Whew! Done! For now anyway. Today, Paul and I delivered the first draft of our SF miniseries. The robust 204 page script is now with the studio – and, more importantly, in the hands of director Steve Barron who will be working his magic sometime in July. Despite its four hour event status, it moves along at a mighty brisk pace. Edge-of-your-seat stuff. Will hopefully be able to tell you more about it in the coming weeks.
So, where we? Ah, yes. Continuing our stroll down SGA memory lane…
In the two part series premiere, Brad Wright and Robert Cooper deliver an opener that captures the spirit of the original series, SG-1, while simultaneously breaking new ground. In those two hours, a new world and new characters are established, setting the foundation of a show that would run five glorious years before it’s far-too-soon conclusion.
RISING I (101)
Do you remember the first time you met your significant other? What they were wearing? The conversation you had? The thoughts running through your head at the time? Hardly? That’s okay. People rarely do. However, I’m willing to bet that fans of Stargate: Atlantis remember that first hour: the introduction of the Atlantis expedition, the wondrous step through the gate to the city of the Ancients, that first meeting with the Athosians and the subsequent encounter with the wraith. Yeah, I figured.
Actors Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Shanks guest star, helping to pass the torch – although it’d be two terrific years before they’d actually let go of it. If there was any candidate better suited than Daniel Jackson to join Dr. Weir’s hand-picked team through the gate, I can’t think of one but, of course,
we Jack needed him on SG-1. Or, depending what fandom camp you’re in, he simply couldn’t bear the thought of Daniel being so far away.
The part of Lieutenant Ford was played by former VJ Rainbow Sun Francks. He won the role on the strength of a great audition, preceded by an equally great audition with a funny hat. Here’s some advice for all you aspiring actors. When it comes time to audition, know your lines, keep your hand movements to a minimum, and don’t wear a silly hat because, no matter how good you are, when other people screen your audition, all they’ll notice will be that damn hat. Fortunately for Rainbow, we were the first ones to see the audition, recognized the talent – and also the probability that, somewhere down the lines, somebody would dismiss him on account of his headgear – and had him re-read WITHOUT the hat. He did – and got the part.
One of my favorite moments in Rising I comes when the Atlantis expedition steps through the gate into the City of the Ancients which has stood abandoned for millions of years – yet has an albeit dead potted plant sitting at the foot of the steps leading to the gate room.
The Atlantis gate was, theoretically anyway, an improvement on the Earth gate. Like I said, theoretically. While the force shield certainly trumped the Cheyenne Mountain iris, the look of the new gate always struck me as a little glitzy Vegas in comparison to the cooler, staid gate at Stargate Command. I mean, just compare them…
See what I mean? It’s a little…oh, that’s not right. Hang on a sec.
The Atlantis gate also had the disadvantage of not actually being a working gate. Before you conspiracy theorists race off to your respective forums to reprint my words as confirmation that the Stargate program does, in fact, exist (and, for the record, I neither confirm or deny its existence), by “operational”, I mean the ability to actually spin. The gate at the SGC actually spun. The Atlantis gate’s spin was all CG.
When the team first meets the Athosians, Teyla is introduced as “daughter of Turghan”. But, later in the series, she names her first born Torren after her father. So, what’s the deal? Well, the fact that Teyla is leader of her people could suggest that the Athosians are a matriarchal society and that Turghan is, in fact, her mother’s name. A lovely name for a young woman.
Also, gate travel implants travelers with translator nanites. That’s why most everyone seems to speak English.
Eagle-eyed viewers will note that Elizabeth Weir’s boyfriend, Simon (Gavin Sanford), bears a striking resemblance to the late, to the late Tollan Narim, last seen getting blown up in SG-1’s fifth season episode Between Two Fires. Teyla’s fellow Athosian, Halling (Christopher Heyerdahl), looks a lot like Pallan, that guy who lost his wife and got his mind wiped in SG-1’s seventh season episode Revisions, but looks nothing like the wraith, Todd, who would go on to play such a key role later in the series.
RISING II (102)
Part 1 is the wind up and the pitch while Part 2 is the base-clearing grand slam that hits it out of the park. The sequence of the city of Atlantis rising from ocean’s depths is one of the most stirring moments in all of Stargate. Hmmm. That sounds like a great idea for a future post: Top 10 Moments in Stargate History. Well, in my books, Atlantis’s resurfacing would rank right up there.
Ah, the puddle jumpers. Brad had been pitching the idea of these compact hips capable of gate-travel as far back as SG-1’s seventh season. And the new show was the perfect opportunity to introduce them. As much as I thought the SG-1 gate superior to its Atlantis counterpart, SGA jumpers beat the hell out of both the F-302’s and those clunky cargo ships.
Ah, Jinto. We hardly knew you. As often happens in television, certain characters pop and are developed (ie. Where’d that Zelenka guy come from?) while others eventually fade into obscurity. The character of Jinto has the distinction of falling into the latter category for no other reason than: 1. He was a kid and 2. He was Athosian. While interesting, Teyla’s people became a less important part of the narrative as the series developed and so, they eventually left Atlantis to make their homes on the mainland and, later, off-world. As for Jinto, not much is known about following the events of those early episodes. I like to think that he became a productive member of Athosian society, settling down with his long-time sweetheart and eventually fathering two boys, Torren (named after Teyla’s fathter) and Toran (named after the Athosian who the wraith queen feasts upon in this episode). Alternately, I like to imagine he spent his years deep in the bowels of Atlantis, playing an protracted game of Hide and Seek following the episode of the same name, convinced he had the best hiding place ever – until his skeletal remains were discovered by an exploratory crew sometime in season four.
Speaking of evolving elements, two particular wraith attributes are in full display in this episode but appear to fade as the series progresses. 1. When our heroes are being harassed by wraith darts, they begin to glimpse ghostly images. We learn that these images are hallucinations being created by the wraith to confuse them. They’re, it turns out, a weaker manifestation of the queen’s mind controlling abilities. The reason we eventually lost this ability was because it was, essentially, a mind trick – and once it stood revealed as such, there wasn’t much traction to be gained by going back to it either for the wraith (as an effective tool to be used against us) or the writers (as a dramatic element). 2. The wraith are damn hard to kill! It takes multiple rounds to put them down for the count. And yet, in subsequent episodes, a couple of shots will do the trick. What gives? The answer: switching to more devastating armor-piercing rounds.