I was perusing the internet this weekend when I came across the news that Stargate Show Runner Robert C. Cooper would be leaving the franchise after losing a bet to his Exec. Producer Assistant, Ashleigh, and that he was to be replaced by the Stargate Production Office Mascot, Kerwin the chimp, who is rumored to have ghost-written several of his finer episodes. Well, I didn’t believe a word of it, until I came across this – http://www.gateworld.net/news/2010/06/cooper-talks-stargate-departure/ – which pretty much confirms it. After fourteen wonderful years, Rob is stepping away and I speak for everyone when I say that we’ll miss his sense of humor, his master spinning skills, and his patented Rob Cooper buddy hugs.
“So, what’s next for Rob?”you undoubtedly ask.
And “How the hell should I know?”I respond. “Why don’t you ask him yourself?”
While many of us will look forward to his new projects (off the record, I’ve heard word of a beatbox album), just as many of us will look back fondly on his innumerable contributions to the Stargate franchise. Thus, I’ve dedicated today’s blog entry to My Rob Cooper Top Ten, my ten favorite episodes scripted by the man over his 330+ episode run. For purposes of this particular list, I’ve only included episodes for which he is the sole credited writer. So, although Rising and Air I, II, and III were terrific, they weren’t considered for this rundown. Similarly, scripts which he wrote (actually “rewrote”) but which have been credited to other writers were not considered either (which, quite frankly, is a shame because I can think of at least two that would have definitely made this list).
Anyway, here it is. My Rob Cooper Top Ten!
10. Sateda (Stargate: Atlantis, Season 3)
Runner introduced the Ronon Dex character in fun, fine fashion, but it was Sateda that truly fleshed him out, offering up glimpses of his backstory, suggestions of a painful past, fast and furious action, and that crazy goggle-wearing wraith (because 8:00 to 9:00 is wraith free swim, y’know!).
A powerful and thought-provoking two-parter with a shocker of an ending no one saw coming, least of all Stargate Command’s longtime CMO Dr. Janet Fraiser, killed by an errant staff blast. A sobering reminder of the dangers our heroes face every time they step through the gate.
Another touching send-off as Stargate bids farewell (albeit a temporary one) to its beloved Daniel Jackson. His friends say their goodbyes, his squiddly essence departs, and we’re treated to one of the most heart-rending scenes in SG-1 history as Daniel steps through the gate one last time.
Nicholas Rush’s bittersweet reunion with the love of his life is at turns poignant, maddening, and thoroughly enthralling. Its stark, desaturated visuals offer the perfect compliment to the good doctor’s melancholy memories.
An episode that perfectly captures the essence of Stargate: exploration, discovery, friendship, and humanity’s potential for greatness.
In contrast to Human’s muted style, this is an episode that draws its visual inspiration from CSI’s cool blue tones, delivering some colorful eye candy in a rocking AU procedural pitting grizzled detective John Sheppard against a serial killer unlike any other. It also boasts some atypical (to Stargate) but spot-on song choices, from the wraith prepping to Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People” to Sheppard’s final exit to Johnny Cash’s “Solitary Man”.
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4. Aftermath (Stargate: Universe, Season 2)
The best laid plans of mice and men… Things come apart in a big way, and our heroes are left to pick up the pieces. Gut-wrenching.
3. Unending (Stargate: SG-1, Season 10)
Fans bid the show a fond farewell in a wonderful time-travel episode that explores the lives and loves of our favorite characters, suggesting what could have been and what may still may be, yet assuring us that despite it all SG-1 will still be out there, exploring, adventuring, and keeping the galaxy safe.
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2. Malice (Stargate: Universe, Season 2)
They say that vengeance is a dish best served cold, but this episode makes a great case for serving it hot – as in the scorching environs of an alien world where a deadly game of cat and mouse plays itself out.
A trippy time-travel story with something for everyone: creepy aliens, grisly deaths, character revelations, and my favorite ending to a Stargate episode since Tealc’s accidental attendance of The Vagina Monologues.
Loren Fay writes: “How do you know all of these awesomely amazing SGU actors?”
Answer: I friended them on facebook.
NarellefromAus writes: “How did you get your reading mojo back?”
Answer: I finally read a really good book.
Jon writes: “How did you land your first staff gig, and how did you make the progression into full-time teevee?”
Answer: Started writing for animation, then made the leap to teen sitcoms, then from there to one hour syndicated action drama and, finally, to Stargate…where I’ve been for the past 12 years.
dasNdanger writes: “I know you said before that you don’t do any gardening…but do you at least grow herbs?”
Answer: In fact, I do – thyme, oregano, rosemary, and chives.
bookal writes: “How hard is it to potentially end a series without knowing if will be picked up for a second season?”
Answer: We don’t worry about it. We have a five year plan.
Becky writes: “Joe, I’m a fan of science fiction classics, and have had a hard time wrapping my mind around more modern works. I have read and re-read practically everything written by Frank Herbert and Isaac Asimov – and while it’s fun to find new things in old friends, I’m looking to expand into something more contemporary. Any suggestions?”
Answer: Old Man’s War or The Android’s Dream, both by John Scalzi.
jinx writes: “One of my favorite characters on the show is Sgt Greer played by Jamille Walker Smith. Needless to say I would rate the Lost episode tops as Greer’s back story and Jamille’s portrayal was on point. Will we see more of this character’s story and will you feature Jamille in one of your up and coming mailbags?”
Answer: Yes to more of his story provided he survives the events of our first season finale. As for a Q&A – I’ve already gathered questions and sent them his way. Just waiting for his responses.
MrsB writes: “Will the Varro/TJ storyline develop more next season? And moreso a Varro/TJ/Young storyline?”
DP writes: “Who is this person doing the “speak no evil” pose in your car damage photos? Why does she wear a winter coat?”
Answer: Hey, now that you mention it, that IS the same person in both shots. Weird.
Luis writes: “You headed to San Diego yet???…Comic Con???”
Answer: Not this year. 🙁