Over the course of my 11+ years on the Stargate franchise, I heard my fair share of freelance pitches – some of them good, most of them fine but not quite what we were looking for, and a few of them truly horrible. In the first case, kudos to those writers who were able to step up, well into the franchise’s run, take into into account Stargate’s immense mythology, and come up with an engaging, original idea that hadn’t been done yet (by us or Star Trek). In the second case, thanks for trying and, while it didn’t work out, we fully appreciate that coming up with an original idea for this series is a daunting task. In the third case, what the hell were you thinking?
What follows are some of my favorite from the latter category. Worst. Pitches. Ever!
1. Tee-alc gets separated from the rest of sgi while on an off-world mission. When O’Neil, Daniel, and Carter step through the gate, they end up trapped in another dimension where they must try to avert a nuclear showdown between India and Pakistan.
* Dude, seriously. If you’re going to pitch for our show, do us the courtesy of at least watching an episode. sgi? Tee-alc? Another dimension? Indian and Pakistan?
2. SG-1 visits a barren world, seemingly devoid of life. While investigating the ruins of a long-dead civilization, the team is captured by a race of subterranean-dwelling humans obsessed with Earth’s pop culture. Their captors are a bizarre mix of cowboys, gangsters, and guys in Beatle wigs.
* This pitch might have worked for Star Trek. Fifty years ago. Maybe. But probably not.
3. The sequel to A Hundred Days.
* Great idea, but suggesting you want to do a sequel (with no tangible idea outside of the fact that you simply think it would be a great idea in the most general sense) to an episode you didn’t write in the first place isn’t going to land you that writing gig.
4. One by one, members of the Atlantis expedition begin to pop out of existence. Where do they disappear to? What is happening? No idea.
* It’s all about set-up and pay-offs. Anyone can come up with the intriguing mystery. Coming up with the solution is, as Martin Gero informed the prospective writer: “What we pay you for.”
5. Carter is kidnapped by a race of men who require her for breeding purposes.
* Curiously, we’d get a variation of the “Gangbang Carter” pitch every season or so.
6. Teal’c is captured and forced to take part in a blood sport arena combat…to the death!
* Ah, the good old arena episode. It never gets old. Apparently.
7. SG-1 are the victims of a heist. Their attempt to track down the powerful stolen artifact takes them to space stations, Star Wars-like alien cantinas, and a dangerous trek across a dessert planet, culminating in a confrontation with a powerful army.
* Yep, the budget for the entire season should just about cover the costs of this epic story. If this one was ever produced, the ensuing episodes would have had to be radio plays.
I’m sure that this sort of thing isn’t confined to film and television. I’m sure you’ve all been privy to your fair share of truly terrible ideas. So let’s hear ’em!