Well, Carl really outdid himself today, answering a slew of fan questions for today’s guest Q&A blog. Rather than put up with me yammering on about my laidback Sunday and Lulu’s bizarre yoga-esque sleeping positions, let’s head straight to the guest mailbag –
But not before checking out today’s pics: Rare and valuable never-before-published pictures of Carl Binder, a gentle reminder of what may have been: Monty the Radioactive Gopher, and, of course, Lulu’s bizarre yoga-esque sleeping positions.
Today’s guest mailbag hosted by Carl Binder –
Teyilia writes: “What (or who) made you guys think of getting Teyla really mad?”
Carl: At the start of season four, I wanted to do two stories: 1) A heist (which became Lifeline), and 2) A Teyla episode. But a different kind of Teyla episode. I wanted to really shake her up, show her in a way we haven’t seen her before. Luckily, Joe and Paul had an idea for an arc that would involve taking Teyla down a very dark course, which I loved. I’m a fan of putting our characters into moral dilemmas, forcing them way out of their comfort zone. So I was able to start this journey for her in Missing.
Ditraveler writes: “I, like Ronon, have no clue what Sheppard and Rodney were talking about, so my question is what was that all about? And what made you come up with that particular bit?”
Carl: I love the old Batman TV show. I try to include references to it whenever I can, especially in the Sheppard/McKay banter. This particular discussion came out of an actual lunchtime discussion Joe Mallozzi and I had about the various villains of Batman and who played them.
ChevronSeven writes: “Didn’t Shelley Winters play Ma Parker?”
Carl: Yes she did.
Promogirl writes: “You mentioned that Jewel did a lot of her own stunts in this episode. How much of the rope bridge sequence was her?”
Carl: Quite a lot. The entire walk. She was cabled for protection, the wire attached to a harness under her coat, coming out through her coat arm and attached to the bridge’s handrail. We later painted out the wire in visual effects. The fall was her double, as well as Rachel’s double pulling her up.
Promogirl also writes: “And how much did Rachel love being such a badass in this episode? I imagine she was relishing it to the hilt.”
Carl: She, she was very excited about it.
ThornyRose writes: “Do we see the Athosian question resolved this season, and if so, when?”
Carl: Revisited, yes. Resolved, stay tuned.
Blaine Nielsen writes: “I was wondering what was your favorite part that was written and executed well on the screen?”
Carl: Obviously the rope bridge sequence was done as well (if not better) as anything I could have hoped for. But for me, two other moments stand out. 1) The circular saw-sized shiriken that stabs into the tree in front of Jewel at the start of the first Bola Kai fight. Or, rather, pops out of the tree. It happens so fast it looks like it was thrown. A common gag in film (and magic shows), but it amazes how well it works. 2) The dirt creature. Director Andy Mikita and I had many, many discussions about this thing, and it was the source of great stress for Andy in his quest to make it look good. Our Production Designer, James Robbins, first brought in the infamous “Monty the Radioactive Gopher” drawing, and from there it was refined and gooped up to become the underground squid. In the end, we were all very pleased with how well it turned out.
Stargazer writes: “What were Rachel and Jewel actually eating? It looked thoroughly disgusting, but maybe that was just the power of suggestion.”
Carl: No, you’re right, it was disgusting. Some kind of edible tofu-like concoction. We toyed with various consistencies until we arrived at the goopy mess you saw on screen. We did make sure beforehand that Rachel and Jewel were both okay with eating it. I’m a big Survivor fan, so of course I had to include a reference to it in the scene.
Erin Anderson writes: “Teyla’s fight scene’s were awesome. How many of those did she actually participate in? Or did the pregnancy preclude her from filming any of them?”
Carl: We had to be very, very cautious with Rachel during the filming of this episode, so her stunt double was relied upon more than usual.
Lizzyshoe writes: “Can I just say, the cannibal snacking on a lollipop was BLOODY BRILLIANT! My friends and I had a gooood laugh over that. Who’s idea was it anyway?”
Carl: I thought bringing lollipops for the Athosian kids would demonstrate Keller’s compassion, get us off to a good start with her. When the Bola Kai found her duffel bag, I thought it would be funny if we later saw one of them with a lollipop in his mouth, so I wrote it into the scene. I’m glad you agree.
Sulien writes: “Regarding the team taking incoming arrow fire, how was that shot? Were the arrows put in digitally in post production, or were they on wires?”
Carl: It was a combination of digital arrows (the ones that whipped by dangerously close) and hand thrown arrows (the ones that look hand thrown). I liked the CG arrows better.
Dee in South Africa writes: “Joe, I’m sure, can be really irritating at times. How many times in the last year have you thought about killing him?”
Carl: 7. Sadly, there are laws in Canada prohibiting murder.
Anonymous #1 writes: “Was Rachel’s pregnancy the reason that “Missing” was written, or was a ‘Thelma and Louise’ episode already on the agenda?”
Carl: Missing was already well in the works before Rachel’s pregnancy. We then figured a way to write it into the season arc we were already working on for Teyla.
Paula writes: “And whose evil idea was it to end the episode before Keller says what’s wrong? Was this a Mallozzi move? Or are is Binder going Dark Side on us?”
Carl: That was a Mallozzi/Mullie decision.
Wraithfodder writes: “A totally inane question, but are you guys watching too many TV ads? We got Ambien mentioned in “Doppelganger,” and now Restless Leg Syndrome in “Missing”? I feel like the ads are saturating the show (please, please, no Cialis!)”
Carl: I just needed another funny ailment for McKay. We’ve already gone through so many. And this seemed like something McKay would think he had. But now that you mention Cialis…
Michelle writes: “Did Jewel Staite play Keller in “Missing” as you imagined she would, and if not, how was her take on it different from what you’d imagined?”
Carl: She played it exactly as I hoped she would. A total pro, and a class act all the way.
Pauline writes: “When you wrote Missing and decided to include the rope bridge, which was frightening just to look at, did you think- What can I put in to the story frighten the bejesus out of Teyla and Keller?”
Carl: I just wanted something that would frighten the bejesus out of Keller. I too have a fear of heights, so when we were scouting locations (on a snowy day, which melted before shooting) and I stood at the edge of that canyon, I pretty much reacted the way Keller did when she saw it.
Anonymous #2 writes: “If Joe gave you free range and you could write an episode for any female character in Stargate history (Atlantis or SG1) who would it be and why?”
Carl: I really like Fran, from Be All My Sins Remember’d.
Arctic Goddess writes: “Joe has told us why and how he got into writing. I’d love to hear your history about how you ended up where you are.”
Carl: I went to USC’s film school, then worked as a page at NBC while trying to launch my writing career. While there I got work as a production assistant on the show Punky Brewster. The showrunner allowed me to write an episode in season two, which helped me get an agent, who helped me land my first staff job on the CBS show Adderly. I then went to work on a show in Vancouver called Neon Rider. There were two writers on staff — me and Brad Wright. He went off to develop SG-1, and I went off to co-write Pocahontas for Disney, then work on the last three seasons of Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman. After that I created the show Little Men for the PAX network and developed Mysterious Ways for NBC/PAX. Brad and I always kept in touch and wanted to work together again, so he called me when Atlantis got off the ground and asked if I wanted to be a part of it.
Morjana writes: “Is Keller a civilian doctor (ie., not a military doctor).”
Carl : Civilian.
Vvv0472 writes: “Do you speak french?”
Amelie: “What’s Joseph Mallozzi really like?”
Carl: Sweet, compassionate, sensitive and most of all, forgiving. Loves the Beatles and the movie E.T.
Amelie also writes: “What do you think of his obsession to chocolates, food, dogs and super villains.”
Carl: I don’t have a sophisticated palate (cheeseburgers and beer for me), so I applaud his patient efforts to refine my tastes. But I still refuse to eat foi gras (or however you spell it). And lamb. And 100 per cent chocolate. As for the dogs, I am president of the Lulu fan club.
Anonymous #3 writes: “Will this have serious consequences in the way it’s going to affect Teyla’s relationship with the rest of her team members and her role as part of the team?”
Carl: Yes. Stay tuned.
Gatedialer write: “Whomever had the idea to cast Danny Trejo in an SGA episode is a frakking genius!”
Carl: That would be director Andy Mikita. He suggested Danny, and the rest of us immediately agreed.
Emily writes: “How was Chippewa Falls, WI decided upon as Dr. Keller’s hometown? Are characters’ hometowns ever picked out of thin air or is there usually some sort of reason/connection to the particular city/region?”
Carl: I wanted her to be from a small town, so I originally chose Blaine, Missouri, the town from the movie Waiting For Guffman. But it didn’t clear legally. So then I chose Chippewa Falls, because that’s where Annie Hall is from (my favorite movie).
Vecturist writes: “How long do some of the fight scenes typically take to choreograph? How much of the ‘fight’ description is provided by the writer/director versus the translation of the stunt crew?”
Carl: Our stunt coordinator, Bam Bam, did exceptional work on this one. The first big fight (featuring Teyla swinging that badass axe) is pretty much exactly as scripted, but the second one (during which Teyla is captured) Bam Bam had more free reign to improvise.
Dori writes: “Why with your good looks and your wonderful sensitive personality, you didn’t go into acting? And who would be your favourite author?”
Carl: Perhaps I can reccommend a good eye doctor for you. As for my favorite author: Mark Twain.
Somebody writes: “What is your favorite SGA episode and why?”
Carl: I would have to say McKay and Mrs. Miller. Great script, great directing, great acting. I’m a fan of the smaller, character relationship pieces. I thought everything came together on that one, with a very emotional ending.