February 10, 2021: Amazing Covers!

Here are a few that caught my eye…

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Dejah Thoris #10 – cover art by Lucio Parrillo

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Eternals #2 – cover art by Esad Ribic

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Eternals #2 – cover art by Phil Jimenez

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Taskmaster #3 – cover art by Valerio Giangiordano

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The Amazing Spider-Man #59 – cover art by Marcello Ferreira

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Wolverine: Black, White, and Blood #3 – cover art by Jorge Fornes

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Mighty Morphin’ #4 – cover art by In-Hyuk Lee

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Future State: Green Lantern #2 – cover art by Jamal Campbell

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Future State: Justice League #2 – cover art by Kael Ngu

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Future State: Kara Zor-El, Superwoman #2 – cover art by Alex Garner

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Future State: Teen Titans #2 – cover art by Dustin Nguyen

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Green Lantern, Season 2 #11 – cover art by Phil Jimenez

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Rorschach #5 – cover art by Jorge Fornes

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Rorschach #5 – cover art by Gabriele Dell’otto

So, which were your favorites?

December 1, 2020: Recommendations! And pictures!

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Just finished this series and was, to be honest, pleasantly surprised.  The reason?  Because lately, whenever a show has been talked up to this degree, it’s ended up being a massive disappointment.  For me anyway.  It would seem that critics and viewers are confiscating productions they desperately WANT to be good with productions that actually ARE good.  But this was one of the rare occasions where everyone was right.  Highly recommended.

And season 2 sounds amazing!

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I’m also pleased to recommend a terrific book, this one a novel written by Adrian Tchaikovsky who is fast becoming one of my favorite contemporary sci-fi authors.

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An astronaut loses more than his way when he and his fellow team members explore a strange alien artefact.

Greatly appreciate everyone who has checked in to let us know how you’re all doing during this pandemic.  Please continue to keep us updated.

Photos from the SGU vault.  Actor Louis Ferreira with the helmet cam!

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August 15, 2020: From the Stargate vault – SGU’s “Space”! The Crime Club reconvenes to discuss Bunny Lake is Missing!

Fromt he Stargate vault…

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We had the most beautiful sets on Stargate: Universe.  Pictured above, the interior alien vessel from “Space” c/o Production Designer James Robbins and our amazing departments (art, construction, paint, lighting, etc.)

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Director Andy Mikita talks shop with actor Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe – “Space”).

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Our resident (motion capture) alien chilling between takes (Stargate: Universe – “Space”).

The Crime Club convenes to discuss Bunny Lake is Missing!

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Hmmm. They say they don’t make ’em like they used to and, in some cases, that’s a good thing. Bunny Lake is Missing is a prime example.  It serves up a great missing child premise but immediately flounders in a dubious investigation and a distraught mother’s bizarrely imbecilic behavior.  The fact that she believes the mere existence of a doll she dropped off for repairs will somehow convince the police is beyond bizarre.  And speaking of bizarre…

The final twist comes so out of left field that it borders on ludicrous. It honestly felt like they were nearing the end of the movie and the director wondered: “How are we going to get out of this one?”. The writer replied: “I dunno. How about this?”. To which the director shrugged and decided “Well, guess it’s better than nothing.”, and went ahead and shot it.

I mean, how long was the kid lying unconscious in that car trunk?  And given that Ann is not at all surprised by brother Steven’s unhinged turn, how could she NOT have suspected he might be the culprit? I mean, is she a total idiot?  Or, more likely, she’s just a convenient idiot who only puts together the pieces when the plot requires it?

I thought the direction by notorious on-set jackass Otto Preminger was pretty solid, but I found the heavy score annoyingly whimsical and distracting at times.  The performances were all pretty great, but special mention must go to Noel Coward who exquisitely chews up the scenery as the creepy, chihuahua-petting landlord.  Also, bonus marks for the out there title of this movie.

Overall, however, it’s a thumbs down from me.

Tomorrow, we take day off to focus on Suji Sunday, but our Crime Club returns on Monday to discuss Palme d’Or nominee and winner for Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival: A Touch of Sin.

April 7, 2018: A trip down blog memory lane!

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been updating this blog daily for over eleven years. Over that period, I’ve covered a lot of ground in a lot of entries and I thought it might be fun to randomly select some photos, one for each year this blog has been in existence, to see how far we’ve come…

2006…

April 7, 2018: A Trip Down Blog Memory Lane!

My gal Jelly was a chunky monkey back in the day.  She was my longest relationship – 16 years and 4 months!

2007…

April 7, 2018: A Trip Down Blog Memory Lane!

The late Don S. Davis, Stargate’s General Hammond, was always a class act. Occasionally, he would swing by my office to chat or – in this case – sample from my stash of dark chocolate.

2008…

April 7, 2018: A Trip Down Blog Memory Lane!

Syfy cancelled Stargate: Atlantis – but we still had a whole sixth season of stories to tell!

2009…

April 7, 2018: A Trip Down Blog Memory Lane!

Ming-Na and Louis Ferreira being the scenes on Stargate: Universe.  So much fun!

2010…

April 7, 2018: A Trip Down Blog Memory Lane!

Executive Producer Carl Binder winding up to knock some sense into Script Coordinator Lawren Bancroft-Wilson.

2011…

April 7, 2018: A Trip Down Blog Memory Lane!

My handsome boy Maximus.  Near the end, I was taking every half-Wednesday off so that we could drive the 90 minutes to Guelph, then another 90 minutes, and wait around for an hour while he received his chemo treatment at Guelph Animal Hospital.

2012…

April 7, 2018: A Trip Down Blog Memory Lane!

Akemi would always send me off to work with a bento box snack – oatmeal, peanut butter and fruit arranged artful display.

2013…

April 7, 2018: A Trip Down Blog Memory Lane!

Back on the homefront in Van – from left to right: Jelly, Lulu, and Bubba (the love of Akemi’s life).

2014…

April 7, 2018: A Trip Down Blog Memory Lane!

Five years later – What have I gotten myself into?

2015…

April 7, 2018: A Trip Down Blog Memory Lane!

During Dark Matter’s first season, we lived in the same building as actors Roger Cross and Jodelle Ferland.  They, and VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson, would come over every Sunday night for The Walking Dead and bourbon milkshakes.

2016…

April 7, 2018: A Trip Down Blog Memory Lane!

On our last trip to Tokyo, Akemi signed us up for a chocolate-making class.  Here, I’ve selected the manliest apron.

2017…

April 7, 2018: A Trip Down Blog Memory Lane!

The ladies (Melissa O’Neil and Zoie Palmer) kicking back on The Raza bridge.

2018…

April 7, 2018: A Trip Down Blog Memory Lane!

Keeping touch with that old gang of mine – Dark Matter Co-Executive Producer Ivon Bartok and Dark Matter’s FOUR/Ryo Ishida, Alex Mallari Jr.

Good times, good times.

January 17, 2016: A Sunday afternoon stroll down Stargate memory lane!

I was cleaning out my inbox today when I happened across a bunch of old prep schedules and call sheets.

For those of you who are wondering, “prep” is, of course, short for “preparation” and “prepping” an episode involves (in my t.v. producing experience) a little over a week of meetings with director and departments heads in which an episode is detailed, drawn up and discussed.  Here, for example, is the prep schedule for the Stargate: Universe episode “The Hunt” –

January 17, 2016: A Sunday Afternoon Stroll Down Stargate Memory Lane!

Even though it was prep week on “The Hunt”, early prep work began on later episodes.  There’s a preliminary art department meeting for “Common Descent” and “Epilogue” (suggesting BIG plans for what would turn out to be our final two episodes) followed by a prosthetics life cast with actor Louis Ferreira (to help him achieve that “Old Young” look, as Akemi coined it).

Director Andy Mikita was away and, with the director away, the meetings are pushed to other days.  Note that, while a director begins prep on one episode, another director starts shooting another – in this case, Episode 215, “Seizure”. Also, 2nd unit shoots scenes for Episode 214, “Hope”.  2nd unit usually involves a scaled down crew shooting smaller scenes from a given episode. Also on this day – a casting session!  I remember heading down to the lot and watching auditions in the casting trailer, trying to ignore the trucks that would rumble by at the most inopportune times.

Finally, prep begins early Monday morning with the concept meeting.  With all of the department heads in attendance, we would go through the script, page by page, and break down each scene.  We followed with an art department meeting in which we no doubt discussed the builds for this episode (as I recall, a cave set and a design for the creature)…

January 17, 2016: A Sunday Afternoon Stroll Down Stargate Memory Lane!

…then headed over to props to discuss what was required from them (besides our standard guns, there’s that makeshift spear one of the character wields late in the episode) –

  • January 17, 2016: A Sunday Afternoon Stroll Down Stargate Memory Lane!
    And, oh yeah, that severed arm.

    …followed by a sit-down with the costumes department (we would need to get our uniforms dirty and, in some instances, torn and bloodstained), and, finally, a field trip to scout out some suitably rough terrain in Lynn Canyon where we planned to shoot some of the exteriors.

  • January 17, 2016: A Sunday Afternoon Stroll Down Stargate Memory Lane!
    Nice day for a field trip.

January 17, 2016: A Sunday Afternoon Stroll Down Stargate Memory Lane!

Prep week continued full force on Tuesday with some of our biggest meetings: stunts and SPFX (there was that stunt sequence off the top where our camp is attacked by the creature), a playback (not too many big onscreen elements in this one if I recall correctly), and visual effects (the creature was pure CG as was that space deer we see in the tease).

The following day was the extras meeting (always a number of background players in every episode), and then hair & make-up (cuts, bruises, and general disarray).

January 17, 2016: A Sunday Afternoon Stroll Down Stargate Memory Lane!
That’s an ouchy.

Preliminary budgets from the various departments were due to give us a sense of how the episode was costing out.

January 17, 2016: A Sunday Afternoon Stroll Down Stargate Memory Lane!

No meeting scheduled for the Friday, but that didn’t mean we weren’t busy having discussions, finalizing the details.  A tech survey in the a.m. to Lynn Canyon during which we all sign off on the location and the director finalizes his visual game plan for the exterior sequences.  

January 17, 2016: A Sunday Afternoon Stroll Down Stargate Memory Lane!
Hmmm. Seemed a lot warmer and dryer on the scout.

And then, finally, the production meeting which is a mirror image of the concept meeting except that, by this point, the director and all of the departments know exactly what they’re doing and are in the process of putting the finishing touches on their work.  And, of course, final budgets are due and we find out where our budget stands on the year (which, of course, has a direct effect on ensuing episodes).

Speaking of prep, prep week kicks off on Dark Matter Episode 204 tomorrow with a 10:00 a.m. concept meeting headed by director John Stead.  It’s gonna be fun!

February 2, 2013: News of Note! Days of Stargate Atlantis Past continues with Outsiders!

A guy in Tennessee sends his pit bull to the pound after suspecting his dog may be gay.  The ensuing outrage resulted in the pooch being rescued.  What struck me most about this story wasn’t so much the circumstances but this line from a CNN article: “According to the irreverent website Gawker, Facebook users had a hissy fit Wednesday when they found out the dog’s owner got rid of the animal after he (the dog, not the owner) humped another male dog.”  I checked the original Gawker piece but found no use of the term “hissy fit” to describe the reaction.  ‘Gay’ dog gets euthanasia reprieve – This Just In – CNN.com Blogs  Hissy fit?  Seriously?

Apparently the Cooking Profession Is Full of Psychopaths – Chef Psychology – Eater National  And at the top of the list, no surprise, sits CEO.  I’m sure Lawyer was a very close second.  Not sure how to react though.  Media (TV/Radio) comes in at #3 in the +Psychopathy list but, on the other hand, Creative Artist sits at #8 on the -Psychopathy list.

Forget blue chip stocks.  Invest in these market darlings – chicken wings!: http://business.time.com/2012/02/13/chicke…ces-are-hotter/

Yeah, the first thing I wondered when I heard Iran had shot a monkey into space was “Did it actually make it back?”.  Apparently not: Is Iran’s space monkey a fake?

Major backlash for Burger King on Facebook and Twitter as horse meat found in … As someone pointed out elsewhere, the horse may be the least of your problems: What’s in the Meat? excerpted from the book Fast Food Nation by …

Just in time for Superbowl Sunday:

http://www.i4u.com/2013/02/bizarre-food-super-8-past-flashback-bowl-fast-commercials-sundays

A greatly appreciated change of pace from all the “cops shooting dogs” articles.  In this case, a police officer risks all to save a dog: Police Officer Kidnaps Dog Sentenced to Death www.lifewithdogs.tvA Facebook campaign launched to save the life of a dog sentenced to death took an interesting turn when police officer Lars Bo Lomholt went above and beyond the call of duty and kidnapped him from the kennel where he was being held.

Continuing our stroll down SGA memory lane…

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OUTSIDERS (512)

Okay, I’ll be honest.  I don’t really remember much about this episode outside of the scene where McKay and Beckett argue over the cramped seating in the dart.

I do recall one of the fan sites, again, incorrectly stating that the working title of this episode was “Amort”, presumably based on the fact that some Art Department sketches contained the word “Amort” under Episode Title.  As I explained in a previous post, “Amort” is short for “Amortize” – in this case, it’s a reference to the village set, the cost of which was amortized (written off over time) over the course of many episodes.

Actor Brendan Penny who plays the wraith technician here (and stepped in for Chris Heyderdahl in Spoils of War and Be All My Sins Remember’d) is presently playing the part of Brian Lucas on the t.v. show Motive starring Louis Ferreira (SGU’s Colonel Everett Young).

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The local color
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The terrific Joel Polis as Elson.
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Just like high school.  You’ve got the villager clique and the crew clique.
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Cast or crew member?  Often it was hard to tell.

August 11, 2012: Bao Bei! Days of Stargate Atlantis Past! The Return I!

The other day, our friend and fellow foodie (oh, and culinary apprentice) Simon invited Akemi and I out for dinner.  We ended up meeting him (and his friend Sean) at Bao Bei in Chinatown for inspired modern Chinese cuisine.

Simon psyches himself up for the big feast.
Sean does his best Louis Ferreira imitation.
Akemi prepares to exercise her shoveling hand.

It’s a tapas-style menu offering a plates of varying sizes, from the tiny couple-of-bites appetizers to the bigger entries – perfect for sharing. Some of the highlights included –

Bean curd skin with king oyster mushrooms and truffle vinaigrette.  Love the texture of bean curd skin.
Steamed truffled pork dumplings.  The truffle was subtle, the dumpling delicious.
Kick Ass House Fried Rice.  Yep, that’s what it says on the menu.  And it was.
Chinese Donut (Youtiao) with condensed milk caramel, ginger, and palm sugar soy milk.  Probably the most popular dish of the night.  Surprised?

We ended up doing double desserts on the night (actually, triple dessert because we also ordered some ice cream).  Simon works at Cin Cin, one of Vancouver’s premiere Italian restaurants, and the kitchen there has been producing some phenomenal  macarons and chocolates – both of which we were fortunate enough to sample.

Cin Cin chocolates.  Despite the fact that they were fruit-based, I thought they were excellent.  Akemi, a chocolate expert in her own right, agreed.
Cin Cin macarons.  A terrific assortment.  It’s too bad they don’t have a shop.

Continuing our reminiscences of Stargate: Atlantis’s third season…

THE RETURN (310)

The Ancients are back!  Hurray!  And they’re taking back Atlantis! Uh…okay.  And kicking us back to Earth!  Boo!  It’s no secret.  I’ve never been a fan of the Ancient storylines, mainly because I find them a tad esoteric.  But here we have a bunch of real, live, grounded, unascended Ancients – and they’re still not very likable.  In fact, they’re utter douchebags, thanking us for taking care of the place before patting us on the head and sending us on our way.  “Off you go.  Don’t let the puddle demolecularize your ass on the way out.”  It’s not wonder they got their asses kicked by the wraith.

This is the first episode we really see the gate bridge in action.  It seemed like such an obvious idea, I was surprised no one had thought of it before.  Of course, coming up with the idea is one thing, finding all those stargates and putting them in position is another thing entirely. Still, the convenience of speedy intergalactic travel between Atlantis and Earth is certainly worth the effort.  For about a year until the midway station gets blown up, after which it’s really not that worthwhile in retrospect.

Ah, once again we are treated to the comedy stylings of Anderson and Picardo.  It’s real treat to watch these two veteran thespians play off each other.  They’re two naturally funny guys so it’s not at all surprising that their scenes worked so well – or that they had a blast shooting them.

So, honestly, what are your thoughts on the Ancients?  Impressive intergalactic elder statesmen?  Or entitled jerks?

A reminder that our Supermovie of the Week Club reconvenes on Monday.  Cookie Monster will be dropping by to offer his review of Spiderman (2002).

Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regular mysticode!

May 24, 2011: Transporter: The Series Pre-Production Update! Site Stats!

No turning back now!  The production machine is rolling along and picking up steam, speeding, faster and faster, toward the precipice that will launch us into glorious flight!  Provided the mechanical wings on this contraption hold firm.  Our European team is gearing up to start shooting in Paris, Berlin, Nice, Marseilles, and the south of France.  To that end, we had a conference call this morning to go over the storyboards for the early episodes.  The guys in France have come up with some terrific car action sequences that, like the ones in the Transporters film series, are fun, inventive, and holy-smokes-impressive!  I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise since a number of the key people on our car and fight stunt teams are the same ones who worked on the movies.

When car stunt coordinator extraordinaire Michel Julienne gets into town, I’m just going to start catching a lift with him in the morning.

I figure that’ll allow me to shave about fifteen minutes off my twenty-two minute travel time.

Every so often, I like to check out my site stats – Top Referrers, Top Posts, and, my favorite, Top Search Engine Terms that directed new readers to this blog.  I always find it very interesting.  For instance, here’s a sampling of the Top Search Engine Terms over the past six months…

Search Views
julia benson 59,088
joseph mallozzi 36,572
joe mallozzi 16,013
mallozzi 7,600
joseph mallozzi blog 7,581
elyse levesque 6,252
jennifer spence  5,400
alaina huffman  4,193
mallozzi blog  3,876
batman  2,914
joseph malozzi  1,882
julia anderson  1,766
joseph mallozi  1,751
vanessa james  1,659
stargate blog  1,553
amanda tapping  1,526
julie mcniven  1,450
jamil walker smith  1,047
brian j smith  984
elyse levesque hot  955
louis ferreira  932
jewel staite  895
patrick gilmore  882
joseph mallozzi weblog  865
joe malozzi  839
peter deluise  831
bermuda triangle mystery solved  751
mike dopud  744
david blue  727
malozzi blog  707
stargate universe destiny  706
stargate atlantis  693
leela savasta  693
iron chef chairman  455
michael shanks  454
joseph mallozzi’s blog  433
peter kelamis  428
lexa doig  424
paul mcgillion  416
mint leaves  313
icarus base  288
wraith todd  282
julia benson pictures  267
todd wraith  265
julia benson hot  263
andy mikita  263
stargate destiny model  243
todd the wraith  242
christopher judge  234
chocolate party  223
vanessa james sgu  217
julia benson actress  203
julia benson pics 192
“jennifer spence” 190
mark savela 189
butterscotch schnapps 189
stargate universe shuttle 188
sgu destiny 188
stargate universe julia benson 175
josephmallozzi.wordpress.com 171
julia benson sgu 165
stargate universe chloe 163
vanessa james stargate universe 161
julia benson photos 149
joseph mazzolli blog 149
space shuttle interior 133
stargate atlantis city 131
seed ship 131
blog mallozzi 129
julia benson stargate universe 127
stargate universe ship 117
rodney mckay 117
2nd lt. vanessa james 109
batman pictures 109
destiny gate 109
“elyse levesque” 109
viscous 109
lieutenant james stargate 102
robert picardo 101
brad wright 101
sgu vanessa james 91
stargate universe cast 89
best atlantis episodes 89
stargate atlantis todd 89
ben browder 79
amaretto cream 79
stargate universe ships 71
paul mullie 71
coq au vin 67
carl binder 66
alien ship 55
teryl rothery 54
destiny corridor 54
the chairman iron chef 53
julia benson images 53
peter de luise 53
stargate destiny schematics 53
stargate universe kino 53
stargate destiny bridge 53
kobe beef 53
joe flanigan 51
stargate atlantis gate 50
jaffa stargate 50
julia benson picture 48
florida state cowgirls 48
dr rush 48
leaves 48
butterscotch liqueur 25
snow monkeys 19
fedora hat 15
Carl learns he comes in at 66 searches, beating kobe beef by 53 but falling well short of amaretto cream at 79. Also, for what it's worth, just a shade under "coq au vin".

More people searching the internet came here looking for “Julia Benson” than “Joseph Mallozzi” and “Joe Mallozzi” combined.  Searches for “Batman” (2914) beat out searches for “Patrick Gilmore” (882), “Stargate Atlantis” (693) doubled “mint leaves” (313), while “Joe Flanigan” (51) was trounced by “Brad Wright” (101), “Robert Picardo” (101), and “viscous” (109).

Even more interesting are the daily single digit search engine terms that range from the obscure to the downright bizarre.  Today’s stats yield a unique mix:

Search Views
sucking pig 3
brian j smith girlfriend 2
godzilla tokyo 2
mallozzi fondy divorce 2
janina javankar married or single 1
raccoon lottery 1
leon with pig puppet 1
psych symptoms include speaking in accents 1
confit brain 1
bermuda trapezoid 1

I would assume the first one was supposed to be “suckling pig” rather than “sucking pig”, but the fact that three different search attempts went with “sucking” gives me pause.  It’s nice to know there are people searching for love on the internet, doing their research to ensure their prospective future partners are indeed single: Brian J. Smith, Janina Gavankar, and my ex wife.  Also, I sincerely hope that whoever searched for “psych symptoms include speaking in accents” found the sound medical advice they were looking for here on this blog.  Finally, what the hell is a “raccoon lottery”?

May 15, 2011: The Apocalypse Approacheth! More SG-1 Season 6 Memories! Another Monster Mailbag!

Holy Smack!  So there I was this morning, minding my own business, perusing the internet for cornish game hen recipes when I came across THIS article in which a religious group alert us to the possible end of the world May 21.  The evidence is mighty convincing.  According to the article, the group’s elderly leader claims he arrived at the May 21st date through “a mathematical calculation that would probably crash Google’s computers. It involves, among other things, the dates of floods, the signals of numbers in the Bible, multiplication, addition and subtraction thereof.”  Multiplication, addition AND subtraction! Usually, you get one, maybe two of the aforementioned in your average doomsday calculation, but the fact that this guy made use of all three (division is for losers by the way) suggests a mind-boggling thoroughness and attention to detail.  If that’s not enough to convince the skeptics, the group’s leader also points to the many obvious signs that the apocalypse approacheth.  According to the story in the Washington Post, he “mentioned the massive earthquakes in Chile, Haiti and Japan, as well as the recent tornadoes in the South. And to top that off, gay people are thriving.”  Yes to the earthquakes in Chile, Haiti and Japan. Another yes to the tornadoes in the South.  And, the last time I visited my favorite cupcake shop in Vancouver, owned by a really nice same-sex couple, business was booming which seems to be confirm the final piece of the prophecy.

I’m of two minds here.  On the one hand, I’m horrified at the prospect that, in a matter of days, everything I know will cease to be.  On the other hand, this means I don’t have to kill myself to complete that pesky script rewrite.

Hell, I’m taking the rest of the week off!

Steve Eramo interviews actor Louis Ferreira (Colonel Young) here: http://scifiandtvtalk.typepad.com/scifiandtvtalk/2011/05/stargate-universes-louis-ferreira-forever-young.html

Thanks to all those who have taken the time to weigh in with their comments and questions.  I do read them all and, hopefully, will get around to addressing most.  Eventually.  In the meantime, my trip down memory lane continues with more Stargate: SG-1 reminiscences…

UNNATURAL SELECTION (612)

Although I liked the replicators when they were first introduced, I felt a little of them went a long way – which was why I loved their evolution into human form.  Same villain but new, improved, and far more dangerous.  What made this very good episode great was O’Neill’s double-cross of the all-too-trusting Fifth.  Was he right to do it?  Sure, an argue could be made for the fact that his actions do contain the replicator threat.  Of course, the double-cross comes back to bite us in the ass down the line when Fifth escapes the time dilation bubble.  So, would we have been better served taking him with us.  Again, hard to say.  And that’s one of the things I loved about SG-1.  Sometimes, amid the high adventure and humor, there were situations that offered no easy answers.

SIGHT UNSEEN (613)

Boy, did I NOT like this episode, this despite actor Jodi Racicot’s brilliant turn as the beleaguered Vernon Sharpe.  My note at the script stage was: So what?. I mean, okay, people started glimpsing interdimensional creatures that caused them to “Freak out, man!” but, when it came down to it, those alien centipedes really weren’t much of a threat.

SMOKE AND MIRRORS (614)

See if you can spot Peter Kelamis (SGU’s Adam Brody) in one of his first guest spots on the franchise.  Yep, that young little guy who gets clotheslined by Teal’c.  That’s him!  This episode also marked the return of one of my favorite characters you love to hate: Senator Kinsey played by the brilliant Ronny Cox.  It was always a pleasure to have him on the show.

The hotel at the beginning of the episode where Kinsey gets shot is actually located right across from The Bridge Studios where the show’s production offices are located.  Apparently, back in SG-1’s early days, a new writer joined the staff and was offered accommodations in town.  Instead, the writer elected to move into The Accent Inn!  I mean, sure, it was convenient in that all you had to do was walk across the street to get to work but there is nothing of interest in the neighborhood outside of the ABC Country Restaurant.  Sorry.  Strike that.  Nothing of interest in the neighborhood.

PARADISE LOST (615)

Robert Cooper’s long-standing distaste for arugula is finally revealed.  The mysterious plant Jack and Maybourne eat in order to survive apparently tastes horrible – not unlike arugula.  Not only that but, at episode’s end, we realize it’s the cause of the frightening hallucinations that almost get them killed.  Rob’s aversion to spicy leaf plants isn’t restricted to arugula alone.  Back in the day, we used do our annual trips to Vegas to celebrate our respective birthdays that all used to fall in the same month (Rob, Chris Judge, John G. Lenic, and myself).  I remember going to The Cheesecake Factory with him once and, when our two orders of corn tamales arrived, having him look down at the heavily cilantro-topped tamale he’d received and lamenting: “Hey, why do I get to have all the cilantro?” as if to imply I’d been left out because my tamale was relatively cilantro-less.  A clever bit of reverse psychology.

METAMORPHOSIS (616)

And the award for Most Awkward Seduction scene in an episode of Stargate goes to… Whenever I see the Nirrti’s Bedchamber scene, I vacillate between squirming and laughing out loud.   “Mrs. Nirrti, you’re trying to seduce me!”.  Poor, simple, innocent Jonas.

Another thing I recall about this episode was the gratuitously gory shot of the mutant exploding on the hospital gurney that ended up being cut.

Mailbag:

Darth Novos writes: “MGM may own the rights but there is nothing stopping you from talking to other people about possible deals.”

Answer: Actually there is – believe it or not, MGM, who own the rights.

Marius writes: “I think your unwillingness to “wrap up loose ends” is what has driven the Stargate franchise down the toilet. […] It is obvious you´ve “gone with the flow” on both Atlantis (which also sucked) and Universe. […] I also want to add, that I have some genuine good ideas for an alternatively new Stargate series concept. […] I´m positive my ideas could generate a show that gathered good viewer ratings. If you believe in me, contact me via email.”

Answer: Clearly, you know what makes for a successful t.v. show better than any of us who were involved in Stargate’s 14-year run.  I’m forwarding your email to the Grand Councilor of Awesome Programming at MGM’s moonbase headquarters.  Good luck!

glennh73 writes: “1. Your comic Dark Matter, does it have any connection to the book Dark Matter written by S. W. Ahmed. Great Read!”

Answer: Nope.

“2. You stated Atlantis couldnt connect to Destiny with 3 zpm’s nor with the Ori Supergate. Well if the Anicents were still around, how would they of going back aboard?”

Answer: That’s a questions for the Ancients.  Or Brad and Robert.

“Honestly wouldnt a black hole powered ORI Supergate have more power than a Icarus type planet?”

Answer: Possibly.

“3. Oldie but goody. Daniels grandfather Nicholas Ballard. Those aliens he is with, were they the Furlings or even the Faith Aliens or something else and why didnt we get another story about him.”

Answer: Definitely not furlings.  We never did another story about him because, alas, no one came up with a good story idea that would have included him.

“4. From SG1, is there any storylines you wished you could of expanded on. Ex Daniels grandfather, the Aschen, Re’tu, ORi?”

Answer: While there were no specific stories I’d want to revisit, I would certainly love to revisit every one of those characters.

Shannon writes: “Just wondering if you can clarify here. Was it Destiny just trying to help TJ survive/cope or was this Destiny actively doing something (like, since it’s the latest fashion, uploading the baby to the Destiny computer)?”

Answer: It was the former – Destiny reaching out to T.J. and creating a scenario which would have made it easier for her to accept the loss.

tidusspear08 writes: “Did you have any plans to make Ginn a series regular?”

Answer: As much as we all absolutely loved Julie McNiven, there were no plans to make Ginn a series regular.

nm writes: “Assuming though that you are referring to the dvd market in general rather than specifically the SG1 sales figures, do you think if the movies could have been made within a year they would have been successful?”

Answer: Don’t recall the timing of the collapse in dvd sales (and, yes, I’m referring to the general marketplace) so it’s hard to say.  Back when Atlantis’s fifth season was drawing to an end, Robert Cooper floated the idea of rolling right into a production of a two-hour event (I dubbed “Project Twilight”) that, once completed, could have delivered as either a movie (in the case we didn’t receive the sixth season pick-up) or the first two episodes of season six (if we did receive the pick-up).  For whatever reason, we weren’t able to move forward on this idea which, in hindsight, probably would have been the best way to proceed.

detanfy writes: “First of all, what exactly did the Blue Berry aliens want with Destiny. I know you said they are collecting information to try and take over, but what do they actually want with the old gal. Do they even know about Destiny and her ultimate mission?”

Answer: This is something we would have discussed and detailed in time but the idea was that the Blueberry aliens had been aware of Destiny for quite some time.  It’s doubtful they would have been aware of her ultimate mission, but they certainly would have been impressed with her capabilities both offensive and defensive.

detanfy also writes: “How did the Blue Berry aliens discover Destiny?”

Answer: I imagine they encountered Destiny during one of her many refueling stops, attempted communications and, receiving no response, scanned the ship.  Their interest pique and assuming their prize was unmanned, they attempted to board Destiny – only to be rebuffed by the ship’s automated defenses.

detanfy also writes: “Can you tell us about any of Destiny’s past experiences before the Icarus crew got on board? She seems to have been through a hell of a lot of battles. I would imagine she would have just been in FTL all this time and would only drop out to recharge, so why all the battle scars?”

Answer: A lot of the damage could be attributed to attempts by the Blueberry aliens to capture the ship.  Of course I’m sure they weren’t the only alien life forms to attempt as much.

detanfy also writes: “Are the Icarus crew the first to gate to Destiny since its launch?”

Answer: As far as we know, yes, but I loved the idea of discovering some humanoid corpses during a search of the ships unexplored sections.  Along with those corpses, we would also discover a recorded account of what happened to them when they gated aboard.  Of course, the experience of the long-dead explorers would somehow help or hinder our crew (preferably both, first hinder, then help).  Again, one of those stories that never developed beyond that germ of an idea.

mike mcginnis writes: “Also was there ever a plan to bring ford back for another episode?”

Answer: Yes.  I believe the story is included as part of my AU Season 6 post.

Andrew Jung writes: “Being from Vancouver Island, would you have ever considered doing an SG shoot on the island, or other parts of BC outside of the Lower Mainland; like the Okanagan desert?”

Answer: Sure.  We considered all possibilities.  What it ultimately came down to was budgetary constraints, what we would really gain from shooting so far out of the zone and whether it would be worth the extra costs.

Andrew Jung also writes: “Was there ever any talk about having a point where the Stargate actually became public knowledge and start using the gates and ships for colonization?”

Answer: The possibility of the Stargate program going public was going to be the premise of the next SG-1 movie, Stargate: Revolution.

Don Matthews writes: “…was the idea of Destiny going into the past and creating a civilization that would stretch into the present partially designed to allow SGU to showcase human type aliens ALA SG1/SGA?”

Answer: Yes, it would offered us a plausible scenario by which humans would have colonized that section of space.

Don Matthew also writes: “Oh and frying the Wormhole drive, that was kind of a “this tech is too powerful/deux ex machina and we have to get rid of it” decision?”

Answer: Over the course of Stargate’s run, there have been several technologies the show introduced that I felt undermined drama or handcuffed the storytelling.  Off the top of my head, in particular order: beaming technology, the Asgard core, and the wormhole drive.

Don Matthews also writes: “And was there a big payoff to come with the “franklin getting absorbed by the ship” thing? We saw him but it was kind of ambiguous.”

Answer: Purposely so.  It was something we could have explored more in the show’s third season.

Don Matthews also writes: “Was the “disappearing fetus” story just a way of dispensing with a pregnancy that you didnt feel fit with the rest of what you had planned for season 2?”

Answer: Over the course of Stargate’s long run, the production has had been faced with a number of pregnancies.  In a couple of cases, we were able to ignore the pregnancies by shooting around them.  In another case – Rachel on SGA – the pregnancy became part of the storyline, as did the subsequent birth and associated motherhood issues.  Ultimately, we decided that, while Atlantis was a hopeful enough environment to raise a child, Destiny was not.  We wrestled with how we wanted to proceed, none more so than Paul who faced the challenge of scripting the season two opener and, eventually, came up with the ambiguous/mysterious solution.  It’s interesting to note that, even though it’s more or less stated that Destiny was responsible for T.J.’s vision, many in the writing department refused to confirm it one way or the other.

Don Matthews also writes: “Oh and any gate that was powered by a blackhole should have been able to contact Destiny since they were able to keep the supergate blocked indefinitely (Pegesus Project).”

Answer: Having slept on it, I’m now firmly uncertain as to whether or not it would have been possible.

ben writes: “Regarding your new series The Transporter, have you already cast the lead roles? I’m eager to find out who you will cast as Inspector Tarconi, since you both share an affinity for haute cuisine.”

Answer: Oooh, you’re in for a treat on the casting front.  Stay tuned.

Shiny writes: “Finally got to see a marathon of SGU on Hulu; was there a caveman lurking in background of Common Descent?”

Answer: Peter DeLuise loves unique-looking extras.  The producers, not so much so.  There was plenty more of him but Paul succeeded in cutting around him. For the most part.

paloosa writes: “You mentioned something about another series in the works? And are you still looking for a more permanent home?”

Answer: Everything I mentioned in my previous post is all I’ve got on the go.  And, yes, still looking for an actual house here in Toronto.

Dustin writes: “Judging by how far Destiny is away from earth could it be the gates left by the seed ships are sending back info to the other gate networks in the Pegasus and Milky way? ”

Answer: Theoretically possible, but not something we considered.

Spectrefire writes: “I read up on Netflix’s intentions on possibly footing the bill for shows and series that are about to be cancelled, and was thinking that Stargate Universe, or at the very least, a couple of movies might be right up the service’s alley.”

Answer: Agree.  I suggested this option to the studio.  The fact that it didn’t pan out suggests it wasn’t a viable option.

Arctic Goddess writes: “I have a question about Torri Higginson and something that Joe Flanigan said at the Creation Convention. I’m paraphrasing, but Joe said how good and serious an actress Torri was and how she fought for every word she got and was concerned that she only worked two days out of five, but that she got quite a lot of screen time in spite of that.

Then Joe said that the writers were all aiming for the young adult male demographic and did not write a lot of strong women parts. That the writers did not come to the conventions and see the wide audience that Stargate was reaching. and that the writers were not very receptive to Torri’s concerns.
Eventually when you keep getting that kind of reception, you stop going upstairs to talk to them. He said it would probably have been better if there had been a few women writers writing it.”  What is your opinion of Joe’s comments?”

Answer: Between seasons, we always made a concerted effort to bring in new writers by inviting them to pitch and, hopefully, sell a story that would allow them the opportunity prove themselves and land a staff position on the show.  No easy feat.  Many of the writers, while very good, simply weren’t able to offer us stories that we felt were right for the show.  Others did manage to sell us pitches but, for whatever reason (and, again, I have to stress that it often had less to do with talent than it did with their inability to “get” the show’s tone), were unable to get past the outline or script stage.  If you check the credits on past shows (particularly in the first half of each season), you’ll note that quite a few writers, both male and female, were given a shot.  Ultimately, what it came down to was the fact that the show (be it SG-1, Atlantis, or Universe) was tough to write for because, after so many years, it was backstory and mythology heavy.

I can’t speak to claims that the writers weren’t receptive to Torri’s concerns as I was never privy to any such conversations.  I do know, however, that Brad and Robert always maintained an “open door” policy with regard to the scripts and the actors (something Paul and I maintained when we took over as show runners in Atlantis’s fourth season).  I’m aware of many shows that simply ignore actor input, so I do take exception to the suggestion the writers weren’t receptive to any serious issues the cast may have had – especially since I would often see the actors in discussion with either Brad or Robert.  To be fair, there is a difference between “not being receptive” and “disagreeing with a take on a particular scene.  Simply drawing from personal experience, I can tell you I had great conversations with Bob Picardo, Beau Bridges, and the late Don Davis about their respective characters and was always receptive to any input they might have had.  The same was true for other actors like Jason Momoa (whose desire to go darkside resulted in my writing Reunion and Broken Ties) or Jamil Walker-Smith (who’s crisis of confidence story in The Hunt came about as a result of a visit he paid me one afternoon).

William Francais writes: “I wish you would have brought Jack’s clone back, did anyone in the writing room want to bring him back years later?”

Answer: Yes, revisiting Young Jack was suggested on a couple of occasions but we were never able to find the write story for the character.

scottland7 writes: “… why did Hammond get reassigned? I think I read because of Don Davis’ health problems started around this point. Is this really the reason he was written as being reassigned?”

Answer: I don’t recall the circumstances.  There was a point in the series when Rick was scaling down his appearances on SG-1, resulting in quite a challenge for the writing department.  I remember Don coming up to the production offices one day and volunteering to have his character retire so that O’Neill could take over as the commander of the SGC and thus make things easier from a creative standpoint.  That was typical Don.  Incredibly generous.  We didn’t take him up on his kind offer but, later on down the line, that more or less became the scenario that was adopted.  To my recollection (again, I wasn’t privy to these discussions), the call to have Hammond reassigned was a mutual decision on the part of Don and the show’s Exec. Producers.  He enjoyed a semi-retirement of sorts, focusing on his art but still finding the time to do the occasional guest spot for us.

MNP writes: “Also, what did Jonas do during the Ori invasion? Did he lead a resistance movement? Go into hiding?”

Answer: In my mind, he led an underground resistance movement.  Following the defeat of the Ori, he retired from public office.

Lance W. writes: “1. What does Eli do for those two weeks when he’s not fixing his stasis pod? Did he even attempt to fix it, or did he know it couldn’t be fixed? Does destiny come across problems that he alone must fix? Does he take a final trip back with the stones?”

Answer: Presumably when he’s not working on the problem, he’s eating and sleeping.  I assume if it was the 11th hour and he realized he wouldn’t be able to fix the problem, he would use the stones to pay his mother one final visit – but that’s awful pessimistic.

“2. Did Rush volunteer, knowing that Young would deny him and instead choose himself? Was Rush hoping to get rid of Young, despite how well they’ve been getting along?”

Answer: I think Rush volunteered because he wanted to be the one to stay and fix the problem, but there’s no doubt he suspected that Young might disagree and insist he be the one to stay.

“3. What year and month did they enter the pods? I wish to make a note on when the three years is meant to be up.”

Answer: I suppose whenever the episode aired: May 9, 2011.

“Finally, I’m grasping at my last straw here, but this episode seemingly left it open to a film after three years, is that even a possibility any more?”

Answer: It’s a nice thought but, given the fact that the sets are about to be struck, very unlikely.

Lisa R writes: “When you planned your original five-year arc, was it planned for the Destiny to be in a different galaxy each season as they got closer to their goal or would there be more time spent in one particular galaxy?”

Answer: That’s was the original plan – but plans change.

Phillip writes: “Were the mindless drones in SGU a metaphor for the unsupportive fans that wanted to see SGU the show end?”

Answer: Ha.  Apt but no.  Reminds me of a similar theory way back in early SG-1.  During a warehouse shootout, a bullet ricochets off a fan.  The following days, some fans were claiming this was wish fulfillment on the part of the producers = shooting a fan.  No kidding.  Well, I’ll say the same thing to you now as I told fans back then – you’re reading too much into it.  Entertaining theory though.

zakhar writes: “I was wondering if there was every any plan to further explore Alan McCullough’s unknown aliens from The Daedalus Variations episode in Atlantis.”

Answer: Another idea that was floated but ultimately shelved.

Greg writes: “Why would the blue aliens have to transform Chloe when they had access to Destiny ? I make that conclusion based on their ship detaching at the end of the one episode.”

Answer: That assumption is incorrect.  They were able to attach a scout ship to Destiny’s hull, but that doesn’t mean they were able to gain entry to the ship. And the only reason they were able to do so in Space was because the inexperienced crew was running the show (cutting off power to a section of the ship, thereby bringing the shield down and allowing the alien ship to attach and penetrate the hull) instead of Destiny’s automated defenses.

Greg also writes: “How did Chloe suddenly become Bruce Lee by changing into a blue alien when Rush was able to take one out with a metal bar ?”

Answer: Chloe wasn’t transforming into a Blueberry alien but mutating into a hybrid alien form with similarities to them – and another species they had experimented upon.

Elliott writes: “1.) Did you ever discuss who built the ruins from “Human” and “Lost”?”

Answer: Not to any significant length, no (and by significant, I mean to the point where it would offer us a kernel of an idea we could use as a springboard for another story).

“2.) Who is your favourite character from each of the Stargate shows?”

Answer: Which ones did I have the most fun writing for?  SG:1 – Vala, SGA – Ronon and Woolsey, SGU – T.J. and Greer.

“3.) Why didn’t you mention that the Odyssey’s secret mission in “Enemy at the Gate” was the search for an Icarus planet? I think many assumed that it was “Revolution”.”

Answer: I didn’t write the SGU premiere so I can’t answer that.  I assume Brad and/or Robert changed their minds and did, in fact, shift Odyssey’s mission to Revolution.

“4.) If you could change anything about each of the Stargate shows (besides cancellation, greenlighting movies etc.), what would it be?”

Answer: Probably the aforementioned tech.  I’d have lost the beaming tech, Asgard core, the Earth fleet, and wormhole drive.  I’d have maintained Atlantis’s isolation from the Milky Way.

“5.) Any idea when “Dark Matter” will be released?”

Answer: January of 2012.  Will have a firm date shortly.

John T. Williams writes: “So how’re the two types of statis chambers different? Do the Destiny type freeze completely so that the occupants don’t actually age whatsoever?”

Answer: Yes, that’s the way they were designed to operate.

Airelle writes: “How are the pups doing in day care, have they taken over the place yet?”

Answer: They’ve been attending two different daycares.  Lulu and Bubba passed the rigorous screening process and are now attending St. Roch’s Academy for Gifted Canines where they are learning arts & crafts, proper table manners, and elementary Latin.  Jelly and Maximus, meanwhile, are occasional attendees at a more downscale every-dog institution.

Lloyd writes: “How did you get into the world of Stargate?”

Answer: Our Canadian agent got us the opportunity to pitch.  We came up with five story ideas, two of which we sold.  One, Scorched Earth, was the script that landed us a position on staff.

“Have you watched before Season 4 Stargate SG-1 before coming to the team?”

Answer: No.  In fact, I had only seen one episode of the series – Emancipation – and hated it.  It wasn’t until we got the opportunity to pitch that we started watching episodes and realized – hey, this show is pretty good!

“When you watch an episode of Stargate (SG1, SGA, SGU), you have the eyes of a fan (or viewer) or a critical eye on your work?”

As with every film or television series, I view it through the eyes of a writer first and the eyes of a producer second.  My ex used to hate going to see movies with me because I’d spend most of my time sighing and muttering angrily to myself in the dark.

“If the MGM offers to return to something new: about Stargate, Will you join in?”

Answer: I’m committed to other projects and, unfortunately, would be unable to participate.  Provided Brad Wright was in charge, any new project would be in excellent hands.

“Is there some episode you remember most? and why?”

Answer: A few.  Harmony, Whispers, 200, Ripple Effect, The Hunt to name a few.  As for why – well, you’ll find out when I get around to reminiscing about their particular seasons.

“Today you have another project (the series “The Transporter”), how would you like your job, compared to Stargate?”

Answer: To be honest, Toronto has been a major adjustment (still ongoing), but I can’t say enough great things about Transporter: The Series.  I can honestly say that I enjoy going into work and that speaks to the show and the people involved.

“If you had to summarize in one word, all your work on Stargate, which one? ? and why this word?”

Answer: Fun.  That’s what I set out to do (have fun) every time I envisioned a story and sat down to write a script.  If the viewers at home had fun watching, then mission accomplished.

“Finally, what do you think about the cancellation of ALL projects Stargate?  (“Extinction”, “Revolution”, a film SGU) Why all of a sudden?”

Answer: I think 🙁 .

Jeff writes: “obviously the ancients had to create a ZPM to power their ships, bases, and atlantis, so i guess my question is, didnt they leave directions in the ancient database on atlantis on how to actually create a ZPM?”

Answer: You would presume so but the fact that this was never discovered suggests that either: a) it wasn’t uploaded to the Atlantis database, or b) is there somewhere but is so top secret it will take a while before scientists uncover it.  Ideally, they could have uncovered it in time to come up with an alternate power source capable of dialing Destiny and sending a retrieval team to the rescue – but that’s a story for another fan fiction.

Jeff writes: “btw, the wedding is october 29, where should i send your invite?”

Answer: Just tell me where in Vegas you’ll be.

Alex writes: “in your mind was the earth Stargate still at the SGC in Colorado or was it moved to Homeworld Command?”

Answer: In my mind, it would make sense to have moved it to Homeworld Command – but the nostalgic part of me says it’s still inside Cheyenne Mountain.

C-Verse writes: “1. Given that Atlantis was more family friendly, do you think the darker tone of Universe might have discouraged people from watching it?”

Answer: I’m sure it turned off some people.  On the other hand, I’m sure it attracted new viewers as well.  It’s a double-edged sword, just like the word Stargate in the title.

“2. Again concerning the darker tone, do you think Universe would have had better luck, if it taped more in the Battlestar Galactica fanbase, than the old Stargate fanbase?”

Answer: Sorry.  Don’t understand the question.

“3. Do you think Universe could have survived if it had a smaller budget?”

Answer: I don’t think it would have made any difference.

“4. Given that more people are now downloading shows instead of watching them, do you think Sfy-Fy should put in more effort in advertising it shows online, rather than traditional media?”

Answer: Eventually, we’ll all be going that way.

Michelle writes: ” fans reacted more to how Daniel was treated than to his screen time, anyway: Jack didn’t seem to give a crap about Daniel going off undercover with the system lords; in fact, he seemed irritated at him when he made it back alive. Seriously? And on and on.”

Answer: Again, because I wasn’t privy to any discussions Michael may have had concerning his character, I didn’t realize there was an issue.  In fact, having written episodes like Scorched Earth, The Curse, and Summit (and looking at season 5 episodes like Beast of Burden and Menace), I still have a hard time seeing it.  In the case of Jack seemingly not giving a crap, being irritated with him, or not even broaching the subject that he almost killed him (Scorched Earth), I can see it but this was a source of frustration because these reactions (or lack thereof) were not scripted.

Michelle also writes: “As far as it being Michael’s decision, there was a rumor he changed his mind after filming Meridian, but Brad and/or MGM told him to get lost, they’d already found another 6′ actor to fill his role. Any truth to that?”

Answer: Again, I was out of the loop but I’d bet my last dollar that Brad and/or MGM did not tell a guy they had worked with for the last five years to “get lost” or any variation thereof.  If there was an issue, it would have been with the fact that they’d already signed an actor to a one year deal that made it difficult for Michael to come back as a series regular.  I stress again, I was out of the loop and don’t know what happened, but I’m quit certain all parties discussed the decision at length before taking the next step.

Michelle also writes: “And I know it is hard to accept, but, just as with SGU vs SGA, not liking Jonas was not solely a reflection of missing Daniel. Convenient to blame it on that, but also inadequate.”

Answer: True.  There were fans who simply felt Jonas didn’t work.  But there were also fans who, quite clearly, had not intention of ever giving the character a chance.  Some of the arguments made against him at times felt a little suspect.  For instance, the fact that he turned his back on his people led some fans to brand him a traitor and untrustworthy, yet these same fans had no problem with Teal’c who did the same – and also had the deaths of hundreds of innocents weighing upon him.

Joe Cooper writes: “At risk of sounding harsh about something that happened like a million years ago, Jonas was written as a bit of a “mary sue”; his only real flaw was that others around him (namely Jack) wouldn’t accept how ridiculously awesome he was. Over and over again everyone would be shitting bricks and then Jonas would come along and fix everything.”

Answer: That’s fair.  In an effort to make his inclusion and eventual (necessary) acceptance as part of SG-1, we built up the character in such a way that he came across as a little straight and one-note.  In retrospect, given the time, we would have been better served adding a little more depth to the character by taking our time and not worrying so much about making him an instantly beloved and accepted teammate.

Dave writes: “I’ve always wondered, was any thought given to which SG unit Young commanded before being assigned to Icarus base? Was he on an SG team back in the days Jack led SG-1 or was it more likely during the Mitchell years?”

Answer: We never got into this but I think it’s more than likely, given their respective ages, that Young and Mitchell crossed paths at some point.  Hell, it’s likely that Young and O’Neill crossed paths at some point as well.

Rachel Grizzot writes: “I was looking through the old notes about what could’ve been the Season 6 of SGA and one of the topics were ‘Carls replicator story’
can i assume that maybe that was a attempt to bring back Elizabeth Weir ? or not?”

Answer: Yep.  That was the plan.

DeanGrr writes: “With a a reputation earned by years on Stargate, why not try it to support a new or cancelled production? ”

Answer: Again, you’re approaching the wrong guy.  The only entity that can make this happen is MGM.

DeanGRR also writes: “What is Dr. Rush’s true motivation, given that even with all the power of the Ancients, he cannot bring his wife back?”

Answer: The answer to this is tied to the conclusion Brad and Robert imagined for the series.

May 11, 2011: Gauntlet!

I assumed The Hunt (episode #216) was going to be my last script for Stargate: Universe’s second season, but when my writing partner, Paul, got busy producing Common Descent (episode #217), the task of tackling the first draft of the finale fell to me.  When I sat down to write Gauntlet, I assumed we WERE coming back for a third season.  Some may not have shared in my optimism (Paul has always been a “glass half full and its contents are probably undrinkable anyway” kind of guy), but I nevertheless approached the episode as a season finale and not a series finale.

Armed with the story beats we’d spun in the writers’ room, I fleshed out the narrative in outline form, received everyone’s notes, and got to work.  By the time the first draft of Gauntlet was complete, Paul’s schedule had freed up and he was able to jump on the rewrite.  After so many years of writing scripts separately, I suppose it was somehow fitting that our last script for the Stargate franchise would be a true collaboration.  Just like old times.

Now, as I said, I was under the impression that we would be back for a third season.  And I wasn’t the only one.  When the ratings for the back half of the second season faltered, it was clear that the Tuesday night experiment was a colossal failure (for both us and Caprica) and we were in trouble.  However, we had a few things going for us.

For starters, after months of uncertainty, the studio had finally turned the corner and gained stability in the form of new management.  I assumed that given the fact that Stargate was one of their biggest franchises (next to Bond), they would make a concerted effort to keep it alive.  That meant not only brighter prospects for SGU, but renewed hope for the SG-1 and Atlantis movies, Stargate: Revolution and Stargate: Extinction.

Although the show’s ratings had faltered, it wasn’t as if any of the network’s other shows were going gangbusters in the similar week night death-slot (and, with all due respect, comparing summer airings to fall airings or one-offs to an ongoing series is not so much apples to oranges as it is apples to rutabagas). In fact, the erosion of viewership across the board (not just in the case of our broadcaster but network and, particularly cable in general) suggested a definite trend.  Fewer people were watching television live.  They were DVR’ing and downloading – and, in the case of Stargate: Universe, apparently doing so A LOT. Not surprising given our audience was young and tech-savvy, the demographic most likely to DVR and download.  Surely, I presumed, we would not be punished for having smart, forward-looking viewers.

Finally, there were reports from various sources that we WOULD be back for a third and final season.  Yes, the series would end, but armed with this knowledge and with plenty of time to prepare and wrap up loose ends, we would be able to go out in grand style.  I recall sitting in my office with actor Louis Ferreira (SGU’s Colonel Everett Young), discussing the great opportunity this would afford us to make some really bold creative decisions knowing these final 20 episodes would be our last!

After the episode aired, many fans expressed their satisfaction with series finale.  Although there are a number of questions left unanswered, the consensus was that Gauntlet offered a bittersweet conclusion to our crew’s adventures.  I don’t know if I totally agree, but I do recognize three scripted elements that certainly lent this episode a sense of closure.

The Goodbyes.  One by one, the characters we’ve grown to know and love over the course of SGU’s two seasons bid farewell to one another (and, by extension, of course, the audience at home), until only our core trio remain.  Then, it comes time for them to say goodbye, first Rush, then Young, leaving Eli (our viewer proxy) alone on the bridge heading into the unknown.

The Final Supper.  Which, interestingly enough, wasn’t in my first draft or Paul’s pass.  Well, not quite anyway.  In the original script, the last supper sequence was a simple beat in a more expansive montage – no dialogue, just a shot of the crew enjoying their last meal together.  It was changed at the suggestion of SyFy’s Erika Kennair who requested an actual scene, a moment for our characters to pause and reflect on where they’ve come from and where they’re headed.  In retrospect, a brilliant request.  I wrote the speech, then handed it over to Paul who made a couple of tweaks (one of which was nixing Young’s toast: “To three years!” which, in story terms, referred to the best-case-scenario three year journey they’d be facing but, in my mind, was a reference to the show’s expected three year run).

The Bookend Visuals.  Paul added these in his pass, a call back to the opening moments of the series premiere.  Nothing but stars, then – Destiny dapproaches the camera.  We CUT INSIDE and bear witness to Destiny’s awakening, PANNING UP the ship’s levels as its various chambers light up.  In Gauntlet, it’s the same sequence in reverse. Destiny goes back to sleep as we PAN DOWN the ship’s levels, it’s various chambers going dark.  We CUT OUTSIDE to the ship making the jump to FTL and then – nothing but stars.

Yes, I can see how many would view Gauntlet as an appropriate series ender but, as much as I love the episode, it still leaves me frustrated. More to the point, it leaves me frustrating knowing that, after 11+ years of resolving cliffhangers, this is the one time I won’t be able to come up with the answers.

Does Destiny make the jump to the other galaxy?  How long does the journey take?  Does Eli manage to fix the damaged pod(s) or find a way to extend the ship’s life support long enough to ensure his survival?  Does T.J. find a cure for her ALS?  Who does she get together with in the end, Young or Varro?   Does Lisa ever regain her sight?

I could provide some insight into what we discussed, possible answers to these burning questions but, ultimately, they’ll serve as little more than interesting footnotes to greater canon.  In the end, the answers are what you choose them to be.  In those final moments, we fail to make the jump to FTL with Destiny and, after two years of following its journey, we are left behind to wonder.  Maybe they do make the voyage in three years and our crew’s adventures will continue, only we won’t be privy to them.  Maybe, sadly, they don’t make it and that final glimpse of Destiny was a true farewell.  Or, maybe, Destiny is still out there, still journeying, its crew in stasis, destined to outlive all our questions.

May 4, 2011: Transporter pre-production update! Canada’s Space Channel pays us a visit! Further Stargate SG-1 season 5 reminiscences!

Al-most there!  I hit the 54 page mark of my second script for Transporter: The Series today.  I’ll take the night to think about the big showdown, then write it tomorrow along with the final scenes (surprise, goodbye, flashback, and SHOCK – in that order) after which I’ll be all done.  On the first draft anyway.  Paul continued work on his script for (what will now be episode 2).  And Alexander…oh, he kept busy as well…

The conference call scheduled for this afternoon has been rescheduled to tomorrow.  Rather than head home to consider the unique qualities of the episode 5 beatdowns, I hung around to do a quickie interview for Canada’s Space which will follow up Tuesday night’s series finale, Gauntlet, with a special Stargate-laden installment of Innerspace.  From what I hear, they got A LOT of interviews with Stargate personalities – David Blue, David Hewlett, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge, Louis Ferreira, Alaina Huffman, Brian J. Smith, and Jewel Staite (to name a few) – who’ll be talking about the franchise and its fans. Don’t miss it!

Producer Mark Askwith conducted the interview. Apparently, Mark is a huge comic book fan (he shares company with the likes of Warren Ellis and Neil Gaiman in the Batman: Black & White collection) and has alerted me to an upcoming comic book show this weekend.
Michael does the heavy lifting. And shooting.
Sweet ride, no?

Interesting editorial over at Gateworld today: http://www.gateworld.net/news/2011/05/how-wrestling-is-killing-science-fiction/

Also, file this one under “You just noticed?”: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/03/business/media/03television.html?scp=1&sq=tv%20ownership&st=cse Thanks to Chad for the link.

Also, couldn’t resist including a link to one of the stupidest articles I’ve read in some time – http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/eerie-links-between-harry-potter-184109  The “eerie links” cited?  Well, both Bin Laden and Voldemort are bad guys with bad minions (Al Queda and the Death Eaters respectively), Obama has been referred to as “the anointed one” by critics which is how Harry is referred to in the books (!), and Bin Laden died on May 1st while Voldemort perished on May 2nd (only one day apart!!!!).  Compelling, no?  No, I didn’t think so either.

Continuing our trip down memory lane, I pick up where I left off in the middle of SG-1’s fifth season.

One of the things I’d often heard about was the toxic on-set atmosphere on certain other shows.  I remember being told that things got so bad on one SF series that, the second the director yelled “Cut!”, the actors would march straight back to their trailers with nary a word or a look exchanged.  The crew was always on edge and it made for a very difficult working environment.  This was in marked contrast to Stargate where the mood was almost always relaxed and, dare I say it, a hell of a lot of fun.  Everyone enjoyed being there, and much of the credit for that rested with Richard Dean Anderson.  It’s often been said that number one on the call sheet sets the tone, and it’s true.  If your number one is miserable, he’ll make every single person on set miserable as well.  If, on the other hand, your number one is a t.v. veteran who loves what he’s doing and feels life is too short for petty on-set squabbles or power plays, then that positive attitude tends to influence the entire production.  Hey, I’m not saying it was always easy and that people never disagreed (ie. Boy, did Rick ever hate Prometheus) but there was always that mutual respect and sense that, in spite of any differences, all the parties would be back at it the next day, sharing a laugh and having a great time.  Rick, as I said, set the tone.  He was always good-humored and charming.  Amanda was an utter sweetheart, adept at pulling off the most challenging of tech talk in front of the camera, yet incredibly and down to earth behind it.  Michael was passionate and incredibly focused, but also kind and thoughtful.  Chris was the exact opposite of the stoic character he played: magnanimous, boisterous, generous.  And then there was Don, the southern gent, who, in many ways, was very much like the character he played: amiable, principled, and very likable.  And, over the years, through the show’s many changes, that’s how they remained.  Simply great people to work with.

DESPERATE MEASURES (511)

A couple of things stand out for me about this episode.  The first was that ridiculously long search sequence near episode’s end that included endless shots of Teal’c and Daniel going up and down stairs.  Yes, the episode was short!  Another thing was a slight dialogue change in O’Neill’s scene with the homeless man.  In the original version, O’Neill says “Yeah, and I’ve got a closet full of Playboys…”, but after some consideration (aka – getting a note requesting we change it), we elected to go with “National Geographics” instead which, while less Jack O’Neill, was certainly more Richard Dean Anderson.  Also the original draft of the script had a couple of very funny exchanges between the doctors who perform the procedure but after further consideration (aka – we received a note that O’Neill provided more than enough comedy for the episode and we didn’t need the guest stars delivering as well) we decided to love them.

WORMHOLE XTREME

Oh, boy, where to begin?  Over the years, I’ve referenced the multitude of in-jokes in this episodes, from the red spray-painted kiwis (a dig at Director Peter DeLuise who used those very alien-looking fruit in Beneath the Surface) to Hank Cohen’s cameo as a studio executive who suggests the show needs “You know what this show needs is a sexy female alien.” (art imitating life).  There’s our faux t.v. hero trying to negotiate a veritable minefield of corpses (a call back to The Fifth Man), someone ridiculing the one shot stuns, two shots kills, three shots disintegrates abilities of the alien weapon (Hello, zat guns), further ridiculing of doing an episode involving “out of phase” physics (we did plenty), another character’s assertion that they’ll surely win an Emmy…for visual effects (the best any scifi show can hope for), and much, much more.  The part of Grell, the Teal’c clone, was actually played by Chris Judge’s stand-in, Herbert, while the episode offered a host of cameos from behind-the-scenes personnel including a much heavier yours truly who demands to know “Hey, what happened to all the doughnuts?!”.  I recall Director Peter DeLuise making me do three takes, directing me: “You’re hungry!  You want some doughnuts!  But there are none!  You’re really hungry!” then “No doughnuts and you’re REALLY hungry!” and then: “Okay!  REALLY HUNGRY!”.  The day that scene was shot, I found my wardrobe awaiting me in the office: a lime green shirt and a pair of atrocious lime green plants.  I wore the shirt but passed on the pants.  Apparently, our Costume Designer did not take the news well.   “Writers,”she apparently muttered with a roll of her eyes.

I would love to dig up the outtakes and extra footage on this one.  One scene that ended up on the cutting room floor involved the character of Teal’c.  SG-1 and Hammond are watching the Wormhole Xtreme trailer at which point we do a PAN OFF the screen, across the briefing room table to Teal’c laughing uproariously and enjoying the hell out of the show – much to the bewilderment of his fellow team members.

PROVING GROUND (513)

Some episodes you hate at the pitch stage but end up warming up once the story has been broken.  Others, you hate at the outline stage but end up actually liking once the script comes in.  Still others, you may hate at the script stage but love once the episode is completed.  This is one of those rare episodes that I took issue with from start to finish and, to this day, ranks as one of my least favorites.  Why?  Because it’s not about our characters.  That and the all-too predictable late twist that anyone who has ever watched television before will see coming a mile off.  On the other hand, the episode was notable for an appearance by a then relatively unknown Grace Park as one of the young cadets.

48 HOURS (514)

The working title for this episode was Teal’c Interrupted, but later changed to 48 Hours.  I was extremely disappointed.  I figured, hey, if you can call an episode Watergate, you should be able to call another one Teal’c Interrupted!  The episode kicks off with the shocking death of Tanith, shocking insofar as he was a mid-major villain who suddenly and all too quickly buys it in spectacularly unspectacular fashion.  From what I recall, we were unable to reach a deal with the actor on another episode and, rather than leave the character dangling, elected to write him out instead.  This episode also saw the introduction of one Dr. Rodney McKay (“Rodney?”I remember asking Rob at the time.  “Is that the name you want to go with?”), an insufferable ass who, over the course of the franchise’s run, ended up redeeming himself in surprising fashion.

SUMMIT (515)

Boy, the costume department had a field day with this one!  This episode was a try-out of sorts, an audition for future system lords.  I drew on a variety of different cultures, creating a colorful rogues gallery.  The hope was that if one popped, we could use him/her in future episodes.  Well, one did: the exquisitely evil Baal played by Cliff Simon.  I remember working on a rewrite of my first draft when we received word that actor J.R. Bourne would not be able to reprise the role of Martouf due to scheduling conflicts.  As a result, my rewrite was a little more extensive.  Rather encountering the Martouf we knew, we encountered his symbiote, Lantesh, who had taken a new host.  It worked but, alas, was nowhere near as powerful as it could have been.  I publicly toyed with the idea of not using a host body and simply having Carter bid a tearful, smooch-filled farewell to the little rubber snake – but it was more an attempt to irritate my fellow writer-producers than a serious pitch.

LAST STAND (516)

Back in the old days, SG-1 used to kill Jaffa with gay abandon.  They were little more than cannon fodder for our team, nondescript bad guys who deserved everything that was coming to them.  Except, as time wore on, knocking off the goa’uld’s foot soldiers wasn’t as easy as it used to be because we started to explore an aspect of the Jaffa that had been glossed over in previous years: the fact that they were essentially pawns.  Unlike the ruthless goa’uld who were motivated by a thirst for power, the Jaffa were misguided and knocking them off grew increasingly problematic.  At the end of this episode, we massacre a slew of them with the deadly toxin that targets their symbiotes and, while it may have seemed a smart strategic move at the time, like the food pyramid, asthma cigarettes, and Coca-Cola for kids print ads, it was the sort of thing that eventually went out of style.

April 16, 2011: Catching up with the mailbag!

Heading out for dinner tonight after which I’ve got to hit the gym, start The Wise Man’s Fear, and finish up the last two episodes of Eden of the East.

Here’s a long overdue mailbag for you to peruse…

Chevron7 writes: “Now onto Colonel Cockblock – love that name Joe. Did you write in the closed eyes swallow Young gave once Varro left his quarters or was that an actor choice? Said all that needed to be said.”

Answer: That reaction was all Louis Ferreira.  Prior to shooting, we discussed the scene and he wanted Young to demonstrate maturity and acceptance in an instant where lesser men would have responded with jealousy.  Given everything T.J. has been through, Young pushes his personal feelings aside to focus on what’s best for her.  And, at that moment, best for T.J. meant showing her the support she so desperately needed.  Still, that “closed eyes swallow” reaction makes it clear that, despite what he may be saying, it hurts him to think he may be losing her to another man.

Chevron7 also writes: “Was the inspiration for the creature a crocodile? ”

Answer: No.  My original inspiration was a komodo dragon.

Chevron7 also writes: “The creature vision and ratchet scenes were fantastic…certainly created a sense of panic, confusion, drama. Do you do the ratchet stunts all in one day?”

Answer: No.  It’s all location dependent.

John D. writes: “For what it’s worth, I didn’t buy the “Rush cares” stuff at all. It really doesn’t play that way. Trying to teach Eli a lesson came off just as Rush being mean-spirited, which was further reinforced by Rush being vile to Volker and pushing him toward a relationship that doesn’t make sense anyway.”

Answer: Rush is not the type of guy who would waste his time.  You can certainly view his actions with regard to Eli and Brody as mean-spirited if you like (that’s certainly not the way it was intended given the humor of the situation and his secret smile at episode’s end), but there’s no arguing with results.  Argue against his methods all you like but there’s no denying it proved very effective in snapping Eli and Brody back in line.  As for his conversation with Volker, I don’t know what you mean by “pushing him toward a relationship that doesn’t make sense anyway”.  Why wouldn’t it make sense?  I think Volker and Park would be very sweet together.  Volker is in love with Park but prepared to let potential happiness slip through his fingers.  There’s nothing worse than a missed opportunity.  And I’m sure Rush would agree.

Sue Jackson writes: “And…what rotten thing to have Young knock just as TJ and Varro were gonna kiss. That was just mean. Who’s idea was that?”

Answer: As I said in yesterday’s entry, the “almost kiss” was a compromise in response to a note I received. The general feeling in the room was that things needed to progress a little more slowly with these two.  In the original draft, they actually do kiss.

Randomness writes: “Speaking of SGU, I hope you and Paul do a thoughts on Episode 20 – Gauntlet entry. Would be interested to know what you think about the episode too, although Paul wrote the thing.”

Answer: Actually, Paul and I co-wrote Gauntlet. I wrote the first draft, he did the rewrite, then I added the Last Supper speech.

Randomness writes: “Sorry about the mistake Joe, just everywhere including Gateworld has creditted Paul as writing the script for Gauntlet. Easy to forget when every Stargate Universe website credits just Paul”

Answer: Well, that’s…annoying.

KevinNS writes: “…does this mean that Varro is the last remaining Alliance member on board now?”

Answer: That he is.

Randomness writes: “1. Did you prefer writing for SG1/SGA over SGU?”

Answer: While I enjoyed writing for both shows, I think I had an easier time writing for SG-1, particularly during the Vala years.

“2. Were you trying to give off a fatherly vibe with Rush when he messes with Eli/Brody after telling them not to touch the Stasis room stuff.”

Answer: Yes.  I’ve always viewed Eli’s relationship with Rush and Young as a “my two dads” situation.

“3. As the series was ending, why did you not kill off a main cast member?”

Answers: There’s still time, no?  Four more episodes to go.

“4. When you wrote this episode, did you put Young on the planet because you know he has a thing for TJ or was it more him looking after his own?”

Answer: Both but, clearly, this was special circumstance.  The only other times I can recall Young heading off-world were in extremely perilous circumstances (Time, Water).

“5. Were Varro and Greer originally planned to be friends in Season 3? Or at the very most two comrades in arms?”

Answer: Nope.  I wanted to have Varro redeem himself in Greer’s eyes, which is why I teamed them in this episode.

“6. Why do you believe Greer was so hostile towards Varro on the planet, and what do you think Varro was thinking when Greer was treating him that badly?”

Answer: Greer is naturally cautious and Varro WAS a part of the incursion that took Destiny, however briefly, at the end of season one.  He never trusted the Lucians but Varro went a long way toward proving himself in this episode.  As for what Varro thought – I’m sure he was somewhat disappointed but not at all surprised.

“7. How do you think Volker was feeling at the end of the episode when he saw Park and Greer, and why do you think he went to see her with what he had in his hand at the end?”

Answer: Well, obviously he took Rush’s speech to heart and decided to “man up” and tell Park how he felt about her.

“8. Do you believe Volker is more looking for a shoulder to lean on, a female friend of sorts, instead of a romance with someone?”

Answer: No, he is definitely interested in pursuing a romantic relationship with Lisa.  Again, it’s pretty clear in the episode.

“9. What do you think Young was thinking when the Lucian Alliance joined them on the planet to hunt the beast?”

Answer: I think that, while Young may also be cautious, he’s also logical.  He saw the benefit of having the Lucians assist in the hunt and genuinely appreciated their willingness to help.  After all, Tamara’s life was at stake.

“10. Is Mike Dopuds performance good enough in this episode for you to cast him as Frank in your new Transporter series, or at the very least, give him a decent role?”

Answer: Mike is a terrific actor and a pleasure to work with.  I wouldn’t hesitate to bring him in to audition for any role I thought would be a good fit for him. However, unilateral casting decisions don’t happen.  In the case of the Transporter series, about a dozen different voices will be weighing on casting.

RFVDevil writes: “1. What happened to Wray? I didn’t see her at all in the episode and it seems like it would have been easy to work her into the script. Does Ming Na only have a contract that allows her to appear in a limited number of episodes like Picardo and Amanda on SGA, or did her scenes get cut.”

Answer: Yes, like Woolsey and Carter in Atlantis, the character of Camille Wray doesn’t appear in every episode.

“2. Was this episode at all inspired by The Host? It’s a Korean monster movie.”

Answer: No, the episode wasn’t inspired by any particular movie.

“11. Why did Matt Scott although injured, not join Varro and Greer hunting the beast?”

Answer: Because Young leaves him in charge of Destiny when he leaves to head up the rescue op.

“12. Was there any scenarios out there that involved Young ignoring Varros comments and staying on the planet because of TJ?”

Answer: Nope.  As much as Young wants to go on, he sees the logic in Varro’s argument and elects to leave the rescue to Varro and Greer rather than risk slowing them down.

Joan001 writes: ” Robert Carlyle has not been heard of since the cancellation notice. Has there been any word or opinion from him. Does he keep in touch with anybody in SGU?”

Answer: Actually, I hear he’s got quite a few projects on the go.  And he has been in touch with both Brad and Robert.

Michael A. Burstein writes: “Do you use Movie Magic Screenwriter as your primary software? I have Final Draft on my Mac.”

Answer: Yes.  We used Movie Magic Screenwriter on Stargate and have convinced Alexander to switch over from Final Draft for Transporter: The Series.

Ashleigh writes: “I was woken up at 7:00 AM by Joe this morning with a question I had answered last week via email. When I thought he was done responding he had found his answer…but he obviously became distracted.”

Answer: Still sleeping at 7:00 a.m.  Talk about lazy!  No wonder I had to register my own Cavco number!

Paloosa writes: “1) Will Transporters be as post production heavy as SGU or Atlantis was?”

Answer: Not as heavy although the Transporter: The Series will have limited visual effects.

“2) Is there a date by which you have to have the first episode in the can?”

Answer: Still solidifying our production schedule.

“3) How many episodes are being produced?”

Answer: The show’s first season will consist of 12 episodes.

“4) What network will be airing it?”

Answer: Stay tuned for the official announcement.

“5) Will entire episodes be filmed in Europe, or are only different segments being shot there?”

Answer: Elements of most every episode will be shot in Europe will main unit photography will take place here in Toronto.

Randomness writes: “How’s the casting side of The Transporter going Joe? I realise you can’t say any names or anything, but is it going well? Like do you have ideas as to who you want for each character?”

Answer: Yes, casting is going very well.  A lot of terrific candidates to choose from.  We’re narrowing down our selections and meeting to discuss this week.

BoltBait writes: “So, Joe, am I to understand that the flashback scenes were filmed? Or, did you cut them before production began?”

Answer: No, they were shot, then cut in editing.

Renegard writes: “Does stargate travel guarantee continuity of consciousness? Or could one argue that the person is killed on one end and an exact replica is recreated on the other end?”

Answer: I think it’s more an interruption than a death.  The traveller is disassembled at the molecular level, then reassembled to his/her original form.

Debi writes: “Concerning THE HUNT that was aired, was that Cpl. Marsden that was killed? Say it isn’t so! :O”

Answer: Alas, ’tis so.

Holloway writes: “Joe, I can respect your opinion that Varro is a better fir for TJ than Young. But did you have to play such favorites by having Young go down with injury leaving Varro to be the guy who has to work with Greer to save TJ?”

Answer: Actually, there was one scenario in which Varro teamed with Young to rescue T.J. but, ultimately, I decided to go with Greer.  I think Young’s decision to turn back showed great maturity.  He places T.J.’s well-being over his own pride and that says a lot about the man’s character.

Holloway also writes: “That’s a nitpick. The other nitpick is that I would have love to have seen those TJ flashbacks. Time could have been made for them if you had jettison the whole Rush/Eli/Brody subplot.”

Answer: While the T.J. flashbacks were informative, the Rush/Eli/Brody subplot serviced a bigger arc.  It addressed the emotional fallout from the previous episode and established the stasis pods for…the not too distant future.

Holloway also writes: “Also was there really a need for another nerd vs soldier for a woman’s attention storyline? I’m referring to Volker’s subplot. Even though it ended badly for Volker in this episode there seems to be little doubt whom your sympathies were with in this episode.”

Answer: Not sure what you mean by whom my sympathies were with.  The subplot focused on Volker and his feelings for Park.  If I’d written a story about Greer and his feelings for the same woman, I’m sure one could argue that my sympathies lay with Greer.

January 18, 2011: Some Iron Hunt discussion! Fundraiser alert! And yet another mailbag!

The Iron Hunt discussion:

ponytail writes: “I’ve always thought I did not like zombies, but after reading this book and a couple other choices from your book of the month club (like Boneshaker), I have come to realize I have always liked zombies.”

Answer: In all fairness, the zombies in this book are very different from the zombies of Boneshaker which are, in turn, different (but still closer to) the more traditional zombies like those found in The Walking Dead.  They’re not of the mindless variety.

terryb writes: “I adore that the main character is a strong, capable woman from a line of strong capable women who have to make hard decisions but, at least in the case of Maxine, never entirely lose the softer side.”

 

Answer: Yes, that’s one of the things I really liked about the book as well.  Marjorie has a knack for crafting well-rounded, charismatic, kick-ass characters.  You should check out her heroine in “Call Her Savage”, one of the stories in the Masked anthology of superhero fiction edited by Lou Anders.  Great stuff.

Sparrow_hawk writes: “The thing that didn’t ring true for me is Maxine’s romance with Grant. Okay, he’s hot and well worth a fling , but he does so many things that are counter to Maxine’s upbringing and mission that I have a hard time seeing why they are still together.”

Answer: Well, opposites do attract and there has been many a case in real life when I’ve wondered “What the hell is he/she doing with her/him?”.  In this case, however, I wonder if we would have benefited from reading the prequel story, “Hunter Kiss”, that appeared in the Wild Thing anthology.

Sparrow_hawk also writes: “And Maxine’s mission is to destroy everything that Grant is trying to save.”

Answer: Which was a facet of the story that I really loved, those contradictory M.O.’s that end up leaving our protagonist deeply conflicted.  Applied to my life, it was like Grant’s willingness to rehabilitate the demons and give them a chance was akin to Fondy’s love for Grey’s Anatomy.  In the end and all things considered, I hope it works out better for Maxine.

antisocialbutterflie writes: “I did wish that a little more time was spent on some of the lesser characters, particularly Jack, Sarai, and Tracker. There seemed to be a lot of potential there that was skimmed over to maintain the pacing.”

Answer: What was revealed about these characters kept me engaged and, like you, left me wanting more.  I have a feeling we’ll delve more into their respective backgrounds in the next couple of books in the series.

Fundraiser alert:

Michael Simpson of Cinema Spy dropped me an email to tell me about his fundraising efforts for the Make A Wish Foundation.   “I am trying to turn my
campaigning for SGU into something that doesn’t just serve my wishes to see the show return but benefits other too.” You can check it out here: http://www.justgiving.com/awishforstargate

Mailbag:

TheDudeDean writes: “Hey Joseph, is this your twitter account?

http://twitter.com/josephmallozzi

Answer: Apparently so.  Exciting, no?

Raine writes: “Do the dogs do any tricks? :)

Answer: Yes.  They eat on command.  And not on command.

dioxholster writes: “Joe, if SGU ever gets a third season on a different network, what will be the compromises we will have to live with if there will be any?”

Answer: A third season would be ideal, but the longest of longshots.  Any consideration of possible compromises would be meaningless conjecture at this point and serve no purpose.

dioxholster also writes: “Back then the plan was five seasons, but in all honesty were you guys ever willing to stretch it a bit for another extra season or two?”

Answer: Again, no point in considering far-fetched scenarios.  I will say that, at the time we were in production, we were always focused on the season at hand, comfortable in the knowledge that we did have an ending for the series in mind.

dioxholster also writes: “And during the brainstorm phases, was there any talks of a spin-off in the future had SGU been successful or was SGU planned to be the final stargate show?”

Answer: There was never any talk of another spin-off.

Bryan writes: “Joe, I know you have a more refined pallet.. but I have a simple “recipe” for delicious tomato pasta.”

Answer: Hey, Brian – thanks for this.

kadaju writes: “Mr. Mallozzi, please help some nerds out. We crave the dimensions of Destiny.”

Answer: The next time I see James Robbins, our Production Designer, I’ll see if he has schematics or, at the very least, a ballpark of the ship’s scale.  I just have to remember… Or, if VFX Supervisor Mark Savela happens by, he could probably answer the question.

Tenacious D writes: “So, why do the Wraith use organic material in their hives when it’s obviously way less efficient and they had ten thousand years Ancient-free to upgrade their ships?”

Answer: The short answer is I don’t know.  I would imagine it has to do with the fact that their architecture has always either been organic in nature or, at the very least, had an organic feel.  The reason could lie in the possibility/advantages of a ship with an inherent limited intelligence, especially when one considers the Queen’s limited telepathic abilities.

dasNdanger writes: “Where can we send you fun stuff now?? Still the studio??”

Answer: Still the studio for now but, really, your presence here is all I need so no sense in sending me presents.

Escyos writes: “Say one were to dial all the gates in a galaxy at once and step through, what would happen? Would the matter simply be too degraded and simply fall apart? Would you exit at the nearest gate? Or one at random?”

Answer: No matter how precisely you time it, there will be some difference in timing.  Those who connect first will interrupt the dialing process and establish a stable wormhole while others will be unable to establish a connection because, for lack of a better way of putting it, “the line is busy” with a pre-established connection.

mrmichaelt writes: “On 1/17/11′s mailbag, you answered 80% of Destiny is left to be explored. On the series finale of Stargate Atlantis, how much of Atlantis was explored by the expedition?”

Answer: My guess?  60%.

mrmichaelt also writes: “Mortal Kombat just got greenlit for a 10 episode Internet-based webi-series. Are webi-series a possibility for SGU’s future (i.e. posting new episodes on MGM’s SGU website like how they currently do with full episodes of season 2, featurettes, the Kino webisodes, blogs, fan question submissions)?”

Answer: A webseries is not an option.

Casey Clubb writes: “I’m curious about Colonel Young’s use of reading glasses which started toward the end of the first season, was there any particular significance to that?”

Answer: Not that I can recall.  I believe it was something Louis wanted to add to the character.

paloosa writes: “Will the ratings on the second half of SGU have any effect on whatever decisions are being made now for SGU?  And if David Hewlett’s episode “Seizure” significantly increases the ratings, would that have any impact in reviving an SGA movie?”

Answer: Unfortunately, no to both.

paloosa also writes: “Can you still have Q&A’s with folks we’ve come to know, even if it’s on other projects they’re doing?”

Answer: Sure.  If they’re willing to take the time, I’d love to have ’em.

Zenophite writes: “I’m not sure if anyone has asked this yet but regarding Dr. Caine… He lived long enough to see the aliens arrival so did he in fact die the moment they got there (or soon thereafter) or is there something else going on?”

Answer: He was at the brink of death when they showed up – too late to save him.

Chris writes: “Are we allowed to create SGU fan videos using video and audio from SGU and upload it to YouTube?”

Answer: All photos and clips are the property of MGM Television.  What they will and won’t allow is up to them.  I know of certain shows that have clamped down on fan videos.  To date, Stargate has not been one of them.

Josh writes: “Hey Joe, I was just wondering if any of the cast from SG-1 or SGA are going to be in any of the episodes of the back half of season 2?”

Answer: No.  Only Seizure.

Laurence Stachow writes: “I heared someone talking about buying the DVD’s and Downloads from like ITUNES but will this really help?”

Answer: It certainly helps to keep the franchise viable and informs the studio that Stargate remains a sound investment.

MNP writes: “But in SGU there seemed to be a very… spiritual… tone to the characters. The whole attitude to the universe itself seemed different, more I guess mystical and willing to see things as simply beyond comprehension. Was this due to the situation? Was it just these particular characters? Was this a conscious decision for the show or did it just develop organically?”

Answer: I’d say all of the above.  SG-1 and Atlantis were more high adventure shows where the humor took precedence over moments of introspection.  That’s not to say the shows weren’t serious (the stakes were always big and both series dealt with their fair share of tragedy), only that they were more fun and lighter in tone.  Universe was darker and, as a result, offered more opportunity to explore more solemn aspects of our characters.

Jayenkai writes: “While we’re mentioning David Hewlett, any idea what’s going on with Starcrossed, lately?”

Answer: No idea.  You should swing by David’s twitter account for the update.

pjt writes: “What do you think about the tone of the show in retrospect?  To me it looks like it was a great idea, back then when you started, to have a grittier, more realistic and dark Stargate show, but the then global crisis hit, people lost their jobs or had them in jeopardy, had to cut corners, and just couldn’t find the strength to get involved with the problems of TV characters on a weekly basis. They instead looked for easy entertainment like Eureka and Warehouse 13, even Sanctuary for their hour of escapism.”

Answer: I enjoyed the show’s darker tone.  At the end of the day, you can spend fruitless hours second-guessing yourself but the truth is that if studios and networks knew for sure what audiences wanted, the prime time television schedule would be stacked with nothing but hit shows.

Lyle writes: “1) If a new SG series ever comes into play waaay down the road, do you have any ideas as to what you would use as the look-and-feel, storyline, and setting? Have you even thought about it?”

Answer: No idea.  Haven’t thought about it and don’t believe I ever will.

“2) When will we know about the fate of SGU (or the Stargate series itself)? You’ve been teasing it for several weeks now! Any time-line?”

Answer: No timeline.  Sooner is always better of course.

“3) Is there any chance we will see Joe Flanigan in Stargate again if no SGA movie is made? I miss that guy.”

Answer: No idea at this point.

“4) How’s Richard Dean Anderson doing? Is he willing to come back for a movie? Is he in the 2nd half of this season of SGU?”

Answer: From what I hear, Rick is doing great and still occasionally working in Vancouver.  No appearances planned for O’Neill in the back half of season 2.  As for possible movie appearances – no idea at this point.

Joa writes: “Will we be seing the SGC in season 2 ? Does Louis Ferreira speaks Portuguese?”

Answer: No and yes.  Check out the Louis vid in this post: November 3, 2010: Production Update! Stargate Pics! More of that Q&A with Louis Ferreira!

Tammy Dixon writes: “So if you had to choose between Disney and Universal, which would you pick?”

Answer: I vote Universal.

JenniferG writes: “Have you ever read Stephen kKng’s Duma Key?”

Answer: Not yet, but it’s on the list.

ZMo writes: “My question is how do you do it all? So many projects, so much time for the fans, so many hobbies? Do you sleep enough / at all? How do you not burnout?”

Answer: I firmly believe that a writer should write every day.  Maintaining a daily blog forces me to form and express semi-coherent thoughts and that, in the end, will hopefully make me a better writer.

Rich A writes: “In SG1′s Prototype, if Khalek had been allowed to ascent, could he have gone and rescued ol’ Dad from the fight with Oma?”

Answer: IF (and it’s a pretty big IF) he had been allowed to ascend then, yes, theoretically he could have tried to help.

Rich A also writes: “Following on from that, must have been a bit lonely at the ascended top there for Adria for a while. Could her and Khalek have, uh, made a go of things?”

Answer: Don’t think he was her type.

Rich A also writes: “I’m a UK fan and it’s a shame that international viewership doesn’t seem to matter one bit as to whether series like these get renewed or not :(

Answer: But international viewers DO matter.  They are one important piece of a very big, often complicated puzzle.

LoneThread writes: “How can radio communications work 2-way through a Stargate? Radio is Light (Photons) therefor matter. So the one way restriction should apply here. And also there should be a delay while the matter traverses the wormhole.”

Answer: All good questions that I don’t have an answer for.  I’d say 2-way communications work because that’s what was established from the beginning.  It’s sort of like wondering why do the inhabitants of every planet SG-1 visited speak English?  Again, it was another conceit that was established early on in the series.  In my mind, however, I assumed journeying through a wormhole “gifted” travelers with translator nanites that allowed them to understand and, in turn, be understand (in most cases.  Goa’uld was a rare exception).

RedFlames writes: “Do you watch any non-US TV shows [anime excluded] and if so what [and if not are there any that have made you think ‘oooh…. i’d watch that if they showed it’]?”

Answer: Spooks, Wire in the Blood and, of course, The Office are three UK productions that come to mind.

levent writes: “1. Aren’t there any ancient medical devices or hand weapons on board Destiny designed by Ancients? TJ should not suffer that much as a medic!”

Answer: Check out the back of season 2.

“2. Will (would ) we see Destiny’s exact location in relation to earth, some number of light years etc? Will we have detailed specs of the ship (speed etc)?”

Answer: Nope.  Nothing so specific onscreen.

“3 – This is pretty streching but is there any chance Tauri would ally with Langara for use of their Naquadria to dial Destiny?”

Answer: See Seizure.

“4 – Is it safe to assume Rush and Young will have a more stabilised relationship from now on?”

Answer: It isn’t safe to assume anything when Rush is involved.

Scott_land writes: “I know Destiny is way the heck out in space but is there any chance that we might see something more dealing with the Furling or Ancient people (if there is a third season)? Could a couple from either group have struck out on their own a long time ago that we might see them now?”

Answer: All possibilities.

nate writes: “Good luck with your future endeavors and I”ll still hold out for more Stargate. But no more comments on your blog.”

Answer: You will be missed, my friend.

maggiemayday writes: “Have you read The Shining? Far, far better than any movie incarnation, Jack or not. I do love me some Jack.”

Answer: Haven’t read The Shining, but liked the movie a lot.  It’s interesting that, apparently, King wasn’t that big a fan.

Shadow Step writes: “Wow, I hope you are sure that Kat didn’t get an IP from a pool or posted from a place where other people use computers –”

Answer: The timing was way too good.

Jimbo writes: “But I must ask, do you watch Dexter? I am really getting into this show. I ask because I noticed you mentioned that a pilot in waiting is dark and humorous, which is what I would classify Dexter. And that characters are deep and well written. One of the best shows on today, aside from House, SGU, and Castle. Agree?”

Answer: Watched the first season of Dexter and haven’t seen Castle (although I’ve heard good things).  I do watch House.

Arctic Goddess writes: “Speaking of which, are you going to bring back The Weird Food Purchase Of The Day”?”

Answer: If I can find something appropriately weird to eat, sure.  Maybe I’ll just open up that bottle of clam juice sitting in my fridge.

max writes: “Joe, are you a fan or follower of J. Michael Straczynski by any chance?”

Answer: I really enjoyed what I read of Rising Stars and watched the first 3 seasons of Babylon 5 before getting distracted by life.

John M. Hammer writes: “Fortunately, as fellow Mac users, we have a way around this. Take a look at this bit of software:

DVD Player Patch 20101106 for Mac
http://download.cnet.com/DVD-Player-patch/3000-13632_4-75324910.html?tag=mncol;8

If you prefer to watch your DVDs on a screen other than your Mac’s, remember that Macs have video out which can drive even very large 1080p displays.”

Answer: Much obliged, sir.

November 21, 2010: The Stargate: Universe Season 2 Wrap Party!

Last night, we celebrated the end of another production year with a wrap party at Vancouver’s Gotham Steakhouse.  But before we hit Gotham, a bunch of us met for dinner at Market in the Shangri-la Hotel…

What better way to kick off the pic parade than with a shot of belated birthday boy Lawren.
The sesame-crusted tuna.  Awesome appetizer.
Soy-glazed short ribs.  My go-to dish, but I decided to opt for something a little different this time out…
Curry chicken.  Good, but didn’t love it.  That’ll teach me to try something new.
Perennial party gal Michelle

I ended up seated between Brad’s wife, Debbie, and Paul’s wife, Michelle, who spent much of the dinner discussing potty training. Check that.  LOUDLY discussing potty training in an effort to be heard over the restaurant’s accoustics.  For some reason, they elected turned down my offer to switch seats, preferring instead to shout through me.

Eventually, we finished up and walked down to Gotham for food, fun, and frightfully horrible DJ tunes (Seriously.  It’s been ages since the last time I heard Funky Town).

Mike Dopud and his lovely wife.
Peter Kelamis and his lovely waitress.
David Blue looking buff.
Louis Ferreira already on a roll.
Appies
Me in my morning coat.
Carl is all smiles.
Jamil Walker Smith, and buddy, dressed for success.
Ready to party.
Master Chef Steve leads the catering crew.
Carl and Karen.
Kelly.  Her eyes!  They burn!
Kerry and Alan.
David and Peter.
Troy and his better half.
Ken gettin’ all Holywood.
Ivon and Sara
Carl and Ashleigh
Patrick Gilmore raises a glass – to you!
Ashleigh and Patrick.  Oh, and Louis.
Jen Spence.

Julia and Peter…

Dave
Amanda
Mike brought his baby.  Or borrowed a baby in the hopes of attracting women.  Can’t remember which.
Kelly.  Again with the eyes!
Kerry and Ashleigh.  Oh, and Lawren.
Nancy
Will and Kathy
Brian J. Smith gets ready to chow down.
The ladies of hair and make-up.
The VFX gang.
James “Bam Bam” Bamford
Ashleigh and James
Elyse and Devon
Carl and Julia
Lisa and Akemi
Lisa and Tio

A quickie mailbag:

Judy in SATX writes: “I’ve always wondered, is ‘Furling’ the real spelling? When I first saw the episode I thought it was ‘Ferling’, maybe because it’s not so Ewok-evocative.”

Answer: Nope.  The far more Ewok evocative “Furling” is, in fact, the correct spelling.

Randomness writes: “Speaking of the Gate network the seederships are laying. It’s reasonable to think that any alien species with enough knowledge could use the gates even without a remote right? Kinda like how Earth used the gate without a DHD by making a dialing program.”

Answer: Yes, that is another reasonable assumption.

Ponytail writes: “What is that building in the first picture? Garage, guest house, pool house, dog house, maid’s quarters, playhouse, neighbor’s house, detached office?”

Answer: Garage/guest room for visiting in-laws.

Freeman writes: “Also i have one last quick question for you Joe, I’m not sure if you read all of these or not but I was wondering if you get requests for people wanting to send you a “new idea” or a “partial script” that they have made up as something to spark a new path in the stargate story.”

Answer: I don’t receive as many as I used to.  I suppose most know by now that I can’t read or accept unsolicited scripts or story ideas.

JJA writes: “Have you read the Lost Fleet series of Jack Campbell??”

Answer: Nope.  You can check my (approximate) read list here: http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/384915-barondestructo?shelf=read

JJA also writes: “Also about Destiny: Does it have its own manufacturing section of the ship?”

Answer: No, it doesn’t.  Only the seed ships have been outfitted with that capability.

BTW writes: “…who’s job is it to choose the typeface used in the opening/closing credits?”

Answer: SGU co-creators Brad Wright and Robert Cooper had the final say on everything from the Destiny design to the typeface used in the opening/closing credits.  THAT is hands-on producing.

Mika writes: “As your resident scientist who has worked for a few years in a research laboratory focused on the cosmic microwave background radiation, I’m obliged to point out that seeing circles is like finding patterns in the static of old sk00l tvs. (Literally, just like it — a percentage of that static IS the Cosmic Microwave Background!)”

Answer: Hey, Mika!  I think I saw you at the bar last night, then when I turned around you had disappeared like two protons colliding at high energy.

Lloyd67 writes: “A new Stargate spin-off ? by Robert C. Cooper? Seriously?”

Answer: No.  Not seriously.

Major D. Davis writes: “Given recent developments, are you still confident about a renewal. I know theres a lot more to it then numbers, so fingers crossed!”

Answer: Neither confident nor pessimistic.  We produced a terrific second season and, at the end of the day, that’s all we can do.  Things like what night we air, what segment of our audience records or downloads, are elements beyond our control.

November 19, 2010: And that’s a main unit wrap!

Yesterday was the last day of principal photography on Stargate: Universe’s second season.  We marked the event with woodfire pizza, champagne, and, oh yeah, shooting those final scenes.

Cast and crew hanging out on set. Pictured left in the hat - Tio, whose fantasy football team my Snow Monkeys will be beating this weekend.
Executive Producer Carl Binder on set, ensuring production runs smoothly. And pizza is eaten.
Editor Rick Martin takes a break from the many days spent working on The Hunt.
Ashleigh drops by for pizza. And to criticize Andy's directing.
Kerry and Jen practice their "You're the best friend I ever had!" lament prior their post-open bar Saturday night celebration.
The crew had a choice between pulled pork sandwiches and woodfire pizza. The pizza apparently won by a landslide.
They actually brought along their woodfire pizza oven. I mean, how else are they gonna do it, right?
With special guest chef Louis Ferreira.
The Ferreira Special. May include nuts.
Jamil Walker-Smith calls it a night. And a season.

It’s been a great year and, looking back over the 20 episodes produced for SGU’s second season, I have to say I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished: great stories, grand arcs, wonderful character moments both big and small, set-ups, pay-offs, and more than a few surprises.  As much as I’ve enjoyed working on these episodes, I’ve enjoyed hearing your reactions even more.  So, thanks to everyone out there who has supported – and continues to support – the show!  You aint seen nuthin’ yet!