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It was back in 2015 that an actress by the name of Ayisha Issa auditioned for the show.  I thought she was terrific but, alas, not quite right for the role.  Still, her audition so impressed me that I filed away Ayisha’s name in my “To Cast!” memory file.  A year later, as we were spinning ideas for the show’s third season, I started to consider potential new characters.  And Ayisha came to mind.  This was one of those rare instances where, instead of creating a character and then looking to cast, I actually created the character FOR an actor.  And hoped she’d nail the audition.  Which, of course, she did.  Which is how Ayisha Issa came to land the role of Solara Shockley, Adrian Maro’s no-nonsense bodyguard.

I’m pleased to announce that, in this blog’s grand tradition of shining a blistering spotlight on talent both in front and behind the camera, we’ll be hosting a fan Q&A with Ayisha who has kindly offered to field your questions.

SO – If you have questions for this Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt, post them in the comments section.  And don’t be snarky.  Did I mentioned she has a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu?

The All The Time In the World Breakdown – Part 1

As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, before sitting down to write this episode, I screened a crazy amount of time loop-themed t.v. episodes and movies.  My goal was to acknowledge what was done before in humorous fashion, but also craft a story unique to Dark Matter and its characters.

One of my first steps was to toss out the traditional set-up and start mid-loop.  Our episode opens with a weary THREE correctly predicting a series of events before ending up in the mess where he incites the wrath of Solara.  She knocks him out. He gets up and – he’s suddenly back in bed.  WTF??  Well, you can make a fairly educated guess when, after the show’s opening, we see a repeat, but slightly different version, of that opening scene.

THREE claims he’s caught in a time loop.  The others, of course, don’t believe him – and he ends up in the infirmary where the Android runs a scan on him.  The ensuing scene is one of my favorites.  Anthony Lemke and Zoie Palmer are hilarious in this episode, but I have to give it up for Melissa O’Neil who is equally great as the dubious TWO.  Note: Do NOT order the soup on Balda-4!

We establish a couple of the touchstone looping scenes – moping FIVE, sparring Adrian and Solara – then find the Android who is still working on that presumed faulty relay switch.  THREE concocts a plan to convince the others what he is saying is true.  All he has to do is convey some technobabble, and he’s golden.  Of course, easier said than done.

When that doesn’t work, he pays Adrian a night-time visit in an attempt to stay up and break the loop.  Here, we introduce the space ukulele that will be featured a little later.

Production Designer Ian Brock tracked down this futuristic instrument online.  It was designed by Juan Carlos Noguera Cardoza who kindly permitted us to use it on the show.  Check it out his amazing work here.

Unfortunately for THREE, science aint his strong suit so he decides to try another tack.  The Android suggest she teach him French.  Perfect because actor Anthony Lemke is fluent in French (as if I didn’t know).  The Android begins…

Android: Ou est le chat de Monsieur Michaud.

THREE: Meshee meshaw meshew sho sho.

Android: No, you can’t make up your own words.

Some have suggested this exchange was inspired by an episode of Friends but, in reality, it was inspired by my girlfriend, Akemi, who ALWAYS does this.

The French lessons culminate with the two of them singing Dominique in the mess.  Love THREE’s belting out the tune.  Love the Android’s hip-swinging strumming.  And LOVE TWO’s stone-faced acknowledgement, 180 degree turn and walk-out.

Director Ron Murphy did 3 or 4 takes of this sequence.  After the first take, Anthony decided to improvise by working the spoons accompaniment into the duet. And then, for Take 3, helped himself to A camera operator Joe Turner’s hat and gave it some real Quebecois flair.  When it came time for the edit I, of course, elected to go with the most over-the-top rendition.

Zoie and Anthony actually recorded the duet in a sound studio under the direction of composer Ben Pinkerton who played the ukulele.

Success!  THREE finally convinces TWO and the Android.  NOT because he speaks French, but because he succeeds in diagnosing the ship’s technical issues…in French.  A much-relieved THREE celebrates by kissing TWO – a little exchange that wasn’t scripted but that Melissa and Anthony improvised on the day.  What a great little moment.

Alright.  That’s it for today.  I’m off to declutter.  I accepted an offer on the house last night and will close the deal pending Wednesday’s inspection.  I have two months to clear out after which I will be…

Well, I don’t know where I’ll be.

 

Another two Open Houses this weekend, another 5+ hours of self-imposed exile for Akemi and I and the dogs.  We packed up the dog beds, the strollers, the water bottles and bowls, the collars and leashes, the dog treats – and headed out for a nice long walk…

Which, for my geriatric, achy-boned old dogs was all of 12 minutes or so before we pulled up a table at Elysian Coffee on West Broadway and whiled away the afternoon.  Apparently, we’ll be getting three offers on the house tonight.  I am…ambivalent.  Unless this results in a bidding war in which case I’ll be somewhat intrigued.

Yo, Ice Cream Face!  We stopped by Bella Gelateria for some buffalo milk fiore di latte.

Lulu’s ice pack collar is both cool and ridiculous looking.

Doing 50 mph in a 30 mph zone!

More responses, reactions and reviews – Dark Matter Episode 304 “All The Time Time In The World”…

Mike’sFilmTalk’s Michael Knox-Smith:

A lot has happened since the explosive finale of season two with everything reaching dizzying heights of excitement and more than a touch of mystery in “All the Time in the World.”

WordOfTheNerdOnline’s Siobhan Dempsey:

The Dark Matter writing team managed to make their own unique spin on the plot, and made the various reactions to the time loop mishap ring true with the characters we’ve known for over two seasons, as well as the newcomers to the cast. It might seem like having an episode hinge on a Groundhog Day style plot would hurt the plot machinations of a show as serial as Dark Matter, but you would be wrong. This episode managed to combine a silly one-off plot with Dark Matter‘s long form storytelling to great effect. 

Anthony Lemke talks with GeekChicElite’s Jeff Fountain:

Yes, it’s a fine line, not so much in the playing of it because the playing comes from what is on the page. Sometimes there is liberty there, to how someone will react to a moment, most of the time that comes from Joe and Paul. Where it is challenging, and Joe and Paul and myself have discussions about this, is that you want the character to stay on that line, you don’t want him to all of a sudden be the good guy. My character clearly falls down on one side and is becoming a better person but he still is unpredictable, you don’t always know how he’s going to react and that is the essence of this character and I really hope that line is walked for the entire longevity of this series because then it ends up being fun to play, fun to watch and probably fun to write, too.

Yael, Tauri-Jay, Andrew, and Natalee discuss “All The Time In The World” and offer some theories…

Another big fan Q&A guest announcement coming your way tomorrow along with…

More BTS pics from Episode 304: “All The Time In The World”, and…

The latest installment of After Dark!

Well, that was fun.  So, what did everybody think?

Episode Debrief with TheTVJunkies’ Kelly Townsend:

I think of all the characters, she’s the bonafide survivor, so in my mind it made sense to make it her, and her the Android have that connection. I loved the idea of, in the distant, distant future, her and the Android floating around somewhere between galaxies.

SpoilerTV’s Aimee Hicks:

Dark Matter has produced some truly exceptional episodes, but this was perhaps the most important one of the series to date.

TheNerdRecites’ Christopher Hart:

This show is always at its absolute best when it pushes its own boundaries and also when it pays homage to classic Science Fiction films or tropes. When it does both of those things combined, the result is a supernova of SF brilliance and this week offered up the first episode of that ilk within Season 3.

SYFYWire’s Tricia Ennis:

Fun fact: showrunner Joseph Mallozzi wrote this episode. He and his writing partner, Paul Mullie, also wrote the time loop episode of Stargate: SG-1, “Window of Opportunity,” which is why big chunks of this episode feel at least tonally similar to that one.

ThreeIfBySpace’s Michelle Harvey:

Dark Matter blew me away this week with “All The Time In The World” being one of the best episodes of television I’ve ever seen. Not only is this episode a blast for Dark Matter fans, “All The Time In The World” can (and should) be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys the sci-fi genre.

BladeOfTheSashurai:

Tonight’s episode carried with it an even balance of humor, excitement, thoughtfulness, and darkness to come.

TheWorkPrint’s Jen Stayrook:

Dark Matter is a show that rarely shows plot moments without reason. Things might not make sense early on in the season or they may frustrate us (Nyx’s death), but they have purpose, and I think the quick glimpses into Android’s future can tell us a lot about what’s in store for Dark Matter and the crew of the Raza.

Tina Charles at TVGoodness:

For those like me who love a spaceship being the central location of a sci-fi series, this show is everything I need and more. Season 1 was good. Season 2 was better. And now Season 3 is shaping up to be even stronger.

TellTaleTV’s Hillary Esquina:

It is nice to see Melissa O’Neil portraying a light-hearted version of Two. It showcases the complexities of this character, as she takes her focus off of seeking revenge and more on being a supportive leader for her crew.

SciFiPulse’s Ian Cullen:

This was a fun episode, which gave all the actors their chance to shine, but provided us with a brilliantly nuanced performance from Anthony Lemke as Three.

GeekedOutNation’s Jideobi Odunze:

A timeloop really isn’t that big of a stretch for the Raza Crew. They took an old concept and they did something unique to the world of Dark Matter. So much set-up came from this that you couldn’t have prepared for. “All the Time in the World” isn’t as serious as the episodes before, but it is all about the adventure when you’re out there in space. These characters have range, the new characters fit in very well, and others definitely shook you up a bit by the consequences of messing with time.

ScreenSpy’s Rachel Thomas:

Time loop stories are risky—there’s always a chance the audience will lose patience with it, but there’s no sign of that here.

SciFiMoviePage’s Craig Suide:

Okay, I admit I was skeptical when I heard this week’s episode was yet another attempt by a genre series to use “TheGroundhog Day” time loop trope. It sounded like an act of desperation that was showing up way too early in this show’s development. I was wrong. There was no reason to worry, the episode not only did not seem like a used up trope, but it also came off as fresh material and was witty and in places, and amusing.

PureFandom’s Cort Robinson:

Great episode. That was a Groundhog Day done right.

TVFanatic’s Kathleen Wiedel:

It’s often enjoyable for actors to be able to show off their talents, be they music or language or even dance. For those who are wondering: yes, indeed, Anthony Lemke is fluent in French.

DenOfGeek’s Michael Ahr:

Melissa O’Neil and Jodelle Ferland have always gotten a lot of credit for the strength of their acting on Dark Matter, but Anthony Lemke, who plays Three, has always been lurking in the background giving us one of the most lovable ne’er-do-wells on TV since Firefly’s Jayne Cobb.

BlackGirlNerds’ C.R. Sparrow:

Three’s complexity and Anthony Lemke’s acting really account for the lion’s share of what made this episode work. Shout out to Android for being the perfect foil in this situation.

Monsters&Critics Ian Cullen:

The use of the time-loop was also a big gamble for the writers given that it is a device that has been used countless times in science fiction and fantasy shows.  Thankfully they managed use the plot device to good effect without making it seem like just another clone of Groundhog Day.

CarterMatt:

How do you make a lot out of a little? This is clearly one of the questions that the writers of Dark Matter had going into this episode, given that this was fairly low-budget given that so much of the episode took place on the Raza and didn’t require all too many costume changes, either (beyond of course the Android stuff near the end of the episode).

Josh and Anna: Geeksiders

So, what do you think of our new temporary crew members – Adrian Maro and Solara Shockley?

That reminds me – Another fan Q&A announcement coming your way!

Here’s another BTS video of that THREE-Android duet – Take #3!

Shooting the THRANdroid duet!

Don’t miss Dark Matter Episode 304: “All The Time In The World”!  Tonight at 6:00 p.m. on SYFY and Space Channel!

About 18 years ago, my writing partner, Paul, and I landed staff positions on a little scifi series called Stargate: SG-1 (You may have heard of it!).  With one script under our neophyte belts, we were given the green light to start work on our second.  It was based on a pitch that involved the team traveling off-world to a planet facing imminent extinction.  In an attempt to stave the coming apocalypse, certain members of this civilization were “resetting the clock”, inadvertently trapping SG-1 in a  recurring 24 hour time loop.

When it came time to hash out an outline, series co-showrunner Robert C. Cooper had a few notes:

1 – We already have one cool piece of technology on the show = the stargate!  Use it instead of our proposed “time-loopy device” to create the problem.

2 – Forget the people on this other planet.  Let’s make this episode about OUR characters.  Focus on them and their efforts to get out of the loop.

3 – Play up the humor of the situation.

As we received more notes on the planned script, it suddenly dawned me.  “We’re doing Groundhog Day!”, a reference to the Bill Murray comedy which sees his character, weatherman Phil Connors, reliving the same day over and over and over again.  Rob’s response was “Yeah!” and to throw me a look that seemed to say: “It took you this long to figure it out.”

I considered.  We couldn’t just do a Stargate version of Groundhog Day.  Could we?

Well, before there was Groundhog Day there was a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode called “Cause and Effect”.

And before “Cause and Effect”, there was Ken Grimwood’s novel Replay.

And before Replay there was a Philip K. Dick short story called “A Little Something for Us Tempunauts”.

And before “A Little Something for Us Tempunauts”, well, it’s possible there was something else.

The point is I could have thrown my hands up and said “It’s too similar to something that’s already been done” and moved on.  Of course, had I done that, I never would have co-written “Window Of Opportunity”, an episode very similar to Groundhog Day – that nevertheless consistently ranks as one of Stargate fandom’s favorite episode of the entire 300+ episode franchise.  And how to account for this episode’s lasting popularity?  Well, how about the fact that, while the time loop premise has been done before, what makes it so memorable is OUR CHARACTERS being trapped.

WoW offers so many memorable moments: the juggling, the Fruit Loops, the kiss, golfing through the stargate.  It was fun and funny and, despite its similarities to what had come before, stood out and left a lasting impression for many fans.

Fast-forward to this same time last year.  We were assembling the Dark Matter writers’ room in anticipation of a third season pick-up.  Among the numerous stories I wanted to tell was our own version of the time loop episode.  And so, after breaking our first three episodes, we sat down to beat out the story.  We went back and forth, argued, hit roadblocks, reconsidered and then, by day’s end, we had…absolutely nothing.  I went home that night, came up with second narrative attack, and presented it to the room – only to have it go up in flames.  Eventually, we tabled Episode 304: The Time Loop Episode, and moved on to Episode 305.  By the we wrapped up the season 3 writers’ room, we had 7 outlines for the first 8 or so episodes.  I don’t have to tell you which episode we never got around to breaking.

That summer, I wrote the scripts for Episode 301 and 303 but, before sitting down to start on 304, I decided to do a little research.  And said research involved me reading Dick’s “A Little Something for Us Tempunauts”, and watching movies like Run Lola Run and Groundhog Day and Source Code, and checking out t.v. episodes like Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Cause and Effect”, The X-Files’ “Monday”, Supernatural’s “Mystery Spot”, Farscape’s “Back and Back and Back to the Future”, Futurama’s “Meanwhile” and “The Late Philip J. Fry”, Star Trek: Voyager’s “Coda”, and a lot more.  I wanted to distill the time loop narrative to its structural touchstones, and then write the greatest time loop episode ever – one that honored what came before but would be uniquely Dark Matter in its approach.

I was, admittedly, scared to death as I sat down, sans outline that Saturday morning, and started writing.  And, as I wrote, the pieces of the story started falling into place: the mid-loop start, harried THREE, the Android’s assist, third time’s the charm, the complication, the flash-forwards, the treasure trove of teasers.  I ended up writing 32 pages that day, the most I’ve ever written in one sitting, then finished the script the following day.  And then I slept for about 12 hours.

The episode was directed by Ron Murphy and he did a terrific job in delivering one of the craziest episodes we’ve ever done on this show.

And then there’s the cast, lead by Anthony Lemke and his loopy THREE: Melissa O’Neill, Zoie Palmer, Jodelle Ferland, Ayisha Issa, Mishka Thebaud, Alex Mallari Jr., and guest star Michael Reventar – all of who tear it up.

Don’t believe me?  Check out Aimee Hicks’ preview at SpoilerTV or Tom Gardiner’s preview at ThreeIfBySpace or…

Greg David for TV, eh?: Things Get Loopy In Episode 4

We’ve gotten a mere peek at Anthony Lemke’s comic timing over the past two seasons. This week’s script allows him to go full-on and it’s a goshdarn treat. I won’t give anything away but I’ll admit I watched pretty much every scene Three was in with a stupid grin on my face. Even the soundtrack in those scenes is different, with a funky bass thump to note this isn’t your usual Dark Matter episode.

Jennifer Griffin for ScreenSpy: The Raza Crew Grapple With Time in Episode 304 “All The Time in the World”

I won’t lie. We’re kind of excited about this one.

Mary Powers at TVGeekTalk: Dark Matter Advance Preview: All The Time In The World

It’s been a while since we had a Three-centric episode, and this one reminded me of what a great talent Lemke brings to the role and how fortunate the series is to have him.

Seriously.  If you have plans tomorrow night that DON’T involve staying home to watch this episode of Dark Matter, change them!

Dark Matter Episode 304 – Friday, June 23rd at 9:00 p.m. EDT (6:00 p.m PDT) on SYFY and Space Channel.

 

 

 

Dark Matter – Backstage Episode 3.01 via SYFY:

Dark Matter – Backstage Episode 3.02 via SYFY:

SpoilerTV’s Aimee Hicks’ offers a non-spoilery preview of Episode 304: “All The Time In The World”

There are good episodes of television then there are exceptional hours and then there is this episode which defies all known ways to properly describe its epicness. Hands down and without competition, this episode is likely to land atop most viewers list of favorite episodes. It hits the ground running from the very first second until the very last one. And the revelations are jaw-dropping. We’re not talking tiny bits of information, but big massive marker points for the rest of the season and perhaps the series. This episode is huge and every single part of it is exceptionally well executed. No words exist to properly prepare any of you for what you’re going to see. Just be sure to remember to use the commercial breaks as an opportunity to catch your breath.

Episodic stills from this week’s episode…

In this episode, THREE (Anthony Lemke) gets thrown for a loop.

A clearly dubious Solara (Ayisha Issa) aint buying what THREE (Anthony Lemke) is pitching.

To those of you asking for that musical episode, this one comes closest!

TWO (Melissa O’Neil) and the Android (Zoie Palmer) sit in judgement.  Is THREE (Anthony Lemke) really the victim of a temporal complication or is he losing his mind?

 

So, the people across the street and two doors down have put THEIR house up for sale…coincidentally, a week after we put OURS on the market.  Seriously, dudes. They’re having an open house this Saturday and I intend to swing by, posing as a potential buyer.  At some point, when it’s at its most crowded, I will casually (and loudly) note: “Hey, for just a little more money, you can get the much nicer house up the block.  It’s bigger, brighter, and NOT HAUNTED!”.

The power wash guy came by yesterday and did a top to bottom cleaning of the house exterior.  The stonework, the walkways, even the ornamental garden Buddha look brand spankin’ new.  Tomorrow, the photographer comes by to take some snaps of the house for the listing.  After that, it’ll be smooooooth sailing…until, ugh, another round of back to back two-hour open houses this weekend.

No matter how things shake it, I have a feeling I’ll be pleased.  One the one hand, we can sell the house and cash out of the market, buy a nice place somewhere else and bank the difference.  On the other hand, we can keep the house and adopt this guy Akemi has her eye on…

Suji desperately needs a brother to boss around.

My man Tom Gardiner explains Why Dark Matter 304 Is The Ideal Episode For New Viewers

While the episode brings up past events and hints at future ones, none will detract from a new viewer’s enjoyment. In fact, these events will serve as an enticement to learn more rather than confuse or frustrate. And this episode is funny as hell. Everyone loves to laugh, and this is easily the most comedic episode of Dark Matter to date. If you watch, you’ll see the comedy isn’t just for laughs, but is also integral to both the story and character development.

Meanwhile, I talked to Space.com’s Elizabeth Howell about Dark Matter’s third season:

War Is Coming In This Season Of Syfy’s Dark Matter

In the spirit of “Breaking Bad” or “The Sopranos,” the new season of Syfy’s “Dark Matter” will continue to offer weekly surprises and twists for its fans, promised showrunner Joseph Mallozzi in an interview with Space.com.

Love this article.  Wired’s Adam Rogers says Sci-Fi TV Doesn’t Have to Be ‘Prestige” – It Can Just Be Fun

Dark Matter and Killjoys both follow crews of spaceship-flying antiheroes—amnesiac criminals in the former, working-class bounty hunters on the latter—struggling against various interplanetary conspiracies. Wait, you think. Isn’t that just Firefly with a Canadian accent? Well, yeah, but also: no! For one, that trope goes way back. (What, no one remembers Blake’s 7?) But for two, the trope-y-ness works, because in the right hands, a “trope” is just a structure for making stories you care about.

Another day (or two), another episode broken.  This one, Episode 4.03.  That ending!  Gaaaah!  AmIRight?!!!

We spent the last couple of hours of the day spitballing Episodes 4.04 and 4.05. I’m hoping we can roll right into the breaking them tomorrow morning.  We need to have seven outlines by the time we’re done next Friday, or nobody’s going home!!!

I’ve noticed a number of you have posed questions in this blog’s comments section about the direction of the show.  I will be answering all of your questions – over the next few weeks as each new episode airs.

Have heard from five different people who watched screeners of this Friday night’s episode, “All The Time In the World”, and actually took the time to message me and tell me how much they enjoyed it.  Thanks for that.  Tell your friends!  If there’s one episode you don’t want to miss, it’s this one!

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