14 Ridiculous Plot Twists That Hurt Syfy Shows – Or Were They?

I came across this interesting Screen Rant article today by Toby Symonds which offers up his take on what he felt were ridiculous plot twists (and a few that weren’t) on shows that aired on syfy.  Among the culprits was the decision NOT to kill of Ronon Dex in the Atlantis finale and the decision to reveal SIX as the mole at the conclusion of Dark Matter’s first season.

https://screenrant.com/syfy-shows-plot-twists-hurt-saved/#leave-comment

I love nothing more than a discussion or heated debate about the creative decisions made on a production I was a part of.  And, while I appreciate Toby taking the time write the article and point out what didn’t work for him, I can’t help but disagree with a few of his points and weigh in –

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My response –

First off, thanks for taking the time to feature the series. We didn’t have a lot of money to make the show, nor did we receive a lot of support from TPTB while we were making it, but we had a great cast and crew, and an even greater fanbase that’s still very active online.

Second, I wanted to respond to your take that: a) SIX lacked motivation and b) was an illogical choice to be the traitor.

I started developing Dark Matter way back when I was working on Stargate: Atlantis. The plan was to complete the final season of Atlantis and segue smoothly into the first season of Dark Matter. As it turned out, however, we had two seasons of Stargate: Universe and about a year of development work before Dark Matter finally saw the light of a t.v. screen. Between that gap and the years I spent developing DM while working on SGA, I had a good five years to develop the show. As a result, going into the writers’ room for that first season, I had all of the character and major story arcs mapped out, along with a five-year plan. I approached each season like an installment in a book series, with a beginning, middle, and end. And so, season 1 kicks off with the revelation that our characters are wanted criminals and ends, appropriately enough, with them being hauled off to prison (In season 2, our character come together, finally united, in common purpose – to redeem themselves and do the right thing…only to have it blow up in their faces – quite literally – with the destruction of EOS-7 which ignites a galaxy-wide corporate war).

Before I even sat down to write the pilot, I already knew how season 1 would end – with their capture and the reveal that one of them was a traitor and former mole/agent for the Galactic Authority. And I also knew that character would have to be SIX. It really couldn’t be anyone else given their respective backstories. More importantly, one of the central themes of the series was the nature vs. nurture debate. Are you born bad or are you a product of your environment? Dark Matter, like much of the research that has been done on the subject (check out the excellent Three Strangers) posits the answer is: a little of both. SIX is the crew’s moral center (although you could argue FIVE parallels these values). He is/was a principled law enforcement officer tasked with bringing in this galaxy’s most wanted and, despite the mind wipe, demonstrates these honest and right-minded outlooks throughout the show’s first season. Although he possesses no memories of his past, aspects of who he was inform who he is post-mindwipe (In the same way we see these post-mindwipe characteristics bleed through in, say, TWO’s brutal takedown of the casino staff in Episode 4, and execution of Wexler at the end of Episode 11).

One of the great things about having a detailed game plan going in is the opportunities it affords you to seed in clues that pay off later on down the line. Like the Android’s strange but seemingly innocuous comment to TWO prior to her space walk in Episode 3, a comment that hints at TWO’s reveal as a bio-engineered construct (hinted at in more obvious fashion, two episodes later, when her wound miraculously heals). In Episode 8, SIX flashes back to his past and receives the truth about who he is via an undercover Lieutenant Anders. In one of the episode’s final moments, an overwhelmed SIX sits alone amidst the destruction only to have Anders get the drop on him. In the next scene, ONE and FOUR arrive on the scene – but Anders is long gone. Why did he leave and let SIX go? What happened off-screen? It’s a huge red flag.

In the ensuing episodes, we see a sudden shift in SIX’s character, culminating in his emotional plea to FIVE to leave the ship. At this point, he knows that it’s going to end badly. And, after the delivery of the white hole bomb that ends up destroying the Mikkei facility and the planet, claiming thousands of lives, he finally makes the call on the decision he has been mulling over since Episode 8. These people are dangerous and he has to bring them in. And so he sets his plan in motion…

A second important theme in this series was the notion of redemption. Throughout the show’s first season, we peel the onion on the crews’ histories and they must come to terms with their past lives, their past actions, and look to start fresh, be better. In season 2, this theme is studied in another light, through the prism of SIX who seeks redemption for his betrayal. While the rest of the crew is looking to turn over a new leaf and “do the right thing” (spearheaded by TWO), SIX seeks to regain the trust of his former friends. And it’s not something that happens overnight. It takes theentirety of the show’s second season for the crew to accept SIX back into the fold. In short, like most of the character developments and reveals on Dark Matter, I wanted it to feel earned.

Anyway, all this to say that, perhaps despite appearances, we were never making it up as we went along. There was always a good reason (at least so far as I was concerned) that we did what we did. Every narrative decision was tied to character or thematically linked. As for that Ronon decision on Stargate: Atlantis…

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My response –

The only thing I can say to this is that Enemy at the Gate was never intended as a series finale. In retrospect, yes, we could have killed off Ronon, perhaps even destroyed Atlantis itself, but the plan had always been to come back for a sixth season. Had we done so, AND killed off the Ronon character, the show would have been poorer for it.

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Just a few nitpicks –

Regarding SG-1 – The plan was not to have the show bow out after two seasons. The show had a two season order but the plan was always to go the full five. When Paul and I joined the show’s writing staff in season 4, it was with the understanding that the show would go one more year and conclude with its fifth and final season.

Also, the creative dream was not to end the show after season 7 either. We were simply under the assumption that season 7 would be SG-1’s last – but, in all fairness, we made the same assumption for season 4, 6, 8, and 9. The show’s tenth season, ironically, was the only one I felt confident would NOT be its last – so, of course, it was.

And finally, on a show I never worked on – but watched the hell out of and loved…

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Could let this one go without putting in my two cents –

Regarding the critique of the final moments of the Farscape finale (a show on this list that I was not a part of but I watched and loved) – in all fairness, I’m sure it didn’t seem like such a gamble at the time because, from what I understand, they had already been informed they’d been picked up for another season…only to have the pick-up rescinded.

Check out the article.  There are takes on other productions as well: SGU, Wynonna Earp, and BSG to name a few.

Thoughts?

June 29, 2016: 2 days to the Dark Matter season 2 premiere!

Today, the season 3 writers’ room followed up yesterday’s blisteringly creative outburst – in which we broke not one, not two, but two and a half episodes! – by spinning our wheels in frustration, watching an adorable cat video, and having soft serve for lunch.  Ah, well.  There’s always tomorrow.

And the day after when Dark Matter season 2 premieres!  Here are a couple of cast interviews to get you psyched up:

Interviews: Anthony Lemke, Alex Mallari Jr., Shaun Sipos

Interview: Melissa O’Neil

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Awww, how adorable.  FIVE’s firing some sort of energy-based weapon.  At who? And why?  And why is she wearing that red lab coat?  Consider today’s Dark Matter season 2 sneak peek screen shot.

Still a very beatable tie atop the leader board for the chance to win a cast-signed annotated copy of the first episode of our season premiere: “Episode 14: Welcome To Your New Home”!  Time is running out to enter!

Win a Dark Matter script!

I’ll be live-tweeting our season premiere Friday night – with a little help from some friends.  Follow my dedicated Dark Matter account for all the live-tweeting action – @DarkMatter_show – this Friday at 7 p.m. PDT, 10 p.m. EST/PDT.

Then join me July 4th @BaronDestructo for a live after-show Periscope directly following the U.K. premiere (20:00 on Syfy UK!  Then 21:00 on Periscope!).

Off to do another interview.  But, before I go…

A little something from the Stargate archives – for all of you wraith enthusiasts out there.  Designs (as almost always) by James Robbins.

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June 3, 2016: Dark Matter goodies! Stargate eye candy! Signed scripts!

Less than a month to go before the Dark Matter season 2 premiere – yet only a little over a week to go before the writers’ room convenes to start spinning the show’s third season.  Optimistic much?  Well, yes, and you would be too if you saw what was in store for you in the show’s second season.   It’s pretty glorious and the screen shots don’t do it justice but Here’s a little something VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson and his gang are presently working on…

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And here’s a pic from one of my very favorite scenes of season 2…

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Speaking of favorites – hey, did I mention we’d be seeing Mike Dopud in season 2? Here’s a shot of him having a little sit-down with The Raza’s resident rogue, played by the cast’s resident rogue, Anthony Lemke… IMG_3579

In celebration of the new season, I (in conjunction with SyfyInternational) will be offering fans a chance to win scripts.

Not just scripts, but signed scripts (signed by the entire cast!).

NOT just signed scripts but annotated signed scripts chock full o’ notes from yours truly offering up insights and behind-the-scenes tidbits on the episode from script to finished product.

I’ve been all over reddit, imgur, tumblr, twitter, instagram, youtube, and facebook getting the word out about our season premiere – and also dropping some eye candy from another little franchise I worked on a while back…

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No, not that one!

This one…

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Wraith warrior design by James Robbins.
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Far-future City of Atlantis design by James Robbins for “The Last Man”.

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The sand-flooded corridors of Atlantis.

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Bad Grandpa!  Who is this curmudgeony old coot?

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Build your own ZPM!  Here’s how!

Who’s excited for more scifi?!

 

February 25, 2016: A #Stargate Reunion on #DarkMatter!

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Well, what do we have here?  It’s a Stargate: Atlantis reunion on Dark Matter!  Princess Harmony and Rodney McKay, back together again!  This takes me back…

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And this…

Today was our cast read-thru for Episode 207 and, while I can’t confirm that Tabor Calchek will be making a return appearance on the show (There’s a possibility that David just came in to replace the space heaters in the conference room), wouldn’t it be funny if he ended up on the ship and had to go toe to toe with our Android?

Hey, while we’re on the subject of Stargate/Dark Matter, here’s a little something for an upcoming episode…

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What could we possibly have in store in season 2?

April 11, 2015: Our Stargate Family Reunion continues on Dark Matter!

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Well, well, well.  Look who it is.  Director Martin Wood (Stargates SG-1 and Atlantis) hits the streets of Toronto – in his trademark shorts.  Yes, if there are two thing I remember about Martin Wood from our days on Stargate, it’s: 1) His penchant for wearing shorts year round, and 2) His onscreen cameo character, Major Wood, always lugged around a giant wrench.

Alas, no giant wrench on Dark Matter (but who knows?  We’ve yet to shoot his episode, #111) but the shorts are still in full effect!

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We had our final (?) notes session with Executive Producer Jay Firestone the other day.  Soon after, we made the necessary changes and released our season finale, episode #113.  As I may have mentioned, I want to approach each season as a instalment in a book series.  And so, #113 offers answers to many of the questions we set up over the course of our initial 13 episode journey and includes one HUGE reveal.  But I made a point of scripting it in a way that keeps the mystery reveal a secret…until our very last day of production.  A LOT of theories swirling around set right now…

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B 1st Assistant Camera Marcel Janisse enjoys lunch in the infirmary’s isolation chamber.

I’m thinking it’s high time for another mailbag.  If you’ve got questions about the show, post away.  I’ll answer later in the week.

I’m also thinking of doing one of those reddit AMA’s.  How do they work?

Finally, here’s another look at the Dark Matter teaser trailer:

Over 47k+ views and counting!  Share!  Share!  Share!

April 2, 2015: Dark Matter casting announcements! David Hewlett! Ruby Rose!

Well, finally!  It’s official!

http://io9.com/first-details-on-david-hewletts-return-to-syfy-in-dark-1695188609

“David Hewlett is returning to Syfy! This summer Hewlett will reunite with Stargate Atlantis writers Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie on their new show Dark Matter.

Hewlett will have a recurring part as Talbor Calchek. In a slight change for Hewlett, Calchek is a sleazy agent for unsavory mercenaries who will appear in a four-episode arc.”

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Who is Tabor Calchek?  Well…

“Slick, silver-tongued, and more than a little seedy. Tabor Calchek is the team’s handler and the ultimate agent. For the standard 10% commission, he uses his underworld connections as a broker to secure his clients their lucrative assignments. Tabor is sly, manipulative and opportunistic, and can always be counted on to look out for his client’s best interests…right after his own.”

Imagine a cross between Stargate: Atlantis’s Rodney McKay, Entourage’s Ari Gold, and Nic Cage’s Detective Rick Santoro from Snake Eyes, and you’d have a pretty fair approximation of the Tabor character.  His morals are as suspect as his fashion sense, but he is a hoot!  When it came time to cast the role, we reached out to David and made him an offer.  No audition necessary because I knew he would nail it.  And he did, delivering a performance that had us all struggling to stifle our laughter during his takes.  Behind the scene pics to come.  But here’s something to tide you over…

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Little known fact: When he’s not acting, David Hewlett works station security on Shaofu 2!

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Our second BIG guest star announcement:

“Also guest-starring in the show’s first season will be Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black) as Wendy, described as a “dangerously beautiful android with a full range of pleasure features.”

Well, sure.  That’s one way to describe her, but I prefer…

“Wendy is an entertainment model android designed and built for FUN. The crew discovers her, disassembled in a remote section of the ship and decide to bring her online. Using every bit of her entertainment programming to her advantage, she immediately charms everyone on board – with the exception the ship’s practical work model android who finds Wendy illogical and plain bad company. Resentment brews as the two droids vie for the crew’s attention and affection.”

Ruby landed on our show thanks to the inspired, out-of-the-box casting mind of Dark Matter Executive Producer Jay Firestone – and she was an utter delight to work with.  Smart, sweet, and exceptionally dedicated to her craft, she delivers a one-of-a-kind performance as the multi-faceted Wendy, at turns sunny, sharp, and totally kick-ass.  Oh, and 1000 bonus points to her for being such a compassionate dog rescuer.

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Ruby celebrated her birthday Dark Matter style, with Executive Producer Jay Firestone and the gang playing laser tag.

AND…that’s another wrap!  Episode #108 is in the books and director T.W. Peacocke heads to editing.

Monday, we roll right back into episode #109 with four days of director Ron Murphy’s episode still to shoot.

And then, Dark Matter stunt coordinator John Stead assumes the directing reins on episode #110.

While that goes to camera, it’s another Stargate reunion of sorts as director Martin Wood comes into town to prep episode #111.

And we finish Dark Matter’s first season in fine style, with another Stargate alum as director Andy Mikita drops by to shoot episodes #112 and #113.

I can’t believe we have less than two months to go.  I’ve got to start making plans for my return trip home to Vancouver!

December 10, 2014: The shuttle!

We’re heavy into prep on episodes #101-102 and, with the commencement of principal photography about a month away, sets are coming together nicely.  Our ship, The Raza, has come a long way in the past couple of weeks.  The corridors have been textured with faux-grate flooring, pipes, vents, and grills, its walls painted in metallic hues, sliding doors installed; the quarters are coming to life, the sub-level cargo hold and walkways finished, and the bridge…the window are in, front AND top, and the consoles went in today.

Meanwhile, work is being completed on the shuttle (the Phantom Class Marauder) interior design.  We’ve gone back and forth on its various elements – width, depth, seating layout, windows, and location of the door – and are in the process of finalizing the look.  I wanted something similar to the puddle jumper in terms of layout with a little more of the depth of the SGU shuttle.  Ultimately, I think we’ll also incorporate an element of the SG-1 cargo ships with its sectioned cockpit and separate hold.

Anyway, I contacted Stargate Production Designer James Robbins, who has been doing some fabulous design work for us on Dark Matter (Can’t wait to show you his work on The Marauder, the space station, and the various cruiser, destroyer, and shuttle class versions of the Ferrous Corp, Mikkei Combine, and Galactic Authority ships!), and asked him about the dimensions of those smaller Stargate ship designs.  He sent me the following which I thought were too cool not to share with you –

SGU Shuttle_Dimensions_R001

As James points out, the dimensions are from our VFX department and may not reflect what was actually built.  80 feet long for the SGU shuttle seems a bit much, but the 40 foot length of the Atlantis puddle jumper sounds about right.

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Takes you back, no?

Many thanks to James for digging these up from the archive!

Prep continues with non-stop meetings.  Today, it was the concept meeting followed by visual effects, playback, and impromptu hair meeting, stunts, and special effects.  Tomorrow, it’s an Art Department review, props, paints, another hair meeting, and not one but TWO gun meetings!

July 16, 2014: My Top 10 Stargate Atlantis Memories!

Stargate: Atlantis premiered ten years ago today.  I’m celebrating with a look back at my Top 10 favorite SGA memories.

In no particular order…

#10. RODNEY MAKES THE CUT.  BUT JUST BARELY!

mckay_redemptionProduction on the new Stargate spinoff was fast-approaching, but we were scrambling to cast one crucial role: the part of the intrepid, dedicated team doctor. Multiple auditions yielded no suitable candidates and the producers were at a loss until… Robert Cooper suggested a different tact.  Instead of casting a new character, why not bring in an established one – namely, Dr. Rodney McKay who had already put in a couple of appearances on Stargate: SG-1?  To say that this last minute switch “worked out quite nicely” would be an enormous understatement.  Could you imagine Atlantis without him?

#9. ENTER GOLDEN BOY MARTIN GERO

1Faced with the prospect of 40 episodes of television a season, we sought out new talent for the writers’ room.  Enter young Martin Gero who proved himself with his first script, Childhood’s End – and then went on to become the most prolific writer on the show.

#8. ENTER CARL BINDER

dsc09906Later in SGA’s first season, we added one more writer to the room, a veteran of Punky Brewster with a penchant for schnitzel and off-colour humor.  He proved himself with his first script, Before I Sleep – and then went on to become the most prolific writer of ghost-themed episodes on the show.

#7. ENTER RONON

62149The show saw several cast changes over the course of its five year run, but perhaps none quite as significant as the introduction of the rough and ready Satedan, Ronon.  A great onscreen presence, Jason Momoa was also a hell of a lot of fun to work with.

#6. INTRODUCING…TODD THE WRAITH

stargateatlantis-s05e17There’s nothing I enjoy more than an interesting, multi-layered villain and, while the show had them in bunches, none (in my humble opinion) matched the depth and color of Todd the Wraith, a soul-sucking alien with a devilish sense of humor.

#5. GOODBYE, CARSON

1This one rivals the closing moments of SG-1’s Meridian as one of the most touching scenes of the franchise.  Rodney says goodbye to his friend who fades away to close the episode and Carson’s story…for a little while anyway.

#4. WOOLSEY IN CHARGE

p185051_n1357_cc_v4_aaI loved Richard Woolsey’s evolution from pencil-pushing bureaucrat to principled suit, so when Amanda Tapping’s departure opened up the position of Expedition Commander, the first name that came to mind was: Bob Picardo.  I called him up, made him the offer and we closed the deal that afternoon.  One of my favorite characters to write for.

#3. BEHIND THE SCENES FUN

2It’s hard to pick one moment among the countless great ones I enjoyed as a member of the Atlantis writing team.  Amid all the story sessions, script notes, cut screenings and mixes, there was much hilarity.  More often than not, it involved Carl being “tricked” into eating something awful (https://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2007/06/08/june-7-2007/).

#2. MY FIRST SAN DIEGO COMIC CON

2Meeting 5000 Stargate fans – simultaneously.

#1. ALL GOOD THINGS….

sg520mainAlthough it wasn’t planned as a series finale, the show’s last episode served nicely as a nice send-off, wrapping up existing storylines yet leaving the door open for further adventures.  The final group shot on the balcony overlooking San Francisco Bay was an emotional one for all.  We’d had five great years – but, dammit, we could have had so many more!

April, 2014: Dognapping in Vancouver! My March Reading List! Continuing our Stargate: Atlantis re-watch with…Remnants!

Wow.  This has been all over the news here:

1http://www.petsearcherscanada.com/stolen-french-bulldog-in-vancouver-do-you-recognize-this-woman2/

If you live in the Vancouver area, check out the video and maybe help identify this sorry excuse for a human being.

Capsule reviews of all the books I read last month…

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Blood Kin by Steve Rasnic Tem

A southern gothic tale that alternates between the 1930’s and the present day.  It tells the parallel stories of a women and her grandson and their respective battles against supernatural forces in the southern Appalachians, all related to a mysterious crate buried deep in the kudzu-infested grounds of their family property.  Moody and effectively atmospheric but, at times, slow-moving and disjointed.  It starts strong, lags in the middle, and then culminates in an explosion of frenzied horror.

1In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami

A young man who specializes in guiding foreigners on red light tours of Tokyo begins to suspect that there may be more to his latest client than meets the eye. Is this strange American merely eccentric, or could he be the serial killer responsible for some recent gruesome murders?  As the mystery builds and our protagonist is drawn inexorably deeper, things begin to take a turn for the bizarre. Incredibly engaging and unnerving – until the sudden and inexplicable supernatural twist late in the hitherto grounded book.  That’s when the wheels come off.

1The Barrow by Mark Smythe

A rousing fantasy actioner in the spirit of Joe Abercrombie’s First Law series. Violence, humor, and colourful characters abound in this tale of a group of unlikely heroes on a quest for a fabled sword.  It’s a gritty, lively adventure and a hell of a fun read, but my enjoyment was seriously hampered by some explicit sex scenes that, quite frankly, read like submissions to Letters to Penthouse.

1Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell

As is often the case with collections, this one is a mixed bag – but there’s no denying the inventiveness of the strange stories contained herein.  Like the tale of the reformed vampires who have retired to the Italian countryside where the juice of fresh lemons slakes their thirst for blood.  Or the one about about the exploited mutant female workers of a Japanese silk factory.  Or the one about the young boys who discover a scarecrow that eerily resembles someone they used to bully…  Recommended for those who appreciate inspired, slice-of-life narratives (and, FYI, “slice-of-life” is writer code for “doesn’t have an ending”).

1The Walking Dead (volume 20) by Robert Kirkman

“All Out War”, Part 1.  Well, “Preamble to All Out War” would probably be more accurate.  Rick and co. and their newfound allies take the fight to Negan’s doorstep.  And things get ugly – with the promise of still uglier things to come. Darker, deeper, and, frankly, better than the television series.

1Harbour by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Two years after the mysterious disappearance of his six year old daughter, a man returns to his family home on a remote island – and discovers the community hides a dark secret.  Chilling, at times unnerving, the novel is somewhat reminiscent of Stephen King’s grounded small-town horror.  Unique in certain respects but, overall, not quite enough to set it apart in a very crowded field.  Still, an above-average horror read.

1The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

The book opens with our narrator, Jeannette, on her way to a New York City function, when her cab stops beside a homeless women rooting through the trash. Upon closer scrutiny, Jeannette realizes that homeless woman is, in fact, her mother.  And so begins one of the most amazing books I’ve read in recent memory. The blurb on the back of the jacket does it an enormous disservice, painting it as a bleak autobiographical account of woman growing up in an abusive family.  It’s actually quite touching, uplifting – and incredibly funny, reminiscent of David Sedaris at his very darkest.  One of my Top 10 books of all time.  Go read it!

1Peter Panzerfaust (volume 1) by Kurtis J. Wiebe

It’s Peter Pan in WWII as Peter leads a group of young orphans from Calais to Paris.  Complicating matters for them = nazis!  No magic but certain aspects of the story stretch credulity.

1The Circle by David Eggers

Our young heroine lands a job working for The Circle, a cutting edge internet company that is Google, Facebook, and Yahoo rolled into one.  Before she knows it, she is at the forefront of a wave of technological advancements that will revolutionize social interaction.  But at what price?  A smart, scary book that explores the potentially insidious consequences of our increasingly “connected” lives.  It takes a while to get going and the big “surprise reveal” at book’s end isn’t all that surprising at all, but it nevertheless delivers a powerful message on our increasing willingness to relinquish privacy and freedom in exchange for convenience.

1We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Inspired by an experiment in the 1930’s in which a husband and wife research team raised a baby chimp in their home as a member of their family, this novel offers a fictional account of a similar experiment run some sixty years later – and its heartbreaking effects on those involved.  Our narrator is Rosemary, a woman who reflects back on her childhood, growing up with a human brother and chimpanzee sister – until the dark day her sister, Fern, was taken away.  The loss of their beloved family members has far-reaching consequences for all of them. Some fifteen years later, Rosemary reflects back on her time with Fern and tries to learn the truth about her sister’s fate.  It’s rare I read a truly great book, even rarer for me to read two back to back, but that’s exactly what happened.  Right after reading Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle, I picked up this book – and was equally bowled over.  Humorous and poignant.  A wonderful book.

1Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth Powell

A monkey of another kind is the titular hero of this alt history romp that features a royal conspiracy, nuclear-powered airships, VR ninja nazis, and poachable portable souls.  It’s silly fast-paced fun, but the sloppy villains and a maudlin love story really throw a wrench into the works.

Continuing our Stargate: Atlantis re-watch with…Remnants!

1I approached the re-watch of this episode with some trepidation, not because I was worried that Akemi wouldn’t like it but because I feared that I wouldn’t.  After all, I’d been reviewing my episodes in particular with very critical eyes and, to be honest, I’m a lot less happy with the results now than I was years ago.  Back in the day, this one had been a personal favorites, so I was curious as to how it would survive the test of time.  As it turned out – quite well.  Of all of the episodes I wrote for the last two Stargate incarnations (SGA and SGU), this one ranks as one of my faves.  It still holds up.  And it was especially satisfying watching this with Akemi who, despite English being her second language, greatly enjoyed it.  In fact, she declared it: “My favorite of your episodes. ”  High praise indeed.  She loved the humor, the quick pacing, and was delighted by the unexpected twists – especially the final one in which it is revealed that McKay had been fooled all along as well…

Ever-appreciative of the trademark Stargate humor – and a certain Robert Picardo: “I find many funny scenes.  Especially with Bob.”

On the admittedly talky reveal: “That scene was difficult but cool.  I like it.”

On when her suspicions were first raised that maybe something was up – and Kolya’s punching prowess: “I was wondering.  Bad guy punching him thirty times and he’s still alive.  Just scratches.  Not losing teeth.  Guy is not good at punching people.”

On another red flag: “I thought too expensive for Sheppard without hand for rest of series.  Not like old man on Walking Dead.  Major character.  DingDingding!  Price go so high.”

Overall: “I like it.  Funny.   Not too scary.”

 

April 18, 2014: Akemi’s birthday festivities!Our Stargate Atlantis re-watch continues with…The Prodigal!

Akemi’s birthday…

Picking up a selection of home made marshmallows at Achimallows pop-up stand.
Picking up a selection of home made marshmallows at Archimallows pop-up stand.
The selection
The selection

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Birthday lunch at Bel Cafe.  Banh Mi for me.
Birthday lunch at Bel Cafe. Banh Mi for me.
And spicy chicken salad and a matcha latte for Akemi.
And spicy chicken salad and a matcha latte for Akemi.
And some hazelnut drags to go.  I'm a sucker for those complimentary samples.
And some hazelnut dragees to go. I’m a sucker for those complimentary samples.
New running shoes, a.k.a. new chew toys for Lulu.
New running shoes, a.k.a. new chew toys for Lulu.
Then, over to Main Street to check out the Candy Meister truck.
Then, over to Main Street to check out the Candy Meister truck.

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And, of course, her favorites - and the reason we chase this truck around town - the handmade marshmallows.
And, of course, her favorites – and the reason we chase this truck around town – the handmade marshmallows.
An afternoon walk/roll with the dogs.
An afternoon walk/roll with the dogs.
Doggy bath time.
Doggy bath time.
Sushi dinner at Miku Restaurant
Sushi dinner at Miku Restaurant
Drinks.  For her, some sort of Yuzi liquor.
Drinks. For her, some sort of Yuzi liquor.
For me, the sake sampler.
For me, the sake sampler.
And the "lotus root salad" that was served, completely devoid of lotus roots.  When I asked about this, I was informed that they were out.  Really?
And the “lotus root salad” that was served, completely devoid of lotus roots. When I asked about this, I was informed that they were out. Really? On the bright side, our sushi was served with the expected fish.
And, instead of birthday cake, Akemi opted for birthday gelato at Bella Gelateria.  Yes, it's that good!
And, instead of birthday cake, Akemi opted for birthday gelato at Bella Gelateria. Yes, it’s that good!

Continuing our Stargate: Atlantis re-watch with…The Prodigal!

1Another Carl Binder-san spectacular.  I loved this episode even more on repeat viewing.  It’s got action, humor, and high-stakes developments with all of our characters in play (even Zelenka, Lorne, and Amelia Banks).  Fast-paced fun!

And Akemi agreed.  She laughed out loud a couple of times, jumped at others, and seemed just as anxious as Teyla when she was in hiding with her baby.  The night time establishers of the city all lit up never fail to amaze, and the “really cool fighting scenes” in this one wowed her as well, especially the final showdown at the top of the tower (Again, thanks to Mark Savela and our VFX crew and James Bamford and our stunts crew).  Her only quibble with this episode: “I’m so sad I didn’t see any scenes with Jewel.  Where’s Jewel?”  I dunno.  Night off?

She was at her most animated when Sheppard almost tumbles off the tower and is left dangling: “Now Mike Dopud can take over team!”

When Teyla approaches Michael hanging on by his fingertips: “Kick him off.”

And when she does just that: “What?!  He isn’t really dead, is he?”  And when I informed her that, yes, he was: “Wow.  Michael die.  Are you sure?  Who will they fight?”  No one!  The last six episodes of the final season will feature scenes of them sitting around, talking about their feelings.

And a closing observation as the end credits started to roll: “Sheppard never die, ne?  Don’t you think so?  Why not?”

April 5, 2014: A Book of the Month Club Reminder! Resuming our Stargate: Atlantis season 5 rewatch with…Search and Rescue!

1A reminder to all that our book club reconvenes this Monday (April 7th) for a discussion on our April BOTMC pick: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.

You can always check this blog’s right sidebar for info on our upcoming Book of the Month club reads (including our May selection: The Rich and the Dead by Liv Spector).

1Last night marked the resumption of our Stargate: Atlantis rewatch or, in my girlfriend Akemi’s case, First Watch.  Her thoughts on the season premiere: Search and Rescue…

First and foremost, she was mightily impressed by the visual effects that, in her estimation, have come a long way since the show’s first season.  Plenty of oohs and aahs during the space battle, and also plenty of praise for the design and construction of the hive ship interior.

Speaking of the wraith, she missed them in this episode: “I’m kind of missing old-fashioned wraith, both good hair and bad hair wraith.”  I assured her that we’d be seeing them – and their memorable locks – real soon.

One of the reasons she so looked forward to the show’s fifth season was to check out Robert Picardo in action who she has gotten to know over the course of his occasional Vancouver visits.  When he appeared in the opening credits: “Nice to see Bob.”.  Then, halfway through the Woolsey-less episode: “Where’s Bob?”.  And then, after his late appearance in the episode’s closing scene: Yay Bob!”.

Even though she only got to know Carter over the course of this one episode, Akemi quite liked her and was sorry to see her go.

When the episode opened and we saw Sheppard and Ronon trapped in the rubble, she predicted Sheppard would die and that Ronon (“He’s is so handsome!”) would take over as team leader.  When that didn’t happen, she was genuinely disappointed.  Nevertheless, it looks like Sheppard may be growing on her.  Sort of: “I don’t hate Sheppard as much as I used to.  But hard to say after only one episode.”

She called bullshit on Sheppard’s ability to walk around so soon after his injury and then, when Sheppard disobeys Carter’s order in order to take part in the rescue op: “Don’t be so arrogant.  Follow boss’s orders!”.

As usual, McKay was a highlight, especially the birth scene with Teyla that actually had her laughing out loud at times.  “He is typical nervous father,”she said.

All in all, an episode with plenty of highlights and surprisingly no lowlights so far as Akemi was concerned: “I’m very excited to see Jewel.  Very excited to see Bob.  And handsome big guy.”

March 29, 2014: The Houseguests! T.V. Graphs! How’d the Stargates fare?

1Check out our houseguest, the love of my buddy Tio’s life, the lovely Petunia.  She’s here for a sleepover and has come armed with her own pink bed, pink blanket, and snacks.  According to Tio, she’s a snuggler, so tonight will be interesting.  Four dogs on the bed.  Just like old times!

But Petunia wasn’t the only houseguest we entertained.  Earlier today, our friends Jeff and Barb dropped by for pecan pie, ice cream, drinks and, of course, dogs…

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Lulu and Barb hit it off.
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Jeff and the Yamazaki 18 year old whisky also really hit it off.
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Family shot!

And, for no other reason than the fact that I’m already posting dog pictures, here’s a photo I snapped of Bubba last night sporting his samurai helmet…

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Samurai pug!

I received an email today from our old friend, Trevor in Toronto, who alerted me to GraphTV, a site that charts a show’s performance based on viewer response over time.

Stargate: SG-1…

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 6.52.31 PM

Stargate: Atlantis…

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 6.54.30 PMAs Trevor pointed out, a lot “of shows fluctuate quite a lot, either up or down, but the what is clear from the graphs is SG-1 and Atlantis are some of the most consistent series ever made.”

As for Stargate: Universe, the breakdown is also telling…

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 6.57.17 PMAnd, again, Trevor says it best: “and it’s painful to see the SGU graph, because clearly that show was awesome and gaining momentum…”

Check out how your favorite shows fared here: http://io9.com/these-graphs-show-precisely-when-your-favorite-tv-show-1554419978

Or do your own research here: http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/

February 18, 2014: Project updates! Our Stargate: Atlantis rewatch continues with…oops!

This morning, I took part in my very first Skype conference.  It was not without its problems.  For some reason, my writing partner’s webcam wasn’t working properly and, as a result, he appeared as a faceless avatar for the call’s duration.  It was a little unsettling, like I was chatting with that Anonymous guy.  Everyone else’s webcams worked just fine – until about halfway through the call when I lost their video feeds and all the nodding, inquisitive faces were replaced by unnervingly silent, stoic avatars.  At one point, I yammered on for so long that I had to stop and ask if they were still there.  Thankfully, they were.  My writing partner’s audio, meanwhile, kept dropping out at the most inopportune moments.  I swear to you, in one instant he actually said: “But the most important thing is…brzzzgrdsdjktosvbxfzzlslasrzzbreekdtlbrzzz… Anyway…”.

Sure, it was frustrating at times but, at the end of the day, preferable to the alternative:

[P.S. – That guy with the dog?  That’s me.]

Anyway, it’s a terrific project and I’m hoping today’s call put us through to the semi-finals.   Technical issues aside, it went very well.  Or at least, I assume it did since I couldn’t gauge any reactions.  I also assume the video feed cutting out was an accident.  Hmmmm.

Received some preliminary notes on my Southern Gothic pilot from southerner Jeff and will await another set of notes before proceeding to the final polish.  After that, it’s off to my agent and smooooooth sailing!

And, for those of you asking (well, one of you anyway) about our A.K.A. project that was announced as “in development” (here: http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1290069/bell-media-announces-29-drama-projects-in-development) – we delivered a series overview, polish of the pilot, and a revised draft of the second episode script a couple of couple of weeks ago and now await the good news.

Or what I assume will be good news.  In March.

Who’s in a celebrating mood?

Our Stargate: Atlantis rewatch continues with…well, we’re supposed to be watching Before I Sleep but we accidentally skipped and watched The Brotherhood instead.  Sorry about that.

04Well, damn.  I quite enjoyed this episode on second viewing.  Plenty of suspense, clever puzzles, McKay almost gets the girl for a change, and Kolya at his dashingly diabolical best.

Akemi liked it well enough as well and – in what’s become a running pattern – expressed great admiration for Mckay’s smarts.  And Beckett’s eyes.

In addition…

When the two monks rush outside and get nabbed by the wraith: “Why go outside?  So stupid!”  True.

She was very defensive of her boy McKay when Jana seemed to lose interest in him after finding out he was originally from Earth: “Why she didn’t like McKay after finding out he’s not from Atlantis?  Prejudice!”

Akemi also demonstrated an unnerving bloodthirsty streak in her reaction to Sheppard’s decision NOT to kill Kolya: “I didn’t like the fact Sheppard didn’t kill the bad guy.  He caused so much trouble.”  I pointed out that Sheppard is a good guy, a good guys don’t shoot unarmed people in cold blood.  But she wasn’t buying it and proceeded to offer up a reference to the cartoon series Anpanman to bolster her argument: “Baikinman steal the bento box from hippopolice and Anpanman so angry he punched him and Baikinman went very far and crash into mountain.”  And then, in summary: “So if you do something bad thing then you have to do revenge.”

P.S. Akemi wants me to let you know that her comments may give the wrong impression of Anpanman.  It is, in fact, a very peaceful show.

Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regular (and budding young artist) Bethany Boo and her grandma.  Get well soon!

Bethany in action
Bethany in action

February 14, 2014: The Hot Chocolate Festival Top 5! Plus 1 for good luck! Our Stargate: Atlantis rewatch continues with…The Eye!

Alas, it was a herculean task and despite my best efforts, I came up short.  In the end, I sampled only 47 of the some 60 varieties of hot chocolate offered for this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival.  Still, 47 hot chocolates in 24 days aint bad, especially considering I took those four days off to visit mom in Montreal.  This year, I doubled last year’s score.  And, next year, I vow to do even better!

So, what were the standouts?  Well, what follows is my list of the Top 5 Hot Chocolates of this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival!

When all was said and done, six hot chocolates actually made by top 5 list.  After much consideration, I decided to offer a Top 5 +1 for good luck!

Honorable mention goes to…

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A Snowball’s Chance in Hell: Single origin Mexican chocolate with Mexican chili poured over house made chocolate ice cream. Accompanied by a flourless chocolate cookie.

Available at: Chocolate Arts 1620 West 3rd Ave., Vancouver (Kitsilano).

http://www.chocolatearts.com/

#5…

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Phaun’s Fancy: Made from 64% dark chocolate with parmesan and fresh nutmeg.  Served with a side of Umami No. 5 fudge

Available: At Cocoa Nymph 3739 W. 10th Ave (at Alma), Vancouver

www.cocoanymph.com

#4..

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Banana Split: Made from 36% Valrhona Caramelia chocolate and topped with walnut marshmallows.  Served with banana pound cake.

Available at: Bel Cafe, 801 West Georgia Street @ Howe (at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia)

http://www.belcafe.com/

#3…

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Trio of Chocolate: The base of this hot chocolate is 66% Mokaya chocolate by Michel Cluizel. Served with a disk of 45% Kayambe milk chocolate and white chocolate ice cream.

Available at: Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe 1059 Alberni Street

http://www.thierrychocolates.com/

#2…

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Hera’s Habit: Made from 50% deep milk chocolate with malted milk balls.  Served with vanilla bean cinnamon shortbread.

Available: At Cocoa Nymph 3739 W. 10th Ave (at Alma), Vancouver

www.cocoanymph.co

#1…

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Paula Dean White Trash Trainwreck: A 70% dark chocolate ganache with condensed milk, salted kettle chips, and vanilla whipped cream.  Served with a 72% dark chocolate wafer.

Available at: Mink Chocolates, 863 West Hastings St., Vancouver. On the park (cross street, Hornby.)

mink.chocolates

Congratulations to all the winners.  I’m hoping I’ll get to see you again soon.  REAL soon.

Continuing Stargate: Atlantis rewatch with…The Eye!

1Ah, now this is more like it!  Akemi was on the edge of her seat (or, actually, her side of the bed) throughout this episode.  She loved it.  Action!  Suspense!  Humor! And, best of all, those dazzling visual effects!  She was blown away by the the sequence of Atlantis shielding itself within seconds of the giant wave crashing down on the city (“Always very last minute your show!”) and also had high praise for the Teyla-Sora showdown (compliments of our former SGA stunt coordinator James Bam Bam Bamford).  She continues to enjoy McKay, greatly appreciated seeing her favorite Dr. Beckett, and is even warming up to Sheppard.  She had one big bump = McKay dressing his arm wound OVER his sleeve.

Overall: “I liked it a lot.  I’m getting used to this city.  At first I thought not as good as SGU’s ship but now pretty cool.”  And then: “I’m beginning to like SGA too!”

A couple of years ago, I offered some thoughts on this episode (and the next one) in one of my Trip Down Memory Lane entries:

June 13, 2012: Dark Matter at Comic Con! Save Lennox the dog! Days of Stargate Past, Atlantis! The Eye and The Defiant One! Vote on our favorite Stargate mid-season two-parter for a chance to win!