Tag: Paul Mullie

Joseph Mallozzi Discusses Dark Matter

Joseph Mallozzi is best know as a writer/producer for all three series in the Stargate franchise, beginning with Stargate SG-1‘s fourth season. Prior to that he had written for over a dozen other series going back to 1995. Since the end of Stargate in 2010, Mallozzi has worked briefly on the new Transporter series as well as continuing to maintain his daily blog. Mollozzi’s latest high-concept creation, Dark Matter, premieres in January as a comic book from Dark Horse Comics, co-written by Mollozzi’s long-time writing partner Paul Mullie with artwork by Garry Brown. Recently I spoke to Mallozzi via email to ask him about this new series as well as a few other things.

POP CULTURE ZOO: Let’s start by addressing the inevitable comparisons that have already been made to Stargate Universe. What makes Dark Matter NOT a continuation of that series?

JOSEPH MALLOZZI: Stargate: Universe ends with the crew going into stasis. Dark Matter begins with a crew coming out of stasis. To be honest, I didn’t realize the similarities until just the other day when I was pitching Dark Matter to actor Patrick Gilmore who played Dale Volker on SGU. No sooner were the words “The crew awakens from stasis” out of my mouth than he jokingly asked: “Is this a continuation of SGU?”. Alas, no. I’ve been working on Dark Matter for about three years now and it’s a completely different animal from Stargate. DM’s far future setting and unique premise sets them parsecs apart.

PCZ: What makes the comics medium in general and Dark Horse in particular the right home for Dark Matter?

JM: Television and film production is a series of compromises, creative and otherwise. Whether its budgetary constraints, location availability, or simply a difference of opinion, the finished product will differ from the original concept. It’s just a matter of degrees. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but, often, it can be disappointing. Eventually, I do want Dark Matter to take that next step and become a television series but first, I’d like the luxury of being able to tell the story as I originally envisioned it. I have immense respect for the comic book field, its creator-driven narratives, and Dark Horse in particular, so when the opportunity presented itself to launch Dark Matter as a comic book series first, I took it.

PCZ: What can you tell us about the main characters?

JM: Growing up, I was always attracted to team stories. Whether it was the Avengers or the X-Men, the Seven Samurai or the Dirty Dozen, I preferred the workings of the group dynamic over the singular hero motif. I was fascinated by the relationships, the friendships and rivalries, the constantly shifting alliances, betrayals and (best of all) surprising bonds that developed over the course of their time together. When I started developing Dark Matter, I knew that the heart of the series would be the crew, a team made up of very different personalities who would invariably clash, distrust, but ultimately have to come together and support each other in order to survive.

PCZ: What sort of story and tone can readers of Dark Matter expect?

JM: It’s a character-driven series with plenty of action. While dark in tone, its possessed of a sense of humor that I think goes a long way toward humanizing the characters and giving the narrative depth.

PCZ: You’ve mentioned you would like to see this become a TV series. Are these first four issues essentially a pilot?

JM: Yes, the opening four-issue story arc would actually be the two-part series pilot. We wrote the first part of the one hour pilot and that became the basis for the first two issues of the comic book series. I then went ahead and wrote issues #3 and #4 in comic script form, drawing on the outline for the second television script.

PCZ: The preview pages with Garry Brown’s artwork are simply stunning! From what I can tell, this is Garry’s first series, having previously been a cover artist. How did you go about recruiting him for Dark Matter?

JM: I was so overwhelmed by the talent out there that I had a hard time coming up with suggestions for specific artists. Finally, my editor at Dark Horse, Patrick Thorpe, asked me to come up with examples of artwork I thought best suited Dark Matter. I spent the next couple of weeks scouring my local comic store and perusing the internet, finally coming up with about a dozen examples of what I felt the series should look like. A couple of weeks later, he suggested Garry Brown. I was familiar with Garry’s work on Incorruptible from BOOM! Studios and was delighted at the prospect of his being involved. His work on the series has been phenomenal and we are very lucky to have him. Not only has he provided the art for all four issues, but he has done their respective covers as well.

PCZ: Does Dark Matter contain any “Easter Eggs” for fans of your previous work?

JM: Mmmmmmaybe.

PCZ: Should this mini-series be the wild success that it is destined to be, are you and Paul willing to do more issues?

JM: Absolutely. The fact that I had 3+ years to develop the concept allowed me to really flesh out the characters and series arc. I know where everyone came from and exactly where they’re going. I’ve already plotted out the beginning, middle, and end of the series along with almost every twist, turn, and shocking revelation. Ideally, I would love to be able to continue Dark Matter in comic book form – sales permitting – and ultimately finish the tale so that, somewhere down the road, Dark Horse can release a nice hardcover coffee table tome.

PCZ: Speaking of Paul Mullie, you and he have been writing partners for many years now. What is the writing process like between you two?

JM: In the beginning, Paul and I would actually sit in the same room and write together, bouncing dialogue back and forth before getting it all down. Eventually, as a result of production demands, we began writing separately and then rewriting one another’s work. In the case of Dark Matter, I wrote the first draft of the pilot which he rewrote. I went ahead and took the initiative with the comic scripts, writing all four issues which he again rewrote. Up to this point, I’ve been point man in dealings with our editor Patrick Thorpe at Dark Horse.

PCZ: How easy was it to transition from TV scripts to comic book scripts?

JM: It took a while to get used to, specifically the need to visualize the story in panels and pages, setting up the proper segues propelling the reader from the last panel of one page to the first panel of the next. In terms of specific visuals, my editor was always pushing me to be more detailed in my description. My scriptwriting tends to be fairly economical, leaving the director plenty of leeway. I wanted to do the same thing with Garry although, in retrospect, I was, at times, a little too sparse in my shot/panel descriptions. In a similar vein, when it came time to weighing in on Garry’s artwork, I had very few notes. I wanted to give him the freedom of interpreting the script – and, looking over these four issues, I think he did a remarkable job.

PCZ: Is it more freeing to write a story in the “unlimited budget” world of comic books? Did you find yourself still thinking in terms of what can be done on screen?

JM: The comic book medium certainly affords a certain freedom unavailable to us in the world of television, but Dark Matter was conceived as a t.v. series, the pilot script upon which the comic book’s four issue opening arc is based developed with a television budget in mind. It’s big – as most series openers tend to be – but very doable on a t.v. budget. The story fans will be introduced to in the comic book should be very close to the story they see on television when the series (hopefully) launches. Our standing set is the ship, our swing sets the various space ports, bars, mining colonies, and enemy ships.

PCZ: Comics, much like television, follow a serialized, episodic format. Do you prefer telling stories over an extended arc as opposed to the “done in one” closed format of film?

JM: The done in one, stand-alone story is very satisfying, but I love the idea of being able to tell an arc/character-driven story over the course of an entire series. That’s what I loved about shows like The Sopranos. There was no story time wasted. Each installment developed the characters, their relationships, and drove the over-arcing storyline to its conclusion. I don’t want a reader or viewer of Dark Matter to ever say “That was a filler episode”. This series will have no filler episodes. Every issue and episode will propel the narrative toward that big finale

PCZ: Are there any comic book characters you are dying to write for or are you more interested in sticking to your own, creator-owned stories?

JM:I do have an idea for another original SF concept that I think would make a great comic book series down the line, but in terms writing for existing comic book characters – yeah, of course. In order of preference: Deathlock the Demolisher, Deadpool, Batman, Daredevil, X-Men, The Avengers, and Fantastic Four.

PCZ: Now that you have your foot planted in the comic book world, any temptation to persuade MGM to do a SGU season three comic series?

JM: While I don’t think continuing SGU in comic book format would be a bad idea, it isn’t something I’d be interested in doing. I’d much rather have the studio suddenly wake up one morning and say: “What have we done?! Let’s get Brad Wright and Robert Cooper on the phone and have them produce that third season of Stargate: Universe for the fans!”.

PCZ: You’ve conquered television and now comic books. Is there a prose novel waiting to be written by you?

JM: I’ve toyed with the idea but I don’t think I have the patience. I wrote a short story for Masked, a superhero-themed anthology last year which took me nine months. Compare to a television script that takes me about a month to write. Yes, it was extremely satisfying to write and I was in great company (other authors included Majorie M. Liu, Gail Simone, Paul Cornell, Matthew Sturges, James Maxey, Mark Chadbourn, Daryl Gregory, among others), working for fabulous editor Lou Anders, but I’m not at all confident it’s something I could pull off again, particularly in a longer format.

PCZ: Here’s the obligatory final question asking what you’re working on next. So, Joe, what are you working on next?

JM: Hopefully more Dark Matter. The plan is to find the series a broadcast home. To that end, Paul and I will start pitching the show in early 2012. In the meantime, I’m doing research for a historical drama series (or potential mini-series) I’ve been looking to develop for some ten years now – and, of course, we’re discussing possible show running opportunities as well. Ideally, however, we’d like to be show running our own original series in 2012. And that would be Dark Matter.

Joe Mallozzi And Paul Mullie Release Dark Matter In January

Former Stargate producers/writers Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie have a new story to tell, but you won’t see this one on the TV screens. The writers are eschewing all budget constraints and are bringing their latest epic to comic books, namely Dark Horse Comics. Dark Matter is described as “classic science fiction for fans of Aliens, Stargate, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.” You can check out the solicitation below as well as the cover from series artist Garry Brown. Brown has done some exceptional work for all the major publishers and should really make this series look tremendous. You can also get more insight into Dark Matter over at Joe Mallozzi’s blog. Reserve your copy now and help make this series a hit!

DARK MATTER #1 (of 4)
Joseph Mallozzi (W), Paul Mullie (W), Garry Brown (A/Cover), and Ryan Hill (C)
On sale Jan 11
FC, 32 pages
$3.50
Miniseries

A derelict ship floats in space, its troubled crew awakened from stasis with no memories of who they are or how they got on board. Their search for answers triggers the vessel’s deadly security system: a relentless android bent on their destruction. Facing threats at every turn, they have to work together to survive a voyage charged with vengeance, redemption, betrayals, and hidden secrets best left unknown.

 

 

Transporter TV Series Begins Filming In Toronto

Regular readers of Joseph Mallozzi’s blog will already be well aware of the TV series based on the Transporter films and we highly recommend checking in over there regularly for all kinds of behind the scenes goodness about the show. Mallozzi and his writing partner Paul Mullie serve as Executive Producers for this new series as well as writers for several episodes. Many of you will remember the duo as an integral part of the Stargate franchise beginning with Stargate SG-1 season four and continuing through Stargate Atlantis and the recent Stargate Universe. The two wrote most of my favorite episodes of the three Syfy series which makes me very interested in checking out this new show. Robert Cooper, another Stargate alum also serves as an Executive Producer and he, Mallozzi and Mullie will be working alongside Luc Besson, who originated the film series this is based on, Fred Fuchs and Alexander Ruemelin. Susan Murdoch and Klaus Zimmermann will serve as producers.

Filming begins warps up on the twelve episode first season in November and the show will debut on CINEMAX in 2012. [Update: As indicated in the comments below, the show is currently shooting and finishes in November. Aplogies to all for the error.] Chris Vance stars as professional transporter Frank Martin, who can always be counted on to get the job done – discreetly. Operating in a seedy underworld of dangerous criminals and desperate players, his three rules are: Never change the deal, no names, and never open the package. Occasionally, complications arise and rules get broken. Andrea Osvart (Duplicity) co-stars as Martin’s trusted handler Carla and Francois Berleand reprises his role of Inspector Tarconi from the three films. The cast also includes Delphine Chaneac (Splice) in the recurring role of Juliette, a reporter who seems to know a lot about Frank’s work, and Rachel Skarsten (Made…The Movie, Birds of Prey) as Delia, the daughter of someone from Frank’s past. Lost Co-Executive Producer and Director Stephen Williams is directing the first episode.

Stay tuned to Pop Culture Zoo for updates about Transporter: The Series!

‘Gauntlet’ Is A Bittersweet End To Stargate Universe


“GAUNTLET”, THE SERIES FINALE OF STARGATE UNIVERSE, AIRS MONDAY, APRIL 9 AT 9:00 PM ON SYFY

Blocked by Command Ships at every star and unable to gate for supplies without alerting the drones, Destiny must take a stand or be left adrift.

It seems like such a simple premise for an episode that stands not only as a final episode to a series, but the last one of a fourteen year old franchise. Yet, that is what “Gauntlet” is. And as such it is a monumentally bittersweet episode. The interesting thing is even though it is a cliffhanger and was intended to propel the show to a third season, it is somewhat fitting as a final episode as well. I have many words to say write about Stargate Universe and the Stargate franchise as a whole, but here I’d like to focus on this specific episode. WARNING! There are spoilers below! But it’s the final episode, so deal with it.

“Gauntlet” begins with a very tired and haggard Colonel Young finding out some bad news: the automated Command Ships have staked out every star along the Destiny’s path, meaning that the ship will eventually be unable to replenish its power supplies. It also means they are unable to replenish there food stores. With a month of supplies left, Young and Rush confer with Telford back at Homeworld Command and let Earth know they really need a supply line from home. Unfortunately, the Langarans still refuse to attempt to dial Destiny, so the ship and its crew are on their own. With that, the crew starts brainstorming ideas. One short term idea is to modulate the Destiny’s shields to the exact frequency of the drone weapons and drop out of FTL right on top of a Command Ship and blast the crap out of it. The plan works and the ship is able to get a few new supplies with minimal damage. However, this plan will not continue to work as the damage with mount with each attempt.

Then Eli hits upon a brilliant plan. He proposes one continuous FTL jump to take them around the danger-filled path and on to the next galaxy, hopefully leaving behind the Command Ships and Drones. The big catch is that the journey will take three years. And to have the energy to maintain the FTL until the next galaxy, they will have to turn off every other system on the ship, including life support. And they can’t get any more food because of the drones. If only they had a way to put everyone in status for the duration of the trip. Oh, hey, how about those stasis pods they discovered a few episodes back? Those will do nicely…except, even after a successful mission to retrieve materials needed to repair some of the inoperable pods, they have one less working pod than they have people. Someone will have to stay awake. After everyone gets a chance to use the stones to visit loved ones on Earth, Young and Rush both volunteer to stay unfrozen, the former because of duty, the latter because he feels he can repair the pod quickly enough to join the others as popsicles. That’s when Eli steps forward. As Rush admits that Eli is more of a genius than he is, it is agreed that Eli will be the one to remain. He has two weeks before he needs to cut off the power and either enter stasis or die. As the others sleep, Eli looks out of the largest window and smiles…

What is most striking about “Gauntlet” is the feeling that they have all finally come together as a crew. This has building for most of the second half of the season, but you really understand it here. There is no more bickering, mistrust or power struggles. They have all really unified, even Rush. There are several scenes of many of the crew hugging and saying see you later as they all are put into stasis and that may be the most emotional part of the episode, especially realizing that they and we are saying goodbye. This is a group of people who started out not knowing each other and being put in the direst of circumstances and now we see that they all do genuinely care for each other. Left to fend for themselves, they have risen above their differences and have learned to become a family finally.

The performances in this episode are outstanding and practically everybody gets a few moments on screen. There are many standout moments for me. Ming-Na has a particularly beautiful scene with Brian Jacob Smith as they both commiserate about their visits home. Their two characters haven’t interacted much so it was nice for them to have this moment. Jennifer Spence and Jamil Walker Smith have a touching moment where Lisa Park asks Ronald Greer to not volunteer to be the one who stays awake and you believe Greer when he says he won’t. Greer has come such a long way and he remains my favorite character of the series. Peter Kelamis and Patrick Gilmore do what they do best in their scenes and prove that they are an essential part of the heart of the show. Lou Diamond Phillips gets a couple of poignant scenes in, the first having to tell Young that Earth can’t help them, the second when he is told that essentially the Destiny crew is done asking Earth’s opinions and are making their own decisions now. Then there is the power trio of Louis Ferreira, Robert Carlyle and David Blue. The last couple of scenes together with these three really bring home the sense of newly formed camaraderie. Their characters were certainly at odds at the very beginning and each had their own motives, but now they are united – for the sake of the crew. That phrase was previously used as a tenuous truce between Rush and Young, but now it truly means something.

The script for this episode is the final one written by Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie. Together these two have written some of my favorite and most of the best episodes of the entire Stargate franchise, over the course of all three series. Coincidentally, they began writing for the franchise during the fourth season of Stargate SG-1, which is when I started watching the show. They tend to highlight the characters and the relationships between them as well as hitting wonderfully emotional little moments. I was excited when I first learned they would be writing the season finale and when that turned into the coda for the series and franchise, I knew it would be a powerful script. I was right. My first episode of SG-1 was “Window of Opportunity” which was written by these two and now “Gauntlet” is my last ever Stargate episode. I started with the best and that’s a great place to end.

The Destiny Crew Finds Deliverance On Stargate Universe

“DELIVERANCE” Airs Monday, March 7 at 10:00 PM on Syfy

Destiny is locked in a battle with a Drone Command Ship and surprised by the arrival of the aliens that abducted Rush and Chloe.

This is a terrific episode, full of action, thrills, intrigue and just a little bit of romance. Following up on the mid-season finale, Destiny is getting pummeled by drone ships and their erstwhile allies in the seed ship have scarpered. A still-metamorphosing Chloe has escaped confinement and has sent a signal to someone. Both issues get resolved in this episode and the bigger dilemma of what’s happening to Chloe gets somewhat fixed, but perhaps not entirely. There is also a few bizarre scenes of Rush actually being nice to people. Sure, for one scene it’s to get a couple of people out of the way so that he and Eli can work, but Rush seems to actually be trying to be nicer and warmer to the rest of the crew, even perhaps developing a sort of paternal interest in Chloe. It will be interesting to see if Rush is just developing a new way to manipulate people or if he is truly changing for the better.

It’s always enjoyable to see Patrick Gilmore, Peter Kelamis and Jennifer Spence and all three are really outstanding in this episode. I really hope to see them get more to do in the final nine episodes. Even the sorely-overlooked Julia Benson get a key scene or two. Now that the crew has the bridge and control of the ship, it is very interesting to see everyone starting to slowly become an actual crew. I think we will see everyone become more unified in purpose as the season progresses.

The script is by Paul Mullie, going solo from his writing partner Joseph Mallozzi, and he does an admirable job. Nothing feels rushed or out of place and he keeps the pace going at a fast clip. Great dialogue for everyone abounds and feels like the episode is over before it should be. We get a solo Mallozzi story later this year, but I am rather sad that we won’t see anymore epic Mallozzi/Mullie Stargate episodes. As a team, they’ve written some of my favorite episodes of the entire Stargate franchise and I will be following them to whatever series they are transported to next.

Fantastic mid-season resolution with some great things to carry us forward, but bittersweet nonetheless. Nine more episodes to go before the end. Check back next week for our thoughts on the next episode.