Sci Fi Sunday: Stargate Atlantis

by Susan Getgood on March 9, 2008

in Science Fiction

As I wrote on Marketing Roadmaps earlier today, I will be sharing more of my sci fi obsession here on Snapshot Chronicles in the coming months.

Marketing Roadmaps will still be where you’ll find my commentary on the impact of social media on the sci fi segment — fans and industry alike — as well as analysis of sci fi marketing endeavors like the grassroots campaigns around the film Serenity and last year’s Sci Fi Channel digital media tour.

Here on Snapshot Chronicles is where I’ll share my thoughts on the programs themselves. Rants, raves and everything in between. If nothing else, it will save my mother having to listen to me blather on about Starbuck and Apollo or why the PTB of Stargate Atlantis should never have let Torri Higginson go.

In fact, since that show just wrapped for the season, let’s start there. My family is a relative latecomer to the Stargate franchise. My husband would watch it from time to time but I just couldn’t care enough about the characters. That is until Ben Browder and Claudia Black joined the cast a few years ago. It wasn’t John Crichton and Aeryn Sun, but they were both still excellent. So we started watching Stargate SG-1, and enjoyed it well enough. But we still weren’t watching the spin-off. As I will go into more a bit later, I’ve got “mental space” for about a half-dozen programs at any one time, and I wasn’t yet ready to make room for Stargate Atlantis.

Eventually we did watch a few episodes in a row in season 3, and also learned that Jewel Staite of Firefly/Serenity was joining the cast. So this year, we watched it fairly regularly. In part because there wasn’t much else to watch 🙂 And in part because it turned out to be a good show to watch with Douglas. The plots aren’t so complex that he cannot follow them, but they are a step up from Power Rangers and Digimon. The interplay between Joe Flanigan and David Hewlett is also priceless.

While I knew that there had been a big to-do last year when two principal players were let go — Paul McGillion who played Dr. Carson Beckett and afore-mentioned Torri Higginson who played expedition leader Elizabeth Weir, I really hadn’t paid too much attention because at the time, it wasn’t “my” show. But last month, we had a coupon at Borders and also finally got a dividend from the Amazon Associates program, so we bought the DVDs of seasons 1 through 3. And proceeded to gorge ourselves on Stargate Atlantis, which gives me an interesting perspective on the totality of the show.

While the show is still fun to watch, it really was much better with the Elizabeth Weir character. Admittedly, she often didn’t have much to do, but her relationships with the two main characters, John Sheppard (Flanigan) and Rodney McKay (Hewlett), and especially the Sheppard character, really added a dimension to the program that is sorely missing. And from what I hear, unlikely to be rectified in the coming season as she reportedly turned down an invite to return for a single episode. It would be nice if the announcement that she wasn’t coming back for the ep was misdirection, but that is unlikely.

I can see that…. fired and replaced with another actress from the franchise, invited back for an episode. I’d probably trip over myself for that. Not.

What worked so well with the Weir character and what they have not been able to replace is that she was often in disagreement with her colleagues, the aforementioned Sheppard and McKay, and sometimes both at once, but the characters worked it out, and clearly with mutual respect. And not a little UST. Everyone had their expertise and for the most part, deferred to the subject matter expert as required by the problem at hand.

In season 4, the role of leader was assumed by actress Amanda Tapping, whose character Samantha Carter moved over from the SG-1 show. But she wasn’t in every episode, for contractual reasons, and the character just never seemed to fit. I don’t dislike the actress or the character, but it didn’t work. Which it seems she herself understood as she is not returning as a regular in season five, preferring to devote herself to a new property she has been developing, Sanctuary.

But next year doesn’t promise to be much better. Robert Picardo will be joining the regular cast as his recurring character IOA milquetoast Richard Woolsey takes over the leadership position. I can’t see how the dynamic will work, as none of the long-term characters have much respect for the character. Not to mention that the thought of UST between the Woolsey character and any of my faves, of either sex, makes me want to poke out my eyes with a burning stick…..

So what we’ll get is Sheppard and McKay constantly fighting with “the man.” Will this get boring? We’ll have to wait and see but I’m guessing… yup.

Never watched Stargate Atlantis but think you might like to? Here’s my recommendation for must-watch episodes:

Season 1:

  • Rising Parts 1& 2 (the premiere)
  • The Storm and The Eye (2-parter)
  • The Siege Parts 1 & 2

Season 2:

  • The Siege Part 3
  • Conversion
  • The Long Goodbye
  • Michael

Season 3:

  • Misbegotten
  • Common Ground
  • The Return Parts 1 & 2
  • Sunday
  • First Strike

I haven’t seen all of Season 4 — we missed a few episodes in the fall, but here are the ones you need to see to follow the storyline into next year:

  • Adrift
  • Lifeline
  • This Mortal Coil
  • Be All My Sins Remember’d
  • Kindred Parts 1 & 2
  • The Last Man (season finale)

Next week on Sci Fi Sunday, my thoughts on Battlestar Galactica, which returns Friday April 4th. Sadly when I am in NYC for BlogHer Business, so either I don’t party hearty with my blogging pals that night or I watch it on Tivo as soon as I get home Saturday or I connect with some Gotham Battlestar fans to watch, and kibbitz, together. Hhhm. There’s a thought.

Oh, in case you are wondering, my mental space for TV is currently occupied by:

  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Stargate Atlantis
  • Torchwood
  • Chuck
  • Ugly Betty
  • Men in Trees

with an occasional dip into Lost, which I used to love but which now leaves me mostly… lost, and Pushing Daisies, which I enjoyed the few times I watched it, but just can’t seem to remember to tape. And in a holding pattern, Farscape, as we wait for the promised webisodes and Doctor Who, which I’ve always loved, even if David Tennant, the current Doctor, doesn’t do a damn thing for me.

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