It’s a little like choosing between two people you happen to be dating. When you’re with one, all thoughts of the other are instantly forgotten and the decision seems pretty simple. But when you’re with the other, it’s just the opposite. Well, I made my decision nine years ago when I moved to Vancouver and, while I certainly don’t regret it while I’m there, it’s easy to miss Montreal whenever I come back into town. No matter how many things change since the last time I was, there’s always that overwhelming sense of familiarity that makes it so easy to settle back in and consider the possibilities. If and when Stargate ends, will I choose to remain in Vancouver? Will I return to my hometown? Or will I try my luck in L.A.? I suspect that opportunity will pretty much dictate my decision.
Steady work is tough prospect in an industry where most shows don’t make it past their first season. There’s no doubt I’ve been very fortunate landing a position on one of the most successful franchises in television history. Paul and I joined SG-1 in its fourth season with the understanding that the show would end with its fifth season on Showtime, having attained its golden 100 episode milestone for syndication. But SG-1 was atypical of most shows. Rather than end, it moved – over to the SciFi Channel where the show, in its sixth season, proved a tremendous hit for the network. Immediately establishing itself as one of SciFi’s tentpole shows as part of its SciFi Friday line-up, SG-1 went another four seasons, spinning off a sister series, Atlantis, before finally concluding its run with a full ten seasons and over 200 episodes produced.
SG-1 lives on in long-form, DVD features that have outperformed expectations and have, in turn, assured future movies, while Atlantis has chugged along and, with the conclusion of its fifth season, attains that golden 100 episode milestone. Waiting in the wings is Stargate: Universe, the third entry in the hugely successful franchise that should inevitably make its way to the small screen sooner than later. Will it ever end? The franchise? Not likely for a long time. The individual shows? Eventually, sure.
So what does this mean for Atlantis as its fifth season premiere approaches? Can it go 10 seasons like it‘s big brother? To be perfectly honest – it’s highly unlikely. It was a perfect storm of events (let’s call it a pleasant Summer squall) that came together to grant SG-1 an unheard of 10 season run: the timing of the move to SciFi, the performance of the first-run episodes, the performance of the repeat block, the performance of the show on DVD, among numerous other variables. Sure, some of those elements are in play for Atlantis but as a show moves past its fifth season, the odds are stacked against it. Ultimately, it comes down to the numbers – less the ratings and more the bottom line. The longer a show is on the air, the more expensive it is to produce. Throw in the resurgence of the Canadian dollar, once pegged at 63 cents to the U.S. greenback, it now hovers at par, an approximate 37 cent bump which adds a significant hit to the production budget.
And yet who knows what the future holds. WE certainly didn‘t nine years ago when we expected production on SG-1 to conclude after it‘s fifth season. But if and when Atlantis does come to an end, I don’t think it should be cause for anger or resentment. Both MGM and SciFi have been great supporters of the show and, if you go by SG-1’s example, fans can be assured that the end of the series will not be the end of Atlantis. Like SG-1, it will live on in longer form dvd releases.
And what will that mean for me personally? To be honest, I don’t know. I’ve always said that one of the best things about working on this franchise (beside the catering) is the people. Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis can probably put faces to some of the names that flash by onscreen whenever Stargate airs. Brad Wright, Robert C. Cooper, Paul Mullie, Carl Binder, Martin Gero, Alan McCullough – individuals I’ve spent more time with over the past few years than even my wife. It’s tough to imagine a Monday when I won’t come into the office to catch-up on the weekend highlights with these guys, my second family, or sit through a concept meeting where I’ll decide the gate should shut down off-screen, or swing by our post facilities to approve an insert shot of someone standing somewhere holding something. But all good things do come to an end.
And, at the end of the day, like I said, I’ve been luckier than most.