Robert C. Cooper has loved the Stargate franchise so much, he has pretty much spent his entire career with it, spanning three television series, a couple network homes, and a new approach with “Stargate: Universe.”
But even the best things sometimes have to come to an end.
“You don’t get into the business to do one thing and one franchise,” Cooper told reporters, including one from Airlock Alpha, during a media roundtable at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday. “I feel tremendously lucky to be a part of it, but I think it’s time.”
Cooper announced earlier in the summer that he is stepping back from day-to-day to fill more of a consultant role on the back half of SGU’s second season. But what’s it like to be away from a franchise he’s spent 17 years on?
“I haven’t been stepped back long enough to evaluate that,” Cooper said. “I suspect that it’s going to be interesting. I’ve always wondered what the outside perspective of our show would be like. I don’t have that now, and I can’t judge it because I’m so close to it. It will be a lot of fun, actually, to watch the show from a distance a little bit.”
It’s not the first time Cooper has stepped away, however. The fourth season of “Stargate: Atlantis” was Cooper-lite, but that break really helped the executive producer re-energize — so could it happen again before “Universe” is all said and done?
“When I came back [to ‘Atlantis’] full-time, in some ways, it reinvigorated and refreshed me,” Cooper said. “I was able to look at what we were doing with a more critical eye as opposed to when you’re really close to something.”
There are still some critics of SGU, especially from a handful of fans who liked “Atlantis” as well as “Stargate SG-1,” but Cooper said the idea was always to be different.
“The reason why we made them a bunch of people who were unprepared to be there and were not the right ones to be there is that we wanted this show to be about characters” that remained real people when faced with challenges. One of the problems of SGA and SG1 was that some of the characters became superheroes that really took away some of the dramatic challenges needed in a story.
“McKay could run into any situation and know what button to press and we were done,” Cooper said of David Hewlett’s SGA character of Dr. Rodney McKay. “When writing drama, we wanted the characters to create challenge.”
There will be some changes in Season 2, however. The biggest is that the crew will not spend so much time trying to find their way home, or complain about not being able to go home — something that “Star Trek: Voyager” took years to figure out.
“We kind of establish a common goal, a mission, so that we’re not all focused on going home, but rather going forward,” Cooper said. “We may not ever get home, but being here is really, really cool. So let’s stop all this bickering and start truing to work together.”