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Sophomore Stride
Beware SPOILERS for Seasons Four and Five of Stargate Atlantis in the following interview!

He's been working on and off with Stargate since the ninth season of SG-1. Now, in his second year as a full-time staff member, Co-producer and writer Alan McCullough catches up with GateWorld for what is not turning out to be a sophomore slump, but the opposite!

McCullough has written several SG-1 episodes including "Prototype," "Stronghold" and "Insiders." Last season of Atlantis he was responsible for "Tabula Rasa" and "The Seer," among others. Now in Season Five, he tells GateWorld about his latest scripts and some of the others he is seeing come down the pike.

Our interview with Alan runs 20 minutes. You may listen at your leisure, download to your MP3 player, or read the transcript below!

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GateWorld: For, I'm David Read, and I'm here with Mr. Alan McCullough, writer for Stargate Atlantis.

Alan McCullough: Hello! Yes, yes.

GW: Thank you for letting us in[to your office], sir.

AM: Thank you! Thank you for coming.

GW: We're just a few weeks starting into production of Season Five. Any early thoughts?

AM: It's great! We've got a whole new batch of stories. It always amazes me that we can come up with new material after so many seasons of Stargate SG-1 and then Stargate Atlantis. There's some really exciting stories coming up.

Season Four introduced new characters, and challenges for old ones.
We had a really strong season in Season Four. Season Four was my first season so I was thinking, "Oh, maybe sophomore slump." And it was also Joe [Mallozzi] and Paul's [Mullie] first season as show runners. I had some concerns at the beginning that we were going to get into a sophomore slump. But the cuts we've seen so far are fantastic.

The two-parter, the first part of the two-parter that Martin [Gero] just wrote this week is amazing. It's going to be an incredible teaser for the second part. There's some great stories in between as well. We're wrapping up some storylines and opening up new ones.

GW: What do you think fans are going to most be excited about this year? What are you most excited about?

AM: There's a lot. I always love the Wraith stories. I think we started to explore, a little more, the character of Todd in Season Four, and I think that opens up a lot of possibilities with the Wraith.

I think now that the Wraith have been beaten back a bit by the Replicator war in Season Four, I think it opens up some new possibilities for interactions with the Wraith that maybe we couldn't do in the past because everything was always so immediately aggressive or antagonistic, whereas now we're starting to cooperate with the Wraith, try some things out. That's cool. There's some cool stories coming up in that respect.

The season opener is great, I think. Coming up from what Paul set up in "[The] Last Man," what had been set up at the end of "[The] Kindred, [Part] 2." Teyla's missing and all that. So all that gets wrapped up. There's some really heart-warming moments in that.

What else do we have ... We have a couple one-offs, one of which I wrote, "The Daedalus Variations," which is a great team show and it's a real visual effects spectacular, too. We haven't seen any of those yet but it's going to be an amazing visual effects show that I think is very exciting.

GW: What's the idea of that story?

AM: The idea of that story is the Daedalus just shows up in orbit, unexpectedly, and it doesn't make sense because we know for a fact it should be back on Earth. When we try to radio we receive no response, and when we scan it we learn there's no lifesigns onboard.

An alternate-reality Daedalus pays a visit to our universe in "The Daedalus Variations."
We head up to investigate and very quickly find ourselves in trouble because there's a strange energy reading coming from somewhere in the ship. We can't figure it out. We don't know where it's coming from. Suddenly it spikes, a flash consumes the ship, and a moment later when it dissipates we learn that Atlantis is gone, and we have shifted realities.

We're essentially on a Flying Dutchman. This drive is caught on autopilot and every time it charges, it bursts, and we jump reality after reality after reality after reality. So they get trapped on a ship. There's no way home, essentially. [They] have to figure it out.

It was a neat opportunity to see a bunch of different alternate realities.

GW: You can tell some stories.

AM: Yeah, because we don't have to build a new set every time. We're still on the Daedalus, but you get to see through the visual effects what might have happened in this reality, or what might have happened in this reality.

GW: Do things change aboard the Daedalus as well?

AM: Just outside of the Daedalus for the most part, although there is one important interaction that takes place on the Daedalus. When we jump to another reality we get boarded. I won't say more than that. We do end up having to win back our Daedalus from an alien species.

GW: Is this just a wind romp or is there lasting impact?

AM: Not really. It's pretty much just a wild romp. It's pretty much just a one-off adventure story that gets the team into trouble and gets them out at the end. But yeah, it's a lot of fun. It's a fun script.

GW: Mitch Pileggi is in some of those realities?

AM: No, actually. The crew of the Daedalus is completely missing. In fact, it's an alternate reality Daedalus. It came from dozens of realities ago. We see video of a captain and the former colonel who is in charge of the Daedalus, and it's not Mitch.

GW: That's a good excuse.

AM: Hey, we'd love to use Mitch whenever we can, but when you're going to shoot just a lock-off of a final log entry we're wasting his talents on something like that.
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