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Archive for the ‘Stargate: SG-1’ Category

While we’re on the subject…

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SUPER DIMENSIONAL FORCE MACROSS

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ANDROMEDA ASCENDANT

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STARBUG

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SERENITY

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THE BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

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SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO

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VORLON CRUISER

Moya

MOYA

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STAR DESTROYER

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ASGARD SHIPS

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THE BEBOP

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ANCIENT AURORA CLASS BATTLESHIP

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THE ARCADIA

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THE USS SULACO

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THE MILLENNIUM FALCON

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THE DESTINY

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USS ENTERPRISE NCC-1701

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THE NOSTROMO

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KLINGON BIRD OF PREY

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ROMULAN WARBIRD

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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/

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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?

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1[WARNING: This blog entry contains spoilers for shows you really should have already watched by now].

I came across the following article this morning: ‘Walking Dead’ finale: If Daryl dies, we riot.  This, of course, is a reference to television’s most beloved redneck, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), who fans fear may well meet his untimely end on this Sunday’s mid-season finale of The Walking Dead.  After all, cable’s hottest show has proven it isn’t afraid to kill off their series regulars.  Remember Sophia?  Dale?  T-Dog?  Lori?  Merle?  Andrea?  Hell, television in general has a rich history of dealing out shocking and unexpected deaths.  From MASH’s Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake to, most recently, Brian Griffin on Family Guy, it would seem that  no one is safe. Not even a martini-swilling cartoon dog.

R.I.P. Brian Griffin

R.I.P. Brian Griffin

Or so they would have us believe, but the truth is some are safer than others.  Most notably series leads, regulars under contract, fan and/or writer/producer favorites – their mortality rate tends to be a hell of a lot lower than the going average.  Still, IMPROBABLE doesn’t mean IMPOSSIBLE and, occasionally, even the unlikeliest of characters fall to the grim reaper’s scythe (a.k.a. writer’s laptop).  It all depends on the circumstances.

And what ARE some of these circumstances?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Forget heart disease and car accidents.  Here are the leading causes of death in t.v. characters…

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THE STORY CALLS FOR IT

Back in Stargate: SG-1’s seventh season, Executive Producer Robert Cooper wanted to write a script that drove home the constant dangers our characters faced in the course of fulfilling their duties.  It was to be an episode that demonstrated the fickleness of death and paid tribute to the fallen – but, in order to be truly effective, it required a little something more.  It required one of our established characters to die – not while facing down alien hordes or executing some daring op but after being struck by something so seemingly random and inconsequential as an errant staff blast.  And the fact that it turned out to be Janet Fraiser, Stargate’s longtime Chief Medical Officer, dying while saving another life, made it all that more poignant.  Years later another doctor on another Stargate show met a similar fate for much the same reason.  And Carson Beckett’s demise was just as surprising and heartbreaking.

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THE CHARACTER’S ARC HAS ENDED

This usually applies to secondary characters and villains.  Sometimes, a character is created with a finite arc in mind and is ushered out when the writer feels their story has been told.  Other times, characters simply overstay their welcome like bad party guests and end up getting deep-sixed long past their natural expiration date.  As much as I loved the villainous goa’uld, I felt they’d fallen into the latter category by the end of SG-1’s eighth season.  Breaking Bad’s Jesse Pinkman falls into the former category of course.  Wait!  What?!  Yes, it’s true.  The original plan was to kill off Jesse Pinkman at the end of the show’s first season, but Aaron Paul so impressed that the character was granted an extended reprieve.  In similar fashion, Stargate: Universe’s Dale Volker also avoided certain death.  On the other hand…

Not so fast.

Not so fast.

IT JUST DOESN’T WORK OUT

On the flip side are those characters for whom great plans are made, great hopes pinned but who, for whatever reason, fail to live up to their potential.  They are introduced, usually with much fanfare, only to exit with barely a whimper.

Sir?  Sir!  Step away from the light!

Sir? Sir! Step away from the light!

THE ACTOR/ACTRESS HAS DECIDED TO MOVE ON

It happens.  The decision is made on the part of the actor to leave the show. Amicable creative discussions ensue culminating in a fitting onscreen death.  Dr. Daniel Jackson received a heroic send-off in SG-1’s Meridian, one that never fails to tug at the heart strings on subsequent viewings.  Of course the sadness is mitigated by the knowledge that, like South Park, science fiction always leaves the door open for miraculous resurrections.

Looking forward to a long and happy marriage.

Looking forward to a long and happy marriage.

AN UNEXPECTED PASSING

The worst of all possible circumstances.  If the show continues, production will honor to their late cast member with a respectful send-off and tribute.

BEHIND-THE-SCENES DRAMA

Personality conflicts, unprofessional behavior, poor performance, a bad attitude – just some of the things that can book someone a one-way ticket on the character death express.

Everybody dies because - well - everybody dies.

Everybody dies because – well – everybody dies.

THE END IS NEAR!

Here, the writers are operating under the assumption that the show is ending and so, decide to go out with a bang.  And there’s no bang bigger than a character death. Or two.  Or more.  Hello, Blake’s 7.  The belief that the seventh season would be SG-1’s last made the decision to kill off Janet Fraiser somewhat easier.  If we had known we’d actually be coming back for another season, I’m not so sure things would have played out quite the same way.

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A DESIRE TO SHAKE THINGS UP

Ratings are floundering.  The show’s creative is in a funk.  Quick!  Do something! Historically, television producers have generally responded in one of two ways: a) They add a cute kid to cast, or b) They kill off an established character.  Given the choice, I’d go with the latter.

So, with a better understanding of the mechanics of death in scripted television, we can now appreciate the mortality of every t.v. character, from series lead to red-shirted day player.

Could they actually kill off Daryl on tomorrow night’s episode of The Walking Dead?

Absolutely.

Will they?

Not a chance.

Further reading:

29 Most Shocking TV Deaths – Entertainment Weekly

Most Devastating Character Deaths In TV History | Complex

The Most Shocking Deaths In Modern Television Drama History

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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.”

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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,”

Elliott Goa'uld

Elliott Goa’uld

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.”

Heads up!

Heads up!

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.

Olaf.  He's one of a kind!

Olaf. He’s one of a kind!

Tam Dixon writes: “Is you back feeling better?”

Answer: Much better, thanks.  Back to my regular workout routine:

1Tam Dixon writes: “How did your Sis like her Vacouver vacation?” and Ponytail writes: “Do you have any pictures of Andria with the dogs while she was babysitting?”

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:

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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?”

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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.

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“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.

Robert C. Cooper.  And creepy friend.

Robert C. Cooper. And creepy friend.

“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?”

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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.

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It was an up and down day for my Snow Monkeys in fantasy football league play today (thanks for asking).  On the one hand, my Snow Monkeys #2 fell to a record of 2-6 in Stargate league play, meaning they’ll have to sweep their final five games to have any hope of making the playoffs.  On the other hand, my Snow Monkeys #1 won handily in my original league, climbing to 5-3 and looking very good for post-season play.  And while I was busy coaching my teams to a weekend split, Akemi was equally busy baking cookies.  And not just any cookies.  Check ‘em out. Stargate cookies!

She also baked up a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

She also baked up a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

Earlier in the day, Rob Cooper hosted our Sunday afternoon football gathering.  In honor of this season’s Top Chef New Orleans, he served up home made gumbo:

1Meanwhile, all I did was show up.  And eat of course.

1A little something from the folks at Deadspin: The Great American Menu: Foods Of The States, Ranked And Mapped.  What is your fair state’s signature dish? Everything from Illinois’ Chicago style deep-dish pizza to Ohio’s “horrifying diarrhea sludge” Cincinnati chili.

Two big calls tomorrow to discuss two different projects!

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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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