Spoilers for Season
Thomasina Gibson, Cult Times
Special #26, Jun 03
One of the first major decisions
that the executive producers had to make [for Season Seven] regarded the
re-introduction of one Daniel Jackson, aka Michael Shanks. "It was
one of our better decisions," admits Cooper, "And the transition, between
Michael Shanks and Corin Nemec riding off into the sunset, obviously provided
us with a good jumping-off point for stories."
"Michael Shanks has come back
with a wonderful attitude and a whole renewed energy," Michael Greenburg
confirms. The man who spends most of the time on the set and on location
during the actual filming of each episode, Greenburg knows better than
anyone how the cast and crew react to any given situation. "What
has been great is that everyone did welcome Michael back with open arms,
and when we first started seeing the dailies we could see that Daniel had
this fresh perspective. I think that the way we reintegrate him into
the show allowed Michael to kind of justify his re-introduction in his
own mind as far as performance is concerned. He wiped the slate clean
and started afresh."
Richard Dean Anderson offers,
"In a way we, as in the producers and the writers, are kind of satisfying
what Michael's original problem was in that he felt the character was being
somewhat under-utilised. The fact is that circumstances mean I have
chosen to take a slightly reduced role in the show this year, so inevitably
the weight of the stories is going to fall on the other actors' shoulders,
which means Michael is having to do more and is getting to be more instrumental
in the key scenes and storylines." All of which makes perfect sense
however you look at it.
"On a personal level," says
Anderson, "I am delighted Shanks is back. I've missed him.
There is no doubt there is a certain chemistry between us and we both enjoy
the interplay between our characters and enjoy our scenes together and
have fun with the roles." Giving a modest shrug, "Feedback suggests
that the people who watch the show also enjoy what we do so it's all good."
Giving a quick preview of things
to come, Robert Cooper reveals, "Peter wrote a wonderful episode called
Orpheus in which we deal with some of the lingering memories, or lack of,
that Daniel is fighting and struggling with from when he was ascended.
That leads him to believe that Bra'tac and Rya'c, Teal'c's son, have been
captured and put into a work camp. It's quite a production and was
quite an ordeal to film. We shot in miserable, rainy, cold weather
with hundreds of extras and lots of dirt."
Michael Greenburg helpfully
supplies, "It's the Braveheart version of Stargate. I've seen the
cut and it's turned out really nice. Dirty, but nice."
Robert Cooper takes pride in
having a bit of a laugh. "I came in with a story right at the beginning
of the year which centres around something I've always wanted to do.
The episode is a bit more Star Wars than Stargate but, you know, I'm in
charge, why the heck not? It's called Space Race and incidentally
it's all about Carter getting into a space race. She and I had a
conversation where she said, 'You know, I'm becoming a bit of a technobabble
girl and I'm losing track of what Carter's passions are.' My answer
to her was that whilst the technology stuff certainly serves the story
to a certain extent, it's also Carter's passion, so we should do something
which shows how much fun she thinks this techno stuff is."
Cooper declares, "We've always
talked of Carter thinking technology was fun but we've never really demonstrated
that. In the episode she gets to help Warrick, the captain from the
Cerberus from the Forsaken episode, win this race. Carter helps,
not because it means getting technology for Earth in return for services
or anything like that. She does it because she thinks it's cool and
she really wants to play. I think this is Carter's fantasy come true."
Keeping the fans engaged while
trying to expand the core audience is something very dear to all the executive
producers' hearts. Michael Greenburg takes this all very seriously.
"We're doing a bit of a weird departure where the President of the US hires
a producer/journalist who comes to the SGC to do a documentary on what
happens there. Ostensibly, they are there to film the 1000th trip
through the Stargate, but in fact it's part of this political ploy whereby
the President is on his way out. He's finished his second term and
basically realises the Stargate programme is going to go public at some
point and wants to have some say in the manner in which it is portrayed.
At the same time he wants his view to be presented as an impartial document
and hires this hard-hitting journalist whom he thinks will be able to do
Continuing the synopsis, Robert
Cooper remarks, "This guy is sort of intense, intelligent and a hard-nosed
journalist and we're not sure how he is going to portray our heroes.
It's all told from the point of view of the camera crew, who are, in fact,
not allowed to film any of the ongoing current activities and just end
up doing interviews. There is one scene where our journalist really
grills Carter about her relationship with Col. O'Neill. Whether she
answers the question or not, just to see Carter squirm in that situation
will be a lot of fun."
Says Greenburg, "What the show
is really about is that there a lot of times people die in the course of
military action…and we don't know about it because the project they were
working on was top-secret. They too have been courageous and have
given their lives in order to protect us and our freedoms and so the Stargate
programme became a nice analogy for that."
Richard Dean Anderson chips
in with, "I think the greatest thing about the whole concept of Stargate
is that we have this wonderful prop, this ring that we start with every
week, and who knows where it's going to go or what kind of story is going
to unfold. Sometimes we do stuff that is out and out fun. Sometimes
the story leads us to investigate some strong moral dilemma issues and
sometimes we delve into stuff that is very poignant. Heroes has elements
of all of the above and is a very strong and different kind of story for
"I'm around for everything except
the pre-production process, but I'm fortunate enough to have surrounded
myself with intelligent, competent people. The other guys are so
good at what they do, it makes sense for me to leave them to it."
Getting on with things is exactly
what they've been doing with a vengeance this year. The schedule
and progress has been such that Stargate's seventh season will be completed
way ahead of time.