Crazy as this may sound, I think I may be getting older.  No.  Really.  I was sitting up in bed last night, reading the entire first volume of Morning Glories when I realized I was having trouble focusing on the text.  I gave myself an impromptu vision test, covering first the left eye, then the right, and realized that my right eye seemed weaker.  Hmmm. This might explain my recent headaches.  I thought it was simply a natural reaction to my writing partner’s incessant yammering.  Our trusty exec producers’ assistant, Trevor, has arranged for me to visit an optometrist later this week.  He warned me that my appointment may include a pupil dilation that would make it very difficult for me to perform basic functions like reading, driving, and firing a sniper rifle.  As a result, I’m going to have to ask him to help me out.  For that afternoon, I’ll have to count on him to find and read aloud various amusing online articles, provide detailed explanations of the hilarious goings-on in those failblog videos, pick me out the choice lunch sandwiches, unwrap my chocolates, and, of course, complete my rewrite on episode 3.

I spent most of today waiting. Waiting in the passport office, waiting for lunch, but mainly waiting in traffic.  It took me an hour and twenty minutes to drive in to work today.  That’s about an hour over my average time.  I’m sorely tempted to start a new blog called Traffic City Toronto so I can have some place to post pics of the city’s traffic gridlock, douchebag double-parkers, and endless construction zones devoid of any construction workers.

Prep continues on Transporter: The Series in advance of tomorrow’s (and Wednesday’s) big broadcaster summit.  We checked out some camera tests and a bit of early stunt footage compliments of our car stunt coordinator, Michel Julienne, in Paris.  Looks pretty kick-ass.  Also went over the new storyboards for the car action sequences from the pilot and Carl’s first episode.  Also pretty amazing.  Can’t wait to see the real thing.

On the comic book front, my editor at Dark Horse, Patrick Thorpe, forwarded me two of artist Garry Brown’s new takes on the ship design for our upcoming series, Dark Matter 

Really like the rotating engines on the second vessel.  My only suggestion was that the ship itself should be a little bigger, more imposing.  What do you all think?

Continuing my SG-1 season 8 reminiscences…

ICON (805)

One of the last things we, as writers, do (and, often not very well) is come up with titles for our damn episodes.  Up to the point where the episode gets an official title everybody can be equally unhappy about, it works its way through the notes and rewrite process with a placeholder title.  On very rare occasions, usually when everyone is looking the other way, one of those placeholder titles may actually become the official title (see: Watergate and Enemy Mine).  If that had happened on this episode, instead of Icon, your t.v. listings would have read English Patient Daniel.

Two things I remember about this episode (beside the fact that I thought it was one of Damian Kindler’s best).  During the dailies, we would argue at length about the fact that a bicycle appeared in one of the scenes on this alien world.  Some argued that it was “too Earthy” and took us out of the scene, while others (Paul chiefest among them) argued that, if aliens were to build a bicycle (or a hammer or a glass or a fork), it would probably look a lot like the ones we had on Earth. Amid all the back and forth on bikes, we completely failed to notice the smoke detector in one of the interior scenes (or, as I later called it, “the alien humidifier”).

A lot of debate on that final scene in which bad guy Soren steps out of the room and is shot dead.  In the script, he comes out of the bunker, raises his gun – and Carter(I believe) shoots him.  The other regulars in the scene argued that they would act just as swiftly and be in on the kill.  Then there was a debate over whether or not Soren should raise his weapon and whether our heroes would essentially execute a man who was surrendering.  In the end, we solved the problem by having one of the guest stars shoot the villain in cold blood.  And, of course, get admonished for it.

AVATAR (806)

I’ve never been a huge fan of virtual reality episodes as there are only so many ways you can go with them.  Still, what makes an episode special isn’t so much its premise but the light it sheds on our main characters – in this case, Teal’c.  So, what do we learn about Teal’c in this episode?  Well, for starters, we learn he has a really big head.  There were two versions of that VR helmet he sports in the episode.  The first was built prior to any proper head measurement and, as a result, would only fit us mere mortals.  The prop department had to come up with a completely different helmet to accommodate Chris’s, er, roomier head.


Believe it or not, actress Claudia Black (who some of you may remember from such seasons as nine and ten) was originally considered for the role of Krista but was busy with the Peacekeeper Wars mini-series at the time.  Good thing too as, in retrospect, she would have been all wrong for the role (Erica Durance nailed it) but all right for the part of Vala the following year.

Around the time this episode was being written, we decided it was silly to always be pinning the blame on the N.I.D.  To those who didn’t any better, you’d think they were an evil organization bent on world domination rather than one of the good guys.  We squinted, looked the other way, referred to them as “rogue elements of the N.I.D.” and, eventually, came up with a name for a whole new group of bad guys.  After much consideration and working our way through a host of possibilities, we decided on one that hadn’t been taken on any other show – which was a lot harder than it sounds because Alias went through a slew of them. Anyway, we decided to go with “The Trust” and wrote that into the script.  Only to find out during prep that Alias had used it in a recent episode.


Hmmmmmm.  Not one of my favorites.  We really dig ourselves into a whole only to dig our way out and go back to square one.  During the big press conference, I wanted one of the reporters to ask: “Hey, does this alien thing have anything to do with that aircraft carrier that mysteriously disappeared last year?”.

Stargate Command was in a tight spot, with the truth about its entire operation – and alien connections – about to go public.  How were we going to get out of this one?  Well, while we were brainstorming ideas, someone (won’t say who) suggested Thor offer the SGC time travel technology that would allow them to go back in time and undo everything.  Wha-huh?  The Asgard have time travel technology?  Why had Thor been holding out on us?  More importantly, with this convenient new technology, the SGC could simply go back in time whenever things didn’t go their way (ie. someone got killed, SG-1 didn’t save the day, the Nuggets failed to make the playoffs).  Needless to say, that idea didn’t fly.

51 thoughts on “May 30, 2011: WTF? Traffic City Toronto! Transporter: The Series prep update! Dark Matter new ship designs! Stargate: SG-1 memories!

  1. Sorry Joe. I think I’m as old as you are, and I wear bi-focals. Really, it’s not that bad. 😉 It will make things a lot clearer.

    I hate traffic. I remember one time we were going back to Michigan from Wisconsin and got stuck in Chicago traffic for four hours. Yuck!!

    Liked the Dark Matter pictures. The ship could be a little bigger though.

    I think I liked Icon the best out of this set of eps. And you’re right, it did remind me of The English Patient.

    Have a good night!!

  2. @No. Really. I was sitting up in bed last

    You’re probably just tired Joe, can imagine your new Joe being both stressful and enjoyable, maybe you just need to catch up on your sleep or something.

    @Really like the rotating engines on the second vessel. My only suggestion was that the ship itself should be a little bigger, more imposing. What do you all think?

    Depends on the context in which the ship will be used, will it be a battleship, or the kind of ship that swoops on in, picks up the crew, maybe holds its own a little before flying away, in heroic kind of way, saving the day.

    Back on the episode discussion.

    Loved Avatar, thought it showed a side to Teal’C we all knew he had, the fact remains he would never give up until his people are free, until the Goa’uld are defeated, if one needed proof of Teal’Cs true loyality, this is it.

  3. *your new Joe

    Meant to say your new job lol

    Anyway forgot to mention, that Transporter news tidbit you gave sounds promising, best of luck with that stunt stuff and what not.

    Also, how many episodes have been written/planned so far Joe? all 12?

  4. Hi again Mr M!

    Just a line to say, further to previous contact, I have been appointed as a Columnist with The Irish Times (the biggest national newspaper in Ireland)
    My column will appear monthly in the Health Supplement.

    My first offering, which I feel is universal (!) is here:

    If any of the gang here click on it, they can read it.
    The more hits…the better for my new bosses!!

    Thank you Mr M and one and all!!


  5. RE “rotating engines on the second vessel” – that was also Firefly’s design of Serenity …….. :0) – used very judiciously at one point, to destroy a ‘reavers’ ship – yes, but unfortunately, like SGU, the show got banished by unimaginative people ……


  6. G’day Joe

    Yes you are getting older. But we all are, I have three pairs or glasses for different types of reading and I am younger than you – so haha.

    Any word on an Australian broadcaster for Transporter – The Series.

    Getting cold now in my new town, winter starts tomorrow. There is already snow on the mountains

  7. Let us know what your optometrist says. I’ve been experiencing the same, and putting off an appointment for months. I had to put on reading glasses yesterday to take a tick off kid #2, who was back from cub scout camp. And you don’t want to know where the tick was!

  8. The interesting thing about Avatar was that when I first saw it, I thought it was tremendously stupid. But as the years have gone by I’ve realized it really highlights not just Teal’c but the bond between the entire group. What seemed almost awkward in season 7 (the beer gathering) seemed so natural here just the team relating to each other in a team situation.

    I think it furthers the sense that they might not quite know how to behave with each other in regular situations but if it’s a life and death matter they pull together instantly.

  9. Affinity was a episode I still think about. Thanks for the memories!
    Glasses? It sucks getting older. I hope your day is better tomorrow.
    Epcot was okay, I sampled all the food representing different countries.
    I would like to be the only person walking on my feet though.

  10. @Lisa R.
    My sister went to UW Madison, yet we live in Michigan. I have often gotten stuck in traffic in Chicago. Never as long as you, though. At least, not yet. I drive to Madison this Thursday.

    On the construction front, again, I live in Michigan. One time my friend decided that there is no real construction, the DoT has simply run out of places to store orange cones.

    Last summer they were rebuilding a bridge near my house. It’s about 20 yards long and they worked on it for months. At one point there was a wooden sawhorse at the site. Why the hell did they need that? Road construction makes no sense.

  11. I like to think that reading glasses are a sign of Maturity. They give one an air of Dignity. An Intellectual je ne sais quoi .

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    If it’s just reading that’s giving you trouble you can probably just pick up a pair of inexpensive reading glasses at your local drug store. If they do that in Canada. But best to get your eyes checked to make sure you don’t need them for distance and near vision.

  12. Usually, after the age of 40 is when you begin to notice vision changes. You just need some reading glasses. Don’t worry, they will probably make you look smarter or more distinguished, and you can get a chain and keep them around your neck for quick use. Think of them as a piece of jewery. Getting older is a blessing. Would you rather not?

    Good luck with your big 2 day Summit. It sounds scarey!

  13. From my experience, a man who wants a bigger vehicle is compensating for…ya know… something… 😉

    In all semi-seriousness, it’s hard for me to tell since I don’t know what sort of space ships these are: are they little single-man fighters, or big ships boasting a crew of thousands?

    Big day today – big relaxing day – out early for breakfast on an open air deck (feta and asparagus omlette – yum!), a little boardwalk shopping, back home for a nice, restful afternoon in the back yard with my kitties, a good book, a some beer…and later a bit of bourbon (Pendergast made me do it!), then out for dinner on another open air deck, then back to the boardwalk for some custard and a stroll. I felt like I was on vacation all day! 😀


  14. Sigh, I just told my daughter I have to get both new driving and computer glasses as my vision is very much worse than last year. I’d worry but they did the whole exam, dilation, etc… so it’s just old age. And I am older than you so it’s expected.

    LOL I’d like to see douchebag parking pics. Can we submit? I actually have printouts in my glove compartment that berate such parkers and I actually put them on their damned windshields.

  15. Try some dark sunglasses, or an eye patch ! 😉
    Failblog ? You probably meant !

    BTW, because of your Stargate memories I am actually renting all the Stargate SG1 DVDs. I didn’t watch it before season 8. Oh man I am having so much fun!
    Richard Dean Anderson is a pearl, I have been laughing so much because of him. I also understand that after 10 seasons of this you guys wanted to do something different like Stargate Universe. All things happens for a reason. Maybe it was really time to close the Stargate chapter.
    When I see SG1, SGA and SGU, I think you writers really tried everything there was to try for Stargate (including the Groundhog Day episode).

    My only regret is to not see Telford get fried/killed/alien gang banged one more time 😉

  16. hi, joe,

    1- why doesn’t mgm want to do a combo movie (to provide closure for sg1/atlantis/sgu)?

    2- can you please ask carl to come on over to your blog, to answer some s/j questions regarding stargate: revolution?

    i hate, to the highest levels of hatred, that there’s no closure for not only sam/jack, but the three stargate series storylines. such massive disregard, for such beloved shows and characters…

  17. Perhaps Transporter will become a regular show and you will get to live in Toronto for five or ten years.

  18. @ Shirt’n’Tie – read and very much enjoyed your article. I like how you intertwined humor and facts. Nice style. It makes reading about dentistry fun. I’ll click on it several more times for you (and your bosses). Good luck!

  19. The first ship looks like you’d have to buy a whole new one if a part broke. It’s the kind of complexity that could look delicate. I don’t know your characters, though. Maybe they value a fancy look over being able to repair the ship w/ parts from an Aerostream trailer.

    I am fired up by the first ship’s Transformers vibe, though – you could work with that.

    The second’s engines look too intimidating to be directly beside living quarters – I’m assuming there’re living quarters. Blade outs and disc ruptures – holy cow, the momentum involved when a part breaks away while spinning at those rpm’s – yowza. I did crunch some numbers on various scenarios of that back in my days working with jet engines. I don’t remember the numbers, but I remember the yowza. You can’t make the engine shrouds too beefy.

    If sub-light maneuvers are involved, beef up the joints between the engines and fuselage, especially for the second ship. Spread the support forward along the fuselage more, too, even if it takes some flying buttress looking parts. I see that ship flexing too much as is. Never mind, that would be ugly. I’m tapped out – maybe some wholly new takes on the ships would jog my taste.

    So much of an opinion on the ships depends on what your characters and stories intend to do with them.

    Hauling freight? Needs more of an interchangeable parts/ tractor-trailer look. How can you pull them up to a port or hitch a load?

    Just hauling ass and nothing else? There’re concepts in those sketches that could get you there.

    Occasional landing on planets? I like that they look like something a monster truck could climb. The profile of the first one could put the pilot eye level with a land-based story, not just waiting on the landing pad for the countdown clock.

  20. I’d blame Toronto for your blindness. I think it’s aging you beyond your years.

    There was a flock of WWII navy fighters flying around the San Fernando Valley for Memorial Day this afternoon. I’ve loved airplanes since I was a kid, and ran outside armed with a camera every time they flew over my apartment building. I’ve gone to military air shows and air races many times over the years.

    So I was thinking about the ship designs. The second rendering looks like a futuristic Osprey, with vertical take off and landing capability. If this is a spacecraft, why does it need to do this in space? Although boring, wouldn’t smaller directional thrusters be just as effective for both space and atmospheric maneuvering?

    Also, like other folks here, I don’t have a sense of size. Although, since they both have bridges, I assume they must be pretty massive. And are they being used for battle or exploration?

    @Tim Hendrix My deepest sympathy for your loss of Rhet. But as everyone here has already said, you did the right thing. Your pup was family.

    I would love to have a pet, but I honestly can’t afford one. The cost of food and vet bills are just more than I can handle. I’ve loved animals all my life, and I just visited a friend who has six dogs, big dogs. I was mauled, and loved every second of it. I hope in time you decide to bring home a new family member.

  21. I heard my son screaming upstairs watching the last episode of SGU. Cliffhanger.

    Definitely have the eyes checked out instead of just buying a pair of reading glasses from the drugstore. I can’t use those because one of my eyes is different from the other. Bummer. It would be nice to have ten pairs of glasses stashed throughout the house when I need them. Not to be.

  22. Avatar was my favorite episode of season 8 and easily one of my favorites of the entire franchise. In fact, I’ve turned a few fair-weather Stargate fans into die-hards with this episode.

  23. Hey Joe.

    How have I been dealing with my Stargate withdrawal, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

    1) I’ve been watching MacGyver on Netflix. The show has helped me develop a fondness for Jack O’Neill…erm…Richard Dean Anderson all over again. The similarities between O’Neill and MacGyver — not to mention the actors who appeared in both series — also make MacGyver that much more enjoyable.

    Were the SG-1 writers MacGyver fans? If so, did you guys have to go out of your way to avoid imbuing O’Neill with MacGyver’s attributes?

    2) I’ve also been watching “Game of Thrones” on HBO. The story has really ratcheted up, and Jason Momoa’s character is about to go on a butt kicking spree. Much recommended.

  24. Joe, re glasses – someone has hinted a this already – but I concur – sometimes all you need is the 150% magnification ones – that you can pick up in a chemist, etc – you know the $10 – $20 (thats what they are in Australia) – but I repeat, sometimes thats allyou need.

    Oh and to read yer scripts in GOOD light helps >>>


  25. Your problem may not be Temporally-Challenged Visual Acuity as so much as just shot Orbital Muscles due to constant focusing between the short distance between your computer screen and any nearby reading material. — This is MY problem. Which I suffer more from after Reading for several hours! Like right NOW at 3am! ;-]

    BTW, all that Commute Time… You could mark it down as “Research”… Just imagine, a whole TRANSPORTER ep about being STUCK in TRAFFIC with NO way out! And “bonding” with fellow Stuckees.. Much comedy could ensue as The Little-Old-Lady-Sunday-Driver saves the Day!

  26. One visit to the ROM while camping outside of town was enough to sour me on Toronto roads and traffic.
    A skinny city smack up against a lake and the bush, hmmmm. I will admit though that trying to avoid the highway we did get to enjoy all the different ethnic neighborhoods.
    Couldn’t live there though. Out here in Arizona we can see for miles and very little traffic outside of Phoenix. Don’t complain about getting older. Getting older beats the alternative…. Be Good Bill

  27. That’s funny. The first picture for the ship in Dark Matter reminds me of a mix between the Y-wing and the Sebulba’s podracer in Star Wars, and of course the second one reminds me the engines of the Serenity in Firefly.

  28. @Shirt’n’Tie, nice article, clicking on it again to help the count. I have been to the dentist alot, so I know this story, thanks for sharing your column.
    Joe, now you can look over the top of your glasses and give people “The Look” might even be intimidating. just don’t scare the puppies or Akemi.
    I like the idea of BIGGER on the space ship, as long as it can maneuver into tight spaces. Do the ships have names yet? and what kind of weapons? force fields? what color?

  29. @jreeths: I got a chuckle out of what your friend said. Think that they’re probably right. When we lived there, they took almost two years to finish a section of road that was near us. That’s right, it was two years we had to fool with those orange cones.

  30. Well I got opticians Friday. Not looking forward to it, as I usually end up with a head ache afterwards and that before I get the bill for the new glasses I seem to need every time I go.

    As for the ships, the first one is cool. The second-one engines look to big compare to the rest of the ship. I like the engines through, keep those.

  31. Made an error in the last post, corrected.

    Well I got opticians Friday. Not looking forward to it, as I usually end up with a head ache afterwards and that before I get the bill for the new glasses I seem to need every time I go.

    As for the ships, the first one is cool. The second-one engines look to big compare to the rest of the ship. I like the rotating engines through, keep those.

  32. I kinda like the ship designs. Could you match them up with the first set of drawings or tell us the purpose of each ship? Then we can give you more informed critiques. Is the first drawing the cargo ship and the second a pursuit ship?

    I love the rotating engines on the second ship – they remind me of Serenity, too. Why do you want the second one bigger? Do you want to scare your enemies away with bulk or have a compact, efficient and deadly vessel? Small can be scary, too, if done properly.

  33. I just thought after reading this, what have you planned for the Vanir – the Pegasus Asgards? they looked pretty Aweosome on First Contact and The Lost Tribe… 🙂

  34. yes agree with others – keep the big swiveling Firefly engines – extra grunt for atmospheric (and sub-space maybe) manouvering :O)

  35. @Joe:

    I’m sorely tempted to start a new blog called Traffic City Toronto so I can have some place to post pics of the city’s traffic gridlock, douchebag double-parkers, and endless construction zones devoid of any construction workers.

    This sort of makes sense, since Toronto and Chicago are Sister Cities.

    When I moved here thirteen years ago, I was told there are only two seasons in Chicago; Winter and Construction. Sounds like you are solidly in the Construction Season…

    @ganymede I had to smile at your “traffic scenario”! Just wondering…is Granny “packing”? Maybe she can fend of the bad guys while the Transporter makes his get-away?

  36. Hi Joe:

    1) Do you know how the ratings were in Canada (SPACE) for the Stargate series, particularly with SGU? Is there any way to find out? I know they did a damn good job in promoting all three series. There’s not one time that I didn’t see an Atlantis or SGU commercial while watching a show on SPACE.

    2) How many episodes do you have on order for THE TRANSPORTER?

  37. @Shirt’n’Tie: Nicely done, especially since I’m going in a couple of weeks for a botched root canal. After much Guatemalan dentistry in my youth (anesthesia my ass, let me slap the shit out of you, kid!), I’m not good at the dentist’s office. Heh, got away with it this month and came down with the flu instead! 🙂 Looking forward to the next article!

  38. @Joe – I may be making a leap in logic here, but I’m getting iPhone leads to glaucoma from your blog posts.

    @Shirt ‘n Tie – Congrats on the articles.

    Yes, dentistry has changed. I took my 3 yr. old in for a lot of work, multiple visits, and she just chilled with locals and laughing gas and the promise of milk shakes. No need for the general anesthesia. She had fun making her brother beg me to let him get metal teeth, too.

    I just had to coach the older generation into not letting her in on the secret that most people don’t like going in for dental work. Now, to get you guys to put some vibration-dampening bushings on those drills.

  39. I have right-eye weakness that I just don’t get; I’m a lefty but the stronger on the left side part is supposed to start below the neck. I think; not sure how the whole optic to spine wiring goes. Anyways, when I’m tired (or tipsy) my right eye just gives up completely.

    In lieu of strabismus surgery or special glasses I’ve opted for “eye-weight training,” trying to isolate and strenghten the weak inner eye muscle with tiny, tiny barbells. No actually I close the left and then look inwards for a few reps; I can feel “the burn” in the tiny inner eye muscle. My method is entirely made up and I can’t tell if it works, but I have lost a few grams in my face from all the heavy eyeball lifting.

    More likely it’s because I probably should have had special glasses as a kid but my parents weren’t into optional medical devices like back braces or corrective shoes. I think they were secretly planning to make a little sideshow with their kids but never got around to buying the tent.

  40. Hey, Joe.

    I recently saw “Underground” (SGA: Season 1, Genii), and I got to wondering about the weight and volume of the C-4 blocks used in stargate?

  41. @Sam/Martouf

    Not really the job of an exec producer to know how big something is and how much it weighs offhand.

  42. Hey joe I liked to FTL version better its definatly going to be faster than the ship with the engine pods (remanisant of serinity) and it looks more high tech can’t wait for the series to go into print and hopefully one day a tv series love your responce yesterday about our fury little friends I have a jack russel terrier my life would not be worth a crap without him

  43. Again, late comer to the blog…
    Not to sound cliche but…
    I “laughed out loud” for about five minutes (OK, maybe only a minute) at your reference to English Patient Daniel. That is fuuuuunny stuff!

    Also, cute fun fact about Chris’s helmet.

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