Akemi is still at it, expanding her doggy wardrobe.
Continuing our stroll down SGA memory lane with one of my favorites…
This one was a personal favorite for several reasons. It offered action, humor, surprises and, best of all, genuinely heart-felt character moments brilliantly conveyed by our amazing cast and guest stars. It was also a bit of a bitch to write and, as such, incredibly satisfying to finish, a fairly complex script that required a proper balancing act of three seemingly separate storylines – and their ultimate convergence at episode’s end. My fellow Exec Producer, Carl Binder, considered it my best script of the show’s fifth season. My other fellow Exec Producers, however, weren’t quite as enamored. Rob Cooper felt it was “too literary” (which I thought was a nice compliment until I realized it was actually a criticism). He, and Exec Producer Martin Gero, also felt I was way too rough on our hero, Sheppard. My writing partner, Paul, meanwhile, had only one real objection – and that was the chopping off of Sheppard’s hand, for both creative and production reasons. Yes, I agree that Sheppard does suffer greatly but I argue it’s fine because, at the end of the day, it’s all in his head. Also, the Shep-whumpers reaaaallly needed this one!
Just so much to say about this episode – and I already have. Some Remnants-related past blog entries you might want to check out:
November 15, 2008: The Remnants Write-up – In which I offer some insight into my inspiration for this script (Harvey and a desire to complete Richard Woolsey’s rehabilitation from pencil-pushing suit to lovable Commander) as well as behind the scene photos and a breakdown of some of the scenes, beats, and dialogues that didn’t make the final cut.
Akemi has caught the dog fashion bug! Over the last couple of days, she’s been hard at work, snipping, sewing, and generally cannibalizing some of her older outfits, transforming them into haute canine couture. Check out her Fall Collection so far:
Meanwhile, a naked pudgy Bubba awaits his first outfit…
Sadly, Akemi is running out of material as we cleared out our closet and dropped off our old clothing at one of the local donation bins last month. It was while we were searching through the drawers last night that the idea came to me: “Hey, you know where we can find some old clothes? The local donation bin.” Strangely, she wasn’t thrilled with my suggestion.
Continuing our Days of Stargate Past reminiscing with…
THE PRODIGAL (514)
One of the high points of Atlantis’s fifth season was this episode (compliments of Executive Producer Carl Binder) that saw the return of Michael, one of the show’s most colorfully nuanced villains. The episode includes Michael and Ronon going a mano a mano in the control room followed by tower-top battle between Michael and Sheppard. While the latter was being shot, at one point, Joe Flanigan’s stuntman lost his balance and went off the tower (fear not, he was cabled and there were some nice comfy mats to cushion his fall), which prompted actor Connor Trinneer to throw up his arms and triumphantly proclaim: “I win!”.
Teyla’s decision to – let’s not mince words here – murder Michael engendered a fair amount of controversy. Was she justified in her actions? Did the fact that she was a mother protecting her child color your opinion of her actions?
Ah, women. So bossy and temperamental. So says Pepsi:
Snickers manages to simultaneously offend homophobes and the LGBT community:
The HomeAway test baby:
Save the whales money with Groupon!:
Free Tibet! I mean Save with Groupon!:
Ah, Ching Ching and Ling Ling! We hardly knew you:
This year’s Volkswagon ad featuring a white guy speaking with a Jamaican accent (and attitude) sparked controvery. Some found it racist. Interestingly, all of my Jamaican friends found it hilarious:
And then there was this year’s Go Daddy ad that featured model Bar Rafaeli making out with some uber-nerd – complete with close-ups of them tonguing each other. Yech!:
Our walk down Atlantis memory lane continues with…
There invariably comes a time in every season when the producers take a look at the bottom line and realize they’re over-budget and need to come up with a relatively inexpensive episode to put the show back on track – and, more importantly, ensure there is enough money for the big season-ender. Desperate times call for desperate measures. And just how desperate depends on how much money you’re looking to save. If you’re in not bad shape, you can look to do bottle show, an episode that takes place on the existing standing sets. No extra builds or moves to exterior locations are a big money-saver. An even bigger money saver is to eschew the bottle show in favor of the dreaded clip show, an episode that makes use of pre-existing material to tell a story. Sometimes, they can be great. While other times…well, they can be pretty forgettable.
One of the keys to producing a good clip show (relatively speaking) is to have a great story at its core – and, in the case of Inquistion, we had a pretty good one: Finally, after so many years of playing the role of galactic policeman, the Atlantis expedition was being held accountable for their actions. One the one hand, they had successfully defended the inhabitants of the Pegasus Galaxy from the wraith. On the other hand, at what cost? And there’s also an argument to be made for the fact that their presence in the Pegasus Galaxy only exacerbated the problem. It was an interesting debate that fandom had been heatedly discussing for years and, while there weren’t any easy answers, there were some convincing arguments on both sides. This then was the premise of the episode – at turns controversial and complex. But, hopefully, all sorts of entertaining as we would include flashbacks to various spectacular situations from seasons past. As clips shows went, it was a tall order – and it happened to fall on first-time writer – and longtime Stargate script coordinator Alex Levine.
Alex was more than up to the challenge. It was a tough script but, ultimately, a great learning experience – as he explained on his SciFi.com blog:
“Inquisition’ is a clip show, [and] that didn’t make it any easier to write. You see, there’s a particular aspect of writing clip shows that’s extra tough, and that is the part where they move in and out of the clips. Of course Paul Mullie, who did the re-write and produced the episode, has lots of clip show experience, but this was my first attempt. And writing specs and other scripts didn’t prepare me one bit. So let’s just say it was a great learning experience.
“At the end of the day, the writing staff was very kind. They met with me on my first draft, gave me notes and some time to re-write the script. I did another draft too on another round of notes. In the writing I found some things about the characters and the story that worked well; other stuff was discarded. There’s certainly some of my writing in the finished product, but I must credit Paul Mullie and the writing staff with much of the episode’s success. And my experience is not unlike other first time writers of any show. Stargate is no exception.
“The coolest part of the show, which is always why people watch clip shows, is that you’ll get to see pretty much every cool space battle we’ve done. There’s also great acting in this one — keep your eyes open for the character of Myrus (the Council Liaison), who is played by my real life brother, Tobias Slezak (different last name). He did a great job.”
Many of you will recognize his brother, Thobias, from SG-1’s Heroes in which he played the part of Tech Sergeant Dale James, or more recently from the SGU episodes Intervention and Visitation in which he played the part of Peter, or, perhaps even more recently, from my Superbowl get-together where he played the part of “Guy scoffing down doughnuts” –
As for brother Alex, his writing career continued to blossom post-Stargate with credits on King, The Border, Verdict, Flashpoint, and an upcoming scifi series.
So with Akemi out of town (freezing her cute little butt off in Yellowknife), I thought it would be a good a idea to do a little cleaning up around the house. Truth is I have so much “stuff” in boxes, on shelves, in closets, and squirreled away in the darkest recesses of my crawlspace that I’d need at least a month to do a proper job of it. Still, every little bit helps. Thus I dedicated a significant part of my afternoon today to tidying up. In all honesty, I didn’t really clear anything out as much as I moved things around – but, in so doing, I did come across THESE:
And what, pray tell, are THESE? you are no doubt wondering. Well, THESE are Art Department handouts from Stargate: Atlantis’s fourth and fifth seasons covering everything from wall panels to sconces and buttress designs. I was about to recycle them when I stopped myself and thought: “Hey, you know who might like these? NOT me!”. But, maybe, a diehard fan might be interested in perusing the details that went into the making of an Atlantian Ship North Corridor Light Pillar or a Lantian Chair Room Weapons Chair Gak Box. Hell, these sketches, schematics, floor plans and blueprints are so comprehensive you could actually recreate your own Atlantis set if you so choose (and have the time, money, and manpower). And, hey, it’s not all minutiae. Amid the Core Room Console Base Brackets and Athosian Tent Placements are the occasional genuinely interesting finds: the Core Room Core Unit & Console, Aurora Pods, even the Midway Station!
So, interested? The amount of supporting material varies from episode to episode, but I’m sure there’s still plenty to thrill most discerning Stargate fans. Give me a little time to figure out the best way to award and distribute the swag. Unless you have some suggestions…
Meanwhile, let’s continue our trip down SGA memory lane with season 5’s second episode –
THE SEED (502)
In her first appearance on Stargate, actress Jewel Staite was unrecognizable underneath all that prosthetics and make-up in season 2’s Instinct. She did such a terrific job in the role of Elia, the tortured wraith, that we ended up casting her as a completely different prosthetic-free character, Dr. Jennifer Keller, in the show’s 4th season. But old habits die hard and, when an early episode called for someone to get infected by an alien pathogen, we automatically thought of Jewel for two reason: 1. She’d done such a terrific job the last time and, most importantly, 2. She didn’t complain. And #2 is key since the episode required her to be in at 4:00 a.m. every morning for a three hour body cast session.
Days of Stargate Atlantis past wraps up SGA’s third season with…
FIRST STRIKE (320)
Atlantis’s third season concludes in fine style. Under threat from a powerful Asuran weapon, Atlantis has no choice but to do the unthinkable – leave! And the City of Atlantis does just that, rising up off the surface of the ocean and taking flight. It was an awesome sight and it opened the door to some wondrous possibilities – that were only explored for about two episodes, which was the length of time it took for Atlantis to find a new planet’s ocean to settle down on. As much as I love the visual of Atlantis being surrounded by water, I was even more intrigued by the visual of Atlantis surrounded by stars, for all intents and purposes one giant space ship. The argument against keeping Atlantis aloft (or having it touch down on a complete different setting like, say, a desert milieu or a snow covered expanse which were both ideas I pitched), came down to budget. Over the course of the show’s three seasons, we had banked some amazing establishing shots, all of which captured Atlantis surrounded by water. By placing the city in different surroundings, all of these establishers would have been shelved, necessitating the creation of all new establishers. Ultimately, I understood why Atlantis had to end up on another body of water, but I still feel we could have extended the journey through space over a few more episodes.
This episode marked the introduction of Dr. Jennifer Keller played by the amazing Jewel Staite. In the episode, she sports a Canadian patch on her uniform – which was later changed to an American patch through the magic of visual effects because Paul felt that Canada was already more than well-represented on Atlantis.
Also, that lovable technician played by actor Chuck Campbell finally gets a name. After much brainstorming and careful consideration, the writing department decided to name him…Chuck. Inspired, no?
First Strike also marked Torri Higginson’s final appearance as a series regular. Despite the serious injuries Weir sustains at episode’s end, a decision on the fate of the character wasn’t made until shooting on the episode had almost completed. I liked Torri a lot, both professionally (I couldn’t imagine anyone else in the role) and personally (as a fellow dog-lover, she had my respect), and felt she had to know as soon as possible. And, since Paul and I were going to take over as show runners in the show’s fourth season, I thought it only right that we be the ones to tell her. Sure, it would have been easier to follow the lead of other productions, put off the talk and let the studio tell her agent, but, after three years, we owed her that much. Torri was a consummate professional, graciously accepting the news and the opportunity we pitched her to continue on the show (as we had plans to take the character in what we hoped would be an exciting new direction, one that wouldn’t see her appear in every episode but would make her the point of focus of every episode she would appear in). Unfortunately, the planned arc we had envisioned for Elizabeth didn’t pan out (for reasons I’ll touch upon in future blog entries) and so, in retrospect, this will always remain a bittersweet episode for me.
Our trip down Stargate: Atlantis memory lane continues as we dedicate August to SGA’s third season. We kick things off with….
NO MAN’S LAND (301)
The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Or, in this case, at the very least, a most unlikely ally. I’ve always loved characters that inhabit that grey area between black and white, not quite good yet not quite evil either – colorful, unpredictable, and oh so dangerous. With the hive ships headed for Earth, Sheppard, McKay, and Ronon have no choice but to thrown in their lot with the mercurial Michael. Meanwhile, in the midst of a crisis situation, Dr. Weir is recalled to Earth where she faces off against representatives of the I.O.A., proving herself more than a match for her critics. Instances like these showed Weir at her best – as a civilian commander alternately diplomatic yet determined and unwavering in the face of a challenge.
Throughout the show’s run, those wraith sets were in a constant state of development and improvement. Compare the cocoons or the walls of the hive ships from early episodes to the versions here – or in much better versions in season 4 and 5. It wasn’t just textural issues (we needed the ships to look organic rather than plastic) but color and lighting as well that really sold the alien feel. At this point, I don’t think we were completely happy with what we had.
Guest starring Robert Picardo and Tamlyn Tomita! Robert reprises his role as Richard Woolsey – and what a long way the character has come since his introduction as a pencil-pushing trouble-maker back on SG-1. Still, it would be a couple of more years before the character would be fully redeemed, assuming command on the Atlantis expedition in the show’s fifth season and showing a vulnerability and sense of humor that eventually endeared himself to viewers. Tamlyn, meanwhile, plays the role of Chinese representative Shen Xiaoyi who will put in appearances in a total of four episodes of the franchise, most notably in SGA’s fifth season mind-twister Remnants.
Favorite exchange –
Michael: Good luck.
Sheppard: Thanks, it’ll be a walk in the park. A very scary park, filled with monsters who are trying to kill me.
The other night, we checked out Miniami the sister restaurant to our favorite Japanese sushi spot, Miku. Some of the photo highlights…
Minami’s menu is similar to Miku in many respects with some of the standard favourites (ie. the Aburi Oshi Salmon Sushi pictured above that is nothing short of spectacular in its spicy, peppery, aburi presentation), but it also offers a few unique items all its own (like the outstanding gyozas pictured). The room is less noisy and brighter than Miku and, for that reason, Akemi actually preferred it.
The desserts were overwhelmingly weighed toward the fruit-heavy so we wrapped things up early and took our show on the road, over to Giovane Cafe for a trio of sweet treats:
We were only two doors down from Bella Gelateria so we figured “Hell, why not?” and headed over for a scoop –
Operation Stuff-Your-Face was a resounding success.
Let’s leave you with a few Olympic-related updates. In case you missed it: