Well, we had our first notes session of the season with SciFi the other day and I’ll admit to having been a tad nervous going in. There was the typical anxiety that accompanies every notes sessions (Will they love it? Will they hate it? Will they be ambivalent and wander off part-way through the conference call, leaving us to prattle on aimlessly to fill the uncomfortable silence until we realize there is no one on the other end?), and then there was the anxiety that comes with the introduction of a new player. We, at Stargate, were spoiled for many years. We had developed a terrific working relationship with Nora O’Brien, and when we received word at the end of last season that she was moving over to NBC, we were a) incredibly happy for her and, b) incredibly worried for us. But those initial concerns were assuaged with our introduction to SciFi’s new VP of development, Chris Sanagustin. Over the course of my conversations with Chris in the months leading up to start of Atlantis‘s fifth season, I found her to be intelligent, professional, witty and, bottom line, a genuinely nice person. All well and good – but what kind of notes could we expect from her? Would she nitpick the scripts, expressing her disapproval of everything from the episode title to our reckless use of the Times New Roman script font? Would she offer broad, cryptic comments like “Funny?” and “The end of Act Four feels…I don’t know…inorganic.”. Or would she, as a newcomer to the show, require an in-depth crash-course in Stargate 101 that would have us on the phone until the middle of next week?
I’m pleased to report: none of the above. In short, the call went very, very, very well. Sure, there were plenty of notes (it took us a little over two hours to cover all three scripts), some big, some small, but there was never a time during the phone conversation when Paul, Martin or I exchanged the time-honored “WTF?” looks or even came close to breaking down in tears (We all know how sensitive Martin is). Not once! Chris’s input was smart, constructive and, no doubt, will go a long way toward making the episodes that much better. Also in on Wednesday’s call were Deb Curtis from Sony and, on the SciFi side, walking SF encyclopedia Claire Sharood, and executive VP of original programming Mark Stern. Now Mark is a guy who often bears the brunt of much of the fan anger whenever those ubiquitous letter-writing campaigns kicks into high gear. They killed off Beckett! It’s Mark Stern’s fault! They repainted the Atlantis gate room! It’s Mark Stern’s fault! My feet hurt! It’s Mark Stern’s fault! With no way of knowing what goes on behind the scenes, I suppose fans are always inclined to target the network as the bad guy – which is really a little short-sighted and unfair. In truth, Mark has been a big advocate of the show and his input and support have been instrumental in Atlantis’s continuing success, not to mention much-appreciated by the production. Oh, and just so you know, once that press release comes out on Monday – Mark played a big part in ensuring a certain character’s return to the ranks of the recurring.
On the subject of Stargate Atlantis – a lot of you have commented and left questions about Amanda Tapping’s new project: Sanctuary. Were we surprised by the decision? How do we feel about said decision? How will this decision affect Atlantis? Well, we at Stargate have always supported our large, extended family – both on the set of our show and off. We realize that Amanda was faced with a very difficult decision and respect her desire to strike out on her own. A lot of the people involved in the Sanctuary project are Stargate alumni, and we sincerely wish them nothing but the best. As stated in the SciFi press release, Amanda will guest star on Atlantis’s fifth season – but the exact number of appearances by Colonel Carter will be wholly dependant on Amanda’s availability and the types of stories we have in the works. Still, Carter will be one of a number of familiar faces that will be popping up in the Pegasus Galaxy in season 5 – including a new commander. Remember way back, when I said we had considered a handful of possible candidates for the command position at the beginning of season 4? Well this person made that short list then, and we’re VERY excited about his/her/its(?) addition to our cast of regulars. As for who it is and what other little surprises we have in store…head on over to the SciFi site Monday morning and start refreshing.
Finally, at the end of season 4, assistant props master Sean McGee was kind enough to make me a copy of some of the snaps he took of Atlantis’s fourth season finale. Check ’em out and thank Sean the next time you see him.
Mailbag returns tomorrow – along with Baron Destructo and Cookie Monster who will be stopping by with their Superbowl predictions.