Alrighty. It’s been forever since I’ve done one of these, so let’s get to it. Opening the mailbag…
Egal writes: “A while back you tweeted that you gave your old stargate behind the scenes box to MGM. Is there any news on that?”
Answer: Apparently, a lot of the digital files I sent over were duplicates of much of the material already featured as special features and behind the scenes footage for the former Stargate Command. I’m still hoping they discover some gems. In the meantime, I have my own copies of the dailies from a number of Stargate: Atlantis episodes that includes cool little unaired sequences like this one –
Joanne Verbeek: “Anymore word or progress on the TimEscape project?”
Answer: Half this business is waiting for a response – which is why it’s always a good idea to keep busy with multiple projects. You know know what’s going to move forward or when. The pandemic has only served to make a slow process even slower but I’m anxious to get a response from our Canadian broadcaster and start the ball rolling by taking it out to the U.S. In the meantime, thinking of gauging prospective fan interest by letting a few of you read what I’ve got. Who’s interested in getting an early sneak peek at a sci-fi series in the vein in SG-1, Atlantis, and Dark Matter?
GForce writes: “Any further news on the Nick Cutter horror adaptation?”
Answer: Alas, our pitch trip to L.A. , while a lot of fun, didn’t result in a sale. But I’m still hopeful that, with proper timing, the project can eventually find a home.
Alisa writes: “Last year you started posting season 4 of Dark Matter to give us a little closure to how the show would have gone. You made it to episode 3 and I was wondering if you were going to continue posting how the season would have progressed. I was so sad to see the show not get picked up for season 4 and 5. There were so many question left unanswered and I know you wanted to give us those answers but sadly the network did not let that happen. Also do you think you will get a second season for Utopia Falls.”
Answer: Yes, I do plan to continue posting the Dark Matter virtual season 4 episodes. Eventually. 4.04 was going to be a Carl Binder special and I have no doubt it would have been a fan favorite. As for Uoptia Falls – I think the biggest obstacle to a season 2 pick-up at this point is the lack of an international sale. A show’s budget is made up of the licensing fees drawn from various broadcast territories and in order to move ahead with a second season of the show, the production company needs to ensure its investment in the series is covered by those sales. Once that international sale is secured, a second season pick-up becomes a lot easier. So, if you live in a part of the world that doesn’t air the show (or have friends who do), let your broadcasters know you want Utopia Falls.
Amybeth Gregory writes: “My questions are Stargate Atlantis questions- you may or may not be able to answer.
1. Why was the Destiny shaped in the form of Thor’s hammer? The Ancients had their own civilization separate from the Asgard. So why so Asgardian?”
Answer: To be honest, this is a question for show creators Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper – and, possibly, Production Designer James Robbins – since they were the ones who envisioned and designed the look of the Destiny. The fact that it was shaped in the form of Thor’s hammer might offer a clue to a bigger big picture reveal. On the other hand, it could just be a coincidence.
“2. What prevented the Ancients from using Destiny? & it wasn’t Ascension bc they were still around in physical form for Atlantis & to flee to Earth.”
Answer: I would direct all Ancient-related questions, again, to Brad and Robert who were intimately familiar with the deep history and details of the Ancients and their mythology. Got any questions about kooky time loop episodes?
“3. How far ahead had the writing gone? Did anyone actually write about who the makers of the drones were? (Us? Replicators?) or whether the crew wakes up from stasis?”
Answer: We would usually receive news of a pick-up near the end of the season, wrap production, then spend a month or two breaking stories for next season before heading off to write. In the case of SGU, we never got the chance to do any spinning so no stories were written. However, I do know that Brad had a plan for many of the outstanding storylines – as well as answers to a lot of the show’s questions, big and small.
“4. Was there an end point written re: the meaning behind the message in the fabric of the universe or were you all still up in the air (no pun) about what it meant?”
Answer: Yes, definitely. Brad revealed it to me on one of the last days, after the cancellation, and I promised not to reveal it until he got the chance to do so – hopefully in a new Stargate series.
Wishing you a speedy post-op recovery!
Rick writes: “Will a lot of the actors from SG1, Atlantis and Universe be returning for major/minor roles in the new Stargate series?”
Answer: That would be up to Brad, but I know he does see the potential in rewarding longtime fans with possible guest appearances. Time will tell.
Al writes: “I’m rewatching universe now. Are the planet builders the same race that left the pattern in the background radiation?”
Answer: If and when Brad gets that fourth Stargate series off the ground, he would be in a great position to answer that.
Kevin writes: “I hope you can answer this, but can you tell me what the third Stargate SG-1 movie, the one about O’Neill, was going to be about?”
Answer: The third SG-1 movie, Stargate: Revolution, involved the Stargate program going public and… to be honest, I don’t remember the details. I remember reading the first draft and being awed by the deep space ship battles, action sequences, and Jack and Sam dinner scene.
Fuchsia writes: “Hi there, will you be doing a list of your top 10 horror novels? I am looking for some good recs! I enjoyed reading “The Destroyers” from your thriller/mystery list. My favourite genre is horror/gothic/supernatural.”
Answer: Yes! I’ve put together a short list of about 25 and am having a little trouble narrowing it down to a Top 10 (or 12). Look for it in the coming days.
Nathan Dionne writes: “When you first joined Stargate, did you ever look back at older episodes and think how you might have done anything differently? And were you a fan of the show and had been watching it before you joined the production?”
Answer: I wasn’t really a fan of Stargate before joining the production because I had the misfortune of watching one of the worst episodes of the franchise, Emancipation, as a my introduction to the series. A year later, when my agent informed me that the show was looking for writers, I told him I didn’t think I would be a good fit. But he forwarded me three scripts – that were fantastic and immediately changed my mind about the show. As for looking back on older episodes and thinking about doing things differently – never. Certainly not an episode I didn’t write or produce.
“There were a number of planets and races, especially in the early show, that felt like they should have been revisited but never were. Like the giant aliens Daniel Jackson’s grandfather stayed with, or the fish guy that wanted to know “What fate Omoroka?”, among others. Was there any particular reason to your knowledge that some of these places were never brought up again in the show?”
Answer: Not really. At the end of every season, the writers would convene and toss around ideas for the following year, spinning and breaking, fleshing them out into full stories and outlines before going off to write scripts. When Paul and I joined in season 4, our focus, as the new writers, was to come up with new story ideas – which we did: Window of Opportunity, Scorched Earth, The Curse, Point of No Return, Chain Reaction, Prodigy, Exodus. They, for the most part, had only tenuous connections to past stories (ie. the NID, Jack’s late son, Daniel’s archeological background, etc.).
“Now for the big question, the one I most want answered. During Stargate Atlantis, was the idea of somehow having a Goa’uld take a Wraith host ever discussed? (I mean if the Trust got one in Colonel Caldwell it wouldn’t have been too big a stretch for it to happen) Because that would have been one formidable enemy. Unless the Wraith’s natural mental powers and healing abilities would have prevented a Goa’uld from taking over?”
Answer: We did discuss it at one point but it’s not something we pursued because, at the time, we were trying to set Atlantis apart as a distinct series with minimal crossover elements. Although the goa’uld did appear in late season 2’s “Critical Mass”, it was a one-off and not something we did often. I think the feeling was that having a wraith hosting a goa’uld would have been an unnecessary overcomplication.
Ruben A. Hilbers asks: “Ancients vs Daleks. Who would win ?”
Answer: Ancients, no contest.
The Old Payroll Tax Lady writes: “Hi Joe, Would you have killed off the Asgard had SG-1 been renewed for another season or had a plan to resurrect them in season 11? I always felt that had SG-1 continued that the team would have eventually found Thor’s DNA stored in a freezer someplace.”
Answer: Every season of the show, we went in assuming it would be our last – only to be surprised with a pick-up. Until season 10 when I was certain we’d be picked up for an 11th season – only to be cancelled. Having said that, there were no concrete plans for any season 11 stories (as we received word of the cancellation early enough that Robert Cooper was able to write a terrific series ender for the show). I think the feeling was that the direction of the series had evolved past the Asgard storylines. Still, the nice thing about science fiction is that nobody really ever stays dead – and especially not an entire alien race.
The Other One writes: “How did the Exoplanets of Stargate and Sound of Space panels go?”
Answer: It was great! Probably the best panel I’ve done in years. Moderated by the amazing Pamela Gay, with special guest, Composer David Joseph Wesley. Oh, and me.
“I do have a question for your Q&A but Alisa has already pipped me to the post. I know you are really busy with all those projects you mentioned the other day, but is a virtual Dark Matter episode in the pipeline anytime soon, please?
I still miss our Raza Crew so much. If we don’t ever get a resolution on TV would there be a chance of ending the Dark Matter story as it started, in comic form?”
Answer: Yes to another virtual Dark Matter episode. Eventually. But, alas, no to continuing the story in comic book form.
Dr. Z writes: “My question is about the casting of Melissa O’neil in DM. She was so brilliant and perfect for the role that I still can’t believe she had done virtually no acting before that. It must have been a brave decision to cast her ( and a brilliant one). So who made the decision and were there any other big contenders for that role?”
Answer: We must have seen almost 300 actresses for the role of TWO. One day, I received an email from our casting director, the wonderful Lisa Parasyn. She was over-the-moon about a young actress who had never done any television, but was, at the time, part of the Les Miserables production on Broadway. Her name was Melissa O’Neil and, when I watched her self-tape, I knew I had found my TWO. She was pretty much exactly how I had envisioned the character. I think that, at the time, her relative inexperience caused others some concern, but I had no doubt she would be fantastic. I fought for her – and she proved me right. I also fought for – and was vindicated by – Jodelle Ferland and Alex Mallari Jr. who were absolutely fantastic in their respective roles.
Shinyhula writes: “Any updates on a live action Masked anthology?”
Answer: Sadly, the update is that most broadcasters aren’t interested in anthologies.
David Issel writes: “How is COVID-19 affecting productions?”
Answer: All productions have ground to a halt and, although it is slowly starting up in some regions, most areas probably won’t see a return to normal until top of next year.
“Will everyone be wearing masks in next year’s shows?
– like: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1V6a2EeNwU”
Answer: Yes. Part of the new regulations require everyone involved in the production to wear masks unless they are in situation where they absolutely cannot (ie. They’re on camera, shooting a scene).
Answer: No. While I’m sure you’ll see a few zoom-shot shows and the like, the vast majority of productions will have to find safe ways to move forward within the traditional production framework.
“Will everyone be expected to get tested daily and live together in a bubble?
– like some sports are doing?”
Answer: Unless everyone is off shooting on location, it is very unlikely cast and crew will be sequestered for the entire run of a production. In the case of some shows, you’d be looking at months of isolation. Forget the financial costs associated with putting everyone up in hotels and feeding them, what about the emotional costs of not seeing your loved ones for, in some cases, half a year?
“Is everything on hold until a vaccine is approved?
Answer: No. As I said, some regions are slowly opening up. I, personally, doubt we’ll have a vaccine as soon as everyone else thinks. I also doubt the efficacy of any vaccine we rush forward. Finally, even if we do come up with a vaccine, fully one half of Americans polled said they would refuse to be vaccinated. Make of that what you will.
Paloosa writes: “I’ve wanted to ask this question for years about McKay in Stargate Atlantis. He on occasion in a story would say “Oh, thank God”. I always thought he was probably thanking himself based on his ego. 🙂 But I’ve been curious, was this scripted and if so why would McKay say it. If not, was it an ad-lib? Is it just a phrase, or something about his personal beliefs we didn’t get to see much of?”
Answer: It was probably scripted with no real intention behind the line. As for McKay’s personal beliefs – I think David would be better suited to answer this question.
Ian writes: “Who was the most influential when it came to the new tone and direction in SGU. I love SGU, curious if everyone wanted to change style. Or if there was a driving force?”
Answer: After 15 seasons (13 years and over 300 episodes) of Stargate’s SG-1 and Atlantis, Brad and Robert wanted to do something different. They, as co-creators of Stargate: Universe, were the driving force behind the creative, everything from story to tone to conceptual designs and casting.