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Next to natto and shopping online for dog clothes, there’s nothing my girlfriend enjoys more than good old-fashioned outdoor photo op.

#oddballgirlfriends

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My phone started buzzing at approximately 7:30 a.m.  I was, of course, still sleeping off last night’s Dark Matter season 3 wrap party and in no mood to get up, much less answer – but something told me it, maybe, wasn’t a wrong number. I reached up, grabbed my cell, and checked the number on the call display.  Jodelle Ferland.

Jodelle?  Wasn’t she supposed to be on a flight to Denver?  What the heck was going on?

Well, it turned out she had gone to the airport to catch her flight, ended up in the wrong line, discovered she was in the wrong line, tried to find someone to help her but either a) couldn’t find anyone or b) was roundly ignored (coincidentally, by the very same Air Canada employee who was rude to her the last time she flew out of Toronto).  By the time she figured things out, she’d missed the cut off for boarding and so, was forced to reschedule to the next available flight – tomorrow morning!

Stranded at the airport, the production offices closed, unsure of what to do, she decided to throw a Hail Mary – and gave me a call.

“You’re like a homestay dad,”Akemi observed as  I jumped out of bed, got dressed and headed out the, while she got started on cleaning up the apartment, spurred at the prospect of having Jodelle crash in our guest room tonight.

On the way to the airport, I was able to book Jodelle the last available room at the hotel next door.

Toronto’s Pearson Airport is a maze and, unlike other airports, offers no real directions to an ARRIVALS section.  No signage or instructions on their website.  I attempted to call for information but was put on hold.  And so, instead, I pulled into Terminal 1, section A, called Jodelle, and waited for her to find her way.

When she finally found me, she was clearly exhausted.  “Welcome back to Toronto!”I said, greeting her with a big hug.  We popped her luggage in the back of the SUV and we were on our way!

Poor Jodelle.  I checked her into her room, then headed back up to my place where I watched Bruce McDonald’s director’s cut of Episode 312 (the recently titled “My Final Gift To You”).  A slew of secrets revealed in this one – and plenty of surprises to boot!

On the one hand, Jodelle had a miserable morning, missed her flight, and was operating on about an hour’s sleep.  On the bright side, she got to join Akemi, Ivon Bartok, Jason Priestley and I for dim sum!

If there’s one thing Jason loves, it’s dim sum.  And we made sure to cover all the bases: pork buns, spring rolls, daikon mocha, shrimp dumplings and even a vegetarian noodle dish for Jodelle that arrived after we’d all eaten way too much.

From there, it was a short walk over to a Daits, a little shop on the basement level of a nearby mall.  The specialty – dates!  Surprised?  They’re imported from Saudi Arabia and come in a variety of flavors – almond butter stuffed, pistachio-crusted, covered in dark chocolate and adorned with gold leaf.  There’s also Akemi’s favorite, the crispy florentine, she calls “Pachi Pachi” because, well, that’s what it feels like when you chew it.  We got a dozen to share and a mix – despite the woman’s attempts to hard-sell the pistachio and the ones with the candied ginger inside.

We parted ways with Jason and Ivon, then headed back to our place where Jodelle got to say hi to the dogs.  Lulu, for one, was glad she’d missed her morning flight and immediately staked claim to her lap.

We headed downstairs where we met up with my longtime friend and writer/story editor Anne-Marie Perrotta and her husband Jerome before heading over to SOMA Chocolates for ice cream and –

For Jodelle, an affogato (coconut sorbet and espresso).

By that time it was a little past 3 p.m. and those dinners plans we’d made seemed most unlikely.  We were all stuffed. We couldn’t eat another bite.  Until we walked by Starbucks and saw a sign for their limited Unicorn Frappuccino.

“Do you want one?”I asked Jodelle.

“No,”she said.  “But I WOULD try one.”

Close enough!

Jodelle samples the Unicorn.  And likes what she tastes.

In fact, both Akemi and Jodelle gave it the thumbs up.  I, on the other hand, didn’t like the frappuccino’s underlying sourness – no doubt a result of its unicorn milk component.

Tonight, we cap things off with tea and a screening of some Dark Matter production cuts!  And, tomorrow, Jodelle should be on her way.

Hopefully.

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Daddy’s home!!!!

(Sorry.   Akemi took it portrait for instal-story.  Whatever that is.)

Exchanged emails with my prospective real estate agent in Vancouver.  Apparently, following a brief downturn, the market is picking back up.  Once again, we’re in for another round of “Should I or Shouldn’t I?”.  If we get that fourth season pick-up, it would make a whole lot of sense to just sell the house in Van, move to Toronto through, hopefully, the end of season 5, and then consider our options then.  The prospect of buying a condo in Japan becomes increasingly possible.  To be honest, the only thing holding me back are the dogs (having to take that cross-Pacific 10 hour journey).  That and the fact that my writing/producing opportunities may be somewhat…scanter there.  UNLESS I switch over to writing novels.  Maybe a tea cozy mystery series about a retired school teacher and her pet pug?  It practically writes itself!

Happy Easter Sunday!

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Thanks to all who participated our episode naming poll.  We have a winner!

Dark Matter “Episode 25: Isn’t That A Paradox?”

Well?!  Isn’t it?!!!!!

Four more chances to choose your favorite episode title to come!

While the action continued at the Ishida Palace, I was at the production offices prepping the BIG season finale.  AND making plans for season 4 (How’s that for optimism?).

A little something the Art Department is working on…

A question from birdyincanada: “I know I just missed the last mailbox, but I would like to know who is responsible for choosing a director and why does a show choose different directors for different episodes instead of sticking with one person. They do this for movies, why not for shows?”

Answer: Production proceeds on a staggered schedule so that, while one director is shooting an episode, another is prepping.  It would be next to impossible for a single director to prep the entire 13 episode slate (it would take months!) and then direct the whole thing – and, frankly, not particularly efficient.  Using different directors also allows us to try and discover new talent, like this season’s finds: directors Craig David Wallace and Melanie Orr.

Before Bubba’s passing, we had some family photos taken with photographer Kevin Sarasom at Off Leash Studio.  He got some great shots of the kids, among them this keeper:

Also, thanks to artist A. Jaye Williams (sillwill.com) for the amazing sketch of Bubba.

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It’s been a while.  Let’s hit the mailbag:

Jessica writes: “Your day-to-day schedule is filled to the brim with tasks, work, activities, etc galore. How do you maintain such a strict schedule of managing your time to accomplish everything, including writing this blog?”

Answer: I get asked this question a lot and the honest answer is: “I just find the time to make it work.”  It’s quite amazing how adaptable human beings can be.  It’s hard to believe that, back in the day, Brad, Robert, Carl, Martin, Paul, Alan and I wrote and produced 40 episodes of television (SG1 and SGA) a year for two years.  And yet we managed to get it done.  It’s no different with Dark Matter.  I have a lot on my plate but the reality is that NOT getting it done isn’t an option.  Also, I’ve yet to miss a day of blogging in 10+ years and, in similar fashion, I feel there are a lot of readers out there depending on me.  I can’t let them down!

“Does it come easy for you (as in, natural planner and organizer) or have you disciplined yourself to maintain such a schedule?”

Answer: Having little choice in the matter helps a lot.  At the end of the day, if a script isn’t delivered, issues aren’t addressed, or a deadline missed, I’d have no one to blame but myself.  Which is why I just can’t allow it to happen. I can’t say it’s ever easy – but certainly very fulfilling when it’s all said and done.

maggmayday writes: “Would you ever have a cat?”

Answer: I love cats too but I love dogs more so I’m much more likely to adopt another dog (or two) before I’d get a cat.

TheOtherOne writes: “Who was your favourite teacher at school? Why? And how did they influence your life?”

Answer: My old high school English (and drama) teacher, John Whitman, inspired my passion for literature and help make me a better writer by pointing out some of the narrative techniques I used to fall back on in high school.

“Have you ever written a character with that person in mind?”

Answer: Never a character, but his lessons continue to influence my daily writing.

“Again, at school (either junior or high) … Were you a sporty or booky person or a bit of both?”

Answer: Oh, definitely booky.  As much as I enjoyed watching NFL Sunday football, my sporting ventures were limited to marathon sessions of D&D.

“What sort of friends did you have and do you still have contact with any of them?”

Answer: I’d say my friends were a varied mix back then and I don’t really keep in touch with many.  A couple of notable exceptions, among them my best friend in high school, Cas Anvar, who is presently tearing it up as Alex Kamal on The Expanse.

“Please could you list 5 of your top/favourite films of all time?”

Answer: Aliens, Blade Runner, A Christmas Story, The Princess Bride, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

“Would Akemi like to do a mailbag for us sometime?”

Answer: I asked Akemi.  Her response: “Depends on the questions.”

Alabaster55 writes: “Is there any way you could get your art department to through together a size comparison chart if the ships in Dark Matter?”

Answer: This would be more a request for VFX Supervisor Lawren Bancroft-Wilson.  I’ll ask him.

MaggieL80 writes: “A favorite expression or quote?”

Answer: Smooooooooth sailing!

“A favorite poet?”

Answer: Sorry.

“A favorite poem?”

Answer: Sorry again.

“Favorite vacation spot?”

Answer: Tokyo of course.

“Favorite go to comfort food?”

Answer: Chocolate!

ivonbartokfans writes: “How long did it take Ivon to write the script for 307?”

Answer: I’ll save this question for Ivon’s mailbag.

“Do you think you could foster dogs or would it be too painful to give them up when a forever home was found?”

Answer: We had intended to try fostering but, upon laying eyes on Suji, Akemi reconsidered and suggested we adopt instead.  I’d be happy to foster, but am reluctant to commit for the reasons you outlined.

“How did the cast photoshoot go?”

Answer: From what I hear, Alison Hepburn did a fantastic job running the show.

Tinyiy writes: “How do you audition for dark matter?”

Answer: Have your agent submit you.  We cast everything from recurring to the occasional one-line parts.

Daniel Watson writes: “Did Eli fix his pod and survive the jump?”

Answer: In my mind, yes, Eli did fix his pod and the Destiny crew is still out there, somewhere, safe in stasis.

darkmatter writes: “when are the answers from that Jodelle Ferland q&a gonna be on here?”

Answer: Whenever she finishes them.  We keep her busy on the show so I told her she didn’t have a deadline on turning them around.

Bailey writes: “1. Do you know when the casts’ photoshoot pictures will be out?”

Answer: I imagine the new cast photos should start hitting the internet approximately a month before the season 3 premiere.  Say May or June?

“2. Will you guys be at San Diego Comic Con?”

Answer: I, personally, will not be at San Diego Comic Con but some of the cast certainly will.

ceresis64 writes: “Did my triptych idea for a contest seem feasible?”

Answer: You’ll have to refresh my memory…

“Is 8 March the most popular birth date that members of the cast/crew celebrate together? If not, what date is? And how many celebrate that day?”

Answer: No idea.

“What’s the latest news about your military sci-fi series?”

Answer: No news really.  There was some interest but it would have required us to go into production immediately which, given my present commitments, would have been impossible.

“Would you consider a future contest to make a Season 3 poster?”

Answer: Sure.

Kyle Toth writes: “What is the best way to get a chance to audition for Dark Matter? I know Alex Mallari Jr. attended IMTA; would this be a way to get in front of the right people?”

Answer: As I answered earlier, all you need is an agent who will recommend you for a specific role.  And, no, you don’t have to be a seasoned performer to land an agent.

cat4444 writes: “What does a production do if one of the main cast shows up for work sick? Shooting schedules are set, it’s not as if a main cast member can be replaced, and the rest of the cast getting sick is not a desirable option. So what do you do?”

Answer: Usually, the cast member pushes through.  On rare occasions (It’s only happened once on Dark Matter that I can remember) I will write said cast member out of that day’s scenes and send them home to recuperate.

Jackie May writes: “is the dark matter crew going to dragon con this year….i hope so!”

Answer: I’m not privy to the individual cast members’ convention plans but I’d safe it’s a safe bet that at least some of them will be there.

bolo writes: “Any more romantic interludes for 3?”

Answer: Oh, it’s possible.

“Also any Canadian dates for cast?”

Answer: If you mean a premiere date on Space Channel, not yet!

Sandy writes: “Was it always your plan to kill off One?”

Answer: Even the best-laid plans don’t always come to fruition.  Once you start production, you’re no longer working in a bubble and have to contend with numerous unforeseen developments, surprises, and outside influences that may force a course change.

profmadmax writes: “Who is typically in charge of TV season DVD packaging and title menus artwork?”

Answer: In the case of Dark Matter, it’s Funimation.

“What is your least favorite Stargate SG-1 episode?”

Answer: Emancipation, Hathor, Seth.  Hard to choose.

Do you like series crossover characters like Munch(Homicide,X-Files,Law&Order) & have you ever considered a DM/SG scenario? Is it complicated copyright-wise? For instance, if another show wanted to use a character which you created, is it a simple yes/no from you, or do you forfeit the rights to the production company?”

Answer: As much as I’d love to do a crossover, it would be incredibly complicated and extremely unlikely.  The rights to Stargate and all of its characters rest with MGM.

Sandy writes: “Do you already know if you are guaranteed 5 seasons of Dark Matter? Or is it reviewed yearly despite your 5 year story line?”

Answer: Although I do have a 5 year storyline planned, the fate of the show rests with the broadcasters.  Like most every show out there, we await word of a potential pick-up from the moment our new season premieres.

Tinyiy writes: “Will Dark Matter be at Fan Expo Canada or Toronto comicon?”

Answer: Hmmm.  I’m not sure.  If the show was invited, I’m sure we would arrange for cast members to show.

“Where do you film?”

Answer: Mostly in Etobicoke and Hamilton.

“Have you ever come across the town of Richmond Hill?”

Answer: No.  Would you recommend I visit?

TheOtherOne writes: “Joe, how do you choose the ‘Related’ section to the blog? Sometimes it has very recent blog links and sometimes blog links to the distant past – which are a real treat to read  Thanks for these!”

Answer: They’re automatically generated by the blog.  I’m as surprised as you are.

 

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(illustration by Juanita Nakamura)

Thanks to everyone who took the time to reach out via posts, texts, emails, phone, and personally to offer condolences on Bubba’s passing.  Akemi and I are truly touched by the kind words and gestures of friends, co-workers, and strangers alike. It’s been an exhausting week and it has meant a lot – to hear from you all and then, to get home late last night to find a lovely bouquet awaiting us compliments of Dark Matter Executive Producer Jay Firestone.

Akemi has been surprisingly strong – sad but strengthened by the fact his condition has deteriorated so much that we’d had little choice in the end.  She was telling me that her favorite memories of Bubba included the time he first learned to “shake” (She taught him when he was 10.  The next day, his arm was so sore he could barely lift it).  And his passion for art –

Also the way he would patiently sit down on the sidewalk after crossing a street in full expectation of the treat he would receive for the herculean effort.

For me, it was the time he ate a bag of chocolate-covered almonds sitting on the kitchen table and then had explosive diarrhea.  Having Lulu and Suji around has certainly brightened our spirits.  Lulu clearly misses Bubba and has been quite reserved.  Suji, on the other hand, continues to be her lovable clownish self.

And finally tonight, a get-together with one of my favorite people ever.  Dinner with The Doctor –

Robert Picardo was in town for a con appearance, but nevertheless found time for a little get-together.  Love this guy.

First Star Trek, then Stargate.  And chances are you’ll be seeing him on Dark Matter.  Eventually.

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Ah, there we go.  A totally natural candid shot of Director Melanie Orr in action.  Pictured above: discussing shots with Director of Photography Craig Wright.

On the Raza mess triptych: the ladies.

And the guys.

Keep that fan mail coming!

Hey, as promised, it’s time to vote for a new Dark Matter episode title.  YOU get a say so that I don’t have to wrack my brain to come up with one.

The Episode 306 contenders are…

Polls close in 24 hours.  Cast your ballot and then tell your friends!

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