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07 JUN 03:
Spoilers for Season 7 below>>>>
Read spoiler-free version>>>>

Executive Orders
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 the job."

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 Stargate SG-1."

"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.

(c) 2003, Cult Times.  All rights recognised.  No infringement intended.  This extract appears with permission.  Buy Cult Times Special #26 online: there's much, much more!

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