Happy Thanksgiving to our American viewers! How are your turduckens and piecakens coming along? Let’s see the pics!
Hey! When’s the last time we did a mailbag?
Maggiemayday writes: “I’m looking at planning my 2015 spring vacation and Vancouver is an option. So, is April or May a decent time to visit? We visited Vermont one spring and it was closed. Whole darn state.”
Answer: Unlike baseball, and presumably Vermont, Vancouver is never rained out. Having said that, April-May is the tail-end of the rainy season – that usually begins in September.
glowyzoey writes: ” The regular actors and guest stars didn’t always pronounce Jaffa and Go’al’ud (and I forget how to spell the latter!) the same way. Did anyone care or did it become a thing with the cast and crew and done deliberately wrong,”
Answer: Yeah, the varied pronunciations of “goa’uld” became a running joke behind-the-scenes. Some were sticklers for correctly enunciation “go-a-uld” while others, ie. Rick, liked to have fun with the word. As seasons passed, most of our human characters went with “goold” less out of laziness than a suggested disrespect for the l alien symbiotes. As opposed to the amazing Beau Bridges who stuck to “go-a-uld” because he was good friends with actor Elliott Gould. No, really.
gforce writes: ” In the first episode of SGU, as people came through the gate, they were thrown forcefully out on arrival. I remember you saying at one time there was a reason for it and it would be revealed as the show went on. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen of course, and I always wondered what the explanation was. It didn’t happen when they gated from more nearby gates, so I always wondered if it was strictly a matter of distance or whether there was some other explanation.”
Answer: No, it was a matter of the great distance traveled. The more panicked the entry, the more forceful the exit. This is confirmed in Incursion I when the Lucian Alliance members have to evacuate their base of operations, some rushing through the gate – and exiting in violent fashion.
gloeyzoey writes: “On SG-1 there seemed to be a lot of characters over the years (okay, several characters) named Jona/Jonah or Jonas or some variation. Probably not done on purpose, I’m guessing, but is there a reason for the similarities? lot of writers liked the name? A favourite uncle of someone’s? A fondness for guys who get swallowed by whales? “
Answer: Jonah was O’Neill’s alternate identity in SG’1 Beneath the Surface, then a bad Jonas (Hansen) in SG-1’s First Commandment, and finally a good Jonas (Quinn) in SG-1’s Meridian and beyond. We’ve also had Six Peters, six Davids, five Johns, five Franks, three LIndsays, three Marks, but, curiously, only one Olaf.
Tam Dixon writes: “Is you back feeling better?”
Answer: Much better, thanks. Back to my regular workout routine:
Answer: Andria had a great time in Vancouver, with the dogs and checking out the local restaurants. Fable was by far her favorite. She posted the follows pics while she was here:
dasndanger writes: “Television series – what do you prefer (to watch, or to write): one-and-done episodic shows, or serialized shows?”
Answer: With the exception of a few comedies, pretty much all of my favorite shows are serialized: The Sopranos, The Shield, Breaking Bad, Rome, Game of Thrones. Almost all the shows on my weekly rotation are serialized as well: Boardwalk Empire, The Walking Dead, and, to a certain extent, Survivor and Top Chef. Episodic television, on the other hand, isn’t much-watch viewing. You can miss an episode or two without consequence and perhaps catch up at a later date. Or not.
dasndanger also writes: “One of the things driving me away from television is the grittier, more explicit content of shows, even those on network television.”
Answer: Serialized shows tend to be cable shows and cable shows tend to allow for more creative freedom, which is why it’s where you’ll find more varied and, frankly, more realistic programming. Ultimately, it comes down to a matter of taste. I honestly can’t remember the last scripted network show I really enjoyed.
keith writes: “Will you be starting the Superhero Movie of the Week Club up again soon?”
Answer: Yep. Cookie Monster will be back reviewing super-themed movies in the new year – provided he comes out of hiding.
stygianlnq writes: “1) In any of the Stargate series, did you ever have one-shot enemies/civilizations of the week that you would have wanted to have revisited at a later time (like what was done with the Rand Protectorate and the Langarans) or otherwise explore further?”
Answer: Oh, there were plenty of civilizations I wanted to revisit, not so much for story’s sake, but simply to check in on them to see how their people have been doing since we left them. Special Features producer Ivon Bartok was always requesting we revisit the Nox.
“2) Has there been any word yet on whether Brad Wright will publicly announce his intended ending for SGU?”
Answer: No, still no word. Ultimately, it’s up to Brad to reveal that ending.
“3) What do you think of this article (http://www.forbes.com/sites/merrillbarr/2013/11/18/the-final-season-of-nikita-isnt-about-fan-service-its-about-netflix/) as someone who works in television?”
Answer: The gist of the article is that the emergence of Netflix and its unique deal structure has spurred productions to offer satisfactory conclusions to their shows. Netflix viewers binge-watch and the thinking is that they won’t waste their time sitting down to a show they know will not end in satisfactory fashion. It’s a very interesting shift in thinking given that, years ago, the emphasis was on producing episodic shows with no conclusive endings for syndication because it was believed viewers would be less likely to invest in a show if the story actually concluded. For my part – surprise surprise – I prefer this new model. Every story should have a beginning, middle, and end.
“Do you think that the Netflix/Digital Distribution model will make networks more reluctant to cancel a series without giving it a chance to wrap up?”
Answer: That’s entirely dependent on the type of deal that is in place. Without a second window like Netflix to aim for, it’s unlikely an under performing show would be given the luxury of extra episodes to wrap things up.
“Do you think that it will make writers and producers of shows more likely to want to have cliffhangers at the end of seasons to try and squeeze those last few wrap-up episodes out of the network? What are your overall thoughts?”
Answer: Oh, I suppose it depends on the producer. Keep in mind, shows are not written in a creative vacuum. The network will have a say on what kind of season-ender is produced.
“4) What ever happened to Transporter: The Series? I remember watching the first three episodes and then it went on break or something and I never saw it again. Is it still on?”
Answer: No clue. Amber alert?
Ponytail writes: “Which trip to Tokyo has been your favorite so far?”
Answer: I think my 2009 trip is my favorite, the one on which I ate at a record number of Michelin-starred restaurants, made a bunch of new friends, and met Akemi. My trip to Tokyo with my buddy Ivon is, of course, a close second.
“So why haven’t you, Paul, Rob, Brad, Carl, Martin, Ivon formed a company and made your own TV shows, productions and/or movies? Is everyone doing their own thing?”
Answer: We all are working on our own things, but our own company is a great idea. All we need is $$$ and partners with sales and business savvy.
“How is your Mom?”
Answer: Mom is great. Thanks for asking.
Lewis writes: “Have you seen any episodes of “The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” by Richard Curtis (of Black Adder, Mr. Bean, & Vicar fame)? Idris Elba is in it.. along with David Oyelowo (MI-5/Spooks).”
Answer: I haven’t. I was pleasantly surprised by the first book in the series.
JeffW writes: “1. Is Akemi making any special outfits for the furry kids this Christmas? (Barb thought Bubba’s last Santa outfit was cute).”
Answer: Not yet.
Brent writes: “1) When filming Stargate scenes that arent done at the studios, i know you did some filming at locations, but did you ever go to other TV or Film studios sets and use them to save money since they were already in place? Did any other shows or films use Stargates sets? If this happened any interesting stories?”
Answer: We did, on occasion, take over sets. For instance, the White House set we used in the latter seasons of SG-1 was leftover from a disaster movie that had shot in Vancouver. Some of the internal structure of Atlantis was formerly the set of one of the Blade movies. Often, a production will save on the costs of striking and dumping a set by selling it to another production for a nominal fee.
“2) Who wrote the scene between Tealc and Tomin in the mess hall of the ship in Ark of Truth? I thought it was one of the best scenes in Stargate history. It isnt particularly uplifting or a bonding moment. But it is so powerful and also reminds the fans that Tealc is responsible for extreme atrocities that one shouldn’t forget. Great scene. I watch it twice every time i play the movie.”
Answer: Ark of Truth was written by the uber-talented Robert C. Cooper – writer, director, producer, chef.
“3) In SGU we learned that the ship has some interesting secrets like being able to manipulate the mind of Young. Where there any more secrets the Destiny was going to reveal in its future?”
Sure. We wanted to add depth to the Destiny over the course of the show’s run, introducing undiscovered sections of the ship as budget allowed (ie. the bridge was the big addition for the show’s second season.
“4) Of all the people you worked with on Stargate, who do you think walked off with the best prop from the show(s) and what was it?”
Hmmm. Hard to say. I really like my pain stick. On the other hand, Rob Cooper has some mighty cool stuff including a kino.
“5) Not a question, but a comment. I thought Mitchell and Vala were a fantastic boost to SG1. I especially enjoyed Mitchell. He brought a nice feeling of grit and intensity when needed. Sad they didnt have a longer run in Stargate.”
Answer: Yeah, it is sad. I really enjoyed Ben and Claudia’s work on Farscape and, when it came time to make an addition to the team, I automatically thought of Ben. And, later, after Claudia’s guest stint, we thought she’d make a great addition as well – but the network was resistant as they felt it would be a little too Farscape…until they saw the episodes and change their minds. Of course, at that point, it was too late for season 9 but we did make Vala a regular for the show’s tenth and final season.
“6) I loved SGU! We were robbed of so many interesting stories that could have been… Sigh.”
Answer: So true.
arcticgoddess writes: “1) Many actors that I know are going the “Independent Film” route, doing You Tube short films and looking for funding through Kickstarter. Have you and Paul ever considered doing an indy?”
Answer: Sure, we’ve considered it.
“2)If you ever decided to go the independent route, would you use crowd funding, or are there better ways to fund a project?”
Answer: Crowd funding is an iffy proposition. Maybe it would work for smaller projects, but movies and especially a t.v. series requires you go the old fashioned route.
“3) Now that you’ve been a writer, a producer and a show runner, which job was the toughest and why?”
Answer: Apples and oranges. They’re all equally challenging in different ways.
“4)If a studio picks up your show, how much control over it do you retain?”
Answer: That depends on the studio and your deal. More often than not, the studio has a major say in the creative and can turf dissenters. In better case scenarios, they have enough respect for the creative to exercise restraint in the process.
“5)How did you find your agent?”
Answer: In the case of my Canadian agent, I had dealt with him – and his clients – on other shows. When I thought it was time, I simply dropped him an email. In the case of my American agent, I had our Canadian agent set up a bunch of meetings, then Paul and I did the rounds in L.A. and decided which representative would be a best fit for us.
“6) When you were given the reigns to Star Gate Atlantis, were you also given the final say on the actors chosen for the various parts?”
Answer: As far back as SG-1, the writer-producer of a given episode was given a pretty strong voice with regarding to casting. Like Brad and Robert before us, we always screened auditions with our fellow producers to get their respective takes.
Fagate One writes: “Tout le travail de développement d’idées et de scénarios que vous faites pour des projets comme ceux mentionnés est-il fait à vos frais ou êtes-vous engagés à contrat?”
Answer: It depends on the project. Paul and I are paid to develop certain projects while our personal pilots are written on spec.
“Pouvez-vous nous informer un peu sur les modes de rémunérations des multiples essais que vous faites pour des séries ou des fims quand ceux-ci n’aboutissent pas? En d’autres mots, êtes-vous payés uniquement si la série ou le film reçoit le OK de production?”
Answer: Yes, you are definitely paid more if a script you’ve written is eventually produced. In fact, that’s where the real money is. Development work pays “okay”, but it’s not going to buy you that jet!
Lewis writes: “Any chance of more DARK MATTER stories in comic form?”
Answer: Alas, unlikely. The opening four issue arc was a lot of fun to work on but the intent was always to use it as a springboard to a live-action series instead of the opening story of an ongoing comic book series. Ultimately, if I was given the opportunity, I would love to create another original story in comic book form. Either that, or write an original Stargate story in comic book form, maybe one of the stories we didn’t wanted to tell but didn’t get the chance. For instance, it would be incredibly cool to do a comic book version of Stargate: Extinction, that unproduced Stargate: Atlantis script.
stargateatlantisseasonsix writes: “First: Were there ever actually plans to go more in depth into the Athosian culture or the Void where the Ascended go? I’m just curious since my current story on my blog for Atlantis’ Season Six is currently going into these subject matters.”
Answer: No concrete plans but I’m sure that if a story called for it, we would have certainly explored them. Or, in the case of ascension, Rob Cooper certainly would have explored it.
“Second: Was there ever a plan to delve into the people behind the scenes of Atlantis i.e. not the major or minor characters but the truly background people that help make everything happen too, like the “Below Decks” episode of Star Trek TNG or like the series The West Wing? I’d think that’d be interesting considering that one of the purposed episodes you writers came up with for the Sixth Season (a story that I’m going to post as Episode Six of my Atlantis Season Six) was based on one of those unfortunate ‘Red Shirt’ marines of the series.”
Answer: Yes, we tossed the idea around and Carl Binder even came up with The Red Shirt Diaries. The biggest challenge to writing one of these scripts is figuring out a way to include our main characters in the story. Yes, I know, wouldn’t it be cool if the entire episode only focused on these unknown characters? Well, yes and no. From the standpoint of unique storytelling, it would – but from the standpoint of good television, maybe not. Viewers tune in for those familiar characters and having them take a backseat to complete strangers could be disappointing for many fans. SG-1’s The Other Guys is a great example of an episode that struck the right balance.
BoltBait writes: “Are you allergic to anything? If so, how do you handle it at restaurants?”
Answer: Whenever I eat out, I always ask if there’s penicillin in any of the dishes.
“Do you get paid for all of these projects you’re working on?”
Answer: It depends on the project. For instance, any development work we’re hired to do is paid work. At present, three of the projects I mentioned in a previous blog entry are paying jobs. The others – pilots, pitches, etc. – are speculative and will only pay off if they sell…or go into development.
Randomness writes: “1. What were some highs and lows from your Japan trip?”
Answer: Highs = The wedding, Robot Restaurant, dinners at Esquisse and Sawada. Low = getting sick.
“2. Most interesting location(To you) that you visited?”
Answer: Robot Restaurant.
“3. What was the most enjoyable thing you did in Japan?”
Answer: Ate (as usual).
“4. As an anime fan, how did you find the whole experience?”
Answer: Overwhelming. Akihabara is anime heaven.
“5. Were there any places you wanted to visit but couldn’t due to time?”
Answer: Gyoza stadium, Ueno, Odaiba.
“6. Looking back at the wedding stuff, did you feel nervous before you arrived? And how was the whole thing to you?”
Answer: No nerves. It was a lot of fun.