One of the nice things about going away for a while is coming back to find stuff done for you.  Things like laundry, guest Q&A’s, and script outlines.  Well, guest Q&A’s anyway.  And so, today, I turn this blog over to the lovely and talented Martin Gero who has kindly taken the time to answer your questions about last week’s episode, Brain Storm, which he wrote, directed, and produced.  Now, if he only did laundry…  

Hey everyone!  As always, thank you for your kind comments, questions and occasional condemnation.  I relish the chance to answer a few questions on this, the most popular Sci-Fi/Food blog on the internet.  Let’s begin:


Bailey writes: “I wanted to ask Martin Gero what possessed him to write an episode of Stargate Atlantis that had nothing to do with a Stargate or Atlantis? With so few eps left, why????
And what were you all thinking in making the McKay and Keller relationship so blatant and in our faces?”

I know this sounds crazy, and I don’t want you to get paranoid, but MGM called me about six months ago and said: “Look, we have two and half million dollars…is there any way you could do something to REALLY annoy, Bailey?”
At first, I thought it was impossible, but I like a good challenge to set to work. 
So, thanks for the comment, I think I get some sort of completion bonus now.
IMForeman writes: “1.) Did you have Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson lined up before you wrote the episode, or were their other characters in their place that were removed when it was discovered you could get them?

2.) Did either take exception to your portrayal of them
.3.) Freeze Lightning? Really? I mean, I suppose you could have come up with “pinpoint hypothermic blasts” or “focused cryogenic bolts”… but Freeze Lightning? It sounds like it should be from a musical.

4.) What commentaries are you doing this year?”
1) Yeah, I’ve wanted to get Neil on the show for some time now, and Bill is one of Bob Picardo’s closest friends and had mentioned he’d be open to coming on the show.  I was and am a HUGE fan of both…
2) Not at all.  They were both big fans of the script.  Dr. Tyson has some dialogue suggestions to make things closer to his natural cadence and Bill suggested a few extra lines here and there, but for the most part they performed the script as written.
3) I’m gonna turn this answer over to Bill Nye.  Bill what are your thoughts of Freeze Lightning?
BILL NYE: “I thought that was just cool. If you could somehow concentrate heat and then exclude it. It was just a cool idea. If you could control heat the way you control a beam of light. We can in a limited extent in infrared, but this took it to another level.”
As for the name…I make fun of it in the episode.  I know it’s not the “coolest” names, but it worked, I thought.
4) Search and Rescue, First Contact, Lost Tribe, Brain Storm.
TardisHart writes: “I am wondering what it is exactly about writing for McKay that you love the most? Do you feel sometimes your love for McKay as a character impedes how you write the other characters?”
McKay is my favorite character.  Why?  I’m not sure…probably ‘cause I’m a genius, arrogant physicist in my spare time.  A writer, just like a viewer, connects with certain characters and the actors that play them.  I connected to McKay and David.  Does that impede how I write for other characters?  I don’t think so.  I’ve written 30 episode of Stargate and I would only consider 5 of them “McKay” episodes.
Jeffrey From Aus writes: “Why is it that Oceania or the vast majority of Oceania is missing from the map when “Tunney” is doing his presentation?”
I have a great dislike for that continent and it’s peoples.   That and it was omitted in a rare and odd gaffe from our playback department.
Heartsmeneko writes: “ Question for Mr gero:
1. Why are you so frickin awesome? You always write my fav eps.

2. My favourite scene besides the ending was all the scientists yelling/working together, what was your favourite scene?”
1)  I drink a lot of water…I’m told that might have something to do with it.
2) I love the scene with Bill and Neil.  Those guys were very nervous and I think they killed it.  Plus, editor Mike “The Butcher” Banas did an extraordinary job of cramming in all of our favorite bits.

Ponytail writes: “Marty G: The first time I watched Road to a Dream on the season 2 DVD, I was laughing sooo hard thru the whole thing I could barely hear it. I thought you must be where Atlantis gets it’s humor. But since then I realize all the writers are a bunch of comedians. Who do you think is the funniest writer in the group? And, did the actors get paid for their cameo appreances in your featurette?
Who do I think is the funniest?  Well, I’d trust your first instinct, Ponytail.  And no, the actors didn’t get paid.  In fact no one gets paid for special features or commentaries…except Ivon.  We do it as a “thank-you” for the fans…except for Ivon…he does it for the money. 
Special writes: “Do the writers ever discuss how the marginalization of Ronon and Teyla contributes to rather horrifying racial and sexual politics of this show?”
If they do, they have failed to include me…they’re kinda jerks about not including me in stuff.

Pilota writes: “First off – I really liked Brainstorm alot. It was geeky good fun. I’m not one to pick apart episodes so my question is of the “not so deep” variety….

Question – How did Carl get the honor of the auditorium dedication? Was there a contest? Did he pay you off? Enquiring minds want to know.”
Quite frankly, Carl is very old.  See, these episodes are written LONG before they air.  Sometimes we get things wrong.  Like, I figured the CERN LHC would have been turned on by the time the episode aired…it has not.  I also assumed Carl would be dead by the time the episode aired, because he’s old.  I thought it would be a nice tribute to him…sadly, Carl had to go an make a fool of me, by not dying.  Thanks Carl.  I hope you’re happy.
DemonHunter writes: “If Atlantis went on to season 6 would McKay have been a daddy next year???”
Yes…and Sheppard would have been the mommy.  It would have been an awesome arch. 
Jadeski writes: “Question for Marty G: How do you feel about writing the most polarizing episodes of SGA? ‘Sunday’ and ‘Brainstorm’ come to mind immediately but I’m sure there were others. Do you set out to divide people or is it just one of those things?”
Not really.  I write the shows I, the fan, want to see.  Some people disagree with me…that’s really it.  No nefarious plan…
Planet_tv writes: “I would just like to say that I found Search and Rescue, First Contact and The Lost Tribe to be way better episodes then Brain Storm because they had Teyla in and Sheppard and Dex in more then one scene.
Okay, thanks for writing.
JES writes: “I’m assuming that the scenes in the control room and flooded hallway were shot in a refrigerated location, given the frosty breath of the actors. Where were the scenes shot? If they were shot in a refrigerated trailer, how did you make the control room look so large/roomy?”
Keller’s frozen hallway was shot in a refrigeration truck…which people kept calling a “refer truck”…which sounded way more fun than it was.  Anyway, the control scenes were augmented with digital breath to make them look as cold as Keller.
Sorry I didn’t get to answer all of the questions!  Feel free to ask me if you ever see me waiting for a bus or something.
And, finally: thank you.  These five years have been an amazing experience for me.  You are the best fans a show could ask for and I have enjoyed the back and forth over the course of the series (the good and the bad).  It’s been a great ride and I look forward to getting to show you the stuff we’re working on for Universe…for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing.
All the best,
And the mailbag is back…

Dyginc writes: “Welcome Back! I tried to make an reservation at Fuel today for me and my sister’s trip in February (13th-16th) for my birthday but online it said that I was to early to do so?! My questions for you is if I do end up getting one…
1) should I get a table or sit at the bar?
2) what would your recommend for someone who HATES cheese since I can’t see a menu and I really would like to try something to increase my pallet
3) would you recommend a good time slot?”

Answers: 1) It really depends on you. When I’m with Fondy, we get a table as it’s a little more intimate. When I’m with Martin, we usually like to sit at the bar so that we can watch and chat with (aka harass) the kitchen staff. 2) Tell them beforehand if there is anything you can’t eat and they’ll make sure to avoid said ingredients in your multi-course menu. They’re more than happy to accommodate. 3) Again, it depends on you. I’m an early eater so anytime before 8:00 p.m. is my preference.

Wraithfodder: Did you see any Godzillas?

Answer: Alas, no Godzilla. The NHK Studios did promise a photo op with either of their mascots, Spoo or WanWan but, unfortunately, neither was present on the day I visited.

Wonderingbrit writes: “Regarding season two of ‘Weird Food Purchase of the Day’ (wfpd), are we likely to see more of these most excellent videos over the next few days? Or might you be doing something special in the way for interest christmas foods from around the world?”

Answer: You never know what this blog has in store. And neither do I.

Megan writes: “Quick question for you concerning SGA: According to MGM, the decision to cancel the series was not in their hands; they would have approved a sixth season. SciFi wanted a sixth season as well. You’ve stated you wanted to continue with Atlantis as did the actors. So, who made the final call to cancel SGA when all parties wanted to go on?”

Answer: Great, great question.

Terry writes: “ What did you think of the Vernor Vinge book? Had you read “A Fire Upon the Deep?””

Answer: I enjoyed Rainbows End, but A Fire Upon the Deep is still my favorite Vernor Vinge book.

Arctic Goddess writes: “1) Is it possible to not have to learn some Japanese to visit the country? I suppose it would mean just doing the touristy thing?

2) You snapped a picture of a line of middle aged people. Some of them were wearing face masks. Can you explain what that was all about?

3) Is Stargate or Atlantis seen in Japan?

4) Have you noticed any major changes in Japan since you were last there?”

Answers: 1) Sure. Many Japanese speak some English. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to pick up a few words and phrases before you go – especially if you think you may need to locate a public toilet at any time over the course of your stay. 2) Yes. I noticed this the last time I visited Ginza – huge line-ups of middle-aged to elderly people waiting for…something? I finally asked one of the guards overseeing the crowd about it. Apparently, they were all lining up for lottery tickets! 3) Yep. On AXN. 4) Actually, I noticed a lot of things that hadn’t changed. There was a tiny shop on a Ginza side street that used to sell funny pug calendars. Fondy and I visited the last two times we went to Tokyo. On this last trip, I didn’t see it and assumed it was no longer there – only to come across it on my second to last day in town.

ElisaD writes: “How is the script going for the SGA movie?”

Answer: We’re still at the outline stage. I did my pass and I’m waiting for Paul to do his.

Annie from Freemantle writes: “I can’t click on the pics to enlarge.. is it just me?”

Answer: Hmmm. It’s not just you. WordPress went through another upgrade and…changed certain things. The pic commands for one. I’ll look into it.

Special writes: “Any chance that some female writers or writers of color will be joining the SGU team?”

Answer: Every season, the show always makes a point of auditioning new talent and I don’t see SGU being any different.

Susan the Tartan Turtle writes: “Did you film a video of the bath and all its buttons?”

Answer: The bathtub console was far less interesting than the toilet command. Rather than control things like water color or tub texture, those buttons merely operated the t.v. and telephone features. Lame!

Ponytail writes: “1) In all your pictures, EVERYONE looked very slim (even the dogs). Are there any overweight people in Tokyo? What would you attribute this to: diet, exercise (lots of walking), or genetics?

2) How did you and Fondy communicate? Phone calls, texting, or did you just say, “Honey, just read my blog”?

3) Do the police wear guns and is there very much crime in Tokyo?

4) What does $1.00 American dollar equal in Japanese money?”

Answers: 1) The majority of the Japanese people I saw were of slender build. I’d attribute it to equal parts diet, genetics, and stress. 2) I phoned Fondy every morning (which was late afternoon her name) and we also exchanged the occasional email. Also, in the event she expressed a desire for details on my trip, I directed her to my blog. 3) There isn’t that much crime in Tokyo and the only policeman I ever saw wearing a gun was the one stationed across the street from a sushi restaurant I was about to head into. I did find it passing strange until, seconds later, a former Prime Minister came up the stairs, headed into a waiting car, and motored off. 4) According to xe.com, a US dollar is presently worth 92.8350 Japanese yen.

Montrealer writes: “My question for your Nippon gourmet excursion. Did you have any meal item that really surprise you in a good way? Any thoughts on the current political mess in Ottawa?”

Answers: 1) Many of the meals I enjoyed offered plenty of great surprises, from Ukai-Tei’s creamy chestnut soup to the fun okinomiyaki place Jessica treated me to. 2) I generally avoid politically commentary however, with regard to the recent goings on in Ottawa let me just say that, given the individual party leaders involved, I’m not at all surprised.

Jinx writes: “Did you ever manage the Absolut Ice Bar? Or will I just need to travel to Tokyo myself?”

Answer: Sadly, never made it.

Shirt ‘n Tie writes: “Tell us more about Chef Belcham’s new restaurant..I assume it is in Vancouver?”

Answer: I’ll have a full review with pics in tomorrow’s entry.

Karen writes: “Am I seeing things or was it snowing on your blog or does my laptop have a virus?”

Answer: I believe it’s a feature of the background theme I’ve selected. Seasonal, no?

Sparrow-hawk writes: “1. How did the GPS Navigator work in Tokyo? Was it worth the time and trouble you took to download the maps?

2. How did you find your dining companions?

3. Did you ever get the the “Parasitological Museum”?”

Answers: 1) Not too good. The model I purchased, Garmin, doesn’t offer maps of Tokyo – despite the fact that they have offices in the city (?). I mainly used it to upload my own maps but that proved less than helpful as Google Maps, I discovered, is often not all that accurate. I generally relied on the map the hotel provided me with. 2) I went online to a bunch of travel sites and expressed my interest in meeting up with some travel companions, preferably those interested in dining out. I supplied a link to this blog so that people could find out a bit about me. Despite this, I was contacted by some individuals willing to meet up. Go figure. 3) Alas, I did not. I plan to hit it on my return visit.

Trevor writes: “Does this mean like SG-1 only two movies or are they really going to make more movies on both SG-1 and SGA ?”

Answer: At present, we are scheduled to produce two movies next year, one of each. 

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Dear Joe,

Welcome back to Canada. I was wondering if you can give me some advice on what restaurants to try while i’m in Vegas. So far this is what is on our itenary of restaurants: Sensi@Bellagio, L’atelier de Joel Robuchon @ MGM, and Mix@Mandalay Bay.

My girlfriend and I will be there for a week so I really need some professional gourmet advice. Thanks buddy.

Concerning Atlantis, Joe will project twilight come out this summer or in fall 09?


Did you have any encounters with non-westerner public toilets??

And what are the chances of getting an SGA theatrical release??? puuuuleaze!!!

What price range does a Fuel dinner run you? I would assume your bill is double that of a regular person!! It sounds like a really nice place but I don’t like spending $100/plate


I believe it’s a feature of the background theme I’ve selected. Seasonal, no?
Indeed. I like the snow =)

Thanks to Marty G for the HILARIOUS answers.

I can’t help but wonder why y’all are still writing sci-fi… you have me laughing uncontrollably!!! Even when you’re not trying to be funny, I can’t help but smile reading some of the Guest Blog responses smile So thanks again for all the awesomeness!!!!

In other news, I need to expand my vocabulary of positive adjectives. Awesome, amazing, and über-something-or-other seem to be all I can come up with these days!


I just wanted to say thanks to Martin Gero for his Q&A. Of course, I forgot to submit a question so I hope he reads this.

Martin, you write some of the best episodes (of course McKay is my favorite character). I am also so thrilled that Rodney ended up with someone who loves him for who he is. Great job on Brainstorm.


martin’s a good sport. there’s nothing like ‘shipping’ that gets the fires blazing. razz


“DemonHunter writes: “If Atlantis went on to season 6 would McKay have been a daddy next year???”

Yes…and Sheppard would have been the mommy. It would have been an awesome arch.”

There’s still the movies! Haha. I could actually see a short film just about the two of them in a daddy day care situation together. Seriously, it would be hilarious! Too bad it can’t be added as a bonus or easter egg to the movie DVD when it is released.

Glad you had a great time in Japan, Joe. I’m also relieved that the snow falling is not something gone horribly wrong with my eyes. wink


Wow, thanks for answering the questions, Martain… NOT!

It’s lovely that you (ALL OF YOU) seem to not understand why we’re frustrated with the show and what’s happened with Rodney.

After reading Martin’s interview with Gateworld I’m no longer willing to cut him or anyone else any slack. He’s belittling our frustrations with Keller by saying that we’re only hating her because of Becket – way to totally not get where your fans are coming from. We’re upset because Keller has become the focus of the show along with Rodney. It’s all about them while the other characters get shoved to the side.

Just because they’re your favorites does NOT mean you can only write for them.

Sorry Joe but I’m done looking for the positives and attempting to rationalize what the writers are doing. It no longer makes any sense.


Ok so its either snowing or your blog has terminal dandruff.

So its normal service resumed I take it?
Erm..are you sure it was Martin G fielding the Q&A? he sounds just like you!
I’m off to bed now since its already tomorrow by 20 minutes and straddling two timelines is somewhat exhausting. Besides I’ve got a cinema trip with the family tomorrow, we’re going to see Madagascar 2. Now I REALLY have to go.


I meant later not tomorrow since I’m already there



To Martin Gero: please, never, ever change. That was some of the most hilarious, snarkiest answers (which is a good thing in my books) I’ve ever read! Awesome.

Anyways, I’ve been really really busy with studying the last few days, so I didn’t have time to comment; heck, I was too busy to even read some of the Tokyo entries, which I will make sure to do so when this is over. Still, it looks like you had fun, Joe, so that’s great! I can’t wait to read all about it.

Oh hey, I have a Garmin GPS too! It’s worked pretty well for us. But then, we never leave North America so, yeah.


Okay, good, other people saw the snow and thought their eyes were screwy as well. I feel a little less like a hypochondriac. smile

Martin Gero…thank YOU for the Q&A. I had fun watching Brainstorm; like I think I’ve said here before, one of the really great aspects of Atlantis is the variety and range in storytelling and subjects. Every episode was something different this season, and it’s been a good time.

Gotta love a show that can bring in Dave Foley, Bill Nye, and Neil deGrasse Tyson, too. That was a riot.


JenR wrote:

Just because they’re your favorites does NOT mean you can only write for them.

Ah…sure it does. It’s their show. They can do whatever the hell they think is right with it. If you don’t like what “it’s turning into”, then don’t watch it. I thought MG spelled it out pretty well in that spectacular interview.

Les Ferris
Les Ferris

Hey Joe

Will we ever witness the spectacle of all 3 ships (Apollo, Daedalus and Odyssey) fighting side by side?

It’s one of the few things I want to see in Stargate before Universe, because I know there won’t be a chance for it in that show.


Megan writes: “Quick question for you concerning SGA: According to MGM, the decision to cancel the series was not in their hands; they would have approved a sixth season. SciFi wanted a sixth season as well. You’ve stated you wanted to continue with Atlantis as did the actors. So, who made the final call to cancel SGA when all parties wanted to go on?”

Answer: Great, great question.

so it was brad wright.

My wish is for success for SGU.
A perfect world would be success for SGU and a return for two seasons for SGA.


Joe – I just want to clarify a few things on my side.

I actually did like Keller all during season four and I thought she made a good friend for Rodney in Trio. The problem started with this season when she became more and more involved in the episodes and the episodes seemed to focus more on Rodney. I actually don’t have a problem with the idea of Rodney and Keller getting together. What I have a problem with is that it seems like Rodney and Keller getting together is all that matters at this point.

The show is supposed to be about the team – whatever team that is. Not JUST the Rodney and Keller epic romance show – which is what it has become this season.

My frustration about what Martin has said in interviews that have appeared on the net over the last few days stem from the fact that he seems to be obsessed with the idea of writing for Rodney and having Rodney get the girl – because all he want’s is to be loved. He also seems to think that romantic love is the only thing that matters and friendship and family mean nothing.

That and the fact that he’s got it in his head that the only reason we could possibly not like Keller is because of Beckett. He doesn’t seem willing to even consider that maybe, just maybe, you all took the hole romance thing a little too far.

Let me also mention that we’ve only gotten two years with Keller. That’s no where near enough time for us to get used to her, for us to really know her. Of course people are going to get annoyed that she’s being paired with Rodney – we’ve known and loved the other characters much longer than her – how do we know anything about her? We’re being TOLD that she’s the perfect fit for Rodney but not shown it. Showing is better than telling when it come to writing.

If this all had happened a few more seasons down the road after we’d seen more from Keller and learned more about her and maybe gotten used to the idea, I doubt I’d have been this frustrated because it would have made more sense. As it is, it just seems forced.

Really this isn’t just about Brainstorm and how I feel about that episode – it’s about the whole last season and also feelings that I’ve had over the course of the entire show – problems that I knew existed but I ignored them because I thought there were plenty of positive things to enjoy. Now I’m not so sure it was worth trying to find the positives.


@PG15 – which would be exactly why I’m not planning on watching Stargate: Universe – at all. I’m done.

Shawna Buchanan

Karen writes: “Am I seeing things or was it snowing on your blog or does my laptop have a virus?”

Answer: I believe it’s a feature of the background theme I’ve selected. Seasonal, no?

Yeah, I just noticed that right before I read this. Good to know I’m not just going crazy.



Thanks heaps for sending my questions to Stargate Atlantis: Constume Designer Val Halverson.

Really appreciate it!!

Give her my thanks too!

A few quick question… sorry if this annoys u..
1) With your trip to Japan, how would you rate it overall?

2) I know my family is thinking about going over there for a holiday. But is there any place you would recommend if my family goes there?

Now for some SGA questions
3) Concerning the last SGA episode “Enemy at the Gate”, will the fans get to see (for the last time) a full credit rollout?

4) In the episode that has recently aired “Infection”, does Telya have the ATA gene? If so, since when? Or did Sheppard activate the Life Sign Detector before it was seen?

thanks again!


Hey Joe!
Can you tell us about which actor/actress that TPTB are interested? Just one!



I thought only the people with the ATA gene could use the handheld people detectors (that would be the technical term). In the very good episode just aired Teyla seemed to have no difficulty using one. What did I miss?


Dang…I missed the mailbag…and I had questions. Maybe, if you feel so inclined, you can squeeze it into your next mailbag…pretty please? *makes puppy eyes*

A. I asked this one a while ago, just before your trip, and I don’t think you answered it, so I will try again. It’s in regards to writing for SGU before the cast is chosen:

When dealing with an ongoing series – one that may last years – how hard is it to write characters, or even develop plots, when you’re not sure who’s portraying those characters? Is it easier to write after you have the full cast set, and have seen and heard them in action – knowing best how to use their strengths, and avoid their weaknesses – or do you just write, and assume the actor can handle whatever is given him or her?

B. In regards to information revealed in Infection, since Wraith ‘exchange fluids’ with their ship during hibernation, can we safely assume they have a symbiotic relationship with their ship? If so, will more be revealed about this, perhaps in the movie?

C. Todd seemed to link telepathically with his ship in those final moments of descent…is this a correct assumption?

D. Back after The Seed aired, I asked the following:

…1. Do Wraith need a human or Wraith host to grow a hive ship?

…2. If so, does this individual then become the ‘brain’, or main computer, of the ship?

…3. If not, is this tech – assuming it’s an extension of Wraith biology – controlled by Wraith telepathy, or something else? (This corresponds to #C above.)

…4. What was meant when Keller said she did not have a designation yet? As a ship or piece of technology, or as something else?

To those 4 above, you replied: “None of which I can answer at the moment. Stay tuned.

Well, I have patiently stay tuned wink …and I’m wondering if any of the above can be answered now.

Thankies in advance!



Belated thanks for the highly entertaining travel tales, especially the return of the weird food purchase of the day. Although you can actually get Pokari Sweat at a Japanese supermarket near my neighborhood in L.A. A friend of mine with more adventurous tastes introduced me to it — Eek. I suppose it’s an acquired taste.
Glad to hear that the “snowing” blog is just your new background. I was concerned I was having a stroke.
– KB


Marty G, thanks for answering one of my questions. But you avoided my second question. Chicken! Anyway, your Q&A was very intertaining. Thanks for taking the time.

And when Marty talks about how he prefers McKay, now I understand why Atlantis has no female writers. Just think what a female writer could do for Sheppard and Ronon. It would be ALL Shep and Ronon, ALL the time. Now that would be a great show!

And Joe, thanks also for anwering my Tokyo questions. Very interesting trip and your an interesting guy. Or should I say, How are you so awesome?!!


Shiningwit: I think it really was Gero. While he and Mr. M. certainly have a similiar sense of humor, Mr. G. seems to sustain a sarcastic streak more consistantly than our host. Not that that’s a bad thing… the guest appearance provided me some much needed laughter. Though if ever I end up anywhere Mr. G. I will make sure to sharpen my own feeble wits and thicken my skin by about 2 inches.
As far as the McKeller in Brain Storm. Heck, give Rodney a break. He finally gets a girl, and to enjoy some happiness. To those who don’t approve, just remember Rodney’s usual luck. Keller’s life expectancy would have dropped by 40 years for becoming involved with him, if only the series could have played out a bit more.


Oh Martin! You know there is a movie feel free to MPreg that up with McShep, I would watch in a heart beat! Although everyone know McKay has them child bearing hips not John… razz

Joe! Welcome home.

Ah, I see you are still not answering my questions? Look how easily Martin managed to answer my questions.


Oh well… back to the fanfic and lots of hugs (and other things) between John and Rodney razz I don’t need you!

*storms off in a huff*