TV Series Review: Stargate Atlantis

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Hey Space Cadets, how’re you doing? I’m doing good, I’ve been enjoying my summer with my sons and walking around the lake near my house. Okay, it’s a city drainage pond, but that doesn’t sound like something Walden would approve of, now does it?  I mean, you wouldn’t want Henry or Ralph mad at you, would you? Okay, jokes aside… I’ve been writing and stacking books for the publishing stuff, and I have some stuff with publishers. And finally, I’ve been binge watching science fiction series with my sons. More specifically, the five seasons of Stargate Atlantis.

 

But enough of my ramblings, onto this television series review!

 

TV Series: Stargate: Atlantis

Created By: Brad Wright & Robert C. Cooper

Box Set Price:  $81.81 USD (BlueRay Edition)

Duration: 5 Seasons

Number of Episodes: 100

Release Date: July 2004 thru January 2009

Obtained:  I bought the complete box set from Amazon.

 

 

Rating:  5/5 Grenades

 Summary:

 

This is an offshoot of the famous Stargate: SG1 universe, where aliens have been discovered on the other side of the stargate ring. A government agency was created, led by the U.S. Air Force at a top-secret facility under Cheyenne Mountain. After those brave airmen found evidence of a long abandoned, highly advanced city, a decision was made to send a team through the ring to recover it for Earth. A team of dedicated professionals stepped through the ring, unsure if they’d ever see home again with the singular purpose of discovering knowledge to help protect their homes. They end up stuck getting stuck in the Pegasus Galaxy, but they didn’t give up their struggle for survival. They adapt, overcome and fight for their families. They make new friends, find new enemies, all while having some rollicking adventures.

If you’re a fan of the original series or the movie that started it all, then go watch this series! It has plenty of action, adventure, and just enough explosions to move the story along. The action is authentically gritty, without being over the top and I enjoyed it. Okay, gritty by the standards of the early 2000’s. It was suitable for family viewing, which I love. If this sounds like your flavor of badassery, then you’ve come to the right place!  All I can say is that this is one Father’s Day present that isn’t getting returned!

 

Trailers:

 

I’ve included a few of the trailers for this movie, for you to see what I’m talking about!

 

 

 

Season One Trailer

Season Two Trailer

Season Three Trailer

Season Four Trailer

Season Five Trailer

 

Characters:

In this series, we meet a diverse group of military personnel, scientists and politicians who collectively make up the Atlantis Expedition. Individually, none of them are capable of unraveling the mysteries of the city that has been dormant for a millennium. Together, however, they can and do accomplish great things.

Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard: He was one of the main point of view characters and was played by actor Joe Flanigan. He was an officer in the U.S. Air Force, a combat helicopter pilot who fought in Afghanistan before joining the Stargate Program. After the death of his superior, he becomes the head of the military forces on the Atlantis Expedition and the second in command overall. He is known to be somewhat of a maverick, but he possesses the ATA gene that allows him to use Ancient technology, so he is forgiven for many of his transgressions. The acting was solid, though the character arc for this leader felt flat to me. The character was flushed out, but I felt like he had a flat arc throughout the series. He had no clearly defined overall motivation, other than protecting his soldiers. In my not so humble opinion, that isn’t enough for a military character. They need to be more fleshed out and three dimensional. Overall, I really liked this character but felt like he never got the story arc he deserved.

Dr. Meredith Rodney McKay, Ph.D.: He was one of the main point of view characters for the series and was played by actor David Hewlett. Rodney is a member of the MENSA Program and a certified genius who doesn’t shy away from letting everyone know it. He’s a brilliant man with multiple degrees, including mechanical engineering, physics, and astrophysics. He is the head of the science department for the Atlantis Expedition and helps figure out all of the advanced technology left behind by the Atlanteans who built the stargates. Using his scientific prowess, he’s saved the galaxy and the fate of humanity a million times while only blowing up two solar systems. He’s a bit of a sniveling hypochondriac with narcissistic tendencies, but when the chips are down, he always comes through for his friends. While he doesn’t possess the ATA gene to use Ancient technology, he was one of the first people to receive the gene therapy that implanted the gene and allowed him to continue using the technology. Overall, I really loved this character and would love to see him in any future shows in this franchise!

 Ronon Dex: He was one of my favorite main characters in this series and was played by Jason Momoa. The character was well acted and showed a lot of growth over the course of the show. He’s a combat veteran of Sateda’s (P3R-534) war against the Wraith. His home planet had the advanced military technology, making it a target of the alien vampire’s suppression efforts. His people lost the war, and Ronon was captured by the enemy. When the Wraith realized he was an extremely skilled fighter, he was tagged with a GPS system and turned into a runner. He was hunted by the Wraith for fun, the experience serving as a training for their warriors. These unfortunate individuals were both feared and pitied by other residents of the galaxy, often bringing the scourge of the Wraith Culling to their worlds. When he meets up with the members of the Atlantis Expedition, he’s able to have his tracker removed and joins them in their fight against their common enemy. He becomes an integral part of Colonel Sheppard’s team and stays with them throughout the series. Overall, he was a great character who brought a lot to the table and who you loved to root for. Ever military sci-fi show needs one of him, the archetypal mountain of muscle who kicks butt while keeping the tense moments lighthearted.

Lieutenant Aiden Ford: He was one of the original members of Colonel Sheppard’s team and was played by actor Rainbow Sun Francks. The character was an officer in the United States Marine Corps, serving on Sheppard’s away team and brought a lot of humor to the Atlantis Expedition. He was ultimately wounded by the Wraith and became addicted to the enzyme they use to keep their prey alive long enough to feed off of them. We are left hanging, regarding what ultimately happens to his character, at least as far as the television show is concerned. His fate is addressed in one of the follow-on graphic novels, but it’s debatable as to whether this counts as canon. Overall, he was a great character who could’ve become so much more if he hadn’t been written out of the show.

Teyla Emmagan: She was one of the main point of view characters and was played by actress Rachel Luttrell. Her acting was spot on, and I loved seeing her character arc through the series. She is a badass warrior who uses the vestigial Wraith genes in her DNA to sense the enemy and kill them for the betterment of the Pegasus Galaxy. She is the leader of her people, the daughter of the former village leader of the survivors from the planet Athos. She brings a lot to the table; she’s skill in military strategy, diplomacy, and a graceful form of martial arts that uses her small size and speed to her advantage. Her martial art form is based on Eskrima, a form of stick fighting that is perfect for her character and origins. Overall, she was always one of my favorite characters in the Stargate Universe.

Wraith: The Wraith are a vampire-like telepathic alien species that feeds off the life force of their human prey. The process of sucking the life from their prey heals them and allows them to maintain their own lives, making them functionally immortal. They favor technology that has biological origins, and even their ships are alive, though not sentient. These creatures are the ones who defeated the Ancients and drove them from the Pegasus Galaxy. They’re a class-based race, forming hives around their queens who is defended with subservient brute warriors who are led by the intelligent lieutenants. They’re very territorial and often fight among themselves for control of their planetary feeding grounds. Because of their apparent immortality, some of the humans of the Pegasus Galaxy worship the Wraith as gods. These individuals are essentially drug addicts, addicted to the enzymes given to them by their “gods.” Overall, I liked how this race evolved over the course of the show. As characters had more contact with them, we found a trace of common ground. They never stop being an enemy, as humanity can’t coexist with this race that suppresses their development and eats them, but you learn to see things from their side as well.

 Overall, I will give these characters 5 out of 5 Grenades and can’t wait to see if we get more stories in the expansive Stargate Universe!

 

Overarching Themes: 

This series has a fairly complex plot since it was one that wove itself over five seasons and 100 episodes and then ended rather abruptly. Instead of that section, I thought I would discuss the overarching themes of this show. If you agree with these, let me know in the comments! And if you think there were some I missed, share those thoughts too!

Common Humanity: One of the major themes that ran throughout the 5 seasons of Stargate Atlantis addressed the common humanity. The show constantly pushed the idea that there was a commonality among homo sapiens, regardless of where they were. No matter what galaxy they spent their existence, Stargate Atlantis showed the things that united us all. The show lets us see this as a philosophical enterprise, something that we discuss. It lets us muse about what makes us tick, and this is practically seen in how the Atlantis Expedition interacts with the other populations throughout the Pegasus Galaxy. We also see this via the alien races, who we see as not that different than us after all. This doesn’t mean we could always peacefully co-exist with them, just that we were allowed to understand their worldviews and where the others are coming from.

Military vs. Civilian Tension: One of the major themes that ran throughout the 5 seasons of the show was the tension between the military leadership and the civilian oversite. This was sometimes overdone and heavy-handed, but it did fit within the larger framework of the Stargate Franchise. Overall, it is an accepted thing that the civilians control the military, so it struck me as off that this was constantly a thing. Admittedly, I never had to deal with the senior officers, so maybe it was more prescient than I know?  You decide and let me know!

Sins of Our Fathers OR Unintended Consequences: Another one of the major themes that ran the course of the 5 seasons of Stargate Atlantis was about what role the sins of our forefathers played in our existence. We see this through the Wraith, who were inadvertently created by the Ancients. Throughout the course of this show, every issue they encountered was the result of the unintended consequences of the actions of the Ancients. Even the actions of the Atlantis Expedition had blowback that created future issues, both good and bad.

Self-Sacrifice: One of the major themes from the Stargate Atlantis series dealt with revolved around self-sacrifice. It is a constant issue throughout the show, as death is a constant companion for the members of the Atlantis Expedition. Every time they step through the ring and enter the stargate, the risk of death from any number of ways. And yet, despite the risks, the soldiers and civilians willingly take those risks for the betterment of humanity and for their friends and neighbors. When trouble arises, they rush towards the sound of the guns and ignore the opportunities to save themselves by abandoning their fellows.

Importance of Family: Throughout the course of this series, we are reminded about how important family is. The show made it clear that it didn’t just apply to your blood relatives, but also to the family you chose. This plays itself out throughout the interpersonal relationships among the main characters. We see this every time Colonel Sheppard and his team risked their lives for the betterment of the rest of the expedition. The viewer is reminded of this every time the military forces risk their lives in defense of civilians. When these soldiers risk death for civilians from planets they’ve never been, for people they’ve never met, the issue is brought home.

Spirit of Exploration: One of the main themes of the entire Stargate Franchise revolved around the innate spirit of exploration and discovery that lives inside every human. The desire to know more, for good or bad, is a fundamental trait that the show considers. We are reminded of this every time the team steps through the stargate portal and enters strange new planets. We get to travel with them as we find new cultures and new alien races. While it seems like a simple thing, it is also a deeply profound look at the human condition.

There was a lot of places I could’ve gone with a show that spanned 5 years and 100 episodes, but I limited myself or I would end up with a Ph.D. Dissertation. Overall, these overarching themes added depth to the universe and made it more immersive.

 

World Building & Cinematography:

This series was originally shown on television in episodic installments, but I watched it on my HDTV with the commercial-free box set. I will acknowledge that this could change the viewing experience, but I suspect it only made it better. This series was a part of the larger Stargate Franchise that included a box office movie, several other series and a few made for TV movies. With so much already included in the canon, this show was able to focus more on the character development and luxuriate in the majesty of all of the nerdly goodness. That said, they didn’t just rest on their laurels while making this series. The directors and the actors and actresses expanded on the existing canon, while not ignoring what came before them. Even if this was your entry point into the larger Stargate franchise, this series stood alone, and you wouldn’t be left confused. One way they built the world and made it so immersive was how they artistically shot every frame. The use of light helps create tension when appropriate, though that didn’t mean they phoned it in with poor acting. The directors made the decision to use dramatic music sparingly, which made it even more compelling when it was included. I loved how the series used creative camera work to make this world came alive. In case it wasn’t clear, I absolutely loved this series! Can I say that enough?  This franchise created a flushed-out world that was visual consistent, made sense and sucked you in. The directors didn’t reinvent the wheel, but that’s hard to do in a world as deep and rich as the Stargate Universe. Overall, the world building and cinematography was well done, but that is what I’ve come to expect from this franchise. The world felt believable, and the characters fit within the universe the directors created. It was a fun ride that made me want even more seasons, but sadly that hasn’t happened yet. I give the world building and cinematography 5 out of 5 Grenades.

  

Overall:

I really loved this series, it was a lot of fun to watch again. I especially loved that it was family friendly, allowing me to expose my sons to good science fiction. I’m a huge fan of this universe, and this gave me everything that I loved about it. The visuals of this show had me hooked and allowed me to ignore the mundane world around me for a few minutes at a time. What helped make this such a great show was how well acted it was, none of the crappy acting we used to get from TV. The actors never relied on green screen tricks to compensate for flat acting and flaccid scripts. This was a fun story, and I had a blast re-watching it with my 10-year-old son. We both screamed like loons as our favorite characters battled the Wraith, and cheered when they stepped through the ring into the unknown. It was glorious, and we nerded out like crazy people. I was glad that the actors did such an outstanding job portraying their characters and didn’t rest on the laurels of the Stargate franchise. My family and I lost ourselves in the world that MGM Studios built. Overall, they had me hooked from the beginning and kept it going throughout the entire 100 episodes. This is a series that I would happily recommend, and a franchise that I definitely want more from. Buy or rent this series!  But hey, it’s easy to spend someone else’s money! The movie was so good I would give it 6 grenades if I could! I wholeheartedly give this show a 5 out of 5 grenades!

 

 

Until next time, stay frosty and don’t forget to keep your powder dry!

brown_bess

JR

 

–> As usual, all images came from the Google’s “labeled for reuse” section or are used on the Fair Use Doctrine.

Sleeping Legion

 

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