Well, I pretty much accomplished zero out of the dozen or so things I needed to get done today.  Zero.  Oh, I started off with the very best of intentions, but I was either at the wrong place or at the wrong time and, in one instant, on the wrong date(!) so that, when all was said and done – nothing got done.  I even failed at making the bed, putting the comforter in inside out!  It does give me cause for concern given that I’m scheduled to pick up Akemi at the airport later.  The way things are going, I may well be eating ramen alone tonight.

Oh, sure, I did take part in that conference call in which we went over the notes for the urban fantasy pilot script we’re working on – but, to be perfectly honest, I was left more confused by the end of our conversation than I was going in.  It happens a lot.  My writing partner, Paul, and I have two very different approaches when it comes to notes. Upon reading them for the first time, I tend toward the pessimistic and panic (“There’s no way we can address these notes!  We’re doomed! DOOOMED!”) while Paul is much more positive and, dare I say, irrationally optimistic (“Oh, that’s no problem.  Sure we can do that!”). Days later, once we’ve had time to fully digest, our opinions invariably flip – suddenly, I’m Mr. Positive (“Yeah, in retrospect, maybe these notes aren’t so bad”) while he’s adopted a decidedly more negative attitude (“What was I thinking?!  We’re doomed!  DOOOOMED!).  But I’m sure it’ll all be fine.  If t.v. has taught me anything, it’s that everything always works out in the end.

Unless you happen to be a serial killer being chased by Mandy Pantinkin.



Sometime near the end of Atlantis’s fourth season, actor Jason Momoa swung by our offices to talk about his character.  Over the course of our discussion, he told us that there was one thing he would love to see Ronon do in season 5, and that was to go darkside.  Well, it just so happened that I was looking to do a sequel to season 4’s Reunion and the notion of writing an Evil Ronon story was just too enticing to pass up.  I wrote the script over the hiatus, including a scene in which Ronon shaves his head to complete his bad-ass transformation.  It was the ideal opportunity to present a logical, in-story explanation for the change in hairstyle (over the hiatus, Jason ended up losing the dread locks).  As it turned out, however, the network felt strongly about the Ronon character’s trademark dreads and so we ended up losing the scene – and wigging Jason for the rest of the season.  That wig, by the way, was woven from his real hair.

Anyway, playing the part of a bad guy is something almost every actor longs for and Jason threw himself into the role.  He was, in a word, magnificent.  And he was magnificent not only because he was so damn scary-convincing as Ronon gone darkside, but because he was so damn good conveying a range of emotions: fear, anger, anguish, and, ultimately grief.  Jason demonstrates incredible depth and range in this episode – in my opinion, his best performance of the series.

Special mention should be made of our guest star, Mark Dacascos, who returns to reprise his turn as Tyre – and win his character’s redemption.  Mark is a class act, incredibly professional and a wonderful on-set presence.  He so impressed that, at various points during the production, a good half dozen members of the crew approached me to ask “Is he really dead?” and “Is there any way we can bring him back?”.

Artist's concept of Ronon's original transformation.  In retrospect, maybe a little too bald.
Artist’s concept of Ronon’s original transformation. In retrospect, maybe a little too bald.
Stunt Coordinator James "Bam Bam" Bamford and Rachel Luttrell (Teyla).
Stunt Coordinator James “Bam Bam” Bamford and Rachel Luttrell (Teyla).
Mark Savela appeals for calm.  And more visual effects shots.
Mark Savela appeals for calm. And more visual effects shots.
Them playback meetings were the longest!
Them playback meetings were the longest!
Assistant Director Alex Pappas keeps the production meeting running smoothly.
Assistant Director Alex Pappas keeps the production meeting running smoothly.
The sword was so sweet that Jason ended up adding it to Ronon's arsenal.  Hey, Contracto, your handiwork?  And weren't your supposed to do a Q&A at one point?  Still interested?
The sword was so sweet that Jason ended up adding it to Ronon’s arsenal. Hey, Contracto, your handiwork? And weren’t your supposed to do a Q&A at one point? Still interested?
Down to the details.  Impressive, no?
Down to the details. Impressive, no?x
Lounging extras.
Alex Pappas on set.
Kavan Smith (aka Major Lorne)
Mr. Hewlett
Mr. Hewlett
Rodney’s bathtub.  Extra bubbly!
Woolsey settling in to his new digs.
Some of the Atlantis decor.
I need one of these for my living room.
The ever-classy Mark Dacascos.  BTW – yes, he’s made up to look like he’s just been put through the physical and emotional ringer.
The wraith pay a housecall (photo @ MGM Television)
Contacts in!
Our wraith guest kicks back with his human crew.
Uh, somebody drop this?

32 thoughts on “January 11, 2013: Days of Stargate Atlantis Past! Broken Ties!

  1. It sounds like Akemi won’t be back a moment too soon. Although, I do the 0/10 on the to-do list thing all the time. So much so, that it doesn’t even stress me out anymore. Eh, there’s always tomorrow. And if there isn’t, it’s someone else’s problem!

    I just re-watched “Broken Ties” yesterday, including the DVD commentary (which you and Jason did!) and it reminded me that indeed, it was probably one of the best episodes of the series. Everything was excellent, acting, music, directing, the VFX and (of course!) the writing. It’s a reminder of why I friggin’ miss this show so much. Your occasional reference to working on “the movie” kind of made me sad, though. What might have been…

    That wall thing probably was one of the things auctioned off – if so, I bet it went for a pretty penny. I was amazed that I won that wall sconce on eBay – for $150! I don’t know how that happened, but I’m glad it did. I love it.

  2. Hey Joe, a quick question which I’m sure you’ve answered before but I can’t remember so please answer it today and don’t wait for your next Q & A because who knows when that will be. Howzat for a sentence?

    Who came up with the design for Atlantis? I love it.

    The photo of the Wraith hanging out with the human crew is excellent, but had I been standing there, I would have been scared shitless. 🙂

    Personally, I loved Jason in everything he did, and I think he would have looked gorgeous bald. 🙂

  3. Late-onset ADHD – I wouldn’t have the heart to suggest a food intolerance to a foodie. Maybe it’s just brain damage from the migraine.

    My husband and I think Alex looks a lot like my husband’s dad.

  4. Jason was great in this one! I never liked the Wraith addiction theme though, I thought it took away free will and lessened the importance of Todd’s bond with Sheppard. But the performances in this episode were great.Jason was awesome! And I do love me some Iron Chef! As a Sheppard fan, what’s not to love about double guns and Shep on his knees! That last part where John hands Ronon the sword and the music that went with the montage were excellent.

    (I can kind of see you aren’t mentioning Sheppard much in these look-backs, but after all these years is it still too difficult to discuss?)

  5. PS – If the choice was dreads or bald, I’d keep the dreads. But Jason’s natural hair was extremely good looking for Ronon, I wish he didn’t have to wear that heavy wig.

  6. ok, get some rest (like a playback meeting) and start a fresh day tomorrow.
    ~thanks for the pictures.

  7. 1. Let us know if Akemi made it home okay!

    2. Joey – why, O WHY, do you pick ‘my episodes’ to review when I am in Pendergast mode? Don’t you know by now I have a truly one track mind and cannot easily switch between obsessions like everyone else? It makes my head hurt!!

    3. Okay – I’m just gonna say it. I *hate* you for killing this Wraith! Rhys – that’s what we called him (such a nice, warm and fluffy – and Welsh! – name) was a terrific character. We don’t get to know many Wraith, and this one could certainly have been fleshed out even more. He could have been taken (ALIVE, avec sucky palm!) to Atlantis, where he could have set up his own Dr. Feelgood’s Chest Massage Parlor. Just imagine the queue of eager clients (and we KNOW Sheppard would be first in line! 😉 ) waiting for a friendly little suck n’ puke! The possibilities were endless…until you ended it. 🙁

    4. In view of the fate of the aforementioned Wraith, and the lack of Wraith swag stashed away in your crawlspace, I’m starting to think you’re a bit prejudiced …a Wraithist, as it were. 😉

    5. Sorry for the last two posts…Pendergast has me tied up in knots…and not in the good, sexy way, but in a good, Elricesque way. I tell ya, there’s angst…and then there’s Penderangst. 😛 (Which still has a ways to go to reach Elricangst, but it’s getting there…)

    6. No, on second thought, not sorry for posts 3 & 4….*dusts off voodoo Joey dolly*

    7. Hey, Mallozzi? I sure hope you do have Prep H in that medicine cabinet of yours… ’cause yer gonna need it! *Doink!* 😈

    Otherwise, have a good evening, sir! *Tosses Joey a donut pillow* See? Even I can show mercy… 😉


  8. Ah, one of those days indeed! That’s when the brain knows it has only one more day before the glue of the operation returns–the woman! I hope by now you’ve gone and gotten Akemi and are enjoying this evening. I’m sure she thinks Vancouver is HOT compared to where she has been. Hope she had an uneventful flight home.

    This was one of my favorite stories. I’m a sucker for intense Bam-Bam and his team’s stunts, too. I’m sure, too, that even the die-hardest (is that a word?) fan would miss some of the beautiful detailing that went into every episode to give it a feel of authenticity. It’s always great to be surrounded by people who put such quality into their work because they take great pride in what they do. I’m not sure I even noticed the details in that sword because it always seem to be in motion in this episode. It’s a shame that the network wouldn’t allow for Jason’s hair to be cut (or go bald) because I think the fans would have been fine with it especially knowing how much pain it caused him. The story would have been the perfect timing as well.

    It’s been great to see Mark Dasascos pop up on Hawaii Five O. But they haven’t utilized him to his fullest this season, which is a disappointment. Jeff and I have a running joke when watching those episodes that in every single episode, Steve & crew bust down someone’s door only to not find the person they are looking for. Very few exceptions to that rule, too.

    As far as Mandy Patinkin goes — “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” Just adore him in Homeland.

  9. oh yeah!
    yes, I would still be interested in doing a Q&A for all the weird stuff we built.

    also, conFracto, with an f, not at t.

  10. Oh darn I was going to re-watch this. I am trying to finish up my viewing of B5 before you started the trip down season 5. Boy, I am glad I was able to listen to the commentaries for SG. I have learned a lot about there camera and directing techniques. There is something missing of the above mentioned SciFi story. Not to mention the age of technology back then with stabilization and camera shakers.

  11. And maybe if you had kept Mark D. around longer, he could have gotten you a gig as a guest judge on Iron Chef America! All that yummy food (well, most of it, some of the ice cream is suspect) from Kitchen Stadium mmm If you had any influence over the Chairman’s choices, what secret ingredient would you choose?

  12. @confracto:

    Yes, please do a Q&A…I’d love to hear about the prop-works!


    I’ve had days like yours…where all my projects that I planned to get done ran into road-blocks, delays, and set-backs, so that at the end of the day I felt that I got nothing done. In my case it usually makes me more determined to get something done the next day, so keep at it; your projects will eventually get done.

    Also, I hope Akemi made it home safe (and warm)! Does she have anymore aurora pictures?

    I’ve finished my stint at CES and will be flying back home tomorrow. This week I took in a bunch of great restaurants; Michael Mina’s, Japonais, the Capitol Grille, Wing Lei, and Wazazu (the foie gras at Michael Mina’s was incredible and I was very pleasantly surprised with the quality of the sushi at Japonais…the yellowtail melted in my mouth!)

    I’ll try to get a post up on my blog this weekend (and Tam Dixon and Sparrow_hawk, I did get pictures of that 100″ laser TV; I’ll put those pics up too).

    Around the middle of next month is another trip to Vancouver…this time Barb is going with me, so we’ll be staying the weekend. I need to put together some sightseeing stops and activities, and other travel details in the next week or so. No doubt that will be fun trip.

  13. “… in one instant, on the wrong date(!)…”

    Duuhh. Are we suppose to be surprised at this or something? 😉
    Half the time you’re even in the wrong year!

  14. I loved this episode. To me, it showed a side of Ronan. That he wasn’t all unstoppable. As awesome as Jasons’ character is, he’s not immortal so it was good to see even the toughest character vulnerable. In a hidden manner it also showed that anyone can suffer some sort of addiction and that it changes them into something they wouldn’t even reckonise. That people shouldn’t give up on someone, that there is always a road back. That allso makes me think of the Rodney episode, The Shrine. Honestly that episode made me shed a tear or two…or well maybe three. lol Amazing Writing and Amazing Acting. Kudos to all of you Joe.

  15. Broken Ties. Ah, Joseph, how do I love thee. Let me count the ways…

    1. A Ronon based epic. Thank you for writing 2 of the 4 Ronon centered episodes. Thank you Robert C. Cooper for the other two. All are my absolute favorites of the SGA series.

    2. Bringing Tyre (Mark Dacascos) back. You can tell he is a nice guy.

    3. Fighting for Ronon’s shorter hair. He would have grown it out some more and he would still have been gorgeous, all naturale like. Too bad MGM panicked.

    4. Woolsey humor: Doors not opening or closing on him, holding Teyla’s baby, “Well, who do we have here?”, then panicking when he starts to cry, relaxing in a suit.

    5. Sword fights!

    6. Getting Jason to do the commentary with you. Awesome!!

    7. The final montage: Bathing Rodney, Shep giving Ronon Tyre’s sword, the music…etc.

    Where did you get that name for the planet Sucretsewer? Lorne could barely say it. 🙂 Who is the proud owner of those Ronon drawings? Lucky skunk!

  16. @Dasndanger – I don’t know if your mention of Pendergast was for the Colonel that got killed off in the SG-1 episode, Ethon. He was my favourite Colonel. Yes, even more so than O’Neill, as sacrilegious as that is. I was so disappointed when he got killed off, even if it was a noble death. Fortunately, his soul got resurrected to become General Mansfield on Eureka. He didn’t stay dead and managed to get promoted. You gotta love sci-fi.

  17. @confracto: We would love at props Q&A! I guess that means I need to rewatch some Atlantis…

    @das: You crack me up!

    @JeffW: Thanks! I’ll look forward to seeing it.

  18. Das: Are you reading the new Pendergast novel? I haven’t read Cold Graves yet. It’s been slim pickings at the library. Maybe, they haven’t gotten their new budget for the year in or something.

    JeffW: That will be fun to see (TV pictures). I’m so glad your wife gets to with you on the next trip. I hope you both have a great time!

    I don’t see the problem with Ronan’s hair. Especially, if it was making Jason sick. The storyline to cut his hair would have been great!
    If you’re giving away that severed wraith hand, I know someone that would love it. (hint: Das) I don’t want to know what she would use it for though 😉 .

    Thanks for the behind the scenes photos and stories!

    It occurred to me that your request for my address might be for a restraining order? I know my OCD gets the best of me sometimes but I promise to cut down on my posts if you just let it go. 😉

    G’day all!

  19. From Ponytail: “Duuhh. Are we suppose to be surprised at this or something? Half the time you’re even in the wrong year!”

    Psst, Joe. I think we’re actually missing the day of the month for title for this post…

    @Confracto – I would love to see a Q&A!

  20. @ Sparrowhawk – I’m so distracted by our dear Aloysius I had to pull most of that out of the old gag bag. 😛

    @ Patricia Stewart-Bertrand – Alas, no. The Pendergast of which I speak is FBI Special Agent A. X. L. Pendergast, a character created by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, and who is featured in the book Joe recently picked up, Relic. Here is Penderfan Tiffany Stafford’s fantastic take on the character (other characters snipped out for spoiler control): http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v54/dasNdanger/pendergast12.jpg

    Pretty close to how I imagine him. 🙂


  21. Made it home to Chicagoland in time for the Ravens-Broncos game. Now to just sit down and enjoy. It’s nice to have the time to watch a whole game without having to do demos 😀

  22. @ gforce – 😆 Didn’t notice. I stopped looking at the dates. Whats the point? I just look at the titles.

    @ confracto – didn’t you make that small scale baby Destiny replica? That was pure art. A Q&A would be awesome.

  23. Thanks for the pictures.

    You know (putting on my “I’m such a geek” hat) I tried watching Star Trek the Next Generation again, I don’t think they held up nearly as well as Stargate did. The special effects were not good. Not good at all. The writing was not good. The acting was so so, although they did get a good deal better. I was talking with my daughter about this this morning. She isn’t a fan of Stargate. I just don’t know where I went wrong. The first year of SG-1 wasn’t top notch but it was still much better then STtnG, and SG1 just got better and better every single year. I think I like Patrick Stewart better on Family Guy.

    I listened to the podcast The Nerdist who had Timithy Olyphant on. Great episode, very funny, first time I’d listened to The Nerdist. Every time I see his name I think of Lord of the Rings, “Look Mr. Frodo, Olyphants!”. Anyways, he was talking about Deadwood and how the series ended along with how the director works. He would have an idea one day, then the next he would change it. It made me think about how you wrote about Stargate being a well run show. I guess this is one of the reasons Deadwood was so expensive if the director was changing his mind, or perhaps didn’t have a clear or set idea of what was going to happen. And I heard it was an expensive show. As Timothy said, one day they were shooting day 15 of 11. I shudder to think how expensive the Stargate series could have been if they had been done the same way. And how short. Timothy was relating the story in a way to outline the directors brilliance, but all I could think of was how you write about Stargate, how well the people work together behind the scenes as well as in front, and how things worked better when everyone knew what was going on. Paraphrasing, of course.

    I do wish they had finished Deadwood, at least a movie.

    I’m glad to see you got Relic by Preston and Child. I remember enjoying Relic the book, but I don’t ever recall seeing the movie. Maybe that’s for the best. I think I liked Still Life With Crows better, but I also read them out of order.

    Finally, a bit late, but you asked (generally) about new years resolutions. About ten years ago I made a new years resolution never to make another new years resolution. I have kept that one ever since. I generally set goals for myself throughout the year and work towards them.

    Well, my dog has started farting again, so I have to find another room to sit in for a while. Thanks for keeping up on the blog, and sharing with us.

  24. BTW, if your still looking for contests for the Stargate handouts, may I suggest: Best episode review.
    Best new episode never-to-be-seen suggestion.
    Random chance.

  25. @ Tam Dixon – Okay – is it Cold Vengeance, or Two Graves? 😉 Just finished the their latest, the latter, and really enjoyed it a lot. I still prefer the stories where Pendergast is investigating cases that aren’t so close to home, but that’s because I’m a worrywart. 😛

    @ Mike From Canada – Nice to see there’s another Pendergast fan around! And I agree, I think Still Life With Crows is the best!


  26. This is one of my mother’s favorite episodes, she’s a huge Ronon fan. She really liked this episode because, being a former combat medic, Ronon’s detox at the end, inwhich behind-the-scenes information said that Jason broke seven gurneys doing, reminded her really vividly of soldiers detoxing from morphine or having PTSD attacks while strapped to the gurneys and tearing their leather restraints off like they weren’t even there. She was really impressed with Jason’s performance. Kudos!

  27. Oh and one more thing, I almost forgot it: With Marc D. being the host of Iron Chef America and you being a foodie, did Marc ever bring culinary goodies to the set with him or share the recipes or anything like that with you?

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