Category Archives: Television

chewin’ gum for something to do

Chapter 3 of Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana is online, like, RIGHT NOW.

The Beer Baron and Keg-E bid farewell to the party after considerable celebration and revelry. In an attempt to learn more about their mysterious orb, the group heads to Nestora in search of Farkiah the Antiquarian. Excited for an opportunity to bargain, barter, and more importantly, shop, the heroes quickly head to the market district, but they soon find that it holds more than goods. What does the city-state have in store for our heroes? Tune in to find out.

Looking for sweet Titansgrave loot? Check out the store here!

This is a reminder, because we think this seminar will fill up quickly, and if you care about that sort of thing, I want you to be able to join us:

TitansgraveAtGencon

And if you do care about that sort of thing, you probably want to be reading Chris Pramas’s blogs about the game design. for Titansgrave.

This happened last night:

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 20.46.50

I was checking my network speed, because Netflix was trying to stop me from watching the end of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and nothing would stream off my media server in the house. I couldn’t figure out exactly what was wrong (I even tried turning it off and back on again), and the whole troubleshooting experience felt like trying to get the Babel Fish. But, eventually, things sorted themselves out and I got that insanely fast network speed, so I could finish the show.

In general, I liked it. The first few episodes were fantastic, and some of the middle ones were real stinkers, but I kept watching all the way to the end because Ellie Kemper is just so fantastic and such a joy. The show has a lot of problems that have been discussed to death elsewhere, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Finally, this is a show I’m doing for Playstation Network:CwCWithWilWheaton

We’ll release new episodes, every Tuesday in the US and Canada, on PlayStation Store. You’ll get them for the low, low price of FREE on your PS3, PS4, and PS Vita. What’s that? You loaned your device to your cousin and she went out of town, locked it in her house, and didn’t give you the key? Don’t worry. If you don’t want to try out those lock-picking skills just yet, we’re also going to make our episodes available on PlayStation’s YouTube channel.

So, I hope you’ll join me and some really interesting people as we talk about games like Destiny, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, Uncharted, The Last of Us, God of War and more. I’ve already taped a couple of episodes, and I’ve had some really fascinating conversations about the similarities and differences between videogames and movies, the origins of Destiny, and exactly how The Last Of Us scared the hell out of us all, while simultaneously making us care about Joel and Ellie more than we care for actual people we work with in our real lives. Yes, Mark, I’m looking at you. You are never going to get a spot in my zombie survival compound, Mark.

I’m actually on my way to the studio in about ten minutes to do interviews with the team that brought us Black Ops, and the Santa Monica Studio team, who brought us God of War and Journey, among others.

Let me tell you this: I am profoundly late to the party on Journey, but it’s maybe the most beautiful and emotional experience I’ve ever had playing a game. If you have the means, I highly recommend it.

My son and I take KITT for a spin

“Have fun with your friends!” I kissed Anne goodbye.

“Have fun watching hockey!” Anne kissed me goodbye.

“See you when you get home,” I said. I watched her walk down the driveway, and headed back into the house. Marlowe and Seamus ran up to me as I got close to the kitchen.

“It’s just us tonight, dogs,” I said. What they heard was, “Chopper, how about a bunch of treats?”

Marlowe jumped over Seamus’ back as she ran — galloped, really — to the pantry where the dog treats live. Seamus looked at me, waiting to see if there was any reason to go to the pantry.

“Okay,” I said. His ears perked up and his tail began to wag. “Yes, you can have a treat,” I said. His tail sprang to life. Marlowe scrambled, Flintstones-style, on the floor in front of the pantry door, as she ran in tight, excited circles.

I pulled out the treats, had them sit, and gave them each little training rewards. I hope that someday I will be as excited about anything as my dogs are about a treat that’s not even the diameter of a dime.

I headed to the couch and turned on the hockey game. Montreal was trying to force a seventh game against Tampa Bay, and they trailed by two goals in the second period. My phone buzzed:

Nolan: Mom said you're home alone watching hockey.
Me: It's true.
Nolan: Want to hang out?
Me: Sure. Come over whenever. The first game is on now.
Nolan: When does the second game start?

I looked up the schedule, realized that I was wrong about there being two games, and replied.

Me: Tomorrow.
Nolan: What? Wait. I'm confused.
Me: Hi, confused. I'm Wil.
Nolan: ...
Me: There's no second game today. Come over whenever you want.
Nolan: Okay. See you soon.

I watched most of the rest of the hockey game. It wasn’t ever very close, and Tampa Bay won, eliminating the Habs (and the last Canadian team) from the playoffs. I felt bad for Canada, but as a life long Kings fan I’ll never get over 1993 (or Macho Grande), and there are so many players on this Canadiens team who I think are jerks, I was glad to see them go.

Nolan came into the house shortly after the game ended. The dogs ran laps around the house to welcome him.

We decided that we’d watch a movie or something together. As we searched through Netflix and the DVR, I said, “You know, I have the complete series of the original Knight Rider, from the 80s.”

“Knight Rider?” He said.

“Yeah,” I said. “It’s about –”

“A guy with a talking car.” He said. Not a question, but a continuation of my thought.

“That’s … uh …” I began.

But it’s more than that, I thought. It’s about … um … fighting crime! And that lady in the jumpsuit with the boots! And the old British guy, whatshisname! And KITT is, like, um … a talking car.

“Yeah, that’s pretty much what it’s about,” I said, “but it’s awesome!”

“Awesome like when you showed me text games, or awesome like something that is actually awesome?”

“Someday, you’ll thank me for showing you,” I reminded him. “because of me, you’ll never be eaten by a Grue.”

Before he could remind me that it was unlikely that would have happened anyway, I continued. “This show is genuinely awesome. It has The Hoff, the talking car, and is so unapologetically 1980s, you’re going to love it — and I don’t mean ironically. I mean you’re going to legit love it.”

“Okay,” he said. “Let’s give it a try.”

I searched through all the episodes I had, and decided that I wanted to show him something from the first season. Sure, I could have jumped in right away with KARR and Michael Knights Evil Twin™, but I was afraid it would confuse him, not knowing the rich backstory of a man who does not exist. I settled on a first season episode called Sammy’s Super Stunt Spectacular, where Michael and KITT must save a car stunt show from an evil developer, after the show’s owner, Sammy, is wounded in an accident which was engineered by the evil developer’s minions. It featured all manner of profoundly lame car stunts that were actually charming in their execution, and a stunt driver with a Hasselhoff wig that really should get its own spinoff series, where the wig is voiced not by the St. Elsewhere guy, but Mister Belvedere*.

Over 49 minutes, we were treated to some truly entertaining early 80s prime time action television. By the time it was over, Nolan was officially on board.

“So I think we need to watch this entire series,” he said.

“I knew I raised you right,” I said. “How’s your weekend looking?”

“Let’s not get carried away,” he said. “Knight Rider is something to be savored.”

“That’s … uh … ” I began.

We looked at each other, as the credits rolled and the theme music played.

“That’s pretty much exactly what it is.”

*In the pilot episode, the wig, called WIGG (which stands for Walking Investigation Guy’s Gear) helps the star of the show, Ted Jacobs, played by a young Parker Stevenson, works for Devon after Michael Knight drives off into mystery. Ted Jacobs, a former astronaut in training who faked his own death, helps solve the mystery of the missing computer tapes and saves a daycare center from an evil developer. Nell Carter and Justin Bateman co-star.

 

 

Dark Matter

If you don’t follow me on Twitter (good idea, by the way), you don’t know that the show I’m working on this week is Dark Matter, which is coming to the network formerly-known as Sci-Fi next month.

Here’s the trailer:

The basic premise of the show is: some people wake up from stasis on a space ship, and they have no memories of who they are or why they are there. As they uncover the truth about themselves … it gets complicated (and they have lots of secrets). It’s based on a comic book that I absolutely loved, and though I can’t get into specifics about the character I’m playing (SPOILERS!) … but the creator can!

Wil will be playing the part of Alexander Rook, President and CEO of Dwarf Star Technologies and…well, I can’t say more.  Suffice it to say, you’ll love him in the role because Wil is positively tearing it up, delivering a performance that is cool, controlled, compassionate, canny, confident, with a touch of creepiness and a dash of Angostura bitters.  I was truly heartened by the fact that he clearly gave it a lot of thought prior to his arrival, crafting a charmingly nuanced character in preparation for his scenes and then positively wowing us with his take.

I have had an absolutely wonderful time bringing Alexander Rook to life. In fact, yesterday was the most satisfying dramatic, on-camera acting work I’ve done in years. I mean, I’ve been very lucky to do a lot of comedic work recently, and over sixty episodes of Tabletop is nothing to sneeze at (do people actually sneeze at things to, like, disdain them? Is that a thing? I’ve never seen a person sneeze in derision at something, come to think of it) … but for the last year or so, I’ve honestly wondered if I would ever get a chance to do serious on-camera, dramatic acting again.

Well, it turns out that I can do some tremendously satisfying work, making complex (yet simple in execution) choices, when I get to work with great writing, fantastic actors, and a wonderful director.

Maybe I’m not finished being an on-camera actor, after all.

Maybe …

at home, thousands of miles away from home

I was in most of the scenes we shot yesterday, including a scene where I talked for almost three pages.

Three. Pages. Of. Dialog.

It was a lot, and we were filming right next to an airport so there were constant interruptions from airplanes, so I messed up more than I would have liked … but the cast and crew were really awesome and understanding, and we got through it.

Actually, we didn’t just “get through it.” We did some really great work together. You see, I break down my scenes into actions, intentions, goals, and a few other specific things. Just like in real life, I may want to Let Them Know I’m The Boss, or Put Them At Ease, or Make A Generous Offer. I may need to do all of those things in the span of a few lines, because my primary goal that ties all of that together is To Get Them To Go Along With Something I Can’t Live Without.

Being able to take all of that work and put it into a scene, but then also throw all the preparation away and keep it simple and in the moment is a challenge on in the best of circumstances (it’s easy to get wrapped up in the process, to go into my head and lose my connection to the character and the scene — this is what an actor like me goes to school for years to learn how to overcome) but when there are airplanes a few hundred feet away ever two minutes, it’s even more challenging than usual. It would be very, very easy to be so distracted by the noise and so concerned with just getting through the scene, that I could lose all the levels and character choices … but the director and the cast made sure that didn’t happen, by reassuring me that the performance was layered and communicated all the things I wanted to communicate. (I usually have a good sense of what I’m doing, but there was so much to think about, so much information to convey, and so much noise distracting me, I wasn’t able to know if I was on point or not — and this is where  a good, engaged director and cast is the difference between a performance that is meaningful to the audience and a performance that doesn’t quite hit the mark).

So it was a very long day, and a very challenging one, but I’m proud of what we did and happy with the work.

I’ll be honest: I keep thinking that I’m done being an on-camera actor, but then I have an experience like the one I had yesterday, and I remember how much fun, and how artistically satisfying it is, to take the words off the page and bring them to life with some other people.

I’m in a lot of stuff, again, today. I get to work with an actor who I instantly liked tomorrow, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what we discover together in our scenes.

It turns out that there’s a lot happening today.

First up, this is happening:

Wil Wheaton Big Bang Theory Season 8

We also have a new episode of Tabletop out today, and it’s one of my favorites of the season.

And after waiting almost a year to be able to talk about it, Nintendo of America has announced that I play the voice of Abraham Lincoln in their insanely awesome 3DS title, Code Name STEAM.

I am extremely proud of this game, and I can’t wait to play it. It’s got a great balance of humor and strategy, and there may be some awesomely weird stuff in it, too … you can confirm it for yourself with the trailer:

Skeletor’s best insults

I don’t miss working for a corporate nightmare, but I really miss Skeletor reading angry tweets.

If you love Skeletor’s angry face of anger as much as I do, you’ll probably enjoy this compilation of him insulting everyone he can in Eternia.

(via io9)

Peak Zombie

This is my intro for Dead of Winter. I thought it may spark an interesting discussion about what I call Peak Zombie:

I think I was a freshman or sophomore in high school the first time I saw Dawn of the Dead. It hit me the way certain things can only hit a child’s fragile, eggshell mind: it was gory, and disturbing, and pretty scary. It also made me wonder what I would do if I found myself in the zombie apocalypse. Would it really be living if I spent the rest of my life trapped inside a mall? At what point does surviving cease to be living? Why am I asking myself incredibly complex and difficult philosophical questions, instead of playing The Legend of Zelda?

Dawn of the Dead piqued my interest in George A. Romero’s version of the zombie apocalypse, and I devoured — sorry — Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, and even Return of the Living Dead. For many years, I was a zombie fiend. In fact, every Halloween from 16 to 30, I was some version of a zombie. I wrote stories about zombies, I read stories about zombies, and if there was something with a zombie in it, it was on my wish list.

But sometime in the last few years, we hit Peak Zombie, and the truth is: I’m kind of over it. The Living Dead are rarely a metaphor for consumerism, conformity, militarization, and complacency. In much of popular culture, zombies are little more than cannon fodder and background noise in corporate entertainment that’s rushed to cash in on the public’s insatiable — some may say zombie-like — hunger for stories that pit a scrappy band of human survivors against a relentless, endless, faceless mob of interchangeable, shambling bad guys.

But every now and then, something breaks through the fortified wall of hardened, Hipster cynicism I’ve built around my survival compound, and reminds me that we keep returning to stories where zombies are threatening our very existence because even if the undead aren’t explicitly standing in for some profound and specific commentary on our modern world, they can, in fact, stand in for time, age, hunger, despair, and every existential threat we worry about when the night is darkest, and we can’t find the light.

Today on Tabletop, Dodger Leigh, Grant Imahara, and Ashley Johnson are here to explore a game that puts us right in the middle of the depths of our fears, during the worst of  the zombie apocalypse. As if staying alive and pushing back the undead wasn’t hard enough, one of us may very well be working against the rest of us, to ensure that none of us make it through the DEAD OF WINTER.

Star Trek is 48 years old this week.

When I was a little kid, playing Star Trek on the playground (I always ended up being Spock), I had no idea that less than a decade later it would become a fundamental part of the tapestry of my life.

Forty-eight years ago this week, Star Trek premiered on television. Something that happened six years before I was born would end up changing my life forever, and that’s a very strange thing to think about, especially when you know how hard it is for anything to get made in television, especially something good.

As I’ve written in my books, my long relationship with Star Trek has been complicated, and not always awesome, but I wouldn’t trade anything for it, because I love my life, and the people in it.

To celebrate Star Trek’s birthday, I’d like to share a story I wrote about when I had to say goodbye to Next Generation for the last time. It’s in my book The Happiest Days of Our Lives (audiobook link), if you’re interested in owning it.  It’s called The Big Goodbye.

the big goodbye

When we were teenagers, my friend Terry said to me, “You’re a pretty big geek, and you’re part of the biggest geek phenom- enon in history…but you hardly ever talk about it. How come?” It was true. I didn’t talk about it very much. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, or didn’t think it was cool, but when I was with my friends, the last thing I wanted to do was talk about work. That reluctance persisted until I wrote “The Saga of Spongebob Vegaspants—or, how I learned to stop worrying and love Star Trek” in late 2001 for my book Dancing Barefoot. That story and this one bookend a time in my life that was so significant to me, I—well, I’ll just let you read this, and I think you’ll understand why.

Last week, I went to Paramount to film some host wraps for a Star Trek: TNG DVD documentary, and I discovered that the old cliché is true: You can’t go home again, especially when your home has been torn down and replaced with sets for a Farrelly Brothers movie.

It wasn’t the first time I’d been to Paramount since Wesley Crusher turned into a magic ball of light and floated out into the galaxy to fight crime and save amusement parks from evil developers with The Traveler. In Just A Geek, I wrote:

I found myself at the Melrose Avenue guard shack, half an hour early for my 8:30 a.m. call time.

ID, please,” the guard said.

I pulled my driver’s license out of my wallet and gave it to him.

And where are you going today…” he looked at my license, “Wil?”

 

I’m working on Star Trek,” I said.


Enterprise or Nemesis?”


The Next Generation, I thought.
“Nemesis,” I said. “I play Wesley Crusher.”


He looked up at me. “Oh my god. You are Wesley Crusher!

You look so…”

Washed up?

…grown up.”
“Yeah,” I said. “It’s been a long time.”
“Do you know where to park?”
“Yeah. But I don’t know where our dressing rooms are.” But I do! I do know where our dressing rooms are! They’re

trailers on the street in front of stages 8 and 9. Mine is filled with Warhammer 40K figures and GURPS books. It’s right next to Brent’s trailer. It’s 1989, and I’m back. I’m back home.

When I worked on Nemesis several years ago, returning to Paramount to put on the uniform and immerse myself—if only for a day—in Wesley Crusher’s goofy grin and wide- eyed excitement (I wrote at the time that I couldn’t tell where Wesley ended and I began), it was an emotional experience. I felt genuine regret for not appreciating Star Trek more when I was on the series every day, which morphed into a general regret that when I was a teenager, I acted like…a teenager. Some of Just A Geek is about this, and the catharsis that came from writing it is a large reason why I was able to accept and embrace my small role in the Star Trek universe.

I went to Paramount last week to go onto our old stages and walk a camera crew through the Guardian of Forever into 1987. I didn’t expect to be particularly emotional. I was wrong.

I live in a different part of town now, and while it’s faster to go through Silverlake and across Beverly, I wanted to put myself in a place where I’d be most receptive to emotional sense memories, so I added twenty minutes to my drive and went down the 2, up the 5, across Los Feliz and down Western before cutting across Sunset to Van Ness. I took this route every single day, once I got my driver’s license (and a license plate frame on my Prelude, the one that was just a little better than Patrick’s, that said “My other car is the Enterprise”— awesome), and at one time could probably do it with my eyes closed. I told my iPod to shuffle my ’80s Alternative playlist, and after an hour of Boingo, Depeche Mode, OMD, Squeeze, and The Smiths, I was, as they say, really feeling it when I pulled up to the guard gate on Melrose.

I turned down Only a Lad and rolled down my window. “Hi,” I said, “I’m Wil Wheaton, and I’m going to Stage 24 for the Star Trek documentary.”

The guard, who was probably in elementary school when I was piloting the Enterprise, nodded.

May I see your ID, sir?”

Though I’m “sir” to a lot of people these days, it was bizarre to hear it in a place where I was used to being “The Kid” or “The Boy.” I pulled it out of my wallet and handed it to him.

Okay, you’re all set, Mr. Wheaton,” he said. “Just pull up to the valet there. I’m sure you know your way around here?”

I smiled. “Yeah, I do.”
He handed me back my ID and leaned down toward me. “We’re not supposed to do this, but I’m a big fan,” he said,

conspiratorially. With anyone who really was a big deal in Hollywood, he was probably risking his job.

Really?” I said. “You seem a little young for TNG.”


He grinned. “Not Star Trek, your blog.”
This took me completely by surprise. I have been so busy

with other writing projects that I haven’t been able to give my blog the attention I want. I’ve frequently considered putting it on hiatus for a few months.

That,” I said, “is totally awesome. Thank you.”

He smiled and then looked over his shoulder at the other guards. He turned back to me, nodded tersely, and waved me onto the lot.

I traded my car for an orange ticket with some numbers on it and headed toward stage 24. A few minutes later, I walked past the Hart building, where TNG’s writers and our fearless leader Gene Roddenberry lived while I was on the series. I stopped for a minute and looked at what had been Gene’s first- story office window. I was hit by a machine-gun montage of all the times when I walked past that window and he called me in for a visit. I looked at the empty spot on the sidewalk where Gene’s golf cart used to be—the same one that I frequently got into trouble for racing around the backlot. I felt the first of many tugs at my heart.

Oh boy. This is going to be one of those days, I thought, as I pulled myself back into the present and walked to stage 24 to meet the crew.

Glad you could make it, Wil,” the producer said, as my eyes adjusted from the brilliance of the day to the darkness of the empty stage.

Me too,” I said.

I looked around for a moment. Something about this place was incredibly familiar.

Hey, you know what I just realized? I shot Family Ties here right before I started Star Trek.”

Really?”

Yeah, I was cast as Tina Yothers’ boyfriend. I only did one episode before I booked TNG, but the word on the street at the time was that Gary David Goldberg was going to write me in as a recurring character before I went into outer space,” I said. “And, uh, the future.”

The stage was completely empty, except for a couple of work lights and the bleachers where audiences once sat. This stage, once filled with laughter and the energy of filming “live, before a studio audience,” was now little more than an empty room. My whole life, I’ve been in love with the magic that goes into creating the suspended disbelief of movies and television, but it wasn’t until I stood in that empty stage that I fully appreciated the effort that went into transforming 12,000 square feet of soundstage into the Keatons’ lives for eight years.

So I thought we’d head over toward stage 9,” the producer said to me, “and we’ll shoot our host wraps in there.”

Wait.” I said. “You mean we get to walk into stage 9?” 105

Don’t get too excited,” he said. “There’s nothing left from Trek in there.”

Though I knew that there was no way they’d preserve our sets for twenty years, and though I knew that someone else would eventually move into our stages, just as we’d moved into the original series’ stages, I still felt a little sad.

Nothing at all?” I asked. It was a stupid question. Of course there wouldn’t be anything there. But like a kid who just learned that Darth Vader was just a guy in a suit, or that KITT didn’t really talk, I had to ask again, just to be sure I hadn’t somehow misunderstood the cold hard reality.

They’re building sets for some reshoots on a Farrelly Brothers movie,” he said, “so we’ll just shoot outside.” I was struck by how blasé he was, which shouldn’t have sur- prised me. How could I expect anyone else in the world to have the same emotional attachment to those stages as I did?

Well…okay,” I said.

The crew got the camera and sound equipment together and loaded it on a cart that looked heavy and awkward.

Do you know a fast—and preferably easy—way to get over there from here?” the camera man asked me.

I didn’t fight the smile. “Yeah. I do.”


We headed out of the stage and back past the Hart building. “See that window?” I said. “That used to be Gene’s office.” “Mmmm,” came the reply.

Nobody is going to care about these things like you do, I thought. Just keep it to yourself.

I looked at the window just a little bit longer. I recalled watching Shatner’s infamous “Get a Life” sketch on 3⁄4-inch video tape in Gene’s office with some of my friends who worked there during the second season.

A few Trekkie VIPs were there on a tour, and they watched it with us. (In the pre-Internet days, it was not very easy to watch that sketch on demand.) At one point in the sketch, Shatner says, “That was the evil Captain Kirk from episode 37, ‘The Enemy Within’…” and all of the Trekkies derisively snorted, in unison, “YOU MEAN EPISODE FOUR!” I looked at my friend, who very subtly shook his head. These were Big Deal Trekkies; pointing out that they’d just brought the sketch into the real world would have created some problems.

Back in the present, I laughed out loud, and a couple of the crew looked at me. “Memories,” I said.

I led them across the lot, on a route that would appear circuitous to anyone who didn’t work there for the better part of four years. On the way to the stage, I passed the same familiar and significant landmarks from my youth that I wrote about in Just A Geek:

That’s where I met Eddie Murphy when I was sixteen… Hey! I crashed a golf cart there when I was fifteen…There’s the mail room…There’s stage six, where the bridge set started out…I almost got up the courage to kiss that girl at the Christmas party on that stage in…there’s the stage where Shatner told me, “I’d never let a kid come onto my bridge.”

The next line in Just A Geek is, “…this street feels exactly the way it did when I worked here…here’s where my trailer used to be…”

Though I stood in that same place, it didn’t feel the same at all. Different trailers were there, filled with different actors working on different shows, but that wasn’t why I just couldn’t deny that twenty years had passed since I started working here. Maybe it was the knowledge that Star Trek is really gone for good, at least the way I knew it. Maybe it was the pain in my hip…or the responsibility on my shoulders. Maybe it was the fact that I have two sons who are older, and more mature, than I was when I started working on the series. Most likely, it was a combination of all those things.

I walked a bit farther, to the entrance to stages 8 and 9. In the hallway between them, where our security guard stopped tourists and Trekkies from coming onto the sets, where our bulletin board for callsheets, shooting schedules, and my brief foray into editorial cartoons used to be, there was now some sort of big, loud…something, with a fan and a bunch of pipes running out of it. As much as that behemoth should have prepared me, I was just gutted when I opened the stage 9 door. Instead of seeing the back of a turbolift and a corridor leading to the transporter room and engineering, I saw a bunch of sets under construction: sets that were quite clearly houses and other rooms squarely from the 21st—not the 24th—century.

Wow, I thought. It’s all…gone.

I stood in that open doorway for a long time and stared, working hard to replace the reality inside the stage with the memories inside my head.

…ready?”


I’m sorry, what?”


Are you ready?” the producer asked.


Uh, yeah.” I reluctantly let the door close.


It’s too loud here to shoot, so we’re set up behind the stage,” he said.


I followed him down the street, past where my school room—what was effectively my entire high school experience—used to be. There was a production golf cart for Everyone Hates Chris there now. I lingered briefly, fighting the urge to take one more golf-cart joyride.

Moments later, we were set up in the alley behind the stage, just outside a giant open door. I looked inside. Where Sickbay used to be, there was a set that looked like a child’s room. Where the holodeck once stood (and where all the shuttlecraft interiors were shot), there was a large drop cloth and a several cans of paint. Where Picard used to command the battle bridge—one of my all-time favorite sets—there was a tropical backdrop.

I sighed and blinked back some tears.


Everything okay?” the producer asked.


Yeah,” I said. “I’m just overwhelmed by a sadness right now that I can’t really explain.”

I understand,” he said. “This happens whenever we work with someone from Next Generation. I don’t know what it was about you guys, but every single one of you loved each other and remembers working on the show very fondly.”

I didn’t know that,” I said, around a lump in my throat. “But I’m not surprised. I…I really miss those guys.”

For the next few hours, we filmed host wraps. I told sto- ries about my time on Star Trek to anyone who would listen, and a few who wouldn’t.

In front of stage 16, I recalled an encounter with Lawrence Tierney (best known as Joe in Reservoir Dogs), who played holodeck tough guy Cyrus Redblock.

Hey,” he said to me one afternoon between scenes. “Do you play football?”

I was 15 and weighed 95 pounds…if I was soaking wet and carrying a ten-pound weight.

Uh, no,” I said.


He leaned into me, menacingly.


Why the hell not? What are you, some kind of sissy faggot?”


I panicked, certain that he was going to beat the shit out of me because I was more comfortable throwing 3d6 than a pigskin.

I’m not strong enough to play football!” I said.

Well, maybe you wouldn’t be so weak if you played foot- ball!” he growled.

An assistant director arrived just in time to call us to the set and save me from certain death.

Everyone has their own story about Planet Hell,” the producer said, pulling me back to 2007, “but yours is the first one that includes a fear of death unrelated to atmospheric smoke.”

Boy, we sure like to complain about that smoke. Did you know it was mineral oil-based?” I said.

After all the cast interviews I’ve done over the years, I know everything in the world there is to know about that smoke,” he said dryly.

Now it was my turn to laugh.

When the day was over, we headed back to stage 24, where they were set up to interview Ron Moore.

How’s it going?” I said to him when he walked into the stage.

It’s weird,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve been here in years.”

He looked around and his voice softened. “Did you know there aren’t any writers left in the Hart building? Brannon is moving out, and he was the last one. It’s just a bunch of accountants right now.”

That’s poetic,” I said.


He looked away for a moment and furrowed his brow. “It’s just…I look around here and—”


I know.” I said. “I totally grok.”

We talked for a few more minutes, until they were ready for his interview.


I will kick myself later if I don’t tell you how much I continue to love Battlestar,” I said before I left. I didn’t get up the nerve to add, “And I’d really love to work on it if you have anything for me, because it’s just about the best sci-fi on television, ever.” Later on, I kicked myself, and delivered one more to Jenny and the wimp.

It’s always good to see you,” he said.


Thanks, man. You too.”


I shook hands with everyone and said goodbye. When

I got out of the stage and walked past the Hart building, I stopped and looked at Gene’s old office window one last time. Though I’d said goodbye to Gene at his funeral in 1991, I said goodbye to him again—and to so many other things.

On my way back to the valet, I walked past the commissary, where I ate grilled mustard chicken with curly fries a few times a week during much of the series. I remembered a day during the third season, when I didn’t have a lot of cash on hand and no credit card, so my server got severely under- tipped. I planned to make it up to him the next day, but when I walked in, he silenced the entire commissary by running toward me from the back, screaming at me for stiffing him the day before. It was the first and last time in my life I wanted someone to be fired for the way they treated me.

Strangely, I still feel bad that I unintentionally stiffed the guy. Funny how those things stay with you and come back when you least expect them to.

Just past the commissary, where there used to be a company store that sold T-shirts and satin jackets celebrating the wearer’s affinity for Cheers, there was now a smaller company store that included a Coffee Bean. I stepped into the same room where I used to pick up really cheesy TNG t-shirts and insanely cool tiny communicator pins for my friends and family, and I bought myself an iced green tea.

I made my way back to the valet, where I traded an orange ticket with numbers on it for my car. While I waited for it to arrive, I struggled to put the nostalgia and associated sadness of the day into perspective. I didn’t mourn the loss of my sets as much as I mourned the time in my life those sets represented: a time when my biggest responsibility was knowing my lines and getting to the set on time, not coming up with college tuition for the next four years. A time when KROQ played music that was relevant to me, and I knew all the DJs. A time when my biggest problem in the world was getting out of costume and makeup early enough to make it to the Forum for a Kings game. A time when my life was simpler and easier, when I had the luxury of taking for granted that I would always have everything I wanted and my opportunities were as numerous as the little mirrored stars on the black velvet starfield that hung behind Ten Forward on stage 9…stars that are, most likely, cut up into hundreds of little bits to be doled out at auction for the next decade.

But, complicated as it is, I really like my life. I have a beautiful wife and two children who, though they don’t carry my DNA, are clearly mine in every way that matters. I’m not going to be buying a boat any time soon, but I have been able to touch lives as a writer in ways that I never could have when I wore a spacesuit, just reading the words that other people thought I should say.

The valet brought my car around, and I gave him a couple bucks from my front pocket.

Thank you, sir,” he said.

Goddamn, it’s weird to be “sir.”

No problem.”

I got in my car and headed toward a red light on Van Ness, where a big decision loomed: Turn left and drive back over Los Feliz, the way I always used to drive? Or make a right and head down across Beverly?

Luckily, this was an easy one. I hit my blinker and began my voyage home.

 

 

 

if you enjoy sitting on counters…

A massive hurricane is currently tearing up the ocean just off the coast of Mexico, and the surf here in Southern California is huge. Waves between fifteen and twenty feet have been common, and on Wednesday, Anne and I went down to the beach to see them for ourselves, and take a long walk along the sand.

School has just started, so there weren’t many people down there. Parking was easy, and after a quick walk across the hot sand, we got to the edge of the water. We stood there for a few minutes and watched enormous waves explode into foam, before the ocean seemed to completely flatten out into deceptively serene beauty between sets.

We walked about four miles down the sand, and another four miles back. We shared a meatball sub for lunch, and a little after 2pm, we got in the car to head home.

We were about a quarter mile from our house when my cell phone rang. I vaguely recognized the number, so I picked it.

“I have [Syfy Network Executive] for you,” a disinterested assistant said.

“Okay,” I said. The line fell silent, and I knew that my work with Syfy was over.

“How are you?” He asked me.

“I’m fine,” I said, honestly. “I just got back from a nice long walk with my wife, and it’s been a pretty great day.”

“Well, I’m about to make your day less great,” he said. Then, he told me that Syfy will not be ordering more episodes of The Wil Wheaton Project.

He assured me that it wasn’t the quality of the show. He told me again and again how much he loved it, how funny he thought it was, how much he liked me, how much he wanted to find other things to do together.

Ultimately, he told me, the executives in New York just didn’t think we had enough viewers to justify more episodes. I didn’t say anything about the total lack of promotion off the network, or point out that our ratings were on par with The Soup, or that ratings are always lower in summer than the fall. I didn’t  bother saying any of that, because I know he knows that. I was reasonably confident that he made those arguments with New York when he was trying to get the show renewed. I presume he fought hard for us, but ultimately couldn’t sway executives in New York who never seemed — in my opinion — to really understand what kind of show we were doing, who I was and why I was hosting it, and how to engage with and promote to the audience who would like it.

I thanked him for the call, thanked him for the opportunity to do a show that Syfy had never tried before, and sincerely thanked him for all his creative support. He’s a good guy in an industry full of bad guys, and I genuinely enjoyed working with him. I know that he’s trying really hard to put the sci-fi back into Syfy, and if anyone can do it there (which is going to be incredibly difficult, I think), he’s the guy who can make it happen.

I hung up the phone, and told Anne that we weren’t being renewed.

“How do you feel about that?” She asked me.

“I’m really okay with it,” I said. “I’m super sad that I won’t get to work with my writers and producers, and I’m sad that we don’t get to keep writing jokes, but I did everything I could to help the show succeed. I promoted it the best way I could, I worked hard to write stuff that was funny, and I tried so, so, so hard to get the network executives in New York to understand how they could help the show succeed.

“I can only do so much, and we didn’t get a lot of promotional support. I did everything I could, and I’m proud of the work we put on the screen. On the one hand, it’s a shame that they stopped us right when the show was hitting its stride, but on the other hand, we went out with some great episodes.”

I’m disappointed that I won’t get to keep working with people I really like and respect. I’m sad that we won’t get to do more silly segments like How Will They Bite It? and Skeletor Reads Angry Tweets. I’ll miss the scarecrow most of all.

I’m grateful, though, to the people at Syfy who believed in us and gave us a chance to succeed. I’m grateful for the creative support we got, and I’m grateful that I got to spend my summer working with wonderful, talented, funny people. I grew a lot of levels in comedy writing over the last 18 weeks or so, and I owe it all to the amazing people I got to work with.

I had made a decision the day we wrapped the show, that I was going to be okay whether Syfy picked us up, or not. I can honestly say that I am really okay with where I am today. I’m looking forward to doing Tabletop and our upcoming RPG show. I’m looking forward to writing more stories, getting excited, and making more things.

Thank you to everyone who watched our show. Thank you for your kind words, and for being part of a pretty great summer.

Until next time: Play more games!

Oh, and let me just stop this before it starts: we nerds have a penchant for letter-writing campaigns and stuff to try and save shows we like. Please don’t do that here. It’s not going to happen, and we should instead put that energy into something else, like getting #butts to trend.