Actor Richard Dean Anderson revealed the demand he made on the set of Stargate SG-1 that made the show such a success. As diva-esque as that might sound, it is not actually the kind of demand you might expect from a man who has been a TV star for decades now. On the Conversations in Sci-Fi podcast, Anderson told former Stargate SG-1 producer Brad Wright that he simply demanded that everyone working on the show be having a good time. While this seems a particularly optimistic hope for a busy television production, it appears to have worked for the long running franchise. And as Anderson put it, if it has to be brain surgery to get everything working correctly, it might as well be a happy brain surgery.
As a franchise, Stargate has come a long way. While Richard Dean Anderson’s character of Colonel Jack O’Neill is the most consistent part of the franchise as a whole, he was not originally part of it. The 1994 Roland Emmerich-directed film Stargate starred Kurt Russell as a slightly-different characterization of Colonel Jack O’Neil (sic), which can mostly be described as “grimly expressionless.” When Anderson came on board, the character transformed into more of a wry, human take that suited the erstwhile MacGyver a bit more. The Stargate SG-1 series originally premiered on the Showtime network and moved to Syfy at its fifth season. It would eventually last for 10 seasons and spin-off several more shows, including Stargate: Atlantis and Stargate Universe. Remarkably, the continuity and basic themes of the show stayed relatively consistent over the years, even as actors came and went and new shows premiered.
But like any good science fiction series, Stargate has become as much part of culture as a series of shows. Aside from the original film and the TV series, there have been a slew of direct to DVD movies, books, web-series and an upcoming book of scholarly essays. Pretty good for a series that originally asked the question, “what if Ancient Aliens were an action movie that starred James Spader?” While there have been persistent discussions of a revival of the franchise for a fourth TV series, apparently Covid-19 concerns have slowed production for some time. The aforementioned producer Brad Wright has confirmed that any new series would involve a continuation of the original continuity of the franchise, rather than a full on reboot.
All in all, a lot of success for a film that was a financial disappointment on first release. Two of the original writers in the franchise, Dean Devlin (who co-wrote the original film with Roland Emmerich) and Jonathan Glassner (who wrote extensively on the TV series), have partnered to work on an original new series for Syfy called The Ark. While there is no particular reason to expect that Richard Dean Anderson might show up on that series (which follows a desperate colony ship in a dystopian future), anything seems possible. And after all, it does appear like working with Anderson is a pretty funny thing to do (at least according to him).