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So, that finale…

Yeah.

I’ll avoid commenting suffice it to say we are hard at work, providing answers to a few of the, uh, outstanding questions we were left with at episode’s end.  And, I guarantee you – BIG answers coming your way in season 3.

But, for now, I’m still enjoying Japan with Akemi.

Yesterday, we were super lazy, sleeping in (after our 40+ piece sushi extravaganza) and only getting out of a bed a little after 7 am.  Then, we headed to Tsukiji Market where I did a little Periscope session –

Tsukiji Market Periscope

Still getting the hang of these damn things.  At least I know to title them before starting.  Now, all I need to do is keep them to around 5 minutes – oh, and, uh, avoid saying “basically”, “actually”, and “uh” and they’ll be perfect.  Stay tuned!

So, after breakfast, Akemi and I went our separate ways.  Temporarily.  I headed off to a regular (annual) lunch favorite of mine, Butagumi, with my friend Moro-san.

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This appetizer is unbelievable and, dare I say it, the best thing on the menu: crispy pork, garlic, green onions, soy and shichimi spice.  I always get a double-order.

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Three types of pork – Iberico, natta-buta, and a third one I can’t remember…that was actually my favorite.

While I was at Butagumi, Akemi was in Shinjuku checking out the sights:

“There are a bunch of geek people taking pictures of this wall…”

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We got together again in Omotesando where we paid another visit to La Maison de Chocolat.  Not pictured – my ice cream sundae.

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An ad for what looks like a new yakuza cooking show.  Akemi suggests we could do our own version: “Cooking with THREE”.

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Checking out the Belgian beer festival in Roppongi.  Akemi stops to admire the giant fries.

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The city is dotted with “kobans”, police boxes (more like kiosks).  They update a daily count of the city’s injuries and fatalities.

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A walk through a surprisingly quiet Harajuku yields this fabulous find: Transformer longboards.

Yesterday saw us shattering our previous step count record by racking up an impressive 25k+ steps

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Tonight, following the season premiere of Z Nation, it’s the season 2 finale of Dark Matter.

This episode changes everything.  Trust me.  Fans are going to be feeling passionate after this one.

And, while you’re all watching Dark Matter, I’ll be continuing my Tokyo travels.

Yesterday, we took the shinkansen from Osaka (arriving in a lightning 2.5 hours).  Check out the view outside the window…

Zippy, no?

We did a lot more walking, this time through Roppongi, before finally ending up at our very favorite sushi restaurant in the world: Sushisho Masa.  Now, the thing that differentiates Sushisho Masa from every other high end omakase sushi restaurant is the sheer inventiveness and variety of sushi.  All other places will serve a set number of pieces of nigiri, between 12 to 18, all usually top quality and fantastic. Masa, on the other hand, serves roughly 40 sushi bites, ranging from the grilled octopus shirako to melt-in-your-mouth tuna nigiri.  Last time we visited, Akemi could barely walk after her meal.  This time, she asked for the “josei portion” and, while she did leave the restaurant feeling full, she only insisted on an hour long post-meal walk.

Some of the highlights:

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Masa-san does something I’m never seen any other sushi chef do.  Before serving o-toro, the prized, highly marbled top end tuna belly, he carefully trims the paper thing individual fat layers.  He claims this results in a much more pleasurable taste and textural experience.  I’d have to agree.

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Masa-san and part of his team.  ’til next year!

Well, I’m off to the Tsukiji Market.  If I have time, be prepared for a live Periscope!

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Good morning!

The hotel (Intercontinental) upgraded us to a suite complete with kitchen so we took advantage by picking up some items at the local farmers’ market and shops and making breakfast.

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Giant figs, two types of dried mushrooms, Okinawa sea salt, garlic & thyme olive oil, three types of dried pepper, local honey, local tomato juice, local orange jelly, local thread peppers, and local yuzu-kosho paste.

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Akemi looking and feeling quite at home.

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The peppers were very tasty – and not particularly hot.  EXCEPT for the one Akemi got.  :)

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They were selling three types of eggs that differed by what the chickens ate.  The ones we picked up were pretty rich and delicious.

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Last night, it was unagi dinner with Akemi’s family: her brother, father, and mother.  We went to their favorite local eel restaurants (and mine!) Uoi.  We actually visited for lunch last time we were in town – and got a little TOUR as well.

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Appetizer: tempura shrimp paste wrapped in shiso and lotus root.

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Shirayaki.  Light, crisp, and possessed of a sweet, subtle flavor.

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Kabayaki dinner – This sauced version is darker, richer – and equally delicious.

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On the way back to our hotel, I couldn’t resist stopping for my favorite Japanese dessert.  Not macarons at chocolatier Jean-Paul Hevin.  Not the airy light seasonal maron cakes at revered patissier Hidemo Sugino’s shop.  Not the hand-crafted chocolates at La Maison du Chocolat.  I”m talking about the $1.50 Hattendon cream buns available in many fine Japanese subway stations.   I got the matcha (green tea) and the custard.  As amazing as I remembered them!

Hey, check it out!  It’s a sneak peek scene from this Friday night’s Dark Matter season finale:

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The plan was to enjoy two weeks off – after riding the non-stop production carousel since summer of 2014, stepping away from prep and post and scripts and notes  to just, finally, get away from it all for a modest 14 days before jumping back into it. A simple 2 out of 150 weeks to relax, recharge, and refresh.  You know?  A hard-earned rest after two seasons, 12 scripts, 5 major rewrites, and the plotting of another 13?  But this would appear to be easier said than done as, even halfway across the world, I can’t escape the seemingly endless production-related concerns.

Oh, but I’ll try anyway.

Today was our last day in Tokyo – for now – as we’re catching the bullet train to Osaka to spend time with Akemi’s family.  I was, admittedly, a little leery about what Akemi had planned for the day – a four hour chocolate-making course in Japanese – but I made it work because, hey, I’m all about collaboration.  I’m a freakin’ team player, right?

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We arrive at a little before 10:30 a.m. for the start of production.  Chocolate production that is.  Our hosts are the Tokyo branch of San Francisco’s Dandelion Chocolate.

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I kill time by ordering one of my many chocolate-themed snacks of the day.  In this case, a spicy hot chocolate.  Akemi ate my cookie and marshmallow.

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The plan, not unlike a production prep schedule, complete with timings, structured progressions, and random chocolate tastings.

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My impeccable Japanese penmanship on display.  The name tag says simply “Joe”.  “Creator/Executive Producer/Showrunner” would have taken most of the afternoon.

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Your final product is only as good as your starting ingredients like, say, the best raw cacao beans or best written scripts.

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But before you use ’em, make sure to sort through them, removing problematic elements like feathers, nails, and ridiculous plot points.

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After that, it’s into the roaster where that amazing base ingredient acquires another level of characters – aroma, flavor, and special guest star casting.

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Once that’s done, it’s on to the winnowing where the heavier nib is separated from lighter, inedible skin.  The nibs are like really great script moments like the Android speaking in varied accents or THREE reducing FIVE to tears when he tells her he doesn’t care for her, not because she thinks he DOESN’T care for her but because, in so doing, it make her realizes how much he truly DOES.  The skin is like those suspect creative intrusions that get cast off in prep week.  Hey, how about making the corporate guard an oboe?

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Producing chocolate is not unlike producing television.  It’s the ingredients that make the final product.  In this case, we elect to go with a delightful Belize/Trinidad 75% blend, sort of like marrying phenomenal director Ron Murphy with a script written by the talented Paul Mullie.

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And into the processor it goes.  Day 1!  Scene 1!  Interior Raza Bridge!

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Blitz!  Melissa O’Neil wants to tweak a line of dialogue.  Anthony wants to ad-lib a little at the end.  You say yes and the end result surpasses what you’d originally envisioned because your cast is awesome and totally in sync with the material, their characters.

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From the food processor to the melanger, segueing from prep week to production. The nibs are ground, transformed from their humble script-like beginnings to something completely different and, hopefully, wonderful.

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Before getting right into it, whether it be chocolate-making, production oversight, or 11th hour issues, it’s always best to be prepared.  I imagine that this is how the cast and crew see me whenever I show up on set.  The reaction: “Oh, shit!”.

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Snack break #2 as the grinding process takes time.  20 minutes in the case of chocolate; about 8-10 days for an episode of Dark Matter.  A sweet and salty dulce de leche dessert accompanied by a bittersweet European hot chocolate that was pretty damn close to pudding.

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Next, Akemi adds the sugar – 25% of the total package leaving us with a 75% dark chocolate blend – or, in production terms: directed by Ron Murphy, written by Paul Mullie, guest starring sweet, sweet Marc Bendavid.

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Then, we have to step away and allow the sugar and cacao to melange, usually 2-4 days.  This is like delivering the dailies to the editor who then spends days assembling his/her edit.  While this is happening, we go out for ramen.  I order clam broth and pork with an egg, a side of cod roe on ice, and a request to really let those awesome VFX beats breathe.

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And snack #3: dessert smore with a dark chocolate center and a weird but uniquely tasty drink made from the fruit of the cacao plant.

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Oh yeah.  Almost there!  Check out the liquid gold director’s cut.  And send in those notes.

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Hopefully, it doesn’t get too messy.

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Alright.  Ready to head into battle once again.  Put on your battle armor.

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Temper your chocolate – and expectations – as you complete post-production. Lose the air.  Add sound effects and music.

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And color correct!  Akemi reminds us to color correct!

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And there you have it – roughly 30 bars of chocolate, or 13 episodes of television.

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Mariko-san and Masaaki-san, the chocolate-making equivalents of Executive Producer Vanessa Piazza and Supervising Producer Ivon Bartok.

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Ah, the satisfaction of a job well done.  But don’t get too comfortable!  Work begins immediately for the next (chocolate) season!

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So, what did you all think of last night’s Dark Matter double-header?

Thrilling?

Touching?

Shocking?

All of the above?

Do tell!  Leave your feedback in the comments section.  I’ll peruse your thoughts once I land in Japan!

In the meantime, enjoy some dog pics.  Bubba, Lulu, and special guest star Petunia!

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Tonight’s the night for a double dose of Dark Matter!  Things kick off at 7 pm PDT/10 pm EDT with –

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“Wish I’d Spaced You When I Had the Chance”

And then, immediately following, at 8 pm PDT/11 pm EDT, it’s –

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“Sometimes in Life You Don’t Get to Choose”

It’s going to be crazy!

The Nerd Elements sits down with Dark Matter’s THREE, Anthony Lemke:

DARK MATTER -- "Wish I'd Spaced You When I Had the Chance" Episode 211 -- Pictured: Anthony Lemke as Three -- (Photo by: Russ Martin/Prodigy Pictures/Syfy)

DARK MATTER — “Wish I’d Spaced You When I Had the Chance” Episode 211 — Pictured: Anthony Lemke as Three — (Photo by: Russ Martin/Prodigy Pictures/Syfy)

Anthony Lemke (THREE) is a Total Softy

Steve Eramo talks with Dark Matter‘s Tabor Calchek, David Hewlett:

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Catching Up With Dark Matter’s David Hewlett screen-shot-2016-09-09-at-3-55-54-pm

Pick up the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter and check out its “Catch Ontario’s Breakout Stars” article featuring Dark Matter’s FOUR, Alex Mallari Jr.

Well, that’s it.  I’m ready.  Ish.  Mostly packed.  Tomorrow, Akemi and I leave for Japan.  And this getaway could not have come soon enough.  We have two days in Tokyo (which will include a 4 hour chocolate-making course…entirely in Japanese), immediately followed by a bullet train ride to Osaka for four days with Akemi’s family, then back to Tokyo for the remainder of our stay.  Back to Vancouver on the 24th for 10 days and then it’s a return to Toronto for production on Dark Matter’s third season.  If you’re the intensely curious sorts, or just want sneak peeks of what we have in store for you in Year 3, you are in for a treat…

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Tomorrow night, it’s a Dark Matter double-header!

First up, starting at 7 pm PDT/10 pm EDT it’s “Wish I’d Spaced You When I Had the Chance” –

The crew races against time to track down and locate a missing Three and Five before the Galactic Authority gets to them first.

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This episode was directed by Mairzee Almas (Lucifer, The Last Ship, iZombie, The 100, Smallville – to name but a few).  It was my first time working with Mairzee.  She was an absolute joy to work with and she delivers an episode chock full of suspense, humor and, most importantly, heart.  Lots and lots of HEART!  I’m confident some of you will shed a few tears during this one.6

Immediately following, at 8 pm PDT/11 pm EDT, it’ll be “Sometimes in Life You Don’t Get to Choose”

Four’s loyalty is put to the test when he attempts to reclaim the throne of Ishida.

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This episode was directed by Will Waring (Continuum, Stargate: SG-1, Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: Universe).  This was NOT my first time working with Will. Some of my best memories of my time on Stargate of are the days I spent on set with Will.  And, this time out, it was just old times.  Love this guy – and his episode which promises twists, turns, surprises and an ending I’ve been planning for years!

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Thank you to Marizee and Will for delivering two of the most impactful episodes of the season!

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For a sneak peek at what these diabolical geniuses have in store for you, click on the link below and check out Akemi’s favorite scene from tomorrow night’s double-header:

The Misadventures of THREE and FIVE

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