I’ve had my share of online skirmishes.  Not surprising give the fact that I: a) maintain a consistent (daily) internet presence and, b) work in a genre with notoriously passionate (rabid) fans.  In the past, the blow-outs have progressed thusly –

1. A certain section of fandom objects to a creative decision made.

2. The angry fans vent in various forums, criticizing said decision and the people (TPTB) who made it.

3. Eventually, the outrage washes up on the shores of this blog and I offer my take on why the decision was made and/or why I thought it was the right call.

4. A certain group within that group of critics takes exception to my response and counters, sometimes with rude and/or immature remarks.

5. I call them on their behavior.

6. They grow even more outraged and lets the insults fly.

7. Repeats steps 5 and 6 as many times as required.

All this to say that readers of this blog know I’m no stranger to controversy.  Which is why, two years ago, I was intrigued to read of another genre writer/producer, James Moran, who was experiencing a firestorm of fan fury over a creative decision made by TPTB over on Torchwood.  The original blog post is here (http://jamesmoran.blogspot.com/2009/07/stepping-back.html) and, while perusing it, I was struck by the similarities to some of my experiences dealing with fandom.  For instance:

“Why? I started trying to discuss it, but swiftly realised that it was pointless. It simply turns into “No it isn’t” / “Yes it is”, and there’s no way I can win the argument, because in certain people’s opinion, I am wrong, and that’s the end of it. And it’s all just opinion anyway. It would also feel like I was trying to justify the show, and I’m not doing that. I have absolutely no need to. The show is the show. Whether you like it or dislike it, that’s up to you.”

and

“I’ve received over a thousand messages from viewers talking about the show. The vast majority have been extremely positive. Even though many of them are upset, angry and shocked, they have managed to express that without making it personal. So to you, I’m extremely grateful. I’m glad you liked the show, and love that it made you respond so strongly. I can’t reply to everyone, it’d take weeks, so please accept my thanks.

But the rest of the messages? Unacceptable. Some have been spewing insults and passive aggressive nonsense. Accusing me of deliberately trying to mislead, lie, and hurt people. Telling me I hate the fans…”

Sound familiar?

So delighted was I to discover a kindred spirit that I fired off an email that essentially welcomed him “to the wonderful world of online fan interaction!”.  He kindly responded.  We commiserated.  And, over the years, have continued to touch base on various – thankfully – non-internet related matters.

The other day, James dropped me an email to pass along his condolences on the premature passing of the Stargate franchise.  I asked him what he was up to and he informed me he had just finished wrapping his latest movie, a horror comedy called “Cockneys Vs. Zombies” (Cockneys Vs. Zombies?!  As Brad Wright was fond of saying: “SOLD!”).  Meanwhile, his web series, Girl Number 9, starring Torchwood’s Gareth David-Lloyd, hits FEARnet this summer!  Check out the trailer here: http://www.denofgeek.com/television/333874/girl_number_9_the_trailer.html

With the Book of the Month Club on hiatus, I thought it might be nice to broaden our horizons and invite some guests from the world of film and television to take part in our reader Q&A’s.  And who better to kick things off than my brother in genre fandom strife, a guy who has written for shows like Dr. Who, Torchwood, Spooks, and Primevil – Mr. James Moran.

So, starting today (and through early next week), I’ll be gathering questions for James.

Post ’em if you got ’em!

The topic of fandom fury is a perfect segue to a wrap-up of my thoughts on SG-1’s fifth season…

In season five, actor Michael Shanks decided to leave the show.  When Brad told me, I was shocked.  I’d never known him to be unhappy or dissatisfied with the show’s creative directions (specifically as it affected his character) but, to be fair, being relatively new to the franchise, I can understand why I wouldn’t have been first on his list of people to confide in.  I’m sure he’d had many discussions with Brad and Robert, the series show runners, leading up to what was, no doubt, a very difficult decision for him.  Anyway, Brad was clearly disappointed and promised Michael his character would have a memorable farewell. Despite what fans may have thought at the time, there was no ill-will, no bad blood – simply a professional understanding and a desire on both sides to parts ways on good, respectful terms.  Which is exactly what happened.  I remember Michael visiting the production offices to say goodbye and Brad telling him the door would always be open for him to do guest appearances if he was so inclined.  Michael voiced his appreciation for the potential opportunity to revisit the Daniel Jackson character.  And that, sadly, was that.

Until word broke and fandom reacted.  To say a lot of fans were displeased would be an understatement.  The boards lit up!  The fans were furious!  And I didn’t blame them.  Daniel had been there from the beginning.  Hell, he’d been there before the beginning (As a character in the original Stargate movie, he pre-dated SG-1) and, over his 4+ seasons on the show, had been the team’s moral center.  Losing him was a huge loss, not only to the fans but the show’s creative as well as DJ had always offered that strong civilian and philosophical counter-balance to SG-1’s forceful military approach.  More than Teal’c, Daniel was the true fish out of water, braving his strange, often hostile environs in surprisingly spectacular fashion.  His absence would hurt, not only his fans, but the show as a whole.

Realistically, however, there was nothing to be done.  The decision had been made and we had to live with it.  We also had to live with the fan anger directed at us for letting him go and, more pointedly, for creating the circumstances which, in their minds, forced Michael to leave.  To say I was surprised by the criticism – well, let’s call that another understatement.  I wasn’t aware of any creative issues surrounding the Daniel Jackson character.  I went back and looked over the episodes produced to date and, to my eye, DJ was well represented in episodes like Beast of Burden, Summit, and Last Stand.  And, as the online outrage swelled, it suddenly dawned on me that there was fundamental difference in the way the Daniel Jackson fans and I saw the show.  To them, the relationship between Jack and Daniel was the heart of the series and they felt the show’s fourth and fifth seasons greatly lacked in this all-important dynamic.  To my mind, however, SG-1 was about the team (although I was always mindful of the print ads for the series that always said: “Richard Dean Anderson in Stargate: SG-1”) and, as a result, I measured the success of each season by its ability to shine the spotlight on all four of our main characters in an equitable manner.  Clearly, it was a divide that couldn’t be bridged and, as season five ended and work on season six commenced, that divide started to widen.

And, oh yeah, season six!  We had all assumed that we would end our run on Showtime with a fifth and final season.  And we did.  On Showtime.  But late in the show’s fifth season, we received word that the SG-1 had been granted new life.  We were moving to SciFi for a sixth and presumably final year.  There was much rejoicing, but also a bittersweet farewell to a place we’d called home for those five years.   Showtime had been very, very good to us and, in as a final thank you, we elected to break tradition and not end the season on a cliffhanger.  That way, we figured, our Showtime fans would have some closure, yet also have the option of continuing SG-1’s adventures elsewhere.

FAIL SAFE (517)

When we first started on the show, Paul and I were a true writing team, often working on scripts together, bouncing dialogue back and forth in our offices. Then, as the demands of production became more pressing, our partnership evolved.  Rather than write together, we started to write separately.  One of us would start a script and send it to the other who would revise what was written, then forge ahead.  When he’d hit a wall, he would send the script back and the other would take over, revising all that had come before, then moving forward.  We eventually settled into this routine but, in time, again as a result of production demands, we became a writing team in name only.  We would write entire drafts separately, then switch off and do polishes on each other’s work. Eventually, we would do our own polishes, yet we maintained our official onscreen partnership.  Why?  Because while I was doing more originals, Paul, in his duties as a producer on the series, did the lion’s share of the uncredited script rewrites on other writers.  And so, for instance, while both our names may appear in the credits, this episode was pretty much Paul’s from start to finish.  One of my favorite exchanges from Fail Safe:

Carter: Now find the wires leading from the timer to the detonator and cut the red one.
O’Neill: Carter, they’re all yellow.
Carter: Say again?
O’Neill: There are five wires, and they’re all yellow!

One of the things that I remember about this episode was how uncomfortable Rick and Chris were in those spacesuits (a recurring on-set theme that ran through both shows)  So much so that they simply refused to wear them any longer than they had to.  Of course, how long was necessary was open to debate. In one sequence in the episode, they discover Sam and Daniel have managed to save themselves by taking refuge inside a ship’s pods.  Rather than releasing them immediately, Jack and Teal’c apparently take the time to repressurize the ship AND THEN remove their spacesuits (which would take them at least a half an hour) before releasing Sam and Daniel.  Nobody else at home seemed to notice, but we sure did.

THE WARRIOR (518)

I was awakened at a little past 7:00 a.m. by my ringing cell phone.  I got out of bed to answer and discovered I’d already missed two calls from my sister in Montreal.    What the hell?  I answered.  She asked me if I had the t.v. on.  I told her I just got up.  She informed me that two planes had flown into the Twin Towers.  Another had hit the Pentagon.  I was stunned.  For a split second, my scifi mind assumed some mass mechanical failure, but the truth, far more insidious and disquieting took hold.  I turned on the t.v. and immediately phoned Paul.  “You watching?”I asked.  “Yeah,”he said.  I’m watching.”

When I got in to work, the Production Offices were quiet.  Someone had turned on the t.v. in the conference room (reserved for screening visual effects) and anyone who wasn’t on filming was in there, silently watching the horrific events unfold.  It was surreal.  Down on set, we were finishing up second unit on this episode while main unit photography had started on Menace.  911 is the first thing that comes to mind when I think back to either of these episodes.

MENACE (519)

Danielle Nicolet, who guested as Reese in this episode, delivered such a terrific performance that I started trying to think of a way to bring the character back almost immediately after killing her off.  Hey, it happens.  Given the events in New York, most flights were grounded and she unable to fly back to L.A. As a result, she ended up having to stay in town a few extra days.  I remember treating her to dinner where the topic of conversation ranged from the music business to the wonderful time she had as a recurring character on Third Rock From the Sun.  Total sweetheart.

THE SENTINEL (520)

Another misfire in my books, this was one of those episodes I just never got onboard with.  It was also one of those rare instances where we had to use a little trickery to tell our story, in this case showing newly shot footage in the Previously On as a means of introducing (back-selling) some characters who hadn’t appeared in the episode being referenced.  This episode also marked what I believe was the first appearance of the wonderful Christina Cox who would later return to the franchise to play the part of Major Anne Teldy in SGA’s Whispers.

MERIDIAN (521)

I know, I know.  Most of you assume my heart is made of stone.  But, believe it or not, the ending of this episode always gets to me, even more so that time has passed.  I wasn’t a fan of the ephemeral cuttlefish but I did think Corin Nemec (Jonas Quinn) gave the best performance of his Stargate run in this heartbreaker of an episode.

REVELATIONS (522)

Our final farewell to Showtime and Daniel Jackson ends with the suggestion that while DJ may be physically gone, he’ll always be there in spirit.  I remember thinking the gust of wind that catches Jack’s attention in the final scene (and his subsequent reaction) was perhaps too subtle but, in retrospect, I guess I was wrong because all of our fans caught it.  Another aspect of this episode I recall is the tiny spiked interrogation device Anubis tells Thor he will implant in his brain.  Every time we watched that scene in dailies, I imagined the following dialogue:

Thor:  Even should you succeed in implanting the device in my ear –

Anubis: Oh, it doesn’t go in through your ear.

Thor: Well, my nose then.  Even if you succeed –

Anubus: No.  Not in through your nose either.

Thor: Well then where – ?  Oh.  Oh $%&@!

I always wanted to hear an Asgard curse a blue streak.  Now that Stargate is done, it stands out as one of my biggest regrets.

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Randomness
Randomness

@In season five, actor Michael Shanks decided to leave the show

Jackson died too much in SG1, him ascending and deascending became ridiculus. However I loved Jonas, he was a great addition to SG1, even if he was all but forgotten since his last appearance.

Jonas probably would of been good with more of a role in Stargate Universe in Seizure.

@REVELATIONS

Best episode out of all the ones listed. Enjoyed this one a lot.

Speaking of which, that’s another one done by you and Paul. I honestly can’t remember who wrote these, and just browsing through the names, reminds me of what I liked the most lol

@2. The angry fans vent in various forums, criticizing said decision and the people (TPTB) who made it.

I dislike people like that, those that hate on others, and the work done by others. As you no doubt know Joe, producers and actors/actresses work on things they think fans will enjoy, you can’t always please everyone but that doesn’t give people the right to be disrespectful and downright rude.

Producers like the cast are helpless when it comes to a show being renewed, and as such people shouldn’t be hating when a show doesn’t come back.

Joe, I think you, and everyone else involved with the show have handled these people wonderfully.

Lisa R
Lisa R

I liked Fail Safe and Revevlations of this bunch. Still enjoying the trip down memory lane. And I’ve also appreciated how much you’ve put yourself out there for the fans. I would never dream of acting like some of them have acted online. Oh, and if you think fans of tv shows are the only ones that act that way, you would be wrong. Try going to a homeschool forum sometime. wink

Have a good weekend!!

shiloh
shiloh

Speaking about the on-line wars – I really do admire the way you are able to remain unfazed by the sometimes vitriolic comments a small percentage of fans make, emboldened by the anonymous nature of the internet. I am saddened by the way fans ascribe their own presumptions of why something occurred on a show, in a total absence of proof, and maintain their assumptions in the face of all denials.

I had a friend who became upset when a female regular left a certain series – she “knew” it was because those “evil PTB” just couldn’t have a strong female on a show aimed at younger males. At a convention, she and I had the opportunity to attend a panel run by the story editor of said series. Before the panel could even begin, the story editor was asked about the actresses departure. She explained how the actress, who was European, and on a show filmed in North America, wanted to go back home. It was the actress’s own choice. My friend listened attentively, but still to this day insists that no, that ‘couldn’t be true, it was the so-called “evil PTB”.

That said, I am totally enjoying the reminisces of seasons past. I would give anything to see Thor not only cussing, but drunk too.

archersangel

that part from fail safe was my one of my favorite exchanges too.

but I did think Corin Nemec (Jonas Quinn) gave the best performance of his Stargate run in this heartbreaker of an episode.

i agree.

majorsal
majorsal

@Mike: thanks for the ‘trio’ deleted scene. that was nice of you to care that much to find it and post it.

@silurian: i was speaking about the shipper fans, dear.

Sg1efc
Sg1efc

“4. A certain group within that group of critics takes exception to my response and counters, sometimes with rude and/or immature remarks.

5. I call them on their behavior.

6. They grow even more outraged and lets the insults fly.

7. Repeats steps 5 and 6 as many times as required.”

Well, that is Exactly what the “haters” want you to do = come back over and over to continue to argue with them. They feed on it, it is what they are here for. They are not here to admire your work, nor are they here to make pleasant conversation or bring new, interesting insights and discussion. They are nasty people who, if given a soapbox, will gladly get up on one & try to make you and your readers lives miserable, if you allow that to happen.

Best thing to do is to immediately ban anyone who starts to get out of hand. Before they try to throw you off your soapbox, as this is your blog, not there’s. It is not our right to be able to post replies here. You allow us to post comments here & that is a privilege which can be revoked at any time you desire. smile

Sg1efc
Sg1efc

By the way, I Love Torchwood! Can’t wait until the next season starts. smile

Lou Zucaro

Ok, so given what you’ve written here, Joe, this may seem odd, but…

We started watching SG-1 in its fourth season. I should clarify that my wife (girlfriend at the time) watched a 4th season episode, thought it was great and that I’d love it, and so we went out and got season 1 on DVD so that we could start from the beginning.

When we were finally caught up and then started watching season 5, during the season, we’d make comments to each other like “Does it feel different this seasons for some reason?” and “Does it seem like the cast isn’t getting along or something?” etc.

It was only after that that we learned that Michael was leaving.

So, although there may have been no bad blood, to us, not even being “in the know” at the time about his departure, season 5 did seem off somehow.

Weird.

Lou Zucaro

OMG…newly shot footage in the Previously On…one of my biggest pet peeves.

I suppose it’s not really that big of a deal, but it drives us viewers a little batty because we suddenly realize (mistakenly) that we somehow missed an episode.

“Wait…what?! We never saw that, did we? Oh, shit, did we miss one?! Wait…we’re watching on DVD…how could we have missed one. Man, I wonder if the DVDs are messed up. Crap…look it up…”

TeesterX
TeesterX

“Telling me I hate the fans…”

Hi Joe. I think your blog shows that the above comment isn’t true. In a perverse way, it shows that you are doing a good job. If you weren’t, people wouldn’t have liked the show enough to even bother commenting, even though insulting you is hardly the way to have a discussion!

I was always a Star Trek fan, and only started watching SG1 to fill the void when Enterprise ended, but found I loved SG1 too, and have now seen every episode. It’s frustrating that Universe is going to end with not only the story incomplete, but with a cliff-hanger too. I know from reading your blog you feel that frustration also. Still, I’m a fan of your blog site now, so keep up the good work.

With respect, Ian.

Lou Zucaro

Sorry, I feel like I’m post-spamming here, but…

I’d love to hear, sometime, about how the Previously Ons are edited…how are things logged, kept track of, etc. to make editing those together easier? Who decides what’s on them and who edits them together?

Also…

Menace was one of my all-time favorite SG-1 episodes. I love, love, LOVE when backstory for something really “important” is introduced way after the fact, and I thought you did a really clever job with this one.

I just thought it was such a neat story / concept and it has always stuck with me.

I remember seeing a rating for it in some episode guide and it wasn’t a great rating and I just couldn’t (and still don’t) understand why.

And, yeah, Danielle Nicolet was great as Reese.

Rachel
Rachel

I think we’re entering a weird era, where creators of art (in various forms) are now extremely accessible to their fans. For phsyical artists and musicians, it’s probably not going to be as big a deal, but for those artists who tell ongoing stories it really is going to hit hard in situations like this, because the people who are most passionate and therefore the most hurt or thrilled are going to be the ones to get there to talk to the creators. I hope that one day I’ll be in your position (hey, a girl can dream), but by the time I get there I’ll have to think “right, these people have a direct line to me. If I’m going to make them cry, I have to make them really love me for it”, or shut them off completely. Are we going to make the creators of our shows more accountable the way we did politicians?

So it’s clear, I think there’s some line somewhere between art for general sale and art for commission. If you commissioned a painting of a horse, you’d expect a horse. If you picked up a random book of photographs, it would be your fault if you didn’t like all of them. But when it comes to serialised stories, do we have the right to expect more of the same with each new installment, or is each intallment a fresh general sale?

Randomness
Randomness

@TeesterX

Well said. Stargate as a whole has the most fan friendly cast, producers, and everyone else involved with the shows.

Infact you could say that everyone involved with Stargate as a whole love the fans, and have been nothing but fan friendly.

Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to stop being a hater. No other francise has people so willing to engage and talk with the fans as much as Stargate does.

For that, everyone should be proud.

I missed that part of Joes post but had to say that in response.

Jim of WVa
Jim of WVa

You forgot the step where viewers stop watching the show.

Ponytail
Ponytail

RE: Fandom Fury!

Not me Joe! smile
I’m the nicest smile
sweetest grin
most respectful grin
commentor you got razz
I’d never … unamused
What did you say?… shock
I heard that. cry
What did you just say? mad
You’re asking for it! mad
You asked for it! twisted
Bite me! evil

Your puppies are adorable! grin

josephmallozzi
josephmallozzi

“You forgot the step where viewers stop watching the show.”

You mean SAY they’re going to stop watching the show and then keep watching the show just so they can complain about it

SteveG1
SteveG1

Hi Joe,

Thanks for all the Stargate SG1 stuff your putting up it’s awesome.

I see Comcast are putting $100mil for new sci-fi shows I hope this means there’s a chance of a change of heart for SGU.

I’ve decided not to watch the last episode of SGU until I hear news of a 3rd season or at least some sort of follow on.
Although we have alot of unfinished business at the moment there’s no big cliff hanger but I’m guessing that will change after the last episode. I’m just going to let SGU fade out of my life NOW.

I have cancelled my Satellite subscription in disgust and protest over the handling of Stargate. Not much in the grand scheme of things I know, but it’s my stand too make.
For my £35 all I really watch on satellite are Stargate repeats and 4 hours a month of SGU and maybe 1 or 2 other shows.
I would have paid £35 a month just too watch SGU. But to hell with them I’m pissed off and I’m throwing my rattle out the pram. And Yes They Have Been Told!!!

Thanks for the best TV of my life but as my favorite actor once said on my favorite TV show.
“Good night my someone Good night”

Hope the puppy and the doggy’s are doing well.

Ta Ta

SaveSGU

TeesterX
TeesterX

@Randomness

Thank you smile

Lisa R
Lisa R

“You mean SAY they’re going to stop watching the show and then keep watching the show just so they can complain about it”

And you also forgot the part where they make websites to complain about said show that they’re not watching.

SteveG1
SteveG1

oops meant to say,

I never realized you were getting that sort of verbals thrown at you on this Blog..

I tried to point-out on Gateworld SGU is a more adult type SciFi show and been hounded for it actually slagged to death.
I have never ever in my whole life seen a show been slagged off like SGU has been and too make it worse the vast majority of the naysayers call themselves Stargate fans.

It’s disgusting and at the end of the day all they’ve done is help to ruin it for everyone including themselves.

I apologize on behalf of all Stargate fans for the Verbals.

SaveSGU

Randomness
Randomness

@TeesterX

Your welcome. Monday will be a depressing day, don’t you think?

@SteveG1
@I have never ever in my whole life seen a show been slagged off like SGU

Does seem like a lot of this stems from the loss of Atlantis, which in turn angered some of the fanbase and as such they’re trying to find little things on the show to nitpick and make huge deals of, in their little forums. That and some people just can’t over it not being like the previous 2 shows.

@naysayers call themselves Stargate fans.

Well we can all agree they’re not real Stargate fans, real fans stay respectful, even if they don’t like something, they don’t act rude, or insulting to the cast/producers etc.

There’s always a way to put your message accross if you don’t like something, you simply say it in a constructive manner that doesn’t make you seem like an ass. People will listen to criticism, everyone does, it helps people improve, especially if it’s legitimate. However people don’t listen to hate.

Thornyrose
Thornyrose

One of the more amazing things about your blog is not only have you not turned into a raving lunatic dealing with a certain type of fan, but you’ve managed maintain your svelte figure, stylish dress, and snarky humor throughout. Most of the time, anyways. Which is duly appreciated by certain other types of fan, who I believe are the majority.
Still loving these looks back. It struck me when you talked about 9/11 how while my immediate world seemed to freeze how the day really had a global reach. Again, thanks for sharing. And I’ll start wracking my brain for questions for Mr. Moran. Life’s not left me much time to relax and think on matters more pleasant and challenging.

Tammy Dixon
Tammy Dixon

Ponytail: Thanks for the laughs!

I’m really enjoying your memories of Stargate. Now I want to go back and rewatch all the episodes. I liked Jonas, so even though I missed M. S., I was ok with the change. Can you tell us why Jonas was written out?

Everyone has their 9-11 moment. I was listening to the radio in the car after I dropped my son off at school. It took a while for the news to be sorted out. All the news people said it was an accident, until the second plane. Afterward, it was so odd because, normally FedEx planes flew over our house all the time. The sky was silent for a week or so.

Sg1efc
Sg1efc

“SteveG1
I see Comcast are putting $100mil for new sci-fi shows I hope this means there’s a chance of a change of heart for SGU.”

Would you please post a link here so we can read about this good news? (At least it is news to me.)

Thank you very much. smile

IggyMing
IggyMing

You must have very thick skin! I’m glad that you’ve been able to weather the some of the more controversial moments, and still come online daily to share with us any Stargate news, as well as other goings-on in your life. It’s nice to have that “personal contact” with a show insider.