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Stargate: Atlantis Review

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by Simon Crust Mar 1, 2005 at 12:00 AM

    In the beginning there was Gateway to the Stars; more correctly pronounced Stargate. Roland Emmerich's sleeper hit of 1994 staring James Spader and Kurt Russell told the story of the mysterious Stargate; a ring devise found amongst ancient Egyptian relics, able to connect to a twin gate via a wormhole, offering instantaneous transportation between interstellar space. Once the gate has been activated Colonel Jack O'Neil leads a team to investigate, including Dr Daniel Jackson the linguist that translated the inscriptions to the Stargate. Once on the other planet, they discover the Egyptian God Ra is alive and has enslaved the world. This does not bode well for our heroes, and after many battles they discover Ra is in fact an alien, whom they then destroy with the aid of a nuclear device trapping Jackson on the planet.

    Fast forward three years and MGM see potential in the Stargate franchise to option a TV show, Stargate: Children of the Gods and subsequent syndicated TV show Stargate: SG1. Reuniting O'Neil and Jackson, though this time played respectively by Richard Dean Anderson (of Macgyver fame) and Michael Shanks, the SG1 team expand the original film premise to include many thousands of Stargates, thus many thousands of worlds to explore. Throughout the seven seasons much more is discovered about the Stargates, including that they were not invented by the Goa'uld (the so called Eyptian Gods) but by a race called the Ancients. A humanoid species that populated the galaxy 10000 years ago, that suddenly and mysteriously disappeared. Turns out that these ancients were responsible for the myth of Atlantis, since their city was sunk to avoid destruction on a planet in the Pegasus system, and its inhabitants travelled to Earth by the Stargate carrying with them that story.

    Thus the stage is set for a new band spin of series SG1, Stargate Atlantis. A dedicated team of military personnel and scientists head off for 'Atlantis', sunk on an unnamed planet in the Pegasus system, with little hope of returning to Earth, but with a whole new galaxy to explore. All this background is useful information as there is precious little given in the show. The pilot, call Rising, seems to start half way through, or at least that what it seems; there is practically no introduction to the characters or to the shows premise, perhaps this was already set up in SG1, I don't know I've not seen them all. So for the first half hour or so I, and no doubt most, have to play a kind of 'catch up' to understand exactly what is going on in the show. The new team includes an O'Neil wanna be, a Marshall from Alias wanna be and a Captain Janeway from Voyager wanna be. Once that has been established we are introduced to the Pegasus galaxies main villain, the Wraiths. A foe as old as the ancients themselves and were in fact responsible for their eventual destruction. Thus the plot for the pilot episode is: get to 'Atlantis' go through gate, bring home refugees and wake up ancient foe. The next two episodes don't build on this premise at all and could have been from any part of the season so little was the continuity; episode 2 has a dark shape that eats energy roaming Atlantis, episode 3 follows a '24' motif in having to explain a pod stuck in the Stargate away in the shows run time of 38 minutes. Neither are particularly engaging, nor held any real drama. I understand that this is only the first three episodes of a new TV show, but it seems as if they are hoping that Stargate and the SG1 franchise will pull them along, because if things don't get any better this show should die because it has absolutely nothing new to offer. There is the biggest flaw with the show, as I see it, in these DVD episodes, I've seen all the characters and all the premises before, and in essence I was almost bored. Lets hope that as a season it gets a lot better....