Posts Tagged ‘SF television’

Alas, it was a herculean task and despite my best efforts, I came up short.  In the end, I sampled only 47 of the some 60 varieties of hot chocolate offered for this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival.  Still, 47 hot chocolates in 24 days aint bad, especially considering I took those four days off to visit mom in Montreal.  This year, I doubled last year’s score.  And, next year, I vow to do even better!

So, what were the standouts?  Well, what follows is my list of the Top 5 Hot Chocolates of this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival!

When all was said and done, six hot chocolates actually made by top 5 list.  After much consideration, I decided to offer a Top 5 +1 for good luck!

Honorable mention goes to…


A Snowball’s Chance in Hell: Single origin Mexican chocolate with Mexican chili poured over house made chocolate ice cream. Accompanied by a flourless chocolate cookie.

Available at: Chocolate Arts 1620 West 3rd Ave., Vancouver (Kitsilano).




Phaun’s Fancy: Made from 64% dark chocolate with parmesan and fresh nutmeg.  Served with a side of Umami No. 5 fudge

Available: At Cocoa Nymph 3739 W. 10th Ave (at Alma), Vancouver




Banana Split: Made from 36% Valrhona Caramelia chocolate and topped with walnut marshmallows.  Served with banana pound cake.

Available at: Bel Cafe, 801 West Georgia Street @ Howe (at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia)




Trio of Chocolate: The base of this hot chocolate is 66% Mokaya chocolate by Michel Cluizel. Served with a disk of 45% Kayambe milk chocolate and white chocolate ice cream.

Available at: Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe 1059 Alberni Street




Hera’s Habit: Made from 50% deep milk chocolate with malted milk balls.  Served with vanilla bean cinnamon shortbread.

Available: At Cocoa Nymph 3739 W. 10th Ave (at Alma), Vancouver




Paula Dean White Trash Trainwreck: A 70% dark chocolate ganache with condensed milk, salted kettle chips, and vanilla whipped cream.  Served with a 72% dark chocolate wafer.

Available at: Mink Chocolates, 863 West Hastings St., Vancouver. On the park (cross street, Hornby.)


Congratulations to all the winners.  I’m hoping I’ll get to see you again soon.  REAL soon.

Continuing Stargate: Atlantis rewatch with…The Eye!

1Ah, now this is more like it!  Akemi was on the edge of her seat (or, actually, her side of the bed) throughout this episode.  She loved it.  Action!  Suspense!  Humor! And, best of all, those dazzling visual effects!  She was blown away by the the sequence of Atlantis shielding itself within seconds of the giant wave crashing down on the city (“Always very last minute your show!”) and also had high praise for the Teyla-Sora showdown (compliments of our former SGA stunt coordinator James Bam Bam Bamford).  She continues to enjoy McKay, greatly appreciated seeing her favorite Dr. Beckett, and is even warming up to Sheppard.  She had one big bump = McKay dressing his arm wound OVER his sleeve.

Overall: “I liked it a lot.  I’m getting used to this city.  At first I thought not as good as SGU’s ship but now pretty cool.”  And then: “I’m beginning to like SGA too!”

A couple of years ago, I offered some thoughts on this episode (and the next one) in one of my Trip Down Memory Lane entries:

June 13, 2012: Dark Matter at Comic Con! Save Lennox the dog! Days of Stargate Past, Atlantis! The Eye and The Defiant One! Vote on our favorite Stargate mid-season two-parter for a chance to win!

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Every so often, I check out my spam folder for erroneously misdirected reader comments.  Last night, amid the 535 quarantined messages, I came across the following:

“Brazil shemales”

“Star ladyboys”

“Big ass shemales”

“Trilby hat sales”

- I find this offensive, embarrassing and downright disturbing.  How dare they presume I’d wear a trilby hat!

Hey, the results are in for April’s Book of the Month Club.  And the winner is…

Screen Shot 2014-02-11 at 12.12.43 PM



We’ll be kicking off our discussion of Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation on Monday, April 7th – which should give you all plenty of time to read it.

In the meantime, our March Book of the Month Club reconvenes on Monday, March 3rd with a discussion of Terms of Enlistment by Mark Kloos.

1Ladies and gentlemen, start your reading engines!

Our Stargate: Atlantis rewatch continues with…Underground!

1Hmmm.  It would appear Akemi is fast losing interest in this show.  I keep thinking that if we can just make it to the mid-season two-parter, The Storm/The Eye, we should be okay.  Those two episodes, in my estimation the high point of SGA’s first season, should revitalize her interest in the series and keep her focused through to the season one finale.  Apparently, Carson Beckett’s charming eyes will only get the series so far.

Alas, Underground didn’t rate that highly for her because she had a hard time following what was going on.  But once the episode moved past people the various people-sitting-at-tables-talking scenes (about two-thirds of the way through), her interested picked up.  Still…

On the story: “Chotto difficult to understand this episode.  A little bit complicated.  Seems very odd from the beginning.”

On Teyla: “Too much make-up this episode.”

On Teyla informing the Genii that team Atlantis had awakened the wraith: “She is stupid!”

On McKay: “I like arrogant guy!”

And overall: “Surprisingly not so much episodes of the actual Atlantis.  I’m looking for more inside of Atlantis.”  Crap!  She’s beginning to sound like YOU guys!

Meanwhile, I offered my thoughts on the episode back here: June 10, 2012: Misery! Comic Con! Days of Stargate Past – Atlantis! Poisoning the Well and Underground!

So, what’d you all think on second (or more) viewing?

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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…


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.”


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.


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.”


“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.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


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.”


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!



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.

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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:


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.


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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Seriously.  No sooner do I recover from my pulled solar plexus (see previous issues, ed.) than I am now battling a lower back “thing”. Specifically, a lower right hip ache that flares up whenever I shift my weight a certain way – or not.  I don’t remember doing anything that could have caused it – outside of those heavy deadlifts – but that’s not really the point.  The POINT is that I have never been the type of guy to suffer from back issues.  That has always been the “other guy” – you know, the little guy in the office next door who occasionally slips a disc and then either has to sleep on the coffee table or standing up.  Not me!

Today, I received a request for some Atlantis blueprints.  I explained that my collection of blueprints, part of the various art department packages from past Stargate episodes, are incomplete.  Some episodes have plenty of supporting docs, everything from schematics to colorful designs, while others only have a sketch or two.  I’ve been meaning to digitize these files for a while now (maybe a year) but just haven’t had the opportunity to get around to doing so.  I figure the next best thing is to just scan and upload the various packages for your entertainment and edification.

Would you all happen to remember a little Stargate: Atlantis fifth season episode called Remnants?




















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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…


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?


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.


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.


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?


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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First things first!  My french bulldog, Lulu, eating kale chips.  Please raise volume to maximum before viewing:

Picture 1

One of the worst kept secrets on this blog has been the identity of that scifi series Paul and I have been trying to set up.  As many of you know, back when we were working on Stargate, we started developing our own SF series in the hopes of rolling right into production with the same crew if and when Stargate ever ended.  The only problem at the time was that there was no end in sight.  Every time we thought Stargate would close up shop, the show would get picked up for another season.  It was a classy problem that allowed us to really flesh out the concept and characters of this prospective new show.

Unfortunately, when Stargate did end, the timing proved difficult. Instead of taking advantage of our terrific Stargate crew, we ended up having to put our project on hold while we took a job in Toronto.  But rather than relegate it to the back burner, we thought of an interesting way to go – and a great way to help sell the show.  We hooked up with Dark Horse Comics and launched the series idea as a comic book.

DARKMTR #1 CVRThe first four issues of Dark Matter garnered great reviews and, when the trade paperback came out in October, we used it as a calling card. Having worked in development, I was aware of, and wanted to draw on, the added appeal of an established property.  Also, half the battle of pitching is to help a potential buyer imagine the project you have created – and I could think of no better pitch document than that trade paperback.

DM4We went out with a story backed by some fantastic visuals compliments of artist Garry Brown and colorist Ryan Hill.  The response was incredibly positive.  Even more so after Paul and I delivered the pilot script.  Still, my concern was the budget, making sure we had enough money to do it properly (visual effects don’t come cheap after all!), so I was heartened by word from our producing partner today that the response in Europe has been equally great.

Now all that remains is for that final piece of the puzzle to fall into place.  Yes, we’ve been waiting a while but all indications are we’ll be receiving word soon.  If it’s positive, then things are going to get very busy very quickly.  If it’s not, then we’ll have to go elsewhere for that final piece – which will, of course, delay things.

But hopefully it all comes together as expected.  And, once it does, dare I say it…

No, better not.


shinyhula writes: “And why no zombies on this list? Night of the Living Dead, 28 Weeks Later, Zombieland; what have the unliving done to deserve your scorn?”

Answer: I was listing Scariest Endings and, off the top of my head, none of the zombie entries came to mind.  Well, now that I think of it, maybe the original Night of the Living Dead would have been a good candidate.

ancuetas writes: “Is that you know what music is there at the beginning of the video.”

Answer: This piece of music, from SG-1′s Demons, was before my time (I joined the show in its fourth season), but it’s safe to assume that it was composed by the late, great Joel Goldsmith.

dasndanger writes: “Also, this whole thing with the shutting down of cell towers in cases like this? That’s why I still have a corded old timey landline tele-o-phone.”

Answer: Hmmm.  Good point.  I haven’t had a landline in four years.

RLAVILLA writes: “Recently there have been two new Stargate games for Android and iPhone, and I think that will be the new product line, which has been selected by MGM for Stargate franchise. How about converting “Stargate Extinction” in a game for these new platforms?”

Answer: Not my call.  That would be for the studio to decide.

Jen writes: “A tad random, but I went in on my birthday to have this done but the artist was booked up so I had it done yesterday.”

Answer: Great.  But I insist you draw the line at one of those Jaffa forehead tattoos.

baterista9 writes: “Just saw Cookie on Saturday at Sea World of Texas.”

Answer: Yes, he was there for his cousin Esmerelda’s wedding.

fsmn36 writes: “But the entire movie plays off the alcoholic!Tony arc from the comics and the Rhodey scene makes 20x more sense when you consider Tony is basically planning on suicide/knows he’s going to die. What seems a tacky action scene becomes a heart breaking fight between friends while Tony desperately gives everything he loves away to the few people that matter to him.”

Answer: Sounds terrific.  Unfortunately, none of that came across onscreen.

gforce writes: “Did you ever take Akemi up to Whistler yet? You should take her out to a nice dinner or even a weekend up there!”

Answer: I retired my krazy karpet years ago.

Seth writes: “How hard would it be to get the cast on board for a Kickstarter for the series or movies? Looks as if Veronica Mars just got 5.5 million in Kickstarter funds from fans!”

Answer: 5.5 million may seem like a lot, but consider that the previous SG-1 movies cost 7+ million each to produce – and those productions made use of existing sets and production personnel.

Tam Dixon writes: “Did you try one of the dog cookies for quality control? You did, didn’t you?”

Answer: I didn’t, but someone I know (hint: she’s Japanese) DOES taste test for quality control.

Tam Dixon also writes: “Anyways, what about another trip? New York, L.A. or maybe even go down South. I wouldn’t recommend Memphis, unless you bring a gun but what about New Orleans or Savannah, GA?”

Answer: Akemi definitely wants to go to New York and, after reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I’ve wanted to check out Savannah.  That said, both L.A. and Vegas are closer and more likely short trip destinations.  This, of course, is entirely dependent on our finding a dog sitter.

astrumporta writes: “I think you should bring Akemi to San Francisco for her b-day!”

Answer: It’s also on the list.  Good eatin’!  How goes, Michelle?

pennlynn writes: “You’re brave man Joe! I like having a nice drink but other than the whiskey I’m not sure I would try that haul of liquor!”

Answer: I tried the Nikka whiskey with Lawren last night when he came over for the American Horror Story marathon.  It was damn good, and much better straight up than on the rocks.  How went the t.v. interview?

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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…


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.


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.

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3Looking back over my 11+ years with the Stargate franchise, I have one giant regret – the missed opportunity of bringing you that Atlantis movie.  We came close…so close…

Late in Atlantis’s fifth year, when we were working on the final few scripts of the season, we had no way of knowing what the future held. A sixth season?  A wrap-up movie?  Robert Cooper suggested we hedge our bets by preparing for both.  His idea was to add an extra month to the production schedule during which we would shoot the sixth season opening two-parter that, in the event the show wasn’t picked up, could become a direct-to-dvd feature.  It was a brilliant plan which I, in turn, proposed it to the decision-makers.  Given the green light, we could roll right into production on the heels of Enemy at the Gate.  We just needed the go-ahead sooner than later in order to make sure we had all the actors on board.

Sadly, we never got the go-ahead and, although we did end up eventually writing the script for the Atlantis movie (Stargate: Extinction), in hindsight, that window of opportunity at the end of the show’s sixth season was our last, best shot at seeing it made.  The bottom fell out of the dvd market, the script was shelved and, well, here we are today.

As I already mentioned in past entries, the movie would have opened on a shot that revealed Atlantis’s new home on the lunar surface.  We learn that the gate has been offline since its return to Earth but, under pressure from the IOA, the decision is made to bring it back online, have it supersede the Earth gate, and make it a permanent lunar base. The decision isn’t embraced by everyone.  Woolsey and McKay, for instance, point out that they still have a responsibility to the people of the Pegasus galaxy.  Of course the IOA are hardly moved.

Unfortunately, when the gate is finally brought back online, Zelenka reports a build up of energy in the capacitors.  Too late they realize that the Ancients put a failsafe in place in the event Atlantis was moved.  McKay realizes – the city will self-destruct unless it returns to the Pegasus galaxy.

Woolsey gets the band back together, transporting John and Ronon up from the hospital emergency room where they are getting fixed up following a bar room brawl (an opportunity to write in the scar actor Jason Momoa had received at the time).  John, in turn, pays a visit to Area 51 and, again under the heavy protests of the IOA, springs his buddy, Todd.

The plan is to use the wormhole drive to execute a series of jumps to Pegasus – however, the drive burns out partway through their journey, stranding them in the Triangulum Galaxy, some 300 000 light years from home.  They manage to muster up enough power for one, final short range jump, putting them within range of a subspace anomaly they detected.

What follows is a high-flying adventure involving a mysterious civilization tapping the limitless potential of the accretion streams between two stars, time travel, and a race against time to avert not only the destruction of Atlantis but the extinction of an entire race.

Some of the standout sequences that come to mind include one in which Sheppard ends up trapped on an enemy mothership, falling back to a room holding some of the tech the enemy has stolen from Atlantis. Enemy soldiers surround the locked chamber, preparing to storm it when – the door shakes, buckles, and blows outward to reveal Sheppard in one of the Asgard exo-suits.  Cue kickass Iron Man sequence.


Another involves Todd risking all to ambush a future version of himself aboard the bridge of the enemy mothership, saving Atlantis from a final, devastating attack.  The two battle. “So young and impetuous,”remarks Future Todd.  “So old and foolish,”counters ours. Eventually, Future Todd gets the upper hand and pins his opponent. He raises his dagger for the finishing blow – only to have someone reach in and grab his wrist.  Rodney McKay to the rescue.  Allowing our Todd seizes the opportunity to turn the tables.

John and Todd make the most unlikeliest of odd couples in this one, forced to work together for the greater good.  “If I had to pick one thing I like best about you,”says Sheppard during one hair-raising moment, “I’d have to say it’s your sense of humor.”  A stone-faced Todd informs him: “Yes, back on the hive, I was known as “the funny one”.”

Enemy fighters are scrambled, Beckett takes the chair, the mother ship faces off against Atlantis, the city takes significant damage, Teyla suffers a terrible loss, some wonderful heroic moments for Ronon, McKay, and Teyla as well.

Atlantis ultimately returns to the Pegasus galaxy where Todd is granted his freedom.  “You did save the city after all,”explains Woolsey.  “Of course I did,”says Todd.  “How else would I have gotten home?”.  And, in a moment that demonstrates how far things have come, John gives his former enemy a parting handshake.  Woolsey hopes that, some day, their paths will cross under better circumstances.  Todd agrees.  “It would be wonderful to have you for dinner sometime,”he says before heading through the gate.

Atlantis re-establishes itself, Beckett gets his turtles back from Rodney and assumes a permanent position as Atlantis’s new head of medical R&D, and John comforts a grieving Teyla now aware – via the revelations of time travel – that they are destined to be together.

And we fade out on a night shot of Atlantis, a jewel on the water…

Yes, it would have been a great movie, but I think it would have been an even better sixth season two-part premiere.

And, yeah, we had long-range plans for that too:

2September 30, 2008: An AU Season 6!

Now that I think about it, I believe 619 and 620, the two-part season finale, would have involved an idea I’d been kicking around involving our team returning from a mission to an AU Atlantis that has been taken over by a mysteriously resurrected Michael, its personnel (Woolsey, Keller, Beckett, even Chuck!)  now hybrids in league with their former enemy.  Damn.  So many opportunities missed!

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This week feels like the calm before the storm.  Of course, I could be wrong and it may actually be the calm before the calm before the storm.  Or, worse, the calm before the storm that never comes.  Paul and I are closing on several writing assignments (an action feature, an SF pilot, another SF pilot), and a few projects poised to move forward (development on one, going to camera on another pilot, and a potential series pick-up on a third), but, of course, in this line of work nothing is assured.  Things certainly look promising but, in all fairness, they’ve looked promising for some time now as we’ve maintained a holding pattern in expectation of a decision, one way or the other.

I’m considering working on another spec pilot or going the kickstarter route and just shooting that horror script, but I fear that the moment I start on either, one of the aforementioned deals will close and I’ll have to switch gears.

For better or worse, things seem to be coming to a head so here’s hoping that, sometime next week, I’ll be able to make a big announcement.

In the meantime, I’ve got this blog to keep me busy – and this entry in particular.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a slew of Stargate plans – blueprints, schematics, sketches, and designs – from the last few seasons of Atlantis and both seasons of Universe.  Most of these are huge, oversized documents that need to be scanned and digitized. About a dozen, however, are part of Art Department packages for specific episodes.  Rather than offer them up in order of their air dates, I thought it would be more interesting to just pick them at random and upload them as dedicated, individual blog entries.

And so, since you asked, today’s entry offers up a host of Atlantis designs.  From the season 4 two-part opener Adrift/Lifeline:

Adrift:Lifeline coverDuring prep week, the Art Department assembles a package containing an overview of the various sets and builds for a given episode.  As changes are made, the package is tweaked and these progressive stages are reflected in the color of the ensuing drafts.  For those of you interested in learning about the various revisions and their corresponding colors, check out my explanation here: March 10, 2008: THE ULTIMATE EXTREME EXTRA SUPERFANTASTIC BEST LUCKY ULTRA NUMBER ONE FINAL FINAL DRAFT

Atlantis - Control Room

Atlantis – Control Room

While there was a four month hiatus between production of the third season finale, First Strike, and the fourth season premiere, Adrift, hardly any time had passed onscreen.  Thank goodness for our eagle-eyed Art Department who placed little continuity reminders throughout: “One monitor was askew at end of First Strike” and “First Strike continuity – windows OUT throughout/aftermath still in place”. These, of course, a reference to the blast that blew out the windows at the end of the season finale, seriously injuring Elizabeth.  A reminder also goes out to the various other departments for a Zelenka leg brace and that nasty-looking piece of glass that embeds itself in Ronon.  By the way, there’s a reference to “large piano in deep background”. Obviously, we’re not talking about an actual piano – rather, a control console that resembled one (thus the nickname).

Keller's lab

Keller’s lab/infirmary

Clearly, the meager two-bed set-up is optimistic.  Room for plenty more in the event of some unforeseen catastrophe – like an Asuran attack.

Atlantis ZPM room

Atlantis ZPM room

I love the reminder to “check ZPM functioning”.  And then, just in case someone actually did check and found it lacking in the expected energy requirements: “one section lights up”.  Oh, is that all?  Another reference to those darn “pianos” and continuity reminder as per “The Siege”.

Atlantis - balcony

Atlantis – balcony

Whenever we shot outside, on the balcony, we tended to stay on our characters and relied on lighting, the occasional breeze, and the grey practical backdrop to convey a sense of an overcast day.  In scenes where we actually wanted to see the background, we relied on our VFX team to create something convincing – in this case, a beautiful night-time twin-moon view.

Atlantis - halls & corridors

Atlantis – halls & corridors

That, of course, is the gate at bottom left.  The door to Stage 4 (via the productions offices), where the Atlantis set once stood, is corner right.

Elizabeth's office

Elizabeth’s office

The layout didn’t really change despite the changes in command although the set dec was a little different.  Whereas Elizabeth’s tastes ran to the artistic (ie. Athosian statuettes), Carter added a more personal touch in the various photos that lined the back wall. Woolsey’s office was a little more austere, but he did include a personal touch with the photo of his beloved yorkie, lost to his wife in the divorce.

Replicator core room

Replicator core room

The layout of the replicator core room looks a lot like the Atlantis gate room.  Note the tiny human figure at the bottom left, included for scale.

Replicator City - control room

Replicator City – control room

This being the replicator version of the Atlantis control room, set dec is reminded to strip away all Earth touches like computers, desks, and chairs.  Things should be just as they were the last time we were here – in the episode Progeny.

Operating room

Operating room

The doors on the right presumably lead out to the infirmary and the area is “dressed” as such – gurneys, equipment – to suggest the operating room adjoins it.  Since the doors on the left remain closed, we have no way of knowing what’s on the other side.  My guess is the home theater room.   On the bottom left is a note to Prosthetics/Make Up re: Weir’s skull/brain swell.  I remember seeing the “brain swell” demonstration and being impressed (and slightly nauseated) by the very realistic brain that expanded as air was pumped inside.  If I remember correctly, it was the work of Todd Masters and Masters VFX.

Infirmary outside operating room

Infirmary outside operating room

This is the area Ronon walks out of to visit Weir and deliver his bedside talk – one of my favorite scenes of the two-parter.

Damaged hallways

Damaged hallways

This was shot in the VFX stage, the biggest on the lot.  This is where we shot the space jump.  There’s a note: for the greenscreens and “Atlantian floor treatment, bordered by green” because the view of the devastation below is a visual effect.  Up top, construction is asked to pockmark the wall with “asteroid” (meteorite) hits.  Wonder where they got the meteorites?

Hallways - outer city

Hallways – outer city

This, the VFX stage, was so massive it actually held several sets simultaneously including, at one point or other, the village, the hive ship, and the various Earth ships.

Chair room

Chair room

And before we took over the space, it was the set of one of the Blade movies – which is why we would occasionally refer to it as The Blade set.  Love the attention to detail on the snowflake design bordering the chair.

Atlantis - halls and corridors

Atlantis – halls and corridors

There’s a note regarding “Gurney will roll into McKay’s Lab/Infirmary & Operating Room”.  This is, of course, part of the frenetic opening sequence in which a badly injured Elizabeth is wheeled through the halls and into the infirmary.  So frenzied, in fact, that we didn’t notice that part of the medical equipment being wheeled through the shot off the top wasn’t medical equipment at all but actually a camera.

Replicator City - corridors

Replicator City – corridors

Again, similarities to the real Atlantis are intentional on the part of the Asurans – but certain visual cues suggest a different location. SPFX/PROPS are reminded what they need to bring to the party for the scenes in which the replicators hit the AR fields: weapons and, of course, aluminum shavings.

Holding cell

Holding cell

An interesting set.  While there was certainly enough space between the bars to accommodate our cameras, one could argue there was also enough space for a determined prisoner to slip through.  Which is why there were always guards posted on duty.  Still, I would argue you wouldn’t need guards if that cell would have been just a little more secure.  What were the Ancients thinking?

Asuran City - ZPM room

Asuran City – ZPM room

The south wall was presumably an issue so we just got rid of it.  Bless the set’s modular design.

Puddle jumpers on Asuran rooftops

Puddle jumpers on Asuran rooftops

I always preferred the coziness of the jumpers over the roomier Universe shuttle or utilitarian SG-1 cargo ship.  As I mentioned in a previous post, “gak” refers to the exposed inner-workings/guts of some high-tech device – in this case the ARG.

Puddle Jumper Bay before take-off

Puddle Jumper Bay before take-off

It’s amazing the amount of work and detail that went into shots that would last mere seconds onscreen.  But they went such a long way toward creating this world.  None of this: “Hey, we parked the jumper up on the roof.  You’ll just have to trust us!”.

Limbo set

Limbo set

One of three different looks outside our parked jumper.

Midway Station

Midway Station

It wouldn’t be until much later, in the aptly titled Midway, that we would actually get a tour of the place.  Check out more floor plans of the station here: March 15, 2013: Things Stargate!  Note: “All objects in this area must appear to be strapped or bolted down to sell zero-gravity”.  Check out Carter’s zero-g ballet, compliments of VFX Supervisor Mark Savela and his crew, here: September 4, 2012: Days of Stargate Atlantis Past! SGA’s Fourth Season! Adrift!

Apollo Bridge

Apollo Bridge

Yes, now that you mention it, it DOES look very similar to the bridge of the Orion, the Prometheus, and the Daedalus.  Oh, and the Korolev and Sun Tzu if you must know.  But that’s because Earth built them on the same designs.  Of course you know you’re on the Apollo thanks to the “dimensional brass Apollo plaque”.

Atlantis to M35 117

Atlantis to M35 117

And, since some of you asked, the Art Department packages also contained gate addresses when appropriate.  Point of Origin: Atlantis = Subido.

Atlantis to Earth

Atlantis to Earth

Always wanted to dial Earth from Atlantis?  Well, here ya go.

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