So I’m sitting at my desk, working on my script, when my writing partner Paul strolls in, tape measure in hand. “Hold this,”he says, handing me one end and casually walking to the other side of the office, unfurling the thing so he can get the exact length of the room.
“Uh, what are you doing?”I ask him.
“Two hundred and thirty-one inches,”he notes as the tape measure retracts back with a snap. And then, on his way out: “Working on those blog questions.”
He emailed me his responses an hour later. I can’t help but think how much better off financially we’d both be today if he turned his scripts around as quickly. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this rare glimpse into the mind of one of Stargate’s most prolific writers (especially if you count those uncredited rewrites).
And get those questions in for actor Mike (Kiryk) Dopud!
Karen writes: “Thank you for taking the time to answer some fan questions.
You and your partner Joe seem to get along famously, where /when / how did you guys become friends and writing partners? Also, what do you like to do in your spare time, for fun?”
Paul: We met, as I recall, around 1985-86, in a creative writing class. We also had some mutual friends. There may have been Dungeons and Dragons involved. I don’t like to think about it. As for the second part of your question, let me put it this way – I have a daughter who’s about to turn three, another daughter who’s 19 months old, and a son who’s five months old. In other words, I have no spare time. Or fun.
Sessy writes: “Question for Paul Mullie: what’s the reasoning behind taking the city back home? And by that I mean, was this something that was written because this turned out to be the last episode of Atlantis, or was this originally planned as the season’s cliffhanger? Does it have anything to do with the storyline of the upcoming Atlantis movie?”
Paul: Most of what became Enemy at the Gate was originally planned because it was going to be our 100th episode, as well as the last episode of the season. When we found out it was also going to be the series finale, that just made it even more appropriate.
Anne-Marie Sloan writes: “WHY has Paul Davis never been promoted past Major in the last 12 years, while many other people including Walter Harriman has received promotions??? This has become a lively debate over there and has now reached 3+ pages!!!”
Paul: Hmm. Good question. My guess it’s because he won’t play the game, y’know? Sucking up to the brass, making sure he gets noticed, that sort of thing. Also, he’s not afraid to say what he thinks, even if he knows it’ll piss off the wrong people. As for Harriman, everyone knows he’s a kiss-ass.
Johnny E. writes: “1. Joe is a self described comic book villian fan (Darkseid, Deadpool, Doom, Mysterio, etc.), do you have any favorite comics, or characters?
2. I know on the commentary for season 4’s episode “Prodigy” you and Joe Sang the theme song ya’ll had written for the show. Who really wrote it? or was it truly a collabrative effort. Thanks!”
Paul: I’ve never been much of a comic book guy, although I did teach my daughter the complete lyrics to the Spiderman theme. As for the Stargate song, that was all me. Joe wouldn’t know a good lyric if you hit him over the head with it. His all time favorite song is “Go” by Tones on Tail, which feature the chorus “Ya ya ya ya ya ya y-ya yaaa.” That pretty much tells you all you need to know.
Erika writes: “Thank you for talking to us first off and my question for you out of the all the regulars characters on Stargate and Atlantis which one was the hardest to write for and who was the easiest?”
Paul: I find the hardest characters to write for are Teyla and Ronon, because their skill sets don’t always apply, especially in space. That’s why we added that bit about Teyla taking some training in ship systems in The Daedalus Variations.
Chevron7 writes: “Thanks for taking the time to venture out of hermitdom into scary fan world. Kudos on Enemy at the Gate. You made me cry. […] 5. Who has the bigger office, you or Joe?”
Paul: That is a very good question. Our offices are basically mirror images of each other, although decorated differently. I always assumed they were the exact same size, but your question got me thinking, so I got a tape measure and checked. Turns out my office is 238 inches long, which makes it a full seven inches longer than Joe’s. I would be happy to see the wall moved, in order to correct this terrible oversight, but I’m pretty sure it’s load-bearing, so what can you do?
Todds Worshipper writes: “No.1. Why did you write Sheppard as being so horrible to Todd in Enemy at the Gate?
Todd doesn’t deserve it at all, he has suffered in many ways: frequent loss of his own hive ships, nearly dying from radical treatment, so he could stop feeding on humans and even changing into stupid clothes (why a black T-shirt underneath? that was cruel to us;))
He has saved their lives (Infection), helped in the war against the Replicators and has just handed them the ZPM’s to save Earth!
I expected a little hostility between them, but Shep went too far. Like the line “To be honest, I didn’t think you were going to live!”
Just as well Todd’s above all of Shep’s hot air and didn’t react to any of it.
No.2. WHY did you not show us so much as a glance of Todd’s feeding hand. We want to know if he was restored fully by the bug or just partially?
Please tell us, does Todd have a feeding hand in EatG??
No.3. Thankyou for leaving Todd’s story unended because I’ve been praying for him to be in the SGA movie. This is now a strong possibility! Right???!!!
No.4. When Sheppard called Todd “Todd” at the beginning, did Todd not hear him? Or if he already knew, are there deleted scenes somewhere that show him first finding out what Shep named him? Can we please have this and lots of other yummy “Todd” deleted scenes on the Season 5 release? and can the release also please be available on Blu-ray??? (For the UK-Aus market as well as the US)
No.5. Can you please scrap SGU and make SGW instead?
StarGate Wraith! We would love that, but Christopher Heyerdahl has to be in it, as Todd.”
Paul: Holy Crap, you don’t call yourself “Todds Worshipper” for nothing, do you? Not that I have a problem with that. He’s a great character, played by a very talented and dedicated actor (Chris Heyerdahl). I’m not sure I can answer all your questions satisfactorily, but I would like to clear one thing up. Todd is very much back to being a full-fledged human life sucker at the beginning of this episode. I realize it wasn’t that clear, and a lot of people have asked the question. What happened was, originally in the first scene, when Todd said the treatment was successful he added something about being “fully restored.” Woolsey then asked him “does that mean you’re back to feeding on humans?” To which Todd responded “I am exactly as I was,” or something like that, meaning “damn right I’m back to feeding on humans.” But then the network wanted a scene with Keller earlier in the show (as it stands, she only shows up about three quarters of the way through and it’s a little jarring), so I cut that dialogue and added a whole separate scene at the top of Act One where Sheppard goes to Keller, who’s done an exam on Todd, and SHE tells him he’s back to feeding. But then it got cut for time. That scene and several other moments that were trimmed out will be available at some point in a special extended version, I’m guessing on DVD.
Ytimyona writes: “[…] 4) Was there more about the “wormhole drive” that was cut out? What exactly constitutes a wormhole drive?”
Paul: 4) A wormhole drive is just that – a drive that sends the ship through a wormhole, like a person stepping through an active gate. The advantage being that you don’t “travel” through hyperspace for hours on end. You get de-molecularized, or whatever you want to call it, and then spit out at the other end a few seconds later. It’s basically instantaneous, which is why I needed it as a device in this episode. Some people have complained that it was a bit of a deus ex-machina, to which I don’t really have much of a defense. At one point, Brad was thinking about using this as a set-up for a similar drive in Stargate Universe, but he’s since changed his mind. But since it IS set up now, Joe and I do intend to use it as part of the story for the Atlantis movie.
Trish writes: “Hi! Thanks for stopping by here! I feel very honored!
My question is really from me and my friend Kimberly (aka kdvb1): My favorite episode of all time is SG-1’s Window of Opportunity. What Kimberly and I would like to know is, was Jack eating Fruit Loops as a joke because he and Teal’c kept looping? Kimberly realized the connection. So we are both wondering if that was intentional.
And then my other question is more of a thank you. I was really touched by the renaming of the Phoenix to Hammond. I know Don S. Davis was a great man. And I miss him terribly. So thanks for giving him a moment in the final episode of Stargate Atlantis.”
Paul: Neither Joe nor I came up with the “Froot Loops” (or “Frooty Loops” or whatever our legal clearances people made us call them) gag. That was someone’s brilliant idea on set, I guess. I can only assume the reference was intentional. I’m glad you appreciated the Don. S. Davis tribute. Several others were kind enough to say the same. We knew Don had a history of heart problems, but his death still came as a total shock, at least to me. We originally talked about doing an “in memoriam” card at the end of the show, but then I thought, if he’s gone, then the character of General Hammond is gone too, and so maybe we should acknowledge that. Renaming the ship seemed like an appropriate way to do that.
StellaByStargate writes: “With Area 51 destroyed, are we to assume that all the other really cool technology (including possibly some Asgard tech) that was being researched there was lost as well? Also…was The General Hammond under construction at Area 51 and if so, what happened to it?”
Paul: Well, I don’t think it was totally destroyed. Just the building that housed the chair…and maybe that time traveling puddle jumper from “Moebius”.
JoJoB writes: “All through seasons 3 and 4 Rodney rarely went off world without a P90 (unless they had another team with them). By the end of season 5 he rarely had a P90 and in Identity and EATG he didn’t even have a TacVest. Joe’s answer was that he doesn’t carry the P90 if he doesn’t think he’ll need it. So my question is: Why wouldn’t Rodney have a P90 when there were only 4 of them invading the Wraith ship and they knew they’d probably have to fight their way through? Heck, without the TacVest he didn’t even have a bandage for Ronan (not that it would have helped but still). It just seems like an odd choice.”
Paul: You would think that, as both Executive Producer and writer of this episode, I would have been the one to decide that McKay shouldn’t have a vest or a P-90 on the mission. Barring that, you would think that at the very least I would have been consulted by those making the decision. Barring THAT, you would think that at the very, very least, I would’ve noticed. Sadly, you would be wrong on all counts.
Trish also writes: “My sister, Colleen, wants to know: If Ronon was dead how could the wraith bring him back to life? The wraith can’t feed off of dead humans so how could they restore life to someone who’s already dead?”
Paul: He was only a little dead.
Davidd writes: “Hi Paul. First of all, thanks for 5 great years of entertainment! Secondly (if that’s a word), I have a couple of questions if you don’t mind:
1) What has been your favourite episode of SGA you wrote?
2) Is Joe often hard to work with, or usually easy-going?
3) Why do you choose to write as a partner wth Joe, as opposed to on your own?”
Paul: 1) My favorite episode of SGA that I wrote was The Last Man.
2) Usually he’s pleasant enough, unless he’s on one of his no-sugar-for-two-weeks-because-I-just-got-back-from-Japan-and-I-made-a-total-pig-of-myself kicks, in which case he’s just a pain in the ass.
3) For all his many, many, many faults, Joe is a finisher, and I’m not. If it weren’t for him, I’d just dick around endlessly and I probably wouldn’t have a career.
Morjana writes: “[…] 2) Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for many years, I noticed that Atlantis was NOT in San Francisco Bay, but outside the Bay, in the Pacific, looking into San Francisco Bay, through the Golden Gate Bridge . (Which is why you can see the Berkeley Hills in background, and the Fort Point arch on the right hand side of the bridge.) I’m presuming Atlantis landed way further out in the Pacific, and then somehow made its way to the San Francisco area. Was this written in homage to Star Trek, as Star Trek Academy and Starfleet Command are based in San Francisco…in the future, of course?”
Paul: A lot of people have asked about the Star Trek connection, so let me explain what happened. We knew we wanted the city to come down somewhere on Earth. We also knew we wanted some recognizable landmark to be visible once it was down (if they were just in the middle of the ocean, the view wouldn’t have been any different from the way it was in Pegasus for the last five years.) In my mind, the city would have to come in at an angle over open water, then land – as softly as possible – within sight of a coast. But what coast? What landmark? Martin and Carl were insistent that it should be the Statue of Liberty, but when you Google Earth it, you realize it’s almost completely surrounded by land. There’s just no real open water there. Tough to bring the city down and leave it there cloaked for any length of time without anyone noticing and/or getting killed. And so we settled on San Francisco and the Golden gate, and I was very insistent that it be the view from the ocean looking into the bay, and not the other way around, as you noticed. As for the Star Trek connection, I’m sad to say it was a pure coincidence.
Special writes: “Do the writers ever discuss how the marginalization of Ronon and Teyla contributes to rather horrifying racial and sexual politics of this show?”
Paul: I love the way this question is phrased. It’s like, “Mr. Mullie, do you and the other writers ever sit around and discuss what jerks you all are?” To which, I guess the short answer is, no.
RangerOne writes: “*How does the Wraith in Vegas know the location of the Ancient chair?”
Paul: Several people asked this, or related questions. My guess is that, as their hive was being attacked by drones, the Wraith would have been able to calculate the exact coordinates of the place where the hostile fire was coming from – that is, Area 51. Those were the coordinates the surviving Wraith sent in his message, which is how the super hive in our reality got them.
Sorrykb writes: “Did you encounter any resistance from other writers or producers or others to the idea of bringing Atlantis back to Earth?
OK, one more question for Mr. Mullie: What made you finally decide to do a Q&A and subject yourself to the slings and arrows of internet fandom? Are you insane?”
Paul: Resistance? From who? Carl? Martin? Pffft. They wouldn’t dare. As for your other question, I just figured it’s the last episode, so why not?
Anyway, thanks to all of you for watching the show and caring enough to voice your opinions.