My favorites and in no particular order…
10. Blue Jello
The blue jello predates my involvement with the show. By the time Paul and I joined SG-1 in its fourth season, the gelatin was already de rigueur in most every mess scene, eventually, finding its way to Atlantis as well. So what’s the deal? Search me. I seem to remember someone saying it was simply something the prop department whipped up one day that stood out, both for its neon properties and sheer ridiculousness, quickly becoming a comically beloved visual staple.
9. O’Neill’s obsession with The Simpsons
O’Neill was full of Simpsons references and an admitted fan. Why? Well, because most of the show’s writers were fans as well, although nowhere near as huge a fan as Richard Dean Anderson. How big a fan was he? So big that he attended the table reading of a Simpsons episode and was totally blown away by the experience. Occasionally, he would even bring his daughter by my office to check out the various Simpsons-related dioramas and action figures that bedecked my shelf. Eventually, actor Dan Castellanetta guested on the show (Citizen Joe) and he and Rick hit it off. They had a great time working together and, months later, Dan showed his appreciation by writing a Stargate/RDA-themed Simpsons episode to which Rick lent his voice talents.
If you’re watching Stargate and ever happen to catch sight of a pineapple, there’s a good chance the episode you’re viewing was directed by long-time Stargate director Will Waring. The pineapples were his signature visual. More often than not, however, the fruit were so carefully camouflaged, most viewers would be hard-pressed to notice them. Still, there’s plenty of fun to be had in trying. I once asked Will “Why pineapples?” and he told me that on one of his first productions, he was camera operator on a scene involving a high speed chase. For some reason, he put a pineapple in the car’s back window as a gag – and then forgot to remove it for the actual shoot. As a result, for the entire high-octane chase sequence, there’s a pineapple clearly rattling around in the back window of our protagonist’s car. Nobody noticed – until the dailies. The director was livid and was prepared to fire Will – but the producer LOVED the pineapple gag. Will got to keep his job – and the signature pineapple was born.
7. The Big Wrench
Where Will Waring had his pineapples, director Martin Wood had his big wrench. You’ll often spot it in the background, in the hands of Martin’s buddy and Stargate SG-1 Fight Coordinator Dan Shea, as he makes adjustments to equipment or simply walks around with this huge, oversized calling card. Every once in a while, Martin would get into the big wrench background action as well, donning the persona of his onscreen alter-ego, Major Wood.
6. Peter DeLuise’s Hitchockian touch
Whereas Will had the pineapples and Martin had the big wrench, director Peter DeLuise had…Peter DeLuise. Before he was a director, Peter was an actor, and so it was only natural that he’d take a page out of Hitchcock’s book and make himself his own visual signature. He appeared as a host of background characters and even played the part of the young Urgo opposite his father Dom. Even in the most challenging of episodes, Peter found a way to make his trademark appearance. Once, we thought he’d missed his cameo – only to discover he’d found an ingenious way to make a subtle appearance. In one scene, as Teal’c sits in his darkened room, deep in meditation, we pull back to reveal he is surrounded by candles – several of which are assembled to spell out the initial “PDL”.
5. Jonas’s voracious appetite
Actors have their trademark “bits” as well and, for Jonas, it was food. Whether it was buttered toast in Night Walkers or the infamous banana scene in Descent (which, incidentally, ran about three minutes long in the director’s cut), he was always snacking. But he crossed the line in one episode where he showed up in the gate room sipping tea from a mug and had to be reminded – the tea mug was another actor’s trademark “bit” (see below).
Every once in a while, whenever Carter tried to explain some scientific or technological wonder, Jack would try to tie it back to magnets. What was the deal with O’Neill and magnets? Well, this one was compliments of Creator/Exec Producer Brad Wright who once had someone pitch him some ridiculous scientific theory. When a dubious Brad asked him to clarify the faulty science, the other individual shrugged and offered: “Magnets?”. It eventually became the stock response to every befuddling question of logic.
3. The Wizard of Oz
This was another running joke that predated my involvement in the production but SG-1 was peppered with references throughout its ten-year run, culminating in the Wizard of Oz sight gag from the show’s 200th episode (200). Of course, by that point in the series run, the line-up had changed, offering a slightly altered version of the originals: Carter as Dorothy, Daniel as the cowardly lion, Teal’c as the tin man, and, of course, Jack as the scarecrow.
If there is one word that perhaps appears in more episodes of Stargate than any other (beside, maybe, “stargate”), it’s “Indeed”, Teal’c’s short and sweet one-word response to most anything he is asked – and sometimes not. Actor Chris Judge even took to inserting the odd “Indeed” on occasions where it hadn’t even been scripted. I knew we’d reached the point of no return when, while watching dailies one day, we watched as as someone asked Teal’c: “Have you seen him?” to which Teal’c replied: “Indeeed – I have not.”
1. What the hell is in O’Neill’s cup?
Seriously. This one is fairly subtle but after noticing it for the first time, I caught countless more. Whenever Jack has a cup or mug in his hand there will come a point in the scene where he’ll glance down, frown, and then attempt to pluck some mysterious foreign object out of his drink. Watch for it!