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Archive for the ‘Stargate: Atlantis’ Category

“Easy to root for” is a term Dark Matter Supervising Producer Ivon Bartok introduced me to years ago.  It was in reference to actor Brian J. Smith (SGU‘s Lieutenant Matthew Scott) on the heels of his Tony Award nomination for his Broadway performance in The Glass Menagerie.  “Easy to root for” in that Brian, in addition to being incredibly talented, was simply just a straight-up good-hearted, down-to-earth, sweet-natured guy.  We were happy for his success because it seemed an appropriate karmic payoff for a guy who had been nothing but positive, pleasant, and downright gracious during our years working with him on Stargate: Universe.

Flash-forward four years and the term comes to mind again in relation to actress Melanie Liburd who, in addition to her role in the upcoming sixth season of Game of Thrones, joins the crew of The Raza in Dark Matter’s second season as the mysterious Nyx Harper.  “She’s like the nicest person on the planet!”texted Zoie Palmer and I have a hard time arguing that statement of fact.

Today, Melanie, Akemi and I got together for a long-overdue meal.  We did dim-sum, got in some shopping, chatting, and capped our afternoon with a visit to Toronto’s premiere chocolate shop, Soma, for a major chocolate infusion.

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Melanie shows off her lobster dumpling…that’s actually shaped like a tiny lobster.

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Akemi and Melanie prepare to descend on dessert.  The calm before the snacking storm!

Can’t wait for you to finally meet her when Dark Matter season 2 premieres (July 1st on @Syfy, @Syfy_Spain, and @SpaceChannel; July 2nd on @SyfyAU, July 4th on @SyfyUK, and July 11th on @SyfyDE).

Speaking of the new season, I have a conference call next with Bipasha Ghosh and the rest of the Syfy International marketing teams to discuss plans for you, the fans.  And, oh, what plans we have!

This week, we head into the home stretch in what promises to be a season full of shocks, surprises and BIG pivotal moments.  What’s to come?  Well, here’s a hint…

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If you’re not following @DarkMatter_show on twitter, you’re missing out on oodles of amazing BTS pics like these…

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Jodelle and Alex support each other during read-thru.

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The sassiest android in space!

Lately, I’ve also been spending time on reddit’s Stargate sub-reddit where I’ve been reposting some of my most popular Stargate-related entries.  So far:

Stargate Memories: My Journey Through the Gate – In which I detail my journey from animation writer to joining one of television’s most successful scifi franchises.

My Top 10 Favorite Stargate Episodes – Self-explanatory.  #1 may surprise you.

The Top 10 Best Stargate Episode Titles – In my opinion.

Top 10 Running Gags in SG-1 – From blue jello to whatever’s in O’Neill’s mug.

It’s been a lot of fun.  If you’re interested in reading about some of the BTS action on Stargate, subscribe to the subreddit.  I’ll be uploading daily entries moving forward!

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Another day, another giveaway!

Up for grabs in today’s blog entry, the above-pictured caps from all three Stargate shows.

I’m posting early so that readers in the U.K. can participate as well.

To win all three caps, all you have to do is be one of the first to correctly answer the following six questions…

Match the Stargate: SG-1 characters with their Farscape parody counterparts from 200.

What were the names of the warring countries in Stargate: Atlantis’s “The Game?”

Which crew member does Eli end up settling down with in Stargate: Universe’s Epilogue?

Where was the Stargate: SG-1 episode Nightwalkers shot?

Which Stargate: Atlantis episode had the place holder title: “The Grapes of Wraith”?

What was our endearing nickname for the Stargate: Universe alien race known as The Nakai?

That’s it!  I’ll announce the winner in tomorrow’s blog entry.  Good luck to all!

The winner of yesterday’s SG-1 coasters is…gforce.  Gary, do I have your mailing address?

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I was actually developing Dark Matter as far back as 2007.  That year comes to mind because, in 2007, we were producing Stargate: Atlantis’s fourth season and I remember walking the corridors of the ship we constructed for episode #405, Travelers, and saying to Paul: “We’ve got to find a way to keep these sets. They’d be perfect for Dark Matter!”  In retrospect, it was probably a good thing we didn’t hold on to those sets.  The storage costs over seven years would have no doubt eclipsed the price tag of our spanking new sets.

The nice thing about waiting seven years for your show to get green lit is that it gives you plenty of time to develop the hell out of it.  Characters, their journeys, seasonal and series arcs – you’d be surprised how much you can flesh out over the course of 84+ months.

With a more than fully fleshed out show on our hands,  the plan was to roll right into Dark Matter if and when Stargate ever ended.  I’d been preparing myself for Stargate’s eventual end since Stargate: SG-1’s fifth season, back in early 2000, so I’d grown inured to the dread of cancellation.  As a result, when the end did come, and Stargate: Universe was cancelled in 2011, I was taken by surprise.  I wasn’t ready!

This business is funny sometimes.  Given the fact that Brad Wright and Robert Cooper had effectively established MGM’s t.v. division and made the studio TONS of money with Stargate, I imagined they be set.  A studio deal.  A couple of blind pilots.  Offers to use their years of experience to help shepherd or run whatever other productions the studio had in the pipeline.  No?  A letter of reference?   A hearty handshake?  A “Thanks for multi millions?” scribbled on a post-it?

If they weren’t exactly rolling out the welcome mat for the guys that had earned them enough cash to purchase a tiny country (something modest with a lot of beachfront property), I figured my chances were…slimmer…

“I’m sorry.  What department did you say you used to work in?”

“Uh, television.  A t.v. show actually.  We ran for seventeen seasons, produced over three hundred episodes and two movies?   Stargate?  STARGATE?!”

“Could you spell that?”

Even with a writing/producing background on one of the most successful franchises in television history, the chances of selling a pitch are slim.  People love great ideas.  They love great scripts.  But, usually, not enough to buy them.  Established properties on the other hand…well, that’s a different story.  And that’s something I was well aware of from my days working development.

And so, rather than roll the dice on a pitch tour, I made a single call – to Keith Goldberg at Dark Horse Comics and presented him my idea for Dark Matter.  He loved it and, in no time, we were in business with publisher Mike Richardson on a four-issue SF comic book series.  That would eventually be collected into a trade paperback.  Which would be used as a visual aid and sales document to help Prodigy Pictures President Jay Firestone sell the show.

So, much respect for Mike Richardson, Keith Goldberg, artist Garry Brown, colorist Ryan Hill, editor Patrick Thorpe and the rest of the gang at Dark Horse Comics (Kari Yadro, Aub Driver, Spencer Cushing et al.)

And much respect for Executive Producers Jay Firestone and Vanessa Piazza for getting the show to air.

And much respect for my terrific cast, crew, VFX, and post personnel helped me produce one hell of an awesome SF series.  And a ship-based SF series no less!

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I admire people who dress like they just don’t care – what other people think. Lady Gaga.  Don Cherry.  And, of course, Dark Matter‘s Tabor Calchek.  I knew the gang in wardrobe was going to have a lot of fun dressing him – maybe, I suspected, a little too much fun.  So it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I made my way down to the costume department last month for a sneak peek at Tabor’s outfits. I was treated to a lot of comfy wear (see previous blog instalments) and then a bit of flash in the form of the type of shirt usually reserved for disco enthusiasts or East European gangsters.  I loved it, but had only one small request.  Instead of just having him in his underwear, lets give Tabor pants. Pleather pants!

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And, voila!  He’s ready for business.  Or a night out on the town!

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I was up at 4:30 this morning so that I could prepare my breakfast, see to the dogs, and then take the hour long drive to Hamilton for today’s 7:00 a.m. main unit call.  It was still dark by the time I rolled into the crew park.

Hell, it was so early, it was late!

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Shooting in the woods today.  And I mean that in two senses of the word.

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Also, occasional slashing and stabbing.

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“A” 2nd Assistant Camera, Michael Purdon, color codes sticks for blocking.

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Okay, what I mean is, when the actors come to set, the director will “block” a scene with them, deciding who moves where and when.  Once that has been decided, “marks” are placed on the floor (usually tape, color coded for each performer, but, in today’s case, sticks) so that everyone knows exactly where they should be standing and/or moving to in order to “hit their mark”.

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It was, thankfully, our final location day for episode #109.  I suppose it could’ve been worse.  It could’ve been raining.  On the other hand, it could’ve been just slightly better with the addition of snow.  Ah, I suppose I can just get Lawren, our VFX Supervisor, to add some in post.  How hard can it be?

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Consulting Producer Ivon Bartok and actress Melissa O’Neil (TWO) try to stay warm.  Hey!  It’s winter again!

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With the cast reveals right around the corner, it’s time to ramp up the big visual reveals as we count down towards our early summer premiere.  So let’s kick things off with a mini blog feature I’m calling The Four Days of Tabor Calchek.

Introducing the crew’s handler, their de facto agent, the guy who gets them their freelance assignments.  He’s smug; he’s smarmy; he’s swank and laid-back.   Day #1: Let’s call this one “Home Office Casual”.

Hey, speaking of Dark Matter’s summer premiere, we’ve got an official airdate:

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That’s Friday, June 12th at 10:00 p.m.  Ah, this takes me back.  Do you remember the glorious Friday SF triple header of days gone by: Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: SG-1, and Battlestar Galactica running back to back to back?  Well, rumour has it science fiction fans are in for a real treat this summer as SyFy brings back SciFi Fridays.  I, for one, can’t wait.

But I’m going to have to because Atmosphere is still working on those visual effects.

Hey, continuing my ongoing series of “Who’s who on the Dark Matter crew?” – it is with great pleasure that, today, I introduce to you the awesome Jean Brophey, On Set Dresser extraordinaire.  It’s her job to make sure things look good before the director yells “Action!”, and she takes her job pretty seriously, scrambling onto set to switch out cargo crates, flip bed covers, and whisk away weird background elements that she, the eagle-eyed expert, will catch before anyone else.

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And when she’s not ensuring on set continuity on the rotating quarters sets (She has a visual overview of each crew member’s room hanging on the far wall for easy referral) or pointing out potential visual miscues, she’s moving stuff whether it be chairs, tables, weapons or…

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…a pile of giant rocks.

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Need that grand piano moved?  Well contact Jean c/o Dark Matter!

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Stargate: Atlantis premiered ten years ago today.  I’m celebrating with a look back at my Top 10 favorite SGA memories.

In no particular order…

#10. RODNEY MAKES THE CUT.  BUT JUST BARELY!

mckay_redemptionProduction on the new Stargate spinoff was fast-approaching, but we were scrambling to cast one crucial role: the part of the intrepid, dedicated team doctor. Multiple auditions yielded no suitable candidates and the producers were at a loss until… Robert Cooper suggested a different tact.  Instead of casting a new character, why not bring in an established one – namely, Dr. Rodney McKay who had already put in a couple of appearances on Stargate: SG-1?  To say that this last minute switch “worked out quite nicely” would be an enormous understatement.  Could you imagine Atlantis without him?

#9. ENTER GOLDEN BOY MARTIN GERO

1Faced with the prospect of 40 episodes of television a season, we sought out new talent for the writers’ room.  Enter young Martin Gero who proved himself with his first script, Childhood’s End – and then went on to become the most prolific writer on the show.

#8. ENTER CARL BINDER

dsc09906Later in SGA’s first season, we added one more writer to the room, a veteran of Punky Brewster with a penchant for schnitzel and off-colour humor.  He proved himself with his first script, Before I Sleep – and then went on to become the most prolific writer of ghost-themed episodes on the show.

#7. ENTER RONON

62149The show saw several cast changes over the course of its five year run, but perhaps none quite as significant as the introduction of the rough and ready Satedan, Ronon.  A great onscreen presence, Jason Momoa was also a hell of a lot of fun to work with.

#6. INTRODUCING…TODD THE WRAITH

stargateatlantis-s05e17There’s nothing I enjoy more than an interesting, multi-layered villain and, while the show had them in bunches, none (in my humble opinion) matched the depth and color of Todd the Wraith, a soul-sucking alien with a devilish sense of humor.

#5. GOODBYE, CARSON

1This one rivals the closing moments of SG-1’s Meridian as one of the most touching scenes of the franchise.  Rodney says goodbye to his friend who fades away to close the episode and Carson’s story…for a little while anyway.

#4. WOOLSEY IN CHARGE

p185051_n1357_cc_v4_aaI loved Richard Woolsey’s evolution from pencil-pushing bureaucrat to principled suit, so when Amanda Tapping’s departure opened up the position of Expedition Commander, the first name that came to mind was: Bob Picardo.  I called him up, made him the offer and we closed the deal that afternoon.  One of my favorite characters to write for.

#3. BEHIND THE SCENES FUN

2It’s hard to pick one moment among the countless great ones I enjoyed as a member of the Atlantis writing team.  Amid all the story sessions, script notes, cut screenings and mixes, there was much hilarity.  More often than not, it involved Carl being “tricked” into eating something awful (https://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2007/06/08/june-7-2007/).

#2. MY FIRST SAN DIEGO COMIC CON

2Meeting 5000 Stargate fans – simultaneously.

#1. ALL GOOD THINGS….

sg520mainAlthough it wasn’t planned as a series finale, the show’s last episode served nicely as a nice send-off, wrapping up existing storylines yet leaving the door open for further adventures.  The final group shot on the balcony overlooking San Francisco Bay was an emotional one for all.  We’d had five great years – but, dammit, we could have had so many more!

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Last night, I met up with my foodie friend – Nicole, Lan, and Missy – for a little culinary tour of Chinatown.  Nicole, our guide on this trek, had us hopping from one place to the next, covering four different places in which we sampled about a dozen different dishes…

Fellow foodies: Nicole, Lan, and Missy.

Fellow foodies: Nicole, Lan, and Missy.

We met at The Pie Shoppe, a tiny place that offers a variety of pies both sweet and savory.  On this night, only half an hour away from closing, they were out of savory options so we settled for (and by settled, I mean devoured) two of the sweet pies: apple-rhubarb and chocolate pecan.  I can’t fairly judge a fruit pie without ice cream so I won’t weigh in on the apple-rhubarb, but that chocolate-pecan pie was outstanding on its own. I was tempted to try the salted honey pie but Nicole had to remind me to pace myself.  This, after all, was a marathon.

A plethora of pies

A plethora of pies

From there, we headed one block over to a place called Oyster Express that offered about a dozen varieties of oysters on the shell in addition to a number of other menu items.  But, come on!  The place is called Oyster Express!  So we ordered two dozen assorted raw oysters.  They were all excellent.  Akemi, who had to beg off because she was feeling under the weather, would have loved it.

On the half shell at the Oyster

On the half shell at Oyster Express

One block over and two blocks down, we hit Besties, a restaurant specializing in sausages.

With by besties at Besties

With by besties at Besties

We ordered a number of items and shared.  Among them:

The sausage slider

The sausage slider

Currywurst

Currywurst

Asparagus with hollandaise.  Oh, and an egg!

Asparagus with hollandaise. Oh, and an egg!

For me, the highlight of this stop was the venison and blueberry sausage (that, for some reason, I failed to snap).  They were out of the intriguing sounding Butter Chicken sausage, so I’ll definitely have to make a return visit.

From there, it was one block over, three blocks up (through the downtown east side’s more colourful area), and around the corner to the Dunleavy Snack Bar.  At this point, Lan was tapped out and declared himself stuffed.  BUT that didn’t stop him from having some of the bimbimbap – and later, finishing it off when the waiter asked/threatened to take the plate away…

Pork belly and Korean chicken steamed buns

Pork belly and Korean chicken steamed buns.  I was hoping the chicken would be spicier, like they serve at that Korean restaurant in Shinjuku where the chicken is so spicy they serve it with a side order of surgical gloves so that you don’t burn your fingers while eating.

We didn’t order dessert, but only because we’d already had some at the start of our tour.

Thanks to Nicole for organizing and Lan and Missy batting clean-up on those fries and rice.

Next up, braise and bourbon at my place!

Continuing our Stargate: Atlantis re-watch with…The Shrine.

1Our viewing of this fan favorite episode kicked off with this out-of-left-field exchange:

Akemi: “Teyla is weird name.  Like fixing clothes.”

Me: “No.  That’s TAI-LOR.”

Akemi (clearly disappointed): “Oh.”

This episode reinforced David Hewlitt’s talents as an actor: “McKay is a good actor.”

And also reinforced how pretty Jewel Staite is: “Jewel is very cute, don’t you think so?”  Hmmm.  Is this a trick question?

Akemi was also delighted to see actor Jason Momoa get a few more lines than his average: “Happy to see handsome guy speak a little more than usual.”

She loved the night time establisher of Atlantis all lit up: “Beautiful!  Like Shanghai or Hong Kong.”

But found the lighting in the famed pier scene a little “too dramatic”.  As for the gorgeous night time setting: “Nice scene for young couple but instead two middle-aged guys.”

Again, high marks to Mark Savela and the VFX team: “I liked the insect coming out.  It looked really real!.”

But the surgery scene – moreover, the prospect of the scene – made her squeamish.

In the end though: “I found it sad from the get-go.  Very sad episode but happy ending – which I like!”

Today’s entry is dedicated to Denise McInerney.  Condolences on the passing of your beloved Jeter.

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