December 4, 2015: Counting down to Dark Matter’s second season!

Production on Dark Matter’s second season commences Wednesday, December 9th with the ever-awesome Amanda Tapping at the director’s helm.  Amanda has been BUSY these last few days, scouting, meeting, selecting, and generally prepping her vision of our big season premiere.  The cast and crew are thrilled to have her back!

As we barrel toward our first day of principal photography, the final pieces are slotting into place…

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Oooh.  The roof in Gen. Pop. is coming along nicely, as is the rest of the structure.

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I’d describe the cells as austere-Spartan chic!

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As I’ve often said: “It’s the small things” – in this case, all the tiny details that make up the wall elements on Hyperion-8 – that lend the show that depth of realism.

Hyperion-8 training room playback.

Meanwhile on the home front, Akemi is getting into the Christmas spirit…

Much to Bubba’s chagrin:

Screen Shot 2015-12-04 at 8.34.54 AM

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August 10, 2012: Days of Stargate Atlantis Past! Phantoms! Our Supermovie of the Week Club! Cookie Monster film reviews!

Had a phone conversation re: our comic book series, Dark Matter.  It was actually a prelude to a much bigger conference call scheduled for next week, a creative discussion with a network rep.  To be honest, the notion of doing Dark Matter as a feature has also been floated and, while I certainly wouldn’t say no to the idea, I would certainly say: “Okay – provided we’ve exhausted all other possibilities.”.  Creatively, I feel strongly that DM would work much better as a television series or mini-series because of its serialized nature.  Realistically, if it goes the feature route, I can’t expect much involvement (outside of the occasional set visit), so all the more reason to produce it for television where I’m in my element.  Of course, having said this, who knows? Everything is a longshot in this business, which is why it’s always a good idea to diversify…

This weekend, I have to sit down and write up pitches for a couple of the series ideas Paul and I came up with last week, identifying the concepts that would, hopefully, be a good fit with the network we’ll be approaching.  While I honestly don’t mind doing it, I doubt the potential for making a sale based on a pitch (unless, of course, you happen to be J.J. Abrams).  More often than not, what happens is you pitch out an idea, the network representative imagines the worst possible execution of said idea, and that’s that.  I’ve always preferred to go out with a finished script as proof of how the idea can be realized. Of course, even that doesn’t guarantee a sale.  Still, at the end of the day, even if it doesn’t sell, it offers you a calling card in the form of a writing sample.

Exacerbating matters is the fact that, sadly, Stargate is relatively unknown in Hollywood.  Few are familiar with the show and those that do know the show aren’t anymore receptive.  In their years at the helm of one of the biggest, most successful science fiction franchises in television history, Brad Wright and Robert Cooper made the studio tons of money and helped build a network.  Why these two haven’t been signed to some sort of an overall deal is altogether bewildering.

The more I think about it, the more I believe we really should be down in L.A., taking meetings, getting to know people, making connections.  On the flip side, I’ve grown comfortable in Vancouver and, after those 11+ years on Stargate, it’s not as if the dogs are going to starve if I elect to stay where I am.  After over a decade working on Stargate, followed by a truly dreadful year in Toronto, 2012 is an opportunity to unwind, relax, travel, write some scripts, and push thoughts of producing to 2013.  But, in the next 4-6 months, I’m going to have to make a decision.  Do I want to continue to push or am I content with where I am and what I have?  Or is there some other, totally different, opportunity I may choose to pursue?

Picking up where we left off on our trip down SGA memory lane…

PHANTOMS (309)

For some reason, at some point in his Stargate career, Carl Binder got pegged as “the ghost writer”, possibly because it seemed that very second episode he wrote happened to involve otherworld apparitions or a variation thereof.  Aurora.  Echoes.  Pain.  In Phantoms, the ghosts are hallucinations that, beside offering the usual serving of suspense and high adventure, also allow us some insight into Sheppard’s past (specifically regarding his time in Afghanistan and the actions that resulted in charges of misconduct) AND gives us a nice little twist in Beckett’s story (one which I thought was pretty damn well executed).

Longtime Stargate mainstay Martin Wood directed Phantoms, the type of  episode we termed a “run and jump” for its heavy action and movement, elements that played to Martin’s strength as a visually dynamic storyteller.

Sad(?) news from Cookie Monster’s camp.  His people report that monster has been unable to get his furry blue mitts on a copy of The Specials, this Monday’s Supermovie of the Week Club selection.  As practically every single on of you know, this blog hosts a weekly Supermovie of the Week Club in which, every week, a different superhero-themed movie is screened and reviewed – by guest reviewer, Cookie Monster.  Last week’s movie, X-Men (2000), received the first passing mark (8 out of 10 chocolat chipppe cookies!) in many, many weeks of supermovie viewing.  I have a feeling the trend was NOT going to continue with The Specials, so maybe it’s just as well we skip it in favor of Spiderman (2002).  Watch/Re-watch it, then drop by Monday and weigh in with your thoughts when Cookie Monster offers his learned opinion.

To check out Cookie Monster’s past reviews, head on over here: Film reviews by resident film critic Cookie Monster

Reviews to date:

X-MEN: Wowee!  Watching dis movie like eating an Oreo after a steady diet of Grover’s moms “half de sugar” shortbread cookies (taste like dry sadness)… (X-Men)

MYSTERY MEN: Awesome!  Fantastic!  Amazing!  All words monster use to describe The Mystery Men.  Soundtrack.  Some terrific tunes in dis movie.  Terrific! On de other hand, words monster use to describe de aktual movie =… (Mystery Men)

STEEL: Making fun of dis movie be like taunting Grover’s cuzin Edwin, de one who eat candles and walks into walls.  Too easy.  And where de fun in dat?  Well, okay, still some fun…(Steel)

BATMAN AND ROBIN: Batmand and Robin be de filmic equivalent of explosive garden vegetable diarrhea. Exciting, sometime pretty to look at, but it still crap.  Dis movie be Joel Schumacher’s master piece (of shit). (Batmand and Robin)

THE PHANTOM: Or, like me prefer to call it: Purple Unitardo and de Temple of Doom! (The Phantom)

SPAWN: Ever have it when you need to write skript for movie, but tings are going slow so you invite Count and Big Bird to your place for drinks but you do too many jagermeister shots and one of girlz Count bring wit him slip roofie into your beer chaser and you wake up next morning wit no pants, no wallet, but finished skript you wrote in drunken, drug-addled, three hour stupor?  No?  Well, monster suspekt screenwriter of Spawn VERY familiar wit dis scenario… (Spawn)

THE SHADOW: Who knows what evil lurk in de hearts of men?  De Shadow knows! How he know?  Search monster.  Me having hard enough time trying to make sense of dis movie. (The Shadow)

BATMAN FOREVER: Batman Forever.  Well, at almost two hours running time, it sure feel dat way.  After box office suckcess of first two Batman movies, studio reward Tim Burton by replacing him as direktor and… (Batman Forever)

MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: Most superhero movies me have reviewed so far make monster so angry he want to go back to video store and punch and slap around employee, den kick him in de grapes. But dis not de case wit Mighty Morphin Power Rangers movie.  Instead, me just want to go back and punch and slap.  Not as much grape kicking. (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie)

FANTASTIC FOUR (1995): Dis movie nowhere near fantastic but, all in all, not de worst fan film monster have ever seen. (Fantastic Four (1995))

BLANKMAN: Calling dis movie “a comedy” be like calling orange soda “juice”. Blankman aktually offer less den 5% of de daily rekommended serving of laffs. (Blankman)

METEOR MAN: Meteor Man written and directed by Robert Townsend.  To be honest, me prefer his Chinatown. (Meteor Man)

BATMAN RETURNS: Batman Returns remind monster of solid gold eggz Big Bird get by mail order.  Nice to look at but empty and when send complaint, company stop taking your callz and it all end wit director filing restraning order against you. (Batman Returns)

CAPTAIN AMERICA (1990): From direktor of Kickboxer 4: De Aggressor and Nemesis III: Prey Harder and producer of Breakin’ 2: Elektrik Boogaloo and Super IV: Quest for Peace (uh oh) come Captain America, de greatest American hero since Superman.  Oh, and de Greatest American Hero. (Captain America (1990))

DARKMAN: In his most understated performance since role of Rob Roy in movie me can’t remember name of… (Darkman)

THE ROCKETEER: Zzzzzz.  Snort.  Hunh?  Me awake!  Sorry.  Monster up all night trying to finish Rocketeer for todayz review.  Movie is trowback to old cereals from de 30′s and 40′s your grandpa used to love. (The Rocketeer)

BATMAN (1989): Finally, a supermovie dat not completely suck.  Only partz involving wet noodle main charakters, a butler who can’t keep a sekret, and bad guyz dancing to Prince. (Batman (1989))

THE PUNISHER (1989): Monster really looking forward to not seeing dis movie.  So looking forward, in fakt, dat me make planz to visit Wildwood New Jerzey for jellyfish mating seazon instead. (The Punisher (1989))

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: Hoo boy.  Take one good idea wit promise, sell out and make it for kiddiez to cash in on merchandizing potenshul, den make movie about it but don’t bother paying for decent script.… (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

SUPERMAN IV: Wow.   Superman IV VERY impressive.  It achieve someting not even General Zodd and Leks Luthor able to do = kill off Superman. (Superman IV)

SUPERGIRL: Blargh!  Supergirl most nauzeating movie since Big Bird sex tape released online. (Supergirl)

SUPERMAN III: Superman III so bad it make Superman II look like Superman I! (Superman III)

CONDORMAN: After terruble Superman films, Condorman a nice change of pace.  Not so much terruble as trooly horruble.  It be movie made for kidz – at a time when kidz not know any better… (Condorman)

SUPERMAN II: Superman II is great movie for kidz!  Rotten, notty kidz who you want to punish but not allowed to spank, so dis torturus movie next best ting. (Superman II)

SUPERMAN (1978): When time for Monster to sit down and watch Superman movie, he select Speshul Edition because, letz face it, me very speshul.  But monster not realize dat “speshul edition” over two and a half hours long!  (Superman: The Movie (1978))

HERO AT LARGE: Kwestion #1: When is superhero movie NOT superhero movie?  Answer #1: When hero in movie NOT have any superpowers.  Kwestion #2: So why monster watching dis movie? Answer #2: Becuz somebody (ie Joe) tell him to watch for Supermovie of de Week Club.  Kwestion #3: What de deal with Bert Convy hair? Answer #3: No answer to dat one. (Hero At Large)

BATMAN (1996): Many not know dis but Monster on short list to replace Simon Cowl on Amerikan Idol.  Deal almost closed (with jenerous chocolate chippee dressing room rider) when show hire Cookie’s bitter enemy = Jennifer Lopez! (Batman (1966))

SUPERMAN AND THE MOLE MEN: Cookie Monster come down with flu – or maybe bug picked up from Grover jacuzzi party – and not feeling one hunerd persent so sorry if dis review make less sense den movie.… (Superman and the Mole Men)

And a couple of non superhero-themed film reviews:

THERE WILL BE BLOOD: Dere Will Be Blood. Eventually. But it take a while. A loooong while. Almost two and half hours! (There Will Be Blood)

SNAKES ON A PLANE: Snakes on a Plane be good, old-fashioned fun popcorn movie. Minus fun. And not very good. Or old-fashioned. Also, no popcorn. (Snakes on a Plane)

Today’s entry is dedicated to Birthday Boy Carl Binder!

October 1, 2010: Signage envy! Early birthday gifts! A miraculous lunch! And a couple of interesting links!

So the other day I remarked on the awesome “CARL BINDER” signage hanging over Carl’s office door and the lack of a similarly awesome “JOSEPH MALLOZZI” signage hanging over my door.  I mean, come on.  How are people going to know it’s my office if it doesn’t say so over the door in big block letters?!  Well, yesterday, Set Decorator Mark Davidson came by to present me with a little something from an old friend, Boyd.  It read:

“I read your blog last week.  Couldn’t believe the indignity you’ve faced with the new guy, Binder, having his name up on the office wall while you don’t.  Would have had this to you sooner but I was repeatedly interrupted by show stuff.  Hope this helps!

Boyd”

And, by “this”, he meant…

This!

I was so thrilled I had Lawren and Ashleigh stop what they were doing – in Lawren’s case, distributing a script that was about to go into prep; in Ashleigh’s case, administering CPR to an elderly man who had collapsed in the parking lot – to put up my sign.  And –

Voila!

Later, even Brad got some signage –

And all it took was a little adjustment to Carl’s door –

But that wasn’t the only little surprise that awaited me.  I received a mysterious package in the mail –

Other warnings on the box included “Hands off, Ashleigh!” and “Ashleigh may cause this box to spontaneously explode” – which got me wondering whether this was reverse psychology and the sender was actually warning Ashleigh AWAY from a potentially explosive situation.  It all seemed highly suspect, so I elected to exercise extreme caution. And had Carl open it for me under the assumption it was a present for him.

As it turned out, the box contained an early birthday gift from blog regular Quade.  Two awesome mugs –

This one says: WORLD'S BEST CARL BINDER

While this one says (appropriately enough): YOU CAN'T WIN

Also included were two lemons (“Save SGA” and “Keller 4 ever”) and a package of Miracle Fruit Tablets.

According to the instructions on the back:

– Place one miracle fruit tablet on your tongue and let it completely dissolve.  Make sure the tablet makes contact with as many taste buds as possible.

– Once the fruit tablet is dissolved, you will find that event the most sour fruits taste sweet in your mouth.

– This incredible sensation that is produced by miracle fruit usually lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Step 1: Carl confirms the lemons are real lemons…

Step 2: A paranoid Carl tries the miracle fruit…

Step 3: Carl begins trippin’ out.  The ceiling’s coming down on him!

Step 4: With the miracle fruit tablet dissolved, Carl again samples the lemon…

A couple of links for you to check out –

Over at his site, Steve Eramo has posted an interview with actor David Blue (SGU’s Eli Wallace): http://scifiandtvtalk.typepad.com/scifiandtvtalk/2010/09/stargate-universes-david-blue-team-player.html#tp

And check out this timely article written by none other than blog regular Shirt ‘n Tie: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/health/2010/0921/1224279345754.html

August 11, 2010: Production update! Another hint at what’s to come in season two! Carl’s new office!

Holy smokes!  It’s taken us a day and a half to watch the Day 1 mix of Trial and Error – and we’re still not done!

Had our sit-down with the Art and Construction departments today about the new late season set we’ll be discovering in my episode, The Hunt.  We talked playback, atmosphere, functionality, and numbers – some of which will play in episode 16, most of which will very late in the season.

What else is going to happen in SGU’s second season?  Well, here’s a hint at things to come by way of a pic from the show’s first season…

Today, we helped Carl move into his new office.  I made it a point to snap some pics of the stuff that decorates his new digs…

A photocopy of a portrait of his Great Uncle Heinrich Von Binder who Paul claims was the Prussian Minister of the Interior to Bismarck.

The chocolate-covered macadamia nuts I gave him as a welcome to Stargate gift. Six years ago.

Family Guy figures? Check. South Park figures? Check. Backfacing creepy doll? Check.

Guess the Stargate episode for a chance to win an envelope of Carl's mustache trimmings!

Signed photo of Golden Boy Martin Gero.

Pegasus crystal

Pocahontas Pez dispenser. Did you now that Carl Binder co-wrote Pocahontas? He's only mentioned it about a million times.

Framed picture of Carl and his favorite gal - Jelly.

Photo of Carl and some mustached stranger.

Humpy dog memory stick.

All settled in and hard at work.

August 10, 2010: Birthday celebrations kick off! A cryptic SGU season 2 clue! John G. Lenic’s culinary show and tell!

Hey, look who’s on the move…

Carl settles into his new digs.

With Robert Cooper, gone, Carl wasted no time in exercising squatting rights on his recently-vacated office.  Although the premises were originally earmarked for a local children’s charities, it looks like the tots are out of luck.  Carl is, after all, an Executive Producer. AND a birthday boy…

Carl Binder - Birthday Boy

Yes, that’s right.  Today, we celebrated Carl’s birthday in grand style – with schnitzel, poppy seed strudel, and the traditional off-key rendition of Happy Birthday.  In addition, Carl received a surprise gift…

A present from Executive Producer Robert Cooper!
And a heartfelt card. What's it say?
Oh.
Happy birthday!

Anyway, while Carl was in his new office, crying, we helped ourselves…

A delectable variety  from http://www.cookiesbygeorge.com/.  Soft and chewy, now THESE would have been perfect for ice cream sandwiches.  Ashleigh had about seven or eight.

Today’s random Stargate: Universe potential spoiler/teaser…

??? Okay, I'll give you a hint. It's for episode #213, Alliances.

After lunch, as part of the week-long Carl’s Birthday Celebrations, Producer John G. Lenic brought in goodie bags from his recent culinary excursion to Spain, highlighting a host of menu items Carl would never eat in a million years.

Les desserts!
The desert menu...
John started off by uncapping the spritzer and spraying its contents - just like they did in the restaurant. Except I'm pretty sure that the restaurant staff didn't spray him directly in the face like he did me.
The aerated mandarin jelly chocolate was ultra delicate, unimaginably fragrant, and utterly divine. The apple pie caramel with edible wrap was incredible, so much apple pie flavor packed into such a tiny morsel.
Dessert tobacco
The Coconut Baccy - coconut infused with an aroma of Black Cavendish Tobacco. The hint of tobacco was very subtle, but even that proved too much for my writing partner Paul who grew up with a pipe-smoking father.
The Queen of Hearts Tart. Yes, it's edible. The most elegant and inventive dessert I've eaten.
Menu from the restaurant at the Guggenheim Museum. Menu item #5: "roasted colt chunk". I assume they're referring to the gun.
Menu from Mugaritz, John's fave restaurant on his recent trip. Don't fill up on those "edible stones" to start! Not sure about the "glutinous cod fish" but I would be all over those "Iberian pork tails".
The El Bulli menu. I count some 36 menu items. Apparently, the meal was so structured that diners aren't even allowed to get up to use the bathroom until an appointed time. I'm intrigued by: the gorgonzola globe, oysters and bone marrow tartare, Parmegiano ice cream with modena, basil and strawberry, eel sandwich, abalone with Iberian ham fat.

And the Fat Duck menu. To be honest, it all sounds amazing, from the nitro-poached green tea and lime mousse to the whiskey wine gums. Snail porridge? Powdered Anjou pigeon? Jelly of Quail with Crayfish Cream? Wow! I'm suddenly tempted to take my friend Cynthia up on her offer and visit London.

September 30, 2009: Only Two Days to the Stargate: Universe Premiere! Robert Carlyle! An On (and Off) Set Photo Journal Entry!

The finish line is within sight!  In two mere days, we premiere and you, the fans, will finally be able to see what all the buzz is about.  Until then,  keep telling anyone and everyone, peruse those online reviews (like this one  http://scifi.about.com/b/2009/09/30/the-new-season-so-far.htm or this one  http://www.tvovermind.com/stargate-universe/review-stargate-universe-a-stargate-for-the-rest-of-us/10400), and check out today’s chock full o’ pics entry:

Hey, look who it is!  It's the ever-affable Carl Binder having a blast on Stage 2.
Hey, look who it is! It's the ever-affable Carl Binder having a blast on Stage 2.
Carl is on hand to lend Special Features Producer - and, on this day, kino sequence Director Ivon Bartok some much-appreciated support.
Carl is on hand to lend Special Features Producer - and, on this day, kino sequence Director Ivon Bartok some much-appreciated support.
Best of buddies!
Best of buddies!
Greg Fox all strapped in and ready to go!
Greg Fox all strapped in and ready to go!
Director of Photography Jim Menard's illuminating presence.
Director of Photography Jim Menard's illuminating presence.
Okay, down to business.  They pretend to watch the scene being shot but are actually checking out last week's episode of Vampire Diaries.
Okay, down to business. They pretend to watch the scene being shot but are actually checking out last week's episode of Vampire Diaries.
A break in the on-set action.
A break in the on-set action.
David Blue snaps me snapping him.
David Blue snaps me snapping him.

They're having way too much fun.  This is a place of work, people!
They're having way too much fun. This is a place of work, people!

Ivon shows up to give them a firm talking to.
Ivon shows up to give them a firm talking to.
Brian J. Smith thinking about all the wonderful fans who took the time to check out his Q&A (see last issue, ed.)
Brian J. Smith thinking about all the wonderful fans who took the time to check out his Q&A (see last issue, ed.)
Jennifer Spence (SGU's Lisa Park) and Peter Kelamis (SGU's Adam Brody).
Jennifer Spence (SGU's Lisa Park) and Peter Kelamis (SGU's Adam Brody).
The new James Bond?  I think so.  The dashing Patrick Gilmore (SGU's Dale Volker).
The new James Bond? I think so. The dashing Patrick Gilmore (SGU's Dale Volker).
Brian J. Smith (SGU's Lieutenant Matthew Scott) shows off his crossfit form.
Brian J. Smith (SGU's Lieutenant Matthew Scott) shows off his crossfit form.
Seriously, what did I just say about having too much fun?!
Seriously, what did I just say about having too much fun?!
Back to work.  They shoot the scene.
Back to work. They shoot the scene.
Carl loves it!
Carl loves it!
Every 16 hours or so, the actors are permitted to leave the soundstage and take in some of the marvelous Vancouver weather.  Five minutes of freedom - then back to work.  This next scene aint gonna shoot itself!
Every 16 hours or so, the actors are permitted to leave the soundstage and take in some of the marvelous Vancouver weather. Five minutes of freedom - then back to work. This next scene aint gonna shoot itself!

Rounding out my salute to the cast of Stargate: Universe, I’d like to make special mention of screen veteran and all-around class act Robert Carlyle.  When I first heard he was going to be playing the part of Dr. Rush, I was, of course, thrilled…and very curious.  What would it be like working with such a well-established and accomplished actor?  Well, eight months in, I can honestly say that it’s been an utter joy.  I needn’t tell you how incredibly talented he is – but I’ll tell you anyway.  He IS incredibly talented, time and again blowing the doors out with his consistently dynamic, wholly engaging performances.   Simply put, the guy is immense fun to watch!  And for those of you wondering what he’s like when he’s not acting his heart out, allow me to break it down for you: humble, gracious, genial, soft-spoken, and VERY charming.  About as un-Hollywood as you can get.

Lieutenant Scott (Brian J. Smith), Dr. Rush (Robert Carlyle), and Eli Wallace (David Blue).  Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.
Lieutenant Scott (Brian J. Smith), Dr. Rush (Robert Carlyle), and Eli Wallace (David Blue). Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Yes, we’re extremely fortunate to have assembled a truly stellar cast, all of them not only great performers, but great people as well.

September 10, 2009: I coulda been a reiki master! Glee! Carl receives script notes! Mark Burgess!

Patrick Gilmore (Dale Volker).  Yeah, he coulda been a reiki master too.  Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.
Patrick Gilmore (Dale Volker). Yeah, he coulda been a reiki master too. Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Patrick Gilmore (SGU’s Dale Volker) dropped by my office this morning to request permission to use some of the photos I’d taken of him for an upcoming newspaper feature (I suggest going with “Flight of the Volkery“ or “You‘ve Got Dale!”). I was, of course, more than happy to oblige, offering up free use of any of the pics in my archive including a couple of extra shots of yours truly to really round out the article. Eventually, we got to talking about tweeting, blogging, and the lulling effects of internet surfing. I’m sure you all know what I’m talking about. One second you’re logging in to check your email and the next thing you know it’s next Tuesday and you’re the subject of an amber alert. Time flies when you’re having fun, but flies even faster when you’re online. Truly, I can’t even begin to imagine the many, many things I could have been doing instead. Why, I could have taken up golf, learned to play the castanets, understood a half dozen David Lynch movies, produced my first spoken word CD, become a reiki master, or taken up World of Warcraft. Instead, here I am. Anyway, internet addiction is apparently a bigger problem than many realize. It’s a serious subject that requires serious discussion. But, unfortunately, not here because I’m far too busy working on this blog, frequenting the various foodie forums, and surfing YouTube for hilarious videos of bug-eyed woodland creatures.

Hey, you know what’s a pretty damn good show? Besides Stargate:Universe. Glee! And I’m not the only one in the writers’ room who was pleasantly surprised by the show. Carl, Paul, and Brad also give it the big thumbs up. To be honest, I had no interest in the premise, envisioning it as a High School Musical for adults, but after Carl’s strong recommendation, I checked it out – and was mightily impressed with the quick, clever, and very funny writing, direction, and performances. My only quibble is the all-too-slick musical numbers, but it’s a minor one. If you haven’t checked the show out yet, I heartily recommend you do so. And Stargate: Universe.

I poked my head into Carl Binder’s office this afternoon and discovered he was in the process of receiving notes from actor Jamil Walker Smith. It’s always amazing to watch the creative process unfold, the give and take between performer and writer, and I was fortunate enough to be able to snap a few pics of the magic happening. Check it out –

Jamil and Carl discuss Sgt. Greer's character arc in an upcoming episode.
Jamil and Carl discuss Sgt. Greer's character arc in an upcoming episode.

Then offers some helpful suggestions for the rewrite.
Jamil follows up by offering some helpful suggestions for the rewrite.

Last day to get your questions in for actor Brian J. Smith (SGU’s Lieutenant Matthew Scott).

Brian J. Smith, poised to answer your questions (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Brian J. Smith, poised to answer your questions (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Last day to get your questions in for author Matthew Woodring Stover (Heroes Die).

Finally, I’d like to make mention of yet another member of our terrific cast. Mark Burgess plays the role of SGU’s oft put-upon Jeremy Franklin and, dare I say, he is perfect for the role.

Mark Burgess (Jeremy Franklin).  Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.
Mark Burgess (Jeremy Franklin). Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

Stargate fans will, of course, remember Mark from his appearance in Stargate: Atlantis’s AU episode Vegas which had him puking his guts up in a seedy motel room before a wraith eventually put him out of his misery. Well, he parlayed that sickly guest shot into a much healthier recurring role on Stargate: Universe where he finds himself considerably less nauseous but significantly more harried. His character puts up with so much with such resigned weariness that, every time I see Mark on the lot, I actually feel like apologizing to him.

HUH?!!  WHATWASTHAT?!!  (Mark Burgess as a seriously spooked Jeremy Franklin).  Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.
HUH?!! WHATWASTHAT?!! (Mark Burgess as a seriously spooked Jeremy Franklin). Photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television.

September 9, 2009: Yep, it’s gremlins alright! Our semi-professional models show off the crew gifts! Actress Alaina Huffman! Stargate pics!

I knew it!  I AM being terrorized by gremlins and/or the ghosts of gremlins!  Now my laptop battery won’t re-charge!  I plugged in my power cord this morning and had the “Low Battery” warning flash up before my computer shut down.  After attempting several high-tech solutions (plugging my power cord into another outlet, checking to make sure the little green light was on, wiggling the cord, taking out the battery and putting it back in, shaking the laptop, etc.) the laptop powered up but my power meter read 0%.  Five minutes later, I checked again and it was at 100%.  Yeah, sure.  100%. That’s what they want me to think!  To top things off, I still can’t transfer Google Maps onto my Garmin.
On the bright side, our crew gifts came in today – dashing SGU jackets available not only three different colors, but three different sizes!  I, of course, always go with the women’s small, the better to show off my developing delts.  Check out the Stargate models in action…
I’m a big fan of actress Alain Huffman.  And I’m not the only one.  Yes, you can count in the rest of the show’s producers who have been utterly delighted with her portrayal of SGU’s hard-luck Lieutenant Tamara “T.J.” Johansen, but you can also include my wife who, quite frankly, rarely weighs in on the actors I work with.  The cast of SGU is an exception because they all received invites to my annual chocolate party earlier this year, an occasion that allowed Fondy to actually meet them in a relaxed setting.  She had nothing but great things to say about all, but had particular praise for the gregarious Jamil Walker Smith (who walked in, strolled right up to a table full of strangers, and happily introduced  himself with a: “Hi, I’m Jamil!!!”) and Alaina who was seated across from her for most of the evening and proved herself an exceptionally charming dinner guest alongside her equally charming husband John.  Yes, we’re all fans of Alaina’s work, but we’re also huge fans of Alaina the person.  She’s sweet, funny, incredibly down-to-Earth, and possessed of a commendable chocolate appetite.  What more could you ask for?
Maybe a couple of pics from the Stargate: Atlantis vault?  Okay…

Gateroom assembly (courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Gateroom assembly (courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

I knew it!  I AM being terrorized by gremlins and/or the ghosts of gremlins!  Now my laptop battery won’t re-charge!  I plugged in my power cord this morning and had the “Low Battery” warning flash up before my computer shut down.  After attempting several high-tech solutions (plugging my power cord into another outlet, checking to make sure the little green light was on, wiggling the cord, taking out the battery and putting it back in, shaking the laptop, etc.) the laptop powered up but my power meter read 0%.  Five minutes later, I checked again and it was at 100%.  Yeah, sure.  100%. That’s what they want me to think!  To top things off, I still can’t transfer Google Maps onto my Garmin.  Oh, and I may need a new projector for my home theater.

Get your questions in for actor Brian J. Smith.  Or else! (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Get your questions in for actor Brian J. Smith. Or else! (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

On the bright side, our crew gifts came in today – dashing SGU jackets available in not only three different colors, but three different sizes as well!  I, of course, always go with the women’s extra tiny, the better to show off my developing delts. Anyway, check  ’em out.  Perfect for any mood or occasion –

On the go.
On the go!

Casual
Casual!

Sporty!
Sporty!

Droll
Droll!

Sassy/Thuggy!
Sassy/Thuggy!

I am a big fan of actress Alaina Huffman.  And I’m not the only one.  Yes, you can count in the rest of the show’s producers who have been utterly delighted with her portrayal of SGU’s hard-luck Lieutenant Tamara “T.J.” Johansen, but you can also include my wife who, quite frankly, rarely weighs in on the actors I work with.  The cast of SGU is an exception because they all received invites to my annual chocolate party earlier this year, an occasion that allowed Fondy to actually meet them in a relaxed setting.   She had nothing but great things to say about all,  but had particular praise for the gregarious Jamil Walker Smith (who walked in, right over to a table full of strangers, and happily introduced himself with a “Hi, I’m Jamil!!!”) and Alaina who was seated across from her for most of the evening and proved herself an exceptionally charming dinner guest alongside her equally charming husband John.

Alaina Huffman (Lieutenant Tamara Johansen) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television
Alaina Huffman (Lieutenant Tamara Johansen) - photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television

Yes, we’re all fans of Alaina’s work, but we’re also huge fans of Alaina the person.  She sweet, talented, funny, incredibly down-to-Earth, and possessed of a commendable appetite for chocolate.  What more could you ask for?

T.J. leads the ladies (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
T.J. leads the ladies (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

What more?  Maybe a couple of pics from the Stargate: Atlantis vault.

Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)
Stargate: Atlantis, Season 5, The Seed (photo courtesy and copyright MGM Television)

August 13, 2009: Awaiting word. Michael Shanks guests. Actor Luis Ferreira drops by the office. And Carl Binder in: Set Trouble!

Rob has been directing Human, Brad has been prepping Sabotage, and Paul has been finishing up his first draft of Subversion, so the only producer who has actually had the time to read my scripts, episodes #19 and #20, is Carl. He dropped by my office today to offer his opinion. Yes, I agreed, the B story will require some rethinking and there are a few sequences that will need some tweaking but, happily, Carl found it exciting, well-paced and seemed quite intrigued by the ending. And, most importantly, he felt it worked well as two scripts.  Hopefully, the others will feel the same.

Rob dropped my office after lunch while the production was making the move from the location to mess set, waved my first script and joked: “It’s so hard to know what’s going on without having read episode eighteen.” – a reference to Paul’s script, still being written. “Yeah, tell me about it,”I countered. “You think reading is confusing. Try writing the next script!” And, since he was there, I told him how much we’d enjoyed the previous day’s dailies. The film looks amazing. For his part, Rob had nothing but praise for the actors and, given their significant roles in this episode, Robert Caryle and guest star Michael Shanks in particular.

Actor Michael Shanks
Actor Michael Shanks

Also dropping by my office today was actor Luis Ferreira who was in the neighborhood and decided to stop in and say hi. And get the scoop on the last three episodes. Luis is a guy whose onscreen persona is in sharp contrast to the character he plays on Universe. Off the set, he’s incredibly gregarious – animated, affable, and very funny. In front of the camera, however, as Colonel Everett Young, he is a rock – cool and unflappable, a solid and steady leader. He’s a wonderful actor possessed of major talent and – I couldn’t help but notice after those first few days of production – an amazing voice. Young is the calm in the eye of the storm, the guy you want calling the shots when things get heated – and Luis is nothing short of perfect for the role. And, did I mention, he’s a hell of a nice guy?

Luis on set with fellow actor Patrick Gilmore (Dr. Dale Volker).
Luis on set with fellow actor Patrick Gilmore (Dr. Dale Volker).
Luis does his Daniel Craig impression.
Luis does his Daniel Craig impression.
Luis gives Stargate fans the thumbs up!
Luis gives Stargate fans the thumbs up!

This afternoon, I had a conference call with Grey, Erika, and Craig to discuss this blog and ideas for cool SGU exclusives. Very exciting stuff.

I leave you with a recent stroll through Stage 5 that ended rather, uh, abruptly for Carl. Check it out.

But first…I’d like to dedicate today’s entry to Platschu. Thanks for the Hungarian cookbook.

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And happy birthday!

No sooner do we start our walk through Stage 5 than Carl takes a wrong turn and we end up lost.
No sooner do we start our walk through Stage 5 than Carl takes a wrong turn and we end up lost.

 

We hear some unsettling noises coming from the top of the staircase and send Carl to investigate.  What we initially took to be the sound of a bugbear feeding on carrion turned out to be a teamster eating his lunch.
We hear some unsettling noises coming from the top of the staircase and send Carl to investigate. What we initially took to be the sound of a bugbear feeding on carrion turned out to be a teamster eating his lunch.

 

You wouldn't believe how many unionized spiders we had working overtime to complete this project.
You wouldn’t believe how many unionized spiders we had working overtime to complete this project.

 

Yes, Carl, that was the exit.  Nice going.
Yes, Carl, that was the exit. Nice going.
A panicked Carl tries to dig his way out.
A panicked Carl tries to dig his way out.
Demonstrating formidale strength!
Demonstrating formidale strength!
Ha!  Just kidding!  It's a prop rock!
Ha! Just kidding! It's a prop rock!
Just like this one!
Just like this one!
Oh!  Oh %&@$!  This one's real!
Oh! Oh %&@$! This one's real!
He went doing what he loved most.  Moving big rocks around.
He went doing what he loved most. Moving big rocks around.

August 2, 2009: Those Act II breaks are always in the last place you look. Some set pics. Book club reminder. My super, secret project revealed! Carl’s 3 Stages. Creepy ads, dogs, and the mailbag. Holy crap! This title is almost as long as the entry itself!

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A great writing day. Granted, a better day for lazing about in the sun but, still, writers can’t be choosers. So after lying awake in bed last night working the story out in my head, I finally found my Act II break! (I’d left it in the garage behind the recycling bin.). Thus armed, I sat down to write (actually, I stood but that’s neither here nor there) and banged out the second act in no time. 10 ¾ pages, by the time I was done I had hit the 26 page mark. And it was only a little after 3:00 p.m.! Of course the fact that I got up at 7:00 a.m. may have been a contributing factor. Anyway, I’m very pleased with my progress. If I can get Act III done tomorrow, Acts IV and V will practically write themselves (Not literally though. I’ve tried and it doesn’t work.). I’m aiming to complete rough drafts of both scripts by Tuesday, will go over them Wednesday and Thursday, and put them out on Friday when I will, no doubt, be relieved and overcome with euphoria that accompanies a job well done…until Monday when I receive everyone’s notes and they tell me to combine the two scripts into one.

Let’s celebrate like the peasants of yore.  With pitchers!

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Martin Gero and Carl Binder, hosts of SyFy's new Ghost Hunters Intergalactic.
Martin Gero and Carl Binder, hosts of SyFy’s new Ghost Hunters Intergalactic.
What the - ? indeed.
What the – ? indeed.

Oh, hey, speaking of Marty G. – a rectification on my part.  I completely forgot that he was on hand to spin and break stories with us in the early going (I know because I had to provide photographic proof to the gals in accounting who were suspicious), so he IS a Consulting Producer for the first ten episodes. 

Finish up The Speed of Dark book club participants.  Tomorrow, I’ll be posting my thoughts on the book and starting to gather reader questions for author Elizabeth Moon. 

Finally, the grand announcement! Around this time last year, I started work on something I called “my super, secret project”.  As it turns out, it was a short story I was asked to contribute to an upcoming anthology edited by Lou Anders.  What’s the title of the story?  What kind of anthology is it?  Well, head on over to Lou’s blog for the breaking news (http://louanders.blogspot.com/2009/08/look-up-in-sky-is-it-bird-is-it-plane.html) and I’ll follow up on this in tomorrow’s entry.

Hey, check it out!  USC alumnus Carl Binder goes thought The 3 Stages of Crosstown Rival Grief upon spotting Producer John G. Lenic sporting a UCLA t-shirt.:

Shock.
Shock.
Disbelief.
Disbelief.
And, finally - nausea.
And, finally – nausea.

Oh, hey, my sis sent me a link to some horrifically memorable ads:  http://www.retrocomedy.com/2009/07/15-creepiest-vintage-ads-of-all-time.html  For real!  Gotta get me one of them styling eye-patches. 

Mailbag:

Thornyrose writes: “If you’d done your “secret Project” on the same time scale, you’d have had time to write at least two more stories.”

Answer: Speaking of that super, secret project.

Nadine writes: “How are the dogs handling the heat? Do you keep them inside most of the day? Or are just careful to not let them get overheated?”

Answer: They love the sun but hate the heat so they’ll go outside for a while then head back indoors to cool off then head back outside for a while… 

We interrupt this mailbag for an important doggy interlude:

Jelly
Jelly
Maximus
Maximus
Lulu
Lulu
Brie
Brie
Bubba
Bubba
Jelly
Jelly
Maximus
Maximus
Lulu
Lulu

We now return to our scheduled mailbag already in progress…

JJ writes: “Will there be a trailer for SGU pilot release in september?”

Answer: Don’t know what MGM or SyFy have planned.

Anais33 a ecrit:: “1) Combien d’heures par jours passez vous à écrire vorte scripte?
2) Quand tout les épisodes de sgu seront finit de tournés?”

Reponses: 1) Ce weekend – 12 heures par jour.

2) En Octobre.

Translation: 1) This weekend, I’m averaging about 12 hours a day on the script(s).

2) We’ll season one of Universe in October.

Lynn writes: “Hi Joe: I was wondering on Stargate Atlantis if the idea was ever broached to have a religious advisor among the crew, considering how far away they were going and the odds about returning?”

Answer: Never on Atlantis but we did discuss it on Universe.

Tammy Dixon writes: “Jason M. put the SGA movie was a go (on his myspace page). Could they have talked to the actors first?”

Answer: No. I’m guessing that, like me, Jason is a glass half-full guy when it comes to the movie.

Matt Boesch writes: “ u said that Episode 19 will become episode 18 and your two scripts will become episode 19 and 20 so does that mean subversion is now episode 18?”

Answer: If my fellow writer-producers feel that I have two strong scripts then, yes, Subversion will become episode 18.

David Chapple writes: “What month are you going?
The winter months may be a littler busier because of the heat from the food.”

Answer: I’m going from late November to early December. I’m having the concierge at my hotel book most of the other restaurants on my itinerary so I’ll do the same for this one. Oh, and while we’re on the subject, have you heard of a restaurant called Kabukicho?

Kathy H. writes: “Do you use language books, or tapes, or…?”

Answer: I use both books and CD’s but prefer the Pimsleur language CD’s that I can listen to in the car on my way to and from work.

Greg writes: “How many hours does it take to write the typical script?”

Answer: About two weeks worth of hours.

2cats writes: “I thought you’d especially like this “pug” story Joe… poor Dexter, stuck in the middle.”

Answer: Yep, poor Dexter. It’s always the pets who suffer. Can’t understand why the judge just doesn’t give them joint custody. Shouldn’t be a problem unless one of them moves out of town.

SebiMeyer writes: “Answer: It means episode 19 will become episode 18, episode 18 will become episode 17, the story schedule to be episode 17 will disappear, and the two scripts I’m working on will become episodes 19 and 20.

And get paid twice?”

Answer: No, no. I only get paid once. For each script.

May 22, 2009: Welcome to the Jungle…But Maybe You Might Want To Come Back Later When We’re Actually Rolling

And me without my boots.
And me without my boots.
Carl second-guesses Rob's directorial decision.
Carl second-guesses Rob’s directorial decision.
Everyone laughs off Carl's suggestion.
Everyone laughs off Carl’s suggestion.
Chadwick, the birthday boy.
Chadwick, the birthday boy.
Chadwick's birthday cake.
Chadwick’s birthday cake.

Director Robert Cooper - prepared for any eventuality.
Director Robert Cooper – prepared for any eventuality.
Peter Kelamis (Adam Brody) and Patrick Gilmore (Dale Volker)
Peter Kelamis (Adam Brody) and Patrick Gilmore (Dale Volker)
Mark Burgess (Franklin)
Mark Burgess (Franklin)
Jennifer Spence (Lisa Park)
Jennifer Spence (Lisa Park)
Nancy Ha (Costumes) all decked out for the inclement weather.
Nancy Ha (Costumes) all decked out for the inclement weather.
Camo rain gear
Camo rain gear
Goodies
Goodies
Josh Blacker (Sgt. Spencer)
Josh Blacker (Sgt. Spencer)
My pal Fix (Costumes)
My pal Fix (Costumes)
Waiting around for the fun to start.
Waiting around for the fun to start.

Well, it was beautiful, sunny and warm outdoors today, but overcast, dark, and rainy indoors. Specifically, I refer to the indoors of Stage 1 where Writer/Executive Producer/Series Creator/Master Chef Robert C. Cooper was directing Mayhem Day on the latest Stargate: Universe episode – Time.

Carl and I visited set after lunch, arriving just in time for the most important part of the production = the crucial standing around waiting to set up the next shot portion of the process. I acquitted myself nicely, standing around with the best of them (I feel the need to point out, however, that Carl did a lot of sitting). Eventually, Carl and I grew weary and headed back up to the offices, determined to return for the big action sequence.

Back up in the office, I wished Chad in the Production Offices a happy birthday. He insists that Chad isn‘t short for anything, but I find that hard to believe. Anyway, Chad (or Chadwick as I’m going to start calling him because I have a hard time believing Chad isn’t short for something and suspect Chadwick is more probable than Carl’s suggestion: Chaddington) celebrated his special day with some boozy cake and a spirited rendition of Happy Birthday from the gang (in particular the gals from accounting who are never far whenever cake is involved). He looked genuinely embarrassed by all the fuss, so I yelled “Speech! Speech!”, lending immeasurably to the awkwardness of the moment.

Carl and I headed back down and I ended up spending the rest of the afternoon in the jungles of Stage 1, snapping TONS of pics – which, of course, I can’t show you. You’ll just have to take my word for it: they’re very cool. Or contact the studio and the network and ask them: What’s the hold up?

I eventually made my way back up to the offices and where I chatted with Brad about episodes 18, 19, and 20. He and Rob have some fantastic notions for the stretch run that promise to cap off SGU’s first season with a bang!  And plenty of surprises.

Today’s blog entry is dedicated to belated birthday gal Sheryl.

November 14, 2008: Jelly on the Mend and Spinning Stargate: Universe Day #4

 

Jelly!
Jelly!
Ivon drops by.
Ivon drops by.
Carl following an intense day of spinning.
Carl following an intense day of spinning.
Alan looking forward to a relaxing weekend.
Alan looking forward to a relaxing weekend.
Lawren on hand to wake us up
Lawren on hand to wake us up

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Well, I’m pleased to report that after a night at the vet’s, Jelly is back home and scrapping with Lulu. She was in much better spirits when I picked her up this afternoon and, aside from her IV armband, seems perfectly herself. Of course, just to be sure, I was given a list of medications for her. Add the medications she already takes and her daily schedule breaks down something like this:

Wake up:

– 2.5 mil. Sulcrate (on an empty stomach)

– Tacrolimus ointment applied directly to her eyeballs.

One hour later:

– 10 kg Metacam + ½ tablet Pepsid served with her breakfast + 1 capsule glucosamine and chondroitine

On hour later:

– 1 tablet Metronidazole

Five hours later:

– 2.5 mil. Sulcrate

Pre-bedtime:

– 2.5 mil Sulcrate

– Tacrolimus ointment applied directly to her eyeballs.

Repeat.

All well and good except…now Maximus is beginning to feel queasy.

With five stories in place, we turned our attention to episode #6 today, beating out Marty G.’s very first SGU script. This one involved a long, loooooong discussion on the workings of a certain technology which forms the impetus to another terrific character-driven story. Next week, we have stories to break for Rob, Alan, Paul, and myself after which we head off for two weeks of fun in the sun (or rising sun in my case). Then, we’re back in the office for one more week of discussion on the (hopefully) completed outline.

Thanks to fans who provided the link to the ongoing Stargate auction. If you’re interested in getting your hand on a zat gun or two, head on over to:

http://shop.ebay.com/merchant/stargate_legacy

Carl picked up his keepsake today and immediately put it to good use by forcing Alan to cough up his wallet. While Carl got a staff weapon, Lawren got himself a gorgeous explosive with complimentary timer – which he too tested out on Alan as well (see video). As for me – well, who needs Stargate props when you have a beautiful/creepy decorative piece like the one Lawren gave me.

Yep, tomorrow I’ll be posting my post-Remnants write-up. Come on by to find out what the hell I was thinking!

 

November 11, 2008: Spinning Stargate: Universe – Day One

The dogs prefer to hang out in my office, a spoiler-free zone.
The dogs prefer to hang out in my office, a spoiler-free zone.
How thoughtful of Carl!  No, scratch that.  How thoughtful of Carl's wife Karen!
How thoughtful of Carl! No, scratch that. How thoughtful of Carl's wife Karen!
Stargate without chocolate is like a crazy uncle without a glass eye.  All well and good but you can't help but feel that something is missing.
Stargate without chocolate is like a crazy uncle without a glass eye. All well and good but you can't help but feel that something is missing...
Writer, Co-Creator, Executive Producer, Amateur Mind Reader.
Robert C. Cooper: Writer, Co-Creator, Executive Producer, Amateur Mind Reader.
Alan back in the office.  Back?  He never left!
Alan back in the office. Back? He never left!
Beneath Lawren's suave, devil-may-care facade lies a wicked case of food poisoning.
Beneath Lawren's suave, devil-may-care facade lies a wicked case of food poisoning.
Brad multitasks, writing his next script in his head while pretending to listen to us.
Brad multitasks, writing his next script in his head while pretending to listen to us.
Marty G. pitches his big mutant squirrel two-parter...
Marty G. pitches his big mutant squirrel two-parter...
...while Paul looks politely non-committal.
...while Paul looks politely non-committal.
Hey, Carl, I have a note on your script, page twenty...oh...uh, never mind.
Hey, Carl, I have a note on your script, page twenty...oh...uh, never mind.

We were all back in the office today, spinning stories for season one of Stargate: Universe. In attendance: creators Brad Wright and Robert Cooper, Carl Binder, Martin Gero, Alan McCullough, Paul Mullie, and myself. The first order of business was, of course, catching each other up on what we’ve been up to since last we met. I can’t help but think that if everyone on staff blogged as well, we’d be able to access all of this information before going into the office and could thereby dispense with the niceties of social interaction and get right to work. Easier said than done however. Paul’s Commodore 64 is not internet-capable and don’t get me started on Carl’s IBM Selectric, the Queen of electric typewriters.

Our second order of business was providing notes for episode #1. Brad and Rob did a terrific job of kicking things off in thrilling fashion. The script is fast-paced and fun; its characters unique and engaging. My favorite: Dr. David Rush. Oh, he’s going to be a handful. Originally planned as a two-parter, Brad and Robert quickly discovered that there was simply too much story for such a tight frame, so the series opener is now looking like a three-parter.

In addition to that first script, Brad and Rob provided us with a beat sheet and springboards for several more stories. Brad has laid claim to #4, a story that is right up his alley. Speaking of perfect pairings, I couldn’t think of anyone better than Carl Binder to write #5. Rob is eyeing #6 which offers a most intriguingly SF door in, while #7 and #8 have yet to be claimed.

As I mentioned in a previous entry, Stargate: Universe is a series that draws on established mythology yet blazes a bold, new path for the franchise. It’s definitely more character-centered and intimate in its exploration of the interpersonal dynamics that will drive a lot of the shipboard developments (and, no, I’m not talking about romance). The premise of this ship hurtling through uncharted territories offers up unbounded story possibilities, yet also forces us to adopt a very different approach toward alien encounters and planetary investigation. Twin themes mentioned over the course of today’s conversations: survival and sacrifice.

Prep-production is progressing nicely. Rob showed me about eight different designs for the Destiny. According to him, they’re getting close. No casting news to convey but some interesting names are being bandied about. The search continues. Finally, another element I’m loving is the SGU version of the SG-1/Atlantis MALP (Mobile Analytic Laboratory Probe). Very cool.

Tomorrow, we discuss Brad’s first story following the big three-part opener, establish some of the big picture storylines and arcs we’d like to pursue over the course of the show’s first 20 episodes, and then start breaking Carl’s story.

The doggy daycare was closed so Jelly, Maximus, Bubba, and Lulu were running roughshod through the corridors today. I ended up herding them into my office and shutting them in so that we could work without being distracted. Fat chance. If they weren’t howling in protest, they were charging the door or trying the doorknob. Later, Lulu emphasized her displeasure by vomiting on the carpet.

Some Necroscope discussion:

Thornyrose writes: “The pacing of the book was handled nicely, and I was intruiged by the relationsihp between Dragonasi and Ferenzky.”

 

Answer: I really enjoyed the interaction between Dragonasi and Max Batu. I found Batu to be surprisingly endearing despite his (literally) terrifying ability. He seemed a lost soul, the sort who was always picked last in gym class and did a lot of sulking – before murdering the team member.

Drledeboer writes: “. So my main interest in this book remains the Wamphyri that use human bodies. BUT too much like Goa’uld, IMO, if I understand correctly that they are parasitic.”

Answer: They are parasitic but very different from the goa’uld. By the way, I believe this book pre-dates the introduction of the goa’uld.

Finally – thanks to everyone who sent presents. Now that I’m back in the office, I’m working my way through a backlog of boxes. And, before I forget, thank to Penny for suggesting the book club idea. Your first royalty check is in the mail!

 

November 8, 2008: Doggy Delight and Some Prodigal Notes

The Caliph of Corridor Scenes
The Caliph of Corridor Scenes

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November 4th may have been a momentous day in the history of the America, but so far as my dogs are concerned, yesterday, November 7th, was the day that will live in their hearts forever. It started with Fondy noticing a puddle of water at the base of our refrigerator. Assuming it was the ice dispenser acting up, we cleaned up the mess and set a glass in place to capture any run-off. About an hour later, I walked into the kitchen and noticed another pool of water amassing at the foot of the refrigerator. And the glass I’d set beneath the ice dispenser was empty. Puzzled, I opened the freezer and discovered the source of the problem: the compartment was a comfy room temperature. The meats had thawed out, the leftovers were defrosting, and the various ice creams had been reduced to a collection of milkshake. I salvaged what I could, moving it into the freezer in the garage, then shifted focus to the refrigerator proper. Like the freezer section, it had, as my father was fond of saying, “given up the ghost”. I packed up whatever items I thought could best weather a Vancouver winter and set them out on the back porch, gambling that the raccoons would be thrown off by a box marked Diamond Comic Distributors (“I know it smells like food, Sid, but it says comics right on the box.”). As for the rest, what was a write-off we wrote off and what was still edible – well, we fed to the dogs. So, in a spectacular canine culinary extravaganza, Jelly and co. chowed down on: ground beef, ground bison, ground veal, chicken, steak, and steamed rice.

As for us, it looks like Fondy and I will be going out to eat for the foreseeable future. In other words: business as usual.

Hey, I’m pleased to see many of you enjoyed The Prodigal. Carl Binder – the Sultan of Scripts, the Duke of Dialogue, the Baron of Bottle Shows – works his magic once again, weaving a tale fraught with action, suspense, humor, and a spectacular climactic visual effects sequence that made co-show runner Paul Mullie, as my father was fond of saying “bats in the belfry”. A few of notes of interest concerning this episode:

1. When first outlined, this story was a cross between Carl’s earlier Red Shirt Diaries pitch and the finished product you saw. In this early version, we follow a team of unsung characters as they mount a resistance to Michael and ultimately help our team save the city. However, after some discussion, it was decided that the significance of the story demanded that our team be front and center.

2. After much back and forth, it was decided that this episode would mark Atlantis’s final confrontation with Michael. His ultimate power play was undermined in Kindred I and II (last season) and he’s been on the run ever since. His forces compromised, his resources dwindling, he stages one last desperate gamble to turn the tables and regain the upper hand.

3. It can be argued (as Michael so succinctly does in this episode) that Michael has every right to be angry and seek revenge on Atlantis for having created him in the first place – but it shouldn’t be forgotten that, originally, Michael was a wraith and, thus, their enemy. Sure, from a big picture standpoint you can draw parallels between their feeding on humans and our feeding on animals but, when it comes right down to it, if some thing is about to devour you or your loved ones, you will fight back – and you’ll do everything within your power to ensure they never threaten them again. Which brings us to…

4. Teyla’s delivering the coup de grace at episode’s end. Now some have complained that this was pretty ruthless of her and my response to that would be – yep, it was. But why so surprised? We’ve seen this side of Teyla before, most notably in Missing where her warrior side took over in cruel yet effective fashion. Add to that the fact that she now has a child to protect, a son who has been threatened Michael on two separate occasions. Rather than risk a third attempt, she ended the threat.

5. I was down on set talking to actress Sharon Taylor while this episode was being written, and she mentioned that she was a kickboxing instructor. Intrigued, I mentioned it to Carl who happily incorporated these ass-kicking abilities into the second draft of the script. Sharon’s performance garnered accolades from all around, but especially from stunt coordinator James Bamford and fellow actor Jason Momoa.

6. Running gag #1: Whenever we screened this episode in the writers’ room and we got to the scene where Michael gets on the P.A. and promises to turn off the self-destruct and save the city in exchange for her son, one of us would pipe up: “Teyla, it’s Chuck! Give him the baby!”

7. Running gag #2: Whenever Michael would drop off the ledge and plummet down into the darkness, we would imagine Chuck stepping out onto one of the lower balconies for a smoke – only to get creamed by Michael who, fall broken, would hop up none the worse for wear and make good his escape.

8. While they were shooting the climactic tower fight sequence, there was one take in which Connor flipped the Sheppard stunt actor who was supposed to roll and save himself by grabbing hold of a part of the structure – only the stuntman missed and went right over, landing amidst the safety mats below. Connor immediately threw his arms up in triumph and shouted: “I WIN!!!”, much to the crew’s delight.

It’s episodes like this that really make me sad the show has ended.  Only six original episodes left.  As my father was fond of saying: “Wouldn’t that jar your preserves.”