It’s been a couple of years since we saw David Hewlett saving the day (and complaining along the way) as Dr. Rodney McKay on Stargate Atlantis. This week he’s back in the Stargate headlines, guest starring on last night’s new episode of Stargate Universe.
Hewlett had nothing but praise for the show and its cast. In the wake of the series’ cancellation last December, though, he went on the record about why he thinks SGU didn’t make it past two seasons.
“I think the biggest detriment they had was that people came from watching Atlantis expecting more of the same from SGU, and it was a really different change of direction. And it’s beautifully done … I think the problem they came up against was that they had a very strong existing fan base for something that was, I think, lighter. [Atlantis was] the kind of science fiction that families sat down and watched together. We had kids and parents and grandparents and the neighbors come by all to watch our show. That’s an amazing thing in this day and age. But SGU is definitely an adult show for an adult audience, and it was a much darker show. So obviously the people who want to sit down wither their family, you know, they can’t do that with SGU.
“But that unto itself opens up a whole other audience. It’s just unfortunate that they hadn’t had a chance to really spread their wings and become their own show. But I think that’s the danger when you play with the tone of a franchise like this.”
“Was it a mistake or not? I don’t know, I don’t think so. They certainly did a great job with it. I mean, my God, the acting, the writing, the effects … it’s gorgeous. It’s an absolutely gorgeous show. But the problem, I think, is that it didn’t bring enough from the original ‘Stargate’ franchise. I think they were aiming for more of a Battlestar type audience, and Battlestar had the same issue, where it was a very, very highly acclaimed show … but it didn’t hit the numbers. I think when you go for dark and edgy you lose out what’s certainly not the sexiest demographic in the world for TV by network standards, but certainly a powerful one. The shows that allow for the communal activity of sitting down and watching television are incredibly powerful franchises, and that, to me, is what viewers got out of Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis.”Away from Stargate, Hewlett is back to work on Starcrossed — an idea he successfully pitched to Syfy Channel a few years ago, though the network eventually passed on it and returned the rights to the idea fo him. Billed as Galaxy Quest meets 30 Rock, the 30-minute comedy would follow the exploits behind the cameras of a sci-fi show.
“We are in the process of trying to make it happen again,” he said of the series. “It’s been sitting there festering for a long time. Basically, it’s about time to get it happening, and thankfully Syfy are helping us as much as they possibly can. … What we’re working on right now is obviously making it financially viable for whoever wants to get involved [to produce it] and that may involve traditional television and it will certainly be involving a lot of Web stuff. Basically we’re just out there right now hustling for some money and some actual written commitments from people.”
Also look for Hewlett in theaters this summer. The Atlantis vet has a part in Rise of the Apes, a Planet of the Apes prequel starring James Franco and Andy Serkis. That hits screens on August 5.
As for Rodney, he has it relatively safe in the Milky Way and Pegasus Galaxies. “McKay wouldn’t survive in an SGU world, for the most part,” Hewlett laughed. “I mean, he’d be killed, basically! And I know Brad [Wright, executive producer] said he had a hard time trying to figure out how to bring McKay back, but I’m really glad he did. And it’s too bad that the show’s not going to continue.”
Head over to TV Squad for the full interview! David also talks about working with David Blue (“Eli Wallace”), reuniting with Robert Picardo (“Richard Woolsey”), and Stargate movie possibilities. Stargate Universe airs Mondays at 10/9c on Syfy Channel in the U.S., and Tuesdays at 10/9c on SPACE in Canada. New episodes return to Sky1 in the United Kingdom on April 11.
Follow David Hewlett: @DHewlett