Akemi: What do you call the ghost who doesn’t wear a sheet?  He’s all wrapped up?

Me: A mummy.  And a mummy isn’t a ghost.  In Ancient Egypt –

Akemi: Dracula’s friend?

Me: In some movies, yes, I suppose they were friends…sort of.

Akemi: And Dracula’s from Europe?

Me: Yes.  And he isn’t a ghost either.  Close.  He’s undead.

Akemi: What about Canadian ghosts?

Me: I can’t think of one.

Akemi: Chucky?

Me: I think Chucky’s American.  And he’s not a ghost either.  He’s a possessed doll.

Akemi: Ogopogo?

Me: Well, yes, Ogopogo is Canadian – a Canadian lake monster.  But not a ghost.

Akemi: And not scary.

Me: As opposed to a mummy?

Akemi: Mummy is scary.

Me: What’s it going to do?  Wrap you in bandages?

Akemi: Not bandages.  Covered in toilet paper.  Very scary.

Our look back on Stargate: Atlantis’s third season continues with…

 COMMON GROUND (307)

Landing a staff position on an established series is a tough proposition. Sometimes, it has less to do with talent and more to do with a writer’s ability/inability to “get” the show.  And it’s even made all that much more difficult if it’s a long-running series laden with backstory and mythology.  But it has been done.  On Stargate, all that was needed was the proper calling card (in the form of a strong spec script that opened the door to a pitching opportunity) and proof (in the form of a great pitch followed by an equally great script).  Damian did it with The Other Guys.  Carl did it with Before I Sleep.  And Ken Cuperus did it with Common Ground.

Of course, the truth is, no freelancer comes into a show cold and writes a perfect script.  Ken came up with a fantastic idea that, like most every other script on the show, was spun and broken by the writing department.  Then, it was up to Ken to deliver a solid outline and first draft (which he did, earning himself that staff position) at which point Brad – the episode’s producer – did his pass on the script.  The result? A fan favorite that introduces the villainous (though no less charming) Todd and his on-again-off-again uneasy alliance with Sheppard.  It also explores the fascinating idea of reverse-feeding that will prove fodder for future stories like Reunion and Broken Ties.

Todd’s facial tattoo look familiar?  Well it should if you’re a fan of Kiss. The tattoo was inspired by the similar make-up design sported by band member Ace Frehley who, we learned, was a big fan of the show.

So, that live Q&A I was planning to do with you all.  When’s good for you?  I was thinking maybe Tuesday, August 14th – 6:00 p.m. PST, 9:00 p.m. EST.

Hey, remember the mailbag?

Sylvia writes: “@Akemi – sorry to hear you fell. If your right wrist hurts, please be sure to get an xray. You want to be sure it is not broken or even slightly fractured.”

Answer: The wrist felt a little sore this morning so we ended up going to the clinic.  The doctor checked it out (specifically looking for a potential fracture) but it was all good.  She suggested antibiotic cream and clean bandages.  But Akemi wasn’t so sure.  After consulting some Japanese websites, she’s been going with vaseline, saran wrap, and bandages.  I know.  Sounds crazy.  But I ended up doing some online research of my own and discovered that “moisture wound healing” has been found to reduce scarring and speed healing.  Yes, vaseline, saran wrap, and bandages.

mike mcginnis writes: “when are you going to do the live q&a in the comments?”

Answer: Damn.  Thanks for reminding me.  See above.

dasNdanger writes: “So, Akemi, if you’d be so kind, can you please explain Japanese bowing etiquette for me? It may be many years too late, but I’d sure like to know how to stop the bowing exchange once it starts!”

Answer: Here ya go!

Alisa Russell writes: “What I was planning to use for my older son to learn Japanese this year has fallen through so I have some questions for either you and/or Akemi. What would be the best methods for learning the language?”

Answer: I highly recommend the Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur (I used the latter) CD series.  Each half hour lesson sharpens both pronunciation and listening skills.  It’s the next best thing to actually living in Japan.

Ryan Nixon writes: “Did you give away all the SGA scripts at Comic Con? Or are there more?”

Answer: Yes, there are more.  Vote in our next Stargate-related poll for a chance to win!

27 thoughts on “August 8, 2012: Conversations with Akemi! Days of Stargate Atlantis past! Common Ground! That live Q&A! Mailbag!

  1. “Akemi: Not bandages. Covered in toilet paper. Very scary.”

    What’s even more scary than a mummy wrapped in toilet paper?
    A mummy wrapped in used toilet paper. (bad joke but someone had to say it) 🙂

  2. 😆 I am both amused, and more confused than ever! (Also, it seems I am an expert at the perpetual ojigi. 😛 )

    Tuesday Aug. 14th sounds good!

    Common Ground is my absolute favorite episode, ever, as you well know by now. I love the whole idea of it, from an imprisoned and tortured Wraith to the whole suck and puke thing. But best of all was Todd himself, owing greatly to Chris’ fantastic performance.

    I would like to say more but hubby is calling and I have cats to tend to and dishes to do and arrrrrgh! Why must you tackle my favorite episode when I’m so blasted busy??!

    das

  3. Common Ground is hands down, one of the best episodes of SGA. Ever. I love everything about it. Particularly the focus on Sheppard! The evil villain Kolya, the unlikely bond between Sheppard and Todd, how the team worked to get him back, (and the terrific Shep whump). I loved how Ronon reacted to seeing Sheppard being fed upon, Weir’s resolve, Ladon’s ambiguity, Rodney being brave (and shooting the mouse). Chris and Joe just had an incredible chemistry together and it was a joy to see on screen. I wish more had been done with their bond, there was something special and unique that perhaps could have saved the galaxy – my dream is that Season 6 would have explored it in more depth.

  4. You do realize you have a tv series idea based around Akemi’s conversations? Im not much for sit-coms, but I think I could really enjoy that. You don’t even have to change the names to protect the guilty, if she is kind to enough to. consent. And it would make her a bigger fan star than you!. just suggesting…
    Loved the bowing video. However, it doesn’t go into greeting bows. After all, one never knows when one might come across the Emperor or his wife, or a CEO, or a farmer. And under what conditions you might meet them. Though I suppose a faux pas under those conditions would bring your video into play. And thankfully it doesn’t suggest the ultiimate apology. Which is way too messy and painful, especially if a second is not available…
    Looking forward to the q&a, though I’ll need t come up with some questions. And Common Ground is definitely one of the top five SGA episodes, and top ten SG episodes. Todd, Kolya, Shep-whump….never get tired of watching this episode. thanks for sharing, and please keep the Akemi-isms coming.

  5. I think Common Ground opened the door to unlimited possibilities for the Wraith, in exploring their culture, and physical bodies. As Todd said to Sheppard, there is a lot you do not know about a Wraith. Todd was a great character and always fun to watch. A cooperating, helpful, friendly Wraith? Wow! And every time I see a Will Waring directed episode, I automatically start looking for the pineapple. Unfortunately, about 2 minutes later I forget to keep looking and get wrapped up enjoying the show. Next time an episode is a Will Waring one, would you let us know where the pineapple is?

  6. Heh, after watching anime/reading manga, those bows all look very familiar. I suppose I’ve mostly figured them out from context, but it’s good to have them explained anyway.

  7. Tuesday sounds great to me, I don’t work that day! Yay!
    So, Joe, I received my signed script today, thank you again so very , btw I didn’t know you had a PhD lol, we watched the episode tonight and caught the book! We love it and wonder where we can get a copy of it…? 🙂

  8. Ken did a fantastic job coming up with such a great story and script! This is one of my favorites. I loved the chemistry between the characters and actors. The tone of Atlantis seems to have been fairly light hearted, but this episode was edgier, and I was surprised to see how far the feeding on Sheppard went. Great aging special effects too. I was cringing! It was also beautifully shot, especially the last scene. The lighting was amazing.

    Todd was such a great character, and it was ironic to start thinking of the Wraith as having human-like loyalty. Chris’ performance was spot on, and it was fun to watch he and Flanigan work off each other.

    Sorry to hear that Akemi is still in pain, but thankfully nothing broken.

    Tuesday at 6:00 is too early for me trying to get off work, and creep my way back home through LA traffic, but it’ll be fun to read all the questions & answers!

  9. HI joe,

    I’ve come across an interview with Dean Devlin (the originial Stargate movie guy) who wants to do a triology but has never even watch the series… Je suis perplexe !!!

    What’s your point of view on this?

  10. I knew about saran wrap from Honey, Mud and Maggots…great book on the history of healing and why some things actually work.

  11. “moisture wound healing” has been found to reduce scarring and speed healing. Interesting. I suppose it would be fine as long as it didn’t get infected. It’s so hot here…I can’t imagine wearing saran wrap. I hope Akemi is back to her normal self soon!

    I loved the video! Bowing should be worked into the American culture. It seems very polite/efficient. I’ve gotten so used to bowing in karate class that sometimes I slip and bow to someone in public.

    Common Ground: A study of the evolution of an experiment gone wrong. I did love Todd and his weird relationship with Sheppard. How long does it take to apply makeup to a Wraith character? I bet it takes hours! It looks like the actor might have trouble breathing too. They earn their pay on those days!

    Rosetta Stone rocks for Spanish! You would be the expert on if it works for Japanese. Does Rosetta/Pimsleur teach how to write the Japanese symbols?

    Deni: Are you doing ok? How is Lauren?

  12. @Tam Dixon: Hi Tam, yeah, I’m fine, just busy! Thanks for caring/asking! Lauren’s belly is getting bigger every day, she’s really beautiful these days (I know, I’m slightly biased…). Pet-sitting at home for the next 10 days, should be fun if Riley behaves. 😉

  13. I love Akemi’s Akemisms! 🙂 She is so sweet as she can be. Yeah…I agree that anything wrapped up in toliet paper can be very scary. 😉

    Mailbag!! Yaaaay!! 🙂 More mailbag please?? 🙂

    COMMON GROUND….talk about a ShepWhump fest. 🙂 This is every ShepWhumper’s (which…I am one) guilty pleasure. 😉 Plus…this was just full of juicy action. Loved…it! And…we get to meet Todd. 🙂 Give kudos to Chris Heyerdahl playing Todd. I have never seen such a focused actor such as him. And…kudos to Joe Flanigan as well. He certainly flexed those acting muscles in that episode. I never get tired of this episode. 🙂

  14. A few quick comments (yes, life is still insane):

    1. After reading your convo with Akemi, I have come to the conclusion that living with her is like living with Mr. Das. (Psych fans will understand the comparison, since Mr. Das is like Shawn, and the above mummy discussion could have easily taken place between Shawn and Gus.)

    2. Ah…Common Ground! What a fantastic episode! It gave me chills when I first saw it, especially when Todd is giving his little ‘Wraith must feed’ speech, ending in the revealing of himself to Sheppard. Terrific moment! And what can I say about Todd that I haven’t already said a million times?! I’m just out of words!

    ..

    .

    Okay, well, for one, ( 😉 ) this episode is a bit different from other ‘Todd’ episodes because here we see the most of his Wraithy side. And Todd was a real animal, perhaps the most barbaric Wraith we see in the series save for the Dusty Dude in the Desert. 😉 When we’re first introduced to him he’s a savage beast, filthy and ferocious. Later in the same episode, however, we come to learn that he is intelligent, well-spoken, and even humorous. But seeing his darker side right from the beginning was especially important to me because, as I got to know Todd later through the series, I remembered his ferocity and it was a constant reminder that under all his charm was a deadly animal lying in wait. A real wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    This episode also contains one of the smartest scene transitions in the series, whether intended, or not. Right after Todd reveals himself to Sheppard, the scene cuts to the conference room, where Ladon is saying (of Kolya), “Of course, you would see him only as the monster who tried to take your city from you.” Since both Kolya and the Wraith tried to conquer Atlantis, this statement can be applied to both Kolya, and to Todd. Back in the cell that is certainly what Sheppard sees – a monster.

    But as the episode (and later as the series) progresses, Sheppard starts to see Todd as something else other than a monster. Is there a level of respect there? I hope so, but for the most part I think Sheppard sees Todd as a valuable weapon in his war chest. He realizes that weapon is a deadly one, however, and so he never totally trusts his pallid ally. And I think this is were the respect comes in – just as an intelligent person respects a deadly snakes and so handles it with caution, so Sheppard does the same with Todd. That said, I can’t help but feel that on some level Todd impresses (and sometimes surprises) Sheppard; he knows he’s not dealing with just another pretty face, but perhaps the only Wraith in the entire galaxy who can see past his hunger and into the future.

    On a side note – and because Todd was such a sight in this episode – I tend to refer to Sheppard and him in Common Ground as ‘Goody Two-shoes and the Filthy Beast’ – a line I stole from Father Goose (Cary Grant, Leslie Caron). 🙂

    I could write a novel on this episode, but I gotta get back to work! Rats. 😛

    das

  15. Oh that live Q&A thing, sounds good.

    By the way Joe, the new Code Geass: Nunnally in Wonderland OVA was a huge letdown, its out now by the way in Japan, just if you were hoping for a proper episode(Like every other Code Geass fan on gods green earth), you’l feel somewhat letdown by this lol.

    Not saying it was awful, it was okay just, as said above.

    Kinda sad that an anime series like Code Geass recieved this kind of treatment, its like a picture drama type episode.

  16. Akemi- hope you are feeling better. I agree with you some Westerners can be rude. Celebrate the ones who cross your path that aren’t rude.

  17. Hey Joe! About that live Q&A thing. I highly recommend you do it on “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit. http://www.reddit.com/r/iama

    The best questions will be voted to the top of the page by the community and Reddit allows fine grained replying mechanisms – allowing interesting comments threads to go deep down, while leaving everything readable.

    We’ve had plenty of famous people doing AMA – from famous actors to scientists to just plain interesting people. They’re even getting Stan Lee to do one soon.

    So that’s http://www.reddit.com/r/iama It’s pretty straight forward to do one. And the Stargate fans of the world will rejoice

  18. Hey Joe, speaking of Geass.

    Trailer for Code Geass: Nunnally in Wonderland here(Fans have subtitled)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqc8hv_Ibq4&feature=related

    And lastly, found that there’s like a million people who have uploaded the episode on youtube, probably worth checking out if you have 28 minutes spare lol. Won’t post here for obvious reasons.

    Its kinda funny.

  19. That Reddit thing looks too confusing to me. But, ya know, whatever floats your boat. Personally I’d prefer the Q&A here, but maybe that other site will be better if more folks want to join in.

    Joe, just watching Samurai 2: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (I own the trilogy, but it just happens to be on tv right now), and one character is named Akemi! It’s nice to hear it properly pronounced. I suppose I haven’t watched this movie since Akemi came into your life, otherwise I wouldn’t have had to ask how to pronounce her name a while back. It sounds so much prettier in Japanese than in my nasally English. 😛

    das

  20. I’m enjoying Chris Heyerdahl on the True Blood. At least I did until he was beheaded, a travesty that.

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