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Stargate SG-1 Crew Interviews: Joseph Mallozzi

M & M on Stargate SG-1
Thomasina Gibson, Starlog #17, September, 2001

Thomasina Gibson ventures through the gate to interview series writers and producers Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie

This show has a very specific voice and a very rich back story and mythology so it's very hard to just come in off the street and write an episode.' According to the writer, though, this is exactly what they did, 'Of course, I had watched two or three episodes and read the SG-1 "bible" which has all the synopses.'
Paul Mullie, writer Stargate SG-1

Mazzolli elaborates, 'The "bible" for Stargate is a five hundred page tome. Every episode has a three or four page synopsis ˜ most other shows' synopses come in at under a page. Describing the document as 'a monster', the writer admits that the detail contained in it, '...came in handy because it gave us a fairly good handle on what had already been done and what they might favour as stories in the future. We pitched about five ideas and they liked a couple and from then it was kind of like a little test every step of the way.' Outlining the procedure he goes on, 'The producers would ask us to pitch and they would like the pitches and then they'd say "Okay, now you can do an outline" and we'd do the outline. Then they'd say "That was okay! We'll let you write a first draft." After the first draft they said, "We'll bring you on as writers."'

Not that they had that much time to find their feet once the ball started rolling. According to Mullie, 'We didn't have that luxury. We just wrote seven episodes out of 22 so we had the first draft of the first episode we wrote (Scorched Earth) before we even came to Vancouver. We then worked on Window of Opportunity during the holidays just as they were about to start up again so when we moved, we had a bit of a head-start.' Laughing at the absurdity of it all he continues, 'At the start of the year, you think you're ahead. You get some script ideas, you get some outlines and you get all these slots in the production schedule and think you're in great shape. And then all of a sudden it's like "We're in production and they need this stuff now!"' Describing a scenario neither he nor his partner would care to encounter, Mullie expresses a huge amount of admiration for colleague Peter DeLuise. 'Because of actor availability and what not, Peter thought he had three months to put a particular script together but then was told it was needed for the next week. It would have freaked me out, but Peter loves that sort of thing ˜ he just said "No problem, I'll do it at the weekend."

Season Five

'We're working on Desperate Measures which will be somewhat similar to Chain Reaction in that we look into the shady dealings of the NID,' reveals Mazzolli. Speaking of the decidedly slimy covert operations character, Mullie lets slip that, 'Colonel Maybourne (Tom McBeath) is fast becoming one of our favourite characters to write for. He's a great bad guy. And it's not like he's one of the Goa'uld, for goodness sake, and has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

Teasing that not many people would ever admit to seeing any evidence of said redeeming qualities, Mullie insists, 'Sure he has them. Just look at Chain Reaction.' The suggestion that it could be cool to have the nasty man tortured, slowly ˜ perhaps mentally ˜during the episode brings a shout of laughter from both men. 'Ooh! We could have a long protracted sort of thing,' says Mazzolli before the diplomatic Mullie nods, 'We've only just started the script so we'll take that into consideration. Actually a great one to look forward to is Summit which is about the System Lords. It's a two-parter with lots of characters that haven't been seen for a while.'

Although well into their stride, the most daunting prospect on the M and M calendar is the script for Stargate's 100th episode. 'You know, normally people don't have an inkling about our scripts till they go into the world but with this one people are talking about the script before it's even written.' Squeaks Mullie. 'People keep coming up to us and saying, 'You should do this with it' or 'You should do that'. There is such a buzz around which does of course, put a tiny bit of pressure on us."

His partner reveals, 'Basically, it's based on what was started with Window of Opportunity and for some reason Brad Wright has entrusted us with this special script.' For the record, Mr Wright thinks the pair is, 'A fantastic asset to the team that has breathed new life into the show. But don't tell them I said that,' he begs.

Continuing Mazzolli says, 'Wormhole Extreme is the dumbest title we could come up with and is a spoof on all this crazy reality based television. You stick "extreme" on the end of a show and suddenly it's meant to be really cool. Paul asked what was the worst title we could come up with and Wormhole Extreme is the result.'

Asked to specify the most difficult piece they've had to produce brings and immediate response as they both proclaim, 'Prodigy!'

'That was a really difficult script to write,' sighs Mazzolli, 'Most of the time it's great but we do have our moments and that was one of them. The great thing about having a writing partner is that you can bounce ideas off each other, but when you reach an impasse and you're both spinning your wheels ˜which is what happens at least once a script ˜ then we get to thinking "This is the last time we're ever going to write."'

Although nothing particular springs to mind when invited to reveal what they really, really want to do in terms of new episodes for the show, Mullie offers, "The opportunity to write humour is always something we look forward to. Looking back on season four, Scorched Earth was a bit of a dour episode but then Window of Opportunity was a bit of a lark. Point of No Return was a lot of fun because we hadn't previously done many space battles.'

As for the characters, he feels, 'There isn't any one character that's more difficult to write for than the others. The challenge is to get all the characters working together in any particular script because often stories tend to work around one maybe two main characters at the most. The general team effort episodes are more difficult to find especially as we get more and more into the show.'

Mazzolli intimates, 'If the team goes off world, they usually deal with some sort of problem and that is easy to write. But as the show progresses things do become more character driven and you begin to focus that episode on a particular character but then it's like "Well, what do we do with the others?"

Continuing he says, 'Sometimes a situation will work to our advantage and we won't need to bring every single character into play.

there is no doubt about the one they are most proud of to date. 'Point of No Return is one of the episodes where I could visualise the scenes in my head as we wrote it and then more or less saw the exact thing when it appeared on screen. That was an amazing experience for me.' Admits Mazzolli. 'The cast was inspired. Willie Garson was excellent as Marty.' Mullie interjects with, '...and the way it was shot; the timing; the delivery. It was truly amazing. The whole show sounded the way we thought it was going to sound and looks liked we thought it was going to look. It doesn't happen often but that episode really came out the way we imagined it, which is really rare. The Curse was another one that we loved.'

Definitely a case of waving not drowning for the incorrigible M & M on Stargate SG-1.

Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie interviewed by Thomasina Gibson

(c) 2001 Starlog. All rights recognised. No copyright infringement intended. You can buy Starlog online at

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