I’m not a huge fan of juggling projects preferring, instead, to focus on one at a time, but my line of work has me doing a lot of this…


Sometimes it can be nice, mixing things up, shifting gears when I get creatively bogged down on a particular script or overview, but mostly it’s just distracting and inhibits my overall creativity.

Still, I have managed to make significant progress on a few fronts –

Project F, my scifi/anime/gaming/kpop (No, really!) series is progressing nicely.  I’m 18 pages deep into the overview that, so far, covers: an introduction, a detailed tease, a discussion on the setting (First World and Second World), our characters (major and minor), a section dedicated to game play, a rundown of the pilot, a section titled “Twists, Truths, and Technologies”, and a summary of season 1 and beyond.  Next up, a few episode springboards (about a paragraph each), the requisite Tone and Themes section, and, finally, the “Why you should green light this series!” coda.  Piece of cake!

Project Q (for “quirky”), is the television adaptation of that comic book I’ve been working on for a while.  Got some great notes last week and spent part of this week revising and incorporating some of the fun suggestions.  This overview/pitch comes in at a robust 20 pages (Intro, detailed Tease, World, Characters, Pilot summary, Series Arc, Episode Springboards, and a section titled “The Big Spoileriffic Reveal!”  My friend and former Dark Matter/Utopia Falls Co-Executive Producer Ivon Bartok gave me a few suggestions I aim on implementing this weekend and, if I’m happy with what I have, I’ll send it on it way Monday.

TimEscape: I feel like this project (a lean 13 page bible and two full scripts) is trapped in a time dilation field as we await a broadcaster decision.


Project TT (for Time Travel): Putting the finishing touches on the pitch/overview and we’ll be taking this one out soon.  This one is, uh, loopy.

Projects A, G, and PMT: I’ve already completed preliminary work on, but the heavy lifting is still to come.

Also, made some professional changes and am looking to sign with a new agent next week.  He read and loved TimEscape which is great because that’s the first one he may be selling for me.


Question for you, sci-fi fans.  What is the single most important factor that draws you to a science fiction series?

48 thoughts on “September 17, 2020: Project Update! And a question for you sci-fi fans!

  1. The premise of the show has to grab me, but it has to look authentic to me. An example:

    Stargate SG-1 was obviously quite different from the movie I’d seen and loved, but because it looked like a true continuation, I wanted to dive in (and did so).

    However, The Orville, which boasts quite the budget and cast, looks wrong to me and I couldn’t get through the pilot. It was too much an homage to Star Trek and yet too different for me to buy in.

    My $0.02.

  2. Realistic characters. They can be a genius whatever that is top of the food chain in whatever, but make them have depth. Not just an overdone quirk but actual highs and lows in their stories.

  3. Being grounded in reality with the characters and their arcs while being immersed in the fantastical, seemingly endless world-building!

  4. An intriguing plot! 12 Monkeys (TV show) is a great example as it wove a very interesting story that fully completed itself in the end.

  5. “What is the single most important factor that draws you to a science fiction series?”

    There is no single most important factor, one factor without the rest doesn’t hit the spot.

    I like:
    number one – a character driven series

    and number one – there are stories that show some pattern or human condition or theme that illuminates or provides an insight into real life. It’s provides some awesome analogies. +

    and number one – it has weird futuristic shit that plays with ideas of what could the future be like if this happens

    and number one – it does my head in, in someway

    number two it has cool looking toys.

  6. All those projects sounds great, but of course I’m partial to the progress of TimEscape. I really want to see that on screen! What draws me to Sci-fi, or any show really, is something you’ve mentioned many times – a sense of family among the characters, and in a sense the way we as viewers become “part” of that family in the sense that we begin to care about them and their interactions.

    So, for my birthday today, I went for a dental checkup only to find I need a crown on a tooth that has become cracked. Ugh.

    1. Ouch! Akemi was just reminding me we have to go in for our check-ups and cleanings..

    2. Oh no GForce. That is terrible news. They are so expensive (is dental covered in Canada like health care?) They can run $1800 here.

  7. 1) Characters. And the relationships between them. Great space battles and cool tech-y concepts are great, but if I don’t care about the people involved, then I can’t get invested. 2) Continuity. If A = B in Episode 2, then don’t have A= C in Episode 5 just because it solves a plot problem. 3) Cliches—or rather, the lack thereof. (Unless, of course, they’re very clever and self-aware!)

  8. In sci fi in particular, I am drawn in by characters… they need to be very ‘human’… quirky and flawed. Dances, damaged is good (thinking of Jack O’Neill here). There has to be humor, because, hey, if you are dealing with some big, old alien big bad like the Goa’uld or the Wraith or the Reivers (sp.,? Firefly), you have got to have a sense of humor. And moxy. But in the face of meeting up with the alien, you need to have the most human humans.

    A good mythology really draws me in, too (obviously like ancient Egypt and ancient Earth mythologies as a basis for the alien’s—adopted—mythology.

    Wishing you good luck. Very interested in all of the projects you named!

    Take care!

  9. In addition to Aliens – awesome characters, plots that move at a realistic pace, action, comedy, cool guns, no jumping the shark, twists, oh, and aliens. Basically something very much like Dark Matter. When watching it a second time, I loved the detail in it but also how much plot you put into it. So much happened and got resolved, or did it, it was always moving. I am not much for family dramas set in space like “Away” seems to be. You could have set that on an oil rig and it would be the same show. I am only 2 episodes in so maybe it will get interesting.

  10. One might thing that straight up “science fiction” speaks for itself, haha but that phrase encompasses many things. The suspension of disbelief where anything is possible through technology and science but still includes humanity and God, the supernatural and compassion for suffering people and nature. it includes exploration of the unknown that takes you on great adventures. Though it is “Fiction,” the thought that it could be possible some day is exciting and hopeful and fun. I also love love love the natural humor that we people create by just being ourselves. There is humor in science, in nature, in God and in life.
    Is that just one thing? 😉

  11. Well developed characters that are bonded – for good or evil purposes – and relatable. If the character development is poor, I won’t watch it.

  12. What draws me to scifi is the exploration and discovery of the unknown, be it space, time, other worlds or technology. I’m more of a fan of time travel or space related shows…but it is the infinite possibilities that can be discovered that make the genre so exciting for me. Heck I enjoyed the exploration and discovery of scifi so much in my younger years that it lead me to my career in computer systems engineering and for the last 20 years I’ve been working on the ISS.

  13. Intriguing characters. Example: Rumplestilskin and other leads of “Once Upon a Time”. ABC brilliantly released pre-premiere “fantasy” costume photos. I wanted to see how Robert Carlyle’s OUAT role(s) would differ from Dr. Nicholas Rush of SGU.

  14. Great setting and plot goes without saying.
    So the one crucial thing for me is: Great actors that draw you in and you can connect with. Star trek discovery and Enterprise failed badly in this regard.
    Dark Matter, SGU, Terminator, Alien, The Walking Dead up to season 6 nailed it.

  15. A lot of times what draws me are the actors. SG-1. I came for RDA. I stayed because I feel in love with the stories. Falling Skies I came for Colin Cunningham. Dark Matter I came because of you.

  16. How does the show approach the big questions?

    I like escapist entertainment as much as the next person but Sci Fi is at its best when it uses it’s expanded setting to explore the challenges we face in the real world.

    Dark Matter looked cool and was amazingly well cast, but its explorations of identity – of what makes us who we are and what options we have to change ourselves on the inside and to the rest of the world – are what made me a fan.

  17. This might sound weird, but the thing that makes SF immediately more compelling is instilling in me the desire to peel back the surface and dive into the history and the how we got there. Not necessarily dangling a mystery.. but wanting to witness the mythos.

    Like with Atlantis.. wanting to explore not just the city but it’s last days. With Dark Matter, wanting to know about the Raza crew’s past, how they got their rep. With Colony wanting to know the story of the day of the invasion.

    If the setting quickly makes me want to have been a witness to events in the past of the setting? You’re golden.

  18. What draws me to a series is plausible science fiction with at least a moderately original concept, good cast & chemistry, drama mixed with humor (like Stargate is famous for). Character development in the series is of paramount importance and why I liked Dark Matter, Star Trek, Stargate and Star Wars so much, even the new Mandalorian. When you identify and grow to love the characters very soon in the series, that is the sign of longevity of the series.

  19. I too like the relationship between characters and humor. Inside jokes. One reason I liked Star Trek was the McCoy/Spock relation. For Firefly, it was Mal or Jayne or Wash’s humor. Loved Wash’s toys on the console.

  20. For me, if it is a new show set in the same universe as a show I previously watched(Stargate, Star Trek, Arrow, etc) I will definitely give the new show a look.

    If it is a completely new show, and there is an actor/actors who were in a show I liked, I will give it a shot. For example, I started watching Longmire because Lou Diamond Phillips and Katie Sackhoff were in it(as I watched them in SGU and Battlestar Galactica respectively).

  21. I would say “realistic”.

    Meaning, it should follow know theories that MIGHT be possible, not right now but maybe in the future, meaning, use what we today know about strung-theory, multiverse, black holes etc and use it. (of course, in the future we might prove the days facts wrong, but we don’t know that). SG-1 is a great example of that.

  22. What draws me in to a great show is when it doesn’t follow stereotypes, or what the network bigwigs think is easy money. The show doesn’t always have a Typical Hollywood Happy Ending, it challenges our POV &/or way of thinking, it owns its shit (like SG’s directorial Easter eggs IE: pineapple), & the writers assume that their audience is indeed intelligent enough to “get it”… & if we aren’t, to research the hell outta it during & after the episode. Also, scantily-clad hotties do NOT hide sloppy writing & crap plots/dialogue. The viewers are NOT primarily 18-38 year-old males, for crying out loud.

  23. @ gforce – Happy birthday!!!!

    I think the characters and/or the story line must draw you in and keep you interested, or like me, I am gone within 15 minutes. I also like “I didn’t see that coming” moments. And feel free to tug on my emotions.

  24. The story has to be interesting to get me watching, but the characters are what make me stay.

  25. Getting connected to the characters and wanting to know more about them. Dark Matter had it best in that department as the characters don’t remember their past and so, us as the audience, must learn with them. Discovering as they do, growing together. From there, bolster it up with a good world concept. Good special effects (don’t need to be perfect but also not terrible) to show this new interesting world.

    Really though, characters we can grow to love (good or bad). If we go for sci-fi specific only then I’d say a good adventure. Believable world. The sci-fi needs to feel real.

  26. What dress me to a sci fi series? I like the main characters. Not too many threads of plots. A cast that includes a few who have sci fi history or cred helps too..

  27. I have to agree with everyone that characters are number one. I have to care about them, they have to be realistic and have depth. I like a good ensemble cast based in a story that grabs my interest. Stargate Atlantis, Dark Matter, and Travelers comes to mind. It has to be believable, but have enough futuristic ideas that open my mind and make me think.

  28. Characters. But explosions and cool spaceships won’t hurt your case. Nor will time machines, especially if they’re police box shaped and blue.

  29. Single factor in a series for me is authenticity, take it seriously and don’t just throw trash, cheap, cheap trash, in our faces. Don’t try to befuddle us with techno-babble (leave that to Star Trek) or mindless teenage characters from the stock character cupboard. Meanwhile I’ll get on with my writings.

  30. While Time Travel, Alt History and Space Opera all tick boxes for me, it’s often the name that’s attached that makes me want to watch. EG, if I see McG or yourself? I’m gonna watch it, even if it’s a hospital drama. However, if it’s Michael Bay? I may take a little persuasion to watch it.

  31. I agree with Gforce said about Sci-fi. I was going to “like” his post but then he went into the cracked crown. 😉 Sorry for the crown and Happy Birthday! I’ve been getting dental work, as well. Not fun but necessary.

    I liked The Orville and had a few laugh out loud moments. Have you seen the show? They had one episode where they were trying to explain humor to the android and it didn’t go well. I don’t want to give spoilers but it was shockingly funny. I didn’t see it coming and that can be rare in TV.

    On point about your question, Hubby says he’s drawn by cool tech in a sci-fi show. He doesn’t like the moral ambiguity that’s popular today. I disagree with him about that aspect because people are complex.

    I’ve met murderers/thieves who were very nice. I had to keep their history in my mind while dealing with them. People don’t always show their crazy,…. until they do. Does that make sense?

  32. Interesting characters that are well cast. If I love an actor in one show, I will follow them to their future projects. My big time fav actors I go to imdb and check for future projects and watch them. I am a big fan of michael shanks, Amanda tapping, David Hewitt, Robert picardo and even watch them on utube to see their convention appearances. Watch ms and then watch him and Alexa together. Awesome! Joe, you have a gift of picking out those actors who can bring their unique take on a character. Keep doing that!

  33. “What is the single most important factor that draws you to a science fiction series?”

    It’s the characters.

    I prefer “Hard” sci-fi dramedy (drama/comedy) with relatable characters that you want to root for. I don’t need technobabble, but I need good dialog delivered well. I can’t stand shows that hire actors with the skill level of soap opera actors (wooden line delivery).

  34. I forgot to mention something that’s critical for me: humor humor engages me when properly sprinkled within the story.

  35. The storyline and characters. Dark Matter had a good storyline with the right characters interacting within the story and with each other. As opposed to Killjoys which seemed disjointed.

  36. I usually watch any science fiction show to see what’s it about. I’ll get hooked by the compelling characters. I usually will give a series about 5 episodes for me to see if it is still something for me. If I’m on the fence, then I’ll watch the rest of the season and then decide. Unique ideas are always a bonus.

    The Orville started out as a comedy, and indeed there was a lot of laughter, but by the 2nd season they were talking about some heavy themes. They say this season should be coming out soon.

    I wasn’t sure about Star Trek Discovery but I watched season 1 and was hooked. Then I was leery during season 2 when the storyline involved Pike, but I loved it. I am looking forward to seeing season 3. I’ll have to give something up in order to watch it soon because if not, I’ll have to wait until the DVDs come out for that season.

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