Friday night was the final episode of Stargate Atlantis, one of my favorite shows—great cast chemistry and often humorous writing combined with some solid science fiction made it fun for casual viewers, and a commitment to character development and continuity rewarded long-term fans (a commitment to continuity not shared by certain, other, science fiction shows). Unfortunately, the series ended just as new show regulars Robert Picardo and Jewel Staite were really hitting their stride, moving their characters in interesting directions, and their presence gave the established cast something new to bounce off as well. The show’s resident villains, the Wraith, were also beginning to display considerably more depth and complexity than the previous bad guys in the franchise’s history.
There’s a lot going on in January for science fiction fans—the start of the last ten episodes of Battlestar Galactica, the series finale of Stargate Atlantis*, the release of Outlander (which is either going to be embarrassingly bad or Totally Awesome) and more. Io9 has put together a handy day-by-day breakdown of January so you can buy your movie tickets, set your DVR, and get in line at the comic-book store at the right time.
*The nice people at SciFi sent me a screener of the last two episodes, and I can tell you now the penultimate episode of Stargate Atlantis on January 2nd is one of their cleverest ever in terms of storytelling.
Friday night’s episode of Stargate Atlantis featured the show’s resident genius physicist, Rodney McKay, making a visit to an elaborate scientific presentation conducted by an old rival. Because McKay is, well, McKay, he thinks this is the ideal setting for a first date with Atlantis’s doctor Jennifer Keller (Firefly fans will recognize Jewel Staite in the role). McKay runs into a whole bunch of frenemies at the presentation, including hilarious cameos by the American Museum of Natural History’s Neil de Grasse Tyson (who has been name checked before on Atlantis) and Bill “The Science Guy” Nye.
Things take a turn for the worse when McKay’s rival (played by Kids in the Hall alum Dave Foley) demonstrates his latest invention, a machine intended to solve global warming by sucking heat through a transdimensional bridge to another universe. Of course, Things Go Wrong, and the entire facility and everyone in it is threatened with death by freezing. But hey, we’ve got a room full of top scientists! They’ll put their heads together and figure it out, right?
On Friday night’s episode of Stargate Atlantis, the Atlantis expedition discover a small pod. The pod contains biological material that can be used to replicate a sentient life-form from scratch, should the pod find a planet with the right chemical makeup to provide the raw ingredients. It also contains a cultural and technical database to educate the “Children of the Pod,” and an advanced Artificial Intelligence responsible for guiding the pod to a suitable destination and “birthing” the first generation life-forms. In the real world, with its apparently iron-clad restriction on faster than light travel, this kind of approach is actually one of the leading contenders for how human beings might colonize the galaxy.
One of the things I like about the Stargate franchise is that it shows the characters working to understand things, often over a course of episodes or even seasons, instead of just magically knowing it all–for example, it took a long time for the franchise to go from a few captured enemy spacecraft, through some buggy hybrids, plus a hefty technology transfer from a friendly civilization, to the human-built heavy cruisers like the Deadulus. This “show your work” style comes right from the 1994 movie that started it all, where archeologist Daniel Jackson was brought in to figure out the mysterious inscriptions on the first discovered stargate.
So it was a return to the franchise’s roots in more ways than one when Jackson made a guest appearance in Atlantis, looking for a long lost laboratory somewhere in the city. Read More
On Friday night’s episode of Stargate Atlantis, one of the characters had to go undercover in order to convince a faction of the show’s resident villians, the Wraith, to accept a gene therapy. The therapy would eliminate the Wraith’s need to feed on human beings, something which has become a bone of contention between the Wraith and other residents of their galaxy.
Gene therapy works by rewriting a patient’s genetic code, an impossibility with conventional medicines, and could be used to combat diseases such as hemophilia, Parkinsons, and cancer. It’s a beautifully simple idea in concept, but the real world scientists that are working to make it a common-place reality are finding the execution to be a tough problem.
Stargate Solutions interviewed Joe Mallozzi, showrunner for the recently cancelled Stargate Atlantis, where he talks about the reaction of the cast to the news and his thoughts on the plans to continue the Stargate franchise.
On the TV series Stargate Atlantis, the current installment from the Stargate franchise, a device small enough to be held in your hands provides the energy for an entire city. Called a Zero Point Module, the device glows with golden light and produces an almost unlimited supply of clean energy. But it seems that the ZPM is an unrealistic little gizmo because it somehow creates energy from… well, nothing, and therefore, the thing belongs in a prop room shelved somewhere between the Flux Capacitor and the One Ring. But what if it was real?
One of Science Not Fiction’s favorite shows, Stargate Atlantis has been cancelled — the currently showing 5th season will be the last. But the Stargate franchise lives on — the SciFi channel has ordered a new series called Stargate Universe that will be more space-based than the 5-season Atlantis and its forerunner, the 10-Season Stargate SG-1. Atlantis fans can also look forward to at least one movie that continues the storylines of that show, much as SG-1 has done.
Friday night’s episode of Stargate Atlantis featured the computers of Atlantis being besieged by a group of entities seeking to move onto a higher plane of existence (warning, mild spoilers below!).