We Love Amanda in Uniform

It may be her eighth year investigating the deepest recesses of the galaxy with Stargate SG-1, but Amanda Tapping has found a new way to keep interested: a promotion...

Off we go on a fantastic eighth year of Stargate SG-1 adventures and, my goodness, times are a-changing for the intrepid SG-1 team. A new order is about to emerge with even more challenges to face, a shift in operations and new roles to fulfil amid a shooting schedule that was clearly devised by the Devil (Sokar or Anubis: you choose) himself. Always one of the busiest productions in the industry, the Stargate sound stages are like a fun version of Bedlam this season, with several episodes of Stargate SG-1, plus new baby Atlantis, being filmed at the same time. Stand still for a minute and you're likely to get roped into an episode. Wise to this, we kept moving.

Thankfully Amanda Tapping's trailer is an oasis of tranquillity amid a frenzy of activity. This admirable state of being is achieved by Tapping's innate sense of calm coupled with the orange blossom and citrus flower-impregnated bamboo sticks she bought during a girlie shopping spree the previous day. "This smells wonderful, doesn't it?" she asks. "Just the thing to keep us all Zen-like and chilled." Leaning forward in her chair giving a huge, beaming smile, she spreads her arms and states, "Season Eight of Stargate SG-1. Who knew?" Actually, nobody did until way after Season Seven had wrapped and most of the people involved with the show were considering working on the Atlantis project or investigating pastures new. Tapping is thrilled she decided to hang fire and wait. "When I heard that the Sci-Fi Channel had worked to get the figures and the timing right for an eighth year, I truly was glad. I love working on this show and am grateful to be back. I thought that at the end of the last season I'd be happy that we'd had a great seven-year run and we'd called it a day.

"Then, when we negotiated our contracts and they were finally finalized, my first thought was relief. I thought, 'Okay - this is good. We, as in Richard [Dean Anderson], Christopher [Judge], and Michael [Shanks] are all back and it's going to be great.' And actually it is. The first day back last Monday was like the first day of school. Catching up with old friends, meeting some new ones... it was fantastic because most of the family is back, so it's all good."

Referring to the new direction the show is going to take this year, the actress laughs and warns in a Marge Simpson voice, "It's gonna be different this year. I hope the fans like the direction the show will be taking." Reverting back to Tapping-speak, she offers, "It's a natural and almost-had-to-happen progression which I hope will be well-received."

Earlier in the day executive producer Robert Cooper told us Major Carter had been given a step up the career ladder. Tapping gives a very big smirk, sits back in her chair and preens. "I have been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel." Breaking into a Scottish accent, she hoots, "Woo-hoo! Get me, eh?" Laughing, she grants, "It's about time really... having just saved the planet... again... for what seems like the millionth time. It's actually really great and I was very surprised when I found out. O'Neill is promoted to Brigadier General and the first thing he does is promote Carter to colonel, and I was really surprised and delighted."

This, of course, means that the former boss, General George Hammond (Don S Davis) is going to (literally) be out of the picture, but Tapping insists, "We won't lose his presence." Whispering as though revealing a highly classified secret, she winks, "He's now in charge of all things pertaining to stargates and has a swanky new office in the Pentagon. O'Neill speaks to him every day." There's a pause before she grins, "I'm not sure what they actually talk about. I mean, we all know O'Neill. I doubt very much they'll be discussing anything to do with work, but General Hammond's presence will be heard if not seen."

Considering that the good general had limited success trying to curb the often over-enthusiastic escapades of SG-1, it has to be asked what sort of colonel Carter is going to be. Is she going to rule the boys with a rod of iron? The actress's response is immediate: "No! That would be too stereotypical - the woman colonel yelling 'Arrrgh' at everyone." Ah, but it would be good for a laugh. "Well, I am going to go against writer type," she states. "I am going to be a real woman about it, and judging by the women that I've met in the military I'm going to conduct myself with grace and dignity and do my job really well. But I don't foresee any major - or should I say colonel? - changes on the horizon."

Tittering away at her little joke, Tapping proclaims, "In a slight shift of operations, much of the action is going to centre on the SGC this year, so General O'Neill will have quite a say in what's going on too. We might well be fulfilling different roles this season, but wherever we are and however, we're expected to conduct ourselves, SG-1 is still, and always will remain, a team. The warmth, respect and love we have for each other won't change."

Now then, talking of love, the actress makes us privy to some startling and some not so startling news about her character's love life. Having caused much anguish and gnashing of teeth when she swapped spit with Policeman Pete, played by the delectable David DeLuise, Carter is unashamedly set to continue the romance. "It's not that she has any less feelings for O'Neill or that she's not attracted to him, but Pete is a pretty good guy. He's open, and yes, I know what some fans say about him going behind her back and stalking her, but he is honest. He's warm, friendly and very sexy. Hey! This woman hasn't had a decent bit of lovin' since the ex-man in Season One. And look what happened to him. He turned into a megalomaniacal freak. No. Pete is one of the good guys and a very good guy for Sam."

Harking back to the relationship between Carter and O'Neill, Tapping muses, "I think that Grace - the episode last season - really dealt with Carter's demons. Especially the scenes with O'Neill. Those scenes accentuated Carter's subconscious and she allowed herself to say goodbye to O'Neill and allowed O'Neill to say goodbye to her. I mean, in her subconscious she was saying, 'Okay, he's letting me go. I can let him go.' Even though it wasn't her letting him go it was her subconscious letting her letting him let her go..." We laugh that we don't have enough ink to be able to make that last sentence make sense, but Tapping is confident fans will know what she's trying to say. "Stargate fans are the most intelligent people on the planet. They'll get it."

Shifting closer in her seat again, Tapping taps her nose and says, "O'Neill was back for a brief shining moment last week, wherein it was a bit of a dream torture sequence we were filming." Oo-er. "The dream sequence was actually quite idyllic and it was interesting to see what actually goes on inside Carter's head. What her ideal future is." The tease won't let slip what her ideal future is, but grins that a lot of the fans are going to like it. Hmmm.

Cosy clinches with Pete are one of the less startling aspects of Carter's love life, but a far more sinister and unexpected liaison is on the cards. It really would spoil a whole lot to reveal her accomplice, but let's just say we get to see a very bad side of the colonel very early on in the season. Back to her Scottish accent again, Tapping smirks, "Ye get to see more than just her side, y'know. You get to see her back, front, top and almost bottom." Giggling at our look of confusion, she goes on, "Carter has to slide through a tube nekkid. I'm not looking forward to it."

She might not be but I know a few people who might hit the record button on their VCRs for that. "You don't see everything," she explains. "Just enough to tantalize without revealing any private bits. I think that's a lot more sexy, as well as being a very subtle way of confirming women's power. I'm a firm advocate of the fact that you don't have to show your entire body to enhance the sensuality of a shot. Actually it's going to be quite a dark and sinister episode and whilst I'm not looking forward to the crawling through the tube part, I am looking forward to seeing the episode put together. It has the potential to expose a host of far-reaching consequences for everyone in genera, but Carter in particular."

Though the sentiment behind Tapping's decision to keep the rude bits covered is serious, she laughingly acknowledges that not all of her co-stars feel the same way. "Michael Shanks shucks his clothes at the drop of a hat... you might remember a certain episode of Andromeda [Star-Crossed]. And need I remind you about Christopher Judge's dropping his drawers to make us laugh during Lifeboat? There'll be none of that going on whilst I'm colonel, I can tell you that." She grins.

Talk of the terrible twosome brings to mind some of the changes of circumstance for Daniel and Teal'c this year. "We don't know exactly what the writers have planned for each of us this year, but I can tell you Daniel is still trying to sort out the repercussions of having been ascended and what that means with regard to how he can use his knowledge to help defend ourselves. Teal'c takes the bold step of moving out of the SGC into the wider world - Heaven preserve us - and gets into a few adventures out there, so it's going to be interesting watching those events unfold."

The actress also explains, "Richard Dean Anderson's personal commitments mean he's going to spend less time actually filming, though he will still be in most of the episodes, which means we have to try to get as many of his scenes as possible done whilst he's with us in Vancouver. That's why we're shooting several episodes at the same time. It's madness but a whole lot of fun at the same time. It all comes down to that family thing again. We, all of us, always have and always will pull together to make things as easy and as much fun as possible. Yeah!"


Cult Time Special #30 by Thomasina Gibson

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