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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Second Season (review)

This Sci Fi Channel series has always been a pale shadow of its progenitor, the long-running Stargate SG-1: heavy on action, short on thoughtfulness, it touches on wit, smarts, and true science fiction speculation only momentarily, and sometimes even seemingly accidentally. The adventures of a military, scientific, and exploratory team from modern Earth in a distant galaxy, based in the ancient alien city known as Atlantis, are never intriguingly alien enough: even the big scary bad guys, the Wraith, are rather ridiculous space vampires, and usually induce more titters than terror. Still, two factors keep me watching the series. One: Cast members David Hewlett (Nothing) and Paul McGillion (National Lampoon’s Thanksgiving Family Reunion), as, respectively, the Earth gang’s geeky science genius and their nerdy medical doctor are simultaneously having a blast with their characters (which in turn seems to inspire the writers to have some serious fun with them) and bring to them a level of performance that treats what could be clichés with a lot of honor and dignity; they’re fun to spend time with. Two: Once in a rare while the show hits a sci-fi jackpot, as with the episode “Michael,” here on Disc 5, one of the best single episodes of television science fiction ever, of any series. Guest-starring one of the best unsung TV actors not working enough today, Connor Trinneer — formerly of the Star Trek spinoff Enterprise, he, like Hewlett and McGillion, astonishes while everyone else is phoning it in — this episode dares to question the ethical foundations of the series’ premise; it is shocking and provocative in a way that SF is supposed to be and hardly ever is. Of course, everything goes right back to middle-of-the-road normal by the time the next episode rolls around, but for a brief moment there, Atlantis was brilliant. Tons of extras feed fannish hunger, including audio commentaries on every episode with cast and crew, production featurettes, design galleries, and more. [buy at Amazon]

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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