Viewers tune in for the hook, but they stay for the characters. It’s a lesson I learned working on Stargate. As much as fans enjoy the sense of adventure, the action, and the dazzling visual effects, it’s the characters at the heart of each show that draw them back, week after week. Whether it’s SG-1, the Atlantis expedition, the crew of The Destiny, or the crew of The Raza, fans check in with the characters they love because they’ve formed a connection with them. They are, in a way, extended family members they can visit with every time they watch an episode.
I think that one of the things that makes Stargate and Dark Matter special (and you can include Killjoys in this unique grouping) is that they offer science fiction fans something unique and, frankly, atypical of the genre – a sense of fun. They offer fans humor, whether in the stories or the characters themselves, something that goes such a long way toward establishing and fostering that aforementioned connection. And, while Wynonna Earp isn’t scifi, its genre chops and own underlying sense of humor makes it the perfect accompaniment to the existing SYFY Friday lineup. It’s the network’s most watched and most buzzed about night of programming. Back in 2011, Io9’s Charlie Jane Anders presented an article titled: 10 Actual Mistakes That Syfy Has Made Over The Years. Coming in at #3: “Abandoning Friday nights as an action-adventure bloc”. Remember the SG-1/SGA/BSG triple-bill? It was the original SciFi Friday lineup, the precursor to the existing Killjoys/Dark Matter/Wynonna Earp trifecta. The parallels are stark and if history has taught us anything, it’s “Don’t abandon Friday nights as an action-adventure bloc”!
Stargate: SG-1 was officially cancelled August 21st, 2006. In reality, the word came down down a little earlier – the night of the show’s 10th Anniversary party. The drinks and chocolate fountain were flowing, special commemorative booklets were being handed out, heartfelt speeches were being made and, at one point, amidst the celebration, the announcement was made. The tenth season would be the show’s last. But whether it was the acoustics or the booze or the generally festive atmosphere, most everyone missed it. I remember standing there, cup of liquid chocolate in hand, and throwing a confused look over to my longtime writing partner, Paul Mullie. “Did we just get cancelled?” His eyes narrowed and his brow furrowed as though he was trying to work it out in his head: “I – think so?”
It’s hard to make an argument that SG-1 was cancelled prematurely after ten glorious years on the air…but I’m going to make one anyway. It was premature. With the addition of Ben Browder, Claudia Black and Beau Bridges, and the introduction of a formidable new villain, plus some 300+ episodes of backstory and mythology to draw from, we still had so many stories to tell. If MGM called me up and told me we’d be doing an 11th season of the show and needed scripts pronto, I can guarantee you I’d have no problem coming up with a slew. Little known fact: Fans almost did get an 11th season of SG-1. The studio was in talks with iTunes who, at the time, was very interested in saving the show for one final 20 episode bow – but sadly, in the end, contractual handcuffs prevented it from happening.
Stargate: Atlantis was cancelled August 21st of 2008. If SG-1’s cancellation was a head scratcher, SGA’s was a fullout WTF?! Mainly because it didn’t make sense. I mean, what better way to launch a new Stargate incarnation than alongside a veteran powerhouse? One more season to wrap things up, say goodbye to the Atlantis expedition, and pass the torch. Instead, the veteran was unceremoniously ushered out and the new kid on the block just as unceremoniously ushered in, giving the semblance that one was cancelled to make room for the other. This, of course, wasn’t the case – but it didn’t matter. The optics were bad and the damage was done. The fans were pissed off – with predictable consequences. If there’s another thing history has taught us, time and again, it’s this: “Don’t piss off the fans!”. (See #1 on Charlie Jane Anders’ list).
Stargate: Universe was cancelled on December 16, 2010. I remember receiving the news in the office and trying to contact series EP and co-creator Brad Wright to no avail as he and the cast were in San Diego, out on a U.S. Navy ship at the time and effectively incommunicado. One of the actors later told me that the second they got into port, the cast checked their phones to discover their inboxes were full. They all knew – it wasn’t good news. Whether SG-1 and SGA’s runs ended too soon make for great debate, there’s no denying that, unlike SGU, both of those shows had endings that worked as series finales. That wasn’t the case for SGU as the series ended with the Destiny crew going into stasis, leaving a solitary Eli to figure out a seemingly impossible problem. Although the final shots of the ship’s various sections and systems going dark offer a perfect bookend to the show’s opening sequence of them coming alive, audiences were left hanging nevertheless. Destiny’s journey concluded prematurely and its tale ended incomplete. Adding to the frustration was the fact that co-creator Brad Wright had an endgame in mind, a final sequence he was working towards…that he never got the chance to reveal.
Dark Matter’s present situation is similar to that of SGU. Like Brad, I have an endgame in mind, one I’ve set up and have been working towards from the pilot. I know every secret’s reveal, how each set-up pays off, how every story ends. And, like Brad, I have the show’s final sequence in my head. I just hope I’m afforded the opportunity to get there.
Ideally, when all is said and done, the Dark Matter journey will be a closer match to that of Atlantis’s. Five full seasons – as it should be.
27 thoughts on “August 18, 2017: Dark Matter and Stargate – the parallels!”
I liked SG1, but couldn’t get over Richard Dean Anderson’s character as a headstrong somewhat of an idiot role, esp. having an imprint of him in his character of MacGyver. Almost every line from Anderson on SG1 was cringe-worthy; I really wonder whether or not that was intentional. Anyways, IMHO, this show is a lot like Person of Interest (which I loved and was too short lived.) Rich character dev, jokes, action, mystery, pacing and while having independent eps, it has an overall arch seen and explored in most of the independent eps, like Chris Carters X-Files and Millennium, although, I generally preferred the eps written by Wong and Morgan over Chris Carter.
I and I am sure many others are doing all we can to have our voices heard and get your wonderful show (and Killjoys!) another season. i will be beyond disappointed if it doesn’t happen.
Yes. I would have been one of those fans to continue to watch if SG1 continued on and on and on. I loved the characters! I was also ticked-off at the cancellation of SGU. I wanted to see it come to its proper conclusion. My fingers are crossed for Dark Matter. I don’t want a replay of disappointment.
Are you feeling kind of melancholy? There’s always that “Should Of Could Of Would Of” in almost every endeavor. Once the studios change how they calculate ratings, I’m hoping they will be more accurate. There are a LOT of people commenting on your blog now that have started watching “DM” on Netflix. I’m watching on Amazon currently. Times have changed and nielsen needs to change with it.
Dr. Jo’s funeral was today. The Pastor was excellent! It’s always a better service when the Pastor knows the deceased. Dr. Jo played the organ at that church for years and has been kicking the pastor’s butt on “Words With Friends” during her illness. He brought up all of her hobbies and her tour of Europe as a teenager. She had a great life! Now, if you guys could keep her cats in your prayers please. No home yet. Someone will be staying at her house, regularly, for the next two months and I can check on them too. Still, they needs a person to dote on them, like she did.
You are so very right about the cancellation of SGA being done in an absolutely devastating way for the continuation of the franchise. 🙁
I hope you get DM renewal news soon!
Five seasons would be smart, sensible, and a good scenario for everyone involved! Let’s hope SyFy understands that!
It must be such an anxious, nail-biting time for you! I feel sick just waiting to hear.
If it’s any consolation, Dark Matter is still (as it always has) been trending on UK’s Virgin Media TiVo box. That’s one of only 15/20 trending programmes out of, must be hundreds of programme’s, aired weekly. That must count for something 😊
i know from twitter your not involved but they did just start a SGU comic book i’m hoping does something interesting with the story – ironoic that it will end with a comic were dark matter started with one .
I think the Alex above was 100% wrong. I loved Colonel Jack “Macgyver” O’Neill. I almost died laughing listening to Sam dead pan to O’Neill that they had to Macgyver the stargate to work, while RDA slowly turns and looks straight into the camera. I also agree that Atlantis got killed WAY too soon. SG-1 season 4-8 were possibly the best 5 seasons of sci-fi on tv, ever
I agree with Brad too. I loved Col. Jack O’Neill’s character.
It’s boggles the mind that SYFY has not yet renewed these shows when it’s clearly a no-brainer. What do they think would take their place if they were gone? Some completely new, unproven property that may or may not take off, in place of a full evening’s line of reasonably successful shows/established properties? I just don’t understand it, or perhaps corporate bureaucracy really is just that slow to grind.
I can’t believe it’s been that long since the various iterations of SG have been gone. I remember the shock about SGA and then the disappointment about SGU. I was at the Creation SG Con in Vancouver when Brad got up in front of the audience and told everyone that despite their best efforts, they were not able to pull together any scenario where SGU could be finished up. A real bummer as a fan, but his own disappointment was really apparent.
C’mon SYFY. Don’t put us through this again.
I hate how slow things are too.
I don’t like August 21 as a date anymore. Not sure why I didn’t remember and/or notice that similarity before.
omg Kathy. Dont know why I never noticed it before either.
Complete Solar eclipse and the sun goes down on SGA.
Come to think of it … isn’t that how the last episode concluded??
With Atlantis landing in the SF bay, on earth, at sunset?
or am i remembering it incorrectly?
I’m also with Brad…. RDA was brilliant!
I’m not going to lie, the treatment the SG franchise received from SyFy created a certain amount of resentment with me. Not that it matters to me much these days – I watch Dark Matter via Netflix (my cable company wants to charge me a ridiculous amount for me to have SyFy included). I wish being a Netflix viewer mattered! I’m glad DM is getting the attention it deserves though 🙂 Hopefully SyFy will continue on its new course.
Crossing fingers for #DarkMatterRenewal
Another week, another episode, another new all time favourite…
How are you going to top it next week? Guess I’ll find out. 🙂
DM 312 … oh so evil mind game!
I, also, agree with Brad. Jack O’Neill was my favorite SG-1 character.
FWIW, I was so furious at the cancellation of SGU that I boycotted SyFy until you launched Dark Matter. If you had not, I would still be ignoring the SyFy network with all my might. I wish they would get off their asses and renew DM already. This suspense is just ridiculous.
And I am thrilled that there is now, at long last, an SGU comic book to finish the mission. #LongLiveStargate
Sorry that decision makers are taking more time to give you an answer this year. Must be levels of magnitude more stressful for you, writers, actors and production crew–than us. Can’t thank all of you enough for creating this world, these wonderful characters, and their journey—–SO FAR!!!!
PS fingers continue to be crossed(but they are beginning to cramp up at this point;).
What contractual handcuffs? Are you saying SyFy canceled the show, but wouldn’t allow it to appear on another source? That sounds absolutely asinine..
That last night’s episode. Damn. Just amazing.
If DM wouldnt get its fifth season, would you consider making a comic about the endgame?
I have my fingers crossed for Dark Matter. I hope the renewal notice comes quickly
Take away the green screens, interesting gadgets and amazing set designs and what do you have? People! Intricately complicated characters that we have come to love (or hate). People are the foundation, the tent pole, the amino acids of any great show. You may “hook” me in with something shiny but I keep coming back week after week for the people.
I need Android’s raspberry coat, that is one sharp look. After a week of traveling and another battling the cold I picked up traveling I’m ready catch up on my DM, I will be tiptoeing around the blog and trying to avoid spoilers.
DM hasn’t reminded me of SG or even space bounty hunter shows like Firefly, DM just had it’s own unique characters from the get go that set it apart and so many cool surprises along the way. DM and The Expanse are grounded relatable future worlds; Bezos and Musk have already started their own evil space corps that could someday rival Ferrous Corp.