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In truth, pretty damn close.

So often, you’ll hear stories long after the fact.  Like how Apple almost brought Stargate: SG-1 back for an iTunes exclusive 11th and final season.  Or how Canada’s Space Channel attempted to save Stargate: Universe.  But in this case, the events are fairly recent  – a last ditch effort to save Dark Matter spearheaded by some old friends.  An effort that, had it been successful, would have seen characters from the world of Stargate crossover into the Dark Matter universe.   Or, technically and creatively, vice-versa.  I kid you not.

Not long after word broke of the syfy cancellation, we had several interested parties reach out to us.  One of the most intriguing of them was was MGM, my former home for 12 glorious years while I was working on the Stargate franchise.   They loved the show.  They were aware of the fanbase.  And they recognized a great opportunity.

Over the course of a week, with the window of opportunity to save the show growing narrower, I had several long and involved conversations with Simon Graty (EVP & GM Domestic Networks at MGM Studios), Kieran Dickson (Editorial Director at MGM), and Jenny Stiven (Consultant, Digital/Social Strategy & Content, Influencer Marketing).  The plan, if successful, would have seen Dark Matter’s fourth season premiere on MGM’s streaming platform, Stargate Command, alongside the upcoming Stargate: Origins series.  Perhaps equally intriguing was the prospect of doing some sort of Dark Matter/Stargate crossover that would rev up the fanbase in advance of further original Stargate programming down the road.

The two things working against us were time and existing contracts, the latter which proved our undoing.  BUT we came so close –

To a fourth season of Dark Matter.

To a sci-fi crossover for the ages.

Ultimately, we weren’t successful, but I want to thank MGM, and especially Simon, Jenny, and Kieran, for reaching out and trying to make it happen.

Today, Ivon and I caught up with a couple of the individuals who orchestrated that attempted 11th hour save (Jenny and Kieran), as we sat down with them, and Gateworld’s David Reed, for late lunch and three hours of reminiscing about the old Stargate  days.

Watch for our interview, and many more, coming to Stargate Command.

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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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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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A little while ago, a buddy of mine forwarded me an old article he came across while clearing out his place.  Titled “Winning the Space Race”, it was a piece on Stargate: SG-1.  The article intros: “It’s slammed by critics and sci-fi diehards, but Stargate: SG-1 has become the little show that could, staying on the air even longer than the X-Files or any of the Star Trek series.”

Reading the article took me back to those glory days – and, strangely, made me realize that, after all these years, my situation hasn’t really changed.  Specifically, I refer to the parallels between my old show, Stargate: SG-1, and my new one, Dark Matter.  Sure there are the obvious similarities – the fact that Paul Mullie and I played a significant role in the creative of both, the underlying humor and sense of fun shared by SG-1 and Dark Matter, the fact that at the heart of both shows is the family unit and the bonds forged by loyalty, love, and camaraderie.

And then, there is another comparison to be drawn, neatly summed up in that article’s leading: “the little show that could”.  The sad truth is that Stargate (SG-1, Atlantis, and Universe) faced long odds throughout its impressive run.  It was never a media darling.  It didn’t have the cachet of other shows.  It didn’t have the money of splashier SF productions.  Every season looked to be its last and yet, amazingly, it came back, again and again, defying those long odds.  What was initially supposed to be a two year gig when I joined SG-1’s fourth season turned into a glorious twelve year ride.  And why?  Well, the fans spoke.  Loudly.  And the network listened.

Fast-forward to now and I find myself in a surprisingly similar position – anxiously awaiting word on a pick-up for a show that isn’t a media darling, doesn’t have the cachet of other shows or the money of splashier SF productions.  They’re long odds, but we defied them to get seasons 2 and 3, and now we need our fandom to to help us secure season 4 because season 4…well, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but the season 3 finale opens a new chapter in the Dark Matter pentalogy, one that will reward the scifiest of scifi fans.

If Season 1 was Secrets and Surprises.

And Season 2 was Risks and Redemption.

And Season 3 is Victories and Vengeance.

Then Season 4 is A… and A…

Care to hazard a guess?  I promise you, it’s going to be HUGE.

Then, as always, it all comes down to you.  Help Dark Matter get that fourth season.  MAKE SOME NOISE!

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Well look who dropped by the comments section.  None other than Robert C. Cooper.  I mentioned his upcoming miniseries, Unspeakable, in yesterday’s entry and, today, he left the following message:

“Thanks for the shout out Joe! If you’re interested in following the progress then head on over to http://www.unspeakableseries.com and please like us on Facebook at Unspeakabletv!”

Ah, this takes me back to Rob’s directorial debut, back on a little show called Stargate: SG-1

So what inspired Rob to become a director? His love for the art?  Creative ambition?  Would you believe…fear.

Parents be warned…

And what did I expect from Rob’s debut?  Well, I never had a doubt…

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I started my writing career in animation,  After several years of freelancing, I landed a full time job as the Manager of Animation Development at a local studio in Montreal.  My 9 to 5 duties covered all aspects of the internal creative and, over the course of my time there, I developed such shows as Animal Crackers, Mona the Vampire, Paddington Bear, and Caillou.  I also continued my freelance scriptwriting in my off-hours AND story-edited several (of the aforementioned) shows.  I was happy and, at the time, thought “It can’t get any better than this.”

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I eventually left the security of my 9 to 5 job for the feast or famine world of full time freelancing.  I continued to write scripts and story-edit, shifting focus from that local studio to some of the bigger animation guns, eventually lending my services to the CBS Saturday morning line-up.  I made my own hours, worked at my own pace and, more importantly, made better money.  “Okay, now,”I thought, “it can’t get any better than this.”

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I eventually transitioned from animation to live action, partnering with my long-time friend, Paul Mullie, and landing a staff position on a teen sitcom called Student Bodies.  We shot in an abandoned school and wrote in our enormous office,  a carpeted former classroom.  One day, the show’s creators asked us if we needed anything.  I jokingly suggested an air hockey table.  Well, the following week, an air hockey table was written into an episode and, once said episode was shot, that air hockey table found a permanent home in our office.  It was a pretty sweet gig and, at time time, I was pretty damn sure “It can’t get any better than this.”

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And then, we ended up on Stargate and spent 12 incredible years writing and producing one of the  most successful franchises in scifi television history.  Paul and I worked our way up from co-producers to showrunners and had a hell of a lot of fun along the way.  Even though the shows had their challenges, we enjoyed going to work every day and enjoyed the company of the people we worked with.   Judging from everything we’d heard about the many other productions out there, we knew we were very lucky and I had no doubt then that my time on Stargate would be next to impossible to top.  “It can’t get any better than this,”I assumed for presumably the last time.

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Then, two years later, Dark Matter comes along.  Three season in, it reminds me a lot of my time on Stargate – fun, fulfilling, and very rewarding with the added bonus that it happens to be MY show.  Surely, it can’t get any better than this.

But who knows?

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