Over the course of my 11+ years on the Stargate franchise, I heard my fair share of freelance pitches – some of them good, most of them fine but not quite what we were looking for, and a few of them truly horrible. In the first case, kudos to those writers who were able to step up, well into the franchise’s run, take into into account Stargate’s immense mythology, and come up with an engaging, original idea that hadn’t been done yet (by us or Star Trek). In the second case, thanks for trying and, while it didn’t work out, we fully appreciate that coming up with an original idea for this series is a daunting task. In the third case, what the hell were you thinking?
What follows are some of my favorite from the latter category. Worst. Pitches. Ever!
1. Tee-alc gets separated from the rest of sgi while on an off-world mission. When O’Neil, Daniel, and Carter step through the gate, they end up trapped in another dimension where they must try to avert a nuclear showdown between India and Pakistan.
* Dude, seriously. If you’re going to pitch for our show, do us the courtesy of at least watching an episode. sgi? Tee-alc? Another dimension? Indian and Pakistan?
2. SG-1 visits a barren world, seemingly devoid of life. While investigating the ruins of a long-dead civilization, the team is captured by a race of subterranean-dwelling humans obsessed with Earth’s pop culture. Their captors are a bizarre mix of cowboys, gangsters, and guys in Beatle wigs.
* This pitch might have worked for Star Trek. Fifty years ago. Maybe. But probably not.
3. The sequel to A Hundred Days.
* Great idea, but suggesting you want to do a sequel (with no tangible idea outside of the fact that you simply think it would be a great idea in the most general sense) to an episode you didn’t write in the first place isn’t going to land you that writing gig.
4. One by one, members of the Atlantis expedition begin to pop out of existence. Where do they disappear to? What is happening? No idea.
* It’s all about set-up and pay-offs. Anyone can come up with the intriguing mystery. Coming up with the solution is, as Martin Gero informed the prospective writer: “What we pay you for.”
5. Carter is kidnapped by a race of men who require her for breeding purposes.
* Curiously, we’d get a variation of the “Gangbang Carter” pitch every season or so.
6. Teal’c is captured and forced to take part in a blood sport arena combat…to the death!
* Ah, the good old arena episode. It never gets old. Apparently.
7. SG-1 are the victims of a heist. Their attempt to track down the powerful stolen artifact takes them to space stations, Star Wars-like alien cantinas, and a dangerous trek across a dessert planet, culminating in a confrontation with a powerful army.
* Yep, the budget for the entire season should just about cover the costs of this epic story. If this one was ever produced, the ensuing episodes would have had to be radio plays.
I’m sure that this sort of thing isn’t confined to film and television. I’m sure you’ve all been privy to your fair share of truly terrible ideas. So let’s hear ’em!
37 thoughts on “May 15, 2013: Worst. Pitches. Ever!”
“Curiously, we’d get a variation of the “Gangbang Carter” pitch every season or so.”
That’s really disturbing. Did you ever get the pitch where it’s the same thing, only it’s the guys? Because that would probably be a lot more amusing. Although I’m pretty sure Futurama already did that episode.
You know what would be fun? Let us pitch ideas for SG1/SGA/SGU and comment on the particularly awful/great ones as appropriate. I mean, the shows are over, so it’s not like you could be accused of stealing any of them.
Hmmm…most of the bad ideas I’ve come across have been engineering related and I’m not sure this is the right crowd. 😉
The rest of the bad ideas have usually been my own…
We’re doing a yard project too. We’re leveling a section of the yard for a new above ground pool, and like you, I have some long forgotten muscles that are now protesting their recall from semi-retirement. We’re hoping to have the pool up and running for Memorial Day.
i’m reading the ‘stargate:atlantis legacy series’ of novels, which i’m VERY much enjoying.
there was a quote in the 4th book that grabbed my attention for the franchise – “Once we lose the national will to do something, it doesn’t matter if we could do it.”
taking out the ‘national’ part (because it pertained to the story of the book), the quote fits rather well for what i feel is going on with all of the franchise (very much including the fans).
at least mgm had the stargate: unleashed game made, but…
to me, there should be a combo movie. or even take the ‘sga: legacy’ series of books and make it a mini-series. would make AWESOME tv!!
i wish everyone hadn’t given up…
Clearly the people who made those pitches weren’t actually writers Joe. For one, anyone with a tiny iota of writing talent wouldn’t even consider pitching those ideas, unless they’ve downed a dozen or more glasses of whiskey prior I’d imagine lol
Speaking of the pitches
1. Dreadful idea aside, the alternate dimension thing has been done already with the quantum mirror.
2. I can only assume whoever came up with that was high.
4. Dreadful idea
5. Dreadful idea, perverted too. Whoever pitched that likely hasn’t lost their virginity yet.
6. I sorta like a Teal’c arena idea, but you’d have to fit it into the story. Come on Teal’c has some great fighting skills :)(Certainly it would of kept the Stunt team busy..)
I can’t tell you how many brazing customers would grit-blast the surfaces they wanted brazed together using grit that effectively masked the flow of the brazing alloy. Oh, did you mean story ideas that were bad?
I’m the source of a lot of very bad ideas, it’s just a matter of knowing who is safe to bounce them off of while I’m sorting through them.
It wasn’t my idea, but you shouldn’t name fighting units for a game after species of sea life. Names like “barracudda” and “shark” run out fast. Now what’s left?
I once had to edit something so grossly misogynistic out of someone else’s story. The male protagonist had just lost all his men to an ambush due to a woman taking charge and making insanely incompetent decisions that overrode his advice. In that moment, when he should have been looking at her with more disdain than any human being he’d ever gazed upon, as the sea around them still ran red with his men’s blood, he ogled her.
Really? Isn’t that just the worst of “what women are for”, that anything she does is irrelevant because … boobs? What’s worse is that maybe the ogling was indeed his way of expressing disdain. It was an extremely well-written story otherwise, which makes it even creepier to know that it couldn’t have been a whoopsie daisy plotting mix-up because he was in such full control of the message he conveyed.
There was another writer who had wonderful ideas and wrote his stories fast and colorfully, but he had some idea that more words were better. I could consistently cut his word count in half without losing anything, not a story turn, not even the voice, by simply deleting the last half of every paragraph. And then I could cut even more after that. And he persisted in that notion, only being tolerated for how fast he cranked it out and my willingness to hack at it.
As bad as they come, or worse…
** SHOTGUN SALLY: SG-1 on a road trip against the clock with bonkers boffin (a Brit) they must protect and bring to Command, but he – she! – has a secret suitcase nuke bomb all packed and tidy.
** HIGHEST BIDDER: SG-1 ambushed by henchmen of rogue archaeologist to bag a mysterious chevron found at Lake Titicaca, but must break out and stop him before the possibly powerful artifact is auctioned off.
** MIDAS TALE: Lured by fabricated UFO reports to a country descending into chaos, SG-1 is forced by the dictator who called for help to instead use ‘their technology’ – mobile wormholes, portals…stuff!! – to spirit away the gold from his bank, and his family, before the economy, currency, government and society collapses.
set ’em up, shoot ’em down. Fire at will!!
C’mon Joe. You must have the inside gossip. What are they really moving from New York to Chicago?
Making Allegra/fexofenadine an OTC medication and then selling the 12-hour/60 mg strength in 12-packs only. When one must take antihistamines daily, like “Daniel Jackson”, quantity is as important as quality. (Fortunately, I was able to switch to Zyrtec/Cetirizine for as good, if not better, relief.)
“World’s Worst Tenants” on Spike cable network (USA), features some AWESOMELY bad ideas:
–Using a dry hot tub as a fire pit
–Glass-blowing studio in apartment kitchen, complete with blowtorch. The 80-year-old lady was making glass sex toys.
–Converting an upstairs apartment into an organic garden
For more terrible ideas, see:
Bad news: this site is now archived and no longer chronicling the worst ideas on etsy.com and other websites.
Good news: The blogger has moved on to bigger and better (?) things.
The two worst movie pitch ideas/spec scripts I ever had shown to me (in complete seriousness…):
1. “Run With Me” Genre: drama. Logline: A dissolute, wife-swapping, diabetic billionaire finds redemption through marathon running.
This was a script. By a writer who actually had an agent. It contained a truly memorable sequence where the billionaire and his wife traveled by gondola to a romantic riverside restaurant. There, they had a heartfelt conversation about having a second child. She wanted one, he wasn’t sure – but over the candle-lit dinner, he finally realised how much it meant to her and that he was ready to take that step.
They clasped hands over the table and stared deep into each others’ eyes – then a naked midget jumped up on the table and yelled “OK everybody, let’s get the orgy started!”
2. Untitled teen musical movie pitch. It’s High School Musical. Except instead of the musical, there’s clog dancing.
At the end, after the heroine and hero win the big clog dancing championship (and, if I recall, save their small town in the process), the entire cast clog dance out of the town hall and down main street under the end credits.
Gang bang Carter ideas in every season! Priceless! Did you get any Slave Sheppard or Ronon suggestions? Amazonian women who wanted men to perpetuate their line? So, no male gang bang pitches then. There couldn’t have been many women writers pitching then…
As for the idiot who pitched the idea of the Atlantis crew disappearing. How hard was that answer – duh! Either think Back to the Future, or, one of the team hallucinating due to being drugged by the one of the bad guys (I liked the aliens we met in the Daedalus Variations.) They could have followed the signal, and eventually (in season 6) found the time zone they’d come from. Following on from that they abduct one of them during a mission and the unaware team member would then be used (in his plight to get home) to give them the codes to take over the city. Of course, they would realise what was happening just in time…
Okay…that probably joins one of those horrible pitches, but what I can I say? It’s still early in the morning for me!
I laughed so hard! Thanks for sharing!
Not the worst but people keep pitching that I should write a book!! LOLOLOL…. ah if they only knew me!
Although I did agree to help write a kids book…does that count?… YIKES!!
An idea to offset that last one which would have blown the budget would be an episode that they are in the dark for the whole time. No power, no flash lights, no emergency power… but alas the show Revolution came out! 🙂
Oh, ok, beam me up Joe,, all I can say is “my eyes,,my eyes”,, if I had to read those pitches. I don’t envy the writers having to peruse them, and maybe on the off chance there was something usuable. Time well spent?!? ACK! Break out the jack daniel and maybe I could get thru them. But might not remember. …And if they provided desserts with their ideas…hmmm. food for thought…
… Wait up… ..
Stargate Radio Plays!?
.. I could get on board that idea!
Get Big Finish involved, they’ve been great with Doctor Who..
… … hmmm…
Big Finish have been doing Stargate stuff! How have I not known about this!!!!
I dunno, Tee-alc in a Beatles wig in an arena? For breeding purposes, which would create a great army which would stop a nuclear war? Then the team could have drinks in a cantina on Cowboy Gangsta World.
Most of my ideas involved pissing off the Ancients, can’t keep a plucky Earthling down genre. Which was nothing new.
Off on a tangent about folks not getting the gist of things… when playing D&D, we had one DM who was heavily into er, altered states. Our characters were barraged with magic mushrooms, potions, fairy dust, and mystical hookahs. Hard to quest while stoned. Which makes me wonder, surely you got some SG1 ganja/herb pitches? It has to be out there. I don’t have the stones to go look in the fanfic universe, that is a weird place.
I have these experiences in my field of expertise daily but as JeffW say is not funny relate out of context.
But Joey if you wish fun please open a contest of pitch anithing about stargate here and you see what is a worst pitch ever…. 😆
Curiously I’d like to see the India Pakistan alternate universe thing, a bit like Sliders, perhaps as an Outer Limits story or similar. Not Stargate.
I’m not a hardcore fan, but I have to say that there are few episodes across the series and seasons which can be described as “weak” or “failed” by most fans, in the way that one episode of BSG is generally described, for example. No episodes were as bad as these potential franchise killers!
4 is like the STNG episode “Remember Me” which sort of worked, 20 years ago.
Hey sounds like a fun blog competition idea; get your readers to submit their worst ideas for a stargate episode. I’m sure you could come up with a suitably bad prize for the….um…..winner.
As for the pitches….
1. Now that would have worked so much better if it were a custard pie fight between San Marino and Sweden…..
2. 2 would have been great if he had only pitched that the cowboys and gangsters were the ones wearing the wigs
3. 101 Days?
4. Wasn’t that the plot of Continuum?
5. Hmmm doesn’t exactly sound Irresistible does it?
6. I quite like the sound of that actually.
7. Or you could have shot it at Disneyworld. Same difference.
@ JewffW – My project involves a patio. I can’t afford a professional job as I have a large area to do (25 foot long by anywhere from 8 to 14 feet deep). We have very hard ground, so I figured I’d just ‘shave’ off the grass and plop the stones down. Well, Mr. Das did a bit more than shave off the grass, which was nice, but now I have a lot more work with leveling and all. I have a few roots to work around and I wanted to leave them because I wanted a ‘rustic’ look to the patio with some broken stones worked around the roots. I didn’t want a perfect, clinical look, but Mr. Das decided it would be better to cut them out, so now I have a lot more leveling to do AND softer ground. I’m not putting down the concrete gravel that’s recommended or using a pounder-thingy – I’ve done this before and haven’t needed all that fancy stuff. BUT now that everything’s been disturbed, I am concerned I’ll get more settling than I was planning for (usually the settling occurs over the first two years, then after that you have a nice, old timey-looking patio, with some ‘wave’ to it, but still smooth).
Anyways, we’ll see how this goes. The stones are just the cheapy 12″ square red things, but they’ll do. Mostly we’re doing it to cut down on the amount of dirt we track in the back door, and to provide an area for my potted plants and for sitting so that we don’t have to move the chairs and pots every time we mow the grass. I want to encourage moss to grow between the cracks (which shouldn’t be a problem since we have a lot of moss anyway, and lots of shade, too), and might leave a couple ‘holes’ to plant low-growing herbs or ground cover. Hubby wants it looking like a textbook patio, but I think in the end he’ll be happy with what I come up with.
In other news, I suddenly have an ant problem. I’ve never had an ant problem. Sure, I get the occasional ant, maybe even a few, but they soon go away and I never see them again. Now, I don’t leave food out, and I keep my countertops clean, but we do have cats and their cat food does sit out sometimes. Not sure if that’s why this is happening, or if it’s just a spring thing, but I look up at the little open cubby above my sink, nicely decorated with blue Japanese…and German… 😕 … cups and pots (I think I’ll call it the Axis cubby…), and see ants. Not just ants, but ants…with eggs! Just a small bunch, right on the shelf. Now, I clean off this shelf weekly as part of my house cleaning routine, so it’s not like there’s goo or anything up there to attract them. Next to the shelf is my spice cabinet, and so I cleaned that out (which I just did about 2 months ago), and sure enough, way in the back corner were a few more. I have no idea where the queen is…I started to suspect they were in my coffee pot, but now I’m guessing they are between the walls somewhere. (The reason I figured the coffee pot was because in the office we once had a colony of ants commandeer the fax/copy machine – it was literally infested over a weekend. These buggers work FAST!)
Not sure if anyone else is having a problem with these small dark ants, but they are a growing nuisance around here. I love ants and find them fascinating, but not when they’re moving their brood into my house! It breaks my heart to have to kill them (and I confess to scooping as many of them up as I can and tossing them outside…as if that does any good 😛 ). My neighbor has a problem, too, and my parents are just overrun with them, to the point they need an exterminator twice a year (and they still keep coming back). Not sure what type they are, maybe odorous house ants, but I haven’t noticed any foul smell when they’re squished. Pavement ants are my next guess. If they don’t disappear soon, I’m going to have to call in a bug guy, but I hate using chemicals around the house. Ugh. I hate when this sort of thing happens.
Well, if watching the series of superhero movies has taught me anything, it’s that some of these writers can slip through the cracks!
In regards to number 5; Who the hell thought that something that gross and disturbing would ever be accepted by the writers? Once a season you guys got pitched that? I’m sure it got worse on Atlantis due to its higher number of female cast. Man…
A movie where about five or six generic horror movie characters go out to stay at an isolated cabin in the woods to drink, party and have sex. Soon they are being chased by redneck zombies. But lets throw in a twist and have a group of demon worshipping scientist actually controlling everything so that they can start the apocalypse. We’ll throw in a really big name star as the demon priestess.
Oh wait, that did get made into a movie. My bad, or rather their bad.
Robot Chicken should do a Stargate episode, or two or three or four. Since they haven’t, I’m going to assume they don’t care or couldn’t get permission without having to pay a boatload of money.
Dasndanger: The Axis cupboard? Do little nazis come out and talk to you?
Ants: buy some borax (20 mule team borax), mix with an equal part of icing sugar. You don’t need a lot, say a 1 tablespoon each. Max sure both are mixed really well. Find a spot you can put it where the ants are but away from food, out of reach of children and pets and such.
Take a quarter of it, mix in a little hot water and mix it up, put it in a shallow container like a small yogurt lid and place that in the path of the ants.
They take it back to the nest and feed each other and the queen. They die, your happy. Just keep it away from animals and children and your food. I don’t think it’s terribly poisonous to people and animals, but it’s always good policy to play it safe.
You can also get Diatomaceous Earth, a very fine powder made up of the fossils of microscopic sea creatures. Spray in walls and floor cracks where the ants come or go. It’s safe, non poisonous, fireproof, won’t mold. It works by getting under the insects shell connections, puncturing holes from which the dehydrate from and die. They must walk through it to work. If you can spray the next it works well.
Use the rest of the borax in your washing machine, add an ounce or two shot glass worth to 1 L hot water, mix and add to the wash water when it’s full. It makes a difference, especially my whites, underwear and such.
I need your help Mr. Malozzi, or the help of this community.
I’m running a dungeons & dragons style of Stargate game. My player are in season 6 of SG-1, during the time Anubis has is superweapon. They are playing a group named SG-21.
In my story they received a “call” from an asgard who’s ship battling (and loosing) against Anubis, asking them to go to the nearest planet and evacuate them. The twist : Just before going throw the wormhole, there is a flash. On the other side, the asgard is crashing on that planet and he has activated a time bubble englobing the planet and the gate.
So, my players will pass throw the gate and fly out at a very high speed (elapsed time). The portal will stay open because they will pass 5 days there and on earth it will be only 5 seconds. They will find what’s going on and they will save the day (rescuing little population)…
But that’s my problem : how ? any suggestion ?
@alternate dimension thing has been done already with the quantum mirror.
D’oh. Just realized my mistake with that comment. It wasn’t an alternate dimension, it was an alternate UNIVERSE lol
Bah this sciencey stuff is confusing at times, but thinking about it, it was done a few times in SG1, namely in that episode where those weird creature like things were essentially bleeding into our ‘dimension’.
And in Arthurs mantle lol. Not to mention that cloaking thing used to hide from the Ori priors.
@there are few episodes across the series and seasons which can be described as “weak” or “failed” by most fans
Emancipation from Season 1 does that to me. To me this is easily one of the worse SG1 episodes ever made, and it simply did not belong in Season 1. Pity Joe and Paul wern’t involved with SG1 from the start, perhaps we could of avoided this episode entirely lol
Das: That sounds wonderful (new patio)! I’m trying to make a new walk way and doing it by myself. Hubby/son are always busy these days. So I’m digging a little up each week when I’m feeling good and when the weather is pleasant. No hurry. It’s not terribly level unfortunately but it’s looking ok.
Ants: Mike from Canada’s suggestion sounded pretty good. I use a product called Amdro Ant Bait Killer. It’s little granules the ants take back to their nest. Works great for me. I’m not sure you can find it there. I just looked on the package and there might be some restrictions in certain areas of the United States. Anyway, you can check your local hardware store. http://www.lowes.com/pd_112899-1321-100500034_0__?productId=3009171&Ntt=amdro&pl=1¤tURL=%3FNtt%3Damdro&facetInfo=
Please post pictures when you’re done?
Terrible ideas? One of my brother’s friends used superglue to fix a part in his truck engine. The gas melted the glue and it went all through his engine. That didn’t turn out well. That was kind of the story of his life though.
My oldest brother had a friend (when they were 16ish) who was drinking and horsing around on some kind of tiling farm equipment. It was a closed casket.
Another terrible idea is watching a friend marry someone you know isn’t that great. For example, the groom has had four previous marriages, several children (he doesn’t keep up child support) AND he was convicted of domestic assault. That kind of bad idea. It should be obvious but ….
On another subject. I got signed up to be part of the “Nielsen Viewing Family”. After talking to the rep, I’m really kind of shocked. I was told not to put the show I’m watching if I stream it on the internet. I’m supposed to say “Internet Viewing” and leave it at that. We were hoping to butch up ratings for some Sci-fi shows but we don’t watch a lot of live TV. I’m not sure if Nielsen will want to keep us after a week of DVR and internet viewing. No wonder we lose so many good Sci-fi shows!
ok, this is fun! my go:
Carter and Teal’c are stuck in an elevator in the SGC, due to an unknown problem. All they hear is Jack calling Carter into the gate room, the all goes dark inside the elevator and silence radio ensues.
Sam tries to open up the doors using Teal’c’s mobile phone to see the wires, but the battery suddenly dies.
They have to wait it out. Teal’c begins to tell Sam about his childhood and about the Goauld oppression on his people. Carter is initially not that interested and tries to think of a way out still, but then Teal’c speaks of his first love story, which gets Sam’s attention.
Teal’c tells her that he always loved this woman (Laurene), who was promised to him since before his birth. She chose to lead a separte life as they grew up, and Teal’c married and had Raiac. However his love for Laurene, revealing how being apart from her all his life has affected him and how a part of him wishes to be with Laurene. However Laurene always rejects him, not because she does not love Teal’c, but because she does love him, and wishes for him to experience all the possibilities life has to offer him with the SG1 team. While she remains on Tchula’k, serving the local system lord.
Jack arrives and manages to open the door of the elevator, which leave Sam impressed. Jack explains that there was an attack from the replicators, but that he managed to zat them with the replicator zating device. the lights are restored, leaving the episode end with Sam thinking looking at Jack 🙂 ta da!
ok.. have no pity for my story and me now! 🙂 lol
i can hear the 3d section comig my way… at least it would be a cheap episode! which could work on radio too! 🙂
“SG-1 visits a barren world, seemingly devoid of life. While investigating the ruins of a long-dead civilization, the team is captured by a race of subterranean-dwelling humans obsessed with Earth’s pop culture. Their captors are a bizarre mix of cowboys, gangsters, and guys in Beatle wigs.”
SG-1 would visit the SyFy channel? (/rimshot)
I am always amazed by the people who couldn’t bother to do an hour’s worth of research (or potentially, some simple spellcheck) to discover team names or determine that Ori isn’t pronounced “oreo”.
Carter, Daniel and Teal’c all frantically search for a way to discover the technology that legendary old west novelist Ernest Pratt used to enable him to switch places in time with Col. Jack O’Neill. Will the team get back the Jack O’Neill they once had or will they be permanently stuck with Pratt?
Sg-1, SGA, and SGU team up to rid the galaxy of the new overlords (MGM) who are trying to mess with the quantum entanglement in the multiverse. If they succeed, the program will be dismantled forever or worse, never existed at all. It’s up to Rush to get cracking on that God signal to make MGM believe it is worth keeping them funded, while SGA finds exact copies of some of the MGM executives on another planet thus realizing the folks at MGM had been infiltrated by evil clones made in one of the alternate dimensions. (okay I think that may have been part of one of the Star Trek TNG storylines. They swap them out so that they will continue to fund the program, averting disaster when pissed off fans go on a rampage, chain themselves to an MGM executive instead of a tree, and as terms of surrender, they will cease talking about every line of every story, thus driving them insane. In the end the fans of the program win and the Stargate program will be the longest running show ever in the history of time, THE END
Every year in the spring I have the same incredibly terrible idea. I go outside and tend my flowerbeds and plant flowers and I think to myself – “Oh gosh I love working in my yard and isn’t it beautiful and so worth all the effort!” and then inevitably I break out all over with poison ivy because I am highly allergic and because this stuff hides among the Virginia Creeper that sprawls so beautifully along my fences.