Category Archives: Stargate Atlantis

TELEVISION: Stargate Atlantis/Stargate Universe – Just Some Thoughts

The news came out, this week, that Stargate Atlantis was being cancelled in favor of one or two annual direct-to-DVD movies – the first one to wrap up the series’ final storyline – and where have we heard that one before? Still, the puzzling thing is that the series is being cancelled after its ratings rose this summer – which makes as much sense as the little pig in the straw house moving into his brother’s brick one and having the middle pig take it down with a bulldozer in a fit of envy.

cast_season5

The main reason we’ve been given is that making the series in Vancouver, British Columbia is getting to be too expensive, though I humbly suggest that if the series was being produced in the U.S., its rising ratings would pretty much preclude such a move. So, why then, would MGM and the Atlantis production team go in this direction?

After a quick run through the season’s first six episodes, it’s certainly not because of any loss of quality – a potential reason that was rendered unlikely by the way that more people are watching, on a regular basis. With the franchise maintaining its usual high level of quality – of the six episodes, only Ghost in the Machine – which was hampered by Torri Higginson’s decision to not return] was less than a B effort – the rest ranged from A [The Daedalus Variations] to B- [The Seed]. Certainly, the show’s writing, production, direction, effects and performances have been as good as usual.

The answer is given, and quite clearly, in the press release for the upcoming series, Stargate Universe. In it, Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper are quoted as saying, “In ‘Universe,’ we plan to keep those elements that have made the franchise a success, such as adventure and humour, while breaking new ground in the relationships between mostly young and desperate explorers, thrust together and far from home. Above all, we believe the Stargate self remains an enduring icon with infinite potential as a jumping off point for telling stories.”

It’s the “let’s get a cast of younger, more kick-ass military and civilians – nothing wrong with kick-ass civilizations – and punch up our numbers in the 18-24 demo… and the ‘tween demo.” After all, nobody’s watching the old fogies on Atlantis except, well, more people than did last year – thereby punching a bit of a hole in the typical variety of network thinking.

What’s the big plus, here? It’s that the mainstays of the Stargate creative team remain aboard – even though they aren’t the young pups they were when they convinced Richard Dean Anderson into signing up. Happily, unlike the creative teams of other series, they get to space out their writing in such a way that they are still capable of writing engaging and entertaining episodes – unlike the Star Trek duo of Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, who were completely out of touch with their audience by the time season two of Enterprise came around [not to mention that ghastly series finale].

Stargate has survived big changes in the past. When Michael Shanks left, Corin Nemec stepped in and the show rolled on [and a lot of fans wouldn’t have minded if Nemec had stayed on]; Richard Dean Anderson left – for perfectly good reasons – and was replaced by Ben Browder, whose character injected a fresh enthusiasm to the series that almost made up for the introduction of the Ori. Claudia Black came aboard the SG-1 franchise at the same and her charming thief/con artist fit in – after awhile…

Then there were the changes on Atlantis, where a first-season regular departed after getting a buzz from Wraith venom; Dr. Elizabeth Weir, the leader of the Atlantis Expedition, became a Replicator and was replaced by Col. Samantha Carter – whose successes while in command got her moved out and fussy, protocol-happy Richard Woolsey took over [and discovered that protocol is pretty much just another word in the Pegasus Galaxy].

Throughout the changes – not to mention some of the best humorous eps on any SF series – the quality of the Stargate shows has been kept well above average. Now we’re going to be getting a series that features a younger cast that is stranded even farther away than the Pegasus Galaxy. The chances are that its creative team will be looking for fresh ideas – or at least, fresh spins on ideas – and that it will be worth watching.

It’s just too bad that Atlantis has to suffer cancellation because of it. And that idea for finishing off the final season cliffhanger with a direct-to-DVD movie? Still little more than an blatant cash grab.

DVD REVIEW: Stargate: Continuum: Playing with Time

Stargate: Continuum is the first DTDVD stand-alone adventure of the SG-1 team and it’s a bit of a time traveling doozy! It begins with SG-1 and General Jack O‘Neill [Richard Dean Anderson] attending the extraction ceremony for the last Goa’uld still existing in a Goa’uld System Lord. The Goa’uld is Ba’al [Cliff Simon], or rather, the last clone of Ba’al, who warns them that they’ve made a terrible mistake. As the ceremony proceeds, Vala [Claudia Black] and Teal’c [Christopher Judge] vanish. When members of the Tok’ra begin to disappear, too, the remaining SG-1 members and O’Neill realise that Ba’al has gone into the past to prevent the Stargate from being used – leaving Earth open to complete domination by the Goa’uld.

One of the best things about Stargate time travel tales is that they are usually a lot of fun. Continuum takes that to a whole new level, with appearances by nearly every major character in SG-1 lore – even though many are surprising cameos [check out the appearance of the System Lords, for example]. Also, Continuum is a stand-alone movie, so it’s not wrapping up a cliffhanger – or leaving fans hanging on yet another one.

SG_CONTINUUM Box Art

In the alternate timeline that’s created by Ba’al’s maneuver, we get to meet alternate versions of O’Neill, General Hammond [Don S. Davis], Major-General Landry [Beau Bridges] and even President Henry Hayes [William Devane] – and we learn that, in this timeline, Col. Samantha Carter [Amanda Tapping] was an astronaut who died saving her shuttle crew and Daniel Jackson [Michael Shanks] is a discredited crackpot. Not only that, but Lt.-Col. Cameron Mitchell [Ben Browder] is in a position to create a Grandfather Paradox [look it up] if he screws up.

Stargate: Continuum works on a couple of levels: it’s a solid SG-1 adventure replete with action, humor and wit, and it’s also a breathtaking visual achievement, with some brilliantly shot sequences in the Arctic – and the first ever time that a nuclear submarine has been used in a movie [the captain being played by the sub’s real commander]. The writing is a bit above the average for the series and the cast get to play some interesting variations on their characters – especially, Shanks, whose Daniel Jackson suffers more than usual [even for him]. The direction is, as with the series, pretty snappy. Even the expository scenes are rife with wit and fun. As for the effects, they’re terrific – though they can barely hold their own against the majesty of the Arctic.

Features include: Audio Commentary by Executive Producer/Writer Brad Wright and Director Martin Wood; The Making of Stargate: Continuum Featurette; Stargate Goes to the Arctic Featurette, and The Layman’s Guide to Time Travel.

Grade: Stargate: Continuum – B+

Grade: Features: A

Final Grade: A-

DVD REVIEW: Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Fourth Season: Wraith, Replicators and Pregnancy!

One thing you can say about the Stargate franchise – it may rarely reach brilliance, but it’s equally rarely less than fun. Season four of SG Atlantis found Torri Higginson’s Dr. Elizabeth Weir leaving her command for a pretty good reason – to keep the Replicators from destroying Atlantis. In her stead, the Atlantis Expedition welcomed [all except for maybe David Hewlett’s Rodney McKay] Col. Samantha Carter [Amanda Tapping] as their new commander.

Box Art

Along with other familiar villainous faces [like the Genii], season four also brought the former Wraith Michael [Connor Trinneer] back and tied his arc into the story of Teyla’s [Rachel Luttrell] pregnancy [Luttrell’s real pregnancy sparked the writers’ ideas]. We got to see Rodney attempt to propose marriage; the deserted Atlantis of twenty-eight thousand years in the future, and a fable about a little girl who was about to become queen. The season’s creative high point may have been Tabula Rasa [with everyone’s memories gone, including his, Rodney has to save the city], but I particularly enjoyed Midway wherein Col. Carter asks Teal’c [Christopher Judge] to help Ronan [Jason Momoa] prepare for his IOA interview – and things go, of course, hilariously wrong.

Overall, Atlantis’ fourth season rarely disappoints. The writers have a firm handle on the characters and seem able to produce interesting new riffs on the many aspects of the series. The cast is a well-oiled unit, figuratively speaking, and each has shown the capacity for bringing new shadings to their characters as the writers delve more deeply into them.

Features include: Audio Commentaries on nineteen of the twenty episodes [excepting only the one I wanted most, Midway]; four Mission Directive Featurettes [Doppelganger, This Mortal Coil, Quarantine and Outcast]; A New Leader: Amanda Tapping Joins Stargate Atlantis Featurette; The Doctor is In: The Return of Paul McGillion Featurette; The Making of Trio Featurette; A Look Back at Season Four Featurette; Bloopers; Deleted Scenes, and the usual collection of Photo & Design Galleries.

Grade: Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Season Four – B

Grade: Features: A+

Final Grade: A-

Getting It Straight from Staite: Jewel Staite Talks About Being On Board for Stargate Atlantis’ Fourth Season

Jewel Staite Stargate Atlantis EclipseMagazine.com Interview

“She’s a bit of a scaredy cat. She’s not very good in dire or violent situations. She scares easily, which is not such a good thing when you’re in the world of Atlantis. She’s really great under pressure though. I think that’s when she’s at her best, especially when she’s in her element; anything to do with medicine or a complicated medical situation she’s just there. She’s just on. She’s very, very, very smart and very focused.” Continue reading Getting It Straight from Staite: Jewel Staite Talks About Being On Board for Stargate Atlantis’ Fourth Season

Stargate Atlantis Gives Friday a Sci-Fi Kick!

EclipseMagazine Review - Stargate Atlantis

Friday night marks the return of one of the most consistently entertaining sci-fi series: the Sci Fi Channel’s Stargate: Atlantis [10/9C], . Stargate: Atlantis kicks off its new series by welcoming SG-1’s Col. Samantha Carter aboard in the midst of death, destruction and mayhem. It’s definitely not just another day at the office! Continue reading Stargate Atlantis Gives Friday a Sci-Fi Kick!

David Hewlett Stargate Atlantis’ Cranky Canuck, Rodney Mckay Speaks!

EclipseMagazine.com Interview - David Hewlett

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with David Hewlett about the fourth season of Stargate: Atlantis, and the how the changes affect everyone’s favorite curmudgeon, Rodney McKay. While we talked mostly about season four of Atlantis, we got into horror movie geek mode; talked a bit about Doctor Who’s impact on his life, and also chatted about the making of his latest film, A Dog’s Breakfast.

Continue reading David Hewlett Stargate Atlantis’ Cranky Canuck, Rodney Mckay Speaks!

Michael Shanks Mega Snake: Do Not Fear The Heart Of The Snake!

Michael Shanks - Star of Mega SnakeThe first Michael Shanks vehicle to air since Stargate SG-1 ended its run is a whacked out little Sci Fi Channel B-movie called Mega Snake [Sci Fi, Saturday, 9/8C] – and what could be more perfect for a B-movie than a giant snake? How about a blink or you’ll miss it appearance by Matthew Atherton as his Who Wants To Be A Superhero-winning character Feedback? Certainly, Mega Snake is all that and a bag of… well… something other than chips…

Continue reading Michael Shanks Mega Snake: Do Not Fear The Heart Of The Snake!

Finding Sanctuary: An Interview with Amanda Tapping and Damian Kindler

“I am the most proud of this of anything I have ever done in my career.” After ten years as Colonel Samantha Carter on the now-cancelled science fiction show Stargate: SG1, not only has Amanda Tapping taken the leap into the Pegasus Galaxy to join the Stargate: Atlantis crew, but she is also focusing on a new venture, the fantasy drama Sanctuary, in which she stars as 153-year-old Dr Helen Magnus. Continue reading Finding Sanctuary: An Interview with Amanda Tapping and Damian Kindler