The Perfect Storm Approacheth!

Here.  We.  Gooooooooo!

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Looks like we’ll convene the writers’ room sometime in September.  Before then, the show’s creator and I will map out the first season game plan covering all ten episodes, character and story arcs.  We’re also aiming to have the pilot co-written by then.  After that, it’ll be smoooooooth sailing!  

All that will be left to do is get those nine other scripts written, rewritten, prepped, shot, then have the episodes edited, mixed, color corrected and delivered…and we’re done in time for Sanno Matsuri.  Yeah! Read more

Project and Lifely Updates!

Had a meeting regarding the Untitled Awesome Project today.  This one has me all kinds of excited for a two simple reasons: theme and tone.  It’s something this prospective sci-fi series shares with three other shows I’ve done in the past, specifically: Stargate: SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, and Dark Matter.  Sense of fun?  Check!  Sense of humor?  Check!  Sense of family?  Check! Read more

July 26, 2018: Joseph Mallozzi’s Top 10 Funnest Episodes!

Oh, sure.  As a viewer, your mileage may vary.  But, looking over the list of 100+ episodes of television on which I’ve been credited or co-credited as a writer, THESE were the ten I had the most fun writing…

Honorable Mentions…

The Ties That Bind/It’s Good To Be King (Stargate SG-1)

Yeah, it’s always the way.  You decide to do a Top 10, put together a long list, start narrowing it down and, in the end, you’re always left with 12.  So, rather than cast them aside, I include these two as Honorable Mentions, two scripts that were much fun to write but, to be honest, for one reason or another, didn’t fully deliver in the end.

#10

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Wormhole X-Treme (Stargate: SG-1)

No one can truly appreciate the banality, frustrations, and sheer ridiculousness of producing television unless they actually work in the industry…OR watch a show in which it is mercilessly lampooned.  Sci-fi handwavium, ruthless broadcasters, sexy female alien-obsessed executives – it’s all here.

#9

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Stuff To Steal, People To Kill (Dark Matter)

The only thing I love more than a good time travel episode is a good alternate reality episode, and this one was a blast delving into the colorful personalities of the badder versions of our bad guys.

#8

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Point of No Return (Stargate SG-1)

One of the things I loved about Stargate was the creative allowance it gave us to write humor.  I always reflect back fondly on this episode as one of the first instances in which we were just let loose to script the story as we envisioned it – conspiracy kook, Teal’c on the motel massage bed, and all.

#7

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Remnants (Stargate: Atlantis)

I’ve always been fan of multi-story scripts, especially when those seemingly disparate tales neatly dovetail at episode’s end.  Still, the highlight of this episode for me was Robert Picardo’s Woolsey,  a character who had come such a long way since his introduction back on SG-1.  He’d gone from pencil pushing jerk to principled ally and in this episode, his journey to redemption is fully completed thanks, in large part, to the terrific comedic timing of Bob Picardo who made Woolsey at turns vulnerable, sympathetic, and gosh darn lovable.

#6

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Kill Them All (Dark Matter)

What did I just say about those various moving pieces of the narrative ultimately falling into place?  Yes, in the worlds of Hannibal Smith: “I love it when a plan comes together.” and the moment FIVE utters this episode’s title phrase, it DOES come together in fast and furious fashion.

#5

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Ripple Effect (Stargate: SG-1)

This delightfully bonkers episode will forever hold a special place in my heart as probably my favorite episode of Stargate for its humorously bizarre instances involving varied AU SG-1’s, a dark timeline team, and that scene with Cam (Ben Browder) in his underwear.

#4

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Family Ties (Stargate: SG-1)

This one kicks off with a shot at Syfy’s failure to promote the show (Mitchell: “They cancelled it? Really? I didn’t even know the new season had started.) and ends with Teal’c unwittingly attending a reading of The Vagina Monologues (I remain convinced that, at that point, the network had stopped vetting the scripts because I don’t see how else they would have let this one go).  Fred Willard is a comic genius, Claudia Black gets to show off her expansive acting chops, and, oh yeah, more shots at Syfy –

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#3

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Window of Opportunity (Stargate: SG-1)

Yeah, you knew this one was going to be in the Top 3.  The original pitch for this episode was quite dark, but Executive Producer Robert Cooper steered us toward a more comic take.  After listening to his notes, I said: “But that’s Groundhog Day.” To which he replied: “Right.”  And so, we went ahead and wrote the Stargate version of Groundhog Day – which ended up being one of the franchise’s most beloved episodes.

#2

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Isn’t That A Paradox? (Dark Matter)

By this point in the series’ run, I was in a writing groove pretty much wholly due to my wonderful cast.  I knew that whatever I wrote for them, they would deliver – and boy did they ever.  TWO’s heartfelt yearning for the quiet life, THREE’S suburban rogue, a reminder that our FIVE is still very much a kid, SIX’s bike mastery, and Android’s not-quite-know-it-all attitude – all combine for an episode that, more than any other, leaves me with bittersweet memories of a show ended way too soon.

#1

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All The Time In The World (Dark Matter)

Was there ever any doubt?  I wasn’t even working off an outline when I sat down to write this script but from the moment I started, I was on fire, blazing through a first draft  with almost no interruption.  I was in the zone and this one came together beautifully in all of a day (A record!).  Whenever I watch the THREE/Android duet, I get downright wistful at the thought of where these two characters were headed had our audience been rewarded for tuning in.

Addendum – Since so many asked, 200 didn’t make the list because I was one of many writers who contributed to that one.  Having said that, the segments I wrote WERE a lot of fun…

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July 20, 2018: Audition Pet Peeves!

You spent all weekend studying those sides, preparing for that audition – hours upon hours upon hours.  And then, when the day comes, you are in the zone.  You NAIL IT!  You head home feeling great, certain you got the role.  You tell your friends, your mom (She’s been a longtime fan), your significant other (Looks like you’ll have to reschedule that trip!).  You’re feeling GOOD!

Until the following day when your agent calls you to inform you the role went to someone else.

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You’re shocked, then angered, then depressed.  Perhaps this is the final straw and you’re considering throwing in the towel, giving up those dreams of stage and screen for that full-time position in the accounting department of your uncle’s wholesale-retail-import-export company.

But wait!  Before you make any rash decisions, I want you to know that, in all likelihood, you weren’t to blame for not getting that role.  From my 22+ experience in casting, I can honestly say that the majority of the time, my final decision hinged NOT on what an actor didn’t deliver, but what other actor DID.  So don’t beat yourself up.  More than likely, you didn’t come up short.  Someone else just happened to deliver the perfect audition.

It’s not you; it’s us.  Or the other guy/gal.

THAT’s the case 90% of the time.  The other 10% of the time, it IS you.  So please try to avoid these auditioning faux pas:

1 – Don’t show up high or drunk.

I know, I know.  It seems like a big ask.  And while you may think that smelling like a medical marijuana dispensary is a small price to pay for mental acuity, the reality is you come across as unfocused and meandering or, in one memorable instant, so stoned out of your gourd you stared off blankly into space for a full minute before being prompted into action with a “Whenever you’re ready!”

2 – Don’t gesticulate wildly.

Are you also signing your audition for the hearing impaired?  If the answer is no, then calm the fuck down.  Nothing diffuses a performance faster than windmilling arms and frenetic hand gestures.  On the other hand, nothing quite impresses like a composed, controlled delivery.  As my old friend director Peter DeLuise used to say: “Use the stillness.”

3 – Pronunciation is key.

I don’t necessarily expect you to have watched the show you’re auditioning for or, failing that, use your mind reading abilities to guess the correct pronunciation of names, places, and varied alien species – but if you’re not going to do either of the aforementioned, might I suggest you simply ask for clarification before launching into that soliloquy.    “Oh that this too sullied feltch would malt.”

4 – Please, no funny accents.

Unless the role calls for one, or you are asked to do one on the day, please avoid the Clouseau-esque delivery – especially if you’re auditioning for the part of the extraterrestrial curator of some alien world.  Trust me on this one.

5 – Go back in time and reconsider your decision to get those tattoos.

Perhaps, back then, you didn’t envision an onscreen career in which you might have to audition for a historical drama or the role of “Dreamcatcher Tattoo-less Entrepreneur”.  Maybe, at the time, those finger tats, misfit skulls, and Chinese characters (actual literal translation: “Contents may have shifted during flight”) would have been just fine for that bank job (and I mean that in both possible senses).  Fortunately, this isn’t a dealbreaker as the magic of make-up has come a long way in its ability to transform elaborately inked skin to its unblemished original state.  Witness this wizardry firsthand – as you undergo the process at approximately 4:00 a.m., a good two hours before your call time.

Off the top of my head, that’s it.  But I’m sure more will come to me after I publish this entry.

Or the next time I’m casting a show.

July 15, 2018: Dark Matter Art by Andy W. Clift!

I first came across Andy W. Clift’s work while perusing Comixology’s new release section,  taking notice of the lovely retro cover for the first issue of his Captain Cosmic comic book –

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I ordered that first issue, loved its fun sensibility, and followed him on twitter.  Recently, I reached out to Andy to find out if he’d be interested in rendering Dark Matter in that same lively style.  Well, he was more than happy to oblige and here is an initial sampling of his take on the The Raza and its crew…

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The Raza in FTL (black and white).

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The Raza in FTL (color).

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Our favorite gunslinger, THREE (black and white).

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Our favorite gunslinger, THREE (color).

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Our resident swordsman, FOUR (black and white)

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Our resident swordsman, FOUR (color).

More of Andy’s work in the coming days.  In the meantime, if you want to check out his creator-owned comic book, The Adventures of Captain Cosmic, you can do see by purchasing it here.

Tomorrow: Answers, answers, answers!

Ideally.  But problem more questions.

Oh, and dinner with Dark Matter’s THREE, Anthony Lemke.

July 9, 2018: Photobucket Finds – Stargate: Atlantis Edition!

I happened across the photobucket website earlier today and recalled “Hey, I think I actually had a bunch of videos uploaded there at one point.”  After several failed attempts, I finally succeeded in haphazardly inputting the correct password and – voila!  I was greeted with a slew of poor quality videos dating back from days on the Stargate.  Here are a few for posterity’s sake (or, if you prefer, as one of my ex-girlfriend’s used to say “For prosperity’s sake”):

SGA “The Last Man”.  The sand in the sandstorm was actually powdered oatmeal.

Real sand would have hurt more.  And been harder to clean up.

Wraith loose on the lot!

SGA “The Last Man”.  The Keller-McKay walk and talk was shot right outside The Bridge Studios lot.

Good times.  Good times.

July 8, 2018: More Terrifying than Horrifying!

At the end of every season, there was one thing I especially looked forward to.  In addition to the wrap party.  I refer, of course, to the annual focus group research packages that neatly summed up the likes and dislikes of a very small sampling of our overall audience.  From what I could tell, the methodology involved gathering viewer opinions via online questionnaire, engaging roughly 1000 respondents, about 200 of who actually watched our show (I was always quick to point out that they could gather a broader sampling by simply hitting up twitter, but my suggestion went largely ignored).  Their answers were carefully tallied up and revealed in colorful fashion: pages of graphs, percentage tallies, multi-colored boxes, and venn diagrams.  The result were distilled into a cover summary that would offer helpful direction for the next season.  Thanks to these surveys, for example, we learned –

Our series regulars and likable characters, TWO and the Android chiefest among them, were the most popular while the character of the lecherous/murderous Wexler – who at the time had appeared in all of two episodes – was decidedly less popular.  Hell, I would even go so far as to describe him as “unpopular”.  Perhaps not surprisingly, Alicia Reynaud, who also appeared in all of two episodes, was not a fan favorite either.

On the one hand, audiences really enjoyed the complexity of the season 2 storylines but, on the other hand, they found a lot of the second season storylines too complex.  They also simultaneously loved the show’s unpredictable twists and turns yet found these twists and turns somewhat predictable.  They loved the fact that the season was action-driven and exciting, however they were disappointed in the slow pacing.  They preferred instances in which the crew worked together as a team over technical explanations of space travel.

My favorite takeaways, however, were the conclusions that derived from cherry-picked responses and contextless feedback.  For instance, audiences were asked to rate the importance of certain aspects of the show, say: relationships, space battles, and fight sequences.  Relationships were of the greatest importance with space battles coming in second and fight sequences in third place.  “See!”I’d be told.  “Audiences don’t care about fight sequences!”

Another great example was “the great Android voice debate”.  Amidst all the feedback we received on the show’s first season was some criticism of the Android’s voice as a handful respondents found it lacked the authority of classic android’s of yore.  I guess.  So a request was made to make sure the Android spoke in a more authoritative manner in season 2.  My response: “GTFO!”.  Never mind the fact that the Android character ranked either #1 or #2 in popularity across most categories, why the hell would you change a beloved character midstream?  It’s not as if people who weren’t watching the show were going to see a preview and say: “Holy shit!  That android character speaks with authority!  I’m going to start watching this show!”   More likely, fans of the Android will watch and wonder: “What the fuck did they do to the Android?”

It was on the heels of one of these yearly cross-network fact-finding summations that I found myself at a nameless network, looking to pitch.  I sat down and started to roll into my first show, a horror-comedy in the spirit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  “Look, I’m going to have to stop you right there,”said the senior executive in the room.  “We’ve found that our audience doesn’t respond well to horror so horror is definitely not something we’re looking for.  No horror.”  As I shifted gears to my next pitch, the junior started talking about one of their upcoming new productions, a monster-themed show with, uh, comedic elements. “It’s great,”he enthused.  “It’s alternately terrifying and horrifying.”  And then, catching a look from the senior executive, he quickly added: “But more terrifying than horrifying.”

Uh, right.

7 Great Movie Endings Demolished By Test Audiences

July 5, 2018: All in!

Okay.  I’ve pulled the trigger.  I’m all in.  Next up, the negotiations.  Meanwhile, I’ve already started discussions about series structure with the show’s insanely talented creator.  Good good guy.  You’re gonna love him.

In answer to the obvious question – Yes, sci-fi, but very different from the type of shows I’ve worked on in the past.  Very exciting.

If all goes as planned, we should convene the writer’s room in early August after which it’ll be smoooooooooth sailing!

This is definitely going to put a crimp in my record-setting reading pace.

Oh, thanks to everyone asking about the move.  We’re all settled in.  Akemi successfully assembled both the bar and bar cart.  By the time the book and liquor shelving arrive in 5-6 weeks, I’ll have all 65 bottles of whiskey on display. Meanwhile, we accepted delivery of the new coffee table, bar stools, dining room chairs, and living room couch (albeit with the wrong legs).  Once we get a t.v. in here for moderate background noise, it’ll truly feel like home.

The dogs, meanwhile, are already fully settled.  Lulu has already claimed the couch (with the wrong legs) as her own.

But that sunny spot by the window remains a favorite.

Suji meanwhile, not quite as chill, too a little longer to adapt.  Pictured above facing one of her many existential moments.

The nice thing is we’re now only a short 5 minute walk from my favorite place with the fancy coffees.  Pictured above, me on a date with my gal.

Tomorrow, it’s lunch with former Dark Matter Visual Effects Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson, possibly an anime matinee, some more research for this upcoming project.  Official news to come…