Stargate: Atlantis (2009)

A review from Death Ray 16. I’ll be honest. I’ve never really liked Stargate, although I enjoyed the original film. Frankly, I know a lot of SF journalists who feel similarly. I remember when it was one of the only successful SF, non-Trek shows on TV, and we covered it extensively in SFX. Its success mystified us.  It’s the high levels of incompetence exhibited by people doing the most important job in the universe that irritates me. In real life, they’d all be Navy SEAL sociopaths, not bumbling quipsters. I have the same problem with a lot of “team of lovable misfits are humanity’s only bastion against alien invasion” type shows: Torchwood being top of my list. Which is why, I suppose, I am not an indiscriminate consumer of science fiction on TV, although I’ll sample any show at least once.

Lovely people working on Stargate, mind, and they were extremely nice to their fans, which is not always a given in this business.

Stargate: Atlantis

Season 5


Directors: Various

Writers: Various

Starring: Joe Flanigan, Rachel Luttrell, David Hewlett, Jason Momoa, Jewel Staite, Robert Picardo

The adventures of the SG team stretch on toward infinity.

Wow! Look at that – Stargate Atlantis is already into its fifth year, how did that happen? Stargate is something that I dip into every so often to see if anything has changed. Generally, it does not, and so the years fly by…

The Stargate franchise’s mix of amateurish military personnel and alien peril has never really grabbed me. Its now enormous cast of characters is composed of entirely likeable people, but they behave as if they’re slightly tipsy at a birthday party, quipping their way through the same patch of pine forest while some gruff-voiced, disapproving alien dude looks on. It’s nerds in space with guns. Wholly unbelievable, but that’s why its popular – “I am a normal, slightly clever, slightly whiny chap, but that’s okay, so are half the team in SG-1! They are not the steely-eyed supermen that would get sent in reality. By extension, that means I can go into space too…”

The franchise is entirely self-referential to the genre, as evinced by the constant recruitment of actors from other, defunct SF shows – Ben Browder and Claudia Black from Farscape, Jewel Staite from Firefly, Connor Trinneer from Enterprise, and now Robert Picardo, who has taken up permanent station in the Pegasus Galaxy after a few years as a recurring character.

Atlantis differs little from its parent show. It has the same feeble banter, the same faux tough guys, the same patch of pine forest. Different alien dude, but he has the same attitude. Atlantis is less of a team show, its ensemble broken down into manageable chunks of twos and threes which take it in turn to hold the limelight. Agent Woolsey (Picardo) is now in charge as Atlantis‘ CIC, replacing Amanda Tapping’s Major Carter.

The most exciting thing in the series is Dr. Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) cropping up for a major cameo toward the back-end of the season, which leads to the return of a certain, supposedly extinct, race.

In short, there is much in the latest run of Atlantis by way of continuing story and character arcs for the Stargate fan, and as usual it is glossy in a mid-budget kind of way. But for those of us who need a bit more credibility in our SF, there is nothing here that will snag you now.


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