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Sanctuary‘s long hiatus: Is it permanent?

Tuesday - May 8, 2012

As a general rule of thumb in the television industry, by the time you’ve aired the last episode produced of your series, you generally know the fate of said series.  You either know you’ve been canceled and the series run is done, or you get a half or full-season order and actively begin work on a new batch of episodes.  The decision on which way things go is generally known prior to the final episode airing or very shortly thereafter.

Unfortunately, that is the farthest thing from the case for a series near and dear to the hearts of many Stargate fans and genre TV watchers in general.  More than four months after airing its last episode, the fate of the Syfy series Sanctuary is still in limbo, with its creative team and industry analysts alike unsure whether the series will survive and get a new season — the series’ fifth.

While in British Columbia for the final Vancouver version of the Creation Entertainment Official Stargate Convention, GateWorld flew up a few days early and took an invite to visit Bridge Studios to sit down with executive producer Martin Wood and executive producer/series star Amanda Tapping for an exclusive chat on a variety of topics, including the series’ long hiatus and its potential fate.  The answers we received — while not the best news we want to hear — are brutally honest, yet still hopeful.

“Do we see it returning?  I’d love to see it return.  It was never an intention to end the show after Season Four,” Tapping said.  “In all honesty, we’re not going to be on TV screens in the fall.  We know that.  It’s really just been a logistical [nightmare] and a heartbreaking, soul crushing play-out of events.  But the truth of the matter is Syfy was not able to make a decision in a timely fashion as to whether or not we were coming back for the fall.  They had their whole crunch going on with Comcast taking over at NBC.  So they weren’t able to give us a decision.”

The wait for an answer won’t be indefinite, though, as Tapping hinted as to when a decision either way must come by.

“Our financers were getting really nervous about whether or not the show was coming back.  And even though Syfy doesn’t have to tell us until July, telling us in July means the show is not coming back in the fall because we can’t possibly do it,” Tapping said. “In that time period where the financers were getting nervous and Syfy wasn’t giving us a decision, our studio came up for lease.  And our studio is very expensive.  They wanted us to sign a year-long lease and pay three months in advance.  And our financers were like “Why would we do that? We don’t even know if the show’s [returning].”  So they released the studio.

“All of our assets are currently sitting in a massive storeroom,” Tapping added.  “Everything Sanctuary.  Except for our sets which have been sold.”

Tapping: "We're just a couple of producers who just want to make a show."

Martin Wood is quick to stress that while the series’ fate continues to remain unknown, it has nothing to do with Syfy’s overall happiness with the series and its performance.

“We’re at the point of where art and business collide,” Wood said.  “[We got] a call from the head of the network, Mark Stern.  He called to say ‘I have to admit that Season Four was your best season ever.  It was amazing.  We loved what Season Four was doing.’  But his hands were tied at that point.  He couldn’t make a decision on it.  Because he wasn’t available to do that.  Or rather, the decision-making capability wasn’t available to him.  I think given their feelings about the show, they certainly would have brought it back.  But again, that’s the point where art and business collide.”

For Tapping, the wait for an answer about what will happen to the series she has invested so much time and effort into has been an emotional-roller coaster.

“You’ve got Syfy dealing with Comcast, and you’ve got Syfy dealing with our financers, The Beedie Group, which own the show.  And we’re just a couple of creative producers who just want to make the show,” Tapping said.  “I can’t [talk about it] without sitting here and bawling my eyes out.  It has been the most heart-crushing, soul destroying experience.  Because it’s a really good show and we love it.  And we are stuck between these two really opposing forces.”

For more from the duo about Sanctuary‘s fate, along with their thoughts on the Stargate franchise’s dormancy and so much more, make sure you keep your browser locked to GateWorld.  An exclusive full-length audio interview with Amanda Tapping and Martin Wood is mere days away and not one you’ll want to miss!


Chad Colvin is a GateWorld editor and convention correspondent. He lives near Madison, Wisconsin. Follow him on Twitter @ChadColvin. (More)

COMMENTS (39):Rules | Report Comment | Trackback

  • Just when I get into a show, it meets it’s end. I came into this show during season 3, and began watching regularly through reruns on Chiller last summer. Fell in love, and now collecting boxed sets (I just ordered season 3 on Blu-Ray). If it doesn’t come back, at least it’s not an older series that I am discovering 20 years later, as this happens alot with me. Great article, Chad! :-). Looking forward to the audio!

  • Comcast also pulled the plug on Eureka. Not a good time for sci-fi on Syfy. :(

  • It’s unfortunate that we’re seeing the probable end of another imaginative scripted show. The worst problem with this trend, as I see it, is that producers and investors are going to be more and more reluctant to take gambles on new ideas for future science fiction projects. The initial investment in sets and casting is going to simply too risky. It’s too easy to pump out a cheap reality show with little to lose if it tanks.

  • Since the death of SGU, I only have 3 shows on SyFy… Eureka (ending soon), Sanctuary (uncertain), and Being Human (good, coming back, but I can get it through other means). I don’t even watch WWE Smackdown, and I’m actually a big WWE fan.

    I’m done with SyFy once they make a decision on Sanctuary. There’s just nothing left that they can even remotely call Science Fiction… what’s the point?

  • this gives me some time to catch up on the last season…

  • I just can’t stand it anymore…it only about money these days and no one cares about a good show…if the network (or their shareholders) do not see the money, they kick it out…no matter what…

    You rather wait unitl a series has 3 seasons before you start but even then you can’t be sure that you’ll have a start and ending point. I could name at least about 10 great shows, which have been cancelled out of a sudden…

    Sorry but I’m just pi****…

  • Well in all seriousness the series has been going downhill for a long time. I love Tapping’s work, but the show is boring.

    About the only interesting characters on the Show are/were Telsa and Druit.

  • Syfy is really wonderful you know. It likes killing of wonderful shows. Great Syfy! Nice! I applaud your stupidity!

  • It’s not Syfy’s fault this time. They got bought by a new company, changes happened, and they are literally unable to make a decision until COMCAST figures out what’s what.

  • Up till today I’ve bought into the theory that Comcast is the Big Bad in all this – they were blamed for canceling Eureka (as I said above) and now they are getting the blame for the hold-up with Sanctuary. But the conspiracy theorist in me wonders if this isn’t simply a case of “good cop-bad cop.” Syfy can blame Comcast for unpopular decisions and still say they are championing (unsuccessfully) science fiction on their network. Not sure if it’s true, but I wouldn’t be surprised by anything.

    I understand though, that the bottom line is what’s important in television. If it isn’t able to make money for someone, somehow, it won’t be back.

  • Syfy…GROW A FRACKING BACKBONE! Comcast/NBC CLEARLY doesn’t understand your channel and the audience you were designed to cater for. YOU CAN’T KEEP CANCELING YOUR POPULAR SHOWS AND EXPECT TO RETAIN AN AUDIENCE!

    Not only cancelling them, but the WAY you handled it. Eureka was a disaster, from “final season” to “no final season” to “final episode,” SGU was a disaster “we’re just gonna announce it on twitter and wait months before we even say a word about it officially to fans” Caprica “we’re just not gonna air the remaining episodes and show re-runs of a 20 year old show that everyone’s seen” and now Sanctuary “waiting…waiting…waiting…waiting…”

    You clearly don’t understand how passionate your audience is about their shows.

    Amanada, our hearts go out to you and the cast and crew of a show that’s matured nicely over the years. It would be heartbreaking to loose another great genre show, especially with so many already going off (Chuck, Fringe next year, Eureka, Terra Nova)

    Clearly the WORST thing to happen to SyFy is being bought out by NBC and the SECOND WORST thing to happen is being bought out by Comcast, neither company seems to know what to do or how to treat this network that was obviously created for a niche genre. Now they’re trying (unsuccessfully) to branch out to a new audience, when the world already sees the SyFy channel as catering to the science fiction genre. Reality TV? Wrestling? BS! They’re NOT going to change their image, no matter how hard they try, and the harder they try the more hardcore fans they loose.

    Watch, in 2-3 years you’ll see SyFy filing for bankruptcy because they lost all their fans.

  • Browncoat1984, no, it won’t, it will do something worse, it will do the same thing CourtTV and The Nashville Network did. Remember them, CourtTV became TruTV and, The Nashville Network became The National Network and then, SpikeTV. Or, maybe distanting it’s self from SciFi would be the best thing SyFy could do for SciFi fans, change the network’s name completely and let some other company create a SciFi channel. Hey, see what I did, I imagined greater!! LOL

  • I really dislike scifi, they have taken anything scifi and put junk on. i hardly watch the channel anymore, only eureka and when it was on sanctuary. i just wanna cry

  • Unfortunately, axcel1 probably has it right. Syfy as a network has had better cumulative ratings than in previous years, when the good stuff was on. So why should Comcast listen when Syfy wants to air sci-fi? There is no incentive financially. I mourn the loss of so many good shows who were cut short before their time, SGA, Farscape, Eureka… but realistically don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel for Syfy. We are just gonna get more of the same, because it is working for the suits at the top.

  • This series as with any other was doomed on SciFry. If you want to survive get another network to buy the series.

  • I think it is a time that some one creates a new network to compete with frigging SYF(Y)ilis

  • Exactly, we need a new science fiction/fantasy channel. Maybe it could be called something like The Science Fiction and Fantasy network so there’s NO question what this channel is all about.

    It needs to be run not by a bunch of suits who only care about the bottom line but by people who are just as much sci-fi fans as the people who watch their shows, people who understand that their viewers don’t like being left in the dark, don’t like being crapped around when it comes to cancelling their shows (Eureka and that fiasco)

    That being said, I DO understand that as a network you need to make money, and there are shows that are just bad and should be cancelled, however, even the worst shows sometimes find a core audience and isn’t there a way you could ease the sense of loss and disappointment when a favorite show is gone? IE if a show ends on a cliffhanger, maybe you could simply close it off with a TV movie or miniseries ala Farscape and Firefly?

    You know, this recent kickstarter phenomenon that has been spreading has got me thinking, I know Doug Drexler, who worked on ST:TNG and its spin-offs, and another guy are trying to get a series of sci-fi movies funded. I also know that the youtube fan series Fallout Nuka Break has had a sucessful kickstarter for season 2.

    Would it be possible for shows like Stargate to have some sort of a kickstarter set up where people could donate to help keep it running? I mean, if we approach the former producers of SGU/SGA and told them our idea for a series of SG-1/SGU/SGA movies to give us better closure. Obviously I doubt we could fund a whole season, BUT maybe a few SGU movies, a few SGA movies, a few SG-1 movies and one big combo movie or something to say “we’re putting it to rest now, here’s your grand finale!”

    Would it be possible to approach them about this and say “lets get a kickstarter set up, can you guys go to MGM and say ‘hey, our fans have this great idea on how to fund the project, wanna give it a shot?'” Maybe do this with Sanctuary too and Eureka?

    I can almost guarantee that there are enough people who are fans of these shows that they would get a decent amount of funding via kickstarter. I mean, look how many millions of dollars have been raised via kickstarter, how many successful projects have been funded.

    What do you guys think? Darren and David? Could something like this work?

    While I would love to see a new Stargate show, right now all I really want is better closure for SGU/SGA and a few last stories with the SG-1 cast before everybody gets too old and too far apart. I know cast members like Robert Carlyle and Michael Shanks are involved with other series, but their shows aren’t year-round, and Carlyle’s show at least is shot in Vancouver, which is where Stargate was shot, so I bet they could all work it around their schedules for the fans.

  • Carly

    Absolutely, Browncoat1984 and Sylvia. Are we not to have any sci-fi anymore?
    Another thing, if Sanctuary and the other’s ratings have dropped, how do they measure it. Did they calculate the Canadian and US viewers only?
    I am from South Africa and we are only viewing Season 4 eps 6 tomorrow night so it is stupid to do the above. If only the Cable viewers who get Sanctuary after the US are also used in the ratings, what about the rest of us.
    Not all of our Country has cable and have 2 wait to hire the DVD/Blue Ray and they are quite popular(one has to prebook), despite the fact that we don’t have Conventions.

    I HATE Sy-fy.

  • @Browncoat1984

    Great idea. I say let’s get this thing started.

  • We can only hope and pray for a real SciFi Channel. God, I miss the good ol’ days when we had scifi fridays and scifi mondays, too.

  • Syfy network as a whole is going down! There started when they started canceling scifi shows off the scifi channel and going against there own entertainment brand! The cancellation of Farscape started there demise and since they started canceling SG1 Atlantis and SGU there is for the most part very little science fiction on syfy anymore. I don’t see this network being around to much longer! Mainly because THEY SUCK!!!!

  • Hello all, it’s been a while since I last posted here.

    @Sylvia @Browncoat1984.
    If you’ll recall I was kicking the idea of fan funded seasons of our favorite shows a year ago when there was was so much discussion about the rather rude cancellation of SGU. Show funded by the fans for the fans using a system similar to that of public broadcasters. The show NOVA for instance has a few corporate sponsors that get mentioned at the beginning, middle and end of an episode along with thanks to “viewers like you”.
    If just 1 million fans of a show like SGU that has high production costs made a pledge of $25-$50 a full (20 eps) could easily be made. There’s easily twice that many fans between US and Canada (we’ll ignore the fictional numbers from Nielsen shall we?). Add in overseas fan base and there would be plenty of money for our fave scripted shows like SGU, Eureka and Sanctuary.I’d fork out $50 for EACH of these shows. How about you????

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