Al-most there! I hit the 54 page mark of my second script for Transporter: The Series today. I’ll take the night to think about the big showdown, then write it tomorrow along with the final scenes (surprise, goodbye, flashback, and SHOCK – in that order) after which I’ll be all done. On the first draft anyway. Paul continued work on his script for (what will now be episode 2). And Alexander…oh, he kept busy as well…
The conference call scheduled for this afternoon has been rescheduled to tomorrow. Rather than head home to consider the unique qualities of the episode 5 beatdowns, I hung around to do a quickie interview for Canada’s Space which will follow up Tuesday night’s series finale, Gauntlet, with a special Stargate-laden installment of Innerspace. From what I hear, they got A LOT of interviews with Stargate personalities – David Blue, David Hewlett, Amanda Tapping, Christopher Judge, Louis Ferreira, Alaina Huffman, Brian J. Smith, and Jewel Staite (to name a few) – who’ll be talking about the franchise and its fans. Don’t miss it!
Interesting editorial over at Gateworld today: http://www.gateworld.net/news/2011/05/how-wrestling-is-killing-science-fiction/
Also, file this one under “You just noticed?”: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/03/business/media/03television.html?scp=1&sq=tv%20ownership&st=cse Thanks to Chad for the link.
Also, couldn’t resist including a link to one of the stupidest articles I’ve read in some time – http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/eerie-links-between-harry-potter-184109 The “eerie links” cited? Well, both Bin Laden and Voldemort are bad guys with bad minions (Al Queda and the Death Eaters respectively), Obama has been referred to as “the anointed one” by critics which is how Harry is referred to in the books (!), and Bin Laden died on May 1st while Voldemort perished on May 2nd (only one day apart!!!!). Compelling, no? No, I didn’t think so either.
Continuing our trip down memory lane, I pick up where I left off in the middle of SG-1’s fifth season.
One of the things I’d often heard about was the toxic on-set atmosphere on certain other shows. I remember being told that things got so bad on one SF series that, the second the director yelled “Cut!”, the actors would march straight back to their trailers with nary a word or a look exchanged. The crew was always on edge and it made for a very difficult working environment. This was in marked contrast to Stargate where the mood was almost always relaxed and, dare I say it, a hell of a lot of fun. Everyone enjoyed being there, and much of the credit for that rested with Richard Dean Anderson. It’s often been said that number one on the call sheet sets the tone, and it’s true. If your number one is miserable, he’ll make every single person on set miserable as well. If, on the other hand, your number one is a t.v. veteran who loves what he’s doing and feels life is too short for petty on-set squabbles or power plays, then that positive attitude tends to influence the entire production. Hey, I’m not saying it was always easy and that people never disagreed (ie. Boy, did Rick ever hate Prometheus) but there was always that mutual respect and sense that, in spite of any differences, all the parties would be back at it the next day, sharing a laugh and having a great time. Rick, as I said, set the tone. He was always good-humored and charming. Amanda was an utter sweetheart, adept at pulling off the most challenging of tech talk in front of the camera, yet incredibly and down to earth behind it. Michael was passionate and incredibly focused, but also kind and thoughtful. Chris was the exact opposite of the stoic character he played: magnanimous, boisterous, generous. And then there was Don, the southern gent, who, in many ways, was very much like the character he played: amiable, principled, and very likable. And, over the years, through the show’s many changes, that’s how they remained. Simply great people to work with.
DESPERATE MEASURES (511)
A couple of things stand out for me about this episode. The first was that ridiculously long search sequence near episode’s end that included endless shots of Teal’c and Daniel going up and down stairs. Yes, the episode was short! Another thing was a slight dialogue change in O’Neill’s scene with the homeless man. In the original version, O’Neill says “Yeah, and I’ve got a closet full of Playboys…”, but after some consideration (aka – getting a note requesting we change it), we elected to go with “National Geographics” instead which, while less Jack O’Neill, was certainly more Richard Dean Anderson. Also the original draft of the script had a couple of very funny exchanges between the doctors who perform the procedure but after further consideration (aka – we received a note that O’Neill provided more than enough comedy for the episode and we didn’t need the guest stars delivering as well) we decided to love them.
Oh, boy, where to begin? Over the years, I’ve referenced the multitude of in-jokes in this episodes, from the red spray-painted kiwis (a dig at Director Peter DeLuise who used those very alien-looking fruit in Beneath the Surface) to Hank Cohen’s cameo as a studio executive who suggests the show needs “You know what this show needs is a sexy female alien.” (art imitating life). There’s our faux t.v. hero trying to negotiate a veritable minefield of corpses (a call back to The Fifth Man), someone ridiculing the one shot stuns, two shots kills, three shots disintegrates abilities of the alien weapon (Hello, zat guns), further ridiculing of doing an episode involving “out of phase” physics (we did plenty), another character’s assertion that they’ll surely win an Emmy…for visual effects (the best any scifi show can hope for), and much, much more. The part of Grell, the Teal’c clone, was actually played by Chris Judge’s stand-in, Herbert, while the episode offered a host of cameos from behind-the-scenes personnel including a much heavier yours truly who demands to know “Hey, what happened to all the doughnuts?!”. I recall Director Peter DeLuise making me do three takes, directing me: “You’re hungry! You want some doughnuts! But there are none! You’re really hungry!” then “No doughnuts and you’re REALLY hungry!” and then: “Okay! REALLY HUNGRY!”. The day that scene was shot, I found my wardrobe awaiting me in the office: a lime green shirt and a pair of atrocious lime green plants. I wore the shirt but passed on the pants. Apparently, our Costume Designer did not take the news well. “Writers,”she apparently muttered with a roll of her eyes.
I would love to dig up the outtakes and extra footage on this one. One scene that ended up on the cutting room floor involved the character of Teal’c. SG-1 and Hammond are watching the Wormhole Xtreme trailer at which point we do a PAN OFF the screen, across the briefing room table to Teal’c laughing uproariously and enjoying the hell out of the show – much to the bewilderment of his fellow team members.
PROVING GROUND (513)
Some episodes you hate at the pitch stage but end up warming up once the story has been broken. Others, you hate at the outline stage but end up actually liking once the script comes in. Still others, you may hate at the script stage but love once the episode is completed. This is one of those rare episodes that I took issue with from start to finish and, to this day, ranks as one of my least favorites. Why? Because it’s not about our characters. That and the all-too predictable late twist that anyone who has ever watched television before will see coming a mile off. On the other hand, the episode was notable for an appearance by a then relatively unknown Grace Park as one of the young cadets.
48 HOURS (514)
The working title for this episode was Teal’c Interrupted, but later changed to 48 Hours. I was extremely disappointed. I figured, hey, if you can call an episode Watergate, you should be able to call another one Teal’c Interrupted! The episode kicks off with the shocking death of Tanith, shocking insofar as he was a mid-major villain who suddenly and all too quickly buys it in spectacularly unspectacular fashion. From what I recall, we were unable to reach a deal with the actor on another episode and, rather than leave the character dangling, elected to write him out instead. This episode also saw the introduction of one Dr. Rodney McKay (“Rodney?”I remember asking Rob at the time. “Is that the name you want to go with?”), an insufferable ass who, over the course of the franchise’s run, ended up redeeming himself in surprising fashion.
Boy, the costume department had a field day with this one! This episode was a try-out of sorts, an audition for future system lords. I drew on a variety of different cultures, creating a colorful rogues gallery. The hope was that if one popped, we could use him/her in future episodes. Well, one did: the exquisitely evil Baal played by Cliff Simon. I remember working on a rewrite of my first draft when we received word that actor J.R. Bourne would not be able to reprise the role of Martouf due to scheduling conflicts. As a result, my rewrite was a little more extensive. Rather encountering the Martouf we knew, we encountered his symbiote, Lantesh, who had taken a new host. It worked but, alas, was nowhere near as powerful as it could have been. I publicly toyed with the idea of not using a host body and simply having Carter bid a tearful, smooch-filled farewell to the little rubber snake – but it was more an attempt to irritate my fellow writer-producers than a serious pitch.
LAST STAND (516)
Back in the old days, SG-1 used to kill Jaffa with gay abandon. They were little more than cannon fodder for our team, nondescript bad guys who deserved everything that was coming to them. Except, as time wore on, knocking off the goa’uld’s foot soldiers wasn’t as easy as it used to be because we started to explore an aspect of the Jaffa that had been glossed over in previous years: the fact that they were essentially pawns. Unlike the ruthless goa’uld who were motivated by a thirst for power, the Jaffa were misguided and knocking them off grew increasingly problematic. At the end of this episode, we massacre a slew of them with the deadly toxin that targets their symbiotes and, while it may have seemed a smart strategic move at the time, like the food pyramid, asthma cigarettes, and Coca-Cola for kids print ads, it was the sort of thing that eventually went out of style.