It’s hard to believe that Stargate Atlantis‘ fifth season will culminate in the airing of the show’s 100th episode. The Stargate franchise’s first spin-off is now no longer a fledgling production – it has well and truly come of age. Season five will be the second year that the executive producing and writing partnership of Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie have acted as show-runners on the series. Despite being rushed off his feet as production on the season gets underway, Mallozzi was happy to spill a few secrets about what fans have to look forward to in this, the first of our two-part chat.
How is production on season five so far?
We’re starting to get into it. It’s always tough at the beginning, but it’s fun. We’ve got [Robert] Picardo in, and he injects a new variable to the show. New variables are always interesting after this many years, not just of Atlantis but Stargate in general. It’s always interesting to make it different and mix things up.
How many scripts do you have in hand so far?
We have four finished scripts. We have a first draft of another, which is one that Carl [Binder] just handed in, and Brad [Wright]’s working on episode six which he should have for Monday. I’m working on episode seven. I’m just agonising over this last scene! Then beyond that, Carl’s already started on script number eight and we’re about to discuss script number nine, which is going to be Alan [McCullough]’s. We’ve already broken the mid-season two-parter, which will see Michael Shanks guesting as Daniel Jackson, and Martin [Gero]’s going to be writing that one. We kind of already know what episodes 19 and 20 are going to be. So we’ve got some scripts in hand but also a lot of stories in play at this point.
When you first started talking about the season as a whole with the writing staff, what things did you want to see happen throughout the year?
Well, first of all we left things on a cliff-hanger at the end of season four, with ‘Last Man.’ We wanted to resolve that in the premiere, ‘Search and Rescue.’ We had to deal with the change of command ¬– Carter leaving and Woolsey coming in. Then there were a couple of other things that we set up last season that we wanted to continue to explore and develop, like Teyla’s pregnancy and her relationship with Kanan, and Ronon’s reunion with his old buddy Tyre, who turned out to be a Wraith worshiper. Potential romantic relationships are something that we’ve been really subtle about in the past. I think, much to the delight or perhaps the chagrin of fans, we will be getting into more of the relationship stuff in season five.
Then there’s the fact that we have episode 100 coming up, which will be funny. Robert Cooper actually came in and he pitched an idea for episodes 19 and 20, which we thought was great, so we know what we’re working towards.
Finally, we talked about shifting the status quo in the Pegasus galaxy. When we first arrived in season one, the Wraith were the main threat and by the end of season four, the Wraith were significantly weakened. So an opportunity has opened up in the Pegasus galaxy, much in the way that it did in the Milky Way once the Goa’uld were defeated. We’re suggesting that in the past when societies reached a certain level of advancement, the Wraith would sweep in and cull them, so you didn’t see many technologically advanced societies, if any at all. So what we’re going to say is that the technologically advanced societies that do exist have been in hiding and fearful of drawing the Wraith’s attention. But now, with the Wraith significantly weakened, they’re taking the opportunity to step up. So we’re going to be introducing a technologically advanced society in season five.
There are quite a lot of cast changes for year five, the biggest of which being that Amanda Tapping will not be returning as Colonel Carter. Had you always intended for Carter to only command Atlantis for one year?
No. In fact, we expected Amanda [Tapping] to come back for season five. Then an opportunity arose with the Sanctuary project that she has a personal investment in. It was a tough decision for her. She went back and forth, and wanted to find a way to make both work. But ultimately, I called Amanda and said, “You’re going to have to choose one or the other.â€ As much as I hated to do it, to put her in that spot, just because of the way our production schedule looks to be mapping out for season five, we’re not going to have the wiggle room that we had in previous years. [Before] we were able to say okay, if you’re not going to be available for these episodes, then we’ll just move these ones to here and shoot these episodes here. We don’t have that ability this year. So unfortunately we said you’re going to have to choose between Atlantis and Sanctuary, and after some thought and I know it was a very difficult decision for her, she said, ‘I’m going to have to go with Sanctuary but I want you guys to know that if you need me for anything…’ She made herself available for the hand over of command, and that was great. In fact I just said goodbye to her maybe half an hour ago. She was here doing some publicity for ‘Ark of Truth’ and she came by the production office to say goodbye. It was a pleasure to work with her and we’re sorry to see her go.
Check out the concluding part of our chat with Joseph Mallozzi to find out about the base’s new commander Richard Woolsey…and the further adventures of Doctor Carson Beckett!