And so, it’s been decided. Emily and I will be enjoying a virtual dinner at virtual Fuel this Friday between 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. PST. Please respect our privacy by not posting comments during this hour, but feel free to eavesdrop on our conversation as you will be able to follow our conversation in the comments section of December 6th blog entry. As our evening progresses, you’ll even be able to follow the various dishes that arrive at our table as various delicious pics will be posted over the course of the meal. Once our meal is concluded, I will hopefully have time to transfer our conversation from the comments section to the December 6th entry proper – but I have a second not-virtual dinner party to attend at 6:00 p.m. so I’ll hopefully be done before I leave.
Well, tomorrow is also special in that it is the day that This Mortal Coil, the mid-season finale and script that almost killed me, finally airs. If I have time on Saturday, I will do a scene by scene what-the-hell-was-I-thinking breakdown of the entire episode. But heading in to tomorrow night’s episode, a little backstory –
Every time an episode airs, fans are quick to praise /curse the writer as though they were wholly responsible for the finished product. Well, suffice it to say, this is far from the truth as many, many, MANY different people can and should share in the admiration/blame, from actors to sound mixers, directors to the construction team. It may take a village to raise a child but, in the end, who the hell knows how that kid is going to turn out? He could end up a wonderfully well-rounded McKay and Mrs. Miller or a disappointingly underachieving Irresponsible. Whichever, the point is that while all of you are lauding Alan’s efforts on Tabula Rasa and The Seer, you should also be thanking Paul who did the pass on both scripts. If you enjoyed oh, most any episode of SG-1, also thank Robert Cooper in addition to the credited writer(s) as I’d guess a good 70% of the stories spun out from one of his ideas. And, if you enjoy This Mortal Coil tomorrow night, in addition to congratulating me, throw some kind words Brad Wright’s way as he was the guy who pitched out the premise for what would eventually this episode. The truth is, given the way we build stories (which is not all that different from most shows), all of the writers have a hand in all of the scripts. One writer may come up with the original notion, but that original notion is then shaped by differing opinions and suggestions, becoming an actually story idea. And, after the designated writer has had time to allow the ideas to percolate, he’ll lead everyone in the actual breaking of the story. Everyone is involved in the process of constructing the story, from offering up broad notions regarding structure (ie. Act Four should end with McKay dying – and it isn‘t until the top of Act Five that we realize THAT was a dream) to key plot twists (ie. How about we surprise the audience by playing the replicators and having Weir get into THEIR heads for a change) to dialogue suggestions (ie. “In the middle of my backswing!”).
So, This Mortal Coil was no different. Brad came in with the original premise. The writers got together and spun ideas. I went off to think about it and came back with a pretty good idea of how I envisioned the story breaking down. We got together, discussed some more, threw around some more ideas. I headed off, fleshed out an outline, got some feedback, and then went off to script. I wrote the original and revised draft, handed off to Paul who did his pass which clarified some scenes (and, incidentally, saved me from a nervous breakdown), and then, revitalized, I did the subsequent changes. The finished script went out, the episode was shot – and came in short so I ended up writing two extra scenes (let’s see if you can guess which ones).
Ultimately, it’s up to you, the fans, to decide whether it works for you. But, script aside, I have to say that one thing that stood out for me in this episode was Joel Goldsmith’s score. The man is brilliant.
So, okay. Let’s hit another heavy mailbag (sheafrotherdon and co., bless your hearts), but before I do I’d like to dedicate this blog to all of our friends down south dealing with the inclement weather.
Cyn writes: “Joe, will you be decorating for Christmas and if so, share some pics?”
Answer: Uh, I was kind of hoping you’d come over and string the outside lights for me this year.
Riley writes: “Do you know how long it will be between the airing of This Mortal Coil and the next episode?”
Answer: Not all that long. From what I understand, new episodes will begin airing again in January on SciFi.
Joanieloveschaci writes: “Have you ever gotten food poisoning?”
Answer: Hell, yeah. Just do a blog search for “food poisoning” for the lovingly details accounts of two separate incidents.
Royal Nonesuch writes: “Speaking of early post-apocalyptic fiction, have you ever read “Iam Legend” or “Earth Abides”?”
Answer: I own Earth Abides and it is on my to-read list. I read I am Legend earlier this year and thought it was great. It will be interesting to see how they Hollywoodize it.
PG15 writes: “ By the way, Joe; did you know that some people think that I’m you?”
Answer: Hey, I heard that someone was going around to all of the best restaurants in town, offering up I.O.U.’s in my name as payment. I’ve already informed the police and they should be over to pick you up as soon as you email your address.
P.S. Kindly email me your address.
Anonymous #1 writes: “This isn’t a comment from some disgruntled Atlantis fan […] I’m a fan of SG-1 who watched Atlantis, gave it a shot back in the beginning, and found it to be severely lacking. […] I do however take exception to the way that the characters I care about–Carter, Teal’c, Daniel, and Jack–keep getting pushed over to Atlantis in an attempt to keep that epitome of mediocrity afloat.”
Answer: I see. So you’re like a spoiled brat who sulks because the other kids are out playing ball after your mother has called him home to bed. Who cares if other fans are enjoying Atlantis and the possibility of Carter, Daniel, and Teal’c visiting? If you can’t enjoy it, then no one should. You, my friend, are a sub-genre of embittered fandom that I don’t get. Although I may not agree with many fans who criticize the show for a) losing Weir, b) losing Beckett, c) losing Ford – at least their arguments come from a love for the show rather than childish resentment at the possibility that the characters will continue to live on outside of your narrow expectations of them.
Marcans writes: “ I still really like Carter, however can you please tell me what exactly was the justification for bringing her into command of Atlantis?”
Answer: From the point of view of her character, we did want someone in the command position who would be comfortable going off-world, if need be, and someone who could get involved in any city-centered stories. We also wanted someone that Stargate fans were familiar with. After some discussion, it was decided that Carter was the logical choice as she fit the bill – and also offered up a science and military background that we could exploit (again, whenever the need arose). The command position on Atlantis has always been more of a supporting role and this is the tact we took in season 4. That said, we did get to see soldier Sam on display in Reunion, and also explored her leadership in The Seer. From more of a behind-the-scenes reasoning (something that has yet to be brought up), Amanda was the obvious choice because she is a terrific actress, is always professional, a lot of fun to work with (this from practically everyone who has worked with her, from grips to directors), and exudes an onscreen warmth that is on par with her off-screen personality.
Kimberlee writes: “Ever been to the “boondocks” of the great state of Alabama? thats where im from. And if no, if you had the chance, would you come down for a visit?”
Answer: Never been but would love to visit.