EDITIONS:   US | Int’l | Asia | Print
Subscribe Subscribe| Advertise Advertise| Newsletters Newsletters| HCD HCD| Jobs Jobs| Log In Log In| About About

'Stargate' on global trek that spans 200 episodes

'Stargate' on global trek that spans 200 episodes

Steve Brennan
"Let the Chinese know and let the British know -- and, oh yeah, Canada too." The line was an inside joke that the Canadian showrunners of "Stargate SG-1" and "Stargate Atlantis," Brad Wright and Robert Cooper, worked into a season finale in which the U.S.' secret Stargate project was about to be shared with the rest of the world.

The scenario that played out on the small screen in the episode was in fact a world removed (literally) from the real-life story of the popular sci-fi series. The rest of the world was already very much aware of the series and its rich corps of characters, and viewers from Argentina to Russia were tuning in.

Today, with MGM Television's "SG-1" now in its 10th season with its 200th episode about to air in August, the series now airs in more than 120 countries and is doing top-notch numbers in many of the territories.

"We were out there (internationally) from the get-go. Viewers around the world were seeing the show from Season 1 and 2, and we were getting feedback from France, Germany and the U.K. very early on. It was international that helped keep us on the air in the beginning," Cooper says.

The fact that Richard Dean Anderson starred in the series as Major General Jack O'Neill for the first eight seasons certainly helped the international push, the producers concur. After all, the actor had already gained global TV chops as "MacGyver," which traveled very successfully in the foreign markets. (He will return to "Stargate" to reprise his role for the 200th episode.)

"That helped get eyes on the screen. But the fun part of 'Stargate' is that when he left the show for Season 9 and 10, there was enough forward motion to continue to propel it internationally," Cooper adds.

That was also a time when the story line was beginning to move in new and varied directions, and new characters were coming into the plots -- including a new, more global approach to the scenario. This certainly didn't do it any harm in terms of branding the show as an international property.

"At the end of Season 7 we opened things up and said that the rest of the world, and certain governments in the world, were going to find out about the Stargate, and this would have to have helped in terms of international appeal," Wright says.

The partners don't do meet-&-greets very often with their show's fans and broadcasters in London or Paris, they say. "You can't write 40 episodes for television in a single season and go around the world and see people. But we do hear back from a lot of our actors who go to the international conventions. It's also fun to go to the Net and see messages in all those languages, people who see the show from all over the world, from Japan, Germany, France. That's fun," Wright says.

Both producers point to the popularity of sci-fi in the world markets as being another factor in the series' success. It's a formula for success that dates back to the original "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits," not to mention "Star Trek." The tried-and-true formula of placing ethical challenges within the story line works as well today for "SG-1" characters as it did for Capt. James T. Kirk, it seems. "We figure that if you can put your character in a healthy and rich moral dilemma, you are doing a good service to science fiction," Wright reflects.

The success of the franchise in the overseas markets can be gauged from its performance in such important territories as the U.K., where on Channel 4 it garners an impressive 1 million viewers in its weekend time slot. It also fares well in France on M6 with some 1.3 million viewers for its weekend outing, and in Germany on RTL 2 with an estimated 1.3 million viewers at peak times.
    Share on LinkedIn