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 –
Continuing my SG-1 season 8 reminiscences…
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.
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.