Mallozzi, in a chat with the Sam/Jack Horsewomen)
- Co-writer Paul Mullie "is also notoriously shy. When we shot 'Wormhole X-Treme!', he was the only one who refused to do a cameo." (Writer/producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at Our Stargate)
- "Oh, boy, where to begin? Over the years, I've referenced the multitude of in-jokes in this episodes, from the red spray-painted kiwis (a dig at director Peter DeLuise who used those very alien-looking fruit in 'Beneath the Surface') to Hank Cohen's cameo as a studio executive who suggests the show needs ... 'You know what this show needs is a sexy female alien!' (Art imitating life). There's our faux TV hero trying to negotiate a veritable minefield of corpses (a call back to 'The Fifth Man'), someone ridiculing the 'one shot stuns, two shots kills, three shots disintegrates' abilities of the alien weapon (hello, zat guns), further ridiculing of doing an episode involving 'out of phase' physics (we did plenty), another character's assertion that they'll surely win an Emmy ... for visual effects (the best any sci-fi show can hope for), and much, much more.
"The part of Grell, the Teal'c clone, was actually played by Chris Judge's stand-in, Herbert, while the episode offered a host of cameos from behind-the-scenes personnel including a much heavier yours truly who demands to know 'Hey, what happened to all the doughnuts?!' I recall director Peter DeLuise making me do three takes, directing me: 'You're hungry! You want some doughnuts! But there are none! You're really hungry!' then 'No doughnuts and you're REALLY hungry!' and then: 'Okay! REALLY HUNGRY!' The day that scene was shot, I found my wardrobe awaiting me in the office: a lime green shirt and a pair of atrocious lime green plants. I wore the shirt but passed on the pants. Apparently, our costume designer did not take the news well. 'Writers,' she apparently muttered with a roll of her eyes.
"I would love to dig up the outtakes and extra footage on this one. One scene that ended up on the cutting room floor involved the character of Teal'c. SG-1 and Hammond are watching the Wormhole X-Treme! trailer at which point we do a PAN OFF the screen, across the briefing room table to Teal'c laughing uproariously and enjoying the hell out of the show – much to the bewilderment of his fellow team members." (Writer/producer Joseph Mallozzi, in a post at his blog)