Back in August, the Sci Fi Channel upset fans of Stargate SG-1 by revealing that the venerable science fiction series would not be renewed for an eleventh season. The series, which once starred MacGiver’s Richard Dean Anderson, has been airing on the Sci Fi Channel for the past five seasons (following five seasons on Showtime). A campaign to save SG-1 began almost immediately and the studio publicly announced its support for the series. Well, all those efforts have paid off.
The ratings for Stargate SG-1 admittedly have been slipping. The show has run for 10 seasons so it was really no big surprise that the Sci Fi Channel pulled the plug. Science fiction shows are expensive to produce — especially shows that have been around for 10 years. Cast and staff members receive raises over the years and that all adds up to big production costs. In truth, Stargate SG-1 was not expected to continue this long. When the spin-off series Stargate Atlantis was created three years ago, it was expected that it would be replacing SG-1. But Stargate SG-1was rejuvenated and did so well that it was decided to air both series concurrently.
The Sci Fi Channel made the announcement not to renew the series on August 26, 2006. But Sci Fi does not own the SG-1show. They purchase the rights to air it in the United States from MGM. So, could the show simply be picked up by another cable station or network? Not a chance. Though Sci Fi doesn’t want to buy any new episodes themselves, they don’t want anyone else airing them either.
Mark Stern, Sci Fi Channel’s Executive Vice President of Original Programming, reportedly told Multichannel, “There is not going to be (a season 11 of Stargate SG-1) on U.S. television. Our contract with MGM prohibits it. It’s done a great job, rejuvenated with the additions of Ben (Browder), Claudia (Black) and Beau (Bridges), but we think we’ve come to the end of those stories. We really felt like it was the right time to segue out, for the show not to overstay its welcome.” (Sci Fi will finish airing season 10 in Spring 2007 and will continue to air the 200+ episodes of SG-1 in reruns for the foreseeable future.)
How about movies or DVDs or even downloadable episodes via iTunes? Possibly. MGM studio spokesman Jeff Pryor said “From MGM’s perspective, we don’t view SG-1 as a television series, we view it as a franchise, and one with a lot of vibrant life. The fan base is fiercely loyal.”
How refreshing to see a studio stand so solidly behind a show though it’s been cancelled. The studio even went so far as to create a special section of their StargateSG1.com devoted to encouraging fans to write, record and campaign to save the show. Fans of the show started their own campaign (SaveStargateSG1.com), wrote letters and bought full-page ads in the Hollywood trade paper Variety.
MGM has now given the go-ahead for the production of two direct-to-DVD Stargate SG-1 movies. Executive producer Brad Wright told TV Guide that the first film will be “the climax of the Ori story line.” The DVD movie will tie up the loose ends from season 10 (expected to conclude its initial U.S. television run in June 2007) and will be written and directed by current SG-1 executive producer and show-runner Robert C. Cooper. Wright himself plans to create the second film script and said it will involve time travel.
In addition, Wright said, “They’re not big-budget (movies) by any definition, but for us it’s pretty good. As we’ve proven over the years, just give us little more money and we can make pretty good television, or DVDs. There’s a sense of an era for us ending, but at the same time, we’re all positive because of the prospect of continuing forward with movies and the introduction next year of Stargate Worlds, a massive multiplayer online game.”
The Stargate SG-1 castmembers haven’t signed on for the movies as yet, but are said to be “very eager” to be part of the new SG-1 stories. The studio is targeting a Fall 2007 release for both projects — just a few months after the airing of Stargate SG-1 season 10. It’s possible that the movies could be aired on TV (perhaps the Sci Fi Channel) prior to their DVD release.
The producers have expressed interest in starting a third series based on the Stargate world. It’s possible that the second DVD movie might help to set that up.
Stargate Atlantis, meanwhile, has been renewed for a fourth season, and the Sci Fi Channel hopes that the spin-off series can stand alone.
So, the future looks very good for the Stargate world. Could it be that Sci Fi’s cancellation made much of this possible? Hard to say but perhaps there’s truth in the old saying, “What does not kill us, makes us stronger…”