When SG-1 discovers what it believes to be the remnants of the Lost City of the Ancients ? the originators of the Stargates ? Stargate Command launches an investigation. A new team of explorers, headed by civilian Dr. Elizabeth Weir, travels to the distant Pegasus Galaxy, where it discovers an advanced but deserted city on the ocean floor, a group of nomadic humans and a deadly enemy that feeds on humans as an energy source!
There are those who may regard it as old wine in a new bottle, but that doesn't mean that Stargate Atlantis
doesn't have something to offer to both newcomers and fans of Stargate SG-1
, the franchise from which it evolved. Co-creators and executive producers Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper, both of whom worked on the earlier show, have concocted an appealing premise for this spin-off, in which the so-called Ancients abandoned Earth millions of years earlier, taking their city (i.e., Atlantis) with them. Now, a new team has gained access (via the Stargate, the "wormhole" our heroes use to travel to different worlds) to the legendary sunken city, where new adventures and deadly new enemies await. Stargate SG-1
stars Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Shanks make appearances in this series premiere, but the focus is on the new characters. Of these, Joe Flanigan excels as the insouciant Major John Sheppard, an Air Force pilot unexpectedly recruited for the new mission because of his preternatural ability to interface with the Ancients' wondrous technology. The new leader is Dr. Elizabeth Weir (Torri Higginson), a role that is neither especially well-written nor well-played. The new monster-villains, replacing the trusty old Goa'uld, are the Wraith, whose name is actually cooler than they are; they may eat humans, in addition to being all-powerful (natch), but they tend to come off like refugees from The Rocky Horror Picture Show
. Overall, the production values and special effects remain top-notch, especially for television, and the story itself is OK. But while Stargate Atlantis
is certainly promising, it has a ways to go to equal its predecessor, which remains one of the best-made, most compelling sci-fi programs on television. --Sam Graham