Joseph Mallozzi is a writer-producer on the Stargate SG-1 staff, who first joined the show for its fourth season (alongside writing partner Paul Mullie).
Our very first fan Q&A with Joe was conducted via GateWorld Forums in May of 2002, shortly before the premiere of Season Six of SG-1. Fans were invited to submit questions ahead of time via e-mail. (Questions appear in bold.)
Thanks to Joe for participating!
Joseph Mallozzi: First off I’d like to apologize for the delay in getting back to you on the Q&A. We just finished writing episode 11 (“Prometheus”) and are heading directly into work on our next episode (“Smoke and Mirrors”). All this to say … I’m still working on answering all of your questions. However, rather than wait for me to finish all of the questions, I thought I’d send you what I’ve got so far.
Peter DeLuise asked you and Paul if there was any significance in the number 4574 (the user ID of Colonel Simmons for the S.G.C. database) and you responded by saying that the fans were smart enough to figure it out. Can you help us out?
JM: Put your minds at ease. There is no significance. It was a sarcastic response to Peter’s question. Often, people will look for hidden meanings in the most innocent of places. For instance, at the last Gatecon, someone wondered about the intent of a particular scene in “Wormhole X-Treme!” What, they wondered, was the inside gag in the scene where O’Neill visits the guard shack? As it turns out, there was no inside gag. The scene was written to advance the story. All this to say — 4574 were just a bunch of numbers Paul came up with. Interestingly enough, however, if you ascribe each letter of the alphabet a numerical equivalent from 1 onwards, 4574 becomes DEGD!, something I hadn’t noticed. I’m going to have to ask Paul about this.
How / when / where do you usually come up with an idea for a script? Do you follow a structured process (e.g., doing research on mythology) for new ideas or does inspiration strike when you least expect it?
JM: A little of everything, actually.
“Window of Opportunity,” for instance, came about because I had always enjoyed stories that played with time. In the original pitch, the episode was a lot less humorous. SG-1 encounters a world facing an imminent apocalypse. The scientists of this civilization work feverishly to head off the coming catastrophe but are unable to come up with a solution in time … so they initiate a time loop that will win them yet another day to come up with the solution, trapping SG-1 in the process. Robert convinced us to go with the more comic approach and, in the end, it turned out to be the right way to go because the episode was a fan favorite.
“Chain Reaction” was also very different in its initial pitch. I had actually envisioned it as a Hammond story in which the general faces a court martial after being implicated in the death of an off-world SG team leader. After much discussion in the room, it became the story you saw (which is still one of my favorites).
“The Curse” came out of our desire to do a story that focused on an aspect of Daniel’s life that had yet to be explored — his relationship with his former academic peers. We married it to another idea we had, a story that grew from reading the myth of Osiris.
It’s not uncommon for us to be given the basic ideas and sent off to flesh out the stories. In the case of “Prodigy,” Brad wanted to do an alien version of Hitchcock’s The Birds. I remember being in the room with him as he described how these nasty little energy creatures flew around and then, when they went through you, microwaved your insides. Due to time restraints, he couldn’t write the script so the task fell on us. It was a similar situation for “Fail Safe” and “Wormhole X-Treme!,” both episodes in which we were given the germ of the idea.
“The Tomb” came out of one of the first stories I had pitched (inspired by Babylonian mythology). The fact that Babylon translates to “gate of the gods” was just too perfect an opportunity to pass up. Originally, I fashioned a story in which SG-1 get stuck in a ziggurat, not with Russians, but with Apophis. Ultimately, the sworn enemies must work together to escape the death trap.
“Summit” was a marrying of two ideas. 1) Robert wanted to do a story in which a member of SG-1 went undercover at a meeting of System Lords. 2) I wanted to do a story in which SG-1 discovers the Tok’ra have been working on a last-resort weapon, a chemical agent that specifically targets symbiotes. It was also an early attempt to bring Martouf back, albeit with a decidedly different spin.
The basic story had SG-1 gating to a world ruled by Yu and finding hundreds of dead Jaffa with no external wounds. As SG-1 searches Yu’s abandoned palace, they are captured by the planet’s inhabitants, former slaves to the Goa’uld, who now serve a new master — none other than Martouf. Having been driven mad by numerous attempts to remove the zatarc device from his brain, he escaped from a stasis chamber on the Tok’ra homeworld with the chemical and has plotted revenge against both Goa’uld and Tok’ra alike.
Ultimately, we didn’t go down that road because the others felt it would have gone against everything Martouf’s character had stood for to make him a villain. While I can’t disagree, I still hold JR would have made a great villain …
If you could remake / write a script for, an old no longer around TV show, or re-make a film that hasn’t yet been remade, which would it be and why? Who would you pick for the lead role, given the choice of anyone and why?
JM: I wouldn’t cast anyone because it would be animated. I’d bring back The Flintstones as prime-time series. I remember watching the show when I was kid and thinking, “This is really funny”, then rediscovering the show as an adult and realizing “Hey, this IS funny!” Clearly a predecessor to The Simpsons, it had a sensibility that appealed to all ages — and certain gags that only an adult would get. I would love to do all new episodes in the spirit of the original series.
What are your plans for the future, career wise? Do you ever suffer from writers block?
JM: I think Paul and I would eventually like to run our own show. That’s where we would like to be in, say, five years down the line. As for writer’s block — yes. Fortunately, that’s one of the good things about having a writing partner. When you’re blocked, he takes over and picks up the slack (and vice versa).
After you write the script how much control over it do you have, do you go on set to watch it being filmed and be on standby in case you are needed for a rewrite?
JM: Once we have written a script, we’ll get input from all parties (producers, directors, actors, production personnel, etc.). We’ll input the changes at which point the script leaves our hands. Any changes made once we go before camera are made on set.
What job on Stargate would you most like to do (apart from writing) and why? If you could time travel back to any period and change something for the better, when and where would you go, and what would you change and why?
Paul and I are supervising producers which means that, in the case of our episodes, we attend all the meetings (concept, production, costume, extras, visual effects, playback, props, etc.), go on the location surveys, talk with the design team, handle the casting, and edit. Between writing and producing, it doesn’t leave much room for anything else. Of course, if I actually had the talent, costume design might be kind of fun …
SEASON SIX: ‘WHO WILL RETURN?’ QUESTIONS
Since no one stays dead in SG-1 (for example Kawalsky, Apophis, etc). Will we see any of them return?
JM: Alas, Kawalsky and Apophis are staying dead for the time being.
Any chance of seeing a return of the most evil and scariest Goa’uld ever, Sokar?
JM: Sokar will be staying dead for the time being as well.
Will we see the return of the Aschen, possibly in ships?
JM: Actually, Brad had envisioned a third installment to his Aschen arc — a story in which the Aschen head for Earth in ships, prepared to exact revenge for what we did to their homeworld after the events of “2001.” Maybe it’s a story he’ll choose to revisit in the future.
From Lynne Cooper:
Are you going to revisit the aliens in “Watergate?”
JM: No plans to revisit them yet. In all honesty, we have so many stories to tell in Season Six that it’s going to be a challenge trying to get them all in.
From a few people:
Will Michael Shanks return in any other episodes besides “Abyss?”
JM: There are presently no plans to bring him back for another episode. That said, we don’t quite have all of our stories for Season Six yet so it is possible
SEASON FIVE AND SIX QUESTIONS
What are the Goa’uld doing in “Last Stand” during the scene where they eat the big vat of Goa’uld? Before it’s ringed in Baal raises his hands and says something that sounds like a prayer. However, since the Goa’uld go around posing as gods, then they obviously can’t worship anything, right? So what exactly is Baal doing?
JM: We’ll hopefully peel another layer off that onion later in Season Six. Suffice it to say, simply because something is ritualized doesn’t necessarily make it religious in nature or origin. Among the questions we wanted to answer as far back as Season Four was: “Given the evolution of the Goa’uld and their symbiotic relation with the Jaffa, it stands to reason that we should be seeing a heck of a lot more of these guys. Then why aren’t we?” Well, the short answer is that only the lucky (and ruthless) few rise to the level of System Lord (or even that of a hangers-on to a System Lord). Those in power ensure the ranks of their potential rivals are culled (ie. the banquet scene in Summit). As for the lesser Goa’uld — they certainly do exist and while we have discussed the possibility of actually visiting the Goa’uld homeworld and answering some of these questions, that particular story remains untold as of yet.
I have been wondering about the people of Jonas planet and their knowledge of the Stargate? Had they ever encountered visitors through the Stargate before or was SG-1 the first? Had they even figured out how to use the Stargate and gone through themselves or did that knowledge come from SG-1?
JM: SG-1 was their first encounter with an off-world race (the naquadria connection notwithstanding). Their Stargate program was still in its embryonic stages.
From Matt G:
So far there is an American and Russian Stargate program — are there plans for any other countries to get involved at any point?
JM: There are no plans for other countries to get involved at this point but stay tuned. That could change in a hurry.
Where are the queen Goa’uld? And are there king Goa’uld if so how do babies get made? Can queens be born? Do they regularly talk to and go back to other worlds that have visted? What’s going on, on Abydos? What’s Skaara up too, is he fighting the Goa’ulds, he said he was always paying attention to what his symbiote was up too? Why are we seeing thousands of Jaffa but only few Goa’uld, you would think there would be more of them?
JM: Many of your questions re: the queen Goa’uld will be answered in the upcoming episode “Cure.” There are tenuous plans to revisit Abydos late in Season Six. If all goes as planned, we’ll be peeking in on some old friends. Yes, Ska’ara is fighting the Goa’uld. As for your question about Goa’uld numbers, see above.
What happened to the Tollan? Their main planet was occupied but what happened to their knowledge? Were any of them taken for host, and what happened to there off world base? Were they attacked too, or are they still out there?
JM: Their planet was destroyed and, as far as we know, they were wiped out (with the exception of Schroedinger who was adopted by Hammond just prior to the calamitous events of “Between Two Fires”). Their off-world base was targeted by the Goa’uld as well. That said, it is possible that a handful of survivors are still out there, biding their time until they can mount a counter-strike.
Why was Daniel Jackson ascended and not killed? Will his ascension have an impact on Season Six other than the other characters dealing with his absence?
JM: DJ was ascended and not killed to leave the door open for the character’s return in an occasional episode. So far, he is slotted to return in an episode titled “Abyss.” As you’ll see, his ascension will have an impact on Season Six other than the other characters dealing with his absence.
Has the finale story been plotted yet, and do you know who will write it?
JM: The season finale has yet to be plotted — but Brad and Robert are putting the finishing touches on the feature as we speak. It is essentially the series finale and tees up the spin-off.
Will Season Six have an “odd episode” (like “Urgo,” “Wormhole X-Treme!”)?
JM: Yes. Check out “The Other Guys,” a decidedly odd episode by our decidedly odd new writer Damian Kindler.
Are there any plans for a clip show for Season Six? Is there any chance of Amanda pitching a script for an episode or directing one? When does principal photography for Season Six finish? When will all the post-production work be finished?
JM: So far, there are no plans for a clip show. Amanda may pitch an episode, but we have yet to hear from her on that. Principal photography for Season Six finishes in October, but the final episode will be scripted in September, possibly sooner. All post-production work will be finished by early 2003.
From the Goa’uld discussion thread between _Gater_ and Chappai:
Did the Goa’uld once use Asgards as hosts on a regular basis?
JM: Let’s just say we have yet to encounter one.
How is the movie progressing? When will shooting begin? Any tentative release date?
JM: Brad and Robert are putting the finishing touches on the script. Everything else is up in the air.
How closely will the movie tie into Season Six?
JM: The movie will form a bridge between Season Six and the spin-off.
Will the SG-1 movie include the Goa’uld, such as Anubis?
JM: Yes, the SG-1 movie will include the Goa’uld — in all probability, Anubis.
I’ve seen it written elsewhere on the net that the most sought after relationship examined and followed by viewers on a lot of TV shows is the male / male friendship or buddy relationship. Would you agree and does Season Six reflect the Jack / Teal’c friendship and or the Jack / Jonas one?
JM: I honestly can’t speak for the fans on this one. Maybe some tune in for the male / male relationship. Others may tune in in the hopes that we’ll develop a male/female relationship. We will be touching on the friendships between all of the team members over the course of Season Six.
Joseph Mallozzi is a writer and supervising producer for Stargate SG-1. Along with writing partner Paul Mullie, he has penned such episodes as “Window of Opportunity,” “Exodus,” “The Tomb” and “Descent.”