When we gathered to discuss stories for Stargate: Universe’s second season, we went in with the goal of giving each of our main players at least one spotlight episode and some sort of arc or issue.  And so, over the course of those first few days, we put all our characters’ names up on the board and, underneath each one, jotted down an idea or two – either a personal issue, a character trait, a relationship or an external threat that could serve as the springboard to a story idea. In the case of the Greer character, we had jotted down “Superman complex”.  Here was a soldier’s soldier, a guy willing to lay down his life for the cause – cool, composed, dedicated, and courageous.  The kind of guy you want to have your back – or, preferably, your front depending on what you happen to be facing.  And yet, the kind of guy who leaves you wondering: “Yeah, he’s beyond brave.  But isn’t beyond brave just one step short of crazy?”.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Of course, there is one way to find out, and that’s by placing our Greer in a situation in which his safety net stripped away.  What if it wasn’t business as usual?  What if something happened that caused him to question himself?  What if, instead of responding instinctively and rushing headlong into the breech, he actually stopped to think about it?  To question himself and his mortality?

So that was the germ of a notion that eventually became the heart of this week’s episode “The Hunt” although the idea for the story came much earlier and had nothing to do with Greer.  After watching Alaina’s brilliant delivery of T.J.’s “This is war and that’s what we do” speech in “Divided”, I knew I wanted to see that side of Lieutenant Johansen.  Not the sympathetic caregiver but the soldier, the trained professional who could pull it together and survive at all costs, possessed of a strength so great she would carry others along if she had to.  I wanted to place T.J. in a situation where she was cut off, isolated, facing a threat head-on and relying on her smarts and stalwartness.

Eventually, those idea came together to form the core of this episode.  Story A was going to deal with Greer and that Superman Complex.  Story B was going to deal with T.J. and her inner-strength.  But those who are familiar with my work know I love juggling storylines, so it should come as no surprise that an A and B story weren’t enough.  And so, this episode contains multiple sub-stories, from the discovery of a hitherto locked-down section of Destiny that will have implications for our crew later on down the line, to Eli’s relationship with Rush and how very much like a father-son relationship it truly is (It’s no accident that Paul coined one of the bridge dialogue’s “Rush’s Darth Vader speech”), to a potential burgeoning ship-board romance (any Parker shipper out there?).

And finally, speaking of potential burgeoning ship-board romances, there is one couple I’ve been actively campaigning for over the course of the show’s second season.  And, by campaigning, I mean pushing the ship in my episodes while badgering the other writers to, at the very least, hinting at it in theirs (or, at the very least, not doing anything to undermine it).  I’ve always liked the Varro character and, from the moment we introduced him in late season one, I’ve worked at fashioning a character who possessed an inner strength and nobility, a certain pragmatism that set him apart from his fellow Alliance soldiers.  From the get-go (“Incursion”), he appeals to T.J., tells her that, in essence, they’re all on board and in this together – a thought he echoes in “The Hunt” when he is brought in to assist in tracking down the missing Lt. Johansen.  Like I said, I like these two together.  Some may (and have disagree), but I think he’s a far better match for T.J. than Young ever was (or ever could be).  So it would be interesting to put both men in a situation where they must work together to save someone they care about deeply…

Anyway, a lot of things going on in this episode and, back when I was trying to nail down the core of the story, it was Exec. Producer Brad Wright who came up with the idea that brought it all together.  I’d been wracking my brain, trying to come up with the off-world threat that set things in motion and Brad suggested “the beast”.  And, with that, the final piece of the puzzle locked into place and the rest of the story came together.

Speaking of coming together, the progression of the beast from concept to finished product was a fascinating process to watch.  Kudos to James Robbins for developing the initial concept, then giving it life in ensuing design and sculpts, before passing it on to Mark Savela and our brilliant VFX team who gave it life.

As you can see, the initial concept for the creature was far more reptilian.  There was concern, however, that the ossified plating would prove challenging for the animators, so we opted for a more feline look, first testing out a compromise, then going full feline – which I thought was going too far.  I wasn’t a fan of the fur and liked the sleekness of the hairless hide because it showed off the creature’s musculature.  The ensuing sculpts only served to solidify my opinion…

James Robbins at work.

A few more tweaks to the ears and eyes…

And we’re in business!

Well, actually a long way from actually in business.  Needless to say, the actors had to use their imaginations when it came time to shoot the scenes because the creature wouldn’t be making an appearance until much later in the post-production process.

On the day, Jamil and Brian ran through their characters’ initial encounter with the beast…

More behind-the-scene pics of the episode tomorrow – time permitted.

Little update on the super-secret comic book project.  As some of you may (or may not) know, Paul and I are finishing up the opening four issue arc of an SF-based comic book series set to launch in early 2012.  It was originally a t.v. pilot that I always thought would make a terrific comic book and when the opportunity arose to take it in that direction, we jumped on the chance.  We’re teaming with a major publisher and the plan is to establish the series in print and then try to set it up at a network.  Anyway, after checking out a slew of very talented artists, we’ve short-listed a couple of promising candidates who would, in our opinion, be the best stylistic fit for the project.  Hopefully we’ll be able to close the deal in the coming weeks.

Speaking of comic books – I need some trade paperback recommendations.  To give you a sense of what I’m looking for, these are the ongoing series I am currently picking up (in TPB format): Scalped, The Walking Dead, Chew, Sweet Tooth, and Secret Six.  I am about to add Uncanny X-Force based on blog regular Das’s recommendation.  So what else should I absolutely, positively, be reading?

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BMc
BMc

This isn’t comics, but an appeal for help – can anyone out there give me a hint on running these VideoPress/MVI video clips? What do I need? Thanks in advance!

SteveG1
SteveG1

Awesome bring it on!

SaveSGU

Squishy
Squishy

BMC; Latest version of Adobe Flash Player.
http://www.adobe.com

MyNameIsNada
MyNameIsNada

By Parker I’m hoping you mean Park and Greer, and I say bring it on. I was definitely skeptic about the idea when it was introduced last year, but after the Kino episode where Greer offers to beat up Rush for her, it grew on me. There’s something endearing about the idea of the jock and nerd complimenting each other. I don’t know to what extent the relationship can be developed in the back half of this season, but I’m hoping what is revealed helps flesh out the character development of the two and not just act as pointless filler.

BTW, good luck on the big move. As somebody who has moved cross country three times in the past five years, I know quite well the opportunities and frustrations that can arise.

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

Oh, GREAT. Watch now, you’ll hate Uncanny X-Force and then blame me for it. razz

I guess you’ll be getting it in trade – good move if so. I am so confused with Marvel’s numbering system right now. They have all these .1 issues (like, Such-and-Such Book #6.1). The .1 issues are basically one-shots, and supposed to be a perfect jumping on point for new readers, however, they also fall in the middle of a new arc. So, you get issue #6, which is the beginning of a new arc, then the next book is #6.1, which has nothing to do with #6, then #7 comes out and it’s a continuation of #6, with #6.1 just hanging out there. Based on The UX-F book, the only way I see this working is if BOTH #6 and #6.1 are starting points for the new arc (which seems to be the case in this particular series), then the two stories come together in #7 (which I haven’t read yet, so I don’t know). It’s just odd, and adds more confusion to buying books, as if we didn’t have enough of that with cross-overs and tie-ins.

Anyway, I hope you like Uncanny X-Force. I think you’ll like the first arc, at least. UGH! FORGOT. The very beginning of the story occurs in a Wolverine book…forget which one now, I think it was a one-shot that had lead-ins to all the Wolverine-based books (Wolverine, Daken, X-23, X-Force). Dammit. That was sort of important to understanding the whole story. I hope it’s included in the trade.

das

MrScirev

I recommend:

Excalibur – Sword is Drawn.
Excalibur Classic Volume 2: Two-Edged Sword TPB
Excalibur Classic Volume 3: Cross-Time Caper Book 1 TPB: Cross-time Caper v. 3

Especially the latter one for it’s comedic (but still serious) sci-fi.. it’s parallel universes done really well.

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

@ Joe – That creature looks like the cat that was in my backyard last weekend. razz Looking forward to the ep, unless, of course, you do something really mean to Greer.

@ crazymom1 – The new Sherlock is EXCELLENT! I’ve only seen the first three eps, but loved them to pieces. I was so pleasantly surprised by just how good it is.

@ Ponytail – I was hanging in there, then I put on a bra. wink

das

Debra
Debra

wow an early post! Can’t wait for the episode.

CraigMacD.
CraigMacD.

For comic book (trade recommendations), if you haven’t already read it then you really should pick up Transmetropolitan, a series about outlaw journalist Spider Jerusalem trying to report the truth in a futuristic city where genetic engineering, corruption and violence rule the day.

You can also try Sandman Mystery Theatre, centering around “mystery man” Wesley Dodds and his crime-fighting persona The Sandman, set during the 1940s as he battles serial killers, rapists, and super-villains.

For lighter fare, there really isn’t much in the way of a continuing series that doesn’t have 50 plus years of history behind it. You can try Madame Xanadu (a series that ran for 29 issues) which focuses on a sorceress of sorts that tries to protect humanity with her gift of foresight. Some really great artwork here.

Other recommendations that you can read without having to follow the full series:
Batwoman: Elegy
Green Lantern: Secret Origin
Superman: Secret Origin
Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes
Batman: Prey
JLA: Year One

Most of these are standalone stories, though a couple have ties to other stories, but you don’t really have to read them in order to enjoy these.

IanB
IanB

Given that the issue of the SGU movie is still appears to be undecided, there remains the possibility that the series will end without a conclusion. This irks me since so many of the shows that I gravitate to tend to have story arcs and a propensity for being cancelled just as they are getting going.

As I understand it, SGU was meant to have a five year story arc, so I am presuming that you had an idea as to where the overall story was going and one or more possible endings. You have mentioned your “super-secret comic book project”, so I am wondering whether, if the SGU movie falls through, you might consider going in the opposite direction to this project and finish the SGU story as a comic book.

Sean D.
Sean D.

Ahhh… “the creature” in The Hunt… I’m looking forward to seeing how the hunt unfolds. I look at those sketches and sculptures and I can’t help but think:

Simba, the six-legged creature.

grin heheh

Okay, anyway, looking forward to the episode!

Sean D.

BMc
BMc

@Squishy – I have Flash, and I did use your link and download it again just in case it wasn’t up-to-date, but still no luck with VideoPress. It doesn’t say it can’t play, no message whatsoever, no opportunity to select what program I want to use: I click the arrow, it just sits there, no response. Nothing on a double-click either. And if I click it too many times, the arrow just turns blue. Any other suggestions gratefully received, and if not, thanks anyway for trying!

Randomness
Randomness

Speaking of character focus, kinda sad that we’l never see an episode that casts aside the main cast and brings the side characters into the forefront of the story.

Like *The Other Guys* in SG1 Season 6 when Coombs and Felger try and rescue SG1. I loved that episode..

Don’t get me wrong, I just would of loved to of seen an episode that put Volker, Brody, Park, maybe James into the forefront, I guess the only problem there being you’re kinda limited as they’re on a ship, and if they go offworld you’d need a reason just SGU has a good secondary list of characters that I would of loved to of seen more of.

Not anyones fault there though, as the show is only 2 seasons long. I have faith you, and everyone else would of done more with those characters Joe lol

David Issel

I’ll be sure to check it out in 30 days once it finally hits hulu.com :/

Lisa R
Lisa R

Really liked all the back-the-scenes stuff for The Hunt. Makes me look forward that much more to tomorrow now.
Joe, I do have one bone to pick with you though. I didn’t think writers were supposed to do ship stuff. wink (You know, save that for the fanfics and all, LOL) I do have to admit I am a fan of the other pairing, but it didn’t matter to me one way or the other. (My fanfic writing took care of that for me.) I did have one concern in that I didn’t want the Young character denigrated for the TJ character. Let me explain. I am a forty something year old woman who likes to have dynamic characters on my shows that are of a similar age; not just pretty 20-30 something year olds. You guys didn’t do that, and I very much appreciate it. My hubby is commenting every week about how much better Universe is getting. We will be sad the night of the final episode.

Have a good evening!!!!

N
N

Batwoman: Elegy
Morning Glories volume 1
pretty much anything written by Nick Spencer

Joan001
Joan001

Re Varro and TJ…. I am so with you!! Looking forward to a good show that was cancelled MUCH too early.

Any institution is only as good as the people running it… a pox on the people of SyFy.

Joan001
Joan001

I am really stunned at how talented James Robbins is in sculpting an other-worldly creature. Having taken fine arts, I know how hard it can be to come up with an idea in the first place, and then draw and sculpt it. Mr. Robbins and others of his ilk have to do this for a series and an episode that really waits for no one… speed is the word… I’m just amazed at the talent on this show that has to come screeching to a halt.

… a pox… I won’t repeat myself again… but what a real piss-off… excuse the anger…

gforce
gforce

Thanks for the behind the scenes video, Joe. I’m always fascinated by the mechanics and tech stuff that those on behind (and in front of) the camera. I’m loving this second half of Season 2, but as much as I like each episode they still make me sad because it means there’s one fewer to watch until the end.

KEK
KEK

I think Parker = Park/Volker

Michael A. Burstein

Comics: You should absolutely be reading Fables if you aren’t reading it yet.

KevinInNS
KevinInNS

Here’s a question about relationship arcs.

In the pilot, we’re introduced to Scott and James in a very direct way. I know fans had different opinions about it, but I liked how it covered sex in a way unlike any SG show before.

Except for a brief moment with Park and the Young-Telford-Emily pseudo 3 way, we’ve never seen the show come close to that kind of explicitness again. Was there a reason for that? When faced with day-to-day death like our heroes our..I would think they’d be doing it just for stress relief…but that’s just me,lol.

Speaking of James, has she become celibate since boarding Destiny? or is there some relationship that might be shown before the show ends? She is obviously the object of attention of more then a few of Destiny’s male crewmembers. Just wondering.

Jahedur Rahman
Jahedur Rahman

When will Rush get a break just saw the latest SGU. Why cant he and Mandy be together?? sad Please give me some hope that he’ll win her back!?!?

Miko
Miko

Is it always that funny on the set? grin

Vigs
Vigs

Was there ever a plan to make the Young/T.J. storyline manifest, or more manifest this season? Their scenes together this season have been so devoid of chemistry or even references to their past, a watcher would never know they’d been (presumably) hot and heavy at some past point.
Going back to “Seizure” what was the thinking in making McKay complicit in taking over an entire planet’s stability and self-preservation? Didn’t we/he get over the arrogant, I-know-best back with Doranda/Arcturus? (Which I assume is what Young was referring to when he said no planets would blow up. Hee!)