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Actor Anthony Lemke (Dark Matter’s Three), forwarded me a terrific podcast about gendered robots and stereotypes.  The participants point out that female androids tend to be sexualized entities while their male counterparts are usually powerful forces.

http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-april-24-2015-1.3047057/ex-machina-s-portrayal-of-gendered-robot-perpetuates-stereotypes-1.3047064

It’s an interesting listen and it made me think of our ship’s android, played by the awesome Zoie Palmer, who is clearly atypical from the normal: a female android who isn’t sexualized but a force to be reckoned with.  On the surface, she is your standard logic-based robot but, as the first season progresses, viewers will come to realize there’s much, much more to our android.  In describing her the other day, I said she was much closer to Hitchhiker’s Guide’s Marvin and Red Dwarf’s Kryten than TNG’s Data.  Zoie has done a great job fashioning an incredibly endearing character.  Every time she pops up on screen, Akemi gleefully shouts “Zoie!”.  The Android scenes are her favorites!

Anyway, sometime soon, I’m going to start offering an introduction to the world of Dark Matter, covering everything from currency to intergalactic politics, ships to the characters and the amazing cast who will bring them to life.  Behind the scenes pics and anecdotes to come!

While you’re waiting, check out some of the early construction work done on our ship in late 2014, back when I was still wondering how we were ever going to pull this off…

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The door to the quarters.  No, lime green isn’t the final color.

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Nor is the ceiling orange.

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The exterior bridge.  I love it because it’s so damn unique.

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And early interior.  Check out the windows on top.

In the beginning…

Laying down the corridor’s running lights.

Mailbag:

arcticgoddess writes: “I love hearing about how you managed to sell Dark Matter. It goes to show just how hard it is to get into television. […] For your mailbag question, I’d like to ask, is there any other way to get into television besides the above mentioned methods?”

Answer: Several possibilities come to mind… 1. Have a really good agent or connection who can get your work in front of the right people, or 2. Use the momentum coming off your last hit project [note: prior to this, create a hit project], 3. Be related to or friends with someone who can push your project through, 4. Be very lucky.

riss writes: ” Joe, do you think that it would be better to read the comic books before watching the show, or to wait and read them after getting to know the TV show?”

Answer: Nope.  Tune in June 12th at 10 p.m. and enjoy the ride.

FargateOne writes: “Nous avons le canal SPACE au Québec. Sauf erreur de ma part, rien ne semble annoncer Dark Matter. Et SyFy n’est pas diffusé au Canada si je ne me trompe.  Pouvez-vous nous rassurer sur le fait que nous ne manquerons pas le 12 juin ?”

Answer: Je vous rassure que vous ne manqueriez pas Dark Matter.

Tam Dixon writes: ” What are you doing with your summer hiatus?”

Answer: Working on season 2.  Trying to set up a few more shows.

alexf85 writes: “Hi, Joe! I know it’s somehow off topic but I hope you won’t mind if I ask you a few questions about Stargate. Yes, it’s history but I still love it.  1. Could you please enlight me about the Asgard home galaxy? I mean it’s just ida or they moved to othalla after season 6? Is even existing this othalla galaxy or is just a writing mistake?”

Answer: From what I recall, one is the name of their home galaxy, the other the name of their home world.

“2. Is the supergate still functional?”

Answer: Last time I checked, it was.

“3. Are they rebuilding the intergalactic bridge between milky way and pegasus?”

Answer: I’d imagine that the midway station and any component gates were reassembled and rebuilt not long after the events of Mideway.

“4. What about the antarctic outpost? Is there any chance to find another control chair? To replace the one destroyed by the wraith. May be from Tria or even from the Tower? They could negotiate with the locals for it.”

Answer:  It’s a possibility but, last I heard, it has yet to be replaced.

“5. Who is the supreme leader of the system lords after Ra’s demise? the show is not so helpful in figuring that out. My thought is about Cronus being this next leader then Apophis after double jeopardy. From season 5 onwards it’s hard to determine. Anyway if you could tell me something about this leadership I would be in your debt :).”

Answer: SG-1 and Earth’s forces destabilized the System Lord Alliance, resulting in a fracturing and infighting amongst the various factions.

“6. What about Furling? Are they ascended beings along with the ancients? Are they the second of the four great races in terms of tecnological development, with the ancients being the first of course?”

Answer: I believe the latter.

“7. I know you said some things about the planet builders aliens from sgu, but are they more powerful than the ancients?”

Answer: Ancients past or present?

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I think I may have pulled my heart muscle.  Seriously.  I suspect I may have done it during a recent frenzied coughing fit.  During the day, I feel fine but at night, it feels as though I did two hundred left handed one-arm push-ups before bed.

Also feel a wicked headache coming on, the type that creeps up on you late Friday afternoon and lasts through the weekend, well into Monday…

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Started the morning with an 8 a.m. appointment for Jelly.  On the positive side, the ultrasound results came back clean.  No masses or shadows or missing car keys.

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On the negative side, her issues could be spinal, neurological, Cushing’s Disease, or a smorgasbord comprised of any variations of the the three aforementioned possibilities.

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One of the half dozen diagrams the specialist drew for us during our one hour visit.

Coming up: A visit to the neurologist!  More tests!  And an episode so shocking, you’ll crap your pants!  On the next Hell’s Kitchen!

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My ensuing editing session was fairly anticlimactic in comparison, mainly because director Ron Murphy and editor Teresa Hannigan did such a masterful job on this episode.  And the cast!  I texted each and everyone to tell them how much I enjoyed their performances.  Great, great episode!

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Speaking of masterful, check out the work of Noreen Landry and her costume department.  The uniform-in-progress is coming along quite nicely.  Gloves, boots and, to complete the look…

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One of these which cost a pretty penny because they are, apparently, bulletproof. We intend to test them tonight on story editor Trevor Finn.  No, not with actual bullets, silly.  Just slingshots and bottles.

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One of the fun aspects of production is seeing how late you can actually schedule a lunch.  “Lunch”, if you will, is six hours after unit call – so, if our day starts at 7:00 a.m., we’d be sitting down to lunch at 1:00 p.m.  Or, in today’s case, we started at 11:00 a.m. and sat down to lunch – our read-thru of episode #112 – at 5:00 p.m. Now, just biding my time until dinner which, if I’m correct, should be served a little after 1:00 a.m.

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Sympathy pains!  Not a day after I was feeling after my habanero-caffeine upset, my girl Jelly is feeling under the weather.  Apparently, she’s been alternately sleepy since she woke up – which is me on a normal day.

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Hey, look at what the Dark Matter art department got!  A 3D printer, perfect for making scale models of ships and such!

1 Set Designer Doug Slater shows off his latest creation.  I think it’s that box from Hellraiser.

Anyway, I told Doug that whenever he has time, between now and the wrap party, I’d like him to make me an Iron Man suit.  Will check in on his progress next week!

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In addition to the usual prep (episodes #112 and #113 with director Andy Mikita), production (director Martin Wood shooting scenes from episode #1111 in the ship’s underbelly), and post (notes on episode #109, directed by Ron Murphy), today was our international press junket.  Jay and I chatted with reporters from Australia, Canada, the U.K., Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Mexico, France, Germany, and Peru and then headed down to walk our standing sets.  After that, the group had a chance to quiz the cast about the show, their characters, and my deplorable eating habits.

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A good time was had by all.

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“I came here for this?!”  Toronto Star Entertainment Reporter Tony Wong gets photobombed by Dark Matter Executive Producer Vanessa Piazza.

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And we end the day in fine style, with a new addition to our ever-growing whisky/whiskey club: 17 year old Craigellachie compliments of episode #110 director (and Dark Matter stunt coordinator) John Stead.

Finally, I believe I already mentioned that, when we started the casting process for the show, we opened the roles up to all genders and ethnicities.  I’m incredibly happy with the cast we have, but here’s a taste of how slightly different the show could have looked…

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If yesterday’s late night insomnia gave me the taste of the vampire life, today’s sleep-deprived shambling no doubt approximated the daily travails of your average zombie.

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It started promisingly enough with dinner at Wilbur’s Mexicana where I was joined by my long-time nemesis and occasional writing partner, Tara Yelland.  The Wilbur in Wilbur’s Mexciana is Wilbur Scoville, the American pharmacist who devised the Scoville scale for testing the relative heat index of peppers…

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You know how most places have salad bars?  Well, this place had a hot pepper bar offering some six dozen assorted bottles of hot sauces ranging from “mild” to “you’re screwed”.  Given my high tolerance for the stuff, I elected to go with a couple of hot – but not insanely so choices: scotch bonnet and orange habanero which both clock in at 150k – 325k scovilles.  Compare to the wimpy jalapeño that comes in at somewhere between 2500 to 8000 scovilles.

They were spicy – but not inordinately so.  In hindsight though, that after-dinner ice cream craving was telling.  But, instead of ice cream, we headed to Buca Bar where we split a dessert platter that included samples of every sweet creation on the menu.  With the exception of the pistachio zeppole that I ordered anyway.

In a misguided effort to avoid any late night stomach upset, I decided to forego alcohol in favor on a double espresso with cream and coffee sugar.

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By the time we left, it had stopped raining and I was feeling like a million bucks!

By the time I got home ten minutes later, it was more like a buck and change and the remnants from the sandwich bag of dog kibble I try to pass off as “treats”.

Wired by the caffeine (I’m not a coffee drinker), I felt awake enough to watch Director Ron Murphy’s terrific cut of episode #109.  I turned in at a somewhat late but still respectable 12:30, setting my alarm for 7:00 a.m. so I could head into the office early and write up my notes for the editor.

Right about 1:00 a.m., I headed downstairs and popped an antacid, figuring I’d curtail my burgeoning indigestion and still manage to get in about five and a half hours sleep.

When I headed down for a second antacid at 1:30 a.m., I wasn’t feeling any better – but I was nevertheless optimistic about a good five hour sleep.

Around 2:00 a.m., as I lay wide awake in bed, a thousand thoughts blazing through my head, my stomach simply blazing, I began to grow concerned about my possible four and a half hours of shuteye.

By 3:00 a.m., I was well past concerned and headed downstairs for a home remedy of apple cider vinegar and carbonated water – which actually helped the indigestion.  But didn’t help my sleeplessness.

When 3:30 a.m. rolled around, I decided “Screw it!”, got up, took my laptop into the next room, and worked.  By the time I was done and had copied Paul and Ivon on my edit notes, it was some time after 5:00 a.m.

I’m pleased to report that I did eventually fall asleep at 5:30.  And, since I’d already completed those notes, was able to sleep in until a lazy 7:30.

Despite my sleep-addled stupor, I was able to get you the following pics.  So, as my father used to say: “Don’t complain I don’t get you anything!”

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Akemi bakes up pies for the cast and crew: pecan, and sour cream apple accompanied by sweet and unsweetened whipped cream.  Both were gone by the end of lunch, the pecan in less than ten minutes!

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Akemi helps me deliver the pies to the car.

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Director Martin Wood takes time off from shooting episode #111 to check out the Miss Hawaiian Tropic pageant happening across the lot.

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While, upstairs, Director Andy Mikita spent much of the afternoon trying to explain the True Detective finale to VFX Supervising Producer Lawren Bancroft-Wilson.

And that’s it!  It’s an early night for me.  Tomorrow = the press junket!

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I had the afterburners on today, casting, getting a new scene out, prepping episodes #112 and #1113, discussing the upcoming VFX show and tell, organizing the concept sketches for the visual roll-out, providing notes on the preliminary ship sounds.  A dinner break with my friend Tara Yelland (Follow her here – https://twitter.com/t_yelland – but be warned: she’s sassy!), then it’s on to a review of the director’s cut of episode #109.

Today…

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She wheels, she deals, she produces…and sews.  Dark Matter Executive Producer Vanessa Piazza does it all!

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But maybe she should just stick to wheeling, dealing, and producing.

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This afternoon, I perused hideous medical saw-induced flesh wounds with the lovely Lynda McCormack.  Who happens to preside over the Dark Matter make-up department.

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Dark Matter Story Editor Trevor Finn models the new uniforms.

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What the heck is the Dark Matter construction up to?

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Your guess is as good as mine.

Finally, came across this today.  It’s a short action film producer by Dark Matter Executive Producer (and President of Prodigy Pictures) Jay Firestone for his then ten 12 year old son, Ross, starring…12 year old son Ross.  With a special cameo by Jay Firestone himself (in the role of Dad).  And guest starring Victoria Pratt and Victor Webster (Mutant X fans)!  Fast-forward to 2015 and Ross will be turning 25 in May!  As far as memorable presents go, this one ranks up there!

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Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 5.36.33 PM

Duck for cover!  We’ve got a whirlwind four weeks of production left on Dark Matter’s first season.  After tonight, it’s 10 episodes down; 3 to go!  The finish line is in sight!  And, once all is said and done (well, in reality, with edits and mixes and ideas for season 2 percolating, it’s never REALLY done), I think I’ll sleep for a month.  June sounds good.  There’s never anything going on that month anyway.

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I imagine that, a few months down the line, this blog will be inundated with new visitors scouring the archives for tidbits and teasers.  To those fans of the future – welcome!  You’ve got a lot of catching up to do.  But feel free to do so, safe in the knowledge that these entries are spoiler-free.  Of course, it really depends on how you classify spoilers but, in my mind, there’s a marked difference between teasers and spoilers.  This, for instance –

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Is a teaser.  Whereas this (albeit censored pic) –

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Is a spoiler.

I was having this conversation today on a conference call with Dark Matter Executive Producer Vanessa Piazza and the gang from SyFy (Gary Morgenstein, Garrott Smith, and Samantha Agnoff).  I don’t want to wait until after the show airs to roll out the visual goodies.  I want to whet your appetites early with concept art, design work, 3D renders, and animatics.  We came up with a game plan and I’m hoping we can coordinate a launch sometime next week.

VolkavRusi_Crest

Nefarious Multiplanetary logo courtesy of the amazing Roxanne Boris – who is a regular reader of this blog.  Don’t believe me?  Check the comments section.

I’ve got a backlog of questions to answer, so let’s do this in instalments…

gforce writes: “What are your thoughts on the Nova Scotia government severely cutting the film production tax credit there? There seems to be a few repercussions already. Personally, I think it will be a big net loss for the province.”

Answer: For purportedly intelligent people, politicians tend to be amazingly short sighted.  They assume that cutting the tax credit will mean more money in government coffers when, in fact, the opposite will be true.  For instance, if a production is offered the choice between two locations, A (which offers a 15% tax credit) and B (which offers a 20% tax credit), it stands to reason they’ll choose to shoot in location B, the better deal.  Location A WILL NOT be receiving an extra 5% on whatever the production spent.  Location A will receive nothing because 15% of zero is zero.  Math so simple even a politician could understand.  Or maybe not.

ascreedintime writes: “When will you know if there will be a season two?”

Answer: If we start hot out of the gate, I’m hoping we’ll know by episode 3.  If not, I’d guess September at the latest.

ascreedintime also writes: “My music question from last mailbag was in reference to the songs from season one. Who helped pick them and will Dark Matter have something similar, or will it just be music?”

Answer: We went back and forth on this and, ultimately, decided to forego songs which some feel has a tendency to date a show.

no1zoierpalmerfan writes: “Will Itunes be offering the episodes for download the day after they air on SyFy? Any chance the show will be released on DVD at some point?”

Answer: Alas, no idea what the plans are, but I have no doubt episodes will be available in the unlikely chance you miss one.

shaneac1 writes: “…what I would like to know is what plans do you have for the future do you plan on staying in television or going the route joss whedon did and becoming a big time Hollywood filmmaker?”

Answer: I’m very happy doing what I’m doing.  Ideally, I’d like to create and run a few more shows, then retire to Japan.

astrumporta writes: “When will the first episode be ‘in the can’ and how far ahead will the eps be done before they air?”

Answer: The first episode will be in the can the third week of May, roughly three weeks before air.

paloosa writes: “How are the responsibilities of the show shared or divvied up between you and Paul?”

Answer: Paul is traveling back and forth between Vancouver and Toronto, producing five episodes this season.  As show runner, I’m here in Toronto overseeing the whole of production.

“Any big surprises that you have encountered during the production process that you had no idea were coming, good or bad?”

Answer: Oh, like any production, Dark Matter’s first season has been chock full of surprises – mostly good.  For instance, I was pleasantly surprised by how great and supportive the crew is.  A number of our standing sets have surpassed my expectations.  The cast developed a wonderful chemistry in no time at all.

“You mentioned a huge reveal in episode 113. Does that lead to an equally huge cliff hanger at the end of the first season?”

Answer: This show, as evidenced in its first season, is a series of set-ups and pay-offs, mysteries and revelations.  I wanted to approach the first year as one would the first instalment in a book series.  The first 13 episode block stands alone and, if the show doesn’t continue past season one (but perish the thought.  It will.), I’m very satisfied with the way in which it would end.

“And how is distribution different for DM versus SGA? Wasn’t Stargate also worldwide, or does worldwide encompass more countries than before?”

Answer: I don’t recall the distribution deals for Stargate, but I do know that the ones in place for Dark Matter will offer fans around the world, in over 90 countries, the opportunity to watch our show.

Ponytail writes: “After seeing first hand all the work involved in starting up a brand new series, are you glad your first season is 13 episodes long or would you have rather gone ahead and produced 20 episodes? Will season 2 be 20 episodes?”

Answer: Creatively, I prefer the 13 episode order.  Given the choice, I would prefer another 13 episode order for season 2.

Winst writes: “Will the Dark Matter show be able to be viewed on Syfy synced up to the Philips Hue lighting system?”

Answer: No idea.

Winst also writes: “What is the actual airing schedule of the Dark Matter episodes going to be like?One episode per week for thirteen straight weeks?..or will there be a split season with some time off in between a set number of episodes?:

Answer: From what I’ve been told, the full thirteen episode first season will be aired straight through in its entirety as part of the new SyFyFriday line-up.  No interruptions.

JustLookAtTheFlowers writes: “1/ Are any of the characters homosexual?”

Answer: Ah, information regarding our characters’ individual backstories and relations fall into spoiler territory for now (and if you’ve read the trade paperback, you’ll know why) as the better part of the show’s first season will be devoted to exploring who these people are and how they got onboard that ship.  We, the audience, will effectively be joining them on a journey of self-discovery.

“2/ Follow up: is homosexuality accepted in the future time period Dark Matter takes place in?”

Answer: The series takes place some two to three centuries into Earth’s future and humanity has come a long, enlightened way.  The issues of today are the non-issues of tomorrow.

“3/ What are race relations like in the world of Dark Matter?”

Answer: Vastly improved.

Elminster writes: “If you can’t tell us who the Canadian carrier for the show is, can you confirm that there IS a Canadian carrier? And whether or not it will be broadcast at the same time as SyFy?”

Answer: Alas, the Canadian broadcaster is holding off on making the grand announcement.  Not sure why.  Maybe they’re shy?  Anyway, did come across this the other day.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 7.49.08 PM Read into it what you will.

paloosa writes: “How many minutes will an episode run?”

Answer: About 43 minutes.

Scott writes: ” It seems to me that the older generation (people who’ve created and produced pre-2005 shows like yourself) knows how to make a proper sci-fi show. Serious, but lighthearted too, family-oriented with comedic moments. Like every version of Star Trek, Stargate, the original 1978 Galactica, Buck Rogers, Babylon 5, etc. But a lot of the newer generation simply doesn’t get the concept — i.e. they think sci-fi is always dark, gritty, full of blood and gore, based too much off realism instead of science fiction. Why do you think this is the case, where people like you understand the genre and what’s required to make a successful sci-fi program, while many others, to be frank, have no idea what the heck they’re doing? “

Answer: I had the good fortune to work on a long-running scifi franchise that combined action, adventure, camaraderie and humor to great success.  I believe I know what works because I believe I know what most SF fans want to see.  More Stargate and Guardians of the Galaxy and less…that other stuff.

Mike McGinnis writes: “1. If you could have made a spin-off show about a single character from Stargate, who would it be? Maybe pick one from each show?”

Answer: SG:1 = Vala Mal Doran, SGA = Rodney McKay, SGU = Ronald Greer.

“2. Did you have any ideas for Stargate Atlantis episodes that you thought were great that either no one else liked, budget issues, or studio approval kept them from getting made?”

Answer: Not especially.  We got to make pretty much every idea we pitched – with the exception of all those stories for SGA’s sixth season that never came to be:

https://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2008/09/30/september-30-2008-an-au-season-6/

“3. Does David Hewlett have the potential to appear in more than 4 episodes? Or is this going to be it for his run on Dark Matter?”

Answer: If David’s character, Tabor Calchek, survives the show’s first season (no guarantee), there is certainly opportunity for his to return in season 2.

anas ben writes: ” I want to know whats the difference between ur show and killjoys, the other series that ure going to be with on friday nights, it sounds that both re about space bounty hunters?”

Answer: Actually, Killjoys is about a trio of intergalactic bounty hunters while Dark Matter, well, isn’t.  Can’t speak for Killjoys, but our show will be super serialized.  From what I understand, the one thing the two shows do have in common is fun and a sense of humor.

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Star Trek has its trekkies, Firefly the browncoats, and the various Stargates their gaters (not gateheads as wiki would have you believe).  So, I figure that now, less than two months out from our world premiere, is as good a time as any to come up with a name for our Dark Matter fandom.

First, the show…

“The crew of a derelict ship awakens from stasis with no memories of who they are or how they got onboard.  Naming themselves numerically in the order in which they woke up, ONE through SIX, they begin their search for answers.  Facing threats at every turn, they have to work together to survive a voyage charged with vengeance, betrayal, secrets, and shocking revelations.”

So, what do you think?  Suggestions?  Army of Darkness?  The Crazy 8’s?  Marauders?

I’ll leave you to it.

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