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I received the following email this afternoon from a returning guest star:

“Okay am I supposed to have any idea what is going on in episode 306 because I do NOT. Are there any kind of Coles Notes on season 3 I can read?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Can’t wait to be back.”

Scifi is a tough business, especially in the third season of a heavily serialized show that features everything from cloning to wormhole travel, alternative universes to white hole bombs.  Add rebellious androids, mind hacking, and time travel to the mix and you have a recipe for…well, a very complicated episode.  And I didn’t realize HOW complicated until I responded with what I assumed would be a quick summary of seasons 1, 2, and 3.  Whew!  If you thought things got crazier in season 2, you better make sure you’re sitting down to watch season 3.

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Those Lenari Death Masks are coming along nicely (designed by 1st Assistant Art Director/Set Designer Karl Crosby).

Let’s hit the mailbag:

Ponytail writes: “Have you posted your 2016 blog statistics yet? We know who was your most prolific commenter, but who was 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th?”

Answer: For some reason, wordpress didn’t offer an end-of-year statistical breakdown.  I looked to see if I could dig the stats myself but, sadly, couldn’t find the relevant info.  I too was curious.  😦

ceresis64 writes: “Why did you choose Stargate Atlantis’ Sheppard’s silhouette for this image?”

https://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/november-14-2016-building-those-early-sets-dark-matter/#comment-229986

Answer: I didn’t choose, someone in the Art Department did, no doubt as a salute to my past.

“Will you give us full character bios for Solara Shockley; Adrian Maro and Teku Fonsei before Season 3 premieres?”

Answer: I believe something will be released before the premiere, yes.

“Will a soundtrack be released at some time?”

Answer: I’ve been bugging Ben Pinkerton about this for a while now.  He says he fully intends to release a soundtrack…when he has time.

“Will fans get the opportunity to choose a name for Android from a given list?”

Answer: As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, Zoie Palmer and I chose the Android’s name.  BUT fans will soon have the opportunity to select the season 3 episode titles!

“Will David Hewlett be behind the camera and direct an episode for Season 3?”

Answer: Alas, no.

“Would a book with the many BTS photos, concept art designs, costume designs, etc be something that could get published at some point?”

Answer: Something like this would be great – but it would be up to the production company to organize.

Duptiang writes: “So Joe, speaking of death defying, did you have your official issued Mochi yet?”

Answer: No mocha for this guy.

Tam Dixon writes: ” When you mom makes her red sauce for spaghetti, does she use red or white wine?”

Answer: Would you believe I don’t know?  But I don’t ever recall my mother putting wine in her sauce.  I have scene her splash red wine into her cooking meat though.

Harley Powers Parks writes: ” Three was incapacitated by his departed Sara. What happened that 3 recalls being in love?”

Answer: Hmmmm.  I’m not sure I understand the question, but I THREE doesn’t “remember” being in love.  He doesn’t remember Sarah but he sees in her an important piece of his past, that part of him that runs contrary to his bad-ass public persona, a humanity demonstrated in the love he once held for this woman.  It pains him that he doesn’t remember her but pains him even more (a rare display of empathy for The Raza’s resident bad boy) to see how much it hurts HER.  She was his sole connection to redemptive aspect of his past, one that was lost after the events of Episode 107.  In Episode 210, various members of the crew fell victim to neural attack, but it wasn’t simply matter of these hallucinations appearing to them.  If that was the case, neither TWO nor THREE nor FOUR would have so completely fallen victim to the Randroid’s attack.  The neural attack also comprised their judgement as well.

“Three was freaking over what Ryo must know about him, and we are nowhere near close to Seeing this answered with all of the back story on Ryo now possible.”

Answer: Oh, THREE will get the answer to that particular questions before the end of this season.  And he’s not going to like what he hears…

“Speaking of, what happened to the seers ship?”

Answer: The rest of the seers are still out there somewhere.

MaggieL80 writes: “Will there ever be a “slipped in” reference to Devan’s death by the Seers?”

Answer: Eventually.

“Are there potentially several different AU’s in the Dark Matter verse?”

Answer: Yes.  We visited one of a theoretically near-endless number.

“Based on the Seven Samurai template will One and Four be “replaced”?”

Answer: There will be no replacing lost crew members.

“Does the Raza need a crew of 7?”

Answer: Nope.

“What was the last movie you watched?”

Answer: Train to Busan.  Loved it.

“Favorite mixed drink?”

Answer: The Moscow Mule.

“What do you do to decompress besides spending time with Akemi & the pups, eat good food & read?”

Answer: Mostly, yes.  Looking forward to doing a lot of reading once I finish my last script of the season.

Okay, that’s it for today.  More to come!

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My single day off this weekend happened to be the coldest day of the this winter so far.  Time to break out the big coat, scarf and, dare I say it, hat!

A BIG week ahead on the Dark Matter front.  Production continues on Episode 303 with director Steve DiMarco calling the shots while prep also continues on Episode 305 with director JB Sugar at the helm.  Between set, meetings, and writing, I’ll also be working on my producer’s edit for Episodes 301, 302 AND 304.  And, of course, that means…episode titles are on the horizon!

As you may or may not know, the readers of this blog got to choose the episode titles for Dark Matter’s second season.  And you’ll get to do it again for season 3.

Delving into the mailbag…

katie writes: “Would you be willing to read a spec script and give notes?”

Answer: Between Dark Matter and my work on various other pilots, I unfortunately don’t have much free time to read outside scripts.

livingforcreativity writes: “Do you still have attempts going to get other shows on the air? If so, can you tell us about them?”

Answer: Yes, I have three pilots out, making the rounds.  One is a straight, serialized drama, another a supernatural horror, the third that military SF I mentioned a few months back.

“Do you have elevators in your work or residence, and have you had issues?”

Answer: Nope.

“Does Akemi send you a breakfast bento box?”

Answer: More of an early dinner bento…

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PBMom writes: “How is your knee?”

Answer: Better, but it does stiffen up at night or when I’m seated for extended periods of time.

Greg Long writes: “A lot of published authors say that to be a good writer you must read a lot. Does this hold true for screen writing?”

Answer: It holds true for me.

“Do you have a checklist for each scene to ensure it fulfills a purpose?”

Answer: Each scene should serve a purpose.  If you can remove a scene without it impacting the script, then it never belonged in the script in the first place.

bambamfans writes: “If you create another TV show, who will run Dark Matter?”

Answer: In that best case scenario, I’d oversee both productions.

“What is the theme of Season 3 Dark Matter?”

Answer: The past comes back to haunt.

“Will David Hewlett return as Tabor Calchek?”

Answer: No, he will not.

“Did you return to the same condo in Toronto that you lived in last season?

Answer: Yes.  At the end of the day, it’s far from perfect but better than the other options.

“Does Suji prefer the company of humans or dogs?”

Answer: Humans definitely, women in particular, and Akemi specifically.

“What film that you watched as a child had the largest impact on you?”

Answer: Planet of the Apes, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Star Wars.

“Who do you think will win the Superbowl?”

Answer: The Dallas Cowboys.

gforce writes: “How are Lulu’s spinal issues/walking coming along?”

Answer: Hard to say.  We’ve noticed that she’s been having trouble lately but we’re not sure whether its a physical issue or the fact that she’s wearing booties.

“Also, are those script rewrites that you needed to do all completed by now?”

Answer: Alas, I’ll be in script rewrite mode until we go to camera on our final episode.

Line Noise writes: “What is the knot you were using for your ties?”

Answer: It’s called a Trinity Knot.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMnlYXoCOwc

“How much scope does a Dark Matter writer have when writing an episode?  Do they just have a beginning and end and can do whatever they want in between?”

Answer: Definitely not.  When we gather to break stories for the new season, I already know what the arc of said season will be and most of the stories we’ll tell.  We’ll spin ideas for the individual stories, and then put the beats up on the whiteboard, breaking down the episode scene by scene.  Once we’re done, the writer will flesh out an outline based on the story we’ve broken.  I’ll provide notes on the outline at which point the writer will write a first draft.  Once they’ve incorporated my notes and delivered a second draft, I’ll do my pass on the script.

Randomness writes: “How do you feel about episodes based in the future?”

Answer: Love them.

Answer: More so, have you ever considered doing a Steins Gate type message from the future to one of the crew who is facing a traumatic ordeal and needs some encouragement to push through and overcome it from their future self?

Answer: No, although one of our crew members WILL be receiving a “message from the future” in an early season episode.

profmadmax writes: “Joe, on SG-1: whose call on DVD audio commentary participants?”

Answer: Participants weren’t so much chosen as they were asked.  Whoever was free and interested would take part.

“Do you feel that a writer can plagiarize themself?”

Answer: I suppose so, yes.

“Your least favorite Atlantis episode & why.”

Answer: I hated Sanctuary.  My take: https://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/february-17-2014-news-of-note-our-stargate-atlantis-rewatch-continues-withouchsanctuary/

Dupdiang writes: “Just wondering what influence you had or a point to for your finish.”

Answer: As I’ve said from the beginning, I developed Dark Matter as a five season long arc with a definite beginning, middle, and end.  And all those elements are still in play.

TheOtherOne writes: “Please may I ask how you and Akemi first met? Was it love at first sight?”

Answer: We met in Tokyo at the Pierre Marcolini Cafe where she was working – and I was eating daily chocolate parfaits.  Our first date: https://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/november-30-2009-tokyo-travel-day-6-ginza-la-tour-michel-troisgros/

“So far, what is the happiest memory you both share?”

Answer: So hard to narrow it down to just one.  Well, there was the day she was accepted as a permanent resident here in Canada.

“Who (and what) was your very own first pet?”

Answer: I had a cat called Smokey growing up.

“Did you grow up with an animal companion?”

Answer: Always.  Growing up I had Smokey, then a poodle named Snoopy, then various cats, then the pugs and Lulu.

“Please would you describe the circumstances you and Paul (Mullie) first met?”

Answer: We met in a college creative writing class of all places.

“And finally …Do you regret having to kill One off in Season 2?”

Answer: Do I miss actor Marc Bendavid?  Absolutely!

That’s all for today.  More answers to come!

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Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out!

My 2017 resolutions…

1) Learn to say no more.

2) Learn to say yes more.

3) Don’t let any of it get to me.

4) Make Dark Matter’s third season the best one yet, then make Dark Matter’s fourth season even better.

5) Simplify and downsize.

6) Diversify.

7) Do more of those dreaded meetings.

8) Read more.

9) Go to Japan and visit places that aren’t Tokyo or Osaka.

10) Set up a new show.

Let’s start with those and see how we do.

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Do not let your eyes deceive you.  What at first appears to be industrial drain cleaner is actually one of China’s most celebrated liquors that retails for about $200 a bottle.  It’s sort of like a cross between home made grappa and street tequila – but harsher.  What better way to ring in the New Year?

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Mom has already gotten started!

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“That poor man,”said an elderly woman.  Her tone suggested pity but also a hint of relief, sort of a sympathy base with a dash of “There but for the Grace of God go I.”.  In truth, in that instant, it was my pride that hurt most of all.  In fairness though, the middle finger of my right hand was still numb and my knee wouldn’t start aching for another fifteen minutes.

The morning had started promisingly enough with a trip to a local coffee shop in nearby Pointe-Claire village, Victor Rose, a quaint little place that offers up a warm, dog-friendly environment AND internet.  It had fast become Akemi and my go-to place since my sister recommended it a few days back.  Run by a mother and her two daughters, it has a real Cheers vibe except that, instead of beer, it serves up varied caffeinated beverages and a Sambuca biscotti that Akemi adores.  Also, it has its fair share of colorful regulars as we discovered on two separate occasions.

Bubba accompanied us on our first visit.  He spent most of his time there cowering under a table.  Suji was next.  Nestled in her stroller for the duration of our stay, she seemed bored, staring up at us with a plaintive “When’re we going?” look.  Finally, today, it was Lulu’s turn.  Lulu, the most sociable of the pack.  Lulu, who LOVES to meet people.  Lulu who, on this particular foray, panted and paced anxiously until it was time to go.

On the way home, we decided to pick up dog food.  The pet store is located in a mall – also dog-friendly – so we parked and walked in with Lulu.  As we were strolling along, I noticed that one of Lulu’s booties was missing.  “I’ll go find it,”said Akemi, doubling back.  “Meet you at the pet shop!”  She disappeared from view and we continued on our way.

And then, it happened.

As Lulu scampered along, she casually dropped a single piece of poop.  She seemed completely oblivious as she motored along, not even breaking stride, like someone who had unwittingly dropped their wallet.  I, of course, hit the brakes. And, as luck would have it, a wet patch.  If I’d been scripting this incident, the coincidence that precipitated my fall would have struck me as exceptionally contrived.  Instead, all that came to mind was “Shit!” and then I hit the deck.

I quickly picked myself up, more concerned with locating a baggie and picking up that lone poop nugget than considering any possible injuries.  “Poor thing is anxious,”I heard the same elderly woman say.  I wasn’t sure if she was referring to me or Lulu.

Akemi caught up with us at the pet store where I told her what had happened.  “I’ll write about it in today’s blog entry,”I told her.

“The title should be ‘I’m Sorry I Make Fun Of My Girlfriend Falling Down'”she suggested.

So there you have it.

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Lulu works on her tan.

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For Christmas, Akemi asked for a gift certificate from Muji, a Japanese retailer that has opened a shop in Toronto.  It offers up homey essentials, everything from toothbrush holders to Japanese sweets.  Sadly, one of the things they don’t offer are gift certificates.  As a result, I crafted a clever, official-looking facsimile – signed by the fictitious Tanaka Muji no less!

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Lulu isn’t a fan of other dogs, generally preferring to ignore them in favor of their human counterparts.  For some reason, though, she really seems to have hit it off with my sister’s dog, Kona.  Pictured above – them sharing lobster.

Lulu pins Kona for the three count!

P.S. Okay, I think I really did a number on my knee.  This is definitely going to put a crimp in my daily leg workout.

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A previous blog entry saw me use some baseball terminology to make a point about some of the challenges I was facing.  Specifically: “but then there are the unexpected curveballs that come at you from people who really should know fucking better”.

curveballa pitch thrown with a strong downward spin, causing the ball to drop suddenly and veer to the side as it approaches home plate.

North American informal: something which is unexpected, surprising, or disruptive.

In baseball, when a batter is on deck and is thrown a curveball, he must adjust to the pitch in order to hit the ball and put it in play.

In, let’s say film or television production, one could liken this to a drastic script or schedule change or, oh, say, an agent who, through sheer ineptitude, triggers the aforementioned.

Please note: The “curveball” is not to be mistaken for those pitches way outside the strike zone, balls, that end up being called strikes.

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Awwww.  It’s baby Jelly.

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And baby Maximus.

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Pictured above: Me consoling Suji who went into hiding after being freaked out by the vacuum cleaner.

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Upon further consideration, I’ve elected to leave Montreal a day earlier than our planned Monday departure.  This will give me a full day to decompress before the start of our 7-day work week.  Yes, your math is correct.  A 7 day work week starting on Tuesday because Line Producer Norman Denver and Production Manager Brandon Tataryn don’t care about NFL Wildcard Weekend since their Denver Broncos were eliminated from playoff contention.  The expected late Saturday call should ensure we miss both games played that that day.

It’s hard to believe we’re already about to prep Episode 305.  The production machine is in full gear eating into that glorious head start of a month back.  I’ve got a script to work on but my progress hasn’t been somewhat…slow over these holidays.  If you count the opening tease, partial pages, and dialogue fragments, I’ve completed exactly nothing so far.  But I’m hopeful that when I DO get started, I’ll positively blaze through this one.

While I haven’t been doing doing much writing, I have, on the other hand, been doing a hell of a lot of reading, surpassing my annual goal –4

Although, in all fairness, about 40 of them were graphic novels.  Still, I think I can polish off a few more before the New Year as I begin to compile my list of Best Reads of 2016.

So what were your fave reads of the year?  Do tell!

 

 

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Whenever the holidays roll around, our thoughts inevitably turn to my late father, a man with a great sense of humor, a love of animals, and a passion for food.

Late in life, once he started experiencing health issues, the family doctor put him on a special diet.  No fried foods.  No sweets.  Just  lean meats and fresh veggies prepared with little oil moving forward.  Of course, it was my mother who was expected to follow those instructions once they returned home.  And, of course, it was my father who grumpily refused to eat until mom prepared something he actually enjoyed – namely everything he’d been told to steer clear of.

Months later, my mother accompanied dad for a check-up.  The doctor informed him that his cholesterol was higher than ever.  Had he been following the diet he’d been given?  Realizing there was no point in lying, my father admitted he had, in fact, been eating the same fried foods he been instructed to steer clear of.

“Why?”asked the doctor, incensed.

“It’s not my fault,”my father shrugged.  “That’s just the way my wife cooks.”

The story is made all that more memorable by the fact that my mother was in the examination room with him at the time and though steamed, said nothing!

My father loved seafood.  And he also loved all-you-can-eat deals.  So when a local seafood restaurant announced an all-you-can-eat shrimp dinner special, my father HAD to check it out.

At the restaurant, he informed the waiter he was there for the all you can eat shrimp special, sat back and waited.  Fifteen minutes later, he was served – an order of five shrimp.

“What’s this?”asked my father.

“Shrimp,”said the waiter.

“I ordered the all-you-can eat.”

“Oh, you can eat all you want,”the waiter assured him.  He could order once he was done.

My father was a man of quaint sayings.  “He’s bats in the belfry” and “Wouldn’t that jar your preserves?” were two of his go-to’s.  Another favorite, which he uttered on this particular night, was “I leave this much on my plate when I’m done.”  He placed his order for a second round, polished off his five shrimp and waited.  And waited.

Twenty minutes later, his second serving of shrimp arrived – this time, a meager three.  My father was outraged.  The waiter, for his part, seemed amused by my dad’s can-do attitude, once again assuring him he could eat as much as he wanted…once he had finished what was on his plate.

Some fifteen minutes later, the waiter returned to check on him.  “Would you like anything else?”he asked.

“Yes!”said my father, incensed.  “More shrimp!”

The waiter seemed surprised, but nevertheless headed off to inform the kitchen. They had a live one!

Another twenty minute wait and another lowly three shrimp later, the waiter returned and asked if my father wanted dessert.

“No,”my father angrily informed him.  “I want more shrimp.”

“More shrimp?!”said the waiter, no doubt casting his gaze about the room to spot the hidden camera, seemingly amazed by my father’s inhuman ability to consume more than eleven shrimp.

Needless to say, my father never went back – and never failed to repeat this story whenever future all-you-can-eat opportunities arose.

Another one of my favorite dad stories took place one hot summer day when my sister and I were kids.  Back then, my parents would purchase frozen orange juice concentrate for us.  All we had to do was mix it with cold water and, voila, instant orange juice.  That’s ALL we had to do but, apparently, actually making the orange juice was such a hardship that my sister and I avoided doing so at all costs.  There was an unwritten rule that whoever finished the juice would have to make the next batch and so, we went to great pains to avoid pouring that last glass.  As  a result, the remnants of that orange juice container would sit for days, sometimes weeks, as Andria and I would play our own version of chicken.  In the case of this particular batch, it must have sat there for close to a month as my sister and I dug in our heels, and that orange fermented and fizzed.

And then, that hot summer’s day, my father walked into the kitchen, parched and perspiring after mowing the lawn, poured himself a glass of orange juice, and knocked it back.  I suspect he was so thirsty that he didn’t realize at first – and then the taste must have hit him.  From downstairs, I heard what had to have been the most violent spit take in history, then walked upstairs to find my father, clearly in shock, wide-eyed and red-faced, sitting behind a table spattered with month old orange juice.

I’d like to say it was a singular event but, sadly, this incident was proceeded by another surprisingly similar one months later.  My dad always enjoyed a glass of iced water before bed.  He’d pour himself a glass, drop in some ice cubes, then head into the adjoining room to watch the Carol Burnett Show, allowing the ice to melt, the water to chill.  One night, I was walking past the kitchen when I heard the sound of something clinking in the darkness.  I turned on the light and discovered our cat, paw deep in the water glass, attempting to snag an elusive ice cube.  It was the most adorable thing and I made a note to mention it to my sister as I turned off the light and headed up to my room.

Later that night, I returned to find my father sitting in the kitchen in front of an empty water glass.

“Hey,”I said.  “What happened to the water in that glass?”

“I drank it,”said my father.

“You drank it?”  As if it was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard and, really, my father should have known better.  “The cat had it’s paw in that water.”

Needless to say, my father took it about as well as a mouthful of month-old orange juice.

And finally, there was the time my mother went away for a week, leaving my father to look after my sister and I.  The day before her return, my father set about cleaning up, doing household chores that he’d probably never done before in his life.  Like laundry.  I recall walking downstairs and discovering him sweating as he labored, ironing the bath towels.

The bath towels!

And there was the time we went to the Win-Wah Buffet and he was trying to get that waiter’s attention.

But I’d best leave that one for another time.

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