Stargate Atlantis Goes Into Stasis

When word broke at the end of August 2008 that Stargate Atlantis, one of the shining stars in the Sci-Fi Network galaxy, was being cancelled with its 100th episode, ardent fans weren't the only ones who were stunned. After all, the show was only in its fifth season, and was more successful than ever. So what's the story? SheKnows visited the Stargate set in Vancouver, and talked to three of the series regulars as well as the show's executive producer to find out.

Stargate Atlantis season 5 cast: Jason Momoa, Rachel Luttrell, Robert Picardo, Joe Flanigan, David Hewlett, Jewel Staite

More than a feeling

Stargate Atlantis started its fifth season strongly, with solid ratings and a prestigious award. So why is this popular cable series being released from active duty?

Not surprisingly, the bottom line is money... or lack thereof. Rather than producing a full season of 20 or so episodes each year, the powers that be decided instead to continue the Atlantis storyline with one -- and possibly more -- made-for-TV movies. (Read more about how Stargate Atlantis will live on in DVD format.)

"Going in [to season 5], I had a feeling that this could be the last season of Atlantis, just because of the economics," says series showrunner/executive producer/big cheese Joe Mallozzi. "The more years you're on the air, the more expensive it gets to produce."

The declining value of the American dollar made it all the worse, and was a real issue because the show is produced in Canada. "When we started the series way back when, it was (US) 65 cents on the (CAN) dollar, and that was great -- and now for the last year it was practically even. So that hurt."

Still... it's one thing to have a feeling that something might happen, and another beast entirely when it actually does.

Teyla Emmagan - Stargate Atlantis"One one hand, we knew it was a long shot -- but on the other hand, the ratings were up and we'd gotten a lot of positive buzz for season five. I think the stories we've told this year have been great, so we were kind of hopeful," Mallozzi says. "Then we got word [of the cancellation]... we went down and told the cast and the crew, and they were understandably bummed."

Shock and awww

"We were all really kind of shocked," says Rachel Luttrell, the series regular who plays the strong and sensitive Atlantis expedition member Teyla Emmagan. "We all felt pretty confident we were going to at least have one more season, because we were doing very well and we started of the season winning the People's Choice Awards. So yeah, we were all a little surprised by it." Still, she well understands that acting is not exactly the most stable of professions. "You never know in this business. You never know."

"The thing about this industry is that every year you're up for renewal. Every year there's the possibility that it may come to an end," adds David Hewlett, the man behind the adorably arrogant Dr Rodney McKay on both Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. "We got notified a little earlier in the year than we expected -- normally it would be November or so. So it was a little bit of a shock."

"I guess it can't help but affect us mentally -- it is kind of a disappointment," Mallozzi says. "You kind of want to put a positive spin on it, and you do look forward to the movies, which is great. I mean in the old days, if a show was canceled, a show was canceled."

The writer/producer doesn't have to go far to find his inner child's opinion on the matter. "I'm still bummed about Soap. I used to watch Soap as a kid, and they left it on a cliffhanger, and you never find out what happened to those characters. The nice thing about this case is that though we've been canceled, at least we can wrap up the story or continue the adventures in movie form."

Bittersweet sympathy

"On the day [of the announcement], a lot of people were just very philosophical about it and said, 'Well, it's been a great five years,' and that's how you really should look at it," says Mallozzi. "But as time goes on and it begins to sink in, you realize this is it. This is the end [of the series], and so it's bittersweet. Bitter for the present. Sweet, hopefully, for the future."

Rough-and-tumble Ronon Dex's alter ego, actor Jason Momoa, describes his mood much the same way. "I'm little sad to be leaving a family of four years behind... but four years is a long time to play a character. So it's kind of bittersweet."

"The reality is that none of us -- certainly from an acting standpoint -- got into this for a regular job," Hewlett says. "It's unusual to have a regular job in the film industry... Rod McKay - Stargate AtlantisFive years of gainful employment is a rarity in this industry. It's definitely going to be sad to see that go."

"It's sad, because this has become home for a lot of us. It's a home away from home. There are a lot of people here who have just become an extended family," says Luttrell. Clearly making an effort to keep the mood upbeat, she continues, "But change is good. Change is life. It's hard -- absolutely -- but most of the time when you reflect upon the big changes in your life, you gain some perspective."

A short-timer's attitude

So what's life on the set like now as the cast completes their last few episodes? "It's that weird sort of feeling of you're still at work, but you know it's done," says Hewlett. "There's a weird mix of sadness at the fact that we've been doing this for five years, and it's kind of hard not to get attached." After a beat, a goofy little grin creeps up onto his face. "But at the same time, there's a certain amount of 'Woo hoo! What's next? Let's go!'"

Other Stargate-flavored features:

More Stargates to explore: The Stargate realm expands with Stargate Atlantis movies and a new series, Stargate Universe 

Amanda Tapping: From Stargate to Sanctuary - SheKnows interview

Conan the Barbarian, starring Jason Momoa

Tags: amanda tapping david hewlett jason momoa rachel luttrell stargate atlantis

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Comments on "Stargate Atlantis ends its series run: Cast and crew react to the news"

Don February 21, 2013 | 3:47 PM

Well it’s been years since the disgusting SyFy channel & NBC Universal stopped Atlantis. The promises of Movies-DVD; were lies, and the lousy warped SyFy channel barely runs an old Atlantis episodes. Seems to me that the real mission was too destroy imagination & science & technology in the USA! 100 canned shows, sitting gathering dust, pitiful Network SyFy has become. I watch History 2 channel now, SyFy only 2~4 hours a week. That’s a huge drop is watching!

Don December 13, 2011 | 1:43 PM

well many years have passed, I watch SYFY channel 75% less than i use too. The new shows are horror, ghosts, wrestlers, reality trash! NBC universal is so big that they dont care at all. The head V.P. of the SyFy channel should be sacked, they are mourons! Star Gate Atlantis was there best show ever! Now I search for real sci-FI on the other 693 channels I have on this cable system. I avoid NBC, like the plague, all my life they ruined my favorite shows.

mrs john sheppard January 05, 2010 | 12:00 PM

no more joe flanigan and cast so sad about this at least we have our conventions. death to sy fy!!!!!

Jamal D Barr October 04, 2009 | 2:54 PM

Watched SGU I did, why the Fu** did they cancel SGA again? Nothing seen in universe surpassed SGA's premier.

Jamal D Barr October 04, 2009 | 2:54 PM

Watched SGU I did, why the Fu** did they cancel SGA again? Nothing seen in universe surpassed SGA's premier.

Danny January 28, 2009 | 9:08 AM

SCI-FI you suck!! no really.

mark dickson December 12, 2008 | 6:36 AM

i think star gate atlantis should run til the 10 season , the show is straight , it's just need a little time , it's one on the best shows from stargate universe. the story would be a story , with out it , and besides how can you start a story and then stop it . it doen't make since , don't give up on the show just yet , get more people involved in it , like all walks of life , to me the show is different , but difference can bring change ,

crs December 04, 2008 | 3:36 AM

SGA was the reason I kept SCIFI and the larger (not just family package) monthly commitment with DISH. Well, I guess my family will save money. (Remember, those of you old enough, the loss of the original STAR TREK). Good Bye (Good Buy?) Sci Fi.

Vitaly November 15, 2008 | 6:11 PM

How much does it cost to produce a full season of Stargate Atlantis? Maybe the fans can pitch in?

Chloe September 15, 2008 | 1:18 AM

Honestly I stopped caring when they killed Beckett and got rid of Elizabeth. Still I'm sad for the people that still loved it.

Adelle September 14, 2008 | 5:20 PM

I too, am most unhappy with the cancellation. And I see a couple of things to comment on. I am glad that a movie will happen and I hope that indeed it truly will - anything can change as we have seen. What I don't get is why SCIFI would even consider cancelling it at the same time they have already cancelled Battlestar Galactica - their Friday night lineup! To lose them both at the same time is truly a shame. I notice as a offshoot of that, that SCIFI has seemed to lose its focus on what makes up a good part of science fiction. SF without space ships, aliens, time travel, parallel universes, etc., is incomplete. Yes the supernatural/paranormal stuff is part of SF and so is the psychological SF, but to remove the whole "outer space" thing is missing the boat altogether. And lastly, I don't understand why SGA is being cancelled when seasons 4 and 5 (especially 5) are such dark seasons. It would seem wise to have a season 6 to resolve some issues and lighten it a bit and then move to the movie format - much like SG-SG1 did. Just a few of my .02 worth.

Silvius September 13, 2008 | 5:48 AM

I just can belive in this! They are so nosense! Now they are gonna make a new SG serie that is gonna pass all day long in a ship! For the mother god! They create a logic in the show that stops then from activating gates when the gate is moving and now they are gonna break that logic by suddently linking to the ships that is always moving! I can´t say how sad i am! I loved SGA! After all is this was the first time i saw a serie that did not only speaks about Atlantis! But also is plays in Atlantis! Sense i was a child i loved to hear storys about this legendary super advanced city! And then was my long wish became true and i could see a TV series whit it! The only reason why SG survived so long was because of Atlantis creators! The Ancients, Alterans or Lanteans, there was so much mystery about this old race and probably ours fathers if we follow SG mythology! That keeped so many people standing on they sofas just to know more about then! Then some finnaly has the great idea and join Atlantis to the story of SG, creating the incredible show SG Atlantis where there so allot of mysteries about the Alterans history to discover and joining yo that allot of great fights, funny humour, dramatic scenes, amasing especial effects, and you have the more wonderful sci-fi show ever created! Until some guys decided to cancel it to put a another show it less cost on its place! And me hoping that we would see in the very end of SG Atlantis, the Atlantis team finding allot of alive and air breathing Alterans, and we could see the humans and our fathers joining forces in a last battle against the wraith, ending it the complete annihilation of this nature mistake once and for all, freeing the pegasus galaxy at least. And maybe a little more they could show a future where both the earth humans and the alterans working together in exploring our huge universe! That´s how i think the things should have gone after all the main objective of trip to Atlantis was to find the Alterans.

jv September 12, 2008 | 12:56 PM

blah thats what i think about the powers that be they all suck winnies and i cannot believe they couldnt give sga another season so they decided to use the money they had left to create a new show called star gate 90210 opps i mean stargate universe. i will no longer watch sci fi but ill always support sga. BRING MY SHEPPARD BACK!!!!

lindagagne September 12, 2008 | 10:36 AM

I am angry also with the cancelation of Stargate Atlantis. TPTB including Brad Wright, think they know what is best for the fans. They are trying to force this new Universe on us, but the smart fans will boycott it to show TPTB that we don't accept it. That is one way to get it through their heads. My hope is the ratings for this new show will be a dud and they will then realize they have made a huge mistakes. Especially when they outwardly state it will be geared to younger audiences. What an insult in so many ways.

Jamal D Barr September 11, 2008 | 2:56 PM

Here's why I hate all of them(The Powers That Be), we the fans had no say in their decision, none what so ever. It is very unfortunate that we can't deal these people a more serious blow, than to type a few pathetic words of contempt. They introduce something to us, get us to love it, promise to be in there for the long haul, then yank the rug from underneath us. Scifi needs Atlantis, since 98% of their programming is absolute filth. And MGM could have had two SGU shows instead of one. Damn idiots. Though thank you Sheknows for this brilliant article.

charlie September 10, 2008 | 6:50 PM

I am so mad...they took off SG-1 and now SGA!!!!!!!!!!!! Those execs are really screwed up in the head...

Morjana September 10, 2008 | 5:09 PM

Thank you for this Stargate Atlantis article.

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