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Revisiting the SG1 Question


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After having 24 hours to digest the cancellation of Stargate SG1, I've been able to put together something that the SciFi channel seems unwilling to say: the reasons why.

You first have to consider that the Sci Fi channel has a number of new original series debuting this year, and those costs, coupled with the extreme number of original movies they commission every year have probably forced them to look very hard at where their money is going these days. Production costs go up in cycles when contracts are renegotiated on a regular basis. Actors especially demand raises at every turn, or they'll walk away. The extensive number of CGI shots which seem to increase every season can't be helping things.

Sci Fi airs reruns of SG1 every Monday in what used to be a four hour block, and then another episode every week day along with the all-new episode on Friday. That much SG1 was more than enough to drive me away for awhile, and I'm a pretty big Stargate fan. This massive overexposure to SG1 could have had real and actual consequences in the ratings downturn this year, and curtailed its own growth in previous years.

There is also the matter of the Stargate producers riding so high that they've supposedly shut out new writers to both shows. There is little doubt that SG1 could have strongly benefited from some fresh writing talent and some new ideas to break out of the box.

It's also worth considering that the primary draw of SG1 was the series original star, Richard Dean Anderson. Anderson left the show several seasons ago, and I feel as if the series has suffered from it. It has survived, no doubt, and is still worth being produced in my opinion, but it's hardly the the up-and-coming juggernaut it once was.

Battlestar Galactica may have inadvertently played a role in SG1's demise as well. BSG's ratings are up where they would have liked to see SG1's, and with another BSG show coming, Sci Fi has put itself in the position of cutting out shows suffering in the ratings while still having strong ratings getters to fall back on. The cost of producing BSG and its supposed followup must also be a factor to consider. Cable channels do not bring in the kind of advertising dollars that even the netlets like UPN are capable of getting, and yet Farscape at the time of its cancellation was costing more than Enterprise was when it went down the tube.

With SG1 wrapping up, Atlantis may not be that far behind. The spinoff shows ratings are only fractionally better than it's predecessor this year, and Atlantis will now suffer from being unable to share resources with SG1 such as in sets, and the CGI unit will only be pulling in half to a third the money it was before. On the other hand, Atlantis may benefit from being the only first-run Stargate show on the air. Some SG1 fans that didn't much care for Atlantis will now move over to get their weekly fix, which should help somewhat.

I find the likelihood of SG1 finding a new home to be fairly low. When SG1 moved from Showtime to Sci Fi, its ratings were very good and it was a profitable move. That is no longer the case, and anyone picking up the show would be taking on a struggling production, albeit with a built-in audience. The problem is, that audience just isn't big enough to justify its cost anymore.

If Stargate has become a franchise the likes of Trek, then history dictates that it too must suffer from the inevitable stagnation that results from a show that becomes unwilling to go in new directions and think outside the box.
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Aug 24, 2006, 3:48:00 AM
There was an article recently discussing the fact that SciFi was planning to drop SG-1 after Atlantis was established, but they held off because SG-1 had started a new story arc that might have brought in better ratings.

I agree most of your arguments, especially cost. SciFi is bringing in all kinds of new content in the form of several new shows, pilots, original movies, and licenses to air re-runs like Enterprise.


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The text of this article is Copyright © 2006,2007 Paul William Tenny. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Attribution by: full name and original URL. Comments are copyrighted by their authors and are not subject to the Creative Commons license of the article itself.