Over the course of my 11+ years on Stargate, I have almost always been surprised by the annual pick-up/cancellation announcements. I was shocked to hear that we’d be doing a sixth season of SG-1, then stunned by the announcement that we would be coming back for a seventh. I was astounded to learn SG-1 would be doing an eight year, gobsmacked to find out we’d doing a ninth, then utterly flabbergasted by the news that there would be a tenth. Finally, by that tenth season, I’d grown so accustomed to being surprised that I figured there was no way I could ever be taken unawares again. An eleventh season was unheard of but, given our situation – the fact that both SG-1 and Atlantis benefited tremendously from the dual production scenario – it was not all that unlikely. And, the more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that we WOULD be coming back.
Of course, we ended up being cancelled and, like previous years, I was surprised – but this time, not in a good way.
In the case of Stargate: Atlantis, I wasn’t at all sure we’d be coming back for that fifth season and, when we finally received word, I was not so much surprised as I was relieved. Having said all that, I was somewhat more confident about a sixth season pick-up. Why? Because, again, I was relying on logic (in hindsight, a big mistake). IF the franchise were to end with Atlantis, then season five would have assuredly been its last. From a financial bottom line, it didn’t make sense to produce a sixth season. UNLESS it served to keep the franchise alive while a new series was in the works. OR, like SG-1 before it, helped build support for the new spinoff by acting as its lead-in. Now THAT would have made sense.
But alas, as I discovered when SG-1 season eleven failed to materialize, a lot of the times, you shouldn’t count on things making sense.
As most of you may be aware by now, Atlantis was cancelled after its fifth season and production on Stargate: Universe commenced. What I found particularly ironic at the time was the assertion by some that Universe had killed Atlantis and that if SGU hadn’t come along, we’d no doubt be moving forward on a sixth season of SGA (and beyond). The opposite is true. At the time, SGU made it more likely for Atlantis to come back and, when it didn’t – well, I was surprised.
The second season pick-up of Stargate: Universe was a foregone conclusion once we hit the rating average required for the second year component of the deal to kick in. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about a third season pick-up. The show’s ratings started to falter and, in a bid to boost viewership, the decision was made to move Universe to Tuesday nights. Granted, other SyFy shows had done quite well on Tuesday nights – but that was during the summer, not the more competitive fall. Interestingly, SGU was originally scheduled to air in the summer but moved before its premiere.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Like our show. And, yet again, I was surprised.
So what happened? How the hell could I have possibly been surprised this time? Well, I was surprised because I honestly thought we’d be back. Several individuals either strongly hinted or outright assured us as much (scenarios included returning with a lower budget and/or the understanding that it would be our final season). And so, rather than bemoan the show’s fate, I looked forward to the opportunity to go that third and final season where we would be afforded the opportunity to wrap up our story in spectacular fashion. We started discussing potential scenarios, character developments…
And then we received word that we had been cancelled. End of discussion. We were done.
Some claimed they weren’t that surprised by the news. But me? Yes, one last time – really, really surprised.
All this to say that, this week, Stargate: Universe ends in a heartbreaker of a finale. If you have a chance, prepare yourself for Gauntlet by re-watching SGU’s first episode (Air I) – or, at the very least, its first five minutes.
Those of you in Canada, stay turned after Gauntlet airs for a special Stargate-themed episode of Inner Space that will include interviews with a host of Stargate vets. Check out the sneak peek here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuM0ZaK3HY4
And a spoilerific review of the series finale here: http://popculturezoo.com/2011/05/gauntlet-is-a-bittersweet-end-to-stargate-universe/