When people find out I never watch finished versions of Stargate episodes, they are genuinely surprised. But, to be perfectly honest, by the time the final version becomes available, I’ve seen the episode so many times I’d sooner watch Celebrity Duets. Okay, maybe not Celebrity Duets – but Amerca’s Got Talent anyway. You see, after coming up with the idea for a story and/or spinning the notion in the room, the producer will read at least one version of the outline, three versions of the script, watch the episode dailies, screen the director’s cut, view two producer cuts – and finally arrive at “The Day 1 Mix”. If you’ve got comments on the music or sound effects, this is where to make them. In some respects, it’s fairly straightforward. Joel Goldsmith does such a good job as the composer for both shows that we’ll rarely have a music note. Instead, we’re usually providing critiques and suggestions on the various ships rumbling, zats blasting, alien creatures roaring, staff weapons charging, ring devices initiating, chevrons lighting, gates kawooshing, force fields activating, failsafes deactivating, engines powering, weapons firing, wraith darts buzzing, drones releasing, shuttles crashing, and weird alien birds cooing (to name but a few). It’s an important part of the production process but I can’t help but feel silly arguing over the merits of other-worldly bleeps, chirps, and wa-zangs. We’ll be watching a mix and, suddenly, Paul will pause the dvd and ask the room: “Does that alien monster squeal sound a little too high-pitched to you guys?” And someone will agree and say: “Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.” Then, someone else may disagree, insisting they like it just fine and be resistant to any changes because in their mind, adjusting the pitch would somehow detract from the authenticity of that alien monster squeal. Again, don’t get me wrong. The last thing we need is to have some fan sitting at home watching the show suddenly turn to her husband and say: “Who do those people thing they’re kidding? That didn’t sound anything like an unas!” Getting it right is an important part of the process. Which is why we have mix conversations that go something like this:
Martin: That alien ship alarm is wrong. I think it should be more like “beeeOOOwaaa.”
Brad: Or “bEEEEoooooweee”.
Rob: BweeeeOoooo –
At which point I’ll chime in with the wholly inappropriate: “EEEEweeeeOOOaaaa!”
Paul: No. Not that.
Still, by the time we get to that Day 1 Mix (to say nothing of the ensuing Final Mix), we’ve reached the point where we can practically recite the episode dialogue from memory. Which is why when one lands on Rob’s desk and we agree to reconvene in five minutes to watch it, everyone scatters to the four winds and proves as elusive to track down as Osama Bin Laden. He will of course deny it, but I honestly believe that, on one occasion, Martin Gero actually hid under his desk to avoid detection.
So, yes, I watched/listened to one of the two mixes delivered. Then, took my dog Jelly to visit her vet, Dr. Adams (Looks like Jelly will have to go in on Friday for a teeth cleaning). Then spent most of the day writing all of three pages of my new script. Three pages may not seem like a great accomplishment but at this point, it’s fairly impressive. Starting a script is the hardest part. As I’ve often told Brad: “After this, it’s smoooooth sailing!”.