Archive for the ‘Stargate Universe’ Category

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!

Read Full Post »

While we’re on the subject…









































Read Full Post »

Cast your vote for our June Book of the Month Club pick!  We’ve got a nice, wide-ranging selection this month:

1COLDBROOK by Tim Lebbon

Coldbrook is a secret laboratory located deep in Appalachian Mountains. Its scientists had achieved the impossible: a gateway to a new world. Theirs was to be the greatest discovery in the history of mankind, but they had no idea what they were about to unleash.

With their breakthrough comes disease and now it is out and ravaging the human population. The only hope is a cure and the only cure is genetic resistance: an uninfected person amongst the billions dead.

In the chaos of destruction there is only one person that can save the human race.  But will they find her in time?

1THE DRAGON BUSINESS by Kevin J. Anderson

King Cullin may be known as “the Dragon Slayer,” but he fears his son’s legacy will be as “King Maurice Who Speaks with Proper Grammar.” The boy keeps his nose buried in parchments, starry-eyed at the idea of noble knights and eager to hand royal gold to any con man hawking a unicorn horn. Tonight, though, Cullin will educate the prince in the truth behind minstrels’ silly songs of glory…
Long ago, in a kingdom, well, not that far from here really, young Cullin traveled the countryside as squire to brave Sir Dalbry, along with Dalbry’s trusted sidekick Reeger, selling dragon-protection services to every kingdom with a coffer. There were no dragons, of course, but with a collection of severed alligator heads and a willingness to play dirty, the trio of con men was crushing the competition. Then along came Princess Affonyl.

Tomboyish and with a head for alchemy, Affonyl faked a dragon of her own, escaped her arranged marriage, and threw in with Cullin and company. But with her father sending a crew of do-gooder knights to find her, the dragon business just got cutthroat.


In the far future, a young man stands on a barren asteroid. His ship has been stolen, his family kidnapped or worse, and all he has on his side is a semi-intelligent spacesuit. The only member of the crew to escape, Hari has barely been off his ship before. It was his birthplace, his home and his future.

He’s going to get it back.

1LAGOON by Nnedi Okrafor

When a massive object crashes into the ocean off the coast of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous and legendary city, three people wandering along Bar Beach (Adaora, the marine biologist- Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa- Agu, the troubled soldier) find themselves running a race against time to save the country they love and the world itself… from itself. Lagoon expertly juggles multiple points of view and crisscrossing narratives with prose that is at once propulsive and poetic, combining everything from superhero comics to Nigerian mythology to tie together a story about a city consuming itself.


SCHRODER by Amity Gaige (paperback release in the U.K.)

Attending a New England summer camp, young Eric Schroder-a first-generation East German immigrant-adopts the last name Kennedy to more easily fit in, a fateful white lie that will set him on an improbable and ultimately tragic course.

SCHRODER relates the story of Eric’s urgent escape years later to Lake Champlain, Vermont, with his six-year-old daughter, Meadow, in an attempt to outrun the authorities amid a heated custody battle with his wife, who will soon discover that her husband is not who he says he is. From a correctional facility, Eric surveys the course of his life to understand-and maybe even explain-his behavior: the painful separation from his mother in childhood; a harrowing escape to America with his taciturn father; a romance that withered under a shadow of lies; and his proudest moments and greatest regrets as a flawed but loving father.

Finish up Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation!  Our discussion begins tomorrow!

Continuing our Stargate: Atlantis rewatch…


Akemi is right back at it, into the franchise and enjoying the series.  Although SGU still ranks as her favorite, she has a greater appreciation for Stargate: Atlantis and its much-improved visual effects.  Also, I think she kind of missed McKay.

Of course, as always there was much praise for the job of VFX Supervisor Mark Savela and his team.  Whenever we an establisher of Atlantis, especially at night, it’s always: “Wow!” or “Beautiful!” or “Two moons!”.

She didn’t get caught up in the whole Beckett vs. Keller debate because, by this point in the series, they’re both present and acting members of the expedition.  She likes them both but offered the following comment on Keller: “Everybody would love to have such a beautiful doctor.” Maybe.  “Too bad she doesn’t have a doctor’s outfit.”  I guess.

Still not feeling the love for Sheppard 22 episodes in.  She finds his loose cannon attitude annoying (“Why Sheppard is always so arrogant?  He should listen to older people.”) and, I suspect, very unJapanese.  After Beckett informs Sheppard that the shoot could kill him: “This is second chance for him to die so that handsome guy can become leader.”   Alas, another missed opportunity.

On the other hand, when Ronon gets choked out by the tendrils and collapses, she was genuinely concerned: “Oh, I hope he’s alright?”

“What about Sheppard?”I asked.  “He got skewered by a tendril.  Do you hope he’s alright.”

Grudgingly: “Okay.”

Later, she bumped on his amazing healing abilities: “Why sometimes he recovering very magically quickly and sometimes very slow?  Because he is typical superhero?”

Another favorite character of Akemi’s is none other than Radek Zelenka.  She practically squealed with excitement when he came onscreen like he was an adorable puppy doing something unbelievably cute.  She finds him very convincing: “I can’t believe he is actor.  Looks like real authentic geek!”  Ah, the magic of television.

Overall, a solid episode in her estimation but: “I liked yesterday’s episode more.”

Read Full Post »

1Check out our houseguest, the love of my buddy Tio’s life, the lovely Petunia.  She’s here for a sleepover and has come armed with her own pink bed, pink blanket, and snacks.  According to Tio, she’s a snuggler, so tonight will be interesting.  Four dogs on the bed.  Just like old times!

But Petunia wasn’t the only houseguest we entertained.  Earlier today, our friends Jeff and Barb dropped by for pecan pie, ice cream, drinks and, of course, dogs…


Lulu and Barb hit it off.


Jeff and the Yamazaki 18 year old whisky also really hit it off.


Family shot!

And, for no other reason than the fact that I’m already posting dog pictures, here’s a photo I snapped of Bubba last night sporting his samurai helmet…


Samurai pug!

I received an email today from our old friend, Trevor in Toronto, who alerted me to GraphTV, a site that charts a show’s performance based on viewer response over time.

Stargate: SG-1…

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 6.52.31 PM

Stargate: Atlantis…

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 6.54.30 PMAs Trevor pointed out, a lot “of shows fluctuate quite a lot, either up or down, but the what is clear from the graphs is SG-1 and Atlantis are some of the most consistent series ever made.”

As for Stargate: Universe, the breakdown is also telling…

Screen Shot 2014-03-29 at 6.57.17 PMAnd, again, Trevor says it best: “and it’s painful to see the SGU graph, because clearly that show was awesome and gaining momentum…”

Check out how your favorite shows fared here: http://io9.com/these-graphs-show-precisely-when-your-favorite-tv-show-1554419978

Or do your own research here: http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/

Read Full Post »

MFB writes: “Since I like this kind of stuff I thought I’d share some boards that I’ve collected from writers’ rooms of other shows and one movie.


About the Breaking Bad boards: The stories were spun and broken to cards in the room. Then the cards were taken off of the board and photocopied and the photocopies were used as outlines to write the scripts from. (I found it odd that there wasn’t any deviation from the board to the outline.)

Joe, it would be much appreciated if you could post pictures of boards from any episode but in particular a board from “Wormhole X-treme!” would be great. It is one of my favorites and includes a cameo from one of my favorite writers(guess who?). It would also go nicely with my script of that episode.”

Great stuff, MFB.  And thanks for the link.  Unfortunately, I don’t have photographs of any of the stories we put up on the white board.  Right after we’d finish breaking, I would copy everything to my laptop and work off that word document, filling it in as I built my outlines.  I do know, however, that Martin Gero used to snap a photo of his white board breakdowns and work off those.  I don’t know if he kept any of the pics for posterity’s sake (or “prosperity’s sake” as one of my former girlfriends used to say), but you could ask him over at: https://twitter.com/martingero

As for the various photos (history of the Stargate writers’ room whiteboard – see yesterday’s blog entry), I offer you the following insights:

1. CARL DIGGING IN: The writers’ room was also the defacto screening room, impromptu meeting room, and lunch room.  Pictured here, our mischievous fellow Executive Producer/Writer about to dig into his bag of take-out.  Behind him, on the white board, initial work on the episode that would become Millers Crossing.

2. SNACKING: Over the course of my time on Stargate, I would occasionally receive gifts in the mail from fans.  Here, I sample a sweet treat compliments of longtime blog reader Carolina who, in addition to tasty dessert, also sent along some canned duck!  Behind me, the breakdown of Miller’s Crossing is complete.  And, as usual, we would always include a little note for the cleaning crew: DO NOT ERASE!

3. THE RED IMP: This little goblin compliments of artist (and former in-house digital and playback supervisor Krista McLean).  She put it up on a far corner of the white board and there it remained for over a season – until my writing partner, Paul, eventually got creeped out and erased it.

4. SURVIVOR STARGATE STYLE: Martin Gero pitched out an idea for the episode that would eventually become Trio.  In his basic premise, McKay and…someone ended up trapped for the entirety of the episode.  But who?  Should we trap him with Carter?  Or Keller?  Or maybe both Carter and Keller.  After much discussion, we decided to put it to a Survivor style vote.  Each writer scribbled their anonymous picks on a piece of paper.  Martin each one in turn and let the democratic process decide!

5. FOXY LOXY WITH FLOPPY SOCKSIES: Every time I would upload a photo from the writers’ room to this blog, I would be extra careful to ensure I never unintentionally revealed spoilers for the upcoming season.  In this case, I decided to go the opposite route and “unwittingly” intentionally post the breakdown of a fictitious episode in which every act ends with our heroes facing certain death…only to come back after commercial where we reveal it was all a simulation designed to train them for the REAL mission.  After a string of successive fakeouts, the team  is finally ready to head out on the mission…which will have to wait until Part II.  I was surprised that a couple of eagle-eyed fans were actually able to decipher my scrawl and offer a clear translation of the story.  Even more surprised that a couple of fans actually said: “This would make a great episode!”

6. THE BW SPECIAL: Placeholder titles are always a pain in the ass.  They ranged from all-encompassingly general to annoyingly specific.  In this case, we all knew what a BW (Brad Wright) Special promised: a strange scenario, cool SF elements, and great character moments.  The rest invariably wrote itself.

7. ATLANTIS 5: After production had ended on a season and the cast and crew had left, the writer-producers would assemble and start preparing for next year.  There was nothing more frightening than a blank white board, so one of us made the effort to get us started.

8. CARL’S GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST STORY: It seemed that half of the scripts Carl Binder wrote for the show were ghost-related.  Either our heroes were seeing ghosts or dealing with ghosts or becoming ghosts themselves or some variation thereof.  So we thought it only appropriate that we assign him the special Stargate Christmas episode.

9. PREPPING SEASON 5: Martin Gero goes through some ancient documents from the storage closet.  On the white board behind him are the seeds to some season 5 story ideas, some of which made the cut (Joe’s Ronon/Tyre story became Broken Ties) while others did not (my Wages of Fear story would have rocked…if I had actually been successful in coming up with five acts and a tease).

10. SHHHHHH: The secrecy of the writers’ room.  In response to the network’s request for a “Green episode”, Martin Gero comes up with Snow Globe – which would later be renamed  Brainstorm.

11. SQUIGGLE GUY: I honestly don’t remember.  I want to say it was our artist’s rendition of the unintentionally hilarious Pepto Bismal monster from Ephiphany, but the timeline doesn’t match up.

12. AU SEASON 6: Ah, what might have been.  I offered insight into these potential stories here: September 30, 2008: An AU Season 6!, including Alan McCullough’s infamous Hamster Ball pitch.

13. DOSTOYEVSKY IN THE ROOM: The breakdown for SGU’s Crime and Punishment which would later be renamed Justice.

14. 12 12 12: Heated debates on the logic of proposed SF, particularly time travel-related pitches would always involve diagrams.  This was, I believe, a rather straightforward explanation of the time travel logic grounding Twin Destinies.

15. CARL AND…?:  I honestly don’t recall.  What were we discussing here?  Ship to ship transmissions?  Gravity wells?  Oreos?

16. SPACE FLOWERS: Well, that’s definitely Destiny.  Not sure what the deal was with the space flowers.  Perhaps some drawings to inspire us for the episode Faith?

17. PURSUIT: Pretty obvious, huh?  Alien vessels/drones pursue Destiny, forcing it to fly through a nearby star to lose them.

18. IT WAS ALL A DREAM: A gag, sure, but we’ve done plenty of variations (Home, The Real World, Remnants) to name but a few.

19. INCURSION: The rough beats to the Incursion two-parter that was originally envisioned as a one-parter.

20. DESTINY VS. THE SPACE DOLPHINS: Ah, the space dolphins.  A riff on the whales we introduced back on Stargate: Atlantis. In a later episode, First Strike, it was suggested Atlantis abandon the planet, leaving it to be destroyed.  Robert Cooper objected to this solution on the grounds that we had gone through all the trouble of establishing and saving those whales, only to abandon them.  I suggested a compromise where, as Atlantis rises up off the planets surface, we see the whales sprout wings and fly off for safer skies.  Martin Gero dubbed them Whangels.  Alas, they didn’t make the cut. :(

21. ELVEN FOOT: I believe this is one of those cases where we misheard the actual title, but the mistaken title was simply too good to dismiss.

22. POST-LUNCH MALAISE: A typical post-lunch scene includes a sleepy Lawren Bancroft-Wilson, my hot sauces, and remnants of lunch.  Behind Lawren, the breakdown of an episode involving Amanda Perry.

23. YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS MINE: Ship to ship communications?  Gravity wells?  Oreos?

Read Full Post »



















Read Full Post »

The other night, Akemi and I finally wrapped up our viewing of Stargate: Universe. So, what did she think?  What was her take on the final ten episodes?  The finale?

Well, what follows are her unique thoughts on episodes #211-220 (Stargate: Universe 2.5)…



While she appreciated the action in this one, she did bump on the seemingly impeccable timing with which our crew was able to extricate themselves from danger…managing an FTL jump with seconds to spare.  She also found the aliens had equally impressive timing.  Either that or they were just being polite by waiting until Scott and Chloe complete their kiss before interrupting them: “Everything so perfect timing.  And by the way, bad alien very polite too.  Wait until kiss before interrupting.”

She wasn’t sure why the alien ursuni sacrificed themselves to buy Destiny time (“I don’t get seed ship.  Why they sacrifice themselves?  Why so nice?”), but did find the moment touching nevertheless (“So sad.  Sad story.  Sad alien.  Just like seppuku.”).

As always, the visual effects were the star of the show (“Very interesting to see computer graphics in fighting scenes.  Very cool.  I like it.”)



More sadness – and some confusion – abounds in this episode.  Interestingly enough, she felt sadder for a miscalculating Eli than the rest of the crew who presumably perish in the unstable wormhole: “The geek boy’s mathematics wasn’t correct, right?  Too bad, geek boy.   Very sad for him.”

She found the “stay or go” decisions by the various characters very interesting, particular Dale Volker’s desire to stay: “I was surprised the fact Patrick wanted to stay on the ship.  He was the third person!  Do you believe it?”  I asked her, given the choice, if she would choose to remain on Destiny.  Her response: “My character not very important so maybe writer send me back to Earth.”  The cold realist.

Overall, though, she really enjoyed this episode: “I liked this episode.  I like expensive episodes I guess.  Very cool.”



Another stone episode complete with confusing body-swapping.  Still: “I kind of liked it.  Exciting bomb situation going on.”

Again, she appreciated the visual effects and the “weird looking bomb”.  She also patted herself on the back for being instantly suspicious of Andrew the second he boarded the ship: “Andrew creepy.  Very suspicious from the beginning.”

One question she asked that I didn’t have the answer to was with regard to the old timey paintings that adorn the halls of Homeworld Command – and one in particular: “Why people pick Carl Binder’s picture over other writers?  Maybe because is more sophisticated.”  No, I’m sure that wasn’t it.



While she didn’t enjoy this episode as much as the previous visual effects extravaganzas, it did have its moments.  And some of those moments engendered some interesting responses…

When Ginn first shows up in Chloe’s body: “TWO girls in one body!  So great for him [Eli]!”

But then, when Ginn kisses Eli: “What the fuck?!”  And later: “I didn’t like the fact geek boy kiss because he was not nice to scientist guy when he wanted to kiss. Don’t forget – your body’s not really your body!”

When Rush is in strapped into the chair, experiencing the VR love-making with Amanda Perry, Akemi wondered if he had an erection and how embarrassing that would be considering the number of people in the room.

As for the B story: “I’m happy the fact surgery went well.  Team Curly!”



Her reaction to this episode was similar to mine: “Why such a stupid plan?”

Yes, she found this episode incredibly confusing: “What kind of mission were they trying to do?  I still don’t get it.  But it was nice to see Bob [Picardo]!”

After explaining the mission to her numerous times, she seemed to get it: “Stupid Chef!  Always pushing ideas and fail it.”

She wasn’t quite sure what to make of McKay (“Suddenly McKay show up.  He talk a lot.  Very arrogant.  From Atlantis.  So he is famous.”), but I assured her he’d grow on her.  She agreed to defer judgement until she’d had a chance to watch SGA.

But she wasn’t buying the body switching, especially the notion that a couple of people from Earth could so effectively impersonate a bunch of human aliens they’d never met: “Very hard to copy somebody’s actions.  I think some people may tell. Chotto henna [kind of strange] episode.”

The biggest eye roll came with the revelation that the parameters Amanda Perry set for their VR romantic encounters was their love for one another: “How to measure love?  What if more than like but a little less than love?  Not very scientific.”  So true.



I was actually surprised by how much she enjoyed this episode, her new favorite alongside season one’s Time.  She loved this episode for a number of reasons, the chiefest being the fact that her favorite character, Ronald Greer, is front and center. She also enjoyed seeing another side of Rush, the playful prankster very much in control.

“I liked this episode so much,”she said.  “Because so funny and I liked scientist’s sneaky face.  Reminds me of my boyfriend.  I liked the scientist so much in this episode.”

On Lisa Park’s potential romantic relationship with Volker: “She’s everyone’s girlfriend!”

Following the night time attack that kills off most of Varro’s people: “How many people you killed?  My boyfriend likes to kill people.”  And then: “A lot of Lucian Alliance people living together and you kill them all except your favorite Mike Dopud.” But on a more serious note: “Feels like you’re killing so many people every episode and math doesn’t go.”  Oh, it goes.  Trust me.  It goes.

As the end credits rolled: “I liked the computer graphics, the animal creature.  I liked to see Mike Dopud in the episode very much.  I liked scientist doing sneaky thing. I’m chotto sad the fact Patrick’s love situation.  So he’s still single?”  And: “I liked as much as Time.  Easier to understand.”



Akemi found this episode a bit of a head-spinner.  “Very confusing.  Robert Cooper’s episodes always so complicated.”  I prefer “complex”.

She had another question I didn’t have the answer to – as it turns out, a question I had at the time that I never got an answer to either: “What is the answer to question at beginning of episode about fruit?  Good for women and don’t want to tell male? What is that?  Maybe if you eat it you don’t get pimple?  Something like that?”  Yes, something like that I imagine.



Akemi found this episode quite touching: “So sad episode.  Everybody so old looking.”  In particular: “I find very sad.  Very super old Young.  Old Young’s life seems very sad for me.”

And Varro’s heroics weren’t lost on her.  After he saves T.J. from plummeting by catching her, then swinging her to safety: “I liked that Mike Dopud helped her.  So cool.  Coolcoolcool.”



She was very impressed with the visual effects in this episode, one sequence even prompting a bewildered: “How to do that?”

Highlights included: “And I find set is so cool too.  And Mike Dopud.  Bazooka!  I liked it!”

She did have some questions about Park’s ability to get out of the pool and reach the exit despite her lack of sight: “If she can’t see, how she’s able to reach the door?”

But her closing remarks were reserved, not for this episode, but the upcoming finale: “Wow.  Very interesting.  How to end?  I don’t think they make it back to Earth.  So I feel like not happy ending.  Depending on the ending, I may not like the season.” How’s that for pressure?  “I’m investing for a happy ending.  If not happy ending, my boyfriend have to tell me the story every night to give me a happy ending.”  I referred her to THIS blog entry: May 12, 2011: Stargate: Universe, Beyond Season 2! What Might Have Been!



Finally!  The finale!  I feared she would hate it since there is no happy ending. Instead, we leave Destiny with the crew in stasis and Eli alone on the bridge, with two weeks to fix the damaged pod and save his life.  Her response?

“I LIKED IT!  Kind of happy ending.  Nobody die.  Three years.”  And, doing the math: “So supposed to be this year!”

She loved the spectacular visual effects, the destruction of the command ships in particular, but still found the episode bittersweet: “I really feel sorry for her, the blind girl.  Daisy?  Lisa?  So sad about her and Jamil.”

“I liked it.  Happy ending.  At least they figured out the possibility to survive.”

Yes, presumably the Destiny crew is out there, somewhere, drifting, perhaps only years away from waking up once again and continuing their adventures.

NEXT UP: Stargate Atlantis!  Who wants to take part in the official re-watch?!

We’ll kick things off, viewing an episode a day starting Friday, January 31st with the series premiere: Rising I.  And we’ll continue through the show’s full five season run – provided Akemi remains onboard!  Who’s in?!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,559 other followers