Heists and Fast Talkers In First Contact

Alex Levine has updated his blog over at Sci Fi where he discusses First Contact

You can read the entry below:

Okay, things really are slowing down. Martin Gero just walked into Joseph Mallozzi’s office and demanded to be entertained. And Carl Binder just tried to offer me a bottle of water. Not finding any fun to be had, they both retreated to their offices. But Martin didn’t plan that one out, because I immediately asked him to chat with me for a few minutes about the mid-season two parter, knowing he wouldn’t have any excuses!

Here’s something you don’t know about Martin – big heist movie fan. Oceans 11? He loved it. He even likes some of the bad heist movies, even some of the ones with gaping plot holes. Maybe it’s the pacing, or the scheming. I’m inclined to agree with him, having just watched “The Bank Job” and also writing a spec script about a heist myself. It’s definitely an accessible, exciting genre and it’s not going away anytime soon. So it makes sense that he finally got around to doing a heist story on Stargate.

The truth is that Martin has wanted to do a heist episode ever since the first season of the show. He even had one planned out using Aiden Ford (Rainbow Sun-Francks’ character) that never got developed, because he really didn’t have the how or the why questions answered. But for this two-parter – first part entitled “First Contact”, second part entitled “The Lost Tribe” – there were already some partly developed concepts in the mix. Firstly, since the Replicator story line has pretty much concluded, there was general consensus that a new villain was needed in the Pegasus galaxy. And Martin had a visual idea of a race of xenophobes or mysophobes (look it up!). Secondly, Alan had suggested doing some sort of story regarding Janus’ long forgotten lab on Atlantis. Thirdly, they had all planned to do a story bringing Daniel Jackson back to Atlantis. So all these story lines converge to bring you this mid-season two parter.

Martin also mentioned that normally the mid-season two-parter works within the existing season story arc and spins the action of that arc towards a new direction, effectively setting up the back half of the season. This is completely different, however. He likened it to a two episode stand alone movie.

I asked Martin what it was like writing for the character of Daniel Jackson, and he reminded me that he had written two Stargate SG-1 episodes, including “Bad Guys” in which Daniel Jackson was central to the story. As it turns out, he likes writing that character a lot. And of course he likes writing the McKay character also. But one of the issues that arises when McKay meets SG-1 is that he becomes focused on Samantha Carter, as you may recall from any of the McKay episodes of SG-1 or especially in the Stargate Atlantis episode “Grace under Pressure”. But in these episodes Martin got to focus on McKay and Jackson without Carter in the mix which, in his words, gave the characters a chance to grow.

Of course David Hewlett and Michael Shanks happen to be the two fastest pseudo-science talkers in the business. Martin actually directed the second unit for part of these episodes, which including some scenes with these two actors. And try though he did, he simply could not slow them down. Case in point: the scripts for this two-parter were 64 and 65 pages long – a good five pages over our usual page number, and yet the episodes were ‘to time’.

Entry courtesy of the Sci Fi blog