October 5, 2015: Canadians love their scifi television!

Well, this is interesting.  Apparently, Canadians are HUGE fans of science fiction television:

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“During the 2014-2015 broadcast year Canadian TV sci-fi series Orphan Black on Space (4.3 million viewers*), Dark Matter on Space (3.7 million), Between on City Total and Killjoys on Space (both 3.2 million) each reached roughly 10% of the Canadian population. In addition, these shows performed above their respective channel averages in the very desirable 18-34 demographic.”

That’s 10% of the Canadian population that tuned into our little show.

Tell me more…

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Not bad.  It brings to mind another scifi series that far surpassed expectations when it aired on Canada’s Space Channel several years back.  I’ll give you a hint…

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Speaking of Stargate, the giveaways are enroute.  We sent off the last one this morning.  Akemi, as always, personalized each envelope…

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Pictured above: Canadian bunny, coasters in hand, on his way through the stargate to gforce’s house!

Toronto-bound tomorrow morning!  Hoping I can get some writing done on the flight.

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

1

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!

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.

ships small 01

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!

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/

January 28, 2014: Stargate Universe 2.5 – The Japanese Girlfriend Edition! Join our Stargate Atlantis Rewatch!

The other night, Akemi and I finally wrapped up our viewing of Stargate: Universe. So, what did she think?  What was her take on the final ten episodes?  The finale?

Well, what follows are her unique thoughts on episodes #211-220 (Stargate: Universe 2.5)…

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DELIVERANCE

While she appreciated the action in this one, she did bump on the seemingly impeccable timing with which our crew was able to extricate themselves from danger…managing an FTL jump with seconds to spare.  She also found the aliens had equally impressive timing.  Either that or they were just being polite by waiting until Scott and Chloe complete their kiss before interrupting them: “Everything so perfect timing.  And by the way, bad alien very polite too.  Wait until kiss before interrupting.”

She wasn’t sure why the alien ursuni sacrificed themselves to buy Destiny time (“I don’t get seed ship.  Why they sacrifice themselves?  Why so nice?”), but did find the moment touching nevertheless (“So sad.  Sad story.  Sad alien.  Just like seppuku.”).

As always, the visual effects were the star of the show (“Very interesting to see computer graphics in fighting scenes.  Very cool.  I like it.”)

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TWIN DESTINIES

More sadness – and some confusion – abounds in this episode.  Interestingly enough, she felt sadder for a miscalculating Eli than the rest of the crew who presumably perish in the unstable wormhole: “The geek boy’s mathematics wasn’t correct, right?  Too bad, geek boy.   Very sad for him.”

She found the “stay or go” decisions by the various characters very interesting, particular Dale Volker’s desire to stay: “I was surprised the fact Patrick wanted to stay on the ship.  He was the third person!  Do you believe it?”  I asked her, given the choice, if she would choose to remain on Destiny.  Her response: “My character not very important so maybe writer send me back to Earth.”  The cold realist.

Overall, though, she really enjoyed this episode: “I liked this episode.  I like expensive episodes I guess.  Very cool.”

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ALLIANCES

Another stone episode complete with confusing body-swapping.  Still: “I kind of liked it.  Exciting bomb situation going on.”

Again, she appreciated the visual effects and the “weird looking bomb”.  She also patted herself on the back for being instantly suspicious of Andrew the second he boarded the ship: “Andrew creepy.  Very suspicious from the beginning.”

One question she asked that I didn’t have the answer to was with regard to the old timey paintings that adorn the halls of Homeworld Command – and one in particular: “Why people pick Carl Binder’s picture over other writers?  Maybe because is more sophisticated.”  No, I’m sure that wasn’t it.

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HOPE

While she didn’t enjoy this episode as much as the previous visual effects extravaganzas, it did have its moments.  And some of those moments engendered some interesting responses…

When Ginn first shows up in Chloe’s body: “TWO girls in one body!  So great for him [Eli]!”

But then, when Ginn kisses Eli: “What the fuck?!”  And later: “I didn’t like the fact geek boy kiss because he was not nice to scientist guy when he wanted to kiss. Don’t forget – your body’s not really your body!”

When Rush is in strapped into the chair, experiencing the VR love-making with Amanda Perry, Akemi wondered if he had an erection and how embarrassing that would be considering the number of people in the room.

As for the B story: “I’m happy the fact surgery went well.  Team Curly!”

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SEIZURE

Her reaction to this episode was similar to mine: “Why such a stupid plan?”

Yes, she found this episode incredibly confusing: “What kind of mission were they trying to do?  I still don’t get it.  But it was nice to see Bob [Picardo]!”

After explaining the mission to her numerous times, she seemed to get it: “Stupid Chef!  Always pushing ideas and fail it.”

She wasn’t quite sure what to make of McKay (“Suddenly McKay show up.  He talk a lot.  Very arrogant.  From Atlantis.  So he is famous.”), but I assured her he’d grow on her.  She agreed to defer judgement until she’d had a chance to watch SGA.

But she wasn’t buying the body switching, especially the notion that a couple of people from Earth could so effectively impersonate a bunch of human aliens they’d never met: “Very hard to copy somebody’s actions.  I think some people may tell. Chotto henna [kind of strange] episode.”

The biggest eye roll came with the revelation that the parameters Amanda Perry set for their VR romantic encounters was their love for one another: “How to measure love?  What if more than like but a little less than love?  Not very scientific.”  So true.

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THE HUNT

I was actually surprised by how much she enjoyed this episode, her new favorite alongside season one’s Time.  She loved this episode for a number of reasons, the chiefest being the fact that her favorite character, Ronald Greer, is front and center. She also enjoyed seeing another side of Rush, the playful prankster very much in control.

“I liked this episode so much,”she said.  “Because so funny and I liked scientist’s sneaky face.  Reminds me of my boyfriend.  I liked the scientist so much in this episode.”

On Lisa Park’s potential romantic relationship with Volker: “She’s everyone’s girlfriend!”

Following the night time attack that kills off most of Varro’s people: “How many people you killed?  My boyfriend likes to kill people.”  And then: “A lot of Lucian Alliance people living together and you kill them all except your favorite Mike Dopud.” But on a more serious note: “Feels like you’re killing so many people every episode and math doesn’t go.”  Oh, it goes.  Trust me.  It goes.

As the end credits rolled: “I liked the computer graphics, the animal creature.  I liked to see Mike Dopud in the episode very much.  I liked scientist doing sneaky thing. I’m chotto sad the fact Patrick’s love situation.  So he’s still single?”  And: “I liked as much as Time.  Easier to understand.”

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COMMON DESCENT

Akemi found this episode a bit of a head-spinner.  “Very confusing.  Robert Cooper’s episodes always so complicated.”  I prefer “complex”.

She had another question I didn’t have the answer to – as it turns out, a question I had at the time that I never got an answer to either: “What is the answer to question at beginning of episode about fruit?  Good for women and don’t want to tell male? What is that?  Maybe if you eat it you don’t get pimple?  Something like that?”  Yes, something like that I imagine.

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EPILOGUE

Akemi found this episode quite touching: “So sad episode.  Everybody so old looking.”  In particular: “I find very sad.  Very super old Young.  Old Young’s life seems very sad for me.”

And Varro’s heroics weren’t lost on her.  After he saves T.J. from plummeting by catching her, then swinging her to safety: “I liked that Mike Dopud helped her.  So cool.  Coolcoolcool.”

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BLOCKADE

She was very impressed with the visual effects in this episode, one sequence even prompting a bewildered: “How to do that?”

Highlights included: “And I find set is so cool too.  And Mike Dopud.  Bazooka!  I liked it!”

She did have some questions about Park’s ability to get out of the pool and reach the exit despite her lack of sight: “If she can’t see, how she’s able to reach the door?”

But her closing remarks were reserved, not for this episode, but the upcoming finale: “Wow.  Very interesting.  How to end?  I don’t think they make it back to Earth.  So I feel like not happy ending.  Depending on the ending, I may not like the season.” How’s that for pressure?  “I’m investing for a happy ending.  If not happy ending, my boyfriend have to tell me the story every night to give me a happy ending.”  I referred her to THIS blog entry: May 12, 2011: Stargate: Universe, Beyond Season 2! What Might Have Been!

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GAUNTLET

Finally!  The finale!  I feared she would hate it since there is no happy ending. Instead, we leave Destiny with the crew in stasis and Eli alone on the bridge, with two weeks to fix the damaged pod and save his life.  Her response?

“I LIKED IT!  Kind of happy ending.  Nobody die.  Three years.”  And, doing the math: “So supposed to be this year!”

She loved the spectacular visual effects, the destruction of the command ships in particular, but still found the episode bittersweet: “I really feel sorry for her, the blind girl.  Daisy?  Lisa?  So sad about her and Jamil.”

“I liked it.  Happy ending.  At least they figured out the possibility to survive.”

Yes, presumably the Destiny crew is out there, somewhere, drifting, perhaps only years away from waking up once again and continuing their adventures.

NEXT UP: Stargate Atlantis!  Who wants to take part in the official re-watch?!

We’ll kick things off, viewing an episode a day starting Friday, January 31st with the series premiere: Rising I.  And we’ll continue through the show’s full five season run – provided Akemi remains onboard!  Who’s in?!

January 17, 2014: Stargate Universe 2.0 – The Japanese Girlfriend Edition!

The suspense is unbearable!
The suspense is unbearable!

Akemi and I have reached the halfway mark of Stargate: Universe’s second season. On re-watching these ten episodes, I’ve discovered a new appreciation for the series. The show really started to hit its stride in season two and it’s a damn shame it came to such a premature end.

But, really, who cares what I think?  This is  Stargate Universe 2.- – The Japanese Girlfriend Edition!  What did Akemi think?

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INTERVENTION

“Do you remember what happened in the last episode?”I asked Akemi as we sat down to watch the season premiere.  After all, it had been almost two weeks since we screened the season one finale.

“Yes,”she said.  “Everybody die.”

Close, but not quite.  And it didn’t take long for her to get caught up (Thank you, previously-on) and into the suspenseful season premiere.

Most of this episode’s high points were character-related.  She was thrilled to see Toby (Peter) who has come over to watch football on occasion, and of course Mike Dopud who we’ve gone out to dinner with several times.  And, as always, she likes Jamil – even though I have to point out that Jamil is the actor’s name while the name of the character he portrays is Sgt. Greer.

As for the low points, she wonders what took a topside Scott and Greer so long to figure out they should retreat to the underside of the ship to avoid the radiation: “But they’re stupid.  They should have hide under ship sooner.  Why scientist guy make them run?”  Nevertheless: “Still, it was fun.”

She also bumped on Scott and Greer’s shooting prowess – and the enemies’ lack thereof: “Jamil and handsome guy shoot very well but bad guys not so good.  Why?”

“Better training,”I offered.

She threw me a look, brow furrowed, not buying it: “You sure?”

Although saddened by the loss of T.J.’s baby, she was philosophical: “If baby is on the ship then different kind of tension.  Scary things happen – but with baby. Problem, I think, from Walking Dead experience.”

Overall, though, a most enjoyable outing for her: “Time to sleep but I want to watch one more episode.”

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AFTERMATH

An even darker episode sees the crew lose one of its own.  A very sad episode so far as Akemi was concerned.  Still, there were bright spots in the darkness.  She loved the discovery of the bridge which she found very cool.  And she also marvelled over Haig Sutherland’s final turn as Sgt. Riley: “He didn’t blink at all.  How did he do that? His eyes must be super dry!”

She continues to have a love/hate relationship with Rush: “I didn’t like the fact science guy decided to stop [drop out of FTL].  It was dangerous and he kind of knew it.  He killed the skinny guy.”  And then, after a brief consideration: “Actually, writer killed him.”

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AWAKENING

And the Destiny suffers another loss in this episode, losing Colonel Telford – or, as Akemi refers to him, Chef due to his frequent Food Network appearances.  Her reaction?  Kind of surprising given her initial dislike of the character.  I imagine he’s rehabilitated himself in her eyes following the reveal that he was a victim of brainwashing all along: “Of course I feel sorry for Chef.”

Overall, it was an emotional roller coaster ride: “Scary at first.  But very sad.  Again. I don’t like sad episodes.  But I liked the alien.  Very cute.”

And, specifically with regard to said alien: “How did you do alien?  Model?  Why didn’t you ask me?  Big head and small legs.  Perfect.”  Okay, maybe next scifi series.

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PATHOGEN

Another Binder-san episode with a action, suspense, and a great emotional core. This one elicited a range of responses:

“I like geek people because always nice.”  Here, presumably, a reference to Eli.

“Eli brinkles a lot.”  Akemism for “blink”.

She found the scene where Greer and Simeon face off in the corridor, with its discordant background music, unbearable: “Didn’t like Jamil and Jerk Guy facing each other and peeeeeee sound.”

BUT, she loved the part where Eli’s mother visits Destiny and finally learns the truth about her son: “Favorite part was when mother came to the ship.  She was happy; I was happy.”

Other observations: “Scientist guy not nice.  Just use everyone.  Not nice.”

“I’m surprised Chloe has diary like I have.”  At which point she pulled our her diary, packed full of equally weird doodles.  [Note to self: Am I dating an alien?]

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CLOVERDALE

Mixed feelings on this episode which she equated to: “Watching old t.v. show.”

As usual, she loved Greer’s heroics, his willingness to risk all for his friend.  On the other hand, she was less enamored of the wedding sequence which she found “chotto cheesy”.

She also bumped on the 11th hour turn: “Can I ask question?  How can they give blood if not the same blood type?”

“Maybe they were,”I said.

“And magically the same blood type?”  She wasn’t buying it.

She did, however, think Chloe looked gorgeous on her wedding day and loved her dress.

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TRIAL AND ERROR

Although she liked this one, she was confused by the whole simulation explanation. Instead, she focused on the character moments, particularly the ones involving Eli and his new love interest, Ginn.  She adored Greer’s big brother approach (“I’m going to take my time.” being her favorite line), but had some reservations about Eli’s shifting allegiance: “I was sad the fact geek boy turn for new girl so quickly.  He liked Chloe!”  Still, she wished the new couple all the best: “Now geek boy doesn’t care about Chloe anymore.  Geek love.  Hope they do well.”

Other observations: “I liked the part where Scott punches old Young’s face.”

On Rush: “He wash his hair?”

And: “I like Jamil all the time.”  No kidding!

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THE GREATER GOOD

A suspenseful episode, much of it that went completely over her head: “The part scientist talk about mission blah blah blah I couldn’t understand.  Less than two percent.”

Still: “I liked it but I thought Colonel Young kill scientist.”

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MALICE

Another Robert Cooper extravaganza, this one with a Western twist.  And another very sad episode: “A lot of people passed away.”  Including Ginn: “Why Robert Cooper hate geek love?”

She loved the pyrotechnics (“I liked a lot of bombs going off.”) but didn’t like her favorite getting injured (“Didn’t like that Jamil was shot.”)

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VISITATION

She was intrigued throughout this episode but was left disappointed by the conclusion.  As the end credits rolled: “That’s it?  What is that ending?  What’s that? Continued next episode?  That’s it?  So many mystery!”

While she liked Greer’s honest conversation with Chloe (“I liked the fact Jamil is very sad and say sorry to Chloe.  Jamil is nice guy, ne?”), she didn’t like the fact we were offered no answers regarding the mysterious reappearance of the new and improved shuttle and former crew members: “Why alien do that?”  Off my shrug: “You should know because you’re writer.”  True.

I explained that the aliens took pity on the recently deceased and reanimated them, returning them to their home (Destiny).  Unfortunately, despite their advanced technology, the resurrections were short-lived.  The bodies broke down and the people died all over again.  I figured that would satisfy her.  Instead, I got: “Are you sure?  Is it answer?  But you didn’t say that during episode and you’re telling me now.  Why didn’t you tell everybody?  Everybody so sad.”  Beat.  “And what happened to baby by the way?”

“It was a dream created by the ship.”

Met with a dissatisfied: “Hunh.”

Interestingly, two of her biggest objections were with regard to the Peter character played by our friend Toby Slezak.  “Why Toby has such small part?  And why his name Peter?”  In fact, for some strange reason, she got really hung up on the name Peter: “Nice to see Toby, but his role is so small and his name is Peter.  Why Peter? I hope I not offend every Peter in the world but Peter chotto…He doesn’t look like a Peter.”

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RESURGENCE

Ah, by this point, she’d become a savvy viewer.  When the crew identifies one of the crippled ships as similar to the one Rush and Young visited episodes earlier: “Where’s Chef?”she wanted to know.

When Chef, aka Telford finally showed up, she felt vindicated – then somewhat saddened by the fact his new alien allies pulled a precautionary double-cross.  Sympathetically: “Chef manipulated by bad guys and now he’s manipulated by aliens.”  Poor, dumb, trusting Chef.

She loved the action, was on the edge of her seat for the Chloe scenes and, in particular, the race from the derelict ship back to the shuttle: “Jamil, Scott and curly hair drunken guy [here, no doubt, a reference to Brody’s still] running back to ship. Most exciting part.”

She did take issue with one seemingly inconsequential element in this episode: “I thought Patrick had too much tan.  Only he has nice tan.  What happened, he went to Vegas?”

But when we cut to the end credits, she was absolutely beside herself, insisting we roll right into the next episode.  But it was late.

Here’s hoping she’s as equally enthusiastic about our Stargate Atlantis re-watch!

December 28, 2013: Stargate Universe 1.5! The Japanese Girlfriend Edition!

Akemi and I finished watching the second half of Stargate: Universe’s first season today.  It’s been interesting to see her develop a genuine passion for the series.  “I love Stargate!”she declared this morning.  “Please call me, geeku-chan!”

Like any fan, Geeku-chan had her favorite characters, her favorite episodes.  Robert Cooper’s Time is still tops in her books.  She can’t get enough of that kino!

What follows are her thoughts on episode #11 through #20…

1 SPACE

Being a big fan of the show’s visual effects, Akemi greatly appreciated this episode, especially the sequence of the ships exchanging fire (“Poom poom poom”).  She, did, however, have some reservations about the alien who proved disappointingly weak in her opinion.  She also wasn’t a fan of Young in the alien suit – “He looked like an oompa loompa!”.

Overall though, a solid episode in her estimation.  “I feel like I’m watching a movie.”

1DIVIDED

She found certain elements of this one confusing, particularly those related to the transfer of the ship’s control.  Still, she did find it suspenseful (“Jamil almost killed Patrick!”she exclaimed at one point) and loved the space walk.  On the other hand, she found the operation sequence “scary”, the part where Rush awakens in the middle of surgery especially distressful.

1FAITH

For some reason, she found this episode difficult to understand and expressed disappointment that we never got to see “the alien who built the Tokyo towerish thing”.

She did find the burgeoning/grudging friendship between Rush and Young interesting, noting: “I find science guy and old Young very friendly now but a few episodes before they were cranky cranky.”

As for T.J.’s predicament, she was surprisingly noncommittal: “Don’t feel sad for her because it’s personal situation going on.  No comment.”

1HUMAN

“I watched twice and still don’t understand!”  Alas, yes.  She fell asleep the first time and then started from the beginning in the hopes that she wold actually understand it the second time around.  No such luck.  What was the problem?  Well, beside all the back and forth between reality and Rush’s world: “Very confusing because science guy very mumblesome.”

1LOST

An emotionally strong episode for Akemi who was on the edge of her seat throughout.  She confidently predicted our intrepid foursome would make it back to the ship at the end of last episode and, when they didn’t, she was downright shocked.  So, when the remaining trio didn’t make it back in the nick of time a second time, she was incensed.  “F**ing scientist!  Why dial?  Give last five minutes to them.  It shouldn’t happen such bad timing!”  Sadly, it did and Scott, Eli, and Chloe ended the episode off-world with seemingly no chance of rejoining Destiny.

Akemi: “I like this episode because twisted.”

Me: “You mean because there was a twist.”

Akemi: “Yeah.  Twisted.”

Her appreciation for Ronald Greer/Jamil Walker Smith continues: “I like Jamil.  I mean Jamil’s character.”, “I like Jamil’s character more because he had bad experience as a kid.”, and “I like young Jamil with yellow t-shirt and crazy hair.”

????????????????????????????SABOTAGE

This episode may not have been a fan favorite, but Akemi liked it just fine, especially the visual effect shots of the robot fixing the ship.  She did find it odd that T.J. (conveniently) didn’t knock when paying a call on Rush, simply opening the door to his room and catching him and Rush/Dr. Perry/Wray in an “awkward” moment.

This episode also begged the question: “When is geek guy going to get with her?  When will other guy die?”.  She’s apparently a Chloli shipper but likes Scott just the same.  “Very handsome,”she told me.  “But geek guy also very cute and unique.  In Japan, both would be equally popular.”

1PAIN

Right off the bat: “Why Young stop shaving his beard?  Depression comes from being father?”  I don’t know.  Maybe?

She thought this a good, scary episode with an ending that left her wanting more. Ultimately, a great episode “because written by Carl Binder-san.”

1SUBVERSION

At some point, she started referring to a character as Chef.  Well, I knew “scientist” referred to Rush and “geek” referred to Eli, but “Chef”?  Turns out she was referring to Lou Diamond Philips because she remembers him from his varied Food Network forays.  Some of her comments on this episode:

“I like the scene of Jamil punching his face, stupid chef.”

“Why chef flip it?  How he get brainwashed?  I guess it is what it is.”

“Nice to see Mike Dopud.”

“Mike Dopud is alien?  Looks like human though.”

As for the episode as a whole: “I like but why stop there?  I’m curious and can’t sleep.”

1INCURSION I

She was on the edge of her seat from start to finish and, when the episode ended, requested we roll right into the next.  The highlight for her?  Eli’s courageous bid to keep Chloe safe, at one point literally sweeping her off her feet. (“I love geek boy.”).  The lowlight?  She didn’t like the fact that Young didn’t vent the the gate room the second the Lucian Alliance came through.  Chef be damned!

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INCURSION II

Not quite the consistent nail-biter that was Incursion I, Incursion II delivered big time for her in its last fifteen minutes.  “Very movie-ish!”was her take on the season finale.  BUT she didn’t like the fact that there was no ending.  “Not finished?  Not happy!”  The problem?  She feared for her favorite characters.  Why?  “I’m afraid because my boyfriend has no mercy.  I like happy ending but my boyfriend not all the time.”

Hmmm.  Makes me wonder what she’ll think of the series finale.

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

IMG_2719

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

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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.”

AIR III

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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.”

DARKNESS

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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.”

LIGHT

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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.

WATER

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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.”

EARTH

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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!

TIME

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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.”

LIFE

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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.”

JUSTICE

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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!

December 14, 2013: Planning the Fan Campaign! And next year’s Group Holiday!

Okay.  Pursuant to yesterday’s blog entry, some careful strategy is required.

I think that, rather than striking out now as everyone – especially those in a position to make the decisions – prepares for the holidays or, in some cases, is already off on holidays, the campaign should hold off in order to maximize its efforts.

Plan and coordinate now, then launch in the second or third week of the New Year when everyone is back at the office – and eager to start green lighting those new projects!

I leave you to pick a target date.

And, speaking of planning, what do you all have planned for the coming holidays? Visiting relatives?  Staying close to home?  Getting away from it all with a trip to an exotic locale?  Bora Bora?  Fiji?  Vegas?

Given the choice, if you could spent the holidays anywhere in the world EXCEPT home (or the home of a loved one), where would it be?

My Top 5 NOT Home For the Holidays Destinations:

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5. Christmas in Hawaii

Well, why the hell not?  Sure, there’s nothing like a white Christmas, but after one too many festive deep-freezes in my home town of Montreal, I think I’d appreciate a little change of venue.  Maybe less snow and more sand.  Less spruce and pine and more palm.  Less roasted chestnuts, more poi.  And, oh yeah, the beach.

14. Christmas in Hong Kong

The view from Kowloon of the colorfully lit buildings lining the Central Hong Kong across Victoria Harbor is absolutely stunning.  Not quite the rest and relaxation offered by a Hawaiian getaway, but certainly a hell of a lot warmer than an east coast winter, and maybe even more cosmopolitan.  If you’re looking to shop away the holidays, this is the place!

13. Christmas Tokyo

Well, of course.  Tokyo out Christmases most North American cities with its stunning seasonal displays and spirit.  Granted, the Japanese don’t quite celebrate the holiday like some of us do, eschewing family in favor of romantic dinners for two, but it’s hard not to get caught up in the festive mood.

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2. Christmas in Savannah

I chose Savannah, Georgia because I’ve been researching the city of late, but I’d happily do Charleston, S.C. as well or any other down home American city that offers a southern take on the holiday complete with pecan pie and bourbon-spiked eggnog.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA1. Christmas in Las Vegas

Well, surprise surprised?  Not really.  Unlike any of the other places listed, Vegas is only a few hours away, offering fun, sun, and restaurant lineup to rival New York and L.A.

So, let’s all start planning for next year!  Where are we all going?

December 13, 2013: Stargate: Extinction! The comic book?!

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StellaByStargate writes: “I’m curious as to who (person or organization) “owns”–for lack of a better word–the scripts for the SGA and SG-1 movies? So many of us would love to see those novelized and made part of the Stargate canon…is there any way we could launch a campaign to make that happen? Who would we have to annoy/pester/wheedle/cajole/blackmail? If any group is up to the task, I’m guessing it’s the Stargate fandom.”

Answer: GREAT question!

The rights to both Stargate movie scripts (Stargate: Extinction and Stargate: Revolution) rest with the studio, MGM.  It is up to them if and when Stargate fans will see these stories, in some form or other.  Unfortunately, for reasons I’ve gone over here (September 12, 2013: Whither Stargate?) it’s highly unlikely the Atlantis movie will be produced.  However, there are other options…

To be honest, I have neither the time nor the patience to sit down and novelize the Atlantis script (Stargate: Extinction).  Besides, I think the writers of the Legacy series have done a fine job continuing the adventures in book form.

Having said that, I certainly would make the time to script a four-issue comic book based on Stargate: Extinction if I was approached to do so.  I had a great experience working on a previous comic book project, Dark Matter, and believe the comic book format would be a great way to get the story out there.  It would be especially convenient for fans who want to check out the story but may not be inclined to invest the time required to read a full novel.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that this is actually a fantastic idea.  For several reasons.  Not only is it the best, most visual, fan-accessible means of experiencing Stargate: Extinction, it also works to MGM’s benefit by revitalizing the fan base in advance of whatever they have planned next for the franchise.

Fan campaigns, while well-intentioned, will never have as meaningful an impact because, at the end of the day, decisions are based on the bottom line.  Are the potential viewers still out there and is there money to be made?  Well, what better way to find out than by testing the waters with a comic book based on a story Stargate fans have been clamoring for?  Yes, it may be easy to ignore a deluge of fan mail in support of a show, but much more difficult to dismiss solid sales figures.

If the studio gave the go-ahead to a Stargate: Extinction comic book, there would be no downside for anyone, only plenty of upside for both MGM and the fans.

Worst case scenario: Stargate: Extinction is released as a comic book but doesn’t sell as well as hoped (highly unlikely).  At the very least, the fans finally get to experience the story that brings Atlantis back to the Pegasus Galaxy.

Better case scenario: Stargate: Extinction is released as a comic book and does well. So well, in fact, that further stories are commissioned.  What would be next?  Well, there are all those episode ideas we were kicking around for Stargate: Atlantis’s sixth season (September 30, 2008: An AU Season 6!).  There is also the SG-1 movie, Stargate: Revolution, and the further adventures of SG-1.  And, of course, there’s also the possibility of continuing the Stargate: Universe storyline.

Best case scenario: Stargate: Extinction is released as a comic book and surpasses sales expectations, making MGM stand up and take notice that the television franchise, and Atlantis in particular, still has a huge and devoted fan base. And then maybe, just maybe, we succeed where earlier fan campaigns have failed: taking a giant step in convincing MGM to continue the story onscreen.

But, first things first.  We have to make the Stargate: Extinction comic book happen.

So, let the studio know.  Contact MGM and tell them you want to see a Stargate: Extinction comic book, a comic book based on the unproduced Stargate: Atlantis script.

Get the word out!  And tell your fellow fans to get the word out!

Make enough noise, get their attention, and we’ll have our Stargate: Extinction comic.  And potentially much more because for the first time in a long while, YOU THE FANS will be able to influence the future of Stargate.

Coming your way?
Coming your way?

September 12, 2013: Whither Stargate?

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With the recent news that Roland Emmerich would like to make a second, big screen, Stargate movie, questions surrounding the future of the franchise have again started popping up throughout fandom.

It’s been three years since Stargate: Universe was cancelled and fans want to know: What’s next?  Whither Stargate?

Well in my humble and somewhat informed opinion: Beats me.

But let’s look at the possibilities…

THE BIG SCREEN REBOOT (TWO WAYS TO DO IT)

Look at the re-imagined Star Trek.  Both movies did HUGE business.  And, like Star Trek, Stargate is an established scifi franchise that would undoubtedly wow with a big screen treatment and visual effects budget.  The potential box-office returns could be tremendous!

Or not.  If the summer of 2013 has taught us anything, it’s that Big Budget Star-driven features don’t guarantee success.  The Lone Ranger ($215 million dollar production budget), White House Down ($150 million dollar production budget), Turbo ($135 million dollar production budget), RIPD ($130 million dollar production budget), After Earth ($130 million dollar production budget), The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones ($60 million dollar production budget).  What do the aforementioned have in common?  Yep, you guessed it: Big hopes, Big budgets, and, all of them, Big box office disappointments.  Also, keep in mind that the listed amounts in parentheses are the approximate production budgets which don’t take into account the equally sizeable costs of marketing these movies.  Ouch.

So, it’s clear that “throwing money at it” won’t guarantee a movie’s success. Neither will casting hitherto bankable actors like Johnny Depp and Will Smith.  BUT Stargate is an established property with a pre-existing fan base, so it’s got that going for it. Right?  Well, okay, so did The Mortal Instruments movie but, for argument’s sake, let’s just stick to Stargate for now.  Big budgets aside, the Stargate franchise is much like Star Trek in that it has that built-in SF fan base eager for more.  So it stands to reason that it should follow the Star Trek model and find success as a big screen reboot!

Well, not so fast…

First of all, as proud as I am of everything we accomplished with the Stargate franchise, I’ll be the first to admit it doesn’t have quite the reach or support of Star Trek.  And that’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Sure, we produced three series, two direct-to-dvd features, and some 300+ episodes over 15 years but, while impressive a feat, it pales in comparison to Star Trek’s five series, twelve theatrical features, and some 700+ episodes over 46 years.  As a result, Star Trek’s influence reaches far beyond its fandom – which is important given that, despite its established fan base, Star Trek: Enterprise was cancelled after four seasons.  This is not to minimize the impact of fans but simply to suggest expectations should be tempered.  A robust and passionate fandom doesn’t necessarily guarantee success. Having said that, however, it’s in instances such as these, where a franchise’s reach may not be as wide-ranging as a Star Trek, that fandom is even more important in a studio’s campaign to “get the word out”.

It’s for this reason that you want to make sure you get fandom “on your side”.  And this is where reboots can get a little tricky.  On the one hand, re-imagining a property offers first-timers the opportunity to get in on the ground floor.  They’re on equal footing with longtime fans in that they don’t need to come in to a movie knowing what has come before.  It’s fresh and new to them as, ideally, it would be to longtime fans.  A new beginning of sorts.  Problems arise when you start distancing those longtime fans, the support crew that could prove an indispensable part of any pre-release online campaign, who may not take kindly to the franchise they’ve come to know and love being messed with.  And, by messed with, I mean…

Ignoring what has come before.

Yes, a fresh start is a great idea when it comes to reaching out to a potential new audience, and while some fans would undoubtedly be pleased with a complete relaunch, many others would no doubt take umbrage with a complete dismissal of established canon.  In some ways, it’s the equivalent to the Bobby Ewing in the shower scene in Dallas.  Remember?  Actor Patrick Duffy decided to leave the series and his character was killed off at the end of the show’s eighth season.   But then Duffy had a change of heart and decided he wanted to come back. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a scifi show and cloning, time travel, and ascension were not viable options.  So, to address the issue and bring back Bobby Ewing, Duffy’s character makes an inexplicable appearance in the final episode of of the show’s ninth season. His wife hears the water running, walks into the bathroom, and is shocked to see him there, showering.  When season 10 got underway, it was revealed that Bobby never died and that the show’s ninth season was just a dream. An insanely detailed dream that ran 31 episodes!  Which leads me to wonder how that ninth season performs in syndication and alternate media purchases (i.e. downloads). Anyway, my point is that a creative clean slate could hurt rather than hinder a reboot’s prospects as it slams shuts: a) the book on beloved characters and b) the door on the faces of longtime fans.

On the other hand, instead of a complete reboot, the studio could opt for a reboot that makes use of established characters – which is what Star Trek did.  We are presented with  a new version of long-established characters – Kirk, Spock, McCoy – but the potential to piss off longtime fans is minimized because the story takes place in an alternate universe.  So, quite literally, fans can have the best of both worlds. The new adventures don’t undo what has come before.  Fans will, of course, have a preference, but both versions can happily co-exist without trumping one another.

Of course, one could argue that the reason this type of reboot worked for Star Trek is that, while these classic characters have long been engrained in the SF consciousness, it’s been almost twenty years since we’ve seen them onscreen in a new adventure.  In the case of Stargate, well, it’s been about two years since we last saw Jack O’Neill grace the small screen.  Is it perhaps too soon to expect fans will embrace someone other than Richard Dean Anderson in the role?

A SMALL SCREEN EVENT (TESTING THE WATERS)

Another possibility is to produce a one-shot Stargate television event that could potentially act as a backdoor pilot for a new Stargate series.  If the ratings are great, the studio can move forward with an all new t.v. series while, if the ratings disappoint, they can cut their losses with this single production.  At first blush, this seems like a great idea.  Creatively, it would allow the franchise to head in a bold, new direction while still paying its respects to what has come before, leaving the door open for established characters to make an occasional appearance and help bridge the gap between old fans and new.  Upon closer scrutiny, however, it becomes clear that a “one and done” deal wouldn’t make much financial sense.  In order to do it properly, especially if it was going to serve as a potential backdoor pilot, $$$ would need to be spent, and broadcast license fees and alternate revenue streams may not be enough to make the venture worthwhile. Like any show, it would be a gamble, but the fact that science fiction requires more of a financial investments makes this even more risky.  At some point, the studio needs to ask itself what would be the better scenario: strike now or wait?  There’s an argument to be made for both.  The fact that the last Stargate episode aired only two years ago suggests the fans are still out there and, if a movie or series is produced sooner than later, one could count on their support – in addition to the potential support of new viewers.  Strike while the iron is hot!  Then again, the ratings for SGU’s final season could suggest viewer fatigue and maybe waiting is advisable.

A CLASSIC STARGATE MOVIE OR MINI-SERIES

As much as I would love to see a television mini-series or movie based on either of the three past Stargates (SG-1, Atlantis, or Universe), this one is the longest of long shots mainly because the sets no longer exist and rebuilding them for a one-time adventure doesn’t make a whole lot of financial sense.  At the very least, if one were going the backdoor pilot route, there is the very real prospect of recouping those upfront expenses in an ongoing series.  Back in the day, the two Stargate direct-to-video features, Ark of Truth and Continuum did VERY well.  But that was before the bottom fell out of the dvd market.  Sadly, a “classic Stargate” miniseries or movie isn’t the slam dunk it used to be.

A NEW STARGATE SERIES

Well, yes wouldn’t that be great?  A new set of characters and host of new adventures with the potential for guest spots from the likes of Rodney McKay, Daniel Jackson, and maybe even Eli Wallace.  A new Stargate-based television might be the best way to go.  After all, while the original movie was successful, it was the television franchise that proved an incredibly lucrative earner for MGM. But some of the same questions arise.  When should the studio look to put another series in development?  Sooner or later?  Has enough time passed?

LOOKING AHEAD

So, having said all that, what DOES the future hold for Stargate?  Again, I haven’t a clue and I’ve long since accepted the sheer folly of applying logic to Hollywood decision-making.  But, for what it’s worth…

My gut instinct tells me the studio would LOVE to follow the Star Trek model: take an established property, re-imagine it for the big screen, and makes hundreds of millions of dollars.  Of course, it could be argued that that is a very best case scenario.  If the studio does consider going down this route, careful consideration will present two indisputable facts: a) Stargate is not Star Trek, and b) alienating long-time fans in favor of a new audience could prove  disastrous.

As much as I would love to see that Atlantis movie or SG-1 movie or even a mini-series that incorporates elements from all three Stargate shows, this is the unlikeliest of scenarios for the simple reason that the risks far outweigh any potential rewards.

No, given the history of the franchise, it would seem a new television series would be the best way to go – a fresh take on Stargate that would bring in new viewers while rewarding the long-suffering fans.

However, I’m not the one making the call.

In the end, I think there’s only certainty: On the question of Stargate’s glorious return, it’s not a matter of IF but WHEN.

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April 6, 2013: Design your own Destiny! Let the Resurgence Art Department package be your guide!

In advance of my official Days of Stargate Universe Past trip down memory, how about a little something to whet your appetite?  Ah, this takes me back!  The Resurgence Art Department package accompanied by visuals from various points in Stargate: Universe’s two-year run…

Resurgence - cover

Destiny corridors, areas & rooms
Destiny corridors, areas & rooms
Destiny corridors
Destiny corridors

The Gate Room…

Gate room - upper level
Gate room – upper level concept art
Gate room upper level - complete
Gate room upper level – complete
Looking out from the gate - concept art
Looking out from the gate – concept art
Looking out from the gate - completed set
Looking out from the gate – completed set
Central staircase
Central staircase
Gate room
Gate room
Gate room consoles
Gate room consoles

The control interface room…

Control interface room

Art Department
Art Department concept
At work in the core control room
At work in the core control room

The apple core…

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Carl figures it out
Carl figures it out
Kino room and Eli's quarters
Kino room and Eli’s quarters
Action in the kino room
Action in the kino room
Observation deck
Observation deck
The green screen view off the observation deck
The green screen view off the observation deck
Chloe's quarters
Chloe’s quarters
Wray's quarters
Wray’s quarters
Wray's artwork
Wray’s artwork
Varro's quarters
Varro’s quarters

In his quarters, Varro gets the red card for making the moves on Colonel Young’s ex:

Young's quarters
Young’s quarters
Stage 5 level 1
Stage 5 level 1
The Destiny mess - last day, final scene
The Destiny mess – last day, final scene
Destiny shuttle and corridor
Destiny shuttle and corridor
Under construction
Under construction
Coming along...
Coming along…
Look in to the shuttle from the corridor.
Look in to the shuttle from the corridor.

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Destiny infirmary
Destiny infirmary
Stage 5 level 2
Stage 5 level 2
Stage 6 layout
Stage 6 layout

So, there you go.  Everything you need (minus the construction material, equipment, manpower, and money) to build your very own Destiny!  Check in next week and let me know how it’s coming along.

March 22, 2013: The Destiny Bridge!

In Stargate: Universe’s second season, the crew finally discovers Destiny’s bridge.  From a creative standpoint, holding off the discovery until then allowed for some great drama: Rush’s attempts to hide it from the rest of the crew, the subsequent attempts to control the ship, etc.  Also, waiting until season two permitted us to give it a truly worthy. singular reveal rather than lumping it in with the rest of the ship.  From a production standpoint, holding it off the discovery made even more sense.  The portions of the Destiny built for season one cost several millions and we simply couldn’t afford to include a massively expense bridge as well.  And so, rather than settle for something simple, we waited a year until we had the money to do it right. And, boy, did it we ever.  It was, simply put, a thing of beauty:

Destiny Bridge and adjoining corridor
Destiny Bridge and adjoining corridor
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Under construction.  
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Early season two.  The finishing touches in place.

The bridge was located in Stage 5 on and what made it all the more impressive was the fact that it was a raised, massive second level structure.  Directly below it stood the mess and shuttle.

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David Blue (aka Eli Wallace) getting a feel for the place.

1James Robbins did a terrific job designing the bridge, and our construction department went above and beyond the call to build it. But the work didn’t stop there.  It had to be properly lit and, of course, we needed the Playback Department to work their magic.  “What’s the Playback Department?”you ask.  Well, whenever you see an onscreen image be it a holographic map or computer data or scrolling alien script, you can thank the Playback Department.  On the surface, it seems like such a small thing but, in reality, those incredible, painstakingly detailed graphics go such a long way toward setting the mood.  Some of the stuff they come up with was downright incredible.

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The Captain’s chair.
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Commander Carl Binder
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Carl makes it go

To give you an idea of the great work of our Playback Department, check out the designs for the onscreen visuals – then check out the finished product…

Bridge chair (left arm)
Bridge chair (left arm)

Bridge chair (right arm)
Bridge chair (right arm)

Bridge standard text
Bridge standard text

Ship Systems (left)
Ship Systems (left)

Ship systems (right)
Ship systems (right)

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Patrick Gilmore (aka Dale Volker) took a crash course in weapons and nav systems.
Navigation Systems (left)
Navigation Systems (left)

Navigation Systems (right)
Navigation Systems (right)

Sorry.  Couldn’t track this one down.  You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Weapons System (far right)
Weapons Systems (far right)

Weapons systems (standard)
Weapons systems (standard)

Pretty amazing, no?

March 14, 2013: Veronica Mars fans are finally getting their movie! So when are Stargate fans getting THEIR movie?

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This was the question many Stargate fans were asking themselves yesterday after news broke of the astounding success of the Veronica Mars kickstarter campaign.

For those of you who haven’t heard, series creator Rob Thomas approached Warner Bros. about making a Veronica Mars movie. According to Thomas: “Their reaction was, if you can show there’s enough fan interest to warrant a movie, we’re on board.”  Well, the fans stepped up and demonstrated their interest, pledging $1 million dollars (in a record 4 hours and 24 minutes) to the project’s kickstarter campaign [http://money.cnn.com/2013/03/13/technology/veronica-mars-kickstarter/index.html].  And, last time I checked, over 47000 backers had pledged close to 3 million dollars, about a million dollars over their goal – and this is only day #2 of their month-long drive! [http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/559914737/the-veronica-mars-movie-project].

It’s awesome news for Veronica Mars fans that has also energized fandom in general.  Already, loyal viewers are asking about their own favorite shows [‘Veronica Mars’ Movie Funded…Could a ‘Chuck’ Movie be Next?! (Poll)].  Could a similar strategy work for us?  Well, I suppose it depends.

Over at Forbes.com, Paul Tassi asks: “How did a show that’s been off the air for eight years raise two million dollars in barely half a day?”, and then proceeds to break down exactly how they pulled it off [http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2013/03/14/how-exactly-did-veronica-mars-fund-a-movie-in-ten-hours/].  It offers great insight – and food for thought.

So how successful could a Stargate movie campaign prove if it attempted to follow the successful five-step strategy he outlines?  Well, according to Paul, “There are a number of factors at work here, and they’re worth exploring in order to understand if this kind of thing can or will happen again…”

1. The fanbase must be religiously devoted

Check.  There’s no doubt the Stargate fanbase is still strong and more than willing to support the franchise as evidenced by their continued involvement on fansites like Save Stargate Universe | Facebook, GateWorld | Your Complete Guide to Stargate!, and Stargate Solutions.

2. Get everyone on board ahead of time

Okay, proper planning is key but, in this case, it requires MUCH consideration.  In the case of Veronica Mars, Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell approached the studio and cast first, and THEN started their campaign. Which is, of course, what would be required here.  So, how interested would MGM be in a Stargate movie?  That’s the biggest question.  And the answer all comes down to economics.  Would it be worth their while (aka – not only financially feasible but lucrative)?  Will the potential rewards outweigh the risks?  Five years ago, the answer would have been  a resounding “Yes!” given the fact that Ark of Truth and Continuum surpassed expectations.  But, of course, that was before the bottom fell out of the DVD market.  Could alternate viewing platforms make up the shortfall?  Streaming?  Broadcasters?  Maybe the big screen treatment?

Which brings us to another question – “What does MGM have planned for Stargate? – because, let’s face it, as one of their most successful franchises, it’s not going to lie fallow for long.  Do they already have something in the works?

But, for the sake of argument, let’s say, it’s a best case scenario for fans of SG-1, Atlantis, and Universe.  The studio proves amenable to the idea.  Next up is ensuring we have a cast in place.  So, which cast? SG-1?  Atlantis?  Universe?  Or would it be a selective amalgamation of all three (which was Brad Wright’s original idea for an SGU movie)?

3. Offer rewards people want

Now this one is much easier to deliver on.  I, for one, would be more than happy to send you a signed script, arrange a set visit, or deck you out in prosthetics before blasting you out an airlock if it would ensure your support.

4. Leverage social media

Are you kidding?  Stargate fans are the kings (and queens) of social media.  We’ll get word to them and they’ll get word to EVERYONE.

And finally 5. Understand that not everyone will be able to do this

Why not?  Well, some former cast members may well be too busy to participate (Robert Carlyle now stars on Once Upon A Time while Jason Momoa has been burning up Hollywood post-SGA) while others may have simply moved on.  Still, provided we manage to cross this particular bridge as well, there’s the question of money.  To put it bluntly, we would need A LOT more money to produce a Stargate movie.  A LOT more to pay for the construction of new sets (alas, the Destiny, Atlantis, and Stargate Command are no more and would have to be rebuilt from scratch) and visual effects (I haven’t read the script, but it’s unlikely the Veronica Mars movie will feature much in the way of space battles), not to mention other related costs like cast, crew, and the onset aerobics instructor for my pug, Bubba.

So, conservatively, three out of five aint bad – unless you’re looking to make a Stargate movie in which case it aint good either.  Even if you could convince MGM to get onboard – and that’s a mighty big IF – there’s still the matter of the amount of money that would be required to produce a scifi movie.  How much?  Well, ballpark, I’d say significantly more than the 3 million dollars the Veronica Mars campaign has raised to date, but somewhat less than the $39 million dollars the Forbes article claims Serenity cost.

Certainly not impossible but, damn, them’s long odds!