Gero’s highly anticipated episode, “McKay and Mrs. Miller,” aired this past Friday on SCI FI. Though the ratings haven’t arrived, GateWorld’s poll results are in. Over 2,700 fans have already given the episode a 10 out of 10, with 89 percent of GateWorld readers giving the show 8 out of 10 or higher.
Martin has grounds to be proud.
He also is aware that, thus far, it is the first time an Atlantis episode has received more votes in the GateWorld polls than an SG-1. “I know,” he tells us. “That’s the first time ever! I can’t speak to why the poll results are excellent. We’re very proud of that episode. But what I’m hoping is happening is I know there are still a small section of SG-1 fans that don’t watch Atlantis, that are perhaps, with the news of the cancellation, coming onboard Atlantis slowly. If only to get themselves acclimatized before there’s only one Stargate show.
“Although I do think that that is a minority,” he adds. “I think for the most part people watch both shows. I think there’s a very few amount of people that just watch either Atlantis or SG-1.”
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“I’m overjoyed [at the response],” Martin says to “McKay and Mrs. Miller.” Featuring David Hewlett’s sister, Kate, fans may have wondered if Atlantis was suffering from a case of nepotism. Far from it. Her talent shines through.
“Like I said previously,” Gero tells us, “I have two favorite episodes this year. ‘McKay and Mrs. Miller’ is one of them, and it certainly is the most personal episode. Not only for me, but for David as well. I know for Martin [Wood] as well. And certainly for Kate. It was a real personal experience for all of us, and kind of had a family affair to it. One of my old friends, Brendan Gall, actually plays Kate’s husband. And he actually directed the play that I saw Kate in. The whole thing was his fault, so I called him up and said, ‘This is all your doing, so you’d better come out here and play with us as well.’“
Would a director have a problem jumping into a bedroom scene with an actress he has previously directed? “They’re very good friends. I think it’s easier with someone that you know and are friends with — and they both have significant others — then to just go ‘Oh, hi, this is so-in-so. he’s going to play your husband.'”
One of Martin’s goals for “McKay and Mrs. Miller” was to speak to the relationships between siblings, as he revealed to us in a recent interview. But he himself has no bones with his. “I have a much better relationship with my brothers and sisters than McKay does,” he tells GateWorld. “I just showed the episode to my brother, and he’s a scientist. He’s a marine biologist. So there were numerous times in the show where he would turn to me and was like, ‘Ah! You stole that! Those are things that I say!'”
“The character [of Jeannie] isn’t completely modeled on my brother, but there are definite aspects. Some of Jeannie’s outlooks on life and science are very-much like my brother’s.” Jeannie Miller is not fully trusting of the military, and though she has the brain of a brilliant scientist, family is more important to her. As the episode illustrates, she wasn’t able to marry work and home. So she ultimately chooses to devote herself to her family, to Rodney’s chagrin.
Playing a McKay could not have been easy, but Kate had a starting point: her real-life brother’s mannerisms were the template for what spawned the Rodney we know and love. Gero explains that, though she could find her way into the behavior of a member of the McKay family, the technobabble was something that she had to be introduced to.
Genetic makeup, bone structure and raw talent were all the right reasons to bring Kate Hewlett in as McKay’s sister, says Gero.
The scene that perhaps speaks to this the most is when the McKays are consulting with Colonel Carter while the Daedalus is en route to Atlantis. “It was tough, because that was actually the first day of shooting as well,” says Martin. “It was kind of a baptism by fire for her. The thing that struck me when I first saw her in the play was that she’s already there. She already had Hewlett-isms as part of her genetic makeup … let alone similar bone structure. I felt like it was kind of a no-brainer that she should be able to slide into it. She struggled a bit with the science at the beginning, because she was there with the two pros. She had David and Amanda, who are exposition heroes. And so she was a little nervous about it. But I think she did incredibly well.
“It’s funny,” Gero says, “because what David actually latched on outside of the interpersonal things, because obviously their relationship is quite different … What he really got excited about was the whole idea and concept — what the show is gets to be new. And that whole montage where she’s just kind of staring out the window, reacting to Hermiod, and stuff like that. David called and said ‘Oh, I got chills.'”
Though McKay has been absent from Jeannie’s life since the birth of her four-year old daughter Madison, his return could not have been grander. “That’s every kid’s dream, really. Your brother shows up and is, like, ‘I work in space. Come with me!’ And you’d be like, ‘Oh, yes, awesome!’ That was really something I tried to dial up, and Rob Cooper was sure to pull me in that direction, too. We really wanted to give a sense of being overwhelmed — the sense of awe one has if they would ever encounter something like this.”
Since Atlantis has been assured a fourth season, don’t be surprised if you find her returning.
With SG-1‘s cancellation, and the current ratings, you may think that tensions around the production office are high. But you couldn’t tell from Martin. “In a strange way, and I know people will find this hard to believe, it really doesn’t effect the job that we’re doing. Our job is to make the shows. The one thing that we have no control over is how many people watch them. Our job is that if people tune into it we keep them there. And hopefully bring them back next week … I can’t speak for SG-1, but I’m incredibly proud of the season that Atlantis has done so far.
“I think we’ve done some pretty great back-to-back episodes,” he says, “and I’m particularly excited because I think we are in from ‘Irresistible’ to our mid-season two parter, I think, is our best run of quality Atlantis shows that we’ve ever done. A, I hope the fans feel the same way, and B, I hope they continue to watch because I really think there’s some really, really good shows … ‘Real World’ is a great show. ‘Common Ground’ is a great show. ‘McKay and Mrs. Miller,’ if I do say so myself, is a fantastic show. ‘Phantoms,’, again, is I think one of Carl’s best episodes. And then ‘Return Part 1 and 2 with Jack back. Come on, there’s way too much fun. Robert Picardo and Richard Dean Anderson are, like, the greatest comedy duo that you would never imagine as being a comedy duo.”
Additionally, the second half of the seasons will not be returning until March of 2007! But Martin acknowledges the positive side to that. “That means we’re actually going to get what would at least feel like a full season,” he tells GateWorld. “It’s going to require a lot of pain, because you’re going to have to wait six months, which we’re not particularly excited about, and I know the fans aren’t particularly excited about. But the positive thing about that is when we start airing again, you’re going to get a block of 20 episodes relatively close together. That’s something that we’re definitely keeping in mind coming to the end of the season and talking about the beginning of next season.”
News of SG-1’s cancellation hit the fan only days after the milestone “200” had aired.
But Gero cannot dispute the obvious disappointment of many fans who felt the show was just getting into its stride with the new cast. “I think it’s obviously a shame,” he says. “Creatively, I would argue that the show was far from dead. Rob and Brad and Joe and Paul, and Allan, had written some great episodes this year. The idea was for the show to continue. But I think it’s far from the end of SG-1.
There will be original SG-1 content next year in some form or another, and it might even allow us to make up even better-quality stuff. I know it’s potentially terrifying to not have twenty hours of new SG-1s next year. There’ll be some sort of bridge before we stop completely. I would say ‘Not to worry!'”
Stay tuned to GateWorld for the final segment in our interview series with Martin Gero! He discusses with us the template of the groundbreaking “Sunday,” and his overall expectations for the episode now that it has been filmed. As Martin has told us, many on the staff believe “Sunday” is the best Atlantis episode to date.
Part One of our informal interview with Martin Gero
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