Image courtesy Syfy

Joseph Mallozzi Dishes Dark Matter

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Recently, Three If By Space had the opportunity to be part of a press call with some of the cast of Dark Matter and one of its creators, Joseph Mallozzi.  It was a spirited conversation, to say the least, and many goodies were shared.  Since we’re generous folk, we wanted to share some of that goodness with you.

Because so much was discussed, this writing will consist solely of questions for Mr. Mallozzi and, of course, his answers, because it’d kinda be pointless otherwise.  Rest assured, our Q&A with some of the cast will be along very shortly, but first we wanted to bring you answers from the man behind the curtain.

UPDATE:  For the interview with Bendavid, O’Neil, & Lemke click on over to Dark Matter: The One, Two, Three Interview.

UPDATE 2:  For a huge haul of Dark Matter images, click here:  Dark Matter: A Shipload of Photos

The following are edited excerpts from our press call.  Please be warned that reading beyond this point will expose you to the dreaded SPOILERMONSTER!  If you are easily frightened by this beast or have any allergies to spoilers, please avert your eyes while all your friends enjoy the hell out of this interview then make fun of you for being a sissy.

Thank you for your cooperation.  Please fasten your seatbelt.

Dark Matter is based on a graphic novel published by Dark Horse. How much of the content from the graphic novel can we expect to see on the series?

You can expect to see all of it. Actually, the comic book was based on, basically, the pilot that we have envisioned. So, you know, it’s almost word for word, the first episode of the series. Issues three and four of the comic book are very close to episode two. So, in terms of spoilers, you guys are going to get a sneak peek at episodes one and two by reading the first two issues of the comic book. But then, after that, all bets are off.

 

For those who aren’t familiar with the comic book, how would you describe the series?

I would describe it as a sci-fi series with a cable sensibility. I’ve always been a big fan of cable shows with twists and turns and surprises that always leave you at the end of the episode going, “Oh my god. I can’t wait until next week” and you get to the (online) boards, you discuss them or you go to work and it’s the first thing you talk about in the morning. That’s the show I wanted to create.

So, it’s something that has a lot of setups, but a lot of payoffs along the way. It has a sense of humor, kind of a – it’s a fun, ship-based sci-fi which is something, I think, fans have been dying for. But, at the end of the day, it’s really about the characters and this great group made up of this crew. And I’ve often said viewers tune in for the hook but they stay for the characters. And we’ve got an incredibly colorful bunch of characters in this show.

 

I’m a big Stargate fan and I couldn’t help but notice that Dark Matter began sort of the way Stargate Universe ended. Everyone went into stasis in the last episode of Universe and then came out on the first episode of Dark Matter. Was that a conscious decision?

You know, I started developing Dark Matter way back when I was working in Atlanta, so back then I had no idea how we were going to do Stargate Universe, much less how we would end it. You know, it was coincidental. The first person who actually brought it to my attention was actor Patrick Gilmore who played Dale Volker on Stargate Universe. He was like, “Wait a minute.” And I was like, “Aha, that is kind of funny” because at the end of Universe, of course, everyone goes into stasis while they wait for how long this jump is going to take. And that’s how we, sadly, ended the series.

And I guess it’s kind of appropriate in that there is a definite heavy Stargate influence on Dark Matter. On Stargate, wi relied heavily on the humor. It was very character-driven, you know – a lot of fun. And, at the end of the day, we really focused on this team, this family. And it’s exactly the same thing with Dark Matter. So, appropriately enough, it works out.

 

Are there any plans to have any old Stargate faces as guest stars in the future?

Yes. Absolutely. We brought in David Hewlett, who played Rodney McKay. He plays the part of Tabor Calchek, who is the team’s handler. Torri Higginson, who played Elizabeth Weir on Stargate Atlantis is going to be Commander Delaney Truffault on one of the corporate ships. And I have a couple of other guest stars in mind for season two that I can’t reveal yet. But, Stargate fans are in for a treat in that respect.

 

Amongst the Stargate fandom, there was a bit of a division between those who really like Stargate Universe versus those who thought its tone was a little too dark in comparison to the previous Stargates. Which of the Stargates would you say the show aligns most with?

You know, I want to say, basically, it falls somewhere in between because one of the things that Universe did so well was it dealt with kind of the bigger issues. In our series, there is a bigger issue of, for instance, redemption. So, in that respect, it’s a lot like Universe in terms of tone and in terms of look. And yet, one of the things that I know a lot of fans were missing on Universe was that sense of humor that really marked Atlantis and SG-1. One of the biggest characteristics of this show is it’s its sense of humor. It’s – you know, I keep on emphasizing fun – and Atlantis was fun, SG-1 was fun, and Dark Matter is fun. So, I think, you know, for Stargate fans, if you love Atlantis and SG-1, I think you’re going to love Dark Matter. And, frankly, if you love Universe, you’re going to love Dark Matter. It’s the very best of all three shows.

 

There have been many space dramas. In fact, we have Killjoys premiering next week and The Expanse later this year. What do you think sets Dark Matter apart from other sci-fi series and what would you tell viewers to get them to watch?

Well, first and foremost, it’s a ship-based sci-fi which, I think, differentiates it from anything else out there. Tonally, it’s a lot of fun. At the end of the day, I think, fans like to tune in for the characters and just essentially to have a good time. And I think that’s what we’re going to offer them. And at the same time, like I said, I’m not sure how serialized the other shows are, but our show is very serialized. You know, I mentioned those twists and turns and surprises.

There’s going to be a lot of reward for – you know, for the audiences who tune in. And, you know, it’s funny. I mean, you know, I was developing this for so many years that, you know, we’ve got like a great game plan. When Paul and I and my writers sat down and developed the first season, we had all the setups and payoffs. So, I mean, there was this one big revelation at the – you know, late in the season, I remember, and one of the actors come out and it’s like, “Wait a minute. Was that a hint way back in episode three?” And was like, “Yes.”

So, I mean, it’s kind of fun. It’s, you know – it’s – you know, it’s the type of show that basically you can – definitely binge-worthy – you know, binge-worthy but also the type of show that, you know, when those little payoffs come up along the way, you can go back to those earlier episodes and kind of piece things together. So, I think, you know, like I said, fun – that sense of humor, ship-based and, you know, it’s just, I think, you know, very, very binge-worthy.

 

Through most of the episode, everybody really has no perception of what they are. And then, in the final moments, they have a perception imposed upon them of who they actually were. Will we see them challenged to go forward with a persona that they can now write for themselves or to fall back on the persona that they have been told they had previously?

It will be different for different characters. I always love this idea that they can move forward, hopefully, or sometimes not. It’s just fun to explore that kind of journey with different characters, and like in real life, it’s not going to be a happy ending for everyone. It’s just very interesting in that, like the audience, these characters essentially start tabula rasa, right? And you’re following along on the adventures with them. But, I mean, if you take a look at – in the pilot episode – once they fall back, basically they are able to sort of trigger certain aspects of their former self, like Melissa’s character to the way she takes command of the ship and the way everyone lets her take command of the ship really speaks to the strength of her character.

 

When you said that this is a ship-based show, does that mean most of the drama is going to be actually taking place on the ship?

No. It’s going to be a little of both. We have an amazing standing set and we’re going to make use of it. As is the case with most of the ship-based shows like “Star Trek” or “Stargate” or “Firefly,” the ship almost becomes a character in itself, and we have like an amazing, amazing ship. But, we’re going to be getting off. We’re going to be visiting planets. We’re going to be visiting space stations. We want to avoid that claustrophobic feel, so we’ll definitely be opening things up.

 

Usually, on ship-based dramas, the ship is actually kind of another character. Can you talk about this ship and how it plays into the tone and feel of Dark Matter?

I think the ship is a reflection of the characters. When designers designed the ship, we wanted something kind of badass, kind of smaller, just retrofitted with weaponry. It’s the type of ship that is easy to underestimate, but in battle, more maneuverable, a lot more savvy.  I think that the ship is a reflection of all our characters – you don’t know very much about them on the surface but, as you dig deeper there is a richness there and an aspect that will surprise.

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Dark Matter premieres Friday, June 12 at 10/9c on Syfy

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Tom Gardiner