So, the plan is to head down to San Diego for Comic Con in early July and do a signing for my comic book series, Dark Matter.  Of course, I suspect that more than a few individuals will show up to chat Stargate so, in addition to giving away copies of Dark Matter, I’ve been thinking about giving away some Stargate swag as well.  Scripts, yes. Maybe a couple of collectibles.  I’ve got that enormous box set of Atlantis’s full series run with all the special features sitting in my basement, the SG-1 100th episode  anniversary package containing the SG-1 commemorative plaque and keychain, and a couple of cool PR packages of the SGA and SGU premiere episodes (I think the SGA version contains some sort of mini aquarium).  All possibilities.  Some of you have suggested signed photos of my dogs but, to be honest, it’s hard enough getting them outside to do their business.  Signing stuff would be almost impossible.

Anyway, in (far) advance of the Dark Matter trade paperback (collecting the first four-issue arc) that comes out in October, I offer the following review of the opening arc I came across the other day:

Resuming our trip down SGA memory line…


This was Paul and my first episode of Atlantis and, looking back now, it’s amazing how many elements were put in play here.  We establish the wraith stunners, the mainland, Teyla’s stick-fighting ability, the Zelenka-McKay working dynamic, and the beginnings of Teyla’s conflicted loyalties between the Atlantis expedition and her people. There’s also the civilian vs. military divide that’s touched upon here in the scene in which Sheppard dismisses Sgt. Bates only to have Weir remind him that she, as the leader of the expedition, appointed Bates as head of security.  We also introduce the wraith self-destruct mechanism that, while interesting and effective on off-world encounters, aren’t going to enter into the equation when the teams take the fight to the hive ships.

The thing I remember most about this episode was wondering why the Atlantis away teams didn’t have designations like the away teams oeprating out of Stargate command (ie. SG-1, SG-2, SG-3).  While my writing partner, Paul, was busy thinking up lyrics for the Atlantis theme to accompany the bang-up job we’d done coming up with lyrics for the SG-1 theme (We give a rare performance here: Stargate Theme (with lyrics!) – YouTube.  Ultimately, Paul was only able to come up with: We’re in Atlantis!  We’re underwater!) I set my mind to coming up with SGA team designations.  And, I did, but the other writers balked at my First Atlantis Reconnaissance Team idea.  Clearly, they were just jealous.


Enter Golden boy Martin Gero, a young freelancer who, on the strength of his script for Childhood’s End, won himself a well-deserved staff position and then proceeded to run the table by taking ownership of the series through his multitudinous scripts (I don’t think anyone wrote more).  By the end of the show’s run, he had earned the title Mr. Atlantis.

I remember the first draft of the script included a foppish royal named Lord Smeadon who Martin had to excise for the second draft after the first round of notes.  Interestingly, Lord Smeadon was gone but not forgotten, making a curious guest appearance in The Storm, coincidentally also written by Mr. Gero.  I also remember watching the dailies one day and hearing one of the young actors utter the now infamous line “Death bird fall from sky”.  Death bird fall from sky? Why was he delivering his dialogue like the incredible Hulk?  This was also the episode where a line from one of the walla performers left us scratching our heads.  For those of you who don’t know, “walla” is the background murmurings, usually unintelligible, you hear amongst some onscreen crowd.  In the scene in which Sheppard destroys the shrine, amidst the unintelligible murmurings, we hear one performer clearly mutter: “This has never happened before!”.  Really?  You’ve never had a stranger walk through the stargate and blast your shrine away with his machine gun?  First time?  Needless to say, that particular line of walla did not make the final cut.

Anyway, Martin ended up commemorating his very first Stargate: Atlantis episode by gifting the writing staff these awesome t-shirts:

28 thoughts on “June 9, 2012: Dark Matter! Comic Con! Days of Stargate Past – Stargate: Atlantis! Suspicion and Childhood’s End!

  1. Always love hearing behind the scenes details of episodes. It makes the episode itself that much richer. Thanks for sharing.

    Have a great night!!

    Lisa R.

  2. Speaking of Childhood’s End, although I found it to be one of the weaker episodes of Season 1, it was entirely believable in the Atlantis universe.

    The Wraith were established as a ruthless enemy that clearly have no regard for human life, this is a planet full of people desperate to avoid being culled by the Wraith, who have believed for the longest time that commiting suicide at a certain age will keep the Wraith away, and in turn them safe.

    Obviously because of the technology aspect protecting them and their lack of knowledge about it, they were unaware that essentially they didn’t have to do this.

    But it’s entirely believable that there would be a planet of people, if not more planets that would have different beliefs because of the unfortunate situation they were put in with the Wraith.

    In that regard, this episode is a pretty solid entry, I just don’t remember liking it as much.

  3. Ah, Joe. I usually avoid conventions like the plague but I’d seriously consider coming to ComicCon if I didn’t live on the other side of the country….

    SGA, btw, is what brought me to the Stargate franchise in the first place. I still get chills when I hear the Atlantis theme, and the city rising out of the ocean has to be one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever seen on television. My son thought Beckett was awesome…I had to cobble together his own version of the Atlantis jacket complete with Beckett’s Scotland patch on one arm and the official Atlantis patch on the other. And my daughter was all about Teyla. (Even now she refuses to give up hope on Teyla and Shepherd. Can’t imagine where she gets it from….) SGA led us to SG-1 and I’ve been a fan ever since!

    Thanks for the reminiscing…!


  4. sorry the donuts disappointed you!

    Not neglecting your blog, just overwhelmed. My oldest sister, 66, had a massive stroke Monday, her last day on training for a new job (she’s an engineer), supposed to have been back in TN for her youngest daughter’s 21st birthday Tues. Instead my poor niece spent the day driving to MD to be with her mom. Severe brain damage, best hope is limited mobility in right side to allow my sister to function. Devastated– both emotionally for us all and having other impact as she financially helped support one of our sisters as well as her youngest daughter and son (who graduates this week). Welcome all prayers/good vibes/ even simply cheers for the courage and strength her kids are showing in taking care of their mom while my other sister and I handle the medical/legal/logistics of it all.

  5. @ Debra – very sorry about your sister. I’ll be praying for recovery, strength, and comfort to her and all the family.

  6. Awwww. I can’t go to the Comic Con. 🙁 (Of course, unless you have a Wraith in that box of goodies, I probably won’t pout TOO much. But I still will pout, just so you know. 😉 )

    Very busy today; had a excellent day spent house cleaning (yes, house cleaning!) with Mr. Das – the first time we’ve had any quality time in a month! – and then a lovely early dinner out on a deck overlooking the bay. It was just so nice having a chance to spend time together, talk, and laugh. The last month we’ve both been so busy that we’ve been more like roommates than marriage mates. 😛

    That’s about all I can manage tonight. My hands have been giving me fits all day, and now they’re going numb even typing. I did a lot of billing yesterday, and I think all the typing at work has done me in. Oh well, my problem, not yours.

    Have a good night, sir!


  7. I love reading about the Season 1 episodes, even though I haven’t had a chance to re-watch the shows yet. I do remember I enjoyed watching McKay’s interactions (or combat) with the kids in Childhood’s End. It was interesting to see him mellow out and give up his precious chocolate. Ok, it was a bribe, but still. In the early episodes especially, he always seemed to be opposites in his personality, which brings me to a question I’ve been wanting ask for years.

    McKay used the expression “Oh, thank God” on many occasions after his seemingly impossible solutions, or just plain luck, saved the day. Given his own God complex with his intellect, I was curious about his beliefs. The Tao of Rodney was a great episode that delved into his lack of faith in himself when it came to an afterlife. But I’ve always wondered about the use of that phrase when writing for his character.

    @Debra I am so sorry to hear about your sister. She sounds like an amazingly strong person. I hope that in time, her recovery will go beyond expectations. My thoughts are with you and all of your family during this most difficult time.

  8. Thanks for more memories! You and Rob C are my favorite SGA writers – MG had some wacky ideas – some awesome, some not so much. Still love all of you though for being the wind beneath SGA’s wings. 🙂

  9. Loved Suspicion. That picture you have of it reminds me . . . the gate opens, a lot of fire fight is coming in, inside the gate room everyone takes cover and jumps out of the way, the Team comes through the gate, turns around and just stands there. Of course McKay gets hit. Joe why would they just stand there and not take cover like every one else was doing? I guess you were demonstrating the wraith’s stunners. Poor Teyla. Everyone calling meetings and not inviting her. I could understand why they would suspect her people. And the problem turning out to be the necklace was a pretty good idea. Nice fight at the end and good humor with Sheppard’s line, “we can’t meet your dietary requirements”.

    Also loved Childhood’s End. I can see where you would want to keep Gero around for awhile and see what else he could do. When you said you cut out “this has never happened before!”, I would have sworn I heard that. (I just watched this episode today). So I watched that part again tonight and didn’t hear it. Hmmm. I guess that person should have said, “Well that’s a first!”. 🙂 If I saw this in a theater, I probably would have clapped when McKay got the shield working again and that wraith spy thing fell to the ground. Kinda a tense moment there. Come on now, did you write in the chocolate parts??

    I thought I had not seen all the episodes from season 1, but guess I’m wrong. So far I’ve seen and remembered them all, as I watch them again. I am keeping up with you for now in watching, then you talk about them. Don’t want to fall behind. SGA is good stuff! Thanks for the memories!

  10. @ Debra – So very sorry to hear about your sister! Strokes are so devastating. 🙁 My mom had a stroke when she was in her 30s, and even though she made a full recovery, she still experiences some weakness now and then, though it’s only noticable to her. Still, I remember her being ‘sick’ (I was about 7 or 8 at the time), and being the big can’t-face-reality-ostrich-head-in-the-sand wuss that I am, I wouldn’t even go in her bedroom to see her, instead I would crawl on my hands and knees to sneak past her room. MY poor mom. 🙁 (I’m still terrible around sick people, and hate hospitals, so I haven’t improved in this regard, at all.) Needless to say, sending hugs and good vibes to you, your sister, and all your family. {{{hugs}}}


  11. Is anyone else having problems with WP and the fonts switching back and forth? I’ve run virus scans and such, and everything comes up clean, but for some reason my font size/style keeps jumping around, especially when I first open the page, and then right after I post. It’s annoying.


  12. Childhood’s End is the episode where I fell in love with McKay. Why? He cerainly wasn’t lovable or a hero in the episode. I can only say that I felt he was a “real” character who had obvious good points and was open about his faults. He didn’t consider them faults, just that is the way he is. He didn’t care who liked him or not. He knew what he could do and worked to the top of his abilities to do his job. I admire that. The humor that came out of that was enjoyable to watch. Martin sure knew how to bring out the best performances in Hewlett. Duet and Harmony are my favorite episodes. FYI: I agree with you. Why didn’t they have numbers? A1 for example. Doesn’t sound that impressive like SG-1 does. Maybe that is why.

  13. Curious how you’re going to get a hotel room for Comic Con. Mere mortals sure couldn’t this late! Does your publisher have a bunch of rooms or something? Or maybe you can just sleep at your booth, ha. I wish Comic Con were moving out of San Diego. They just don’t have enough hotel rooms; I gave up going years ago.

  14. Was wondering if you’ve had a chance, or are planning on soon, to check out John Scalzi’s new book “Redshirts”? I’m about halfway through it so far, and I’ve found it a fun read, though a little hard to ‘suspend disbelief’ in a few places. Quite tongue-in-cheek but a fun poke at a ‘famous’ aspect of the ‘Star Trek’ universe. Worth checking out IMHO, as long as you don’t take it all Too seriously…..

  15. @Debra, so sorry to hear about your sister’s stroke. You and your family are in my thoughts.

    Joe, I love your trips down memory lane. Suspicion was one of my favorite episodes in Season 1. I liked that the show acknowledged some suspicion about Teyla and the Athosians–it seemed realistic, while making me like Teyla even more, and also, to me, proving that the character would be continue to be a strong leader for her people and a valuable team member and not devolve into being just a sexy alien.

  16. While jealous of those lucky enough to see you at Comiccon, I’m also happy they will get to see and talk to you in person. Notto mention the swag they will get. I hope it is an enjoyable experience for all. On earned. Season one of Atlantis was a very strong one, a show usually takes some time to get its stride. Atlantis broke from the gates at a dead run and for the most part rarely slowed down. Suspicion definitely kept up the pace. Besides showcasing Teyla, I loved the glimpse in how nasty the Wraiths could be. It brought to mind reports of the Soviets using booby trapped toys back in the 1980s. It also went a long ways to explain why so few Pegasus humans seem to have the Ancient gene. Over 10,000 years the Wraith had plenty of time to weed out those capable of using Ancient technology. As for Childhoods End, the episode is not one of my favorites, but has grown on me over time. I’m intrigued by the idea of a cultural pressure to commit suicide for the greater good.
    Thanks as always for the postings and hope the rest of the weekend is a p,easier able one.

  17. Yeah the hotels/convention center have been at capacity for years now in San Diego, but there’s really not much of a better option as far as venue. The only two larger convention centers in North America that could handle ComicCon Int’l are Anaheim or Las Vegas, neither of which are very appealing to people running the show/the majority of exhibitors. Also can you imagine the cosplayers going outside on a 115-degree July day in Nevada?

  18. @Yates

    115 degrees F is like 46 degrees C. Uhh just the thought of going somewhere like that..

    That said, SGU had some episodes filmed in New Mexico, feel for the poor souls in uniform/crew in that weather LOL

    I seriously hate overly warm weather. Uhh.

  19. Those shirts would make a great souvenir! But I just love Martin Gero’s work. Childhoods end was a really touching, and thought provoking episode. It’s great to hear all the behind the scenes stuff – thanks!.

  20. So far, I’m managing to keep up with the SGA memory lane stroll, and dashed ahead a bit. I viewed all eps mentioned, plus Poisoning the Well and Underground. On to S1 disc set 2.
    I’m so enjoying this review on my hi-def laptop with boosted stereo audio. I’m able to see & hear some little details that I know I’ve previously missed on a larger screen across the room.

    1) I noticed McKay used “I’m a dead man”, two eps in a row. David Hewlett delivers this line with such dead pan that you have to laugh and really do not sympathize.
    2) Weir seems to have quite a wardrobe variety. Initially she’s in uniform, then switches to skin tight tops and slacks. She brought all this with her?
    3) The background in the balcony scenes was beautiful, was that green screen with CGI?

    @Debra — I’m so sorry about your having a stroke. I’ve experienced a similar situation in the past with my Mom and later her sister, my aunt, so I know what anxieties you have. Prayers and all best wishes are with you and your sister and family in this difficult time. May God bless all…


  21. Hi Debra – Very sorry to hear about your sister. Unfortunately, it strikes close to home for me as I experienced a TIA on May 31 and have been dealing with medical appts of all sorts. Given the speed with which they are coming at me (appointments) I’m thinking that I’m living on borrowed time so to speak. I’m very lucky that this was a minor occurance but it was a shot across the bow as the doctor said. I’m seeing a surgeon today about my blocked carotid artery. The internet can be a wonderful thing. I spent Saturday night looking at carotid endoarterectomies on Youtube which was very interesting.

    But just in case, I would like you all to know how much I enjoyed reading your comments on this blog and sharing your love for the Stargate franchise. If the worst happens, you can be sure I will be tweaking as many toes as possible to get the movies made. Joe, again, thanks for a glimpse into a writer’s life. You have to know that you give many people (including me) a lot of good reading and pleasure with your Stargate reminiscences, Akemi and your furry and personal family adventures. I don’t like loose ends and just wanted to say thank you.

  22. I have often heard that it is difficult to work with Kids, or was it actors, or was it actor’s kids, or kids acting as parents or something. I got a kid of the kids buzzing around Rodney like gnats circling his head. Also I remember the reintroduction of the one actor who befriended the team from earlier SG1 episodes.

    I notice Peter Woerst in no longer the credits. Was he spending his time over at SG1 at this time or did he move on to other projects?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.