WPR talks with Joseph Mallozzi the creator of SYFY’s new series, DARK MATTER
In case you couldn’t hear me dork-squeeing from a thousand miles away when I first announced Dark Matter getting picked up by SyFy. I’m very excited about what the possibilities holds for Dark Matter, the new TV series that will start filming in January 2015.
Recently, I had a chance to talk to the creator of the show, Joseph Mallozzi about what we can expect from Dark Matter – TV Edition.
WPR: I read that you said the four issue Dark Matter comic will comprise the first two episodes of the series, are you looking at casting the crew the same way as they are depicted in the comic or have there been changes?
Joseph: We’re in the thick of the audition process now and have cast a fairly wide net in terms of diversity – ethnicity and, in a couple of cases, gender. At this point, nothing is written in stone. I’m reminded of my experience during the casting of Stargate: Atlantis. Brad Wright and Robert Cooper had created a great character, a medical doctor (as opposed to a scientist), who was inteded to be a key member of Sheppard’s team. Unfortunately, no one was quite right for the role and, as the days ticked down toward production, Robert suggested a wild idea: Drop the character they had created in favor of an established character from the SG-1 universe, Rodney McKay. And we all know how that turned out. All this to say – you have to be flexible.
Will you be bringing back any of the Stargate production crew, especially the ones that made the beautiful ship sets for Destiny in Stargate: Universe?
Our former Stargate Production Designer, James Robbins, has been doing some design work on our space station and shuttle, The Marauder, while former Stargate VFX Supervisor Mark Savela and former Script Coordinator Lawren Bancroft-Wilson will be spearheading the visual effects on Dark Matter. A couple of my favorite Stargate directors are also slated to join us for the show’s first season.
How do you envision the use of CG in the show? Do you plan on using using more CG or functional props for capturing the science fiction feel?
We’ve got a great VFX team in place and we’ll be relying on them heavily this first season as we seek to establish all of the show’s visual cues, from space establishers to FTL jumps.
Beyond the androids that were introduced in the comics, will we see any Alien species?
In Dark Matter’s future setting, humanity has expanded beyond Earth, colonizing distant worlds, but has yet to make contact with alien life. But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen at some point.
Have you planned for a set number of seasons to tell the story you want to get out there? You know, to try and avoid “Lost-Fatigue” of a show dragging on too long, or in the case of Stargate: Universe, being cut short and not having a proper closing?
My writing partner, Paul Mullie, and I have been developing this show for many years and, in that time, have worked out the big picture along with the various backstories and arcs for each character. We know exactly where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. We’re approaching the first season as one would a book, with a beginning, middle, and end in mind, each episode a chapter that will build toward that finale/conclusion. There will be plenty of mystery but I also promise plenty of surprising revelations as well.
Do you have any plans with Dark Horse to release more Dark Matter comics that coincide with the show, maybe expand our understanding of the universe?
I’d love to continue the comic book series but, realistically, won’t have time for anything much beyond sleeping and eating between now and wrap sometime in May.
What is the first prop/set piece that you simply can’t wait to see or touch? (That ISN’T The Raza! That’s just too easy.)
I’ll have to go with our shuttle, The Phantom Class Marauder. It’s a very cool design and I can’t wait to see it in action.
You’ve already started casting in three locations, what are some of the characters that you think will be the hardest to nail down an actor for?
Initially, I assumed the role of TWO would be the toughest. She’s a tricky character to pull off, strong and fiercely independent, yet sympathetic and possessed of a subtle humor. With our initial round of casting complete, however, I’d say we have quite a few great candidates. The character of ONE, on the other hand, has proven surprisingly challenging to cast. He’s the fish-out-of-water, the unlikely hero along the lines of SGU’s Eli Wallace, and finding the right actor who can capture that earnest and somewhat naive outsider’s spirit has proven tough.
Being associated with Stargate and now Dark Matter shows is a dream for many Sc-Fi fans. How much does your inner kid self simply high-five you all the time being a part with Sci-Fi at this level?
I’m delighted to be back in production on a scifi series, and my own scifi series no less. And here I have to give a shout out to Executive Producer Jay Firestone who fought long and hard to bring Dark Matter to the small screen. He hustled, got us a green light, and is now (along with fellow Executive Producer Vanessa Piazza) doing everything he can to make sure it’s the best damn SF show on television.
The Dark Matter comic book series left a big twist of an ending, do you still plan to reveal that early on?
There are several big twists in the comic book series that will be revealed in our two part opener – but many, many, MANY more surprises to come.
Will Dark Matter (show) be a lot of world hopping that involve issues similar to the comics (be the protectors or the destroyers, the past catching up to the Raza, etc), be more based in space or just a big mix of the two elements?
The show will be a mix of the two as our crew attempts to piece together their pasts while trying to stay a step ahead of their pursuers (former victims, unknown enemies, vengeful ex-employers and, of course, The Galactic Authorities).
When trying to explain the show/comic to a friend, as always, Firefly came up in comparison. Would you view Dark Matter as a very much more gritter version of Firefly to give an unknowing geek some perspective?
I’ve always found it difficult to draw side by side comparisons between shows. If anything, I’d say our series is reminiscent of a mixture of various SF shows of the past (Blake’s 7, Farscape, Firefly, and, of course, Stargate) and a couple of non-SF sources (The Dirty Dozen, The Magnificent Seven, The Thunderbolts comic book seris). But if I HAD to pick one show I’d draw the closest parallels to in terms of world and tone, it would be an animated series called Cowboy Bebop. Check it out if you haven’t already seen it. It’s awesome.
How many pugs do you think will make an appearance on the show?
Probably none. They’re too high maintenance and demanding.
Is there anything about the show that you want to get out there that people haven’t been picking up on yet?
At it’s heart, the show asks one simple question: Are you born bad or are you a product of your environment? Given the opportunity, could you start over? Or are you doomed/fated to be the person you’re meant to be?
Thanks again to Joe for taking the time to talk with me. You can bet that WPR will be all over the coverage leading up to the premier of Dark Matter. Stay tuned for what we have coming next!