June 13, 2015: Ship-based Sf Has Returned!  Let’s Talk Dark Matter!
What’s behind the big metal door? Executive Producer Jay Firestone is about to find out!

THANK YOU to everyone who tuned in for our Dark Matter North American and Australian premieres.  I was madly live tweeting throughout the night along with many of you and I’m pleased to report we were trending in Canada and worldwide (also San Francisco and New York when I checked!).  Judging from your reactions on the various message boards, you seemed to really enjoy episode #101.  All I can say is: Wait until episode #102!

So, thank you all for supporting the show.  Thanks to David Howe, Tom Vitale, Chris Regina and the gang at SyFy PR & Marketing for all of their support as well. Thanks to the Dark Matter cast, crew, and everyone else involved in the production.  And a BIG thanks to…

June 13, 2015: Ship-based Sf Has Returned!  Let’s Talk Dark Matter!

Executive Producer (and Prodigy Pictures President) who deserves the lion’s share of the accolades for not only putting together the seemingly impossible deals that got this show to air, but assembled the pieces of the puzzle, oversaw prep, production, and post, and delivered a show that has defied expectations: when all is said and done, a fun, character-driven, ship-based scifi series.  And, judging from your feedback so far, it’s EXACTLY what you’ve been looking for.

As some of you know from my days on Stargate, I would often invite members of the production (cast and crew) to take part in Q&A sessions here on this blog.  My blog readers would post their questions in the comments section of this blog and then our guest would stop by to answer them in a dedicated blog entry.  I’d like to do the same for Dark Matter, and I think it only appropriate that our first guest be none other than Jay himself.  Having said that however, I know Jay is a busy guy and I’ve yet to clear it with him first – but with a little prodding, I’m sure we can convince him to drop by.

Soooo, start thinking about what you’d like to ask Dark Matter Executive Producer Jay Firestone.  I’ll make the Q&A official sometime this week and you can start posting your questions!

Missed Dark Matter’s first episode in the U.S.?  Go here: http://www.syfy.com/darkmatter/videos/101-episode-one

Missed Dark Matter’s first episode in Canada?  Go here: http://www.space.ca/video/player?vid=611325

Missed Dark Matter’s first episode in Australia?  Go here: http://www.syfy.com.au/video/dark-matter-s01e01

Check out the links, then check out the mailbag…

Some reactions to our opener:







Previewing the show:


ONE, TWO, THREE and me talk Dark Matter:


Melissa O’Neil chats with eTalk:


And another Q&A:


Dishing on Dark Matter:


Let’s hit the mailbag:

spalog writes: “The fan response to the show has been really great. But there have been some criticisms. Could you address them?  1. The characters feel too generic and stereotypical.”

Answer: Over the course of our 43 minute pilot, we establish the premise, establish our world, establish several mysteries (the memory wipe, the deleted data, the big metal door, the puzzle box, etc.), and introduce seven (!) different characters, none of who have any recollection of who they are or how they got on board – and thus possess no frame of reference from which to draw from.  So, yes, our crew may seem a little “sketchy” at first blush (perhaps purposely so?), but this show is all about subverting expectations and surprising the audience.  Nothing is ever as it seems.  And we have 12 more episodes to start peeling the onions on these characters.  And throw a slew of surprises your way!

“2. The Asian character has to be the one who can handle the swords.”

Answer: I’ve addressed this elsewhere but will repeat my response here.

I’ve been very up front about the inspirations for Dark Matter: comics, SF literature, film, television, and anime. The latter, Japanese cartoons for those not in the know, was a particularly big influence on the show’s development, specifically, a show called CowBoy Bebop that offered a wonderful mix of humor and scifi in it’s all too brief 26 episode run.

The sword-wielding character of FOUR is a tip of the hat to SF-themed anime, from classics like Gundam to more contemporary titles like Code Geass. Fans of the genre will no doubt recognize many familiar elements.

In creating the character, and his storyline, I consulted with many of my friends in Japan (I visit every year, am a student of Japanese culture and history, and speak Japanese – albeit like a four year old boy) and girlfriend (who also happens to be Japanese) who were absolutely thrilled at the prospect of a North American scifi series with recognizable anime trappings.

So, all this to say, the creation of this character actually came from a place of respect.

But why, you may ask, does he have a sword in space?  Illogical?  Maybe.  And then again, maybe that question will be answered in time as well…

“3. Why did you cast a Filipino actor to play a Japanese character?”

Answer: As someone else already pointed out, Alex was cast because he was the best actor for the role.  I felt comfortable  doing so because the show is not a historical drama that, I would agree, would require a Japanese actor.  Our show is set some 200 years in the future, a future in which I envision an increasingly more inclusive Japan thriving as an intergalactic player.  In this setting, a “Japanese citizen” of Filipino heritage would be as common as, say, an “American citizen” of Chinese or Italian heritage.

4. The Three character is too much like Jayne from Firefly.

Answer: I’m sure all of the characters remind someone of some pre-existing character or other.  Again, we’re talking about first episode impressions (and that’s fine), but all of these characters have a long way to develop and evolve over the course of the show’s first season.  A couple of months from now, I have no doubt that each member of the crew will have established their unique personalities in the eyes of our viewers.  And, next year, when the next big SF series comes out, someone somewhere will undoubtedly say: “Hey!  That character is too much like THREE from Dark Matter!”.

scott writes: “what were into figuring out the different types of weapons/shields/armor each ship has?”

Answer: Paul and I had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to see in our hero ship.  We wanted a tough, battle-scarred vessel  with plenty of retro-fitted weaponry – compact and maneuverable to suggest it could hold its own against much larger ships.  We left artist Bartol Rendulic the freedom to design the ship based on these specifications, and he came up with a beauty.

tealc writes: “And of course like the last two seasons of sga and the only seasons of sgu the atmosphere is dark can not see anything.”

Answer: I think you need to check the settings on your t.v.  Throughout production, I worked with Director of Photography Craig Wright to ensure the darks were not oppressively so.

Joan001 writes: “But how did you get them into the “no gravity” situation?”

Answer: Oh, I’ll be sharing some videos with you in the coming days that will answer that question.

cat444 writes: “Parts of the FTL travel reminds me of how Moya travelled in Farscape. Was that intentional?”

Answer: No, our goal was to create an FTL jump, travel, and drop-out we hadn’t seen before.  The only similarity I can see to Moya’s starburst is the shield playing over the ship prior to jump.

sylvia writes: “Any Plans for more presence by Dark Matter cast, crew, writers at Dragon Con?”

Answer: Unless someone invited the cast, I don’t believe they’ll be going.

Ponytail writes: “What are the beds made of? Plywood or actual mattress?”

Answer: Oh, it’s an actual mattress.  Every time we’d be in there, Executive Producer Vanessa Piazza would be eyeing that bed, eager for nap time.

More mailbag coming your way in tomorrow’s blog entry…

22 thoughts on “June 13, 2015: Ship-based SF has returned! Let’s talk Dark Matter!

  1. “I think you need to check the settings on your t.v. Throughout production, I worked with Director of Photography Craig Wright to ensure the darks were not oppressively so.”

    Joe, my TV is a brand new, freshly calibrated 4k beauty and everything looks great and bright on it, except my recording of Dark Matter. I have no doubt it wouldn’t be as dark on Blu-ray or in your edit suite; I suspect SyFy was messing with it. Even their station bug at the bottom right was darker than white. If you don’t believe us, have someone who you trust look into it.

  2. Love all the questions and enthusiasm. I watched Dark Matter again before heading out to work tonight and caught things I had missed during my tweet-fest. I’m sure I’ll be watching it a few times.

    I bought the comics so I went back to look at them tonight and the episode stayed true to what was in the comics issues 1 and 2, That was nice.

    As far as the dream, I think she had the memories of Alex’s character Four. That one wasn’t revealed in the comics, so that is my guess.

    Since I have the comics, I know who did the memory wipe. Won’t spoil. You could have always changed it, too, from comics to script. 🙂

    Congratulations on all the success. Thank you for taking time answering everyone’s questions. I’m enjoying seeing the enthusiasm in others that we’ve been feeling since the fall.

    1. What did you mean back then? The comics didn’t reveal that. Or did you think a second Jace Corso showing up meant that One did the memory wipe?

  3. “I think you need to check the settings on your t.v.”

    I too have a brand spanking new TV and not once did I think anything looked dark. I thought everything looked beautiful. The sets looked so clean. The most beautiful, colorful (besides FIVE’s outfit) scene was the emergency in the hallways. The red lighting, flashing lights, steam, fog, sparks flying (and sound) was more beautiful than scary. And with my sound bar turned on and up, it was as if I was at the theater. Someone mention they didn’t know space made noise. I don’t know if it does or not, but there was a deep hum when the ship was moving and it sounded awesome.

  4. Dark Matter looks like Joe has been paying attention to everything the fans have been loving or complaining about over the years. I can see our laundry list being addressed in this series. Thanks for listening to the fans Joe. Thanks for staying in touch with us.

  5. EVERYTHING looks dark on my TV these days. Even before last week’s migraine, I had to adjust the brightness for about half the shows I settled in to watch. (Big-time channel flipper here, and my optometrist says my cataracts are still very minor.)

    I’m starting the debate here and now.
    Is Five’s hair BLUE 💙 or GREEN 💚 ?
    Veteran Stargate fans will recognize the callback. 😈

  6. Awesome, thanks for answering my question Joe! Waiting in anticipation for the next episode is killing me. The last time I was on the edge of my seat eagerly awaiting the continuation of a series must’ve been… 10 years ago… back in the Star Trek Enterprise and Atlantis days. I remember FOX airing episodes of Atlantis out of season order, and then wondering when new eps would return. But then again, that was when we last had light-hearted ship-based sci-fi on television, so it’s a testament to how well you’ve brought that back in Dark Matter. SGU was also good, but because of the darker tone and atmosphere, I think that’s why it didn’t really fall into the same type of category of show… even though the humorous moments with RDA, Hewlitt and Blue were fantastic. And that one line Colonel Young said near the end of the second season… “What am I, Captain Kirk?” That made me laugh.

    Also interesting how in Dark Matter, you’ve named the episodes, “Episode One”, “Episode Two”, etc. instead of giving each episode its own unique name. I think it’s actually better this way, because it doesn’t give away potential spoilers about what happens in the episode before it airs.

  7. Great questions – especially that first one. Another creator might have scoffed and gotten overly defensive, but you took the time to answer each component thoughtfully. FWIW, my favorite character in the pilot is probably Two. But there’s something to like about each character, which is always a plus.

    I am fully on-board with this show and it brings a smile to my face to have a scifi block on Friday. Defiance was pretty good, too, and I’m excited to try Killjoys next week.

  8. My Question: The computer didn’t have Five’s records. Will that be revealed later or is she going to be a mystery?

    The race issue didn’t bother me. That far into the future, I bet we’ll be more of a melting pot.

    As for the question, But why, you may ask, does he have a sword in space? In marital arts we use obsolete weapons all the time. We learn weapons katas (forms), and it’s a matter of tradition. We compete with weapons katas, we train with them and it’s fun! Why wouldn’t people in the future train for marital arts in a similar way we do now? It’s not like we do a lot of sword, nunchuck, or bo fighting on the streets in this century either. I suspect the originator of that question never had any marital arts training. It’s a great form of exercise and the actor made it look easy, which it’s not! Wonderful job, Alex! 🙂 He was so graceful and effortless. Muscle memory at it’s finest.

    Ponytail: How are your parents? My dad would have been lost without my mom. 🙁 Did you get your mom in the rehab place? I’m glad you found a good one.

    baterista9: I’ve heard Five’s hair color described as teal.

  9. Joe, just finished viewing episode 1. Thanks for the links without which I could not have watched. Yes I could see some influences from the previous series like the opening cut of the ship in space, but transitioning inside brings the realization of a differing event transpiring. I am trying to figure out ONE . He was the first to be awaken but was quickly bounce by TWO (a box of Tim Hortons to the one who created TWO’s wardrobe) who assumes over all command. (I thought the ship was awakening the members as to their importance to the situation.) I too had some difficulty in viewing due to the darkness of the ships interior. I thought as you mentioned it had to do with the transmitting medium as your stills seem to have a brightness (luminescence) to the set.

    As I have been reading your blog and your discourse as to the development of the series, I was not surprise or concerned as the the make-up of the cast. You kept no secretes except for the music. A quick note: my girlfriend (Thai) and I were in a restaurant in Hong Kong. She was conversing with the waitress and made mention of Asians and tan skin (as opposed to the the “pasty” white male). The waitress replied with some indignation, “I do not have tan skin; I have yellow skin.” I guess Tony Jaa (Phanom ) was unavailable for the series? In your description of THREE I thought of “Jayne” too, but I thought you created THREE as smarter until he took a shot at the door. Why were there no alarms in the command center or with the Android? Speaking of which I like Zoie’s characterization of the Android, I did smile as she has a doe-eyed whimsical look that has the appearance of non threatening. Threaten her at your own risk. Is the eye closing thing a permanent element?

    In one of the fractured screen shots near the end, was that David Hewlett?
    Oh, as Scott mentioned about the episode names, will you and the producing staff have any episode names in mind?

  10. Hi Joe,
    This is totally unrelated to the above post (I haven’t watched DARK MATTER yet, have to wait for a re-run). Just wanted to let you know that I will use your photo of Louis Ferreira and his dog Charlie on his Home Page this month (updates will show up on June 20th) at http://www.louisferreira.org . Of course I’m giving you full credit as usual. Charlie passed away a few weeks ago. He was such an icon on the Stargate Universe set, I thought you might like to know. If you have any more photos of Charlie or memories of him that you’d like to share please contact me and I will include them on Charlie’s page. I hope your own fuzzy babies are doing well.
    Best wishes,

  11. Hi Joe
    Once again, congrats on a great little program. I searched online to see how well you did, but alas, no luck. Can you let us know the numbers as soon as you can? Both U.S. and Canadian.

  12. Hey Joe
    I have a question. What was that see through box thing that #5 was playing with? You know when she was switching things around in it, closed it up and then it lit. There was no further mention of it, is it something for a future episode?


  13. While it’s not SGA … the way the episode was setup, action, character development, plot development .. reminds me of SGA.

  14. I missed the premier so planned to watch lIst night on my Fire in bed. Well, it appears that SyFy hasn’t optimized their site to allow viewing on Fire devices. That is just one more questionable move on SyFy’s part. I thought with the presentation of a real sci-first show after their stupid wrestling/reality stuff, they’d gotten smarter. Guess they are still intent on chasing viewers away.

  15. @ tinamarlin – Do you mean lives long and takes no prisoners? Lives long like a prisoner? Lives long and catches many prisoners? Lives long and sets free all prisoners? Lives long and holds the audience prisoner?

    hehehe 😆

  16. Crap! The damn fire uses auto correct and changes words that weren’t incorrect. Obviously it was supposed to be ‘prospers’. AND you don’t see it when you hit ‘send’. I hate that our technology treats us like ignorant fools.

    (Having just had to reconfigure a new computer and move files, it makes me crazy that they try to hide the file structure of the computer, thus I have to ‘un-hide’ it all and that takes forever sometimes. That is necessary when moving data files from programs on the old computer. Grrrr… They assume everyone is an idiot. )

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