Gate Expectations: Michael Shanks And Christopher Judge
Sharon Gosling, Dreamwatch #115, Mar 04
SG1 seems to be the sci-fi series that just won't die. For the past three years,
it has managed to get renewed at the eleventh hour, and filming on the show's
eighth season is about to get underway.
Unlike it's predecessors, though, Stargate SG-1's eighth season will bring some
major changes, both in front and behind the camera. This year, the cast will be
missing two familiar faces, while the SGC will be run by none other than the
newly promoted General Jack O'Neill. Meanwhile right across the lot at Bridge
Studios, Vancouver, the series spawned it's first spin off show, Stargate
So what will all these monumental changes do for the show and it's original
cast? And are there any other changes in store for the remaining members of SG1?
Pausing in London on their busy European tour, actors Michael Shanks and
Christopher Judge fill Dreamwatch in on what viewers can expect from the new
season and reveal how they are dealing with the new look Stargate SG1.
You're about to start filming season eight and you've got scripts for the
season's opening four episodes. What's your feeling on how the new season is
MS: There are going to be some changes, for sure. I think it's
interesting and we're very curious to find out how those changes are going to
sit. We are doing the spin off at the same time, and having that creative
dynamic right across the lot from us will be interesting. Rick's character, Jack
O'Neill, will be a General this year, so it will be interesting to see how that
works. It's going to be very weird to see General O'Neill sitting in that big
red chair. It's going to be like the brat kid sitting in the principles chair
CJ: You know what's going to be great? Trying to get him to fall into how
a General should be. He'll have to salute and all that, that's going to be
How do you think the changes will affect the team dynamic on the show?
MS: I actually think you may end up seeing a lot more of the team
dynamic. You certainly will in terms of setting up the episodes. A lot of the
set up always takes place in the briefing room and quite a lot of stuff has to
circulate through the General, so you may see a lot more team interaction than
you saw in season seven as a result of that. In terms of what will happen in
their relationships, I believe the dynamic will remain consistent. But we
certainly are feeling our way with General O'Neill. Rick will probably have the
MS: As for people missing Jack O'Neill in season seven,
I understand that to a large degree. But at the same time we had a lot more fun
shooting the season, because when you have four people and only one of them is
doing the bulk of the talking, the other actors end up spending a lot of days
just standing around and not really doing a lot but having to be on the set. I
also think if we hadn't told people that there was going to be less Rick in it,
people micht not have been as quick to jump all over the fact that he wasn't in
a lot of episodes, because the character is utilised for the time he's there and
not utilised in the times he's not. If we hadn't warned people in advance that
he was going to be in the show less, then people might not have felt the need to
say, "Hey, he's not in that scene, I'm going to write somebody a letter" So next
season, I don't think it will be detrimental to the dynamic, but it will be
different, and I'm looking forward to it.
Are there any big changes happening for your own characters next season?
CJ: Oh yes, it's going to be a season of big change for Teal'c. Of the
first four episodes, two are just so unlike anything Teal'c has ever done
before. It's going to be great. We've slowly brought Teal'c to the point where
he's not human but is definitely trying to assimilate human culture, and from
the scripts that I've seen, we're taking that a step forward. So yeah, there are
already changes onboard. I've tried to do that every year. I probably could have
brought it along a little quicker, but I wanted it to really seem like a natural
progression. But that will definitely continue. The day's of the frown are over.
MS: In terms of the character's growth this year, I don't think the
Ascension thing has been properly knocked on the head in terms of dealing with
it. It got blown past so that we could move on with the rest of the show, but I
think there's still some life in there in terms of dealing with what actually
happened when Daniel was an ascended being and how that affects him now. In
terms of how the character came back, the idea was that he was making a
conscious choice to be more proactive and less of a passive observer in season
seven. They tried to focus on that and I've tried to focus on it as well. So I'm
very content with that Evolution.
Is there anything you would specifically like to happen to your characters?
CJ: It's happened. It's to have hair. It's something I've lobbied for
during the past seven seasons and it's finally come to fruition. It's in the
works for Jolene Blalock to come back. And I still want to see the freedom of
the Jaffa, even if we do go on after this season, I would like to see that ended
this year, and SG1 can face some new obstacles. I think that's pretty much all
we can get out of that. And did I say that Teal'c gets hair? I'm really excited
about not having to shave my head every morning.
MS: I'm excited about Chris having hair. Really. In fact, I'm going to
start shaving my head. I really enjoy the discovery as much as I enjoy the
scripts for the characters. So I never try and second guess it. I don't think in
terms of character arcs and things like that. I think it's better to have the
character grow according to his experiences, as long ass it's within the realms
of the show. I'm happy with that.
Are you both writing episodes of season eight?
MS: Chris definitely is. I wanted to pitch a story, but I haven't been
home long enough to do that. So I'll have to wait.
CJ: Yeah, I am definitely writing one. I think right now it's slotted for
episode seven or eight, but that depends on availability.
How do you think having Atlantis produced alongside Stargate SG1 will affect
the making of your series?
MS: I have no idea. There's probably not a lot of opportunity for
crossovers after the pilot and I don't know how it will affect our on set
dynamic. It certainly won't affect our lives to a great degree. We have creative
staff working on both shows, so it will affect the writing staff, because they
have to produce both shows at the same time.
CJ: I've been in the production office quite a few times. You know, I'd
love to be under that workload, but I'd also hate to be under that workload.
We've seen the first couple of scripts, and they are really good. Brad Wright
and Rob Cooper are very creative, fertile minds. I would love to write and
episode of Atlantis. I've been putting that in Brad Wright's ear, but I don't
know if it will take hold and grow fruit. We've seen the script for Atlantis'
pilot and it should be fantastic. There are new villains, and it's obviously the
Stargate Universe, but it's a different perspective.
Michael, you're actually guest starring with RDA in Atlantis' pilot episode,
MS: We are in the first two acts of the ten-act show.
Finally, coming back to Stargate SG1, were either of you tempted not to sign
on for another season?
MS: No, not me, because I already quit! Coming back to the show was
really a lot of fun. I had a great year, and when the notion that we could do it
again came up, I was like 'Oh cool', while everyone else was going 'I don't
know'. I was saying 'What? What's the problem?' I was telling everybody the best
thing for suffering from fatigue from the show is to have a year off. It's
great, you can do other things, you can travel, you can get some rest, spend
some time with your loved ones, and then you get back into it. And everyone was
looking at me and saying 'Shut up!' So no, I'm really excited about this year.
CJ: No, I never thought stopping made sense in the first place. A few
episodes into season seven, we introduced these new super soldiers, and I was
like, 'We're going to different levels now, so why quit?' And we got Michael
back and it was a fresh start, so I was excited. I was happy to do another year,
because in all honesty I was going, 'Why would we stop now? Our ratings are
higher than they have ever been and we've got all this new stuff going on that's
really cool. As long as it keeps up the quality of the writing, the acting and
the filmic components of the series, it's a great show to be on.
Both Teryl Rothery and Don S Davis are not going to be a part of season
eight. You've all been together for the best part of a decade, so does it feel
as if the family is breaking up?
MS: You know what? In all honesty, we've seen them in the hiatus and I
don't think it will really impact on us until we get there, go up and see
General Hammonds office and General Hammond's not there anymore. And all of a
sudden it will be, 'Wait a minute, that's not right!' We haven't really done
that many episodes without Teryl as well, so it will probably be something that
we will have to discover as we go along. You never know what you have until you
CJ: Michael's right. We've been together. They came over for New years
and I've talked to Teryl several times, so that part of it hasn't really
changed. But yeah, it's going to be weird to go to the briefing room and Donny's
not at the table, and it'll be strange to be in the infirmary without Teryl.
Do you wish the producers hadn't decided to kill Dr Fraiser off, especially
in light of the US Sci Fi Channel's decision to commission Season Eight?
CJ: I do.
MS: Yeah, Teryl's a wonderful, generous person and a wonderful actress.
It's certainly a difficult thing to accept, especially given the circumstances,
the fact that it was decided to do another season after that decision was
already made. I was like 'What?' Change something! But they couldn't, it was too
CJ: I think everyone regrets it. I think the writers and producers, if
they could have changed it, they would have. I really believe that. As we were
shooting Heroes, that's when the rumbles were going on about season eight and it
was like 'oh boy' From a personal standpoint, it's going to be very, very
strange to do the show without her.
© 2004, Dreamwatch.
Dreamwatch #115 online.
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