May 16, 2011: Fear Not the Cons! The SG-1 Sixth Season Wrap-Up! Transporter: The Series Pre-Production Update!

I’ve had some mighty crazy experiences in my life.  I’ve partied to excess, dated a few lunatics, sampled the deadly fugu.  But it all pales in comparison to the daredevil exhilaration of attending my very first fan convention.  After being roasted alive online, I was fully expecting similar in-person treatment at the hands of some angry weekend Jaffa but, to my surprise, the fans I met ranged from indifferent to incredibly sweet.  Not a deranged one in the bunch.  Even the few attendees who disagreed with some of the creative decisions we’d made on the show were very polite and respectful.  No Daniel Jackson impersonators pelting me with rotten fruit.  No furling wannabes demanding answers to the show’s mystifying minutiae.  Not even an overexuberant Nox cornering me with a pitch for a future episode.  It was all very civil, very friendly and, dare I say it, most enjoyable.  The organizers of the event, Gatecon (the first and, in my humble opinion, best) were equally gracious in hosting us.

Of course the fan-run, homey Gatecon was in marked contrast to the big studio extravaganza that is Comic Con.  I attended my first Comic Con in the show’s sixth season.  I flew to San Diego with my wife and, as we sat in the traffic, waiting for a light, I glanced over at a “Haunted Tour Bus” and jokingly suggested we purchase a couple of seats.  As expected, Fondy nixed the idea.  The very thought of walking some spirit-infested hall was enough to make her skin crawl. I chuckled, the light turned green, and we motored on, finally arriving at our destination – an old, turn-of-the-century boutique hotel.  As we stood at the reception, checking in, I glanced over and watched as the same “Haunted Tour Bus” pulled up and released it’s ghost-lovin’ horde.  The tour went right by us, through the lobby lined with white-eyed Victorian dolls, and up the rickety elevator to, I assumed, the cold spot where the grisly murder was committed – no doubt the bed we’d be occupying that night (“Oh, sorry to disturb you.  Won’t be long.  Just wanted to show everyone the butchering nook.  Thanks.  Nighty-night!”).  Needless to say, Fondy didn’t sleep a wink all night – and ensured I didn’t either.  Every five minutes it was: “Wait!  What was that?!  Did you hear that?!!

The next day was our panel and, by today’s San Diego Stargate panels, it was fairly light – just Corin Nemec (SG-1’s Jonas Quinn) and myself.  Oh, and then MGM President Hank Cohen who volunteered to act as moderator but actually ended up fielding almost every question thrown our way except for one related to the average running time of an episode of Stargate (Oh, about forty-four minutes).  Afterwards, I walked the floor, picked up a bunch of comic books, and lamented the fact it would be too much trouble to lug the Randy Bowen Juggernaut statue I’d been eyeing back home.  Great, great time!

And then it was back to Vancouver to finish up production on what we all assumed would be our final season…

DISCLOSURE (617)

When Paul and I learned SG-1 would be doing a clip show in its sixth season, we lobbied hard and eventually won the opportunity to write it!

Juuuust kidding.  When we were first handed the assignment, we were less than enthusiastic.  But, as we started writing, it became, if not exactly fun, then certainly interesting.  It’s Stargate 101 as the series deals with an issue that would plague it for years to come: How the hell can the government possibly keep the existence of the Stargate program a secret?  Sure, there were past incidents that required some fast-talking (“Exploding spaceships?  No, no, no.  Those were Cinco de Mayo celebrations.  Er, yes, in November.”), but the apparent crash of a spaceship into the Pacific Ocean was going to be tough to cover up. And so, rather than even try, we come clean.  Of course it stood to reason that our allies would be annoyed at being kept in the dark for so long, so Rob Cooper suggested an appearance by Thor, the ever-affable Asgard, to smooth things over (and put the conniving Kinsey in his place). I love the sequence where Kinsey raises his finger to interrupt only to have Thor trump him by raising his finger (shut up) and continuing.

FORSAKEN (618)

Tiny nitpick but, in the opening scene, O’Neill peers through Carter’s telescope and remarks on the fact that he can’t see anything.  She points out that, no, he wouldn’t because it’s daytime.  Amusing and all if not for the fact that the show had already established Jack as a guy who likes to check out the stars at night through the telescope in his backyard.  Was Jack being purposely dense?  Perhaps.  In fact, as the series went on, O’Neill became increasingly “intellectually relaxed”.  After some six years of playing the role, I guess Rick wanted to have a little more fun with the character.  And that was fine with us, the writers, since it allowed us to do something we always enjoyed doing – bring the funny.  Less so some of the fans who began to derisively refer to the new and improved(?) O’Neill as Dumb Jack.

CHANGELING (619)

Actor Chris Judge tries his hand at writing with surprising spectacular results.  I say surprising because, while I had no doubt it would be a solid script, I was mighty impressed by how good it turned out (this despite the fact that he neglected to include act breaks in his first draft – “I leave that sh*t up to you, m*th*rf*cker.”).  From what I remember, Chris really enjoyed the process and was quite proud of the final product.

MEMENTO (620)

What was this episode about again?

PROPHECY (621)

This episode turned out to be one of my biggest disappointments of the season.  I thought the script was solid but the entire episode rested on the final twist, the moment in which O’Neill hears the horn and calls out to Pierce.  It’s meant to be the episode’s big, defining moment but it’s so casually underplayed that it loses any dramatic impact.

FULL CIRCLE (622)

Ah, another series finale.  Executive Producer Robert Cooper wraps up SG-1 in fine style – except that, as we learned late in season 6, this season would not be the show’s last.  After six seasons, SG-1 was still going strong, much to the delight of our new broadcaster, SciFi, who were more than happy to pick up the series for one more year.  Which, of course, we assumed would be its last…

Taking a break from the mailbag to focus on some scripts for my new show –

We’ve got six scripts written, one almost complete, and another five to be broken.  Carl Binder rolls into town on Thursday and we’ll spend the rest of this week (and next) spinning stories.

Laisse les bons temps rouler!

Looking ahead, our Pink Pre-Production Schedule (please ignore the Blue) looks like this: Camera Test Technical Meeting, Beam Meeting (Asgard?), Update Meeting, Interviews, Conference Call, Summit!  And not longer after, shooting begins.  Andy (Mikita) reports that the Audi’s will be arriving in Toronto shortly.

Expect a big announcement on the casting front sometime this week.  Ish.

Today’s entry is dedicated to birthday blog regular Elminster!

May 15, 2011: The Apocalypse Approacheth! More SG-1 Season 6 Memories! Another Monster Mailbag!

Holy Smack!  So there I was this morning, minding my own business, perusing the internet for cornish game hen recipes when I came across THIS article in which a religious group alert us to the possible end of the world May 21.  The evidence is mighty convincing.  According to the article, the group’s elderly leader claims he arrived at the May 21st date through “a mathematical calculation that would probably crash Google’s computers. It involves, among other things, the dates of floods, the signals of numbers in the Bible, multiplication, addition and subtraction thereof.”  Multiplication, addition AND subtraction! Usually, you get one, maybe two of the aforementioned in your average doomsday calculation, but the fact that this guy made use of all three (division is for losers by the way) suggests a mind-boggling thoroughness and attention to detail.  If that’s not enough to convince the skeptics, the group’s leader also points to the many obvious signs that the apocalypse approacheth.  According to the story in the Washington Post, he “mentioned the massive earthquakes in Chile, Haiti and Japan, as well as the recent tornadoes in the South. And to top that off, gay people are thriving.”  Yes to the earthquakes in Chile, Haiti and Japan. Another yes to the tornadoes in the South.  And, the last time I visited my favorite cupcake shop in Vancouver, owned by a really nice same-sex couple, business was booming which seems to be confirm the final piece of the prophecy.

I’m of two minds here.  On the one hand, I’m horrified at the prospect that, in a matter of days, everything I know will cease to be.  On the other hand, this means I don’t have to kill myself to complete that pesky script rewrite.

Hell, I’m taking the rest of the week off!

Steve Eramo interviews actor Louis Ferreira (Colonel Young) here: http://scifiandtvtalk.typepad.com/scifiandtvtalk/2011/05/stargate-universes-louis-ferreira-forever-young.html

Thanks to all those who have taken the time to weigh in with their comments and questions.  I do read them all and, hopefully, will get around to addressing most.  Eventually.  In the meantime, my trip down memory lane continues with more Stargate: SG-1 reminiscences…

UNNATURAL SELECTION (612)

Although I liked the replicators when they were first introduced, I felt a little of them went a long way – which was why I loved their evolution into human form.  Same villain but new, improved, and far more dangerous.  What made this very good episode great was O’Neill’s double-cross of the all-too-trusting Fifth.  Was he right to do it?  Sure, an argue could be made for the fact that his actions do contain the replicator threat.  Of course, the double-cross comes back to bite us in the ass down the line when Fifth escapes the time dilation bubble.  So, would we have been better served taking him with us.  Again, hard to say.  And that’s one of the things I loved about SG-1.  Sometimes, amid the high adventure and humor, there were situations that offered no easy answers.

SIGHT UNSEEN (613)

Boy, did I NOT like this episode, this despite actor Jodi Racicot’s brilliant turn as the beleaguered Vernon Sharpe.  My note at the script stage was: So what?. I mean, okay, people started glimpsing interdimensional creatures that caused them to “Freak out, man!” but, when it came down to it, those alien centipedes really weren’t much of a threat.

SMOKE AND MIRRORS (614)

See if you can spot Peter Kelamis (SGU’s Adam Brody) in one of his first guest spots on the franchise.  Yep, that young little guy who gets clotheslined by Teal’c.  That’s him!  This episode also marked the return of one of my favorite characters you love to hate: Senator Kinsey played by the brilliant Ronny Cox.  It was always a pleasure to have him on the show.

The hotel at the beginning of the episode where Kinsey gets shot is actually located right across from The Bridge Studios where the show’s production offices are located.  Apparently, back in SG-1’s early days, a new writer joined the staff and was offered accommodations in town.  Instead, the writer elected to move into The Accent Inn!  I mean, sure, it was convenient in that all you had to do was walk across the street to get to work but there is nothing of interest in the neighborhood outside of the ABC Country Restaurant.  Sorry.  Strike that.  Nothing of interest in the neighborhood.

PARADISE LOST (615)

Robert Cooper’s long-standing distaste for arugula is finally revealed.  The mysterious plant Jack and Maybourne eat in order to survive apparently tastes horrible – not unlike arugula.  Not only that but, at episode’s end, we realize it’s the cause of the frightening hallucinations that almost get them killed.  Rob’s aversion to spicy leaf plants isn’t restricted to arugula alone.  Back in the day, we used do our annual trips to Vegas to celebrate our respective birthdays that all used to fall in the same month (Rob, Chris Judge, John G. Lenic, and myself).  I remember going to The Cheesecake Factory with him once and, when our two orders of corn tamales arrived, having him look down at the heavily cilantro-topped tamale he’d received and lamenting: “Hey, why do I get to have all the cilantro?” as if to imply I’d been left out because my tamale was relatively cilantro-less.  A clever bit of reverse psychology.

METAMORPHOSIS (616)

And the award for Most Awkward Seduction scene in an episode of Stargate goes to… Whenever I see the Nirrti’s Bedchamber scene, I vacillate between squirming and laughing out loud.   “Mrs. Nirrti, you’re trying to seduce me!”.  Poor, simple, innocent Jonas.

Another thing I recall about this episode was the gratuitously gory shot of the mutant exploding on the hospital gurney that ended up being cut.

Mailbag:

Darth Novos writes: “MGM may own the rights but there is nothing stopping you from talking to other people about possible deals.”

Answer: Actually there is – believe it or not, MGM, who own the rights.

Marius writes: “I think your unwillingness to “wrap up loose ends” is what has driven the Stargate franchise down the toilet. […] It is obvious you´ve “gone with the flow” on both Atlantis (which also sucked) and Universe. […] I also want to add, that I have some genuine good ideas for an alternatively new Stargate series concept. […] I´m positive my ideas could generate a show that gathered good viewer ratings. If you believe in me, contact me via email.”

Answer: Clearly, you know what makes for a successful t.v. show better than any of us who were involved in Stargate’s 14-year run.  I’m forwarding your email to the Grand Councilor of Awesome Programming at MGM’s moonbase headquarters.  Good luck!

glennh73 writes: “1. Your comic Dark Matter, does it have any connection to the book Dark Matter written by S. W. Ahmed. Great Read!”

Answer: Nope.

“2. You stated Atlantis couldnt connect to Destiny with 3 zpm’s nor with the Ori Supergate. Well if the Anicents were still around, how would they of going back aboard?”

Answer: That’s a questions for the Ancients.  Or Brad and Robert.

“Honestly wouldnt a black hole powered ORI Supergate have more power than a Icarus type planet?”

Answer: Possibly.

“3. Oldie but goody. Daniels grandfather Nicholas Ballard. Those aliens he is with, were they the Furlings or even the Faith Aliens or something else and why didnt we get another story about him.”

Answer: Definitely not furlings.  We never did another story about him because, alas, no one came up with a good story idea that would have included him.

“4. From SG1, is there any storylines you wished you could of expanded on. Ex Daniels grandfather, the Aschen, Re’tu, ORi?”

Answer: While there were no specific stories I’d want to revisit, I would certainly love to revisit every one of those characters.

Shannon writes: “Just wondering if you can clarify here. Was it Destiny just trying to help TJ survive/cope or was this Destiny actively doing something (like, since it’s the latest fashion, uploading the baby to the Destiny computer)?”

Answer: It was the former – Destiny reaching out to T.J. and creating a scenario which would have made it easier for her to accept the loss.

tidusspear08 writes: “Did you have any plans to make Ginn a series regular?”

Answer: As much as we all absolutely loved Julie McNiven, there were no plans to make Ginn a series regular.

nm writes: “Assuming though that you are referring to the dvd market in general rather than specifically the SG1 sales figures, do you think if the movies could have been made within a year they would have been successful?”

Answer: Don’t recall the timing of the collapse in dvd sales (and, yes, I’m referring to the general marketplace) so it’s hard to say.  Back when Atlantis’s fifth season was drawing to an end, Robert Cooper floated the idea of rolling right into a production of a two-hour event (I dubbed “Project Twilight”) that, once completed, could have delivered as either a movie (in the case we didn’t receive the sixth season pick-up) or the first two episodes of season six (if we did receive the pick-up).  For whatever reason, we weren’t able to move forward on this idea which, in hindsight, probably would have been the best way to proceed.

detanfy writes: “First of all, what exactly did the Blue Berry aliens want with Destiny. I know you said they are collecting information to try and take over, but what do they actually want with the old gal. Do they even know about Destiny and her ultimate mission?”

Answer: This is something we would have discussed and detailed in time but the idea was that the Blueberry aliens had been aware of Destiny for quite some time.  It’s doubtful they would have been aware of her ultimate mission, but they certainly would have been impressed with her capabilities both offensive and defensive.

detanfy also writes: “How did the Blue Berry aliens discover Destiny?”

Answer: I imagine they encountered Destiny during one of her many refueling stops, attempted communications and, receiving no response, scanned the ship.  Their interest pique and assuming their prize was unmanned, they attempted to board Destiny – only to be rebuffed by the ship’s automated defenses.

detanfy also writes: “Can you tell us about any of Destiny’s past experiences before the Icarus crew got on board? She seems to have been through a hell of a lot of battles. I would imagine she would have just been in FTL all this time and would only drop out to recharge, so why all the battle scars?”

Answer: A lot of the damage could be attributed to attempts by the Blueberry aliens to capture the ship.  Of course I’m sure they weren’t the only alien life forms to attempt as much.

detanfy also writes: “Are the Icarus crew the first to gate to Destiny since its launch?”

Answer: As far as we know, yes, but I loved the idea of discovering some humanoid corpses during a search of the ships unexplored sections.  Along with those corpses, we would also discover a recorded account of what happened to them when they gated aboard.  Of course, the experience of the long-dead explorers would somehow help or hinder our crew (preferably both, first hinder, then help).  Again, one of those stories that never developed beyond that germ of an idea.

mike mcginnis writes: “Also was there ever a plan to bring ford back for another episode?”

Answer: Yes.  I believe the story is included as part of my AU Season 6 post.

Andrew Jung writes: “Being from Vancouver Island, would you have ever considered doing an SG shoot on the island, or other parts of BC outside of the Lower Mainland; like the Okanagan desert?”

Answer: Sure.  We considered all possibilities.  What it ultimately came down to was budgetary constraints, what we would really gain from shooting so far out of the zone and whether it would be worth the extra costs.

Andrew Jung also writes: “Was there ever any talk about having a point where the Stargate actually became public knowledge and start using the gates and ships for colonization?”

Answer: The possibility of the Stargate program going public was going to be the premise of the next SG-1 movie, Stargate: Revolution.

Don Matthews writes: “…was the idea of Destiny going into the past and creating a civilization that would stretch into the present partially designed to allow SGU to showcase human type aliens ALA SG1/SGA?”

Answer: Yes, it would offered us a plausible scenario by which humans would have colonized that section of space.

Don Matthew also writes: “Oh and frying the Wormhole drive, that was kind of a “this tech is too powerful/deux ex machina and we have to get rid of it” decision?”

Answer: Over the course of Stargate’s run, there have been several technologies the show introduced that I felt undermined drama or handcuffed the storytelling.  Off the top of my head, in particular order: beaming technology, the Asgard core, and the wormhole drive.

Don Matthews also writes: “And was there a big payoff to come with the “franklin getting absorbed by the ship” thing? We saw him but it was kind of ambiguous.”

Answer: Purposely so.  It was something we could have explored more in the show’s third season.

Don Matthews also writes: “Was the “disappearing fetus” story just a way of dispensing with a pregnancy that you didnt feel fit with the rest of what you had planned for season 2?”

Answer: Over the course of Stargate’s long run, the production has had been faced with a number of pregnancies.  In a couple of cases, we were able to ignore the pregnancies by shooting around them.  In another case – Rachel on SGA – the pregnancy became part of the storyline, as did the subsequent birth and associated motherhood issues.  Ultimately, we decided that, while Atlantis was a hopeful enough environment to raise a child, Destiny was not.  We wrestled with how we wanted to proceed, none more so than Paul who faced the challenge of scripting the season two opener and, eventually, came up with the ambiguous/mysterious solution.  It’s interesting to note that, even though it’s more or less stated that Destiny was responsible for T.J.’s vision, many in the writing department refused to confirm it one way or the other.

Don Matthews also writes: “Oh and any gate that was powered by a blackhole should have been able to contact Destiny since they were able to keep the supergate blocked indefinitely (Pegesus Project).”

Answer: Having slept on it, I’m now firmly uncertain as to whether or not it would have been possible.

ben writes: “Regarding your new series The Transporter, have you already cast the lead roles? I’m eager to find out who you will cast as Inspector Tarconi, since you both share an affinity for haute cuisine.”

Answer: Oooh, you’re in for a treat on the casting front.  Stay tuned.

Shiny writes: “Finally got to see a marathon of SGU on Hulu; was there a caveman lurking in background of Common Descent?”

Answer: Peter DeLuise loves unique-looking extras.  The producers, not so much so.  There was plenty more of him but Paul succeeded in cutting around him. For the most part.

paloosa writes: “You mentioned something about another series in the works? And are you still looking for a more permanent home?”

Answer: Everything I mentioned in my previous post is all I’ve got on the go.  And, yes, still looking for an actual house here in Toronto.

Dustin writes: “Judging by how far Destiny is away from earth could it be the gates left by the seed ships are sending back info to the other gate networks in the Pegasus and Milky way? ”

Answer: Theoretically possible, but not something we considered.

Spectrefire writes: “I read up on Netflix’s intentions on possibly footing the bill for shows and series that are about to be cancelled, and was thinking that Stargate Universe, or at the very least, a couple of movies might be right up the service’s alley.”

Answer: Agree.  I suggested this option to the studio.  The fact that it didn’t pan out suggests it wasn’t a viable option.

Arctic Goddess writes: “I have a question about Torri Higginson and something that Joe Flanigan said at the Creation Convention. I’m paraphrasing, but Joe said how good and serious an actress Torri was and how she fought for every word she got and was concerned that she only worked two days out of five, but that she got quite a lot of screen time in spite of that.

Then Joe said that the writers were all aiming for the young adult male demographic and did not write a lot of strong women parts. That the writers did not come to the conventions and see the wide audience that Stargate was reaching. and that the writers were not very receptive to Torri’s concerns.
Eventually when you keep getting that kind of reception, you stop going upstairs to talk to them. He said it would probably have been better if there had been a few women writers writing it.”  What is your opinion of Joe’s comments?”

Answer: Between seasons, we always made a concerted effort to bring in new writers by inviting them to pitch and, hopefully, sell a story that would allow them the opportunity prove themselves and land a staff position on the show.  No easy feat.  Many of the writers, while very good, simply weren’t able to offer us stories that we felt were right for the show.  Others did manage to sell us pitches but, for whatever reason (and, again, I have to stress that it often had less to do with talent than it did with their inability to “get” the show’s tone), were unable to get past the outline or script stage.  If you check the credits on past shows (particularly in the first half of each season), you’ll note that quite a few writers, both male and female, were given a shot.  Ultimately, what it came down to was the fact that the show (be it SG-1, Atlantis, or Universe) was tough to write for because, after so many years, it was backstory and mythology heavy.

I can’t speak to claims that the writers weren’t receptive to Torri’s concerns as I was never privy to any such conversations.  I do know, however, that Brad and Robert always maintained an “open door” policy with regard to the scripts and the actors (something Paul and I maintained when we took over as show runners in Atlantis’s fourth season).  I’m aware of many shows that simply ignore actor input, so I do take exception to the suggestion the writers weren’t receptive to any serious issues the cast may have had – especially since I would often see the actors in discussion with either Brad or Robert.  To be fair, there is a difference between “not being receptive” and “disagreeing with a take on a particular scene.  Simply drawing from personal experience, I can tell you I had great conversations with Bob Picardo, Beau Bridges, and the late Don Davis about their respective characters and was always receptive to any input they might have had.  The same was true for other actors like Jason Momoa (whose desire to go darkside resulted in my writing Reunion and Broken Ties) or Jamil Walker-Smith (who’s crisis of confidence story in The Hunt came about as a result of a visit he paid me one afternoon).

William Francais writes: “I wish you would have brought Jack’s clone back, did anyone in the writing room want to bring him back years later?”

Answer: Yes, revisiting Young Jack was suggested on a couple of occasions but we were never able to find the write story for the character.

scottland7 writes: “… why did Hammond get reassigned? I think I read because of Don Davis’ health problems started around this point. Is this really the reason he was written as being reassigned?”

Answer: I don’t recall the circumstances.  There was a point in the series when Rick was scaling down his appearances on SG-1, resulting in quite a challenge for the writing department.  I remember Don coming up to the production offices one day and volunteering to have his character retire so that O’Neill could take over as the commander of the SGC and thus make things easier from a creative standpoint.  That was typical Don.  Incredibly generous.  We didn’t take him up on his kind offer but, later on down the line, that more or less became the scenario that was adopted.  To my recollection (again, I wasn’t privy to these discussions), the call to have Hammond reassigned was a mutual decision on the part of Don and the show’s Exec. Producers.  He enjoyed a semi-retirement of sorts, focusing on his art but still finding the time to do the occasional guest spot for us.

MNP writes: “Also, what did Jonas do during the Ori invasion? Did he lead a resistance movement? Go into hiding?”

Answer: In my mind, he led an underground resistance movement.  Following the defeat of the Ori, he retired from public office.

Lance W. writes: “1. What does Eli do for those two weeks when he’s not fixing his stasis pod? Did he even attempt to fix it, or did he know it couldn’t be fixed? Does destiny come across problems that he alone must fix? Does he take a final trip back with the stones?”

Answer: Presumably when he’s not working on the problem, he’s eating and sleeping.  I assume if it was the 11th hour and he realized he wouldn’t be able to fix the problem, he would use the stones to pay his mother one final visit – but that’s awful pessimistic.

“2. Did Rush volunteer, knowing that Young would deny him and instead choose himself? Was Rush hoping to get rid of Young, despite how well they’ve been getting along?”

Answer: I think Rush volunteered because he wanted to be the one to stay and fix the problem, but there’s no doubt he suspected that Young might disagree and insist he be the one to stay.

“3. What year and month did they enter the pods? I wish to make a note on when the three years is meant to be up.”

Answer: I suppose whenever the episode aired: May 9, 2011.

“Finally, I’m grasping at my last straw here, but this episode seemingly left it open to a film after three years, is that even a possibility any more?”

Answer: It’s a nice thought but, given the fact that the sets are about to be struck, very unlikely.

Lisa R writes: “When you planned your original five-year arc, was it planned for the Destiny to be in a different galaxy each season as they got closer to their goal or would there be more time spent in one particular galaxy?”

Answer: That’s was the original plan – but plans change.

Phillip writes: “Were the mindless drones in SGU a metaphor for the unsupportive fans that wanted to see SGU the show end?”

Answer: Ha.  Apt but no.  Reminds me of a similar theory way back in early SG-1.  During a warehouse shootout, a bullet ricochets off a fan.  The following days, some fans were claiming this was wish fulfillment on the part of the producers = shooting a fan.  No kidding.  Well, I’ll say the same thing to you now as I told fans back then – you’re reading too much into it.  Entertaining theory though.

zakhar writes: “I was wondering if there was every any plan to further explore Alan McCullough’s unknown aliens from The Daedalus Variations episode in Atlantis.”

Answer: Another idea that was floated but ultimately shelved.

Greg writes: “Why would the blue aliens have to transform Chloe when they had access to Destiny ? I make that conclusion based on their ship detaching at the end of the one episode.”

Answer: That assumption is incorrect.  They were able to attach a scout ship to Destiny’s hull, but that doesn’t mean they were able to gain entry to the ship. And the only reason they were able to do so in Space was because the inexperienced crew was running the show (cutting off power to a section of the ship, thereby bringing the shield down and allowing the alien ship to attach and penetrate the hull) instead of Destiny’s automated defenses.

Greg also writes: “How did Chloe suddenly become Bruce Lee by changing into a blue alien when Rush was able to take one out with a metal bar ?”

Answer: Chloe wasn’t transforming into a Blueberry alien but mutating into a hybrid alien form with similarities to them – and another species they had experimented upon.

Elliott writes: “1.) Did you ever discuss who built the ruins from “Human” and “Lost”?”

Answer: Not to any significant length, no (and by significant, I mean to the point where it would offer us a kernel of an idea we could use as a springboard for another story).

“2.) Who is your favourite character from each of the Stargate shows?”

Answer: Which ones did I have the most fun writing for?  SG:1 – Vala, SGA – Ronon and Woolsey, SGU – T.J. and Greer.

“3.) Why didn’t you mention that the Odyssey’s secret mission in “Enemy at the Gate” was the search for an Icarus planet? I think many assumed that it was “Revolution”.”

Answer: I didn’t write the SGU premiere so I can’t answer that.  I assume Brad and/or Robert changed their minds and did, in fact, shift Odyssey’s mission to Revolution.

“4.) If you could change anything about each of the Stargate shows (besides cancellation, greenlighting movies etc.), what would it be?”

Answer: Probably the aforementioned tech.  I’d have lost the beaming tech, Asgard core, the Earth fleet, and wormhole drive.  I’d have maintained Atlantis’s isolation from the Milky Way.

“5.) Any idea when “Dark Matter” will be released?”

Answer: January of 2012.  Will have a firm date shortly.

John T. Williams writes: “So how’re the two types of statis chambers different? Do the Destiny type freeze completely so that the occupants don’t actually age whatsoever?”

Answer: Yes, that’s the way they were designed to operate.

Airelle writes: “How are the pups doing in day care, have they taken over the place yet?”

Answer: They’ve been attending two different daycares.  Lulu and Bubba passed the rigorous screening process and are now attending St. Roch’s Academy for Gifted Canines where they are learning arts & crafts, proper table manners, and elementary Latin.  Jelly and Maximus, meanwhile, are occasional attendees at a more downscale every-dog institution.

Lloyd writes: “How did you get into the world of Stargate?”

Answer: Our Canadian agent got us the opportunity to pitch.  We came up with five story ideas, two of which we sold.  One, Scorched Earth, was the script that landed us a position on staff.

“Have you watched before Season 4 Stargate SG-1 before coming to the team?”

Answer: No.  In fact, I had only seen one episode of the series – Emancipation – and hated it.  It wasn’t until we got the opportunity to pitch that we started watching episodes and realized – hey, this show is pretty good!

“When you watch an episode of Stargate (SG1, SGA, SGU), you have the eyes of a fan (or viewer) or a critical eye on your work?”

As with every film or television series, I view it through the eyes of a writer first and the eyes of a producer second.  My ex used to hate going to see movies with me because I’d spend most of my time sighing and muttering angrily to myself in the dark.

“If the MGM offers to return to something new: about Stargate, Will you join in?”

Answer: I’m committed to other projects and, unfortunately, would be unable to participate.  Provided Brad Wright was in charge, any new project would be in excellent hands.

“Is there some episode you remember most? and why?”

Answer: A few.  Harmony, Whispers, 200, Ripple Effect, The Hunt to name a few.  As for why – well, you’ll find out when I get around to reminiscing about their particular seasons.

“Today you have another project (the series “The Transporter”), how would you like your job, compared to Stargate?”

Answer: To be honest, Toronto has been a major adjustment (still ongoing), but I can’t say enough great things about Transporter: The Series.  I can honestly say that I enjoy going into work and that speaks to the show and the people involved.

“If you had to summarize in one word, all your work on Stargate, which one? ? and why this word?”

Answer: Fun.  That’s what I set out to do (have fun) every time I envisioned a story and sat down to write a script.  If the viewers at home had fun watching, then mission accomplished.

“Finally, what do you think about the cancellation of ALL projects Stargate?  (“Extinction”, “Revolution”, a film SGU) Why all of a sudden?”

Answer: I think sad .

Jeff writes: “obviously the ancients had to create a ZPM to power their ships, bases, and atlantis, so i guess my question is, didnt they leave directions in the ancient database on atlantis on how to actually create a ZPM?”

Answer: You would presume so but the fact that this was never discovered suggests that either: a) it wasn’t uploaded to the Atlantis database, or b) is there somewhere but is so top secret it will take a while before scientists uncover it.  Ideally, they could have uncovered it in time to come up with an alternate power source capable of dialing Destiny and sending a retrieval team to the rescue – but that’s a story for another fan fiction.

Jeff writes: “btw, the wedding is october 29, where should i send your invite?”

Answer: Just tell me where in Vegas you’ll be.

Alex writes: “in your mind was the earth Stargate still at the SGC in Colorado or was it moved to Homeworld Command?”

Answer: In my mind, it would make sense to have moved it to Homeworld Command – but the nostalgic part of me says it’s still inside Cheyenne Mountain.

C-Verse writes: “1. Given that Atlantis was more family friendly, do you think the darker tone of Universe might have discouraged people from watching it?”

Answer: I’m sure it turned off some people.  On the other hand, I’m sure it attracted new viewers as well.  It’s a double-edged sword, just like the word Stargate in the title.

“2. Again concerning the darker tone, do you think Universe would have had better luck, if it taped more in the Battlestar Galactica fanbase, than the old Stargate fanbase?”

Answer: Sorry.  Don’t understand the question.

“3. Do you think Universe could have survived if it had a smaller budget?”

Answer: I don’t think it would have made any difference.

“4. Given that more people are now downloading shows instead of watching them, do you think Sfy-Fy should put in more effort in advertising it shows online, rather than traditional media?”

Answer: Eventually, we’ll all be going that way.

Michelle writes: ” fans reacted more to how Daniel was treated than to his screen time, anyway: Jack didn’t seem to give a crap about Daniel going off undercover with the system lords; in fact, he seemed irritated at him when he made it back alive. Seriously? And on and on.”

Answer: Again, because I wasn’t privy to any discussions Michael may have had concerning his character, I didn’t realize there was an issue.  In fact, having written episodes like Scorched Earth, The Curse, and Summit (and looking at season 5 episodes like Beast of Burden and Menace), I still have a hard time seeing it.  In the case of Jack seemingly not giving a crap, being irritated with him, or not even broaching the subject that he almost killed him (Scorched Earth), I can see it but this was a source of frustration because these reactions (or lack thereof) were not scripted.

Michelle also writes: “As far as it being Michael’s decision, there was a rumor he changed his mind after filming Meridian, but Brad and/or MGM told him to get lost, they’d already found another 6′ actor to fill his role. Any truth to that?”

Answer: Again, I was out of the loop but I’d bet my last dollar that Brad and/or MGM did not tell a guy they had worked with for the last five years to “get lost” or any variation thereof.  If there was an issue, it would have been with the fact that they’d already signed an actor to a one year deal that made it difficult for Michael to come back as a series regular.  I stress again, I was out of the loop and don’t know what happened, but I’m quit certain all parties discussed the decision at length before taking the next step.

Michelle also writes: “And I know it is hard to accept, but, just as with SGU vs SGA, not liking Jonas was not solely a reflection of missing Daniel. Convenient to blame it on that, but also inadequate.”

Answer: True.  There were fans who simply felt Jonas didn’t work.  But there were also fans who, quite clearly, had not intention of ever giving the character a chance.  Some of the arguments made against him at times felt a little suspect.  For instance, the fact that he turned his back on his people led some fans to brand him a traitor and untrustworthy, yet these same fans had no problem with Teal’c who did the same – and also had the deaths of hundreds of innocents weighing upon him.

Joe Cooper writes: “At risk of sounding harsh about something that happened like a million years ago, Jonas was written as a bit of a “mary sue”; his only real flaw was that others around him (namely Jack) wouldn’t accept how ridiculously awesome he was. Over and over again everyone would be shitting bricks and then Jonas would come along and fix everything.”

Answer: That’s fair.  In an effort to make his inclusion and eventual (necessary) acceptance as part of SG-1, we built up the character in such a way that he came across as a little straight and one-note.  In retrospect, given the time, we would have been better served adding a little more depth to the character by taking our time and not worrying so much about making him an instantly beloved and accepted teammate.

Dave writes: “I’ve always wondered, was any thought given to which SG unit Young commanded before being assigned to Icarus base? Was he on an SG team back in the days Jack led SG-1 or was it more likely during the Mitchell years?”

Answer: We never got into this but I think it’s more than likely, given their respective ages, that Young and Mitchell crossed paths at some point.  Hell, it’s likely that Young and O’Neill crossed paths at some point as well.

Rachel Grizzot writes: “I was looking through the old notes about what could’ve been the Season 6 of SGA and one of the topics were ‘Carls replicator story’
can i assume that maybe that was a attempt to bring back Elizabeth Weir ? or not?”

Answer: Yep.  That was the plan.

DeanGrr writes: “With a a reputation earned by years on Stargate, why not try it to support a new or cancelled production? ”

Answer: Again, you’re approaching the wrong guy.  The only entity that can make this happen is MGM.

DeanGRR also writes: “What is Dr. Rush’s true motivation, given that even with all the power of the Ancients, he cannot bring his wife back?”

Answer: The answer to this is tied to the conclusion Brad and Robert imagined for the series.

May 14, 2011: Author Marjorie M. Liu Answers Your Questions! Stargate: SG-1 Memories! I Field Your Stargate: Universe Queries and More!

Wow.  Over the past few days, this blog has averaged a little over 15 000 daily views.  And this without a single gratuitous cute dog picture!

Well, so as to not tempt fate any further –

Okay.  With that out of the way, onto the business of this blog.

Those of you who took part in our book of the month discussion on Marjorie M. Liu’s The Iron Hunt no doubt: a) enjoyed the book and, b) have been wondering “Hey, what happened to the promised author Q&A?”.  Well, as it turns out, our guest authors are busy people – which is why, whenever I send the reader questions their way, I assure them they are free to deliver the responses at their earliest conveniences.  Being a writer, you’re faced with looming deadlines at every turn, so I don’t want these Q&A’s to prove similarly daunting. Instead, I want them to be something to be savored over the course of a few hours spent in the comforting darkness of a den or basement while the sunny outdoors beckon.  It builds character, y’know?

Anyway, after weathering a perfect storm of deadlines, Majorie recently surfaced to complete her Q&A.  Thanks to Marjorie for taking the time. And, also thanks to Marjorie for being such a huge fan of the show (October 2, 2010: Your Affable Host! Tia Carrere! Marjorie M. Liu!).

Antisocialbutterflie writes: “Questions for Marjorie: 1) Where did the inspirations for the demon tattoos come from?”

MML: I watched a documentary on tattoos — specifically, full-body tattoos — and found them eerie and beautiful, and strangely alive.  Boom!  The story was born.  Maxine was there in a moment, and so were the boys.  I knew certain facts about them from the beginning, but much of the series mythology spun out as I wrote, in an organic fashion.  

“2) I’m not sure how to ask this without sounding snotty, so I will just say it. How do you find so many original ideas in a genre flooded with cliche and pandering to audience expectation? Thank you for such a refreshing read.”

MML: Actually, I think there are many original ideas within the urban fantasy genre.  The most any of us can do, as writers, is just reach deep within and tell the story of our hearts, whatever that is.  Told with enough passion and skill, any story becomes new and fresh.  I thought I was done with vampires, for example, but I’m reading Christopher Farnsworth’s ‘Blood Oath’ and loving it.  

Terryb writes: “I noticed that no non-supernatural or non-damaged human characters are in the close circle of people with whom Maxine interacts. (Or if they are, I don’t remember them). Was that a conscious decision? Why not provide one traditional human?”

MML: That was not a conscious decision.  I wrote, and my brain kept presenting one character after another, all with their own particularly odd lives and vibes. There’s a purpose to each of them, however, which is revealed over the course of the series.  Mary, for example, is not at all what she seems.  Neither is Maxine, for that matter.  

“Was this book first conceived as a self-contained story or did you always plan to do a series? In building a world as complex as this one, how far out into the story do you plan the plot? Does the plan change much once you start writing?”

MML: I did not plan on writing a series.  I wrote a novella, ‘Hunter Kiss’, for a paranormal romance anthology — and that was the story that introduced Maxine and Grant, and the boys.  After that was finished, however, I felt strongly that I had only touched the tip of the iceberg, as far as those characters were concerned.  I wrote a brief proposal for a series, and my agent sold it at auction.  

As for the world-building of this series, I did not plan ahead when I first started out.  I had certain ideas in my head, and as I wrote they came alive, gathered momentum, and took on lives of their own.  It has been that way with each of the books — usually, with so much bubbling, I can’t get it all down on the page.

Sometimes I have to hold back parts for upcoming books, otherwise the story-lines would be even more crammed and crazy.  

And yes, the plans always change as I start writing.  In fact, there’s no such thing as a real plan.  Just playing it by ear.

Cherluvya writes: “Marjorie…your book is amazing. I will admit it is my first zombie read…and I thought Joe’s write-up was very reflective of what I felt.

My thoughts would often return to Maxine’s tattoos. How she was endeared to them. Do you have tattoos of special meaning? I kept thinking that there was a connection between this brilliant fresh look at tattoos being more than ink.  Wonderful read..enjoyed much of it on a plane far above the earth. *smiles* Thank you…”

MML: Thank you very much for those kind words.  I don’t have tattoos, actually.  Maybe, if I ever had a message, a personal story that meant enough to me, I might get a tattoo — but otherwise, no.  I think that marking one’s body is a profound statement.  You’ve got something to say that’s so important to you, you’re willing to brand your body with it.  

Ponytail writes: “1. I read you loved reading the Laura Ingalls’ Little House on the Praire books. (Me too!) How did you go from that to Hunter Kiss and The Iron Hunt? Did you think Laura had a dark side or something?”

MML: Ha!  No, I don’t think Laura has a dark side (well, no more than the rest of us).  I’ve always read everything on hand, so moving from ‘Little House on the Prairie’ to ‘A Wrinkle in Time’, and onward to other fantasy novels and mysteries wasn’t so much of a leap.  

“2. I love to ask authors…how old were you when you wrote your first story and  what was it about?”

MML: I was tiny!  I can’t remember the exact age, but maybe around three or four.  My mom gave me a little journal with an orange cat on the cover.  I started writing a story about a kitten, though I didn’t quite finish it.  That was the start, though.  I was telling stories before that, however — out loud, with my dolls.

Most kids do. I guess I had an extreme case that just wouldn’t quit.

“3. I also purchased and will be reading Darkness Calls. What can I expect from this book?”

MML: More answers about Grant and Maxine (along with Mary and Jack).  More mysteries, too, some of which will be answered in the third novel, ‘A Wild Light’.  

“4. Who was/is the biggest influence in your style of writing and choice of subjects?”

MML: Every book I read influences me to some degree — but some influences certainly run deeper than others.  I will say this: I had an English teacher in college, Professor Fritzell, who taught a non-fiction essay writing course that made me look at words in a completely different way.  As a writer, he was very important to me.  Regarding my choice of subjects, there’s no rhyme or reason.  Though I do love to spice my stories with the otherworldly.  

Kellyk writes: “1. Cast the Iron Hunt movie.  Who is playing Maxine?  Grant?  Byron?  And most important of all, who is doing the voice of Zee?”

MML: Oh, so hard!  Rather than give you names of actresses, the woman who plays Maxine would have to give off a vibe that is tough and smart, and secretly tender. For Grant?  So difficult!  Same with Byron.  Again, the ability to express the qualities of the character would matter more than the appearance.  Zee’s voice, though…I imagine it as cross between a whisper and rasp, a scratchy voice that is quiet, commanding, but not deep in pitch.  Medium range.  If someone can pull that off, and give it soul, and personality…

“2. What kind of books did you enjoy reading as a child?  And what kind of books do you enjoy reading now?”

MML: I read everything as a child.  Nothing has really changed.  I will say, though, that I’ve always been partial to stories with a bit of magic in them. 

Sparrow_hawk writes: “Ms. Liu: Reading new books is always an adventure. Sometimes I discover a new world with new characters that I care enough about to read the next book in the series. Sometimes I find a new author who’s writing style I really enjoy. It’s really nice when both of those things happen at the same time – which they did with The Iron Hunt. Thanks for a very entertaining book! I’m looking forward to reading more of your stories.”

MML:Thank you very much for those kind words.

“My questions: 1. It’s fun reading a new twist on old legends. How did you decide to bring The Wild Hunt into your story?”

MML: The original Hunter Kiss novel was heavy with Celtic mythology, but the first draft of the story just wasn’t right.  When I rewrote it, many of those elements were stripped away, but the idea of the hunt, that it’s a force for good or evil — depending on who is leading it — remained a theme, one I’ve carried over into each book.  Maxine is a hunter, but not only that, she is the leader of the hunt — the heart that guides this primal power — which is something that becomes more important as the series continues.  

2. Oturu is very cool in a classically mysterious kind of way: rippling cape, wide-brimmed hat, and all. Was there a particular inspiration for him? For any of the other demons?”

MML: I had a dream, actually, that involved some very odd things.  Oturu was one of them.  Exactly as I described him in the books.  It was an old dream, and I had written that character into another story that never went anywhere. Until ‘The Iron Hunt’.  And suddenly he was perfect.  He was absolutely perfect for the book.

Tim C. writes: “How long have you been a Stargate fan and are the rumors true?  Are you a TJ/Varro shipper?  What was it like to visit the set and what was the high point of the tour?  Do you think The Iron Hunt would make a good television series?”

MML: I’ve been a Stargate fan since the movie, and I watched the television show from the very beginning.  I got my whole family into it, actually.  I’ve enjoyed each of the series (‘enjoyed’ is an understatement, because if I really turned myself loose right now, I’d turn into a crazy screaming fangirl), and I was incredibly disappointed (heartbroken) and saddened (bitter) to learn that Stargate Universe had been cancelled.  

The series finale?  KILLED ME.  That last scene?  Oh, man.  I can’t even tell you.  It was beautiful.  I am going to miss this show like a…a crazy screaming fangirl. 

And yes, I’m a HUGE TJ/Varro shipper, and I wanted to know how they ended up!  I wanted to know what happened with all the characters.  I was so invested in all of them.   

Do I think ‘The Iron Hunt’ would make a good television show?  That would depend on the writers and actors, I suppose!  I’d like to think so, though.

Scott_land writes: “Are there only 3 and is there going to be more to this series?”

MML: There are already three full length novels and two novellas — plus two more novels planned.  I don’t know if there will be more after that.  The next release will be called ‘The Mortal Bone’, out at the end of this year.  It will take place a month after the events of ‘A Wild Light’.  If you want more information, or would like to keep up to date with my novels and comic book work for Marvel, feel free to check out my blog:  http://marjoriemliu.com/blog/

And thank you all for such lovely questions, and for taking the time to read ‘The Iron Hunt’.  

For more on Marjorie, head on over to her blog.  In addition to her many novels, you might also want to check out her past comic book work on such titles as Dark Wolverine, Black Widow, X-23, and NYX: No Way Home.  Oh, and she’s got a mighty awesome short story in the Masked superhero-themed anthology which also features contributions by the likes of Gail Simone, Paul Cornell, Matthew Sturges, Daryl Gregory, James Maxey, Mark Chadbourn, Bill Willingham, Ian McDonald, Peter David & Kathleen David, Chris Roberson, Stephen Baxter, Mike Baron, Mike Carey, and yours truly [“Downfall”]: Amazon.com: Masked (9781439168820): Lou Anders: Books

Reflecting back on Stargate: SG-1’s sixth season, I can honestly say it was a challenging year.  With the departure of Michael Shanks, actor Corin Nemec had some mighty big shoes to fill and, to some fans, it didn’t really matter how successful we were in finding a place for his character, Jonas.  At the end of the day, he wasn’t Daniel Jackson. While I initially sympathized with the fans (I’d enjoyed writing for Daniel Jackson and did feel his loss), it became increasingly difficult to maintain a polite online discussion on the subject.  They were upset because Daniel was no longer a part of the show.  I understood it wasn’t the same for them but, realistically, it was the actor’s decision to leave the show, not ours.  They countered that the actor wouldn’t have left the show had we made more of a concerted effort to focus on his character.  My answer to that I already outlined in a previous entry – we simply saw the show differently.  To them, the show revolved around the relationship between Jack and Daniel.  To me, the team was the heart of the show.  Anyway, I won’t go into the details of the “lively debate” that followed but, suffice it to say, it was always interesting.

And it became even more interesting when, six episodes into the show’s sixth season, actor Michael Shanks returned for a guest spot…

ABYSS (606)

This was a great episode for all sorts of reasons, but chiefest among them was the terrific onscreen dynamic between RDA and Michael.  I know that both of them had a great time, as did Brad Wright who wrote and produced Abyss.  Brad, as the show’s co-creator and longtime show runner, had written some of the best Jack-Daniel scenes in the series, so I was surprised and disappointed when angry fans targeted him.  I thought it immensely unfair given all he had done to build the friendship between the two characters but, this business, it’s often less of “Thanks for what you did for us in the past.” and more of “What have you done for me lately?”.

One issue I had with the script was the idea of Jack being killed, then brought back from the dead.  I thought it opened a can of worms re: memories of the afterlife.  I was told the ship had sailed on that particular subject.  I don’t know if I agree.  I always considered ascension a very different matter, an experience specific to an isolated group.

SHADOWPLAY (607)

When Dean Stockwell came to Vancouver to guest on the show, Brad took advantage of the gorgeous summer weather to treat him to a round of golf. Apparently, they spent their afternoon enjoying the game and chatting about Married to the Mob.  Most of the Stargate producers were avid golfers (Brad, Rob, Paul, John Smith, Michael Greenburg) and so, over the course of my many years on the franchise, I had to put up with endless Monday morning chatter about everything from everyone’s weekend scores to rehashings of recent airings on what I refer to as the Old Golf Channel.  It became so annoying for me that I started to follow Japanese Professional Baseball (Pro Yakyu) just so I could interject equally annoying details about teams like the Orix Blue Wave, the Nippon Ham Fighters, and the Yakult Swallows.

THE OTHER GUYS (608)

This was the script that earned Damian Kindler a spot on the writing staff and it was one of my favorites.  The episode was tons of fun and ur guest stars, John Billingsley and Patrick McKenna, were terrific.

One memory I have connected to this episode doesn’t have anything to do with this episode at all.  While prepping The Other Guys, a couple of guys from the VFX department came by the office.  One was wearing the greatest Stargate t-shirt I’ve ever seen.  It had a finger pointing off to the right and, below it, the text: “I’M WITH SHOL’VA”.

Early in the episode, O’Neill asks Teal’c who he likes for the cup.  Teal’c responds: “I believe the Canucks of Vancouver are superior warriors.” During the Vancouver Canucks playoff run of that year, that clip was played several times on the jumbotron.

ALLEGIANCE (609)

Hmmm.  This one’s a bit of a blur but for two things: 1. The Rambo-esque sequence of O’Neill’s 360 degree machinegun turn that, believe it or not, was at least three times as logn in the director’s cut, and 2.The hokey ending: “This single blade did what we could not. It has brought us together.”  Ouch.

CURE (610)

The thing that drove me nuts about this episode was the big Egeria reveal near episode’s end that comes about as a result of Jonas FINALLY and conveniently coming across the text in the underground chamber.  Whenever I watched that scene in dailies, all I could think was: “Man, if you could’ve just started with that particular section instead of saving it for later, things would’ve gone a whole lot easier.”

PROMETHEUS (611)

Richard Dean Anderson was an Executive Producer on the show and liked to read and provide notes on all of the scripts.  I remember getting a script back from him once and Paul being delighted by how much Rick obviously liked it.  “Look at all the check marks!”he pointed out.  “Check marks are bad,”Rob informed him.  Oh.

Well, let’s just say this script got A LOT of check marks.  Rick greatly objected to the basic premise – that a group could actually steal an Earth ship.   As a result and to spare his character any potential blame, the script was rewritten so that O’Neill wasn’t anywhere near the Prometheus when it was taken.  So passionate was his opinion that, in the scene in which he dresses someone down for allowing the ship to get grabbed, I swore he was actually channeling himself.

Mailbag:

RFVDevil writes: “Frankly, I agree with you Joe. A response from SyFy to the fans was not nessecary and IMO is more of an acknowledgement / justification that they screwed up and that the execs are trying to cover their own arse in explaining why the show was canceled. The Stargate Franchise has been airing on SyFy for 10 years and for the most part served as their bread and butter.”

Answer: Let’s be fair.  Like I said yesterday, television is a business.  It’s unfair to expect the network to pick up a third season of a show if it doesn’t make financial sense to them.  But it’s equally unfair to make a case for cancellation by comparing SGU’s performance unfavorably to shows that had the benefit of airing in the summer or were less impacted by downloads and DVR usage.

Sam/Martouf writes: “Could you please give some details about the characters such as: birthdates, birthplaces, heights, weights, etc”

Answer: Sorry.  We didn’t flesh out each character’s backstory to that detailed extent.  I’ll have Carl Binder get on this.

Sam/Martouf also writes: “What was the “Blueberry’s” plan(s) for Chloe?”

Answer: The plan was to eventually use her to amass as much information about the Destiny’s systems as possible and then, eventually, use her to gain access to the ship.

“What did they do to her body in the first place?”

Answer: They implanted her with an alien virus that slowly mutated, taking over her mind and body and acting as an organic satellite.  Once the mutation was complete, she would have been entirely under their control.

“Why didn’t the crew check out the crates, to see if there were more spare parts for the Destiny?”

Answer: They did check out the crates – and several unexplored sections.  We simply didn’t see them search and come up empty.

“After all these years, why did you just skip over how the gates are made, like it was not that important to anyone?”

Answer: There was never a story point that required us to see the gates being manufactured.  By the time we found the seed ship in Awakening, it was long dormant.

“How come no one ever really did anything about the Furlings?”

Answer: I think part of the reason was their unfortunate name.  We considered doing a story about them just so that we could introduce them as some tall, gaunt, morose alien life forms, totally different from short, furry, lovable creatures that would invariably come to mind.

Mike writes: “By the way, the ship concepts look amazing. Did you give the artist a rough idea about what you wanted and they just went with it, or did they come to you with their thoughts and you approved/disproved them?”

Answer: I gave a fairly vague description in the script and Gary took it from there.  The design is all him.

William Francais writes: “was there ever any intention to have any humanoid races in SGU world?”

Answer: Yes.  As I said in a previous entry, the plan was to encounter more off-shoot civilizations that originated from the crew’s descendants.

max writes: “Joe, do you believe some of the problems is that the 3 SG series catered to an aging audience? […] In hindsight, if this is true, would you have casted even younger actors to make the SG shows more appealing to that younger demographics?”

Answer: I don’t think so, and I don’t know how much younger you could cast without running into problems “not being out late on a school night”.

SZL writes: “1. There would have been a chance that way, that Atlantis going after the Destiny with the star-drive?”

Answer: Nope.  In the movie, Stargate: Extinction, the wormhole drive gets fried and, thus, rendered useless.

“2. If the destiny is the oldest technology, then how’s that he has a rotating gate? :)

Answer: Good question for whoever designed it, either Production Designer James Robbins or the Ancients.

“3. Why did the blue aliens leave the destiny in peace?”

Answer: Because they had retrieved all the information they needed from Chloe when they divested her of the alien virus.

“4. What happens then, if from the home dial, while the destiny is between the two galaxies yet?”

Answer: Sorry.  I don’t understand the question.

“5. Eli’s smile means that there is not everything yet on his end disappearing regarding the continuation?”

Answer: I think it means he’s come to the realization that, despite how dire the situation, he’s where he truly wants to be.

J514 writes: “havnt heard about rob cooper lately… is he still working on the transporter with you and paul?”

Answer: Yes, he is – among many other projects.  Stay tuned!

Elliott writes: “1.) What happened to Franklin’s body? I know that his mind became part of the Destiny AI (or something to that effect, like you said in a previous post), but I was just wondering what happened to his body.”

Answer: His physical being was either absorbed as well or atomized.

“2.) Can you give us any more information on the blue aliens or the Ursini? Where they came from, what they wanted, would we have seen them again and in what capacity?”

Answer: I believe I already covered this in a previous response.  The blue aliens had designs on Destiny and were using Chloe to gather information on the ship’s systems.  The Ursini were the remnants of what we discover is a long-dead race, wiped out by the drones.

“3.) You discussed the planet builders in this post; why were they helping the Destiny crew (creating Eden, sending Caine etc back)? What did they hope to gain from it? And if they weren’t helping us, what were they doing?”

Answer: I believe that they felt some responsibility for the death of the Destiny crew and sought to make amends by restoring them and returning them to the ship.  Given what we know about the planet builders, it’s highly probable that this was also part of an experiment to learn more about humans and Destiny itself.

“4.) I understand not revealing what the ultimate end for the show was, but can you talk about how Destiny played into the CMBR message? How did it gather the data, and what role did it play in understand what it meant?”

Answer: Again, there’s not much I can reveal on the subject.  This is a question for Brad and/or Robert.

“5.) Were there ever any plans to show flashbacks to the building and the launching of Destiny and the seed ships?”

Answer: Yes.  I tossed around a time travel idea that either would have seen the crew shifting back to the past or the Ancients of the past shifting forward to the present.  What was causing the shift, what it influenced, and how the problem was solved were aspects of the story I never got around to figuring out.

John T. Williams writes: “Just wanted to ask if the statis chambers aboard Destiny are different to those found in Atlantis and other ancient outposts?”

Answer: They’re different.

James writes: “Also forgot to ask do you know if a OST (soundtrack) for Stargate Universe is coming out soon?”

Answer: Sorry, no idea.  I’ll drop Joel Goldsmith an email this week and ask him.  Remind me!

Prior_of_the_Ori writes: “I will keep an eye out on Dark Matter. Will there be any information about the setting?”

Answer: Eventually, yes. Keep checking out this blog for more info.

Prior_of_the_Ori also writes: “Going through the old notes you mentioned on AU Season 6, you mentioned that Atlantis was going to get trapped into a bubble universe whereupon there would be a resurgent Wraith threat due to the actions of a mysterious new ally. Who was this ally going to be anyway? Would this have been seen in Extinction in some capacity? Not the bubble universe but the mysterious new allies.”

Answer: Hmmm.  I’m afraid this one is lost to time.  If I get my hands on my old laptop (back in Vancouver), I’ll be able to look up the details for you.

Rhyney writes: “Why is nether SyFy nor MGM interested in Extinction an Revolution as well as the two SGU movies, despite the fact the moves cost money and need good viewer ratings?”

Answer: Uh, I’m going to say the fact that the movies cost money and the show requires good viewer ratings.

Lou Zucaro writes: “Joe, when you say that your idea for the planet builders included that they didn’t evolve from a physical form like ours, can you elaborate on that? Were they energy beings? Mechanical? Or just a lifeform vastly different than humans / humanoids?”

Answer: We never got that far, but I envisioned them as lifeforms vastly different than humans.

mike mcginnis writes: “Isn’t syfy obligated to produce stargate extinction because they promised SGA would be followed by at least 1 2 hour direct to DVD movie? Is there any legal action that can be taken?”

Answer: Afraid not.  For what it’s worth, I think all the parties had every intention of doing a movie.  And then the DVD market collapsed.

Gilder writes: “Joe, just for fun, does WordPress give you stats on your posters’ locations?”

Answer: Nope, but I do receive updates on new subscribers to the blog that offer details.  I’ve been picking up a lot lately and from all over.

Beau O’Brien writes: “My quick question is, Is it a possibility to return SGU in a Novel Series perhaps? Or is it just up to MGM?”

Answer: Again, up to MGM.

sparced writes: “Did aliens really take TJ’s baby and what would have happened with the rest of that baby storyline?”

Answer: We left it purposely vague but, given everything we know, it’s more than likely that Destiny was responsible for T.J.’s vision in the season two premiere.

Donna S writes: “Anyway, I explained that you had blogged about it & I tried to put a link to your blog but it keeps disappearing. Do you know why this is?”

Answer: Sorry, no idea.

Jade writes: “1. Do SyFy count live views from other countries such as the UK?”

Answer: No because the network makes money selling ad time to advertisers who depend on American viewers to watch the show live – and catch the commercials.

“2. Did you have any intention in pursuing TJ’s baby storyline?”

Answer: Aside from the repercussions of the loss, no.

“3. Given that TJ was the only medic onboard destiny why wasnt she making trips to earth to improve her medical knowledge?”

Answer: Yes, she was.  In fact, we were considering doing a story that, at least in part, focused on this.

“4. Would Varro have been a big part of season 3?”

Answer: Yes, he would have found a place as a regular member of the crew.

scottland7 writes: “Who would you suggest the fans could go to read comments by MGM?”

Answer: I would suggest leaving comments on the official Stargate website which is managed by MGM.

Mo Restrepo writes: ” Was the introduction of the Ancients considered at any point during the originally planned 5-year run of the series?”

Answer: Yes, it had been considered.

Bryan M. White writes: “How is the casting for Transporter going? Any chance you could tell us what network or cable channel we can look forward to watching that on?”

Answer: Big announcement coming up.  Watch for it!

Randomness writes: “Or if you’re wanting to do a Scifi type show, aim for something like Planetes, Crest/Banner of the Stars, or Infinite Ryvius.

Or Black Lagoon, any of those would make me happy to see.”

Answer: Loved them all.  Coincidentally, I happen to be wearing my Black Lagoon t-shirt today.

max writes: “In your opinion, is Rush’s character capable of murdering the whole crew just to get to the end of destiny’s exploration mission?”

Answer: In my opinion, no.

Charles Dockham writes: “Not to be just another comment in the crowd and I kind of hope this one actually gets read by one of the writers, but why haven’t you thought of using atlantis?”

Answer: Atlantis would certainly have the capability to dial Destiny (as would most any gate) but it wouldn’t have the power necessary to complete the connection.

Jimbo writes: “However, it’s killing me not knowing. Is there anyway to contact- or have myself contacted by- Brad?”

Answer: I’ve extended an invitation to come by the blog and field fan questions.  Hopefully, once things have settled down and he has some free time…

kimmy writes: “In Common Descent, when Eli plays the kino footage of Young’s speech, did he also show Young the entire set that we saw of TJ giving birth to his son or just the speech? It wasn’t too clear for me. When Young find out that he & TJ did stay together on Novus if he wasn’t show the footage?”

Answer: It’s safe to assume that either Young did see the footage or he was told.

kimmy also writes: “In Twin Destinies, Rush stated that he was trying to buy them some time when crew went through Stargate after Telford. Did that mean Rush modified the wormhole direction to have it run closer to a solar flare? Thus enabling the crew to gate to desert planet 2000 years ”

Answer: No.  It just meant he was trying maintain the stability of the wormhole, allowing them the time to gate through (to Earth presumably).

Gurluas writes: “Would the Ori Supergate be able to dial Destiny due to it drawing power from a black hole? And does it still exist?”

Answer: Hmmm.  Good question.  Given the fact that a ZPM wouldn’t supply enough power, I’m not sure it would – as crazy as it sounds.

Darth Novos writes: “So I do have to ask a very important question, are you going to actually finish something that you start? Or are you just going to continue to disappoint your fans, because that is exactly what you are doing… with everything that has happened and how you have constantly let your fans down, why would any of us watch the next thing you come up with when we can just expect you to do it again? And you cannot sit there and say that it is all MGM’s fault, if you guys really wanted to continue this, then you guys would have put more into the pitch, you would not have taken “no” for an answer.”

Answer: Seriously, dude.  Time for a reality check.  After ten years of a show, in the case of SG-1, you will not get all the loose ends wrapped up, no matter how many movies you do.  In the case of Atlantis and Universe, we didn’t get the chance to wrap anything up because news of the cancellation came too late – and, quite frankly, even if it did come in time for us to rewrite the final episode, again, we’d have been hard-pressed to wrap everything up.  As for not taking no for an answer – what exactly would you have us do?  Stage a sit-in at the MGM offices?  Hijack the sets and produce a movie out of our own pockets and upload it to the internet before the studio catches on?  I look forward to your input.

Ize V. Spielman writes: “If Stargate Universe were to be continued in novel/comic form, is it safe to assume you’d be the first to tell us?”

Answer: Wish I could but it’s more than likely it would be someone else – either someone at MGM or whoever was hired to write the novel/comic book.

Archersangel writes: “now that you’re doing season 6 reminisces, will there be anything on might have happened to jonas if the character had been kept on?”

Answer: Wasn’t planning to but I’ll certainly consider it.

May 13, 2011: Okay, try to keep up! The Transporter Team! Dark Matter Ship Designs! Movement on the Anime Front! Stargate: SG-1 Season 6 Memories! Notes on Network Notes! And I Answer Your Stargate Questions!

When Stargate finally ended, I figured I’d take a year off to relax and recharge.  As it turns out, 2011 is shaping up to be quite the opposite.

As you all know (or should know if you’ve been reading this blog) my writing partner Paul and I have made the move to Toronto in order to assume co-showrunning duties on Transporter: The Series alongside German wunderkind Alexander Ruemelin.  Everyone involved, from the broadcasters to the production personnel, has been terrific so far and I’m very excited about the scripts we have in play.  The show is going to be a lot of fun and I have no doubt a lot of you will really enjoy what we have in store for you.  Like the movies, we’ve got an incredibly charming hero, high-stakes, eye-popping action, and, best of all, a sense of humor. One of the elements we all loved about the film franchise was the signature fight sequences, like the iconic motor oil fight scene in the first movie (Transporter).  They stood out because they were unique and that’s something we’ll be delivering in every episode – clever, colorful fight scenes and car stunts that will have you reaching for the rewind button.  And how will we achieve such audacious onscreen exploits.  Well, I’ve got to names for you: Cyril Rafaelli and Michel Julienne.  The former was the fight choreographer on Transporter 2 and the awesome Banlieue 13 – Ultimatum; the latter the car stunt coordinator on Transporter, Transporter 2, and Transporter 3.  They’re the very best in their respective fields and they’ll be working on our show!

Also on deck for me is Dark Matter, my SF comic book series.  Originally envisioned as a television series, I spent two years working on the story, fleshing out the characters, developing their relationships, and plotting every surprising twist and turn.  Last year, we closed a deal with Dark Horse Comics that will see the series take comic book form.  The opening four-issue arc launches in January of 2012.  Things are coming together fast and furious now.  My editor, Patrick Thorpe, has been forwarding me the preliminary designs and layouts artist Garry Brown has been working on.  The other day, I received the early concept sketches for some of the ships  Check them out –

In the script, I describe the ship's interior as more Nostromo than Enterprise. I wanted rough and tumble, wear and tear. A ship that looks like it's being held together by bubblegum and rubber bands - but is still deadly as hell.

The Fixed-Wing Pursuer. A two-person fighter with maximum maneuverability.
The Phantom Marauder: the cargo ship for the discerning smuggler.
A G.A. Class B Pacifier.

Very exciting stuff!

I also got a call from Ryan Copple, writer and Executive Producer of Riese: The Series.  Before leaving for Toronto, we got together and discussed the possibility of partnering up to produce a live-action series based on an existing anime property.  We tossed potential titles back and forth, narrowed down our list and, today, Ryan reports we have some serious developments on one of my favorite prospects.  We get into it next week.  Fingers crossed.

When I last stepped off memory lane, I was heading into Stargate: SG-1’s sixth season, a season of change and fan unrest.  Michael Shanks had left the show and actor Corin Nemec brought in.  Corin’s character, Jonas Quinn, introduced in season five’s Meridian, became the new fourth team member.  But it took Jack a while to warm up to the guy.  Some fans, on the other hand, never quite warmed up to a character who, in their eyes, could never replace their beloved Daniel Jackson.  I sympathized with Corin, a really nice guy eager to impress, who unwittingly walked into a firestorm of fan fury.

One of my fondest memories of Corin was his affinity for food props.  Whether it was lollipops, toast, or bananas, Jonas always seemed to be feeling peckish. Maybe he suffered from low blood sugar.  I don’t know.  Whatever the case, that was his “thing”.  One day, Corin decided to drop the food in favor of a mug of coffee.  That proved problematic because the drinking mug was Rick’s “thing”.  This was a running gag on the show, something we didn’t notice at first but, after someone pointed it out to us, would have us in stitches whenever we saw it onscreen.  I wonder if any of you noticed at home?  Whenever O’Neill has a cup or mug in hand, there will come a point in the scene where he’ll peer into it, frown, then dip his fingers in once, maybe twice, to retrieve some mystery object floating within – then carry on with the scene.  Over the course of Stargate’s run, it happened A LOT.  Apparently, Stargate Command had the dirtiest tea in Colorado.

The episodes…

REDEMPTION PART 1 (601)

Appropriately enough, Dr. Rodney McKay makes a return visit to the SGC and takes another giant step toward redemption – a process that would be completed by the time he assumed a lead position in the Atlantis expedition.  This episode was also notable for the introduction of the Jaffa Shaq’rel, an otherwise inconsequential but for the fact that the part was initially written for a certain NBA star who, according to Chris Judge at the time, was interested in doing the show.  Well, that never worked for whatever reason and while I won’t reveal the name of the basketball player, it really shouldn’t be that hard to figure out.

REDEMPTION PART II (502)

Looking back, this was the episode that cemented David Hewlett as a favorite guest star – so favored, in fact, that years later, when we were trying to cast the part of a medical doctor for the new spin-off, Atlantis, he immediately came to mind and Brad and Robert decided: “Screw that!  Let’s put McKay on the team!”. And the rest, as they say, is history.  Also in this episode, the role of Shaq’rel was played by Aleks Paunovic, who also returned to the franchise years later, but in a different role – playing Ronon’s former Satedan buddy, Rakai, in SGA’s Reunion.

DESCENT (503)

One sequence had Carter and O’Neill trapped in a chamber that was slowly filling with water.  We achieved this by actually doing the opposite.  We lowered the specially designed set into a pool, giving the impression that the water was actually rising.  We shot at Vancouver’s Olympic pool and it was a tough day. Rick and Amanda were very wet and very cold, and had to sport wet suits underneath their clothing to keep warm.  This episode also marked yet another cameo by Director Peter DeLuise, this time offering a tip of the hat to his old show, Seaquest, by playing the part of “Lieutenant Dagwood”.

FROZEN (504)

Early in the episode, one of the scientists claims his grandfather was “one quarter Cherokee”.  This was an in-joke and poke at actor Chris Judge who had made the same claim.  Also, at one point, Jack laments having forgotten to tape The Simpsons.  This, of course, paralleled RDA’s love for the long-running animated series. There were many times he would swing by my office to check out the collection of Simpsons talking figures I kept in my office.  Eventually, Rick’s love for the show culminated in a guest appearance by the voice of Homer Simpson himself, Dan Castellaneta – which was soon followed by Rick being asked to guest on The Simpsons.

NIGHTWALKERS (505)

This was one of my favorite episodes of the show’s sixth season simply because it was so different from other episodes we’d done – an old-fashioned small-town alien invasion story.  Loved the gang all decked out in leather.  Vincent Gale, who would later play the part of the cranky Carl Binder Morrison on Stargate: Universe, appears as Agent Cross.  The role of Sheriff Knox is played by the terrific Blu Mankuma, a good friend of the late Don Davis (General George Hammond).  Blu and I shared an affinity for ribs – lamb ribs in particular.  I loved them so much, in fact, that I was “the lamb rib” hotline. Whenever my favorite barbecue joint, The Memphis Blues BBQ Restaurant made a batch, they would give me a call and I’d drive right over.  I remember one night sitting down to a platter of ribs.  So wholly focused was I on devouring them that I didn’t even notice Blue until he was standing right beside me.  “Breathe,”he cautioned.

Mailbag:

BoltBait writes: “Any comment on this? http://www.gateworld.net/news/2011/05/an-open-letter-to-stargate-fans-%20%20from-syfy/

Answer: Back in the last few years of Stargate, I took to giving the network notes on their notes.  Essentially, I would go through the notes, address the concerns I could, then specifically respond to ones I couldn’t do or felt I shouldn’t do.  As I read this article, I felt like responding in similar fashion.  A lot of good points are raised.  On the other hand, a lot of baffling points are made as well.  For starters, I don’t think an official explanation on the part of SyFy is necessary.  While I can empathize with fans who object to the abruptness of the cancellation after ten years on the network, one has to understand that television is a business.  If SyFy has alternate scripted programming that performs better on Mondays or Tuesdays in the fall, then it’s understandable why they would choose those shows over a third season of SGU.  That said, certain statements in the article had me scratching my head…

“When MGM decided to bring Stargate Atlantis to an end after five seasons…”

Hmmmm.  Not to belabor the point (because I have discussed this in past entries) but, at the time, when we asked the studio whether or not there was any interest on their part in producing a sixth season of Atlantis, I was told that, while the increased budget made a season six less attractive for them, there were other reasons to do it (ie. as a lead-in to the new series).  I wasn’t privy to the final decision-making process so it’s possible that the studio had an 11th hour change of heart – but I’m not sure why they would have.

“Because Stargate SG-1 and had performed so well for us in the past, we felt confident about SGU and committed to a two-season deal for it, as long as the show met certain milestones along the way. Two-season deals are rare in the TV world because they tie up a huge amount of investment (both time and money), but our great track record with MGM and Stargate made this seem like as much of a sure thing as you’ll get in the TV business. That means before any footage was shot or any actors were hired, we knew there’d be 40 episodes.”

Craig rightly points out that the second year pick-up was contingent on the show’s first season meeting “certain milestones”.   Which makes the last sentence: “That means before any footage was shot or any actors were hired, we knew there’d be 40 episodes.” somewhat debatable – unless he’s suggesting that the network was insanely optimistic at the time.  If the first season had not met the milestones set forth in the original deal, there would have been no guarantee of a second season pick-up.

“The show quickly moved forward and officially launched on October 2, 2009. The debut was watched by a good if not spectacular 2,779,000 viewers. To give that some perspective, Stargate Atlantis debuted with over 4 million viewers, so SGU was more than 25% below that.”

File this one under baffling.  Comparing the SGA premiere to the SGU premiere overlooks is grossly unfair.  First – Atlantis premiered during the summer while Universe – originally slated for a fall premiere – premiered in the much more competitive fall.  Second the time between the two premiere has seen a significant increase in DVR usage and internet downloads, and a simultaneous erosion in live viewership.  Coincidence?  Maybe, but I don’t think so.  Simply put, back when Atlantis aired, fewer viewers were recording or downloading television and many more were watching television live.

“With untenably low numbers and no sign of growth on Fridays where it had now lost 1/3 of its initial audience, we decided to move SGU for its second season. We’d had tremendous success on Tuesday’s with our breakout hit Warehouse 13, so we paired SGU with Caprica and moved them to Tuesdays, hoping to introduce both shows to a new audience.”

Sigh.  Okay, look – while I understood (and supported) the move to Tuesday night and the pairing with Caprica, I nevertheless take exception to the assertion that the network had enjoyed “tremendous success on Tuesday’s with [their] breakout hit Warehouse 13”.  While Warehouse 13 certainly aired on Tuesdays, it did so in the summer (where, I’d like to reiterate, SGU was originally scheduled to air).

“We moved the final 10 episodes of SGU to Monday nights where we’d just had success with a new show called Being Human, but the ratings remained flat.”

Okay but, realistically, the series had already been canceled so I’m not sure how much reasonable audience growth could be expected at that point.

Like I said – television is a business and decisions are driven by the bottom line.  All the same, we were on the network for ten years.  When my last relationship ended after 10+ years, we enjoyed a nice post break-up wrap-up dinner.  Just saying.

Mr. Scirev writes: “Will there be a box set of all SGU?”

Answer: Eventually, I’m sure there will.

MNP writes: “My only disappointment (other than the scandal thing, which I hadn’t noticed before now) was that the possibility of uploading was never even brought up in the episode. Surely Rush would think of such a thing?”

Answer: Not sure what you mean.  Uploading one’s consciousness to Destiny would be a last resort.  Their body would die even though their mind would live on.

Randomness writes: “Just wondering Joe, why wouldn’t you be a part of the shows second season? I highlighted this part of your answer to Tammy as I was more curious in knowing. So are you planning to join another show, or another project? Or is Toronto not growing on you?”

Answer: As I said, I have no doubt Transporter: The Series will go at least two seasons (probably more).  That said, I think it would be presumptuous of me to assume I’ll necessarily be along for the long ride.  I love the show and the people I work with but, once work on the first season has been completed, our contract is up and no one is beholden to anything.  Who knows what the future holds?

stacy fincher writes: ” I did have a question for you did you are the other ever think of the dimities of the Destiny how big it was?”

Answer: Sorry, that’s something I never gave much thought to – although the design team and VFX crew certainly did.  Head on over to twitter and ask VFX Supervisor Mark Savela.

David Knowles writes: “Your Dark Matter comic, just wondering if is Scifi and is there anything about the plot, either in one of your previous blogs or somewhere on the web.”

Answer: Yes, definitely scifi and, no, I haven’t really talked about it.  As things are moving quickly now and we have an artist on board, I thought I would share in the exciting developments.

Joe Cool writes: “if we gathered fans to donate money and started a project on kickstarter.com for you guys to be able to continue some form of production on the stargate canon (whether it be a movie or a comic book or webisodes or what have you) do you think that could be beneficial at all?”

Answer: Afraid not.  MGM owns Stargate and the final decision on what gets produced and when rests with them.

Expletive:BMP writes: “Mr Joe, how much would it cost to have Kino episodes with Just Eli trying to fix the problem with the stasis pod, and other such adventures?”

Answer: Unfortunately quite a bit since, in a matter of weeks, those sets will no longer exist.

William Francais writes: “Was there ever any discussion of resolving the DHD problem Or bringing on races similar to that of Atlantis?”

Answer: I want to say “yes and no” but am not exactly sure what you mean by DHD problem and races similar to that of Atlantis?  Are you referring to the crew’s reliance on the remotes and an alien species like the wraith?

Vinci writes: “so right now your saying that is mostly likely that stargate universe will not continue?”

Answer: Yes.  Sadly, that is what I’m saying.

Dr. D. writes: “Is “Dark Matter” a comic book or graphic novel (or do you consider those terms synonymous)?”

Answer: It will launch as a comic book series and, somewhere down the line, have its individual story arcs collected in trade paperback form (a graphic novel).

Sparrow_hawk writes: “So are you going to move on to answering SG:A questions next? If so, please tell us: what happened to poor Todd.”

Answer: Will do.

Tammy Dixon writes: “So, at least, two seasons in Toronto but will you get summers in Vancouver?”

Answer: Nope.  We shoot summers.

max writes: “Joe, you mentioned that the fate of the SG movies hinged on DVD sales, so given that no SG movies will be made, would you characterise the sales of DVDs as unusually disappointing for MGM and Syfy?”

Answer: DVD sales have dropped significantly over the past few years.  They’ve been unusually disappointing for everyone.

Zac writes: “Do you think it would have been possible for either Eli or Rush to use the neural link of Destiny to project her surroundings into her head… kinda like when TJ was doing surgery and saw Amanda Perry?”

Answer: An interesting idea, but I don’t think the neural link works that way.

Balial writes: “now that SGU is sadly over, could you please tell us, who The planet builders from episode Faith were? What kind of civilisation or society they were? Something more powerfull than the ascended ancients, or something different?”

Answer: We envisioned the planet-builders as an extremely advanced race who, while very powerful, differed significantly from the Ancients.  They didn’t possess the extensive knowledge of the Ancients nor did they, at any time, evolve from a physical form similar to ours.  Brad threw around the idea of having them pay us a personal visit at some point – but, like so many others, we’ll file that one under “season 3 stories that might have been”.

Ulrike Tannenberg writes: “How would Rush have fared later on?”

Answer: I don’t know.  We would have continued to develop him as an individual who walks the line between darkness and light, someone capable of touching surprises and crushing disappointments.

scottland7 writes: “On a different topic do you think you could have a guest or two on your blog to take questions?”

Answer: I’ll see what I can do.

My Name Is Scott writes: “Did anyone in the writer’s room have that moment between Teyla and Ronon in mind (can’t remember the ep) whenever Teyla’s lack of mercy in front of Sheppard was devised?”

Answer: Motherhood was just one of several life changes that affected Teyla for the better.  Although it wasn’t a conscious decision on our part to do this, it’s fairly obvious that it did change the way we were writing her character.  I think that, after the birth of her son, she became more focused, cautious, but also more a realist when it came to threats like Michael.

Marc writes: “do you think a real stargate movie (in the theatres I mean) could be successful and a possible future for the franchise?”

Answer: It’s a possible scenario – but, I imagine, I long way off.

sss writes: “whether it is possible to agree on the extension of the franchise to another channel in another country?”

Answer: Alas, no.  Not possible.

Rhyney writes: “Is there a chance that you and the other authors could come together to write Extinction and Revolution as comic books, as well as a continuing SGU comic series with your advisorial support?”

Answer: This might be an option MGM could pursue in the not too distant future, but its doubtful any of the writers involved in the production would be the ones to write any comic book continuation of the series.

DougIndy writes: “On another note, do you think it is impossible that there will ever be another sg1, atlantis, or universe dvd movie? Has the studio closed the door on those 3 shows for good or is it more of a not now?”

Answer: Unfortunately, I have no idea what the studio has planned.

Prior_of_the_Ori writes: “I wanted to ask, was there any talk of who created the Berserker drones?”

Answer: If you’re asking whether we considered the possibility that the crew’s descendants were responsible for creating the drones – yes, that was one possibility floated.

Prior_of_the_Ori also writes: “Also, wanted to ask, would Rob Cooper be able to answer questions like whether there was a Stargate network in the Ori galaxy?”

Answer: Rob has been pretty busy of late.  Maybe once his schedule eases up a bit.

Alfredo De La Fe writes: “What are your thoughts of the fan attempts at convincing SyFy and MGM to reconsider?”

Answer: Love the fans and wish them luck!

May 12, 2011: Stargate: Universe, Beyond Season 2! What Might Have Been!

The ending to Gauntlet that aired was different from the one originally conceived.  Before the script was written, hell, even before the writers sat down to spin the actual story, the original pitch had Young and Rush as the last two men standing.  With one, lone serviceable pod remaining, they argue, then make the decision to let fate decide.  They flip a coin.  Winner makes the sacrifice and stays out; loser goes into stasis.  The coin flip is made and, as it descends, we FADE OUT, not knowing the results.

One of the possibilities this particular ending set up was a season 3 opener which finds Rush, three years later, a little loopy from his time alone.  As he goes through his daily maintenance of the ship’s systems, he converses with members of the crew who, it turns out, are hallucinations.  Suddenly, the gate activates.  A bewildered Rush hurries to the gate room in time to see Telford lead a rescue op through.  Turns out, after several years, Earth finally acquired a means to dialing Destiny.  Of course, the rescue turns out to be shortlived as it ends up being a hallucination as well when, in the episode’s final turn, we discover Rush in stasis (he was the one who lost the coin toss), evidently dreaming, while Young maintains the solitary existence as Destiny’s caretaker.

As cool as the idea was, it was problematic for a number of reasons. First – sure, someone might go a little batty after spending three years with no human contact, but Rush?  Even though it does turn out to be “all in his head”, I have a hard time imagining our antisocial Rush minding all that much being alone to explore Destiny, free of outside interference.  The second problem was that, essentially, the episode was one big stage-weight – the equivalent to the “It was all a dream” short stories your third grade teacher, Mrs. Haversham, used to love so much.  A third problem presented itself in the simple fact that this was to be the third season premiere and, as season premieres went, it was lacking in action.  We discussed moving the stasis reveal to the end of the second act, then, maybe, the end of the first act, but this story still wasn’t working until we finally found the solution – which was to not do the story at all and make Eli the one who stays awake.  After all, who better than Eli, the embodiment of our fans and viewers, to make the sacrifice and leave us with that final sense and wonder?

So, that’s the way we wrote it.  And now you want to know how we planned to write our way out of it.  Does Eli fix the pod or does he somehow manage to access enough power to ensure his survival for the length of the jump?  How long does the journey to the next galaxy end up taking?  And what was in store for our crew after the jump?

Search me!  Unlike that imagined season 6 of Atlantis that never came to fruition (check out the AU season that might have been here: September 30, 2008: An AU Season 6!), there were no inklings spun, no stories established, no ideas from the previous season that could be moved into the next.  What we had, instead, were a few potential scenarios, vague notions of where we could go.

So, no definite answers for you (sorry) which, as I said in yesterday’s blog post, isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it allows you, the viewer, to envision the ending you prefer.  And, at the end of the day, the conclusion you come up with will be just as legitimate as anything I could throw at you.

But, realistically, there are more than a few of you who go to movies and watch television shows so that you don’t have to make up your own damn ending! Well, for those of you, this entry hopefully gets you one step closer.  Like I said, it doesn’t provide any definite answers but, in allowing you some insight into the possible scenarios we were spinning, it hopefully makes it somewhat easier to choose your own adventure.

Eli fixes a pod

This was one scenario.  Somehow, someway (sorry, don’t have the details but I’m sure the solution would have been all sorts of cool – right, Mr. Scalzi?) Eli manages to fix one of the damaged pods and joins the others in stasis.  He awakens with the rest of the crew anywhere from three to one thousand years later. I jokingly pitched out a scenario in which the crew awakens from stasis with the horrible realization that Eli is not there to greet them and that the pods haven’t been fixed.  As they mourn their friend, they unseal Chloe’s stasis pod only to discover both Eli and Chloe inside, spooning (Yes, I was kidding and, no, that wouldn’t fly)!

Eli taps some hitherto unexploited power reserve which allows him to extend life support for three years

Another potential scenario with no firm solution.  Again, it would need to be something a little more clever than Eli awakening Rush three years later and informing him: “Yeah, I managed to reroute enough power to life support.  How?  Oh, I’ll tell you later.”.  In my mind, the solution rested with the lone remaining shuttle.  Given its independent system, Eli could reroute all of Destiny’s power reserves to maintaining life support with the closed confines of the shuttle and, perhaps, the sealed-off antechamber to the ship where he could store enough food to last him three years.

Eli fails to fix the pods or extend life support, so he survives by sitting in the chair and uploading his consciousness to Destiny’s computer

Since this way-out solution would have Eli relinquishing his physical form (in essence, dying), it was an option reserved for a potential movie as we couldn’t imagine having our hero exist in this form for an entire season.  It would allow him to reunite with Ginn (for another Eli/Ginn reunion scenario, read on) and allow the crew full control of the ship with Eli – who better? – as their eyes to all of Destiny’s systems.

Rescue comes in the form of some outside force

Another way to go but, potentially, not as satisfying as it takes the solution out of our hero’s hands.  Maybe –

Over the course of three (+?) years, Earth finally finds a way to dial Destiny and launches a rescue op.  The power source used could be something the combined brilliance of both Samantha Carter and Rodney McKay engineer (if the SGU movie had happened, they would have surely guested, boarding Destiny as part of the retrieval team) or, perhaps former leader Jonas Quinn comes out of early retirement  and – again with Carter and McKay’s help – finds a safe way to dial Destiny from his planet.  As for what other familiar faces from SG-1 and Atlantis would make an appearance – well, aside from the obvious (Daniel Jackson who certainly wouldn’t miss this opportunity), it was up in the air.

When Destiny comes up short and drops out of FTL hundreds of years from the next galaxy, rescue comes in the form of a branch of our descendants, an advanced military society that has mastered space flight and is now in possession of a massive armada.  They save us but their motives turn out to be less than honorable as, it turns out, they have designs on Destiny.  This was probably my favorite scenario as I loved the idea of a plausible human military force becoming our third season Big Bad.

Rescue comes in the form of some alien race, maybe remnants of the Ursini or, perhaps, the blueberry aliens who – now armed with the information they mined from Chloe in Deliverance – finally seize the opportunity to take Destiny, something they’ve been trying to do for some time (At one point, we tossed around the idea of our crew coming upon the desiccated remains of an advance alien scouting party in one of the ship’s unexplored sections but, ultimately, decided against it because we wanted to maintain the idea that, despite repeated attempts, the blueberry aliens were unable to penetrate Destiny’s automated defenses and gain entry).  There was also talk of salvation coming in the form of a completely new alien species (Brad’s uber-cool idea), possibly an energy-based race we unwittingly picked up during a refueling stop at a star.  Eli starts glimpsing these entities and assumes, after three years by his lonesome, he is going nuts and hallucinating.  Eventually, the aliens reach out to him and, being energy based, are able to provide the power needed to ensure Destiny complete its journey.

And how long does the journey take?

Oh, anywhere from three to roughly one thousand years.  Smart money was on the minimal three year journey which would have allowed our crew to touch base with a fairly unchanged Earth.  A ten year journey would have been more interesting in that it would offer up some great story possibilities as our crew inevitably try to reconnect with loved ones following a decade’s absence.  Are they still alive?  How have they moved on?  What has changed in their lives? There was even talk of returning to an Earth in the midst of a multi-year war with the Lucian Alliance.  For my part, I preferred the idea that our characters don’t know how long they’ve been in stasis and, when they contact Earth, are horrified to discover it’s been 100+ years.  Their loved ones are long-gone, the lives they led distant memories, and they must adjust to a world very different than the one they left behind.

And what was in store for our crew once the jump had been completed?

Again, a number of potential developments were floated.  Initially, when we were thinking in terms of a third season, I very much liked the idea of Colonel Telford leading a resupply mission through the gate. Earth had finally secured a power source that would allow them to dial Destiny.  Maybe it was a one-way trip because Destiny would still be ham-strung by the inability to dial Earth without explosive consequences or, on the other hand, Telford and co. bring the portable power source with them and allow some of the civilians to leave, establishing a stronger military presence on board.

Later, when it became clear that a third season wasn’t in the cards, Brad floated the idea of two movies: The first would focus on a rescue op that would see several familiar faces (Carter, McKay, Daniel Jackson among the first few mentioned) coming aboard Destiny and, ultimately, helping our crew fend off the advances of the previously mentioned human military race.  The second would have been a solo adventure that would have seen our crew finally completing Destiny’s mission (Sorry.  No details available on this one.  Brad and Robert had a mind-blowing idea for the series/franchise wrap-up and, in deference to them, I’ll keep my mouth shut and allow them to one day reveal their master plan).

We probably would have found a cure for T.J.’s condition – but only eventually.  I liked the idea of one of our main characters having to face her mortality, perhaps even exhibiting early signs of physical deterioration that forces their friends and loved ones to face the sad prospect as well.  If we were going to cure her (and, again, that was the most likely scenario) I would have lobbied to play out T.J.’s battle with ALS over the course of a season at least.

In similar fashion, I would have preferred to keep Park blind for an extended stretch as well.  It’s something you rarely see on television and something I really wanted to emphasize in Gauntlet (when she comes up with the idea of using the shuttle as a decoy), that despite the loss of her sight, she can continue to be a strong and productive member of the crew.

So who would T.J. have ended up with?  Young or Varro?  I don’t know. I honestly don’t think this would have ever been resolved.  If it was up to me, she would have ended up with Varro.  If it was up to Carl and most everyone else, she and Young would have lived happily ever after. In retrospect, it might have been better for the character if, in the end, she elected to say no to both and embrace her independence.

What about Ginn and Perry?  Was Hope the last we’d ever see of them? Certainly not.  At episode’s end, they were quarantined, not deleted from the database. At some point, Eli would have no doubt found a way to address any potential threat and re-upload them to Destiny’s mainframe.  That was one possibility. Another deliciously diabolical idea Brad came up with would have been a huge game-changer.  In this scenario, Eli goes to awaken the crew from stasis and discovers Chloe’s pod has been damaged.  She is almost brain dead and fading fast.  In a desperate, last ditch effort to save her, Eli downloads Ginn’s consciousness into her body.  Would he tell the others what he has done or would Eli attempt to maintain the subterfuge?  What effect will this have on the rest of the crew, especially Scott who has effectively lost Chloe but will always be reminded of what he had.  And how will he react to the sight of the body of his former love, now permanently occupied by Ginn, re-establishing a relationship with Eli?  This would have been huge and, I think, an awesome opportunity for the immensely talented Elyse Levesque to switch gears to play a completely different character.

Getting into the mailbag:

Lisa R writes: ” would appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers tomorrow. Hubby’s contract job ended today, but all is not lost. He has a second phone interview for a permanent job in CT tomorrow.”

Answer: Fingers crossed for you and hubby, Lisa.  Please keep us posted!

sg1efc writes: “Suppose you had some free time (of course I don’t know where you’d get such free time, lots of laughs) and wanted to write up an appropriate ending yourself. Is that something you might try in the future and I assume you would you need to get clearance from MGM? If you did want to write an ending and did get MGM approval, would you ask the others to contribute writing the end as a collaboration”

Answer: The answers to those questions lie with MGM.  Only they can decide when to revive the franchise, under what circumstances, and who would be involved.

sg1efc writes: “My white german shepherd is getting his toe amputated at the knuckle tomorrow, cancer ate the bone away. :( Have to wait and see if it is malignant or not from the biopsy. :-/”

Answer: Best of luck to your dog.  Let us know how it goes.

SG-UNIVERSE writes: “Maybe Stargate Universe return in 3 years ? Maybe?”

Answer: Sorry.  That’s not going to happen.  Even though we’d struck the SG-1 and Atlantis sets, I still held out hope for both movies because, in the case of Stargate: Revolution, the lionshare of the action would have been off-world and ship-based while, in the case of Stargate: Extinction, although there was some action on Atlantis itself (eminently achievable through the magic of VFX), much of the story takes place on Earth and off-world.  In the case of Universe, however, most of the action would take place on the Destiny set which is in the process of being de-rigged as a I write this.  Tanja, back at the production offices, reports that Stage 5 that once held the SGC and, later, Icarus Base, now sits empty.  Sad.

SG-UNIVERSE writes: “On the Official Stargate Website, no Behind the scenes & FX pics from your episode “The Hunt”. Why ? Where they are?”

Answer: Don’t know.  Maybe you should contact their webmaster to find out what’s up.

flo writes: “1/Was the odissey’s secret mission from EATG a plan for something ? stargate revolution?”

Answer: Initially, Odyssey’s secret mission was tied to the search for a naquadria-rich planet capable of providing the energy needed to dial Destiny.

flo also writes: “Did you plan a stargate reveal at some point ? Ever since it was planned to happened at the end of “Lost City” then cancelled when SG1 was renewed, i’ve always hoped we would see it at some point.”

Answer: This subject (the revelation and its many implications) would have formed the plot for the planned SG-1 movie, Stargate: Revolution.

Flor also writes: “If i remember correctly, Air takes place a few weeks after EATG, meaning early 2009. That makes Gauntlet early 2010.
Was that a clever plan in order to accomodate the 3 years gap ?”

Answer: Nope.

Chris L. writes: “I still wonder where Franklin went.”

Answer: Franklin was subsumed by the ship, his engrams (brain patterns) incorporated into the mainframe to form the default for the ship’s developing A.I. Which is why, unlike Ginn or Perry, he is not so much Franklin as he is an emotionless embodiment of Destiny itself.

Maria writes: “You once said something along the lines of ‘Stargate Sg-1 was offered an 11th season but…’ I was just wondering what the ‘but’ was and why they weren’t taken up on the offer. Will the Stargate World’s game ever be released? Off of the set, what was your favorite moment on Stargate? Also, which was your favorite episode (or top five) out of all three series?”

Answer: We pursued the possibility of producing an eleventh season of SG-1 for an alternate platform but, in the end, were unable to reach a deal that made financial sense for the parties involved.  Alas, I know nothing about the Stargate World’s game.  My favorite off-set moments on Stargate?  The great time I had with my co-workers on a daily basis.  My favorite Stargate episodes?  This list may need to be updated but the last time I thought about it: August 15, 2010: MY Top 10 Favorite Stargate Episodes

Expletive:BMP writes: “Joe, will Eli Ascend?”

Answer: Eventually?  Sure, it’s possible, but that wasn’t one of the scenarios we had planned for the show’s third season.

MG writes: “It’s said that a picture speaks a thousand words.. I am hoping you have something with which to counter to the following…”

Answer: I put your comment in moderation because I suspected this was faked.  Unfortunately, I don’t have an HD copy of the episode with me in Toronto and the versions I accessed online are too dark.  I sent word back West for what I believed would be proof discrediting the still. After all, I figured, would someone be so stupid/ignorant to do something like this and think no one would eventually notice?  Well, it pains me to report that it isn’t a fake.  And so, as one of the show’s Exec. Producers and the one on the front lines of the internet, it falls on me to offer an apology to all of our French fans who have been nothing short of fantastic in their support of the franchise.  I am, and you’ll excuse me as I go off here, mighty pissed-off as, not only someone who has appreciated the French support our show and this blog have enjoyed over the years, but someone who grew up in Montreal, a multicultural and bilingual city, speaking French from fourth grade on.

How the hell did we miss it?  No excuses.  I don’t know.  In the past, certain things have gotten past us.  There was the infamous Snickers bar in SGA’s The Ark.  There was the boom mike in SGU’s Space.  And, most memorable of all, was the camera operator in the SGA season four premiere that we only noticed during the Day 2 mix – and only because eagle-eyed Martin Gero was the one to suddenly notice – in the opening scene, a bunch of medical equipment sweeps by followed by Weir on the gurney and, finally the camera operator bringing up the rear!  In the case of this incident, we missed it and I’m sorry.  Paul suspects that the reason it got by everyone is that the shot is actually a visual effect and that, whenever we watched it, rather than taking in other aspects of the room, we were focusing on the set extension behind the approaching Chloe to make sure it worked – thereby missing what was right in front of us.

Yes, I’m pissed-off and also extremely disappointed that: a) fans were offended and b) this taints an otherwise noteworthy episode.  At present, I have no idea who was responsible but, in the event the guilty party frequents this blog (or someone who knows the guilty party frequents this blog and would be kind enough to pass this along), I’d like to say: “Seriously?  The fucking series finale?  Thanks a lot, douchebag.”

Don Matthews writes: “He has made progress on TJ’s ALS, enough so to create a treatment to slow the progression of it. Maybe he creates an interface for Lisa that lets her see via Kino transmission.”

Answer: Damn, Don.  Those are both excellent ideas.

Rob writes: “So, as an avid fan of space-based sci-fi, where do I turn?”

Answer: Our comic book series, Dark Matter (May 10, 2011: Thanks for the thanks! Transporter: The Series! My Comic Book series!) hopefully/eventually coming to a t.v. screen near you!

Ponytail writes: “Even though I loved seeing them all together like a family and actually enjoying each other, I couldn’t help but think whoever is left out of a stasis pod could use that food. Did they really need to eat before entering stasis?”

Answer: At the time, they didn’t know anyone would be left out.

Tanith writes: “Can you at least tell us what the outcome of “The Mission” was intended to be?”

Answer: As I already mentioned in this entry, that’s a story for Brad and/or Robert to tell.

dasNdanger writes: “Joe, I think I love this idea from Dreaded Anomaly over on the Benbo:

Eli to Young: “I’m smarter than him. And all three of us know it.”

Rush isn’t just defined by his intelligence, though; it’s his Machiavellian use of it. What if Eli started down that same path? He’s standing on the balcony smiling because he’s got everyone right where he wants them.

Eli’s had total control of the drones since he brought that one on to the ship. He’s kept them attacking Destiny, but not destroying it, so that everyone would have no choice but to follow his plan and get into the stasis pods. One of them “happened” to malfunction, so he wouldn’t have to go into stasis.

Of course, one might wonder how he was able to control the drone attacks while simultaneously fighting them off. But the answer’s simple: he has an accomplice, Ginn. He didn’t keep her program in quarantine; he just wanted everyone to think that, so she could carry out her part of the plan covertly.

Now, with a drone army and control of Destiny, he can reawaken the crew members that he likes, turn Destiny around, and start taking over the galaxy, with the infrastructure created by the civilization that his alternate self built.”

Answer: A very cool twist – but not really our Eli.

kimmy writes: “Again, we see Col Young working himself ragged…”

Answer: That’s what I wanted to play on in this episode, the fact that things are catching up with the seemingly tireless Colonel Young.  He’s exhausted and, right off the bat, Wray notices and admonishes him, suggesting he get some sleep.  Well, at episode’s end, he finally does get that long-awaited opportunity to rest his weary bones.

Chris L writes: “Do you have any photos of the sets you can share with us?”

Answer: I’ve posted plenty of behind-the-scene pics over the past four years.  Just peruse this blog’s archives.

Carl writes: “And has our canadian dollar value had any impact on doing or not doing the movies (SG1, SGA, SGU)?”

Answer: That may have hampered us had we received the green light, but I believe the state of dvd sales is what really impacted the movies.

Brian C writes: “A number of shows have continued their Story in comic book form, Star Trek, Jericho, and Buffy to name a few fan favorites. The numbers on these comics look good do you think the studio would accept this as a low cost high gain way of continuing the series?”

Answer: Again, I can’t speak for the studio.  If the sales figures on the pre-existing Stargate comic books make this an attractive proposition, I’m sure it’s something they’ll consider.

Rachael writes: “And can I ask again, please, if the set/lot used for Terminus was same set/lot used for Sateda?”

Answer: I’ll have to double-check but I believe so – Terminal City.

shiloh writes: “Now – you hinted at telling us some spoilers about the SG movie Extinction – how about the Atlantis movie too?? Pretty please?”

Answer: Well, since you asked nicely, I’ll tell you all about Stargate: Extinction next week.

David Knowles writes: “So Joe you are going back on your word, you said a few weeks ago that you would answer the fan questions. […]  I can now understand at least some of the hate mail you receive especially when you go back on your word in such an obvious way.”

Answer: Uh, I never said I wasn’t going to answer fan questions (especially since I asked for them).  I was simply pointing out that, regardless of the answers I provide, they won’t be canon and, at the end of the day, bear no more import than any alternate answers provided by you at home.

Lloyd 67 writes: “Hello, do you think that if DVD sales of Season 2 of SGU are good, a film production is feasible?”

Answer: At this point, I’m sorry to say, no.

Escyos writes: “How exactely did the Priors get to the Milky way, did they just create wormholes out of nothing, did they create stargates when DJ and Vala arrived or were there always gates in their galaxy?”

Answer: Don’t recall if we ever discussed this.  It’s a question for Rob Cooper.

JimFromJersey writes: “Besides the obvious dramatic elements, why couldn’t Eli complete the Novus Archive data transfer from the safety of Destiny?”

Answer: The conceit was that the transfer had to be initiated and maintained from the send point and I had no problem with that.  One of my biggest pet peeves is convenience, strokes of luck that end up benefiting our character.  On the other hand, I don’t mind complications that make our hero’s life difficult. The former is lazy writing.  The second is good drama.

Italian fan! writes: “NON FACENDO NULLA PER SALVARE STARGATE, HAI TRADITO TUTTI I FANS!”

Answer: Everything we could do to save the series was done. Unfortunately, it’s out of our hands.

stryse writes: “It’s been suggested in a couple of places that SGU should return to the air in about three years… Obviously extremely unlikely (I don’t accept impossible in anything, but what is probable is another story).. but still… how cool would that be?”

Answer: Cool but not very realistic I’m afraid.

Tammy Dixon writes: “It’s exciting to read about the comic book project. You said that it was more fun than TV. How so? Will you get to stay in Vancouver if you do comics exclusively?”

Answer: At this point, it’s a very different animal but, creatively, just as fulfilling.  As for where I’ll be next year – who knows!  We’ll be finishing up production on the first season of Transporter: The Series winter of 2011.  I have no doubt it will get a second season.  Whether I’ll be part of that second year remains to be seen.

Tammy Dixon also writes: “When does Transporter premiere?”

Answer: I don’t we have a premiere date yet.  Stay tuned!

May 11, 2011: Gauntlet!

I assumed The Hunt (episode #216) was going to be my last script for Stargate: Universe’s second season, but when my writing partner, Paul, got busy producing Common Descent (episode #217), the task of tackling the first draft of the finale fell to me.  When I sat down to write Gauntlet, I assumed we WERE coming back for a third season.  Some may not have shared in my optimism (Paul has always been a “glass half full and its contents are probably undrinkable anyway” kind of guy), but I nevertheless approached the episode as a season finale and not a series finale.

Armed with the story beats we’d spun in the writers’ room, I fleshed out the narrative in outline form, received everyone’s notes, and got to work.  By the time the first draft of Gauntlet was complete, Paul’s schedule had freed up and he was able to jump on the rewrite.  After so many years of writing scripts separately, I suppose it was somehow fitting that our last script for the Stargate franchise would be a true collaboration.  Just like old times.

Now, as I said, I was under the impression that we would be back for a third season.  And I wasn’t the only one.  When the ratings for the back half of the second season faltered, it was clear that the Tuesday night experiment was a colossal failure (for both us and Caprica) and we were in trouble.  However, we had a few things going for us.

For starters, after months of uncertainty, the studio had finally turned the corner and gained stability in the form of new management.  I assumed that given the fact that Stargate was one of their biggest franchises (next to Bond), they would make a concerted effort to keep it alive.  That meant not only brighter prospects for SGU, but renewed hope for the SG-1 and Atlantis movies, Stargate: Revolution and Stargate: Extinction.

Although the show’s ratings had faltered, it wasn’t as if any of the network’s other shows were going gangbusters in the similar week night death-slot (and, with all due respect, comparing summer airings to fall airings or one-offs to an ongoing series is not so much apples to oranges as it is apples to rutabagas). In fact, the erosion of viewership across the board (not just in the case of our broadcaster but network and, particularly cable in general) suggested a definite trend.  Fewer people were watching television live.  They were DVR’ing and downloading – and, in the case of Stargate: Universe, apparently doing so A LOT. Not surprising given our audience was young and tech-savvy, the demographic most likely to DVR and download.  Surely, I presumed, we would not be punished for having smart, forward-looking viewers.

Finally, there were reports from various sources that we WOULD be back for a third and final season.  Yes, the series would end, but armed with this knowledge and with plenty of time to prepare and wrap up loose ends, we would be able to go out in grand style.  I recall sitting in my office with actor Louis Ferreira (SGU’s Colonel Everett Young), discussing the great opportunity this would afford us to make some really bold creative decisions knowing these final 20 episodes would be our last!

After the episode aired, many fans expressed their satisfaction with series finale.  Although there are a number of questions left unanswered, the consensus was that Gauntlet offered a bittersweet conclusion to our crew’s adventures.  I don’t know if I totally agree, but I do recognize three scripted elements that certainly lent this episode a sense of closure.

The Goodbyes.  One by one, the characters we’ve grown to know and love over the course of SGU’s two seasons bid farewell to one another (and, by extension, of course, the audience at home), until only our core trio remain.  Then, it comes time for them to say goodbye, first Rush, then Young, leaving Eli (our viewer proxy) alone on the bridge heading into the unknown.

The Final Supper.  Which, interestingly enough, wasn’t in my first draft or Paul’s pass.  Well, not quite anyway.  In the original script, the last supper sequence was a simple beat in a more expansive montage – no dialogue, just a shot of the crew enjoying their last meal together.  It was changed at the suggestion of SyFy’s Erika Kennair who requested an actual scene, a moment for our characters to pause and reflect on where they’ve come from and where they’re headed.  In retrospect, a brilliant request.  I wrote the speech, then handed it over to Paul who made a couple of tweaks (one of which was nixing Young’s toast: “To three years!” which, in story terms, referred to the best-case-scenario three year journey they’d be facing but, in my mind, was a reference to the show’s expected three year run).

The Bookend Visuals.  Paul added these in his pass, a call back to the opening moments of the series premiere.  Nothing but stars, then – Destiny dapproaches the camera.  We CUT INSIDE and bear witness to Destiny’s awakening, PANNING UP the ship’s levels as its various chambers light up.  In Gauntlet, it’s the same sequence in reverse. Destiny goes back to sleep as we PAN DOWN the ship’s levels, it’s various chambers going dark.  We CUT OUTSIDE to the ship making the jump to FTL and then – nothing but stars.

Yes, I can see how many would view Gauntlet as an appropriate series ender but, as much as I love the episode, it still leaves me frustrated. More to the point, it leaves me frustrating knowing that, after 11+ years of resolving cliffhangers, this is the one time I won’t be able to come up with the answers.

Does Destiny make the jump to the other galaxy?  How long does the journey take?  Does Eli manage to fix the damaged pod(s) or find a way to extend the ship’s life support long enough to ensure his survival?  Does T.J. find a cure for her ALS?  Who does she get together with in the end, Young or Varro?   Does Lisa ever regain her sight?

I could provide some insight into what we discussed, possible answers to these burning questions but, ultimately, they’ll serve as little more than interesting footnotes to greater canon.  In the end, the answers are what you choose them to be.  In those final moments, we fail to make the jump to FTL with Destiny and, after two years of following its journey, we are left behind to wonder.  Maybe they do make the voyage in three years and our crew’s adventures will continue, only we won’t be privy to them.  Maybe, sadly, they don’t make it and that final glimpse of Destiny was a true farewell.  Or, maybe, Destiny is still out there, still journeying, its crew in stasis, destined to outlive all our questions.

May 10, 2011: Thanks for the thanks! Transporter: The Series! My Comic Book series!

I’d like to start off today’s entry with a huge “Thank you” for all the “Thank you’s”.  A lot of the people who brought you Stargate over the years do frequent this blog, and I know I speak for all of them when I say your kind words are much appreciated.  Thanks for taking the time to post your comments.  And thanks for supporting the franchise, whether you were fans of SG-1, Atlantis, Universe, or, ideally, all three.

As promised, I will be fielding your questions on Gauntlet, the SGU series finale, as well as any SGU-related queries you may have.  So, start posting.

Later this week, in addition to providing answers to those questions, I’ll also shed some light on the script for Gauntlet, what we had in store for the show’s third season, and what the heck the SGA movie, Stargate: Extinction, was all about.

Well, even though Stargate has ended, this blog will continue to be a gate-friendly place where fans of the franchise can gather, discuss the shows, and, occasionally, gain some insight into the behind-the-scenes thoughts and efforts that went into bringing them to you.

In addition, this blog will also, hopefully, be a place where you’ll come to follow my further professional exploits.

First up is the new series Paul and I are Exec. Producing alongside the ever-jubilant Alexander “Sunshine” Ruemelin…

Transporter: The Series is based on the Luc Besson film franchise (The Transporter, Transporter 2, Transporter 3) and will be speeding your way in early 2012 (?), delivering adventure, attitude, and high-octane action.  In addition, you can expect captivating characters, stunning car stunts, fantastic fight sequences, and a pervading sense of humor guaranteed to hook you from the get-go.

Earl 2012 will also see the release of that comic book series I’ve been talking about.  With two scripts done, another two on deck, and design work underway, I thought it was high time I shared a little more information on the project.  First, our publisher…

Very cool.  Paul and I are very excited to be working with Dark Horse Comic (Hellboy, Umbrella Academy, The Goon – to name but a few of many) and our editor, Patrick Thorpe, who has been nothing short of amazing so far.  Also, after considering many worthwhile candidates, we finally have an artist for our book – the incredible Garry Brown.  Head on over and check out his work here: http://garrybrownart.daportfolio.com/

Yesterday, Garry’s preliminary character designs…

Our crew, ONE through SIX.  Can’t tell you how excited and pleased I was by these preliminary designs.  My thoughts:

ONE: I describe him as a Ben Browder type – charming and a bit of a goof.  The relationship between ONE and THREE will form the core of the series and
I see them as opposites.  ONE, of course, symbolizing light and hope; THREE symbolizing darkness and despair.  To that end, I’d like to play up the contrasts a little more.  ONE is pretty damn close, I just don’t think he should be quite so rough.  I’d give him the lighter hair.

TWO: The crew’s de facto no-nonsense leader.  I think Garry’s take is perfect.

THREE: A true bad-ass – as already stated, he is the flipside to ONE’s coin.  A mercenary through and through, I like his look here a lot.  I suggest scarring him up a bit.  If I’m casting this comic book, I’m eyeing Mike Dopud for the role.

FOUR: Eurasian, androgynous, silent, and stoic.  He needs to be prettier, more androgynous, with longer, darker hair.

FIVE: Twelve year old, precocious ship mascot.  More pixyish, tiny, with a pixy cut.

SIX: A tough-as-hell goon with a heart of gold.  I think his look is great!

I sent my notes Patrick’s way.  In less than an hour, he forwarded me Garry’s revised character designs…

ONE: Changing the hair color makes a world of difference!  Love him.

THREE: A little more scarring and he’s ideal as well.

FOUR:  Getting there.  Still think he needs to be prettier, almost ethereal.

FIVE: Also closer, but she still feels too mature.

The next day, Patrick forwarded me two more takes on FOUR and FIVE…

Almost there for both!  At Patrick’s request, I sent along a couple of reference photos of what I was looking for.  It was easy enough for FOUR and I was having trouble finding something appropriate for FIVE until I came across a pic of Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass, Let Me In).

 Not long after, I was forwarded the revised-revised-revised character designs for the final two outstanding crew members:

Love ’em!  I’m very happy.

With the character designs agreed upon, we’re moving on to ships and suits!

All this to say both Garry and Patrick are fantastic.  If I’d known writing for comics was this much fun, I’d have skipped this whole t.v. thing!

May 9, 2011: Farewell, Destiny!

Over the course of my 11+ years on Stargate, I have almost always been surprised by the annual pick-up/cancellation announcements.  I was shocked to hear that we’d be doing a sixth season of SG-1, then stunned by the announcement that we would be coming back for a seventh.  I was astounded to learn SG-1 would be doing an eight year, gobsmacked to find out we’d doing a ninth, then utterly flabbergasted by the news that there would  be a tenth.  Finally, by that tenth season, I’d grown so accustomed to being surprised that I figured there was no way I could ever be taken unawares again.  An eleventh season was unheard of but, given our situation – the fact that both SG-1 and Atlantis benefited tremendously from the dual production scenario – it was not all that unlikely.  And, the more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that we WOULD be coming back.

Of course, we ended up being cancelled and, like previous years, I was surprised – but this time, not in a good way.

In the case of Stargate: Atlantis, I wasn’t at all sure we’d be coming back for that fifth season and, when we finally received word, I was not so much surprised as I was relieved.  Having said all that, I was somewhat more confident about a sixth season pick-up.  Why? Because, again, I was relying on logic (in hindsight, a big mistake).  IF the franchise were to end with Atlantis, then season five would have assuredly been its last.  From a financial bottom line, it didn’t make sense to produce a sixth season.  UNLESS it served to keep the franchise alive while a new series was in the works.  OR, like SG-1 before it, helped build support for the new spinoff by acting as its lead-in.  Now THAT would have made sense.

But alas, as I discovered when SG-1 season eleven failed to materialize, a lot of the times, you shouldn’t count on things making sense.

As most of you may be aware by now, Atlantis was cancelled after its fifth season and production on Stargate: Universe commenced. What I found particularly ironic at the time was the assertion by some that Universe had killed Atlantis and that if SGU hadn’t come along, we’d no doubt be moving forward on a sixth season of SGA (and beyond).  The opposite is true.  At the time, SGU made it more likely for Atlantis to come back and, when it didn’t – well, I was surprised.

The second season pick-up of Stargate: Universe was a foregone conclusion once we hit the rating average required for the second year component of the deal to kick in.  But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about a third season pick-up.  The show’s ratings started to falter and, in a bid to boost viewership, the decision was made to move Universe to Tuesday nights.  Granted, other SyFy shows had done quite well on Tuesday nights – but that was during the summer, not the more competitive fall.  Interestingly, SGU was originally scheduled to air in the summer but moved before its premiere.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Like our show.  And, yet again, I was surprised.

So what happened?  How the hell could I have possibly been surprised this time?  Well, I was surprised because I honestly thought we’d be back. Several individuals either strongly hinted or outright assured us as much (scenarios included returning with a lower budget and/or the understanding that it would be our final season). And so, rather than bemoan the show’s fate, I looked forward to the opportunity to go that third and final season where we would be afforded the opportunity to wrap up our story in spectacular fashion. We started discussing potential scenarios, character developments…

And then we received word that we had been cancelled.  End of discussion.  We were done.

Some claimed they weren’t that surprised by the news.  But me?  Yes, one last time – really, really surprised.

All this to say that, this week, Stargate: Universe ends in a heartbreaker of a finale.  If you have a chance, prepare yourself for Gauntlet by re-watching SGU’s first episode (Air I) – or, at the very least, its first five minutes.

Those of you in Canada, stay turned after Gauntlet airs for a special Stargate-themed episode of Inner Space that will include interviews with a host of Stargate vets.  Check out the sneak peek here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuM0ZaK3HY4

And a spoilerific review of the series finale here: http://popculturezoo.com/2011/05/gauntlet-is-a-bittersweet-end-to-stargate-universe/

May 8, 2011: If you could be any supervillain, who would you be? My Top 10!

If you could be any superhero, who would you be?  And, honestly, would it be all that thrilling?  I mean think about it.  On the one hand, you have all sorts of cool superpowers.  On the other hand, you can’t put them to any worthwhile use.  As a superhero, your powers are pretty much reserved for tedious tasks like helping people.   Seriously.  What’s the use of having super strength if you can’t wreck stuff?  Or what would be the point of having powers of invisibility if you couldn’t sneak into top secret government facilities or sold-out sporting events?  And why even bother with x-ray vision if you couldn’t use it to cheat at cards or pick out the winning scratch cards at your local convenience store.

Sure, being a superhero looks great on (comic book) paper but, realistically, the life of a supervillain is where it’s at.  No responsibilities, no inhibitions, and not a care in the world outside of going to prison or getting the tar beaten out of you by your arch-nemesis.  Also, the smallest successes can yield a host of perks, from your own goon squad to a force-shielded castle in the clouds.  Given the choice, why wouldn’t you be a supervillain?

So, if you could be any supervillain, who would you be?

I’d be one of the following:

#10: Electro

Powers: The ability to control electricity.

Why? – Granted, Electro was, at best, a B level villain, but that was only because he couldn’t imagine greater.  So much wasted potential!  I enjoy the occasional opportunity to be flashy and, really, you can’t get much flashier than 1 billion volts.

#9: Weather Wizard

Powers: Ability to control weather.

Why? – Most of the time my superpowers would probably go toward planning my weekends.  On weekdays, who knows.  Dust devils, hailstones, and a rain of frogs maybe.  I love the fact that old school Weather Wizard used a magic wand to control the weather.  And you thought wearing an opera cape was ostentatious.

#8: Mysterio

Powers: Master hypnotist, magician, special effects master and illusionist armed with a holographic projector and hallucinogenic gas.

Why? – Sure, he doesn’t have any superpowers per se and, yes, his helmet does look like a fishbowl but, damnit, I thought he was just the ultimate badass when I was seven years old watching the old Spiderman cartoon.  Consider this an old school pick.

#7: Magneto

Powers: The ability to generate and control magnetism.

Why? – Two words: Flying car.

#6: Vandal Savage

Powers: Immortality; enhanced healing.

Why?  Supervillainy aside, the fact that he’s been around since the dawn of humanity makes him the ultimate know-it-all and that alone is reason enough for me.   Think how much fun I could have annoying others at dinner parties and on radio phone-in shows.

#5: Deathstroke

Powers: Heightened strength, speed, agility, stamina, and healing ability.  Skilled in the use of multiple weapons.

Why? – I enjoy the freedom that comes with freelancing so, if I couldn’t be a freelance writer, I suppose the next best thing would be a freelance mercenary.  Good money, great travel opportunities, and a variety in assignments ensures never a dull moment.

#4: Dr. Doom

Powers: Genius inventor and occasional dabbler in sorcery.

Why? – He runs his own country, owns his own castle, and makes free use of the words “fool”, “dolt”, and “cretin”.  We also share an affinity for referring to ourselves in the third person.

#3: Deadpool

Powers: Marksman, expert swordsman, and highly skilled fighter.  Regenerative abilities that make him almost impossible to kill.

Why? – I admire a lunatic with a sense of humor and, honestly, you’re not going to find a funnyman any crazier (or a crazyman any funier) than Deadpool.  He seems like a guy who really enjoys his work and enjoying what you do is very important.

#2: Black Adam

Powers: Super endurance, speed, strength, knowledge, and the ability to fly.

Why?  – I like the outfit.

#1: Lex Luthor

Powers: Genius level intelligence.

Why? – I think I’d enjoy a life that would allow me the best of both worlds: the ability to conquer Earth and its spandexed champions, and the luxury of being able to get into all the hot restaurants and parties when I’m not plotting global domination.

A reminder to get your questions in for writer James Moran (Dr. Who, Torchwood, Primeval) [May 6, 2011: James Moran! Fandom Fury! And Reflecting Back On SG-1′s Fifth Season!].  You have until Monday!

May 7, 2011: Thank you for taking me to geek festival!

We were pulling out of the parking lot, headed for home, when Akemi sunnily intoned: “Thank you for taking me to geek festival!”.  I explained that, despite all evidence to the contrary, it wasn’t a geek festival per se.  It was the Toronto Comic Arts Festival which, over the course of May 7th and 8th, will showcase a variety of comic book creators and their diverse works.  Space Channel Producer Mark Askwith was our intrepid guide through the colorful, crowded, at times overwhelming terrain.

The view from the second floor. We were there early and, as we were heading out, roughly ten times as many people were heading in - a few in costume.

We did a lay-of-the-land tour, then retraced our steps and actually spent time at a few of the tables, talking to the creators, and picking up a few things. Akemi tired out quickly and so, I didn’t have the opportunity to speak to as many of exhibitors as I would have liked to, but some of the highlights included:

Ken Turner, Filmaker/Illustrator - like the sign says. Akemi and I loved his Edward Gorey-inspired illustration and ended up picking up a pack of postcards.
This one thoroughly enthralled Akemi.

You can check out Ken’s work here: Ken Turner

Mark introduced us to Salgood Sam (who goes by Max) who seemed to recognize me from somewhere.  Reruns of America’s Most Wanted perhaps?  Turns out his wife is huge Stargate fan.  I had to break the news that the series finale that airs on Tuesday will, sadly, be it for the show – and the franchise – for the foreseeable future.  He wanted to know why.  I gave him the impolitic version, usually reserved for drunken gatherings and comic book conventions.

Max!

He was kind enough to personalize a signed copy of his post-Rapture graphic novel, Therefore Repent!

You can check him out online here: Salgood Sam • Illustrator • Comic Artist • Generally Handy

Adrian Alphona was seated right beside Max, and I immediately recognized his work on Marvel's Runaways.
I already have the first few volumes of Runaways, so I elected to pick up a print instead. This one reminded me of my pug, Maximus.

Check out Adrian’s work here: Sweet Bizarre – Adrian Alphona

Eric Vedder has worked for Dark Horse, Marvel, and DC, and done a bunch of video game concept art.
Among other things, he's presently on an online comic book called Aardehn. Love it.

Check out Eric’s work here: Aardehn – by Eric Vedder and, possibly (I say possibly because the link wasn’t working the last time I clicked on it), here: Eric Vedder

Hey, it’s the Kill Shakespeare gang.  I heard about the comic book about a year ago.  Given my Masters studies in Renaissance Drama, I was intrigued.  But given my generally lackadaisical nature, I never got around to actually picking the book up – until today.  Below, creator and co-writer Anthony Del Col with colorist Ian Herring.

Artist Andy Belanger shows of his eight-day masterpiece. Eight days! Something that exquisitely detailed would take me at least forever!

Further info on Kill Shakespeare available here: Kill Shakespeare – An epic adventure that pits Shakespeare’s …

I'd heard very good things about Scott Chantler's Two Generals, so I made a point of picking it up as well.
Scott's wife baked up a batch of chocolate-dipped cake lollipops (you heard correctly) that proved an even bigger hit with Akemi!

Scott has been nominated for Eisner, Harvey, Russ Manning, Joe Shuster, and Doug Wright Awards.  Check out his work here: Chantler, Scott

Tara Tallan's Galaxion series has a real Leiji Matsumoto vibe.
Somehow, I managed to miss Star Blazers when I was a kid (I grew up The Flintstones and psychedelic Spiderman) but its influence on Tara engendered her own unique space-based comic book series.

More on Tara’s sprawling comic space opera here: Galaxion – Life. Love. Hyperspace.

Hey, look who it is. It's Jeff Lemire, author and illustrator of one of the five graphic novel series I'm presently enjoying: Sweet Tooth.
Our Book of the Month Club has been on hiatus while I settled into Toronto and, hopefully/eventually received the responses from our last three Q&A's. Anyway, I'm thinking of re-starting things this summer but switching gears to focus on comic book series. I floated the idea by Jeff who seemed receptive to the idea.

Jeff’s blog here: Jeff Lemire’s Blog

I also met Eisner-award winner Darwyn Cooke (not pictured).  You’d no doubt recognize his work on The Spirit and Batman as well as DC: The New Frontier.

Darwyn’s blog here: Almost Darwyn Cooke’s Blog

So, yes, in retrospect, even though it’s officially known as the Toronto Comic Art Festival, it was a truly awesome geek festival.  After all, who am I kidding? To quote a completely earnest Akemi: “But – you are geek!”

May 6, 2011: James Moran! Fandom Fury! And Reflecting Back On SG-1’s Fifth Season!

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.

May 5, 2011: Doggies Eating Peanut Butter!

Whew!  What a day!  I had three appointments, three scheduled conference calls (all of which I missed – the first because my phone kept on dropping the call, the second because I was busy, and the third because I misread the email and called in six hours late), notes to deliver, lots of errands to run, and that script to write.  I had planned to pick up my SG-1 season 5 musings and tackle the controversial (temporary) death of Daniel Jackson, but I’m afraid it will have to wait for another day.  I’m going to try to finish up my script tonight so that I can ruin everyone’s weekend by giving them something to read for Monday.

And so, I leave you with a quickie mailbag and, best of all, videos of my dogs eating peanut butter (except Maximus who, surprisingly, doesn’t like the stuff):

Mailbag:

Edwina Karch writes: “Will you please put the interviews with the actors on an extra DVD for SGU, and are there any more of the kino episodes I havn’t seen one in a long time.”

Answer: Sorry.  I have no control over what ends up on the dvd’s.  That’s a studio call.  But, for what it’s worth, the interviews would be owned by Canada’s Space Channel since they produced them for broadcaster.

majorsal writes: “what fate Sam&Jack?”

Answer: I’m sorry to say there will be no canon confirmation of the relationship between Sam & Jack.  But, in my mind, they’ve been an official couple since Threads.

Fancy Trav writes: “Obviously Stargate Universe is over after 2 seasons. Is that a definate that it is over forever? Has a good run and support so may be able to get it back on? Another network “may” pick it up? Or am I hoping too much and its over for good??”

Answer: Again, sorry to be the bearer of bad news but it is over for SG-1, Atlantis, and Universe.

irish pete writes: “Could Brad give an outline of how he wants to end the series to an author for 1 book or maybe a handful?”

Answer: That would be up to Brad – and MGM.

archersangel writes: “count me in the camp of wondering what RDA didn’t like about prometheus? are you saving that for your season 6 reminisce?”

Answer: Yep.  You’ll have to wait until I finish reminiscing my way through SG-1’s fifth season.

JeffW writes: “Still curious if Peter DeLuise was referencing someone’s proclivity for large explosions when he was yelling “Bigger!” for more of a fireball (perhaps a running gag?), or was it just an ad-lib?”

Answer: I believe it was a reference to his own proclivity for bigger BOOMS!

Don Matthews writes: “Are we gonna find out that the drones are an outgrowth of Destiny’s decendants?”

Answer: Alas, we will not.  Of course, that’s not say we wouldn’t have.

Maria writes: ” Mr. Mallozzi, are you ever going to get another puppy?”

Answer: Maybe when I get a bigger a house.  Or move back to the one I already own.

I leave you with another pic of maternal Jelly and puppy Maximus…

May 4, 2011: Transporter pre-production update! Canada’s Space Channel pays us a visit! Further Stargate SG-1 season 5 reminiscences!

Al-most there!  I hit the 54 page mark of my second script for Transporter: The Series today.  I’ll take the night to think about the big showdown, then write it tomorrow along with the final scenes (surprise, goodbye, flashback, and SHOCK – in that order) after which I’ll be all done.  On the first draft anyway.  Paul continued work on his script for (what will now be episode 2).  And Alexander…oh, he kept busy as well…

The conference call scheduled for this afternoon has been rescheduled to tomorrow.  Rather than head home to consider the unique qualities of the episode 5 beatdowns, I hung around to do a quickie interview for Canada’s Space which will follow up Tuesday night’s series finale, Gauntlet, with a special Stargate-laden installment of Innerspace.  From what I hear, they got A LOT of interviews with Stargate personalities – David Blue, David Hewlett, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge, Louis Ferreira, Alaina Huffman, Brian J. Smith, and Jewel Staite (to name a few) – who’ll be talking about the franchise and its fans. Don’t miss it!

Producer Mark Askwith conducted the interview. Apparently, Mark is a huge comic book fan (he shares company with the likes of Warren Ellis and Neil Gaiman in the Batman: Black & White collection) and has alerted me to an upcoming comic book show this weekend.
Michael does the heavy lifting. And shooting.
Sweet ride, no?

Interesting editorial over at Gateworld today: http://www.gateworld.net/news/2011/05/how-wrestling-is-killing-science-fiction/

Also, file this one under “You just noticed?”: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/03/business/media/03television.html?scp=1&sq=tv%20ownership&st=cse Thanks to Chad for the link.

Also, couldn’t resist including a link to one of the stupidest articles I’ve read in some time – http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/eerie-links-between-harry-potter-184109  The “eerie links” cited?  Well, both Bin Laden and Voldemort are bad guys with bad minions (Al Queda and the Death Eaters respectively), Obama has been referred to as “the anointed one” by critics which is how Harry is referred to in the books (!), and Bin Laden died on May 1st while Voldemort perished on May 2nd (only one day apart!!!!).  Compelling, no?  No, I didn’t think so either.

Continuing our trip down memory lane, I pick up where I left off in the middle of SG-1’s fifth season.

One of the things I’d often heard about was the toxic on-set atmosphere on certain other shows.  I remember being told that things got so bad on one SF series that, the second the director yelled “Cut!”, the actors would march straight back to their trailers with nary a word or a look exchanged.  The crew was always on edge and it made for a very difficult working environment.  This was in marked contrast to Stargate where the mood was almost always relaxed and, dare I say it, a hell of a lot of fun.  Everyone enjoyed being there, and much of the credit for that rested with Richard Dean Anderson.  It’s often been said that number one on the call sheet sets the tone, and it’s true.  If your number one is miserable, he’ll make every single person on set miserable as well.  If, on the other hand, your number one is a t.v. veteran who loves what he’s doing and feels life is too short for petty on-set squabbles or power plays, then that positive attitude tends to influence the entire production.  Hey, I’m not saying it was always easy and that people never disagreed (ie. Boy, did Rick ever hate Prometheus) but there was always that mutual respect and sense that, in spite of any differences, all the parties would be back at it the next day, sharing a laugh and having a great time.  Rick, as I said, set the tone.  He was always good-humored and charming.  Amanda was an utter sweetheart, adept at pulling off the most challenging of tech talk in front of the camera, yet incredibly and down to earth behind it.  Michael was passionate and incredibly focused, but also kind and thoughtful.  Chris was the exact opposite of the stoic character he played: magnanimous, boisterous, generous.  And then there was Don, the southern gent, who, in many ways, was very much like the character he played: amiable, principled, and very likable.  And, over the years, through the show’s many changes, that’s how they remained.  Simply great people to work with.

DESPERATE MEASURES (511)

A couple of things stand out for me about this episode.  The first was that ridiculously long search sequence near episode’s end that included endless shots of Teal’c and Daniel going up and down stairs.  Yes, the episode was short!  Another thing was a slight dialogue change in O’Neill’s scene with the homeless man.  In the original version, O’Neill says “Yeah, and I’ve got a closet full of Playboys…”, but after some consideration (aka – getting a note requesting we change it), we elected to go with “National Geographics” instead which, while less Jack O’Neill, was certainly more Richard Dean Anderson.  Also the original draft of the script had a couple of very funny exchanges between the doctors who perform the procedure but after further consideration (aka – we received a note that O’Neill provided more than enough comedy for the episode and we didn’t need the guest stars delivering as well) we decided to love them.

WORMHOLE XTREME

Oh, boy, where to begin?  Over the years, I’ve referenced the multitude of in-jokes in this episodes, from the red spray-painted kiwis (a dig at Director Peter DeLuise who used those very alien-looking fruit in Beneath the Surface) to Hank Cohen’s cameo as a studio executive who suggests the show needs “You know what this show needs is a sexy female alien.” (art imitating life).  There’s our faux t.v. hero trying to negotiate a veritable minefield of corpses (a call back to The Fifth Man), someone ridiculing the one shot stuns, two shots kills, three shots disintegrates abilities of the alien weapon (Hello, zat guns), further ridiculing of doing an episode involving “out of phase” physics (we did plenty), another character’s assertion that they’ll surely win an Emmy…for visual effects (the best any scifi show can hope for), and much, much more.  The part of Grell, the Teal’c clone, was actually played by Chris Judge’s stand-in, Herbert, while the episode offered a host of cameos from behind-the-scenes personnel including a much heavier yours truly who demands to know “Hey, what happened to all the doughnuts?!”.  I recall Director Peter DeLuise making me do three takes, directing me: “You’re hungry!  You want some doughnuts!  But there are none!  You’re really hungry!” then “No doughnuts and you’re REALLY hungry!” and then: “Okay!  REALLY HUNGRY!”.  The day that scene was shot, I found my wardrobe awaiting me in the office: a lime green shirt and a pair of atrocious lime green plants.  I wore the shirt but passed on the pants.  Apparently, our Costume Designer did not take the news well.   “Writers,”she apparently muttered with a roll of her eyes.

I would love to dig up the outtakes and extra footage on this one.  One scene that ended up on the cutting room floor involved the character of Teal’c.  SG-1 and Hammond are watching the Wormhole Xtreme trailer at which point we do a PAN OFF the screen, across the briefing room table to Teal’c laughing uproariously and enjoying the hell out of the show – much to the bewilderment of his fellow team members.

PROVING GROUND (513)

Some episodes you hate at the pitch stage but end up warming up once the story has been broken.  Others, you hate at the outline stage but end up actually liking once the script comes in.  Still others, you may hate at the script stage but love once the episode is completed.  This is one of those rare episodes that I took issue with from start to finish and, to this day, ranks as one of my least favorites.  Why?  Because it’s not about our characters.  That and the all-too predictable late twist that anyone who has ever watched television before will see coming a mile off.  On the other hand, the episode was notable for an appearance by a then relatively unknown Grace Park as one of the young cadets.

48 HOURS (514)

The working title for this episode was Teal’c Interrupted, but later changed to 48 Hours.  I was extremely disappointed.  I figured, hey, if you can call an episode Watergate, you should be able to call another one Teal’c Interrupted!  The episode kicks off with the shocking death of Tanith, shocking insofar as he was a mid-major villain who suddenly and all too quickly buys it in spectacularly unspectacular fashion.  From what I recall, we were unable to reach a deal with the actor on another episode and, rather than leave the character dangling, elected to write him out instead.  This episode also saw the introduction of one Dr. Rodney McKay (“Rodney?”I remember asking Rob at the time.  “Is that the name you want to go with?”), an insufferable ass who, over the course of the franchise’s run, ended up redeeming himself in surprising fashion.

SUMMIT (515)

Boy, the costume department had a field day with this one!  This episode was a try-out of sorts, an audition for future system lords.  I drew on a variety of different cultures, creating a colorful rogues gallery.  The hope was that if one popped, we could use him/her in future episodes.  Well, one did: the exquisitely evil Baal played by Cliff Simon.  I remember working on a rewrite of my first draft when we received word that actor J.R. Bourne would not be able to reprise the role of Martouf due to scheduling conflicts.  As a result, my rewrite was a little more extensive.  Rather encountering the Martouf we knew, we encountered his symbiote, Lantesh, who had taken a new host.  It worked but, alas, was nowhere near as powerful as it could have been.  I publicly toyed with the idea of not using a host body and simply having Carter bid a tearful, smooch-filled farewell to the little rubber snake – but it was more an attempt to irritate my fellow writer-producers than a serious pitch.

LAST STAND (516)

Back in the old days, SG-1 used to kill Jaffa with gay abandon.  They were little more than cannon fodder for our team, nondescript bad guys who deserved everything that was coming to them.  Except, as time wore on, knocking off the goa’uld’s foot soldiers wasn’t as easy as it used to be because we started to explore an aspect of the Jaffa that had been glossed over in previous years: the fact that they were essentially pawns.  Unlike the ruthless goa’uld who were motivated by a thirst for power, the Jaffa were misguided and knocking them off grew increasingly problematic.  At the end of this episode, we massacre a slew of them with the deadly toxin that targets their symbiotes and, while it may have seemed a smart strategic move at the time, like the food pyramid, asthma cigarettes, and Coca-Cola for kids print ads, it was the sort of thing that eventually went out of style.

May 3, 2011: Skinny little Maximus! Stargate: SG-1 season five memories! The Refuel update!

So it was SG-1’s fifth season and our second year on the franchise.  After spending six months in the extended-stay suites of Vancouver’s venerable Sutton Place Hotel (with its antiquated rooms and celeb-watering hole Gerard Lounge), we moved into a furnished apartment in the heart of the downtown area.  We would call that place home for a couple of years – until the day the concierge staff walked into our apartment and dropped off some mail while my wife was showering, bringing up all sorts of privacy issues that could only be addressed by another move.  As we settled, so did our pug Jelly who, in time, eventually took over as top dog at the local doggy daycare.  Every day, she would survey the action from her lofty perch atop the room’s highest couch, occasionally descending to inject herself in any canine dispute that happened to arise.  On the home front, she was much calmer but, eventually, Fondy and I grew concerned about leaving her alone in the apartment whenever we would go out to eat (which was every night).  And so, we made the decision to get her a friend.

We answered an ad from a breeder selling a litter of pug puppies and took the drive up to Langley.  By the time we arrived, there was only one puppy left: a black, skinny little guy who would bolt every time Fondy went near him.  Well, while he may not have liked Fondy, he loved Jelly (who we had brought along for the ride), and Jelly loved the little guy as well.  I briefly considered calling him Crusty because of his unkempt appearance but, ultimately, decided to follow tradition and named him after a film character.  And so, we called him Maximus and he became the second member of what would become a furry foursome (and counting).

And this is the little runt now…

Yeah.  Not so little anymore.

On the production front, Paul and I were busy as hell.  We would follow an inaugural season, that saw us write seven scripts, with another seven script season.  And, when we weren’t writing or producing, we were checking out Gateworld which was fast becoming THE one stop shop for everything Stargate. In fact, Gateworld was so impressive in its scope and detail that we eventually abandoned updating the show’s massive bible (which, we joked, was longer than the actual Bible) in favor of directing prospective freelancers to the site.  It blew all other Stargate-related sites, even the studio’s which paled by comparison.  Over the years, Gateworld evolved alongside the franchise, growing and improving.  In later years, I would roll my eyes and fans on other forums would accuse Darren and David – “the Gateworld guys” as we called them – of simply being a PR arm of the franchise.  The truth is, as incredible as they’ve been in the amount of support they’ve shown, there have also been incidences in which we’ve strongly disagreed with some of the decisions they’ve taken.  Nothing that couldn’t be talked through but, still, enough to remind everyone that Gateworld was and would remain a strong and independent online entity. And, hopefully, even with Stargate as we know it coming to its premature end, Gateworld will continue to thrive and do what it does best: offer a forum where Stargate fans can socialize and express their opinions/praise/critique in a positive community.

RITE OF PASSAGE (506)

This one offered us the rare opportunity to give Dr. Fraiser some screen time and touch on one of Carter’s few onscreen non-romantic relationships.  The unfortunately monikered Hanka children were named after then MGM studio exec Hank Cohen (who would make a cameo in this season’s Wormhole Xtreme as, surprisingly enough, a studio exec).

BEAST OF BURDEN (507)

Dion Johnstone reprises his role as Chaka in this follow-up to season four’s The First Ones.  While Peter DeLuise did the scripting honors on this one, Martin Wood assumed the directing reins.  This one is a bit of a blur but I remember being genuinely surprised by early discussions to offer the role of Burrock to Larry Drake.  His performance as the mentally challenged Benny Stulwicz on L.A. Law had been so damn brilliant and convincing, I’d actually assumed they’d hired a intellectually disabled actor to play the part!

THE TOMB (508)

The set for this episode was impressive as hell and, to this day, I regret not having helped myself to a faux stone before the whole thing was torn down.  One of the critiques directed at this episode was Jack’s old world Cold War mentality directed at the Russian team.  This kind of mystified me because it was pretty clear in the episode that Jack didn’t have a problem with them because they were Russian, he had a problem with them because they were operating under secret orders that seemed to run counter to SG-1’s mission.  The fact that they were Russian was beside the point.

BETWEEN TWO FIRES (509)

Man, this one had all sorts of problems at the outline stage, so much so that it earned the nickname “Between Two Acts”.  Once the structural problems had been addressed, Ron wrote and delivered a first draft of the script.  I remember we were sitting in Rob’s office, giving copious notes, when John Lenic’s dog hopped up onto the couch and relieved himself on a copy of Ron’s script.  “That dog pissed on my script!”said Ron.  To which Brad replied something the lines of: “He wasn’t the only one.”.  Anyway, in the end, the script came together – as did the episode which we wound up shooting on the grounds of Simon Fraiser University.

2001 (510)

The sequel to season four’s 2010 sees the calculating race known as the Aschen make their first (chronological) appearance as seemingly genial, albeit suspicious, emissaries looking to forge a new intergalactic alliance.  The episode ends with one major story point unresolved.  What of Ambassador Joe Faxon?  I’m sure we would have received the answer to that question had the third part of this planned trilogy seen the light of a t.v. screen.  In part three, Brad imagined the remnants of the Aschen race, seeking revenge for the events of 2001, launching a ship-based attack on Earth.  Alas, I don’t recall why the story never came to fruition, but I have no doubt it would’ve been great.

Hey, I received an email from my second family, the gang at my fave restaurant – Refuel – announcing the appointment of the awesome Jane Cornborough (formerly of such culinary heavy hitters as Le Bernafdin, Restaurant Daniel, and Aquavit) as their new Chef de Cuisine –

Congratulations to Jane!

Also in Refuel news: it’s BC Spot Prawn season – and that means it’s time for Refuel’s annual BC Spot Prawn Boil:

“One night only, Thursday May 26th at 7pm guests will gather at communal tables at Refuel Restaurant and feast on a three-course meal of salad, the boil (spring vegetables, pork sausage & BC spot prawns) and dessert. There are 50 seats available for the boil. A credit card number and email address is required to reserve and 72 hours notice is required to cancel. Seats are $59 (tax, gratuity and beverages are not included)”.  Check out the website for more details: http://www.refuelrestaurant.com/

Meanwhile, the gang will be opening another eatery, a sister restaurant to their super popular Campagnolo:

“Tom and Robert are at it again, introducing the third member in their restaurant family, Campagnolo ROMA, located at 2297 E. Hastings St. As it’s name indicates, ROMA will serve Italian dishes inspired by Roman cuisine. Chef Ted Anderson has been developing menus for months and will be at the kitchen helm. Campagnolo ROMA will be a walk-in only restaurant. The website will be available soon at www.campagnoloroma.com.”

And then, to top it off, they’re putting the peanut and chocolate parfait (layers of chocolate ganacheand peanut butter mouse with honey comb, ground peanuts, vanilla ice-cream and chocolate sauce) back on the menu.  BACK on the menu?  I’ve been gone so long, I didn’t even know it was OFF the menu!

Their email took me back to this meal to end all meals: https://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2011/03/18/march-18-2011-the-meal-to-end-all-meals/

Boy, do I miss that place.

May 2, 2011: You’ve Been Warned! More SG-1 Season 5 Memories!

Gratuitous sassy dog pic

Late last year, after watching the producer’s edit of Epilogue, Carl expressed a sentiment that has echoed throughout fandom since the episode aired: “That would have made a great series finale.”.  Yes, in hindsight, it certainly would have.  Unfortunately, that isn’t the case and Stargate: Universe WILL end on a cliffhanger.  Now I’ve noted some discussion here and elsewhere on what, exactly, I mean when I refer to it as “a cliffhanger”.  Am I, as some suspect, referring to it in the sense that SG-1’s finale, Unending, was a cliffhanger?  In a word: no.  Unending was NOT a cliffhanger by any stretch of the imagination.  We knew SG-1 was done and Robert told a story that (like, say, Cheers) suggested the adventures of the characters we’d grown to know and love would continue, whether we were witness to them or not.  Other fans have pointed to the Atlantis finale, Enemy at the Gate, and wondered whether the Universe finale, Gauntlet, is a cliffhanger in similar fashion.  In the same word: no.  Enemy at the Gate was NOT a cliffhanger.  While the episode certainly left some questions unanswered (what of Todd, Teyla, and Ronon who had taken the voyage to Earth?), it offered closure of sorts.  Atlantis finally returned the the Milky Way and our crew finally returned home.  At the time we wrote Enemy at the Gate, we were hopeful that we’d be getting that sixth season pick up (Hell, we had a batch of stories ready to go) and, when it failed to materialize, we were disappointed but took solace in the fact that, at the very least, fans wouldn’t be left hanging.  No, the Stargate: Universe series finale, Gauntlet, is not a cliffhanger in either respect.  It is a true cliffhanger along the lines of a Camelot, Incursion II, and The Siege II.  The kind that, once it ends, will leave you asking yourselves: “How the hell are they going to get out of this one! Can’t wait until the next episode!”  Except there won’t be a next episode, much less a next season.  Also, in response to a question several have posed: Unfortunately, the last few episodes build upon each other so simply switching the airing order wouldn’t have helped.  You could consider Epilogue the series finale and move on to some other show (I hear great things about Breaking Bad) but that would rob you of two truly awesome episodes in Blockade and Gauntlet.   Both deliver action, adventure, humor, and some terrific character moments.  Gauntlet, in particular, is very touching and its conclusion will no doubt you leave you…among many other things…frustrated, incredulous, outraged, offended, annoyed, vexed, saddened, distressed, bitter, aghast, irritated, unsatisfied, pissed-off, melancholy, miserable, confused, furious, dejected, riled, shocked, heartsick, angry, surprised, exasperated, indignant, enraged, despondent, bewildered, dismayed, incensed, stunned, and grief-stricken.

Fair warning.

Further reminiscences from SG-1’s fifth season…

As previously mentioned, when we geared up production for Stargate: SG-1’s fifth season, it was with the belief that it would be the final year of the franchise. Showtime had been very, VERY good to us but the prevailing wisdom was they wouldn’t be picking us up for that sixth season.  And so, we vowed to go out with a bang.  And we did.  Sort of.  Late that year, I walked in on Brad and Rob in the midst of an involved discussion.  “What’s up?”I asked.  Brad threw me a look and asked: “How does season six sound to you?”.  I didn’t believe him at first.  Nor did I believe him the following year when he informed me that the show would be getting a seventh season.  Hell, between all of the surprising pick-ups and shocking cancellations, I don’t think there was a year that I WASN’T surprised.

ENEMIES (501)

I always found it interesting that, whenever certain fans took issue with a creative decision, they would always blame TPTB (The Powers That Be) as if we were one giant multi-headed monster.  In truth, we’re individual little monsters who have had our share of disagreements over the years on everything from wardrobe decisions to major character arcs.  Season four had seen its share of minor debates, but this episode stands out as the first big blowout.  I don’t even recall exactly what was being disputed; I only remember it had to do with story structure.  That and being really impassioned and, ultimately, very annoyed. In the end, Paul and I handed off the episode to Rob and shifted focus to another script, The Fifth Man – and Enemies turned out to be a terrific episode.  Also, FYI – the working title for this one was Serpent’s Hat.  Don’t ask.

THRESHOLD (502)

One of my favorite moments of these early fifth season episodes is the Larry David staredown Bratac gives Teal’c to discern whether he is lying or not (I believe it’s in the previous episode).  That bug-eyed gawk would always leave me chortling.  A great Teal’c episode, though less so for Chris Judge who had to brave the elements on this one.  On the day they headed out to shoot the exterior scenes, they discovered a thick blanket of snow on the ground.  Oops.  It provided what I imagine must have been a somewhat uncomfortable bedding for the shirtless Chris to lie down on.

ASCENSION (503)

This was one of those episode’s that hadn’t sold me at the script stage but really came together once we started shooting.  Sean Patrick Flanery was great and had terrific onscreen chemistry with Amanda.  Another perfect example of writer-producer’s remorse: an actor who does such a good job that one regrets killing off his character.

THE FIFTH MAN (504)

Actor Dion Johnstone assumed a number of very different roles over the course of the franchise’s run.  He drew on his extensive theater background to play the part of Chaka in The First Ones (reprising the role in Beast of Burden), doing a brilliant job of conveying a wide range of emotion through some heavy prosthetic make-up.  In this episode, he plays another alien – of sorts – the mysterious Lieutenant Tyler whose existence no one but SG-1 can recall, and delivers another great performance.  One of the things I remember about this episode was the hell of a time editing had cutting around all the Jaffa bodies O’Neill has to negotiate on his way to the gate.  I mean, holy crap, does he kill a lot of ’em!  Apparently, Brad felt the sea of corpses put a damper on an otherwise happy ending.

RED SKY (505)

Ron Wilkerson’s first and best script is a terrific SF tale anchored by one of Richard Dean Anderson’s greatest performances.  It’s a darker side of Jack O’Neill we rarely get to see – angry, intense, and deadly serious.  The episode also offers up a side of Carter we rarely glimpse as well: fallible and wrestling with self-doubt.  Many layers in this one and it all plays out in very counter-Star Trek fashion as the team attempts to force a solution upon the planet’s inhabitants. Tres Anti-Prime Directive, no?

Back in the office today and things are beginning to take shape.  Andy heads off to Paris tonight to coordinate with the European unit.  And, oh yeah, practice his French.  Some progress made on the script front.  Page 43!  A couple of tough scenes ahead and then it’s smooooooth sailing.  Speaking of scripts, Carl delivered the second draft of his first script and we’re making plans to have him back for another week of story-spinning fun.  In the unlikely event Carl has second thoughts about coming back, Alexander has offered to sweeten the pot by offering him first dibs on the latest issue of German Times…

Check out the in-depth page nine leiderhosen expose!

How could he resist?

Today’s entry is dedicated to the U.S. Navy Seals.  I hereby grant them their own SG team.

Gratuitous adorable dog-on-the-street pic