Across the Universe


So you want to be a franchise? Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper talk about spinning off their new hit sci-fi series Stargate Universe


By Matthew Hays


Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper insist they really weren’t thinking of another Stargate series.

I mean, they really weren’t. “Robert and I have been making Stargate for…”And with that statement, Wright pauses on the phone from his Vancouver office. He’s clearly doing a bit of math. “I co-created Stargate SG-1, and I hired him on that show. So he and I have been working together coming up on 13 years. We’re breaking season 17 of shows called Stargate.”


As Wright recounts, when it seemed the end was near for Stargate Atlantis, the third TV series inspired by the 1993 feature film, he and Cooper were quite happy with the idea of doing something different. “When it seemed like we were done with Stargate, MGM approached us and said, ‘how about another Stargate series?’ And we said we really wanted to do something else. Their response was, ‘okay, let’s do something else–but let’s do it with Stargate.’”


At this point, Cooper had pitched the idea of doing a feature film based on the Stargate TV series and riding on their popularity. “Of course,” Wright says, “all TV writers want to write feature films and all feature film writers want to write TV shows. We figured we’d parlay what clout we had with MGM and do it as a film–maybe even as a backdoor pilot.”


From Plot-driven to Character-Driven


But in order for Wright and Cooper to keep things interesting, they knew they had to forge a new path: “what I really wanted to do was to shake up the approach to the show,” recalls Cooper. “I wanted us to move stylistically in a very different direction. We had made a plot-driven, action adventure show previously.


The characters were fun and interesting, and one of the key reasons people liked the shows was because of the characters, but when people tuned in they knew what to expect: the crew would get into some trouble, go through the gate, have an adventure and then come home after saving the world. I don’t mean it in a derogatory sense, but it was a comic-book adventure, with larger-than-life bad guys, all about bad vs. good– very broad, primary colours. I felt like we had done as much of that as we could possibly do.”


In particular, Cooper liked the possibility of a shift in tone: “I pitched the idea of doing something slightly more real as a character drama. It’s a sci-fi show: you’re still dealing with space ships. But I wanted the characters to feel real. One of the things some people have said is that you can’t make a serious drama that has far-out science in it.” Wright and Cooper wanted to challenge that notion.


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