Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stargate Atlantis

I’ll bet you never saw this one coming.

Yeah. We all knew I would pick this up after I finished SG-1, if only because I have full access to all five seasons of this show on DVD. And we all know what a sucker I am for spin-offs. I’m a completionist.

Atlantis was fantastic. To be honest, I fully expected this show to be exactly like SG-1. Just… you know… in the Pegasus Galaxy instead of the Milky Way. While there are clear similarities – the core team, half of the villains, the self-mockery and sci-fi action goodness – Atlantis is inarguably its own show.

A show I really, really liked, in fact. The international cast of characters was amusing from the start (and Zalenka’s cursing in Czech is one of my favourite things) and having their base of operations in an alien city/spacecraft opens up a whole new set of challenges to the usual sci-fi mix. There was a sense of discovery in this show that wasn’t in SG-1, which I really liked. Earth is rarely featured as the setting of an episode and the baddies aren’t based on our own mythology, so there’s no frame of reference there. Everything is new. I mean, I love the mythology in SG-1, but having something new after ten seasons of mythology is nice.

Radek Zelenka

And there are new team dynamics! Which are my favourite thing ever, as you know. SG-1’s team sort of became a stereotype. Not a bad one, mind you, but each position on that team was defined by a specific set of expertise and character traits and it didn’t change when the team members did. Jonas filled the exact same place as Daniel. Cameron filled the exact same place as Jack. The main Atlantis team, at first glance, seems to follow those same positions, but it becomes very clear very early on that they aren’t the same people. I mean, naturally, John Sheppard and Rodney McKay are supposed to be the Jack O’Neill and Daniel Jackson of the show with the same tensions and banter, but the circumstances and personalities of the Atlantis pair are very different from the SG-1 guys. In fact, they tend to agree about things more often than not- they’re just argumentative and more neurotic than they’re willing to admit.

John and Rodney

Thankfully, Teyla and Ronin are very different from Sam and Teal’c, as well. This team could have gone very wrong if the writers tried to force the same character archetypes into this show. Teyla needs to be the voice of compassion and hope and common sense in the ways that Sam couldn’t. Sam was an officer in the military and was often limited by that position and, while Teyla was similar in the fact that she was a leader, she was closer to the problems facing Atlantis and it made those problems real and personal for the Atlantis expedition. And Ronin needs to be bitter and angry and jaded with the universe because Teal’c wasn’t. Ronin had nothing left to lose- he couldn’t have that same hope for his people or family or own self because there was nothing to have hope for. The audience knows that Teal’c is loyal to the SGC- there needed to be more risk there with Ronin because there wouldn’t be the same consequences for him.


Spin-offs need to have this kind of range. Photocopies don’t really work so well.

And while I love all that stuff I just rambled on about, I’m going to have to say that my favourite part about Stargate Atlantis is the Wraith.

Yep. The Wraith.

SG-1 had Goa’uld and Replicators and Ourai, and all those were all well and good for the bad guy department, but the Wraith are the coolest baddies I’ve seen in a long time. They’re actually frightening when they first reveal themselves. They’re not threatened by these new humans. In fact, their appearance is beneficial to them because they feed on human life. Like life vampires.

And they look like vampires. Real vampires. I like to call them punk rock Nosferatu. White-ish and green-ish sickly looking skin, long greasy white hair, facial tattoos, scary teeth, and a hell of a lot of black leather. Fantastic. Seriously.

Plus they have semi-sentient, semi-biological hive ships because they’ve evolved from insects and telepathically communicate across space and freak out their human prey with hallucinations. It’s pretty spectacular.

And I can’t talk about the Wraith without talking about my favourite character of the series. Todd.


We first meet Todd in a prison where Shepherd has been captured and held for ransom. He’d been imprisoned for some unknown but crazily long period of time and was starved so that his need to feed could be used as a method of torture and coercion. Despite being fed upon, Shepherd suggests they work together to escape before either of them gets too weak to get out.

“There is a lot about Wraith you don’t know, Shepherd.”

This is the first time we ever see Wraith portrayed as anything other than vindictive eating machines and, while I love Wraith who are completely evil all the time, I love ambiguous characters even more. Todd has a sense of honor and drive to prove that he isn’t some mindless animal that immediately drew me to him and I remember thinking that if we didn’t see him again in the show, I would be very disappointed.

Luckily I wasn’t and Todd became Todd (Sheppard has this habit of naming Wraith they encounter multiple times) and made hilariously inappropriate jokes for diplomatic situations and stole a dining table from some humans he fed on to decorate his ship and did some good things for the folks on Atlantis, but was mostly just a bad ass who did whatever he wanted. Seriously. I rewatch his episodes all the time. Sometimes just to hear his voice, which is one of the best character specific voices I’ve ever heard. He’s my desktop background. I’m obsessed.

Now that I’m done rambling on forever, the point is that this show is awesome and you should watch it. You know it’s awesome because I’ve dissolved into fanboyish rambling and pic spam.


And now I don’t know how to end this.

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