December 20, 2013: Stargate Universe 1.0! The Japanese Girlfriend Edition!


After dating me for almost four years, Akemi finally decided it was time to take the plunge.  Yes, after all these years, she finally made the BIG commitment.  She actually started watching Stargate!

I gave her a choice between the three series – SG-1, Atlantis, and Universe .  She elected to go with the latter because, apparently, next to spiders and moldy cheese, crappy visual effects are one of her biggest fears.

So, over the last week or so, we watched the first ten episodes of Stargate: Universe.  I was surprised by some of her reactions, and not all that surprised by others.

What follows are her thoughts on the first half of SGU’s first season.

AIR I and II


She found the opening two-parter very confusing with the jumping backwards and forwards in time and the various locations.  And then, when the stones were introduced… Ten episodes in, and she still couldn’t fully grasp the concept.  On the other hand, she did find the two episodes incredibly exciting and was very impressed with the show’s visual effects.  Curiously, she expressed the most admiration, not for a singular character, but for a piece of Ancient technology: the kino!  She likes “kino-chan’s” honeycomb style lens and desperately wants one.  She also found the fact that a character named Young is played by an older actor curious and amusing.

“First episode is most exciting for me.”



By the third episode, we start exploring the characters.  The ones who stood out to her in this outing were Rush, Greer, Eli – and, of course, the kino (which warrants a mention even though it isn’t actually a character).  Some of her thoughts:

On Rush: “I liked Scottish guy at first and very much liked his accent but chotto (kind of) getting kowaii (scary) now; becoming angry bird.”

On Greer: “I like his character actually.  Very tough.”

On Eli: “I like Eli because he’s cute.  Like bear.”

On the episode itself: I kinda liked it.  Episode made me thirsty.”



I was curious to see what she thought of this episode because of its, er, languorous pacing.  Well, not surprisingly, she wasn’t  huge fan.  She found the dialogue-heavy scenes difficult to follow, but had great respect for actress Jennifer Spence’s wordy/techy kino scene.

Akemi: “Who wrote such crazy sentences?  Who decides who says what?”

Me: “Well, she plays the part of a scientist so that’s the type of dialogue she has to learn for the role.”

Akemi: “So, just bad luck.”

Me: “Yes, bad luck she was cast as a scientist.”

Given that certain fans didn’t exactly warm to Chloe, I wondered what Akemi would think of the character.  Her take:

“I don’t like Chloe’s dress.  It looks like her father picked it.  I like her though.  She is beautiful.”

As for the episode itselfL:

“This episode I had a hard time understanding because a lot of talking instead of happening.”



She got back on track with this episode, mainly owing to the stunning – the star sequence, yes, but also the scene in which Greer strips down in his quarters to await certain death.



This episode caused her to reconsider the show, not because it was bad but because the suspense proved too unbearable.  Every time the swarm appeared, she was on the edge of her seat (or the bed in this case), asking a multitude of questions: “What is that bug by the way?  Where are they from?  Stalker?”  When I asked her why she could sit through American Horror Story without flinching yet practically crawl under the covers while watching this episode, she said: “I don’t believe in witch but unconsciously I’m afraid of aliens so chotto kowaii (kind of scary)”.

She did fear for Lieutenant Scott, stuck in that crevasse, commenting on the possibility and romantic ramifications of his death: “I though he gonna die.  Then, if he die, geek guy and beautiful girl be love-oo love-oo.”

As for the episode itself: “The episode was a little scary for me.  I can’t watch Stargate anymore.  One of the most scary episodes I’ve ever watched.”



Fortunately, by the next night, she had reconsidered and was eager to get back to it.  While this episode was certainly NOT scary, I was curious to see how she’d respond given how polarizing the episode had been among the fans.  The verdict?  “I liked this episode so much.  Very nice episode.  Not scary.”

When they first use the stones –

Akemi: “How many times can they use the stones?”

Joe: “As many times as they like.”

Akemi (critical): “So convenient.”

On Young having sex with his wife in Telford’s body: “WTF?!”

When Chloe complains about the fact that her best friend has slept with her boyfriend: “But she’s sleeping with Scott!”  Good point!



Given her response to Water, I considered skipping this episode but she insisted on checking out.  And it turned out to be an excellent call because she absolutely LOVED it, declaring it her favorite episode of the show and instilling in her great respect for Rob Cooper (“Not just your friend and good at making pizza, but great director!”).  Not surprisingly, she found the time travel aspect a little confusing, and I talked her through it as best I could.  She was able to get on board thanks to her childhood viewing of the anime Doraemon about an alien cat-like creature that travels to the present from the future, armed with a host of far future tech like: “A door that when you open it and think of where you want to go, you are there.  A sort of hat that lets you fly.  A special pocket that you can put as much as you want inside, doesn’t matter the size.”



She greatly enjoyed Earth.  Would she enjoy this similarly themed episode in which we explore the lives-left-behind of a couple of other characters.  In a word: no.

Her take: “I feel like I am watching a different show.   Affair.  Not affair.  Like Real Housewives.  Chotto ralakkuchan (kind of relaxed).  I don’t like when the kino doesn’t show up very often.”



And, finally, we capped off the first half of the show’s first season with this shipboard court thriller.  It made her nostalgic for Time.  She bumped on Eli, casually searching Young’s quarter, suddenly keying on the vent of all places.  She not only couldn’t understand the details of the court scenes but questioned why a court had to be assembled at all given the lack of evidence.

A few other thoughts:

“Nice to see Patrick (Gilmore).”

“Why commander left that science guy on the planet?  They need him, no?”

Agree with Akemi’s takes?  Disagree?  I found it very interesting to revisit these episodes after a few years and was surprised by my own responses.  Two of the biggest: Justice was an episode I really liked back in the day but after a repeat viewing with some distance, not so much at all.  On the other hand, Time was an episode I absolutely loved when I first watched it three years ago and loved even more on the rematch.  Just brilliant.

And there you have it: Stargate Universe 1.0!  The Japanese Girlfriend Edition.    Stay tuned for Stargate Universe 1.5!  The Japanese Girlfriend Edition!  Coming in January of 2014!

May 29, 2009: Shifting From Dark and Dangerous to Moody and Mysterious. I Weigh In On The Big News Item. And – Some Mailbag.


Lock and load, baby!
Lock and load, baby!


Julia Anderson (Vanessa James) takes a break from the action.
Julia Anderson (Vanessa James) takes a break from the action.
Josh Blacker (Sgt. Spencer) tries to blend in.
Josh Blacker (Sgt. Spencer) tries to blend in.
Director of Photography Jim Menard suddenly realizes he's standing in a puddle - much to Director Robert C. Cooper's delight.
Director of Photography Jim Menard suddenly realizes he’s standing in a puddle – much to Director Robert C. Cooper’s delight.

The quiet suspense of today’s shipboard mystery was in marked contrast to the gloomy, dank, heavy ordnance-laced mayhem of the preceding days. And it’s just as well. My teeth are still chattering from the M5 barrage that lit up the shadows of Stage 1 the last time I dropped in. Yes, some delightfully creepy goings-on in Time (a Robert C. Cooper joint that completed shooting yesterday) that will no doubt look all the more delightful and creepy once the episode is finished. By all indications, the cast enjoyed themselves immensely – particularly actor Jamil Walker Smith who was reveling in the cold, wet, and muddy conditions. Now, we shift focus from the dark and dangerous alien environment of Time to the shocking discovery and troubling developments presented in Justice. Will Waring is doing the honors here, directing an episode that promises more than a few surprises in addition to decisions both startling and unsettling that will have far-reaching consequences for the Destiny crew.

Rob will be doing the pass on my script, Space (episode 11), this weekend and informed me of a few character additions he wants to make off the top (which tie in directly to Justice), in addition to a dialogue tweak to the final exchange that had me raising an eyebrow in stunned silence. I love both of these characters, and this little revelation raises the stakes, offering a beautiful segue into the next episode, Divided.

Nothing is quite as it seems? Try – No one is quite as they seem. Furtive moves, shifting alliances, and hidden agendas guarantee a dysfunctional and disquieting galaxy-hopping community.

One of the things I’m really loving about the new series is the colorful cast of characters: Rush, Young, Armstrong, Scott, Telford, Wray, Eli, Chloe, T.J., Greer, James, Brody, Franklin, Volker, Park, Spencer, Kane and Riley. I told Brad that Darkness and Light do a wonderful job of offering the viewer insight into these varied individuals thrown together by circumstance, glimpses of their respective personalities only the kino can capture.

Hey, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the big news item of the past few days. I refer, of course, to the fact that, after 65 years, comic icon Archie Andrews is finally getting off the fence and choosing…drum roll, please…Veronica over Betty. Apparently, he and the dark-haired socialite tie the knot in issue #600. Reaction in the production offices has ranged from my writing partner Paul’s bewildered: “Married?! For sixty-five years he’s a high school student and suddenly he’s old enough to get married?!” to Carl Binder’s dismissive: “Hmph. I’m an Archie-Jughead slasher.” Of course, whenever we start talking Archie, the inevitable question pops up: Who would you pick? Who would I pick? Well, to be perfectly honest, if the gals were cool with the situation (which Betty and Veronica certainly seemed to be), I wouldn’t. But if I HAD to choose – well, it would be tough. On the one hand, Veronica possesses the upscale style and social charms better suited to my wining and dining lifestyle, yet seems somewhat shallow by comparison and, quite frankly, a bit of a bitch. On the other hand, Betty is sweet, genuine, and far more down to earth, but strikes me as somewhat dull. I also think that Betty’s – uh – curvier, but every time I bring that up (Hey, it comes up in conversation more than you‘d expect.) Paul is quick to point out that Betty and Veronica are drawn exactly the same and only differ in hair color and style. He tried to convince us by drawing comparisons between Betty and Veronica as they appear in various comic book covers. I countered, presenting the case for Betty being more statuesque than Veronica by also drawing comparisons between exhibit A and B (or C really, at least, but I digress). Anyway, in the end, we agreed to continue to disagree.

Whatever. For all this talk of looming nuptials, I don’t buy it . My prediction for the upcoming storyline: Archie will ask Veronica to marry him, not because he thinks she’d be a better pick, but because Veronica’s father, Hiram Lodge, is dying (suffering from an inoperable brain tumor located behind his left eye or some similarly hilarious predicament) and wants to see his daughter wed before he leaves this world. But on the day of the wedding, genius Dilton Doyle comes up with a plan to save the filthy rich codger’s life. He shrinks Archie and co. down to size so that they can board the nanite-sub he injects into Mr. Lodge’s bloodstream (which, incidentally, is 33% gin). In a race against time, our heroes travel through the body and up into the head area where they destroy they excise and destroy the tumor from the inside. Mr. Lodge is saved, the marriage is called off but the story ends with a wedding after all – that of Moose and longtime girlfriend Midge. They end up naming their firstborn after the late Reggie who was consumed by belligerent white blood cells while trying to save the rest of the gang, thus redeeming himself after 65 years of dickitude. And our hero Archie returns to his double-teaming status quo. The End.

Today’s entry is dedicated to birthday girl Amy Lynn.


Nadine writes: “Joe, 2 questions:
1) have you read anything by Neil Stephenson?
2) was there a BotM discussion for Neuropath which I missed, or did you just recommend it?”

Answers: 1) Yep. I’ve read Quicksilver and The Diamond Age.

2) No, Neuropath was one of the many books in my every-growing collection I finally got around to reading last year. Great.

Ken Davenport writes: “As the Producer and Co-Conceiver of Altar Boyz, I can honestly tell you . . . you are not the first person to have thought that you wouldn’t enjoy Altar Boyz! Lots of people think EXACTLY what you think . . .

But talk to me after you see it (and if you can, get to the original Off-Broadway production). I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.

In fact, I’ll make a double or nothing bet with you and your friend Kerry . . .

If you don’t like it . . . I’ll pay for your tickets.

Ken Davenport

Answer: Ken, please don’t make me go in there with an open mind. Fine, alright, I’ll keep an open mind. Is there anything I should know that would prepare me for the experience. But just to be clear: Is it a Christian parody of boy bands, a parody of Christan boy bands, or the second coming of NKOTB?

Major D. Davis writes: “1. Will the midseason 2 parter be between Justice and Space, or Space and Divided?

2. If you get a quick moment, could you ask Carl the exact date of MGM’s 85th B-day please?

3. Will Andy be Directing Space?

4. So what do you think of my video? (We actually did this back in november, so it was like the second video we ever made).

5. Any updates on the N. John Smith Q&A?

6. It has been said that there will be SGU trailers on the SGA season 5 boxset. Will those be new feature length trailers or already aired trailers?”

Answers: 1. Yes.

2. I’m sure Carl would be the last person to ask.

3. Yes.

4. It’s tough to judge an unfinished story.

5. What N. John Smith Q&A?

6. No idea.

Arctic Goddess writes: “Joe, could you please define “jerk blowhard”? What sort of personality type drives you nuts?”

Answer: Self-centered know-it-alls who think nothing of inconveniencing all those around them so long as their needs are met. Come on, we’ve all had to deal with these types over the course of our lives.

Nadine writes: “At Chocoatl do you have any favourite chocolates in particular?”

Answer: I like the Denso, extra-thick drinking chocolate.