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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

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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

Another day down, another story done.  That makes 8 out of our 13 first season episodes broken in less than three weeks.  I feared today’s episode would prove tricky, but I got in early this morning and hashed out a rough outline.  My writing partner, Paul (aka Captain Logic) had surprisingly few problems in the early going and we positively breezed through the first three acts.  “Wow,”he marveled.  “We’re moving quickly!”  “Sure,”I said, “but I’m sure that we’ll eventually come to that sticking point.”  And we eventually did, sometime after lunch and somewhere in the fourth act – but, thankfully, it wasn’t one of those “Let’s sleep on it” bumps.  We talked it through, came up with some great scenes, and completed our beat sheet in record time.  Sadly, not quite fast enough for us to roll right into episode 9, but still.

Today, we also received some early concept designs.  I love this part of my job: weighing in on space ships.  We had a choice of five sketched variations and then three color models.   They were all terrific, but Paul and I preferred #2.  I’m not a big fan of winged ships in general, but I do love armaments: gun turrets, plasma cannons, etc.  This ship should be bad-ass, retrofitted with all sorts of illegal weaponry, and Bart’s first pass is a huge step in that direction.  Very exciting.

While considering the different looks, I hopped online to do a little research and came across this interesting rundown of The Top 75 Spaceships in Movies and TV. A pretty solid list – but Stargate: Universe’s Destiny is conspicuously absent. Given the fact that this list was published back in July of 2009, however, I’m willing to cut the gang at Den of Geek some slack:

http://www.denofgeek.com/movies/286589/top_75_spaceships_in_movies_and_tv.html#indexmain

SFX came up with their own list, this of The top 51 Sci-Fi Spaceships where Stargate is well-represented:

http://www.sfx.co.uk/2012/12/02/top-51-sci-fi-spaceships/

And if you’re wondering how they all compare, check out this chart by Dirk Loechel comparing vessels from various SF worlds.  Damn impressive!

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http://dirkloechel.deviantart.com/art/Size-Comparison-Science-Fiction-Spaceships-398790051

So many terrific designs.  Which are YOUR favorites?

Hurrah!  The writers’ room is back on track!  Today, we tackled episode 7 and, while it was touch and go in the early goings, we did manage to finish breaking the entire story (tease, five acts, and a tag, natch), this despite a sluggish morning, an impromptu visit from an old friend and colleague, and a severe allergic reaction to something one of us ate (the suspects included improperly prepared chicken, brie, and the peanut butter-penicillin cookies I brought in).  I’m very pleased because, with this story in place, we have a spotlight episode for each of our crew members.

Next up is a tricky episode – but, if we can hammer it out #8 by Wednesday, I’m confident it’ll be smooooooooooooth sailing through the blustery #9 and the late season two parter before we hit our presently bare bones penultimate episode.

We wrap the room at the end of July and then, while they start designing ships and space stations in Toronto, I’ll be writing here in Vancouver.  I’m aiming to complete two scripts in August and another two in October (with time for a trip to L.A. next month and ten days in Japan in September).  Then, in November, I’m Toronto-bound where I’ll oversee set construction, casting, and the purchase of big down-filled coats.

So, who of you picked up those nifty Lost Tribe suits at auction?

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BTW – Just started Joe Abercrombie’s new book last night, Half A King, and it is brilliant.  If you’re looking to splurge on a hardcover, this is the one to pick up.

Mini mailbag:

Bailey writes: Oh and here’s a random bit of analysis of why SGA went off the air in a discussion of today’s slash fandoms: [...] “In other words, since the fanbase was too middle-aged, too female, and too prone to writing slashfic, the whole show had to go.””

Answer: “too prone to writing slashfic”?  Stargate Producer #1: “Forget that director’s cut!  We’ve got more pressing matters to discuss!  Gater1472 has written a story pairing Beckett and Zelenka!”

Deni writes: “How many of these have you had, Joey?”

Answer: I’ve sampled a few – thanks to the generosity and impeccable customer service of The Imperial Hotel.  Some seven years ago, on my first trip to Tokyo, my ex and I walked around for an afternoon and then returned to our hotel room where we placed a recent purchase (a $12 apple) in the refrigerator.  We went out for another stroll and, when we returned, we found an enormous fruit basket awaiting us with a note that read: “The chambermaid dropped your apple on the floor while cleaning the refrigerator.  Please accept this fruit basket in apology.”  Not sure how much it cost but I’m sure it was at least $300.  And it contained the best melon, strawberries and apples I’ve ever eaten.  The bananas were alright.

Sylvia writes: “WHEN will you be able to tell us about the tease for the reason you are building a spaceship, freighter, space suits…??”

Answer: Apparently, as soon as all of the contracts have been signed.

NarellefromAus writes: “Recommended reading? I’ll check out your recommendations in your side bar but is there anything that is a must read? “

Answer: The sidebar is a pretty good list of recent reads I heartily recommend. Tops of that list = Gone Girl, The Glass Castle, and We Are Completely Beside Ourselves.

Tired of the same old apples and bananas?  Looking to top your corn flakes with something really special?  Well, cash in that 401k and fly on over to Japan to sample these unique fruit:

1YUBARI KING MELONS

A hybrid of two cantaloupes (Earl’s Favorite and Burpee’s Spicy), the Yubari King Melon hails from Hokkaido, Japan where they are grown in special greenhouses, each fruit (one to a vine – the rest are pruned) is outfitted with a  special hat to guard them from the sun.  They are usually sold in pairs but you can snag a single for a mere $100.

most-expensive-fruit-grapes-ruby-romanRUBY ROMAN GRAPES

Grown in Ishikawa prefecture, these ping-pong-sized grapes are sold under strict conditions.  Each must weigh over 20 grams and have a sugar content of over 18%.  Instead of splurging on a bunch, start with a solitary grape – that will set you back about $250.

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EGG OF THE SUN MANGOES

Earlier this year, a pair of these prized mangoes sold for a record $3000 at auction and then were promptly airlifted from Miyazaki in southern Japan to a department store in Fukoaka where they went on sale.  The average person can pick up one of these mangoes – that must weigh in at a minimum 350 grams and possess a sugar content of over 15% – for about $50.

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DEKOPON

These orange/mandarin hybrids were only available in Japan until several years ago.  They are grown in large greenhouses and then left to sit for 20-40 days after harvesting to mellow their citric character while allowing their sweetness to build. A half dozen will set you back about $80.

enhanced-buzz-1424-1370898298-1SEKAI-ICHI APPLES

Sekai-Ichi Apples translates to “World’s Best Apples”.  They are pollinated by hand and washed with honey.  In comparison to the other fruit on this list, a single apple is a steal at a little over $20.

1SQUARE WATERMELON

Grown in tempered glass boxes to ensure their perfectly cubic form, they are incredibly practical: easily stackable and an easy fit for small Japanese refrigerators.  Recent alternate versions include heart-shaped and pyramid varieties.  Get your own for $200 a pop.

densukeDENSUKE BLACK WATERMELON

Also grown in Hokkaido where a mere 100 are farmed each year, they are renown for their crispness and sweetness.   They go for as much as $5000 but, if you’re lucky, you may be able to find one at your local Sembikya fruit store for the rock bottom price of $200.

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WHITE STRAWBERRIES

Referred to as “Hatsukoi no kaori” (Scent of First Love), these beautiful strawberries are possessed of a high sugar content and run about $5 each.

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HONOKA STRAWBERRIES

Or, you can settle for a box of plump red strawberries from Saga, Japan.  Get your friends to chip in and pick up a box for $30.

iroiewremwsyuku1wywbGOKUSEN BANANAS

These $6 bananas weigh in at a hefty 200 grams and come packaged with serial numbers in their own special boxes.

106405110_470OKAYAMA WHITE PEACHES

$40 will get you one of these luscious, premium peaches grown in Okayama Prefecture in western Japan (a.k.a. The Land of Sunshine).

To those asking: Yes, you’ll be able to watch my new show when it premieres in 2015.  Unless you live on the moon of course.  Which, I suspect, some of you do. But fear not.  I’m sure they’ll have found a way to stream it to your base by then.

Today, I finished a revision of the pilot episode – and spent my last full day with my old high school buddy, Cas, and his lovely girlfriend Su.  He’s here shooting a few days on a series and she was here for a photo shoot.  Also, both were here to spend quality time with Akemi and the dogs.  And eat A LOT.

1Last night, we got together with my writing partner, Paul, for dinner and drinks. Oh, and I got to practice my phoney photo laugh.  Look at how much fun I’m having!  Pictured from left to right: Paul, Cas, and me – or, as as we used to be known in the old D&D days Kato the Monk, Altov the Druid, and Delfoss the goblin thief.

1 Su and Cas took us out for dinner.  As is customary when I’m being treated, I ate to bursting, then stuffed my plastic wrap-lined pockets with the leftovers.

1We stopped off at this little corner bakery that makes these delicious coffee buns that, quite frankly, taste like uber-light pancakes (http://papparoti.ca).

1Last night, we visited Bella Gelateria for the best gelato in the world.  And a cup of strawberries.  Pictured above, Akemi and Gelato Master James Coleridge.

1Space suits.  Who’s up for a little EVA?

1My writing partner, Paul.  That’s who!

The thing I miss most about my days on Stargate is the writers’ room: the camaraderie, the laughs, the heated discussions and, every so often, the occasional creative accomplishments.  Don’t get me wrong.  It was hard, sometimes frustrating work but, when all was said and done, they were productive sessions that generated some great television.  And fun times.  We were lucky.  A successful writers’ room has as much to do with talent as it does personality.  Being good at what you do is important, but so is getting along with others.  And, in the case of Stargate, we were fortunate in that respect.  We didn’t always agree, but we got along and, in the end, I like to think it showed in the shows we produced – while I was there, some 340 hours of television.

BUT while the writers’ room can offer exhilarating highs, it can also mete out crushing lows.  In the case of the former, take last week’s creative output for example.  We ended up breaking an episode a day, a blistering pace that is not only impressive but almost unheard of in most rooms.  On the flip side, you need look no further than today’s disappointing gathering that wasn’t just unproductive but actually counter-productive in that the basic story we agreed had merit last night suddenly evaporated over the course of the morning, leaving us with NO story heading into the weekend.

Yep, it can be damn frustrating, but it DOES happen.  And the reasons why it happens are the following:

1. The story is deemed too similar to something that has come before.

This is a tough one because, if you look harder enough, anything can be deemed similar to something that has come before – especially when you’re talking about science fiction.  The Purge was an episode of the original Star Trek series, but that didn’t keep it from making $64 million.  Elysium was another movie with similarities to an old Star Trek episode.  It made $93 million.  Hell, South Park even did in an episode called “Simpsons Already Did It!” in which we are reminded that, just like science fiction, the world animation is fraught with the dangers of unintended imitation.

Closer to home, one of our very first episodes of Stargate: SG-1, “Window of Opportunity”, was unabashedly inspired by the movie Groundhog Day, but that didn’t stop us from producing what turned out to be one of the franchise’s most beloved episodes.  And, in the end, the admitted similarities to Groundhog Day, while enormously entertaining, were less important than how OUR characters responded to them.

So, yes, stories involving time loops and bleak alternate realities and emotional robots have been done before.  But that doesn’t mean they can’t be done again – so long as you can make them unique to the world and characters you have created.

2. Logic issues.

Even in the far-out world of science “fiction”, you must operate within established parameters.  A theoretical FTL drive wouldn’t work that way.  You can’t perform an EVA without a space suit.  Difficult to argue against these.

3. Suspect character motivations.

This one’s a little tricky because it often comes down to a matter of opinion.  “I don’t believe this character would do that.” can be neatly countered with: “Well, I do.”  Sure, there are instances where certain actions would be completely out of character – but in these instances, you’re presumably dealing with an idea from a writer who doesn’t know the show.  For the most part, character motivations come down to proper set up.  Would mercenary Character X risk his life for the robot?  At first blush, probably not.  But what if the robot just saved his life – AND holds the key to solving the shipboard mystery that could pay off handsomely?  Then, maybe he just might.

4. Bias

Yes, it happens.  Sometimes, someone just doesn’t like the story or is grouchy and in a combative mood – in which case they’ll attempt to argue #1-3.

Two of the best writers I’ve ever worked with were Brad Wright and Robert Cooper who had two very different approaches in the room.  Brad always excelled at pinpointing the heart of the story and finding a way to make it work.  To him, the bells and whistles were less important than the emotional crux of the narrative (ie. how it affected our characters on a personal level).  Once he could identify that, he would work tirelessly to build a great episode.  Robert, on the other hand, was a straight shooter who never shied away from telling you what he felt wasn’t working – BUT, invariably, ALWAYS offered alternative solutions.  No one could spin ideas like Rob.

All this to say I miss those guys and could have really used their expertise today.

No story brainstorming for me this weekend.  I’m taking a break to revise the pilot and put together overviews of our first six episodes covering synopses and production requirements (sets, locations, significant props, and visual effects) for each.  It’s all preliminary but it’s designed to ensure we’re all on the same page moving forward.  And, hopefully, steers them in the proper creative direction as we head into prep.  After all, we’ve got a spaceship to build!

 

I say “surprising” because, whenever I mention I haven’t seen or watched one of the following, I am always met with equal parts distress, dismay, and disbelief:

et_1474485b10. E.T.

Friends-e13661419647849. FRIENDS

star-trek-tng18. STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION

goonies-then7. THE GOONIES

big-bang-theory-46. THE BIG BANG THEORY

Avatar-Wallpaper-Neytiri75. AVATAR

The-West-Wing4. THE WEST WING

trek_2441578b3. STAR TREK (reboot)

DotF_TPM2. STAR WARS EPISODE 1: THE PHANTOM MENAE

MCDFEBU EC0041. FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF

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