Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stargate Atlantis: Cancellation and Season 5 so far

I heard last Friday that SciFi has canceled Stargate Atlantis.

I am definitely not going to say that I am glad the show was canceled, but I am not surprised. Season 4 had some good episodes (Adrift, Lifeline, Be All My Sins Remember'd), some real stinkers (Quarantine and Harmony; IMO, Harmony is runner-up to "worst Atlantis episode ever", behind season 3's Irresistible), but overall was bland. Colonel Carter was both underused and misused: she was hardly there, and when she was, rather than being the brilliant scientist we loved from SG1, she was a bureaucrat. Seeing the writers treat the charater this way was very disappointing. The overall quality of the season left me with a feeling of uncertainty at each new episode (would it be good??), rather one of feeling of excitement.

Season 5 didn't get off to a great start. First, the aforementioned Col. Carter is unceremoniously dismissed. Sure, Amanda Tapping's web series Sanctuary got picked up by SciFi, making her unavailable for Atlantis, but that didn't mean the writers had to make the character leave in such a disrespectful manner. Carter's exit from the "Stargateverse" deserved fanfare, trumpets, a ticket-tape parade, a 21-Jaffa-staff-weapon salute...the works.

And then there was also the Weir/Higginson situation.

In short, the past two seasons, the writers have been on cruise control with rehashed and scifi-cliche storylines (e.g. The Seed, discussed below), and they have not treated many of the characters with respect. Cancellation is not a surprise.

Regarding the episodes themselves, Search and Rescue was good, The Seed was cliched and awful (wow, an alien parasite invades a character we've barely met? oh, the drama and originality...), Broken Ties was decent but pointless, and The Daedalus Variations had potential to be interesting but ended up falling flat. Given that there was no concern whether the characters would come back, they should have written something far more interesting than...whether or not the characters would come back. For example, did they do anything interesting while they were lost? Since it was one of the better episodes of the season so far, what does that tell you?

Ghost in the Machine was pretty good, but it definitely had flaws. The Replicators' threat of sinking the city if the humans didn't cooperate was stupid. Surely the Replicators knew that if the humans die, the humans couldn't help them...right? (Right?) I also, in general, dislike the scifi cliche of how entities possessing computers end up displaying text on the screen. Why do the letters show up one by one in a terminal-style font? Do they invoke a text editor and then "type" into it? Why not just manipulate the pixels directly, instantly showing a screenful of information, while, say, displaying their message in a flowing Edwardian script? Nevermind; that is a discussion for another time. The best part of the episode was how Michelle Morgan, who previously played the Replicator character "FRAN", portrayed Repli-Weir. She did an excellent job of imitating Torri Higginson's Weir's body language and vocal style. Also, since Higginson was not going to be back as Weir, the reason for Weir's appearing as Fran made sense and was a clever idea.

I have one major grievance with that episode. I am getting really, really sick of the following conversation template:

*crisis occurs; team is about to meet their doom*
Ronon/Sheppard/Teyla: Rodney, figure out what's wrong or we're all dead!
Rodney: I'm working on it! Just give me a minute!
Ro-Shep-Tey: We don't have a minute! Figure it out now! My yelling at you will force you to think faster!

That behavior was understandable in season 1: after all, the characters were in crises and were panicing, but now, it's just old. And annoying.

The latest episode, The Shrine, obviously brought back memories of season 3's Tao of Rodney, as it pretty much used the same formula: Rodney, the most arrogant and inconsiderate person on the expedition, gets an affliction which, at first, causes a personality change that is amusing but will ultimately kill him, and along the way, everyone realizes how much they care about each other. I went into both episodes not expecting them to be good, and both times, I was pleasantly surprised. Regarding The Shrine, seeing Rodney and Jeannie together is always fun, and Rodney, Jeannie, Sheppard, and Keller did a great job presenting a dramatic and emotional situation. (I was getting a bit misty-eyed towards the end, even though I expected a Star Trek ending.) My only serious complaint is that Zelenka needed to be in the episode more. I mean, if Rodney is going off to have one final day with the important people in his life, Zelenka should be there. And it would've provided a great "Rodney moment" at the Shrine, after he gained lucidity: he could've made a snarky comment about why, out of all the people in Atlantis, they thought they should bring Zelenka? ;)

1 comment:

Bookwyrme said...

See, I'd put Trio where you put Irresistible. Irresistible had some funny bits, and was pretty light-hearted.

Trio totally wasted the potential of the threesome, not to mention deciding that Keller should bond with Rodney after her near-kiss with Ronon in Quarantine.

And it was pretty dull. I mean, really, we got to watch them tie knots, mysteriously cater to Rodney's desire to throw ropes, and.... find a solution that had nothing to do with any of them. Bleh.

Still haven't seen Season Five, though I think we'll be starting soon! :) I'm very, very sorry it's been canceled and underwhelmed by the concept for Stargate: Universe (Voyager anyone?) but will watch it and see. After all, I thought Stargate was a terrible idea, back when they were discussing the concept.