Today, I went to Future Shop to pick up a new laptop to replace the one in my home office that keeps doing that blue screen of death thing. I told the sales associate that I wanted something simple. I don’t need a computer with games or satellite tracking or face recognition software. All I really need it for is writing, photo storage, and doing online research on quasars, neutrinos, and the Naomi Watts kissing scenes in Mulholland Drive. He recommended a fairly inexpensive option that I decided to go with.
“Would you like the extended warranty?”he asked.
“No thanks,”I said, figuring I’d no doubt replace the laptop when the time came.
“It’s a very good deal! Are you sure?”
I told him I was, but he was a persistent little guy, insisting he run through all the options before I made a decision. I told him I’d already made my decision but, before I could say “I shoulda just gone to Best Buy.” he was off. And, some five minutes later, he was back with the extended warranty pamphlet. Again, I informed him I wasn’t going to get the warranty, but that did little to dissuade him from launching into a lengthy breakdown of the differences between the lame manufacturer’s warranty and the awesome Future shop warranty. It went something like:
“The manufacturer’s warranty is one year parts and labor which require you to ship your laptop to their technical support center in Clackmannanshire, Scotland staffed by approximately a dozen octogenarians with little computer experience outside of having watched the original Star Wars, a movie most found loud and confusing. In conjunction with their Calcutta call center, they will seek to fix your problem to the best of their abilities using a tuning fork and the power of positive thinking, then ship your laptop back to the nearest pick-up depot – in your case, since your live in North America, a brothel in Mexico City. When you’ve paid the establishment’s entrance fee (which includes one non-alcoholic beverage of your choosing), you must provide identification in the form of a framed birth certificate as well as three letters of reference from practicing chiropractors swearing to the fact that you have never served in the capacity of Archbishop for the Catholic Church. You will then receive your laptop, a receipt of work completed, and a kick in the groin for good measure before being sent on your way. Only once you’ve made your way back to your hotel will you realize that your wallet has been “lost”, but a frantic return trip to the depot will find it shuttered as the employees have already set out on their weekly Customer Appreciation Day Picnic. You will return to your hotel and explain your situation to the on duty clerk who will sympathize with your plight, and then call the police who will arrest and then proceed to interrogate you in the hopes that you will provide them with information pertaining to a recent high profile kidnapping or, failing that, an approximate re-enactment of the interrogation scenes in Slumdog Millionaire. In the event you’re unable to provide them with either the information or entertainment they seek, you will be permitted to make one phone call. You will, of course, contact your embassy but the new Hungarian receptionist who’ll answer the phone will speak very little English and, after numerous aborted attempts to understand what, exactly, you’re trying to tell her, will grow frustrated and hung on you. The second call you make to friends and/or family back home will prove more fruitful and, after your ransom/fine has been paid, you’ll be sent on your way minus your shoes and copy of Eat, Pray, Love you were hoping to finish on the return flight back home. When you finally DO make it back home, you’ll open up your laptop to discover a grilled cheese sandwich nestled atop the keyboard. The manufacturer’s warranty also covers damage that resulted from trying to make a grilled cheese sandwich by pressing it in a closed laptop left sealed overnight. All you have to do is send it in.
OR, you could go with the Future Shop warranty that covers parts AND labor in addition to hugs, pep talks, back rubs, dating advice, restaurant recommendations, weekend reiki treatments, spotting in the event you choose to use your laptop on a trampoline, unqualified medical counsel, free use of the Future Shop Scion with the racing stripes provided Alvin from t.v. and video hasn’t taken it out, an escort to your cousin’s wedding, someone to talk football with, and moral support if and when you break up with your significant other.”
“How much?”I asked.
“Regularly $169. With this laptop $64.”
“Great! I won’t take it.”
He seemed genuinely surprised. “What did you expect it to be? Free?”
“No,”I said. “I never wanted the extended warranty, but you seemed so fired up to run through your routine that I thought it would be rude to interrupt.”
Eventful Horizon writes: “When will we see some aliens that aren’t bugs or other similar creatures?”
Answer: When the show returns in April, you’ll get to see the coolest aliens we’ve ever done on the show.
Jenny writes: “Joe, you state that the show on second viewing, all those things that people took exception to, became less of a problem. That’s a bit much to ask isn’t it?”
Answer: I’m not saying that you need a second viewing to appreciate the show (although I highly recommend multiple viewings of each :) ). All I’m saying is that given the change in tone and style and the groundwork established in those first few episodes, it’s possible you may grow accustomed to this new type of storytelling and issues (like the shooting style) will become less problematic for you. Of course this won’t be the case for everyone, but a surprising number of fans I’ve spoken to stated that this was the case for them which is why I mentioned it. So I’m curious to see if anyone else had a similar experience, not merely in terms of re-watching episodes but watching new episodes as the season progressed.
South African Singularity writes: “Audiences desire a larger amount of character interaction and development. A more in-depth understanding of the character.”
Answer: I agree. Audiences are much more sophisticated than they were ten years ago. They want to be entertained but they also want to be challenged.
Overmind One writes: “I thought that the entire season was already filmed, edited, and “in the can”. If that is true, then you are just HOPING that we will be delighted.”
Answer: Of course nothing is a certainty, especially when it comes to fandom, but I base my prediction on the fact that many of the issues fans have expressed and the suggestions they have made will be addressed in the back of season one – and this has nothing to do with last minute rewrites and everything to do with the episodes that fill the #11-#20 slots. The stones for instance. Many have complained about the use of the stones being used for personal visits, hoping to see that aspect of the show minimized, while suggesting other depictions of the stone tech (SF complications, using them to bring experts to the ship, etc.). Well, as it turns out, in the back half of season one use of the stones for personal visits will be minimized and the stone tech will be explored in other ways (SF complications, using them to bring experts to the ship, etc.). Again, you can’t please all of the people all of the time but, at least in the case of those complaining about the use of the stones, a great number of them will be very pleased with what we have in store for them come April.
Thornyrose writes: “Have the standards slipped so bad in the program that people whose psychological profiles are so fragile now assigned to such missions? [...] Oh, and why is it that out of almost 100 people we’ve only seen one suicide, and that partially induced by drug withdrawals?”
Answer: The obvious answer is that these people fall somewhere in between. It’s not so much that they’re psychologically fragile as they are unprepared for spending the rest of their lives on Destiny. Yes, they signed up for off-world assignment. But they didn’t sign up for this. The prospect of being stranded without any hope of ever returning home would strain even the strongest of individuals.
Thornyrose also writes: “And ignoring that, why would the PTB on Earth permit the breech of security by alloiwing the exiles to communicate with loved ones? It makes for drama moments but doesn’t make sense from the show history. Or are you finally going to reveal the Stargates to the people of the SG universe Earth?”
Answer: Two issues that look to be addressed down the line.
Arctic Goddess writes: “As an aside, since POW’s stuck in prison camps often find ingenious ways to make hooch, I’d expect some of the boys on Destiny to try the same thing.”
Answer: Brody’s on it.
Airelle writes: “Joe I know you are tackling the comments here and you are brave, but I was wondering, should I get the ab circle pro, I mean the tv promo says it works… “
Answer: If you want to have abs that pop, you really need to work at it – and while buying something like the ab circle pro may help, it certainly won’t get the job done alone. To actually build those abs, you should incorporate weights into your ab routine (ie. weighted crunches) and combine them with effective core-building exercises like the bridge or the bicycle crunch (I’m sure you can find explanations online). Then watch your caloric intake, replace more indulgent foods in your diet with lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables. Building those abs may actually be the easy part. Stripping away belly fat and toning the area so that those abs actually pop will be the challenge.
lavvyan writes: “Asking for suggestions on how to improve your show, only to explain everything away, is quite another.”
Answer: There’s a difference between gathering feedback and taking dictation. I’m doing the former, not the latter. You can’t ignore your audience but, on the other hand, if you start second-guessing and scrambling to implement every popular online opinion, you’d be better off writing one of those Choose Your Own Adventure books. I’ve always been interested in what fans have to say, but do sometimes take issue with how they say it. In the case of some of the issues expressed (ie. the stones, the emphasis on relationships, etc.) I’ve stated reasons why, from a creative and production standpoint, we developed these particular story elements and how some of these issues may be addressed in the back half of season one and beyond. With regard to the various aspects fans have expressed an interest in seeing developed, I’ve also tried to point out, wherever possible, how many of those aspects WILL be developed later this season.
Dodoalda writes: “1) Any word about some SGU season 1.5 trailer?
2) Now, when some of SG props are selling by e-bay, what you will do, if tese props are necessary for filming third SG-1 movie or first SGA movie? Make new ones?
3) Are you planning opening theme for SGU´s S2? At least for DVD releases? I know, that there is no theme because of episode length, but Joel Goldsmith makes wonderful job and SGU just deserves some opening titles…please.
4) Will be in future episodes (I hope sabotage is gonna be the one) desctibed, how exactly FTL works and what´s the difference between FTL and Hyperspace?
5) I´ve just wondered, if having longer and longer hairs in every episode is creators´s decision (because there are no scissors on the ship) or actors´s decision?”
Answers: 1) They’re working on it as we speak. 2) MGM had literally thousands of props gathering dust so, rather than keep them in storage indefinitely, they’ve elected to finally make most of those items available to fans. As for potentially selling anything we may need in the future – I liken it to the show’s visual effects which have improved dramatically over time. I’d rather have a newer, cooler version than an older used one. 3) Not sure. 4) No plans to get into the intricacies of the FTL drive. 5) I believe it was something the actors wanted to do.
Pastrygirl writes: “How does casting work in conjunction with the writing? If you have a particular actor in mind, like for a cameo, do you have to get them on board before going ahead with writing the episode? How much involvement do the writers have during casting for parts for episodes you’ve written?”
Answer: Most of the show’s writers produce their own episodes so they are involved in every aspect of episode prep including casting. If we have an actor in mind, it’s a simple matter of contacting him to find out whether or not he’d be interested in appearing on the show.
Niall mcnamara writes: “can you help me please if you read this i want you to read a story that i wrote.”
Answer: I’m sorry, Niall. As much as I’d love to read what you, or many others out there have written, I honestly don’t have the time between work, dogs, and sleep.
Tim Lade writes: “Also, the only request I have to make is…can we please see the bridge or command centre of the Destiny?”
Answer: Sure. If we can find it. Welcome aboard, Tim.
Tanie writes: “Are you getting the h*ll out of dodge while the Olympics are on?”
Answer: Unlike everyone else, I’ll be in Vancouver for the Olympics. Instead of hightailing it out of here, I’ll instead be entertaining a guest visiting from Japan. Tanoshii!
Overmind One writes: “Thing is, the declining ratings and negative commentary all over the internet has prompted them to ASK US what we really want.”
Answer: Actually, no. Sorry to disappoint. If I was trying to curry favor with mass fandom, I’d be cross-posting this survey on the innumerable other forums out there. Instead, I chose to ask fans here on this blog because I’m familiar with most of them and know that they’ll provide a fair assessment of their likes and dislikes in a well presented and respectful manner. I’ve asked because I’d like to know what’s been working for them, what hasn’t been working for them, why, and then present some insight into the reasons we’ve chosen to pursue certain creative avenues in addition to hinting at the ways some of their concerns may be addressed when SGU returns with all new episodes in April.