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Throwback Thursday - Stargate SG-1 - Episode 2x21 - 1969

Throwback Thursday is a weekly article in which we look back at our favorite TV episodes from the past.

If ever there was proof that great television stands the test of time, Stargate SG-1 is the sci-fi prime example. The stories of the SG-1 team traveling through wormholes to explore other worlds and defend Earth from alien threats ran for 10 seasons and spawned an animated spin-off, Stargate: Infinity and two live action spin offs, Stargate: Atlantis, and Stargate: Universe . The show and its stars continue to entertain fans today. Early on, the SG-1 universe set itself apart with its imagination, spot on casting, great writing and ground breaking effects. It’s hard to believe that one of the most popular episodes of the series aired nearly 22 years ago (March 5, 1999) to the day of the day this article is published.
The first of its two unique time traveling episodes filled with Stargate twists, 1969 was a second season standout and different in tone from other episodes. The SG-1 finds itself transported by to Earth in 1969 by a solar flare, the resulting episode is their attempt to find their way back home thanks to the younger versions of some especially important characters in their lives, a certain Lt. George Hammond (Aaron Paul), and though she didn’t know it yet, Stargate expert Catherine Langford (Glynis Davies). Despite the urgency of locating a way home, tied to another solar flare, the episode has light-hearted touches of the team struggling with their reactions to the counterparts to people they admire and respect, and fitting in with the times.
It is a well-crafted, beautifully written, and masterfully performed episode, touching in one way or another on the important issues or events of that time. From the moon-landing, to Richard Nixon, the Sharon Tate murders, the little concert in upstate New York they refer to, (Woodstock for those too young to remember), segregation and the Viet Nam war, most of the major impacts of the year 1969 are included or addressed in the episode. The actors appeared to be enjoying this different type of adventure. Instead of a wormhole, the SG-1 team finds itself traveling across country in a psychedelic painted bus with a young couple on their way for one last blast at that “little” concert before the young man the meet must decide is, he’s going to run away to Canada to avoid the draft. To blend in they must dress to fit the times which ends up with some of the show’s most creative costumes, including Richard Dean Anderson’s, Jack O’Neill, sporting almost James Dean/Fonzie black leather jacket look, and Christopher Judge’s Teal’c’s wig and flowing pink scarf to cover his mark.
The episode gave Anderson a chance to shine in moments with O’Neill’s self-deprecating humor by using the fictitious names of Captain James T. Kirk, and Luke Skywalker when they were first questioned by the Air Force. As only O’Neill could he found a way to flaunt authority by using names, using names of popular sci-fi icons was Anderson’s wink and nod at the loyal fanbase. There was also a bit of humor in the late Don S. Davis’ General Hammond, reminding O’Neill that the interest on the money he borrowed from him in 1969 had compounded quite a bit on their return. The show also paid great respect to its history when after the team finds a way to get home, misses the mark and ends up far in the future, where they encounter an older version of their beloved orphan and charge, Cassandra (Pamela Perry), who finally sends them home with the message that their adventure is just beginning.
Kudos also to the casting department in their choices for the younger Hammond and Langford counter parts. Though being a bit taller, Paul nailed the mannerisms and speech patterns of the older Hammond perfectly and having the plot rely on the younger Hammond believing a message sent to him from his older self was inspired. Davies matched the dignity and speech rhythm of her older counterpart, the wonderful Elizabeth Hoffman.
The use of the solar flares affecting Stargate travel so expertly used in 1969 played an integral part to the plot of the outstanding sequel to this episode 2010 (4x16) which aired in 2001. Time travel is indeed a staple sci-fi trope but every now and then a show like Stargate: SG1 takes its own unusual twist to telling it in a new fashion. That, the writing, the acting and the way the entire 1969 is crafted are the main reasons that both the show and the episode still stand as exemplary samples of sci-fi that stand the test of time. What are your thoughts about Stargate: SG1 and 1969? Leave your comments below.