Apparently, Alexander has discovered the source of all my recent problems (the jet flight I was denied, the payment I’m yet to be reimbursed for, the recent damage to my car, my VISA being compromised – to name just a few). According to Alexander, it’s my attitude. I’m just getting back what I put out there. If I was as upbeat as him, my luck would certainly turn around. “Toronto is a great city,”he insists – although, in my mind, this says less about Toronto and more about Paris, the last place he called home. He assures me that he used to be a very negative guy, but things changed for the best after he adopted a new, positive attitude. Instead of focusing on the negatives (My credit card information was stolen!), I should emphasizing on the positives (Think how much money I’ll save while I’m waiting for my replacement VISA to arrive!). Yep, it’s working already. And it’s all thanks to the perenially upbeat Alexander who I’ve decided to nickname Sunshine for the duration of the production run.
Sunshine gets to pit his optimism-fueled luck against my pessimism-charged misfortune when we both board the same L.A.-bound flight tomorrow night.
That first season on Stargate was a memorable year and, looking back, we couldn’t have asked for a better work environment. We were on the other side of the country, far from the only home we’d ever known, yet the transition, while initially difficult, was ultimately a very rewarding one because of the people involved and the show itself. And it certainly helped that the production we joined was, after three years, a well-oiled machine that simply required us to hop aboard and join the incredible ride. Paul and I were very prolific that first year, writing seven scripts (roughly a third of that season’s 22 episode run), and setting a pace we would keep up for seasons to come.
The premise was fairly standard but, like most every episode, what set it apart was what made it special for our characters – in this case, Amanda who got to go all Terminator, and Jack who is faced with a very tough call in dealing with the threat. What I found particularly interesting about this episode was that, after many stories in which Jack’s military stance conflicts with Daniel’s peaceful civilian position, invariably resulting in the latter being proven correct, the results are reversed here. Jack was right. He should have destroyed it when he had the chance rather than allow Daniel and Sam to attempt communication with the entity.
DOUBLE JEOPARDY (421)
SG-1’s fourth season finishes strong with two terrific back to back episodes. This one saw the return of the team robots, last scene in Tin Man, and offered up one of my favorite act outs ever: Daniel Jackson’s apparent decapitation. No, wait! Speaking of DJ, this episode marked Michael Shanks’s directorial debut and it was a doozy. With all the twinning and big action sequences, Double Jeopardy would have proven a challenge to even the most seasoned of directors, yet Michael stepped up and the result was spectacular.
Seriously. How often do you get to blow up a sun? So when the opportunity comes along, you take it! And we did, taking out Apophis’s fleet in the process. I loved the sequence of the gate being jetissoned, its thrusters firing as it repositions itself on its way to its fiery end. Another aspect of this episode that I recall was Rick’s ad-lib of the line: “We’re boned without water.”, originally “We’re screwed without water” in the script. Paul walked into my office after viewing the dailies and asked: “Can we say “boned” on television?”. I remember shrugging back and saying: “Sure, why not.” We were airing on Showtime after all and, ultimately, boning wouldn’t be an issue until the big move to SciFi, a network that would send us its Standards and Practices overview before every season. Amusingly, it would offer up a list of acceptable, unacceptable, and “grey area” words and expressions. The relative permissibility of the latter were entirely dependent on the context in which they were used. For instance, “jerk off” was unacceptable unless, say, as Paul suggested, we used it in a line like: “Somebody push that jerk off that ledge!”. Paul and I dedicated an entire afternoon to crafting just the right dialogue context for a host of otherwise improper terms (“Boy, that cock kept me up all night. It just wouldn’t stop crowing!”. And such.). Time well spent.
So Paul and I were kept very busy on the work front and the work front – what with seven scripts to write in addition to my burgeoning producing duties – bled into personal life. At times, it was very hard to turn off script mode, particularly when much of my writing process involves me running dialogue in my head, over and over again, until I achieve the idea running rhythm of the scene. I do my best work in the shower or while I’m driving, but have been known to come up with a nice run while lying in bed at night or just eating dinner. I’m also the type of guy that gets antsy when I’m not being productive and that just exacerbated the problem. Still, with one season under my belt, I was well pleased with the decision to accept the staff position in Vancouver (and I can only speak for myself here, obviously) and I was even more pleased knowing that we had that fifth, and presumably final, season of SG-1 to look forward to. I had, at the time, no doubt we’d be going out with a bang. Little did I realize that a different set of fireworks lay ahead…
In the days to come, I’ll shift focus to my second year on the franchise, SG-1’s fifth season, that saw a new addition to the writers’ room, a fresh round of fandom unrest, the return of some familiar faces, and the death of a major character/departure of a series regular.