I have a lot of respect for British television. Whether you’re watching a comedy like The Office or Little Britain, a thriller like Spooks or Heist, or a procedural like Cracker or Wire in the Blood, the only thing you as a viewer can ever truly count on is the unexpected. Take Spooks for example (and for those who haven’t watched the first three seasons of this brilliant spy series, also known as MI-5 in North America, maybe you should stop reading now because we‘re heading into spoiler territory). It constantly challenges the viewer’s natural inclination toward complacency. On Spooks, no one is safe. This fact becomes readily apparent during an early first season episode in which a character meets a horrifically gruesome end by deep-fryer. Granted, the initial shock was somewhat mitigated by the fact that she wasn’t a headliner. They would never, after all, off a series regular, right? Think again. And again. And again. By the start of the show’s fourth season, the three original leads were gone. I was shocked. I loved Tom, Danny, and Zoe and lamented their respective departures. Furthermore, I was initially unconvinced by new recruits Adam, Raza, and Olga. And yet, I have to admit that, despite the changes, Spooks still managed produce quality stories that made me care about the supporting players, these new additions to the cast, and the world of MI-5 as a whole. In retrospect, the decision to change up the show, while risky, made it that much better because it emphasized the dangers these people faced doing a very dangerous job. They were that much realer because, as in real life, they could be taken away from us at any moment. Fans of the show came to the sudden realization that they couldn’t take anything for granted. Every time the team headed out on a mission, there was the possibility that someone might not come back. And just in case fans had allowed themselves a brief respite, assuming the show’s producers wouldn’t dare make anymore changes so soon, the producers did just that – offing yet another series regular. And it was just as shocking and as effective because, again, it was unexpected.

Scifi fans have it a little easier because in the fantastical world of science fiction the impossible can become possible. Specifically, death is not all that definitive. For instance, it’s unlikely we’ll see a future episode of Spooks in which Danny returns to corporeal form after spending time as a higher being. On the other hand, it’s theoretically possible for something like this to occur on SG-1, even Atlantis. (I must emphasize the word “theoretically”, natch). In this respect, scifi fans have the best of both worlds – the dynamic uncertainty that comes with effective drama AND a backdoor loophole that allows for the THEORETICAL reappearance of long-lost characters. “No one ever dies in science fiction,“Brad Wright is fond of saying. In fact, undeceasing deceased characters has become truly fashionable over on SG-1 where Daniel Jackson, Martouf, and Janet Fraiser have proven that even the act of dying can’t keep a good character down. And then there’s dead-but-not-quite-gone Apophis who has probably put in more reappearances than any offed character in Stargate history. Still, with each ending-for-now comes a new beginning. Without George Hammond’s departure, we never would have been introduced to Hank Landry. If the System Lords had never been defeated, we would not have encountered the Ori. And Ford’s departure from the Atlantis team allowed for the introduction of Ronon Dex.

Over the course of a show’s run, characters will come and go (and, occasionally, come back again). Things change. In that respect, a t.v. show is not unlike real life. And although I’m sure some fans will disagree, I personally think that’s a good thing.

Let’s say we take a walk by the Art Department before checking out the viewer mail…

Anonymous #1 writes: “Wait, wait. I thought that Brad Wright wasn’t writing any Atlantis this year. Is this shoot for Ark of Truth or Continuum? Or maybe Brad is writing for Atlantis?”

Answer: I was referring to the second SG-1 movie, Continuum. Brad will probably be too busy to write an episode of Atlantis this season but has come up with a terrific story that should figure into the mid-season two-parter.

Tony Robinson writes: “What does the magic 8 ball say for the chances of Bra’tac appearing in the SG-1 movies?”

Magic 8 Ball says: Cannot predict now.

Carolina writes: “Are you the leader of the pack?”

Answer: Depends on the situation. I’m more pack leader when it comes to crucial decisions like where we’re ordering lunch from and what we’re going to eat at the cast dinner (incidentally, squash-stuffed agnolotti with black truffle butter).

Vaberella writes: “I noticed a lot of comparison between the Wraith and Vampires; What do you think of the Wraith and Morlocks from The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, similarity wise?! […]Oh, can you give us some hints on what you have in store for Teyla, if anything?”

Answer: I’ve never considered the similarities between the wraith and the Morlocks, although the similarities between the wraith and the vampires are fairly obvious. As for your second question – I’ve just finished reading an excellent revelatory Teyla script written by Carl Binder. Teyla fans are in for a treat with this one.

Arctic Goddess: “There is a growing bet that a certain Joe Mallozzi will not show up at a certain fan party on March 22nd.”

Answer: Really? What’s the pot at? I see a way for us to make some quick cash.

Jenny Robin writes: “Do you recommend Direct TV or Dish Network? “

Answer: I live in Canada and, sadly, we don’t have access to either Direct TV or Dish Network because our government treats us like children and doesn’t permit us access to either. Something about being a bad influence.

Jenny Robin also writes: “While you are dining out with friends and family, how often do you find yourself asking them to wait a second so that you can take some quick pictures of your food for your blog?”

Answer: I don’t have to anymore. They all know the drill by now.

Anonymous #2 writes: “Just on your comment recently that basically no amount of mail is going to influence your decisions, does that mean that you didn’t appreciate all the “Save SG1” people? Because they were writing letters. Or is it just that you don’t like people writing letters when they disagree with your casting decisions?”

Answer: Of course we make the shows for fans of the show and count on their support. And, every so often, fan reaction to certain aspects of the show may influence scripts (look no further than 200 for a good example). However, there has never been a time when a fan campaign has led to a change in the show‘s direction. One of the key elements of the Stargate’s success has been the vision of the creative behind the scenes – and Brad Wright and Robert Cooper in particular. I’m sorry if I hurt anyone’s feelings but, from the beginning, the choices made have never been based on fan requests, no matter how pointed. Rob and Brad simply made a show that they would enjoy watching and, in the end, it resulted in one of the longest running science fiction shows in television history. Of course we aren’t perfect. Some decisions may pay off while others may not, but in the long run the choices made have been our own and have helped strengthen the franchise. As Brad pointed out in a recent interview, we would never do anything to harm the show. Furthermore, by the time word gets out about any changes we’ve made to the show, we have already moved on and are deep into production.

Anonymous #3: “Exactly how do you know matter can travel only one way through a wormhole?”

Answer: I think it was something Brad said once. Or it might have been a homeless guy at the bus stop. Just kidding. I know for a fact because I’ve actually tested wormhole travel.

Lizzyshoe writes: “ Did you license the Ewoks for the 200th ep, or did you just steal them, change them a smidge, and hope for the best?”

Answer: In fact, the part of the Furlings in 200 were played by two delightful little woodland creatures, part of a pack that inhabit a heavily forested area near the Bridge Studios. Typically shy in nature, they were coaxed out of their natural habitat and enticed to take part in the production in exchange for various sweets (they demonstrated an affinity for O’Henry bars). All in all, they were wondrous creatures to behold, a true joy to work with, and I regret the production office’s decision to put them down once the episode had wrapped.

Anonymous #4 writes: “Where abouts in Vancouver would you say has the most flexible/eclectic menu?”

Answer: Hmmm, that’s a tough one. I’ll have to think about it and get back to you. Remind me!

Anonymous #5 writes: “I read in Variety that Beau Bridges is going to be starring in a new show for Fox. Does this mean General Landry won’t be in the movies?”

Answer: Congratulations to Beau who is hilarious on My Name is Earl and I’m sure will prove just as hilarious on his new series. And, yes, General Landry will be making an appearance in both SG-1 movies.

Akbar Fazil writes: “ Is it just me Joe, or are all of the figures on your shelves bad guys? Is there a story behind that? Or do you just draw from their evil power to intimidate those who come into your office?”

Answer: Yes, my office décor is comprised of villains, villains, villains. Villains on the shelves. Villains on the side tables. Villains lining the window sill. And one pug calendar. Awwwww.

Anonymous #6 writes: “ Out of curiosity, the Battlestar Galactica people have had no problem dropping whoppers of spoilers to the Chicago Tribune, which uses appropriate spoiler space, so why do you avoid questions regarding SGA spoilers that virtually every Stargate fan knows because those episodes aired in Canada (and probably spread like wildfire via ‘alternate sources’ on the web)?”

Answer: Because unfortunately, as a result of the new airing schedule, all of the questions being asked concern season 4 while the back half of season 3 – which has yet to air – is being lost in the shuffle.

Majorsal writes: “With literally every question being an Atlantis themed one, do you miss sg1 questions? do you think you’ll miss writing for sg1?”

Answer: I wouldn’t say I miss answering SG-1 questions, but I definitely do miss writing for SG-1.

Anonymous #7 writes: “So.. Torri’s out of contract and you’ve offered her four episodes, right?”

Answer: Four? No idea where that number came from.

Anonymous #8 writes: “I just wanted to say I’ve noticed you’ve taken a beating from fandom lately and I’m glad you have such thick skin.”

Answer: I’m a villain. I knew the risks when I accepted the position.

ChaosIsBeauty writes: “On Sg-1, did you ever suffer from an overload of familiarity with the characters?”

Answer: Actually, the opposite was true. The more time I spent with the characters, the more fun it was to write for them.

Anonymous #9: “What’s your favorite candy bar?”

Answer: Butter rum. I don’t even know whether they make it anymore. Can you score me a kilo?

30 thoughts on “February 21, 2007

  1. Um, I can score you a kilo of, um, other stuff. Let me know.

    Could you also let me know if the dead-but-not-quite-gone Apophis will make an appearance in Continuum?

    Good Luck with it All

  2. Joe, I’m sorry, but I think the sentiments you express in this latest blog do little but demonstrate the disconnect that you’re having with the fans in general. Sure, Spooks is great and keeps you guessing as to who will live and who will die. 24 does the exact same thing. And it works great for those shows. But Stargate isn’t that type of show. It never has been. Your argument is that since such unpredictablity and harsh realism makes those shows great, then incoporating those same elements in to the Stargate universe will make it even better. That’s not necessarily true. Stargate has always been a different type of show, one that succeeded as far as it did because of its charm and unique voice. Trying to change Stargate into one of those other shows is fundamentally altering the premise upon which the franchise is based. I can’t see how you guys expect to keep your fans and dedicated viewers when you’ve made a conscious decision to NOT give them what they’ve enjoyed for the last 12 years.

    Also, you’re argument that the decisions that have been made are the ones the producers wanted to make also rings a bit false. Paul McGillion’s comments in Starburst indicate that it was Scifi who again demanded that someone be sacrificed in the name of ratings. It’s also been Scifi that has very much contributed to the massive cast changes and paradigm shifts that both SG-1 and Atlantis have dealt with for the last two years. There is a definite sense among fans that the network is running the show, and that you guys have little creative freedom to tell a coherent story. The fans who are still watching are tuning in to see Stargate. And they’re not getting that from you guys.

  3. Mr. Mallozzi:

    I just finished reading Maureen Ryan’s 2/20 “The Watcher” Chicago Tribune Web Log and I almost feel afraid to say that I’m a huge fan of yours, given the abuse that you endure at the fingertips of supposed fans of the Stargate franchises. I guess I should take consolation in knowing that they don’t know where I live, so fear of retribution is less of an issue!

    Thank you for your continued candor in spite of people repeatedly twisting your words out of context in order to have something new to gripe about.

    I thought it was the end of the world for SG-1 when Richard Dean Anderson left the show, but I have to say that I’ve grown quite fond of the “new” team and am very sad to see the end of the weekly series. I can hardly wait for the final ten episodes and the two movies – even if RDA doesn’t get to make as many appearances as we rabid Jack fans would like.

    I’m also going to give SGA another serious chance, especially given that Amanda Tapping will be joining the cast in a regular capacity next season. In all honesty, I’ve always found SGA to be somewhat flat compared to SG-1, but it sounds like season four shows some promise. Sure, I’ll miss a certain character rumored to be meeting an untimely demise, but I made it through the loss of my previous hero, Janet Fraiser, so I’m sure I’ll adjust to this new wrinkle as well.

    I’m a lousy writer, an untalented actor, and clueless when it comes to production, so I’ll leave all those decisions in your most capable hands.

    By the way, I’ve stopped looking at the pictures and reading the food portion of your blog because I’m gaining weight from sheer cyber exposure to the dizzying array of gastronomic delights you regularly sample!

    A quick question: Where in Vancouver were the Abydos outdoor sequences filmed in seasons 1-6 or were they entirely CGI?

  4. “ Is it just me Joe, or are all of the figures on your shelves bad guys? Is there a story behind that? Or do you just draw from their evil power to intimidate those who come into your office?”

    Answer: “Yes, my office décor is comprised of villains, villains, villains. Villains on the shelves. Villains on the side tables. Villains lining the window sill. And one pug calendar. Awwwww.”

    So, where is your Ba’al action figure then?

    BTW, I’ll check on the pot and let you know. Do you want to split it?

    Have a great day, Joe.

    Patricia

  5. I hope you’re not taking MI-5’s character-killing habits as a model for Atlantis. (grin)

    Seriously, though, I was extremely excited about MI-5 at one time. WHen I got into it, I realized, as you said, they have a habit of regularly killing off their characters. I dropped the show without hesitation or regret. For me, it just wasn’t good enough to keep me watching when I knew every time I got interested in a character they would die. Not to say that characters should NEVER die. The last really effective character death I saw was on NCIS, when Kate was shot. It was totally unexpected, and completely irrevocable. (You really can’t undo a bullet between the eyes). But if NCIS continued to kill off a character or two every season, they’d quickly lose this viewer.

    Just my thoughts-not worth much, but thought I’d share. I’m feeling unusually brave tonight. 🙂

  6. Those pictures from the Art Department look pretty cool. At a quick glance the smaller version of third one down looks like a couple of the pictures I made today. I don’t have them up yet on my blog , but there is one up that I did a couple months ago. Although maybe by the time you read this, a couple more of those pictures will be up.

    From the pictures you had in the previous blog, looks like you guys are really working hard. 😛

  7. Please do not let you love of British TV offing characters influence you to off all of the main cast in Atlantis. Yeah they could come back, but the thought of Sheppard, Rodney, Teyla, and Ronon dying is not a happy one, no matter how good those replacing them might be. With that being said the Zelenka, Lorne, Chuck show might be interesting, a whole new spin on Atlantis.

  8. I just got to see Atlantis “The Ark” this morning and thought it was excellent, a thoroughly enjoyable, strong story in which I didn’t know what was going to happen. In fact, it has everything I like in a story, team-caring, buddy banter, buddy relationship, tension, jeopardy, meaning, and theme. All in one episode. Good job to all involved.

  9. I’m headed to Malta this week and can’t wait to eat the native cuisine once again. I half blame your constant food sampling for this vacation, as I am reminded of how fabulous food outside the US is and decided that I will wait no longer. Not that all food in the US is… inferior, but damn, we just don’t do pastry well. Or coffee. Or Mediterranean fare.

    I will echo the sentiments of some – still looking forward to season 4. You all have managed to keep the quieter majority of us entertained. So just don’t forget that old adage about the squeaky wheel. There are three others (the silent majority) still on the cart, and in this case, still looking forward to more great storytelling.

  10. Regarding your entry: well put, good sir.

    Now for my random question of the day: Where can I find, or do you know someone who can make for me, a model of a stargate which I can place in a 20 gallon fish tank?

    My fish at work have been training for off-world missions (mostly involving eating), but are currently confined to just their one tank here on Earth. They practice swimming under the arch of one of the decorations, so I’m sure I could train them to go through the gate rather easily.

    If you can help me out, I might could be persuaded to re-name one of my fishies after you. Wouldn’t that be lovely?

  11. Ok Joe, I got nothing insightful/funny/annoying to say about your post, but I do have a question. Come Season 4, will Amanda Tapping be seen in the Opening Credits?

  12. First, I’d just like to thank you for taking the time to answer all of our questions. We’re really quite spoiled.

    That said, I’ve got a couple questions this time. First, a technical one (sort of). I noticed while listening to an ep today at work (I think it was Runner) that it sounded like Lorne said something like “26:30” Atlantis Standard Time. How many hours are in a day on Atlantis?

    Also, is there any chance of seeing more AUs in the future? Like one where McKay’s a rugged, kickass fighter and Ronon’s a geeky scientist? Or one where Earth was destroyed, the Atlantis team are the only Earthlings left, all by themselves, and Atlantis is destroyed so they’ve all sort of become like Ronon, on the run?

  13. Hiya Joe,

    First off, I love whats been done with both stargate franchises so far. Was wondering though that if there are any plans in season 4 to expand more on the backstory of the Wraith and Asurans? Will we see any stories on the Asgard or Hermiod? Oh and any more interesting information about the new third series of stargate that you know about?

    Also, what other tv shows have you gotten into and enjoyed recently?

    Best of luck with everything and keep on blogging!

  14. I’m English and can’t stand The Office (why America loves that git, I’ve no idea), Little Britain (Got one joke? Sure, let’s repeat it until we’re sick to death), Spooks or Heist, Cracker) or Wire in the Blood. (boooriiing)

    I’m not really that much into scifi, I don’t read scifi books etc. I do watch Stargate, it’s because it’s somewhere between, not being all scifi.

    Anyway, I’m sure we’ll all get over the demise of Carson. A little more slowly, on this side of the pond. What the only Brit, gone? (who’s not a baddie, why are we always baddies anyway?). Ah typical. Oddly had you got rid of the Weir character I’d have sighed with relief. (dull dull). Getting rid of Carson seems akin to shooting a puppy. Poor guy.

    I have to say I laughed when Carson said something like ‘get her to the infirmary STAT’ brilliant, Stat! Classic.

    I’m feeling too nerdy now, so I’ll say cheerio.

  15. But Joe, at the end of the day, are you truly satisfied with killing Carson and relegating Torri’s role to a less than recurring role? I’m not saying those were your decisions, but were you happy with them?
    Can you understand or empathise with the fans’ displeasure over Carson’s demise?
    And yes, Brad’s right that no one ever truly dies on sci-fi, but what of the fans who want Carson back as a live, whole human being? Is that within the realm of possibility for Season 4?

  16. Surely you don’t intend to kill of a regular cast member every season, do you? Because I was looking forward to some character development for Carson and Weir. I would have liked some backstory on Beckett before he was axed. And two more questions. One, will BAaal be in full Gouald form in Continuum? As in deep voice, big ego, threatening like Apophis? And two, can Atlantis keep the next ship they find? It got old with them losing the Orion and then losing the Wraith Hive, and then losing the *other stuff* later in the season.

  17. A few comments..

    First, I guess the advantages to working in Canada instead of LA extends to the fact that the ASPCA and PETA end at the Washington state line. This surprises me, and I warn you to be careful as I am betting assains have already been dispatched.

    Next, thank you for the production drawings, I particularly liked the midway station. Any chance that we will see a completed and inhabited midway station in Season 4?

    Also, if you miss writing for SG-1 so much, any thoughts of writing an SG-1 novel or two?

    Thanks,
    Nate

  18. I applaud your villain love Joe. My office is actually the same way (but I have a manx cat instead of a pug)
    Speaking of British TV, do you watch Life on Mars?

  19. Joe shoots and scores with another great blog!

    Are you guys planning on having either Gen. Landry or Gen. Hammond in Atlantis season four at all? Woolsey? Gen. O’neill?

  20. Joe you mentioned for the dinner party “Squash-stuffed agnolotti with black truffle butter”

    When you talk about the food the tastes come to my mind… you mentioned the other day goat cheese and caramel and my mind was just… ohhhh, yes… I made a goat cheese creamy soup and added some caramel spirals on top… it was good! Now, I like truffle but I can’t see it working with something as sweet as squash, maybe because it’s butter and not oil or maybe because its just used as filling for the agnolotti… that it works? I’m curious 🙂

  21. From the Chicago Tribune interview:

    Mallozzi: “The heartache and the anger – fans would save themselves a lot of that if they would wait and watch the episodes. I’m sure they are already starting their letter-writing campaigns. But in our case, to be brutally honest, they don’t really have any impact on creative decisions.”

    Say it ain’t so, Joe,

  22. Joe,
    I really feel sorry for you after reading the repeated questions and comments on this and other blogs/forum. I think one of the downsides of a long running series is the some fans start to believe they have “ownership” of the characters and react with anger if you write something they don’t agree with, don’t use the character enough or eliminate the character completely.

    So… to forestall that from continuing on this blog I went out and bought the new AI, Internet connected, video screen equipped Magic 8 Ball Version 10 and asked it some of the questions that have been asked here over and over. Results are as follows:

    Carter. .. Carter starts to really believe all the press about her being a super women, super scientist, super warrior and all around super soldier. She tells Jack that not only is he not marriageable material, he is also no longer “spongeworthy”. Jack then puts her in command of her own spaceship to look for “things” to help fight the Ori and givers her a copy of Maureen Dowd’s book “Are men Necessary”. She stops by Atlantis fourteen times for supplies, says hi but never goes on a mission with the team.

    Weir Weir goes on R&R to Earth after season three. There she renews her friendship with General O’Neill. The relationship grows into a romance and then marriage. Weir runs her own consulting business and only returns to Atlantis when Jack goes (which is under negotiation).

    Sheppard/Teyla/Ronon Romance blooms between Sheppard and Teyla. Ronon is not happy but steps aside. Several shows later, while on a mission. Teyla is killed by the Wraith, Ronon blames Sheppard. Several shows later, while on a mission, they begin to fight each other over Teyla’s death and while fighting they are both killed by the Wraith.

    Season’s final episode Mitchell is brought to Atlantis to rebuild the team.

    Now a question for you.. Are you going to put these restaurant reviews into some kind of formal document?

  23. I remember the deep fat fryer in Spooks! (Mind you it’d be kind of hard to forget…)It near enough gave me nightmares.

    Haven’t watched that show in ages…wonder when it’s back on…

    I’ve got a lot of food allergies (anything spicy, lime, ginger, seafood, some sauces and dressings etc (none too severe other than the first two))so any recommendations for a new dish I could try that wouldn’t make me ill? I’m kinda getting sick of eating the same foods everyday!

  24. As a dedicated foodie have you ever considered going to the annual Masters of Food and Wine at the Highlands Inn in Carmel? It’s amazing. They have some of the best master chefs from around the world come there and cook a series of meals over the course of 4 days. It’s pricey, ranging from $75 all the way to $5,000 per meal event, but you can pick and choose which meals you attend. If you really love food (as it seems you do) then it would be a good, and tasty, investment.

  25. You can’t compare shows like “24” to SGA. Everyone know regs get bumped off every week on “24”. People watch just for the shock factor. But some shows are just fun, especially science fiction, and I watch because it takes my mind away from the daily killing and mayhem I see on the news. Turning a family show like SGA into a character round-robin like “24” is a bad move in my book. Dumping Carson and Weir is going to come back to bite you.

    As for Sheppard/Teyla, that’s just nauseating. Please don’t go there.

  26. I am really enjoying the second half of season 10, several of these episodes have become some of my favourites of the series (special kudos for The Quest pt2 and The Shroud) but too soon I check the TV schedule to relaise that we are left with only three more episodes until the greatly lamented end of the series…looking to the future of the franchise I see that Carter gose to Atlantis, Teal’c and O’Neill maybe to visit there too, but other than the movies what fate Daniel, Mitchell and Vala?

  27. hi, joe,

    you know how i asked you if you missed reading sg1 questions on your blog (and writing for sg1, which you answered yes); well, *i’m* tired of reading atlantis questions. not that i’m tired of atlantis, because i have yet to watch one ep of the show. my excitement is knowing that my favorite character (sam) is going to continue to be ‘seen’ in the stargate universe. when she joins, so do i.

    but i’ll tell you, not being a fan of the show (yet), and reading question after question concerning that show… i think i’m really going to miss sg1, and *really* miss sg1 fandom. in fact, i don’t know how much of atlantis fandom i’m going to be a part of because so many ppl seemed to be pissed about one thing or another. (understandable, but intimidating nonetheless)

    oh, i have one request to make of you. PLEASE don’t kill off sam carter. the most effective deaths i’ve seen on sg1 were daniel’s *first* death, janet’s, and jacob’s. that’s enough. i know you say killing off a character can work on a show (and it does, basically), but it can also break someones heart and make them drop said show. when they killed off xena in her last ever episode, i have yet to watch an ep of that show since then. why bother, when everything you see before their death only makes you know where all of their character tapestry will lead to. it sucks.

    rereading what i just said, i really don’t expect you to publish this post. it’s nuts. :p

    sally 🙂

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