Gero Talks Keller versus Beckett

A few weeks into filming Season 5 of Stargate Atlantis, Writer/Producer Martin Gero gave a long interview to Gateworld, which has just been published. In the interview he made his most revealing statements so far about how Jewel Staite came to replace Paul McGillion as the regular cast member playing the chief medical officer on Atlantis.

From the interview:

Look man, I’m a big Jewel Staite fan. I was one of the people that suggested her in the first place to come in and be the doctor. It was something that we realized very quickly that we needed to do in “First Strike.” Obviously [“Adrift”] and “Lifeline” were going to be lost in space so it would feel weird to introduce a doctor in those. It was a type of thing where I was like, “Listen, we’ve got to do this quick and here’s who I think it should be.”

While the production has always denied there was any connection between Paul McGillion’s removal and Jewel Staite’s hiring, it’s hard to imagine Gero and the other producers were not thinking along those lines as they authorized and wrote “Sunday.” It would only have been a couple of months at most between filming “Sunday” and casting for “First Strike,” after all. Gero goes on to say:

We’d been trying to find a place for Jewel ever since “Instinct.” The only reason we really used her in “Instinct” was because we knew we could use her again. The cast fell in love with her. She lives here in Vancouver so she actually developed a friendship with a lot of people on the show, outside of the show. Sadly, she’s probably closest to Paul McGillion [“Carson Beckett”]. That’s uncomfortable.

Here Gero admits Jewel’s friendly connections to the production were a factor in her being hired, and acknowledges hiring a friend to replace him must have been uncomfortable for Paul. Very sensitive of him.

But Gero also shows a change in attitude in the Gateworld interview. A year ago, Gero insisted fans would love the character of Jennifer Keller. From this interview before Season 4 aired:

… and as for Jewel, if anyone had any doubt, if not gone, will be completely gone after an episode called “Missing”. She is phenomenal. I could not be more excited to have Jewel on the show.

…I have friends that have just started watching the show in season 4 and they love her and people that are expecting “Beckett” are slower to embrace her, but again I have zero concerns and in the next couple of episodes, everyone’s going to be “Keller” fans, regardless of your thoughts on “Beckett”.

Needless to say, his predictions were wrong, as there was widespread negative reaction to Keller’s behavior in “Missing” in on-line fan communities and reviews. Many viewers found Keller too weak and whiny to be believable. From IGN.com:

Who knew Keller was so whiney? She’s worse than McKay’s most pathetic moments (but at least he’s funny-pathetic; Keller is eyes-rolling-pathetic). She came off as very much a spoiled kid.

There were no glowing reviews of Keller after “Missing”. In fact, we aren’t aware of glowing reviews of Keller in general.

In the new interview, Gero admits Keller is not universally loved, but blames it on Carson fans who refuse to accept a new character:

She’s fantastic. I know she definitely has her detractors still, because of the whole Carson thing. If that had never existed I think she would be a universally admired character.

Now this is a truly arrogant, insulting comment. Gero needs to give fans credit for being able to judge Keller on her own merits and not only through the filter of fondness for Carson.

Gero’s reasoning exactly mirrors the production’s reaction to criticism of Jonas Quinn as a replacement for Daniel Jackson in SG-1’s Season 6. The writers didn’t want to see their creation as a failure, so they refused to accept that Jonas wasn’t a successful character regardless of how fans felt about Daniel Jackson. The same is happening here. The simple truth is Keller has not been embraced by fans anywhere near as much as Carson was from the pilot episode on.

Sadly, things seem to only be headed in the wrong direction for Keller’s character in Season 5 as she becomes the center of an “unlikely love triangle” and, based on early viewings of “Search and Rescue,” continues to display indecisiveness and unbelievability as a physician and surgeon.

The bottom line is Mr. Gero should stop attributing all opinion about Keller to disgruntled Beckett fans. Or even better, listen to the fans and either address the criticisms or bring Carson back full-time. We know which one we’d choose!

Author: astrumporta

Site owner and fan of Dr. Carson Beckett and his actor, Paul McGillion.

72 thoughts on “Gero Talks Keller versus Beckett”

  1. Intelligent people question things, they challenge what they don’t like, agree with or understand and they do not blindly follow.

    This is gonna sound really corny, but I can’t tell you how inspiring that is to my “Anti buddies” and I who have often come under fire and even censored at GW for expressing out opinions towards the changes. I find it amazing how many people just go along blindly with anything the PTB say without questioning it.

    I care about the show (or the show we had), and that’s why I’m critical of it. It can’t be perfect – I don’t think the show as a whole will be winning an Emmy soon – but it’s good entertainment, and for me, watching Carson and Co. was a nice break from the real world.

    If people dont want to watch the show because Carson isn’t in it, they hate the changes and/or the new characters and blame the TPTB, then that is their choice. Doesn’t mean they stop being ‘fans’ of the show, just that they are not fans of the new seasons.

    Thank you for acknowledging this – I still consider myself a fan of SGA, but just of the first three seasons. Many of my like-minded individuals have often been told by other people online to “bug off and let the real fans watch the show”.

    But, the thing is, we care about the show so much that we can’t stand to see it sliced apart, beaten and bruised and made into something it shouldn’t be. TPTB’s “creative descision” caused me to no longer become a regular viewer of the show. Not to mention that SGA’s reputation with me has gone downhill since the Carson and Weir fiascos, Keller, and the s**tty lackluster writing and overabundance of juvenile humour that popped up in S4.

    That felt good, now that I have gotten that out. We like to call it “free therapy”. 😉

  2. I do not think the writers should be writing for the fans every week. I mean it’s their job to write episodes that are entertaining and if they think something will work, they have a right to fail like everyone else.

    THAT said, Keller is annoying. I am purposefully avoiding watching Missing because i will probably hit my TV set after watching. There are things you do for shock value and then there are bad decisions. Killing beloved characters is generally a bad idea. and then replacing them…. yeah you know where I’m going with that.

    I agree with most people in saying Jewel is a great actress. I also agree making her a regular in her second season is a bad idea.

  3. Some friends just lent me their SGA DVDs of seasons 1-3 as I only started watching in season 4. So I had no previous allegiance to Beckett before I saw Keller, and I think she is bland and annoying. (However, I really liked Jewel in Firefly so I don’t think it’s her fault.) The friends who lent me the DVDs feel the same way about her.

    I’ve only just watched Sunday, and could not for the life of me figure out why they didn’t just keep Beckett, as he is by far a much better character. I just now came on line to find out why he was written out. (I still don’t know, if anyone would care to enlighten me.)

    Why you would get rid of a colourful, loveable character to bring in a vanilla, unlikeable one is beyond me.

  4. They made a big, big mistake writing out Carson. Whilst I still love Stargate Atlantis, I can’t help but feel dissappointment everytime I see Keller.

    I wasn’t fanatical Carson or anything but his character was interesting and lent well to interaction with the other main characters. Keller just isn’t a very interesting character. She’s dull and slightly annoying.

    The day I hear Carson is re-joining the show will be a happy one indeed for me!

  5. Keller, hm, i don’t like the fact that they seem to be setting it up for Mckay and Keller to be together. (i actually liked Brown…)
    I actually think they might have made a slight miscalculation in pulling out Carson, but maybe they were going for the “more sexy ladies” since SGA has a strange male to female ratio. Lotta main guy characters, not so much on the main gal characters, but quite a few one episode girls.
    i have to admit, Keller’s actor is pretty easy on the eyes, but he acting disappoints me slightly, she doesn’t have that kind and strong vibe that Carson exudes by the bucketful.

  6. I have watched Atlantis from day one. I thought Beckett was a fine Chief Medical Officer. It was unbelieveable when they killed him off. Did his assassination (by the writers) lend anything to the storyline? No. It was not integral to the story that he die. I believe it was more to make room for Jewel in his position.

    Problem is, there was no reason why BOTH could not be on SGA. Jewel’s character is not mature enough nor does she have enough experience to take the CMO position.

    When Sheppard was questioned about being put in charge because he was a Major, TPTB back on earth were ready to replace him. Can you honestly say they wouldn’t have picked a more qualified replacement for Dr. Beckett? Even a Dr back at SGC would have had more experience than Keller.

    Now lest you think I dislike Keller, that’s not the case at all! Sure her character is a little whiney, and inexperienced. That’s not unbelieveable for someone in the position she was in BEFORE Beckett ‘left’. All the more reason to bring Beckett back as CMO and take Keller under his wing.

    The CMO can’t be up all the time and he needs a 2IC as much as Jack needed Carter.

    Do us all a favor and bring Beckett back and keep Jewel as well. Then playing musical charis with her infuatiations can proceed as the writers see fit.

  7. I am a die hard Stargate SG1 fan so it has taken me a bit to try Atlantis. I have been going through the episodes (thanks to netflix) over the last couple of months and it has been really growing on me.

    …until…

    They KILLED OFF one of my favorite peeps!

    Watching the episode where Beckett gets killed was like a punch in the gut. I was just getting to like the series (despite McKay’s bickering) until this happened. I’m not sure if it will recover in my mind… Maybe knowing that Samantha Carter will be in the next series will give me some hope…

    …just thought I would throw in my two cents…

  8. I am a big Dr. Who fan also so I am used to seeing different actors playing the same role.

    I thik that producers like Martin Gero forget it is the fans that watch a show that keep it on the air. if no one watched or only a few it would get cancelled because advertisers wouldn’t pay for air time for a show that no one or hardly anyone was watching. It is obvious he is a big fan of Jewel Staite and it was a key part in her getting the part.

    I wonder if she didn’t have connections would she have ever been hired for the show.

    People in positions of power can ruin a show by doing what they want instead of understanding what the fans of a show like.

    The chemistry that was there between the characters isn’t there with Jewel Staite. It is if everything is forced with her character.

    What would be nice to see if for Martin Gero to be removed from the show as a producer and have to have permission from several different people before he could write any one out of the show and to have Jewel Staite charater removed or killed off the show.

    It would be good to use them as an example that they can face repercussions for trying to carry out a personal agenda to replace someone just because they have a friend they want to get in.

  9. In answer to Michele’s question as to WHY TPTB did in Carson? They HAD to concrete reason other than making room for Jewel who could have been placed in a scientist’s role and, maybe, be berlievable. TPTB will NEVER give us an answer because, quite frankly……..they don’t have one! When asked point blank why, they have continually failed to answer truthfully WHY they killed off Carson! The only reason I can see is they wanted to put Jewel Staite in his place! Then proceed to do a badly written characted who has NO confidence in her own ability, is, quite frankly far too young for the appointment, and has NO experience in holding such an important place in the Atlantis community! Not Jewel’s fault although I hear she’s been making some rather snarky comments about Keller versus Beckett.

    I don’t see why Carson couldn’t have continued as CMO. After all, Elizxabeth had a backup, Teykla, Sheppard has a 2IC in Major Lorne. Why NOT put Keller in the background as Carson’s backup where she can learn from the best!

    As for Gero, coming from a man who aluded Paul in the profile in the Season Two DVD set and seemed to love him AND Carson, to have all the snarky comments from the man just ISN’T acceptible! He’s a right git and seems to have all his brains in the juvenile area of his body aka his third leg! If he dares come to Comic Con this year………

  10. Michele,

    As Ann says, there has never been an explanation. Gero is the ONLY producer whose truly commented with excuses such as the childish ‘it just had to’, to ‘politics’ (usually a euphemism for bullshit), to the now rarely used ‘shaking things up’ and even the downright silly ‘its complicated’.

    As I’ve said before, they’re quick to disclose every detail when a decision works, but avoid and deflect any questioning when it fails. Though Alan McCullough admits in the s4 DVD special about Beckett’s return, that they were ‘shocked’ by the outrage and response from the fans. They said they knew Beckett was popular, but its obvious they contradictorily didn’t think it would cause such a reaction. I truely believe they expected him to be gotten rid of with nothing more then a wee grumble and it would all be forgotten about the week after. They have however, NEVER said it was the Network who wanted a death…so we know the decision was made by the producers.

    Brad Wright was actually the showrunner at the time but has NEVER commented, not even to say anything about Paul leaving the show (as he did for Torri Higginson, issuing the obligatory ‘we’re sorry to see her go’), that raises many suspicions. He has only once been asked directly that I know of, in a Gateworld interview but avoided answering and deflected the question. Robert Cooper has commented once, and not in a very nice way (again, not really answering the question). As showrunner, it was ultimiately Brad Wright’s decision, but as I said, the only person making comments is Gero…who changes his mind and comes up with a different vague excuse everytime.

    Jewel has made some less then admirable comments, including the ‘I cant be replacing him because I dont have a penis’. However, considering the difficult sitution she was in, you cant blame her for being defensive if a little misguided in her choice of words.

    Because of recent comments made by Gero in a new GateWorld interview, people believe Carson was killed so that room could be made on the cast to bring in Jewel because of Gero being a ‘big fan’. He even admitted they’d been trying to find a place for her on the cast since she guest starred in season 2. Considering the have always struggled with SGA’s larger cast, it seems someone had to go to make that happen. That has not been proven however, so there is no evidence to back it up. We will probably never know the true reasons (as I’m sure they will cause more outrage then good).

    FYI Ann, Gero is apparently the MC at the SGA panel, so feel free to put the man on the spot with some really hard questions!! I’m sure if they’re polite, reasonable and articulate, he cant avoid them (I think q’s are screened, so you might want to come up with a dummy q to tell the screener). Theres nothing better then seeing people put on the spot with tough but perfectly reasonable questions! And in front of 5 thousand people, its hard to avoid answering (or looking bad when you avoid/deflect/make a joke out of)!

  11. Yeah, I must admit, the link from Beckett going to Keller arriving was just my supposition. It’s never been proven, and has consistently been denied by the producers. The new DVD special reinforces the idea they were going to kill off Beckett no matter what… so I hope people realize this was an editorial, not a piece of journalism. 🙂

  12. Gero (as well as some of the other ptb) has always been an obnoxious, dwadling little dope so honestly I’m not surprised at his flip-flopping of comments over the situation. He’s seriosuly getting up there past Mallozzi on my “shit list”. What makes this all the more worse in my book, is that Gero is the man who raved about PM’s performance in the S2 special feauture.

    Especially with this new Gero interview has been released, my speculation that PM was booted for Keller (hot female doctor, anyone?) has just been confirmed. But, of course, Gero and his gang are writing for themselves, andn ot the fans. I think it’s pure arrogance on their part that we’ll stick around aftyer killing characters we’ve invested our time in, and many are finding it hard to stay faithful to the show.

    Regarding Brad Wright .. I’m pretty pissed at him too. As also an Elizabeth supporter I expected him to step and and do something when Mallozzi trashed her character. Guess not.

    As for panels and conventions, the posts on GW are gone but in the SEW thread a bunch of us were discussing when Gero and Mallozzi make an appearence we are going to bring up all their embellishments, lies, misdirections, and general asshattery on a public panel and just hope SciFi/MGM execs are there. heh.

  13. An additional comment – as for somebody that HAS spoken up about the cast changes and is not afraid to criticize them? Joe Flanigan.

    In a SciFi interview:
    Joe Flannigan, how has the interpersonal dynamic on the show changed in season four?
    Flannigan:
    We’ve lost Paul McGillion, who was a valued member of our team, personally and professionally. So we miss him. We have lost Torri Higginson—my God, this sounds like a funeral—who was also a really valued member of our group.

    And in one of many con reports – this is one from Armegeddon in NX October 2008 –
    A woman asked about Tori not being around. He said it was a difficult thing. And he clearly doesn’t like how the audience gets invested in a character, and then the producers or whoever, kill them off. He says they think they get ratings spikes with doing that, but he disagrees – it’s shortlived. He encouraged people to write in and tell them how much they like Tori. He referred to Paul, and was rather upset about what happened there. Later on, he says how he loves his actors, he goes and fights for them. It was very sad when they filmed the funeral scene for Carson […] It was very hard. He wants them to bring Carson back – it’s sci-fi after all. He comes back in Season 4 briefly

  14. Reiko, I’d have to say I wouldn’t go along with trying to “embarrass” Joe or Martin in public. Joe has been very good to this campaign. And after all, they aren’t obligated to tell us everything that happened behind the scenes, and maybe we don’t really want to know. They might have been better off never to try to explain anything about Carson or Weir, since every hint just makes fans more angry… As for Joe F, I think it’s sort of funny he calls them “his actors”… 🙂

  15. I agree with astrumporta, JM has been really great to us, always respected and supported the campaign and above all was NOT the one who made the decision to get rid of Carson/Paul, that was ultimately Brad Wright. I’m not sure about Torri/Weir but unfortunately thats a totally seperate issue from SCB (though I’m sure most people here support SEW).

    The BEST way to really put someone on the spot is to be utterly reasonable, that way they cant use character assassination to avoid the question. Use an short, articulate, calculated, polite and hard hitting question, but do it calmly and you will nail them. If you’re going to ask the big stuff about the cast changes, go back through the interview archive on GW and look for their various quotes and especially look for stuff that contradicts what they previously said, provide ‘evidence’. Hell, treat it like they’re on trial. I.e. for Gero, I would bring up his ‘politics’ line which infered more then it being story related, quote the fact the ratings dropped dramatically after Sunday (at least they did in the UK) and that we know it wasn’t the Network who asked for a ‘death’ (if the execs are there, throw that part at them).

    If you’re agressive, or rude (not saying you will be, its very hard to stay calm and focused when so justifiably pissed off) you just look like an idiot and will be dismissed as one of those crazy fans. The execs certainly wont take you seriously!

    I for one would love for someone to ask Brad Wright if he goes to Comic Con (didn’t someone say he was?) about Paul/Carson as he has NEVER commented. And if or rather when he tries to deflect the question, politely bring him back on to topic. I’d also point out that fact, that he has never uttered so much as a ‘sorry to see Paul go’ comment in ANY interview ANYWHERE.

  16. I’ve been Jewel Staite fan since “Flash Forward” on the Disney Channel when I was younger (I think I’m just a year or 2 older than her). Then loved her again in Firefly/Serenity & even liked her bitchy character in Wonderfalls. Even thought she was a really cool wraith girl.

    But yeah, Keller’s such a whiner – how was she even supposed to be believable to be chosen for Atlantis? If she’s SO scared of all this Pegasus galaxy danger, why did she accept the position? I’m still left wondering WHY??? I like the actress but the lines they give her are horrible.

    Also, not sure which I feel more sorry for: Ronan or Rodney, bc it seems one of them will be stuck with her. I have to admit, it will be more believable for Rodney to end up with her & I sort of liked them together in No Man’s Land.

  17. I don’t understand why Dr. Beckett was killed in the Sunday episode. He was one of my favorite characters. Please find a way to return him to the show. I do not want another character to replace him. What a tragic mistake!

  18. Hey sorry about all the typos, guys! But my earlier comments stand! They HAVE NO concrete answer for WHY they killed off Carson…only the fact they wanted to shove Jewel Staite down our throats as a …gasp!…wheeze!…DOCTOR who SHouldn’t be the CMO of a city like Atlantis with NO prior experience at doing such! And I really felt insensed by the way Gero talked to and treated the fans who showed up for the demonstration outside Bridge Studios last year! I would have been tempted to kick him in the nuts as he so aptly put it if he talked to me that way! Talk about belittle! Maybe I will try to take him to task this coming week at the San Diego Comic Con! The twit!

  19. What a great BLOG. I couldn’t agree more with all the sentiments. I just started watching Atlantis and am about 3 episodes from Sunday – where apparently Carson dies. Not looking forward to it. I didn’t care for Weir at first but LOVE her now. And I LOVE carson too. I actually miss Ford too so for what that’s worth. Anyway, I have been working my way through the DVDs, and trying not to spoil season 4 yet by watching too much of season 5 on TV. Can you guys tell me is he back permanently now in season 5 or not? Was this campaing sucessful? Can we get Wier back too?

  20. Nick,

    Nope, Paul comes back for 5 episodes in season 5 (and 2…well 1 and a bit in season 4). The Seed, Whispers, Outsides, Identity and the final episode of season 5 (not as yet named, its the 100th episode of the series). So technically yes we were successful, not as much as we’d hoped but it was a good result and we’re hoping for more IF there is a season 6.

    As for Weir, Torri was offered 1 episodes in season 5 and turned it down. She has reportedly moved on from Atlantis and said in interviews that she didn’t feel the material she was offered honored her character or gave proper closure for the fans.

  21. Well, it’s all moot now since MGM pulled the plug on the series in Sci Fi and Gate World’s announcement this past week. All the hard work we did to get Paul back only resulted on five episodes and, unless they write him into the DVD movies we’ll never see our lovable Scot again except in the DVDs for Seasons 1 thru 5. I’m thinking they already knew MGM was pulling the plug which is why they DIDN’T bring Paul/Carson back as a full time cast member, instead shoving Jewel State/Keller down our throats! It’s also probably why Wright and Cooper bailed to go to this new show STARGATE UNIVERSE! Oh and, MAYBE, some former cast from SG-1 and ATLANTIS MIGHT be seen in this new show!

    MGM claimed it was getting too expensive to film in Canada. My question is, WHERE are they filming this new show? Let me guess…..CANADA!!!!!

    I wish Paul and every else in the cast (except maybe for Jewel) the best of luck and hope to see ALL of them in the Sci Fi movie and the DVDs that follow!

    Paulie, we love ya still and we hope to see you in a new series some time soon! We’ll never forget Carson Beckett……..EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Just an observation…

    Stargate has had the nefarious reputation of taking actors who were ADORED in other TV series (usually Star Trek) and turning them into loathsome, unlikeable, or annoying characters. Robert Picardo was hillarious in Star Trek, but humorless and tedious in SG1/Atlantis. Colm Meaney is a wonderful character in Star Trek TNG and DS9 as O’Brien, but is made into a thoroughly unlikeable character in Atlantis. The same has appeared to transpire in Jewel Staite’s situation. It appears there is more exuberance in the fact that they get this “big name actors” to play in their show than creating meaningful, likeable characters.

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