Huzzah!  A big 13 page writing day now puts me on P. 51 of my new pilot.  And, potentially, a little too long.  My ballpark breakdown has been pretty spot-on so far and, if my powers of prognostication hold true, the rough first draft is going to clock in at a robust 64 pages.  I think it’s a lot of fun but my colorful supporting character risks overshadowing my protagonist.  That’s something I’m going to have to address on my next pass.

Days of Stargate Atlantis past continues with…

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VEGAS (519)

Robert Cooper coined the term “shepisodes” for these John-centered entries, and this is one of my favorites, an oh-so-different AU story that follows detective John Sheppard in his hunt for a serial killing alien.

The working title was CSI: Atlantis and, given its procedural trappings and colorful eye candy Vegas location, it’s no wonder.  Rob does a terrific job writing, directing and producing one of the high points of Atlantis’s fifth and final seasons, with memorable performances by all involved.  Joe Flanigan is perfect as the washed up detective with nothing to lose while David Hewlett delivers a what-might-have-been version of his character who is, at heart, very clearly, very much Rodney.

Great guest-performances led by Neil Jackson as the wraith-out-of-water.  And there’s even a nod to Stark Trek: The Experience compliments of actor Robert Picardo who added the inside gag while shooting.

Everyone on the production who didn’t get to go to Vegas to shoot was, of course, jealous of everyone who did.  I figured everyone had learned their lesson, so I was surprised that the next series, SGU was set on a spaceship flying through some distant galaxy.  I thought we’d all agreed on Stargate: Hawaii!

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While we were shooting Atlantis’s final episodes, fans were fighting to save the series.
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Sheppard’s sweet ride
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It looks better without the bullet holes.
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To: Das.  Love: Wraith.  The incredible Neil Jackson
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A couple of Sopranos alums guest star: Frank Vincent and Steve Schirripa.  Both were stand up guys.
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Also putting in cameos: the late Joel Goldsmith (left) and former MGM Senior Executive VP and huge Stargate supporter Charlie Cohen (middle).
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Director Robert Cooper demonstrates sleight of hand, setting up a shot and skimming some poker winnings.
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John Sheppard, P.I.

29 thoughts on “February 22, 2013: Progress report! Days of Stargate Atlantis Past continues with…Vegas!

  1. Oy! Every time we get close to the end of the series I remember the total disappointment and sadness of losing this show. (as well as SG1). Atlantis and SG1 were both getting better and better and both could have used another 5 years. I’m currently watching SG1 with Vala and Mitchell… excellent last 2 years. With the infusion of new characters, it seemed like the show “grew up”.

    I don’t know how you managed to fit all the little arcs into each show of these 3 shows (I’m including SGU as it was picking up steam when it was shut down), and blend them to seem like an hour long movie. I really miss these shows, can’t say it enough.

  2. Vegas is, hands down, my favorite episode of the series! Loved the entire thing, the performances, the story, the way it was shot, the music, the focus on Sheppard, just everything. Even though I teared up for days everytime I thought about the ending. I always prefered to believe McKay found a way to rescue this Sheppard and bring him into the program. The only think I wish would have been possible would have been to have Rachel and Jason show up somewhere, somehow.

    Anyway, Joe F was remarkable and this part just suited him to a T. David was perfect too, Rodney but with a sharper edge. I wish this universe could have been explored. Alas.

  3. Better to be long and have the agony of cutting that stumped to make it enough. But I know, it’s hard to cut material.

  4. I tend to love Stargate AU stories anyways, as you folks always seemed to handle them better than most. And this one was the most striking of many good entries. It’s the saddest show of the series, as we know what AU Sheppard might have been. great job on this one.

  5. Forget time travel. Forget giant space battles. Forget wormholes. If there was a TV show about a washed up cop (or FBI agent) that discovers a secret alien presence on Earth and his/her struggle to uncover the truth while being hampered and ridiculed by his/her colleagues and bosses I’d watch that show.

    Some of my favourite Stargate episodes are the ones set on Earth where knowledge of the Stargate program might possibly become public knowledge and catch a glimpse of what it might be like if that did happen.

  6. Vegas was one of my top favourite SGA episodes ever, and only made more painful the knowledge that it was the penultimate episode. Practically every part of it just perfect. Gah, so frustrating.

    I remember thinking at the time that it was a better CSI than what CSI had become. Still have the same thought.

    It’s sunny here today, finally!! I think I may go for a little hike.

  7. I’m breaking out my Thesaurus for this one. How many ways can you say “awesome”?

    Vegas is one of my top 5 all time favorite episodes ever! The music, both popular and Joel Goldsmith created, was awesome! The shots of the city of Vegas were beautiful! Joe Flanigan was a perfect Detective John Sheppard! That particular character would have made a great series of it’s own. The wraith, Neil Jackson, was amazing!!! Flawless choice! He was one of the most intriguing looking wraiths ever! (A TV show about John Sheppard, PI, chasing a lone, stranded wraith through the city would have been great!) Agreeing with bailey. Cooper could have found a way to get Rachel and Jason in this unique episode. Perfect opportunity for Jason sans the wig! You missed it Cooper! You missed it!! Loved the story and the CSI presentation of it! I believe Sheppard did not die. Help came just in time…so he could live on in that TV series! Fantastic ep!!!

  8. One of my favourite Atlantis episodes – I’ve always had a weakness for AU stories, as they seem to give an unparalleled opportunity to really explore the characters in more depth. Thanks for sharing!

  9. To Wraith: I know you survived that explosion. The guys who did that to you? They are not sorry. Not one bit. Did you know that most of them live in Vancouver? That’s in Canada. West Coast.

    Disguise hint: Do not dress like a tramp, or a teamster. Do, however, get a puppy and hang out in the dog park. I hear it’s an excellent way to meet dinner new people. 🙂

    Love: das

  10. This was a great episode. The only thing I didn’t like was Shep being left to die alone. I miss the series, and I was monumentally disappointed by the finale – it was far too rushed. I understand the need to tie things up, but in trying to pack everything in, it did the characters and the ending an injustice.

    Never mind, life goes on…but a few more years of SGA would have been nice!

  11. It was my favourite episode hands down. I’ve said it before a number of times, SGA showed the downside of important decisions. This one showed what it did to Shepard, but that he was still Shepard. Would he have made the same decision to go back if McKay hadn’t given him the pep talk / speech? One of the things I like, you never know. Just like you never really know if Shepard lives or dies. Of course, according to Ronon, it doesn’t matter. He isn’t the “real” Shepard.

    I think that SGA was putting out great television by the time it was shutting down. It was really a shame. SGU and SGA just goes to show, never get between a geek and his favourite TV show. And I agree with Baily, it would have been great to seen more of that universe. The flip to the alternate universe certainly opened up a whole new vista to explore.

    I saw a video with Joe Flannigan where he explains from his knowledge the decision to end SGA. He seemed rather peeved and a little bitter with the decision. I think this was after SGU had been cancelled as well. I couldn’t find any information on viewership of SGA in the last six months, compared to SGU over the last six months. I do know the viewership wasn’t all that good for SGU.

  12. Wonderful episode! Except for Sheppard’s death…oy. I remember saying to Mr. Deni the first time I saw it, “No hombre! NO ME JODAS!”. That’s how upset I was. 🙂

    Watching baby Michael/Anakin while his mom is at Jiu jitsu this morning (first time in a loooong time for her) and realizing/remembering that babies are exhausting! I do love that book “Go the F*** to Sleep”, it’s very true!

    Have a great rest of the weekend, everybody!

  13. To Joe: I thought it advisable to prepare you for an unexpected visit from an acquaintance of mine. It has been explained to me by Joh…by a friend… that, as what’s called an ‘Italian’, you are in the best position to make him an offer he cannot refuse.

    (My friend has also requested that I pass this message along to you: “This is paybacks for all the whumping.” Whatever that means.)

    I suggest that you prepare one of your ‘spare’ rooms. I know you have one, Joseph Mallozzi. You will need to stock it with an assortment of both new and antiquated electronic gadgetry. Perhaps a tablet, or two. We do love our tablets, especially when they contain all the codes to Atl…uh, nevermind. Just a tablet will do. And don’t forget the soldering gun. It may be advisable to purchase an inexpensive, what’s it called? A CD player. Perhaps along with a selection of something called Marilyn Manson, Korn, and NIN…and perhaps a little Tool. It is a ‘group’, not something found in the garage. And definitely the Queen of the Damned soundtrack. Ah, every time I hear Down With the Sickness I cannot help but to think of the one you call…I mean, Michael. You remember him, from that science ‘fiction’ television ‘show’ you worked on. Yes, that one.

    H’hum. Now where was I?

    Oh, yes…I’m of a mind that such music will strike a pleasant balance between utter hopelessness and commercial marketability, which may have a stabilizing influence, as opposed to the psychosis-inducing effects of death metal, or Lady Gaga. In fact, I’ve been informed that Lady Gaga performing death metal would turn entire populations into face-eating zombies, something that just cannot be allowed as it would decimate the food su…the human race. So never, ever mix those two genres. Ever.

    But I digress…

    No need to make up the bed or dress the windows as your guest will be bringing along his own organic nesting natural fibre bedding materials.

    Once your guest is settled in I suggest you waste no time in explaining to him what tramps and teamsters are including, but not limited to, their nutritional value vs. their social value, and point him in a direction where many will likely be on hand found. Then, perhaps, move onto undesirable tenants in desirable condominium buildings. You may even want to enlighten him about lawyers, dog killers, and how do you say it? Under-performing fantasy football teams.

    Just a warning: keep Akemi well-away from your guest. Regardless of what the two of you may think, it is proven fact the moment a female catches the merest glimpse of your guest in any variety of states of undress, she will become putty in his hands…NOT something you want to have happen, on any level. 😉

    Love: Tod… ‘das’

  14. Vegas made me dissapointed we didn’t get a season 6. Easily a good setup for more of those types of stories

  15. I was blown away with the Vegas episode but a little sad by the way life had treated Sheppard. Would a wraith be able to blend into society like that? Pretty cool idea. Oh and that desert landscape looked hot! How did the crew handle the heat or did you guys film in the cool season?

    Loved Ponytail and Das’s comments today. So many posters on this blog have such a quirky sense of humor.

    JeffW: Glad it all worked out! Did you have a favorite Vancouver restaurant this trip?

    We made the six hour round trip to return mom home today. Whew!

  16. @Tam Dixon on my favorite Vancouver restaurant this trip:

    It was a little bit of a toss up…three are near my top (L’abattoir, Zest Restaurant, and the Pourhouse). I especially liked the Bone Marrow appetizer at the Pourhouse…it reminded me of the pork bone marrow my grandmother would make as part of our “ham-bone and cabbage” meal for St. Patrick’s Day every year.

    I’ll post a blog entry with pics later in the week.

  17. A really enjoyable episode Like many of you, I do remember the good and the sad, as the series was beginning to wind down. Regardless, this is one of my favorite, although I could say the same for most of season 5!

  18. One of the most inspirational episodes, I think. My favorite episode of STAR TREK’s Original Series was the Mirror Universe episode and from there on, the Mirror Universe episodes that followed in the rest of the STAR TREK series in the franchise became highlights of the shows for me. When I watch this episode, I am absolutely giddy and giggly that Atlantis has it’s own Mirror Universe thing going on. A fantastic standout. It’s one of those things that I think should have become a season staple had the series continued on. Every Atlantis season needed a Genii episode, a Replicator episode, and a Mirror Universe episode; Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she? 😉

  19. Just curious, with this episode written and directed by Robert Cooper, how much Executive Producing do you get to do? Yes, it was one of my favorite too. I have never seen CSI so I am not able to compare. I do remember “Forsaken” and how Andy Makita used camera techniques to create disorienting illusions. Where here they used post production and lighting. I did have a quick laugh (guys don’t giggle) with the Wraith going up the escalator. IT reminded me of the Scrubs episode where the janitor was feeling disorientated. It was a fun story that explored alternate universe. It could not be the same as the episode with Rod because he had a Maj. Shepard. This episode did not have one. Here we have a story where Shepard took a different turn in the fork of the road different from when Shepard explored a crash in an illusion. Whose idea was it to have David H. play McKay on a different beat? He did not seem as obnoxious nor as hyper. It was also interesting to see he and Shepard were outfitted in similar colored outfits. Even though Shepard was in linen and McKay in cotton.
    I do remember Robert talking about loosing a shot from the “Hero” camera when Wraith went over the wall. Oh I bet he was a bit MIFFED. Yet, the scene did not loose its moment. In fact the footage might have been cut as cool but not needed. What I liked also about this ep is that the dvd version is extended. It is like other SciFi series that use their European version in their dvd sets as they are longer. The only part of the ep. I found not up to standard was the CG. The aircraft seemed not to fit. When I saw the frosted canopies of the A-10, a big question mark entered my mind. I think the big space battle was used earlier and a cost saving (nothing unusual). But, I think a quick view of youtube and that would have helped cast the scene and production. I felt it was cut out for a off the shelf sim program. Was that a production values decision?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhPwaApe4Rk

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pf_REp2rtFw

    Did Shepard survive? Not beyond the realm of possibilities. But with the setting of the sun it seemed a lengthy wait for help since the Black ops knew the location and might have been interested if any valuable remains. Props to the pyrotech guys

  20. Neil Jackson was born to be a wraith (or vampire, or sexy chauffeur), Vegas was a terrific ep, so cool. Will have to rewatch the ep. My dream show would have Mike Dopud, Neil Jackson, Christina Cox and Sarah Shahi all kicking butt and taking names.

  21. So much good to say about “Vegas”. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before, but pass some of it along to Mr. Cooper as well. Would love to see you all do CSI:Vancouver! Joe and David are great in this episode, each showing a different spin on their characters, yet still themselves. LOVED the line by Picardo about the Star Trek Experience being shut down! Classic. Personally, i was always waiting for him to say something about being a cowboy for Halloween or something of that nature. The very first thing I ever saw him in was the movie Innerspace with Dennis Quaid and Martin Short. It was one of my favorite movies as a kid.

    This was just a fantastic episode all the way around. Great homage to CSI, great location shooting(and VFX/CGI fakery), great AU storyline, great acting, great references, and it could’ve spun off a few great stories if SGA had gone 6th.

    My main questions with this episode revolved around whether or not this particular AU’s Rodney was the one who showed up in McKay and Mrs. Miller, as Rod. I don’t think so because he mentions Sheppard as being a member of the team and yada yada, as where the Sheppard in Vegas left the military after that whole fiasco Rodney talks about. But, he does mention how he met another Sheppard in another universe. I guess that would have been yet another AU…..

    Just think, you could do Stargate:Sliders and just visit all the different versions of the SG world and it’s variations. You’ve already got the mechanism: the Quantum Mirror. You could make it so the remote doesn’t work like it’s supposed to and the team just keeps going to the wrong reality. Could be fun. Could get tiresome, too.

    -Mike A.

  22. He drove a second gen Camaro . I actully have the car that he drove sitting in my driveway as well as the back up car and the one that gets shot up at the end are here as well. My son bought two of the three cars from the production company when the filming was done.. The shot up Camaro was bought from a local junk yard where it was sent to be crushed and looks pretty much like it did in that final scene. So all three cars still survive intact and are still together.

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