Shanks on Continuing SG-1's Saga on DVD

Daniel Jackson in "The Ark of Truth"

With ten seasons and two direct-to-DVD movies portraying Dr. Daniel Jackson under his belt, Michael Shanks has a long-timer’s perspective on the journey both his character and SG-1 have taken. Shanks offered some of his insights in an interview conducted by Brian Gallagher at MovieWeb.com.

The interview starts off covering the events that led to the making of the two direct-to-DVD movies, Robert C. Cooper’s Stargate: The Ark of Truth and Brad Wright’s Stargate: Continuum. The Ark of Truth just made its world premiere on March 11 in North America, and Continuum is scheduled for a July 2008 release.

“Our producers had been bugging MGM to try and find some format to do features of some capacity for years and years, since the fifth season, because we always thought that, after five seasons, to do a feature film the way the franchise started with a feature film,” Shanks told Gallagher. “Brad Wright, who’s our showrunner and created the series, he’s always been adamant about doing a feature, so this was his dream from square one.”

Dr. Daniel Jackson

Concerning the method of storytelling the movies have to offer, Shanks said, “What I appreciated about it was, we had gotten used to, in the series, the idea that the powers that be wanted us to be accessible to new viewers. There was a constant need, as the characters wandered through everything, to keep explaining, expositorily, every detail about everything that we’re seeing and how it relates to this happened before. New audiences who watch it for the first time – well, frankly they’re going to be confused anyway – but it’s going to be a bigger chore as the seasons went on because the mythology kept building and building. I appreciated that we left a lot of the expository stuff on the floor, and we dealt more with the emotions of the characters and the specifics of the situations themselves as opposed to delving into back story and whatnot. That was a nice relief from the usual stuff we’ve done on the show.”

The new DVD format for continuing SG-1’s story is appreciated by Shanks, who saw The Ark of Truth at a special screening in Vancouver. “When I first saw it, I saw it up on the big screen, and it had a great cinematic feel to it. It’s great. It’s a great feeling to watch it and to have it not feel like it doesn’t fit in that environment. That it does feel bigger, and larger than life, and certainly larger than the television screen than we’ve been on. It’s nice to get to this different level, and I’m excited to see what else we can do with them. I know there are other possibilities being thought up for them as we speak.”

Daniel, Teal

To emphasize the positives of switching to direct-to-DVD format for the movies, Gallagher and Shanks discuss two of the featurettes included on the DVD, Stargate SG-1: The Road Taken – Prelude to Stargate: The Ark of Truth and The Ark of Truth: Stargate at Comic-Con. Shanks himself didn’t attend Comic-Con (July 2007), but was the target of best friend Christopher Judge’s jokes when Judge made a phone call from stage hoping to get Shanks. Shanks said that he was in the car at the time and not in the bathroom as Judge suggested. On a more serious note, Shanks said of the Prelude featurette, which gives an overview of the Ori storyline from Seasons Nine and Ten, and similar DVD extras, “Yeah, I think that’s a wonderful thing, especially with a straight-to-DVD release. Obviously, you’re not going to get the chance to do that if it’s a theatrical release, but with a DVD release, it gives you the chance to add these extra features and allow people to access it that would be looking at these things going, ‘What the heck is that supposed to be?’ Instead of having your sister explain it, you can tune into the special features. I think it’s a great addition to get people up to snuff. Whether they’re going to realize that’s available going in or not, we’ll have to wait and see, but I think it’s a great idea.”

Daniel and the Doci ("The Ark of Truth")

As far as covering specific character moments, Shanks didn’t go into too much detail for either movie, but what he said about Daniel’s many deaths and the possibility of more in Continuum may raise some fans’ concern. “Yeah, it’s almost become a running joke. It’s taking the jeopardy out of the situations our characters are put in. If you can die from every situation, and still manage to come back for the next episode, it takes the gut-wrenching, climactic feelings out of the audience’s because the belief that they might not see this guy again. It certainly is testing the realms of believability, I guess. As Brad Wright was quoted as saying before, ‘There’s nothing better than being able to kill your regular character.'” Shanks did laugh several times as he said this, though.

The final questions of the interview permitted Shanks to offer more insight into the future of the SG-1 saga in its new medium. “We wanted to switch formats to go to something that was going to be larger than what we were doing before, that’s going to take less time than what we were doing before. It was necessary, because the show was being cancelled and we wanted to finish that storyline, and if we wanted to get together for like a reunion once a year or something like that, to tell some more stories, and we had to find a medium for it. Obviously, the DVD medium is the perfect one. We don’t have the money available to us to do a large theatrical release and have a huge impact, but we had enough to do more than your average television show.

“The DVD market has always been good to the franchise so it’s obviously a strong tool out there for giving fans what they need if they don’t have a regular weekly window for it. I believe for the studio, for MGM, keeping the brand name out there is an important thing with the video game coming out and the possibility of another spin-off in the works, it’s a great tool to keep the series alive. In terms of keeping the show resurrected [on the air as a regular weekly show], I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

And finally, Shanks wanted to say to the fans, “Thank you. Thank you for continuing to support the franchise and we’ll look forward to spending more time with you in this year and in the years to come.”

To read the full interview, which also includes discussion on a new project entitled Rage of Angels that he’s producting with Judge for MGM, visit EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Michael Shanks Dishes on Stargate: Ark of Truth.

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