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Military Integral to 'Stargate' Success

27 Jul, 2007 By: John Latchem

Stargate: Continuum cast and crew members at a U.S. Navy base near the North Pole.

SAN DIEGO — In looking back at 10 years of 'Stargate SG-1,' cast and crew members at Comic-Con expressed their gratitude to the United States military for really lending an air of authenticity to what otherwise would be just another silly science-fiction show.

“We've had a relationship with the Air Force from the beginning on ‘SG-1,’ said executive producer Robert C. Cooper. “Many times they have given us equipment and flown airplanes up to Vancouver so we could use them in filming.”

That relationship continues in the two “Stargate” direct-to-video follow-up movies: The Ark of Truth hits in spring 2008 and Continuum is due in fall 2008. Continuum features scenes filmed at the U.S. Navy's Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station in the arctic.

“We also benefit from the rivalry between the different branches,” said Amanda Tapping, who plays Col. Carter. “The Air Force lets us borrow some planes, so the Navy says ‘OK. We'll crash a nuclear submarine through the polar ice for you.’

To maintain a sense of proper military protocol, ‘SG-1' scripts were vetted through the Pentagon.

One episode, for example, featured an alternate reality in which two of the series regulars were married. When the military balked at the idea of two officers kissing, one of the characters was made a doctor instead.

Another episode depicted aliens taking over the fictional Stargate Command control center.

“The military advisors said that would not happen,” Cooper said. “We asked if they meant the military would never allow aliens to take over the base with the Stargate. They said ‘Yes. That would never happen.’

Tapping said she was grateful to the military for helping her grow into her character.

“We had a lot of female military advisors over the years, and that's been a huge help to me,” Tapping said. “They've always been available to go in and ask questions.”

Martin Wood, who directed Continuum, described taking a visit to shoot stock footage at Cheyenne Mountain, where Stargate Command is headquartered on the show, and a general told him that those who take the tour always ask about the Stargate.

“He showed me a door that was marked ‘Stargate Command,’ Wood recalls. “I asked him what was behind the door, and he told me some brooms and a little bit of detergent.”

The show became so popular among the military that two different Air Force chiefs of staff made guest appearances as themselves.

Stargate SG-1: The Complete Series hits shelves Oct. 9 at $299.98 from MGM and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Tapping says the sense of military involvement is less pronounced on the spinoff series “Stargate Atlantis.” Tapping joins the cast as the mission commander for the upcoming fourth season.

“I don't feel it as strongly on ‘Atlantis' as it was on ‘SG-1,' but ‘SG-1' was set at a military base,” Tapping said. “The Pegasus galaxy is a lot more political.

“Atlantis lives and breathes by its own set of rules, so the protocol is a lot more lax than it is on ‘SG-1.’

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