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Archive for the ‘science fiction’ Category

Viewers tune in for the hook, but they stay for the characters.  It’s a lesson I learned working on Stargate.  As much as fans enjoy the sense of adventure, the action, and the dazzling visual effects, it’s the characters at the heart of each show that draw them back, week after week.  Whether it’s SG-1, the Atlantis expedition, the crew of The Destiny, or the crew of The Raza, fans check in with the characters they love because they’ve formed a connection with them.  They are, in a way, extended family members they can visit with every time they watch an episode.

I think that one of the things that makes Stargate and Dark Matter special (and you can include Killjoys in this unique grouping) is that they offer science fiction fans something unique and, frankly, atypical of the genre – a sense of fun.  They offer fans humor, whether in the stories or the characters themselves, something that goes such a long way toward establishing and fostering that aforementioned connection.  And, while Wynonna Earp isn’t scifi, its genre chops and own underlying sense of humor makes it the perfect accompaniment to the existing SYFY Friday lineup.  It’s the network’s most watched and most buzzed about night of programming.  Back in 2011, Io9’s Charlie Jane Anders presented an article titled: 10 Actual Mistakes That Syfy Has Made Over The Years.  Coming in at #3: “Abandoning Friday nights as an action-adventure bloc”.  Remember the SG-1/SGA/BSG triple-bill?  It was the original SciFi Friday lineup, the precursor to the existing Killjoys/Dark Matter/Wynonna Earp trifecta.  The parallels are stark and if history has taught us anything, it’s “Don’t abandon Friday nights as an action-adventure bloc”!

Stargate: SG-1 was officially cancelled August 21st, 2006.  In reality, the word came down down a little earlier – the night of the show’s 10th Anniversary party. The drinks and chocolate fountain were flowing, special commemorative booklets were being handed out, heartfelt speeches were being made and, at one point, amidst the celebration, the announcement was made.  The tenth season would be the show’s last.  But whether it was the acoustics or the booze or the generally festive atmosphere, most everyone missed it.  I remember standing there, cup of liquid chocolate in hand, and throwing a confused look over to my longtime writing partner, Paul Mullie.  “Did we just get cancelled?”  His eyes narrowed and his brow furrowed as though he was trying to work it out in his head: “I – think so?”

It’s hard to make an argument that SG-1 was cancelled prematurely after ten glorious years on the air…but I’m going to make one anyway.  It was premature. With the addition of Ben Browder, Claudia Black and Beau Bridges, and the introduction of a formidable new villain, plus some 300+ episodes of backstory and mythology to draw from, we still had so many stories to tell.  If MGM called me up and told me we’d be doing an 11th season of the show and needed scripts pronto, I can guarantee you I’d have no problem coming up with a slew.  Little known fact: Fans almost did get an 11th season of SG-1.  The studio was in talks with iTunes who, at the time, was very interested in saving the show for one final 20 episode bow – but sadly, in the end, contractual handcuffs prevented it from happening.

Stargate: Atlantis was cancelled August 21st of 2008.  If SG-1’s cancellation was a head scratcher, SGA’s was a fullout WTF?!  Mainly because it didn’t make sense. I mean, what better way to launch a new Stargate incarnation than alongside a veteran powerhouse?  One more season to wrap things up, say goodbye to the Atlantis expedition, and pass the torch.  Instead, the veteran was unceremoniously ushered out and the new kid on the block just as unceremoniously ushered in, giving the semblance that one was cancelled to make room for the other.  This, of course, wasn’t the case – but it didn’t matter.  The optics were bad and the damage was done.  The fans were pissed off – with predictable consequences.  If there’s another thing history has taught us, time and again, it’s this: “Don’t piss off the fans!”.  (See #1 on Charlie Jane Anders’ list).

Stargate: Universe was cancelled on December 16, 2010.  I remember receiving the news in the office and trying to contact series EP and co-creator Brad Wright to no avail as he and the cast were in San Diego, out on a U.S. Navy ship at the time and effectively incommunicado.  One of the actors later told me that the second they got into port, the cast checked their phones to discover their inboxes were full.  They all knew – it wasn’t good news.  Whether SG-1 and SGA’s runs ended too soon make for great debate, there’s no denying that, unlike SGU, both of those shows had endings that worked as series finales.  That wasn’t the case for SGU as the series ended with the Destiny crew going into stasis, leaving a solitary Eli to figure out a seemingly impossible problem.  Although the final shots of the ship’s various sections and systems going dark offer a perfect bookend to the show’s opening sequence of them coming alive, audiences were left hanging nevertheless. Destiny’s journey concluded prematurely and its tale ended incomplete.  Adding to the frustration was the fact that co-creator Brad Wright had an endgame in mind, a final sequence he was working towards…that he never got the chance to reveal.

Dark Matter’s present situation is similar to that of SGU.  Like Brad, I have an endgame in mind, one I’ve set up and have been working towards from the pilot.  I know every secret’s reveal, how each set-up pays off, how every story ends.  And, like Brad, I have the show’s final sequence in my head.  I just hope I’m afforded the opportunity to get there.

Ideally, when all is said and done, the Dark Matter journey will be a closer match to that of Atlantis’s.  Five full seasons – as it should be.

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Tied for #1 with a whopping 200% bump in viewers 18-34.

A bump of over 100% in total viewers.

Thanks to fans for making Dark Matter one of SYFY’s most watched shows!

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As we impatiently await word on that fourth season pickup, I thought it might be fun to give you all a little hint as to what lies ahead in the show’s fourth (and, if all goes as planned/hoped, penultimate) season.

No spoilers here, just tantalizing teasers for the next chapter of our space operatic epic!

Episode 401: Enemies are allies and allies are enemies.  Or are they?  Rebecca. Kryden.  Fallout!

Episode 4o2: The Anders op.  Once more unto the breach.

Episode 403: The Raza pre-mindwipe story.

Episode 404: FIVE’s family reunion.

Episode 405: Okay, seriously.  THIS has GOT to be a paradox!  Dangers, drive-ins, and disco.

Episode 406: Agents of G.A.  The Extraction.

Episode 407: FIVE in Wonderland.  Stargate alumnum guest star?

Episode 408: The Reunion.  Electus Corp.

Episode 409: Once and Future.

Episode 410: SDC joint op.  The Takedown.  One, maybe two, Stargate alumnum guest star(s)?

Episode 411: Power play.  The betrayal.

Episode 412: Safeguarding Rebecca’s secret.

Episode 413: Upheaval.  New Order.  Setting up the shows fifth and final season…

Come on, fandom.  Let SYFY know you want a season 4!

(P.S. And a special thanks to fandom for the awesome artwork).

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“Could you give Dark Matter fans anxiously waiting on renewal a positive argument for why the show should get picked up. Please make a positive case for the show.”

With no word yet on Dark Matter’s future and the finale fast-approaching, I’m often asked to gauge the chances of a renewal.  Although I’m as anxious as many of you (maybe even more anxious, if you can believe it), I remain cautiously optimistic about our chances of returning for a fourth season.  Here’s why…

The ratings have been pretty consistent and not all that far off from season’s 2 average with two more episodes to go.  That’s no small feat given that most shows demonstrate a more precipitous drop in viewership season to season.  We are also SYFY’s third-ranked show in overnight viewers, only ten percent off from last season’s average, and when you factor in the +3 viewership (which is what most broadcasters focus on nowadays), we bump up even higher.  In fact, I suspect we are one of SYFY’s biggest boosted shows in time-delayed viewership bumps.

We’re a cost-effective production.

We’re part of a solid SYFY Friday lineup alongside equally great shows like Killjoys and Wynonna Earp, shows that, like Dark Matter, deliver a sense of fun and family atypical of a lot of t.v.’s grimmer offerings.  The SYFY Friday triple header is unique and has built a loyal following, one that can only continue to grow as fans of one show discover the many great things the other SYFY Friday shows have to offer (and here’s my quick pitch to check out Killjoys at 8/7 C airing right before Dark Matter, and Wynonna Earp at 10/9 C immediately following Dark Matter).

SYFY is serious about its commitment to scifi!  It has moved away from the non-SF programming that rankled a lot of diehard fans and really pledged themselves to the genre with programming ranging from fun ship-based scifi like Dark Matter to lush operatic hard SF like The Expanse to more urban fantasy like The Magicians.  It offers a wide variety of programming for a wide range of fandom tastes.

And speaking of fans, SYFY’s new rebranding is accompanied by the tagline: It’s A Fan Thing.  They recognize and respect the importance of that fanbase and, although they can’t keep everyone happy all the time, they have striven toward keeping many happy a lot of the time, rewarding committed viewers.

Dark Matter’s season 3 finale will set up a whole new storyline for the show’s fourth season, one that I’ve already hinted at – and a number of you have already figured out.  If season 1 was Secrets and Surprises, and season 2 was Risks and Redemption, and season 3 is Victories and Vengeance, then season 4 will be…wait for it…Androids and Aliens!  And come on!  You CAN’T get more scifi than that!

Fans have proven how much they love these characters.  It’s too soon to say goodbye to the crew of The Raza!

We’re only two-thirds of the way through our grand story and finally paying off many of the stories we set in play back in the show’s first season.  What circumstances turned Rebecca into the ruthless Portia?  How will THREE come to terms with Sarah’s new corporeality?  Have we seen the last of FOUR?  Will FIVE reunite with her sister?  Has SIX fully let go of his past?  What part will the Android play in the coming machine uprising?  Who’s Kryden?  Who’s Carina?  What are The Accelerated?  The Black Ships?

Stay positive, Dark Matter fans!  Hit social media!  Get on twitter and let SYFY know you want a fourth season!

#RENEWDARKMATTER

 

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Whew!  What a night!  Dark Matter fans had us trending before, during, and long after Episode 310, “Built, Not Born” aired.  We were all out in force, including cast members, to live tweet one of our biggest episodes yet.  And, while all the tweeting was going on, I was rewarding lucky fans with all sorts of cool swag, from cast-signed Dark Matter scripts to Stargate loot.  When all was said and done, I’d given away two signed scripts, six art department packages, a selection of ID badges, an SGU pre-launch press kit, and a goa’uld pain stick prop.  Akemi is going to have to address a lot of envelopes these new few days.

ALSO…the results of the Which Stargate Cast Member Would You Like to See on Dark Matter poll are in.  2 064 votes where cast!  And here are your top three finishers:

Watching the vote progression was like taking in a great sports match – plenty of lead changes, rallies, and an 11th hour upset.

So, next steps –

1: Write a great part.

2. Contact one of the top 3 finishers and convince them to guest star on the show.

3. Host a Stargate reunion on the set of Dark Matter.

Oh, yeah.  I forgot.  Step 0.5: Get picked up for a fourth season!

And, hey, if you’re fave didn’t make the top 3, don’t despair.  I already have plans for at least two other Stargate veterans in season 4 (their schedule, interest, and our budget permitting) but I get ahead of myself.  Renewal first, then grand scifi plans!

As for last night’s episode?  How’d it go?

Yep.  The fans seemed to like it.  And the critics as well –

BladeOfTheSashurai: “By and all this was one of the more emotionally charged episodes of the season, giving us a new look at Two’s past and the android’s quiet yet conflicted nature.”

BlackGirlNerds: “That was only 42 minutes? Way to pack in a lot of content without it getting muddled or confusing.”

SYFYWIRE: “This episode was just full of emotional turmoil and big character moments for Two and Android (and even Three!) and I just have a lot of feelings, okay?” 

PureFandom: “This was an episode for multiple revelations and “What the what?” screeches of dismay/delight. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t want this episode to end. It was chock full of love among our crew members and some interesting relationship twists.”

SpoilerTV: “Dark Matter went all in with this episode and delivered big revelations for both Two and the Android.”

DenOfGeek: “For longtime viewers of Dark Matter, the story that unfolds in “Built, Not Born” is one that had been anticipated for quite awhile, and the payoff is quite satisfying.”

SciFiPulse: “After last week’s fun and games, Dark Matter returns to the mode of serious science fiction with a moral to the story.”

ThreeIfBySpace: “Regardless of what genre of TV you like most, Dark Matter has something for everyone. “Built, Not Born” is yet another solid episode in what has been a fantastic season, tying together two mysterious story lines with one satisfying resolution.”

TheNerdRecites: “Mallozzi promised this episode way back before the season had even begun. An episode where The Android’s origins would be revealed, coupled with a surprising link between The Android and Two. He definitely wasn’t kidding about the surprising nature of that link – this week revealed a complex backstory with some highly unexpected reveals.”

Nerdophiles: “What an awesome episode!”

CarterMatt: “This episode was crazy, twisted, heartfelt, and fun — pretty much this show in a nutshell. ”

TellTaleTV: Dark Matter Season 3 Episode 10, “Built, Not Born,” finally gave us a look into the history of Two and Android with a major twist no one saw coming. This intense change of events could have some major impacts for our crew and their journey.”

And here’s your post-episode discussion on After Dark, hosted by the lovely Zoe Palmer:

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First of all, I want to take everyone who took the time to submit their request for the Which Stargate Cast Member You’d Like To See On Dark Matter? impromptu poll.  The response has been – well – overwhelming, but I’ve got our Top 13!  And this is how it’s going to work…

You have 24 hours to vote on which Stargate cast member you’d like to see guest star in Dark Matter’s fourth season.  Results will be announced in tomorrow’s blog entry!

Simple, no?  And, in celebration of this coming together of awesome scifi franchises – Stargate/Farscape/Dark Matter – I’m going to do a few fan giveaways during tonight’s broadcast of Dark Matter.  All you have to do for a chance to win is tweet out tonight, between 9/8C and 10/9C while the latest episode of Dark Matter is airing, using the #DarkMatter hashtag, and that will automatically enter you in a chance to win any of the following…

Art Department packages chock full of plans and designs.

A signed Dark Matter script!

These cool ID badges I picked up at Comic Con way back when!

But wait!  There’s more!  Answer one of two skill-testing questions (one for the east coast airing, another for the west coast airing)  about tonight’s Dark Matter episode between 9/8C and 10/9C on twitter (don’t forget to use the #DarkMatter hashtag) for a chance to win –

This rare pre-launch Stargate: Universe press kit.

This rubber prop goa’uld pain stick.  It doesn’t shock but is still good for swinging and poking!

Watch twitter between 9/8C and 10/9C  for the questions and a chance to win!  My twitter handle: @BaronDestructo

Winners will be announced on twitter after the episodes air!

Also tonight, the cast convenes at Melissa O’Neil’s place for a mass group live tweet session.  Join us online as we attempt to break the internet!

Well, if the early reaction to the advance screeners of Episode 310, “Built, Not Born”, are any indication, tonight’s episode is going to rock your world.  I’ve had half a dozen individuals reach out to say it’s their favorite episode.  Not their favorite episode of the season, but their favorite episode of the entire series.  Wild.

It’s an episode chock full of family moments, shocking reveals, and answers to some long-asked questions.

It is NOT to be missed!

See?

SpoilerTV’s Aimee Hicks gives us an advance preview: So Many Feelings

Dark Matter is about to unleash a feelings heavy episode that pulls at the heartstrings while dropping some major revelations. Joseph Mallozzi, Co-Creator/Executive Producer, has called this the “feeliest” episode of the series and even that’s an understatement. Nothing”

And Greg David at TV, Eh? offers up his thoughts: Dark Matter Delivers It’s Biggest “Holy Crap!” Moment Of Season 3

“There is a HUGE reveal midway through “Built, Not Born,” that will leave you spinning. Easily the biggest “Holy crap!” moment in a season chock full of them. It involves the Android, Two and Five and … nope, we won’t spoil it.”

Tom Gardiner at ThreeIfBySpace has the episodic stills – and some thoughts

“This week’s Dark Matter episode, “Built, Not Born”, is going to blow your mind. Several times.”

And, oh, let’s whet your appetite with a sneak peek scene.  What’s up with our Android?

Finally, more good news to buoy our spirits as we await work on a pick-up.  The +7’s are in for the week of July 17th and Dark Matter tied for #1 in percentage gain among adults 18-49 with a 200% increase among all cable shows, and came in at #8 with a 113% increase in total viewers.  Mighty impressive, I’d say.

‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Descendants 2’ make big gains in cable Live +7 ratings for July 17-23

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Well Holy Smokes!  When I composed yesterday’s blog entry and asked fans to select a former Stargate cast member to guest in Dark Matter’s fourth season, little did I realize the deluge I was in for.  Between this blog, reddit, Facebook, google, and twitter, I’ve received over 1000 responses.  And counting!  Requests have ranged from the expected (Amanda Tapping, Michael Shanks) to the pleasantly surprising (Dan Shea, Teryl Rothery) to the impossible-but-nice-try (a puddle jumper, the stargate itself!).  I was so blown away by the reaction from fandom that I’ve decided to give all those gaters a little present in the form of their requested guest star.  Here’s how it’ll work…

Tomorrow night, I’ll tally up all of your asks and put together a short list of 10-12 names made up of your most requested (and a few of my faves) and put it to a vote.  I will do my damnedest to cast at least one of your top three choices (and maybe even a few other names) for Dark Matter’s fourth season.  I say “do my damnedest” because scheduling and budgetary constraints may complicate matters (I hear that Jason Momoa has been keeping busy!), but I’ll promise you at least one or two familiar faces from the Stargate franchise will be popping up on or near The Raza in season four.

Of course, first we have to get picked up for a fourth season but fandom is strong and vocal, our numbers are on the rise (our +3’s and +7’s are strong, the show is just roughly 10% off last year’s viewership, and we’re currently the #3 show in total viewers average on SYFY for  2017 with four more episodes to go!), and I’m suddenly feeling positive.  I also have the perfect episode in which to introduce them!

So, let’s hear it.  Who’s it going to be?

Check out this great article by Daniel Rasmus at Pop Matters: Why Dark Matter Matters

“For Dark Matter, the concept of humans working and living in space creates enough context to holds its amnesia/self-discovery premise. Kick-ass characters, blasters, space battles, sword fights, poison; all traditional, all relatable. The thrills come from real humans placed in the jeopardy of space, from human politics and the loss and rediscovery of memory.”

 

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