Stargate Atlantis is a Canadian-American science fiction television program, part of the Stargate franchise. Stargate Atlantis is filmed and produced in Canada. It is a spin-off from the television series Stargate SG-1, which was based on the film Stargate (1994). Produced by MGM, Stargate Atlantis premiered on the US Sci Fi Channel on July 16 (Sky One in Europe), 2004 with "Rising", a movie-style two-part episode, that guest starred Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Shanks from Stargate SG-1.
Developed by longtime SG-1 producers Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper, Stargate Atlantis regulars include Joe Flanigan, Torri Higginson, David Hewlett, Rachel Luttrell, Jason Momoa and announced for the fourth season, Amanda Tapping. Previous regulars included Rainbow Sun Francks and Paul McGillion. Actors playing major recurring characters include David Nykl, Mitch Pileggi, Kavan Smith, Connor Trinneer and Jewel Staite.
The series is currently broadcast in several countries around the world; in some places, such as Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia, the series is broadcast in HD. The show was also broadcast in the UK on channel 5 for the first season before they decided not to carry on with the broadcast of any further seasons.
When Stargate SG-1 producers, Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper thought the series was going to end after season five (this is when Showtime announced that they were canceling the show), they came up with the idea of making a new feature film. But when the ratings on its new home at the Sci Fi Channel were rather good, the idea got pushed after season six and later on after season seven. But then there was talk of a spin-off series and the producers were left with a serious dilemma, since the seventh season of Stargate SG-1 had been planned to lead up to the great discovery of the lost city of the Ancients, Atlantis. The Stargate SG-1 seventh season ending (two part episode), "Lost City," was supposed to be a bridge between Stargate SG-1 and a new spin-off, either a show or a movie, which was not planned to run at the same time as Stargate SG-1. Wright and Cooper rewrote the script as the two-part season seven finale, and moved the setting of the story. The city of Atlantis, originally planned to be on Earth under Antarctica in place of the SGC, was moved to the Pegasus Galaxy. By doing so, they wanted to avoid the fans wondering why Stargate SG-1 was not coming to help them, and also gave them the chance to start off in its own way and not be an identical copy of the original show.
The series received the green light on November 17, 2003 and started shooting in February of 2004. It premiered on July 16 of the same year.
From the start, Wright and Cooper ruled out casting "star names", on the basis of the financial pressures they were already experiencing with "star names" on Stargate SG-1. The casting was made more complicated because Atlantis got the go-ahead in November, and had to compete with other networks during pilot season.
The character most difficult to cast was the then-called Dr. Ingram, an unexcitable scientist expert in the Stargate. As the first day of shooting drew nearer and they were unable to find the right actor, they came to realize they had brought in the wrong character. Longtime Stargate director Martin Wood and Brad Wright thought it should be Dr. Rodney McKay, who had already appeared in a guest role in three episodes of Stargate SG-1. Actor David Hewlett was contacted and arrived to the set the day after filming had started.
Season 2 brought casting changes. The creators found themselves with a problem with the character of Lt. Aiden Ford (Rainbow Sun Francks), a first season regular that the producers, and the actor himself, felt had not worked like intended and was highly underused as a result. Unwilling to write him out, the writers came with an idea to make the character more important, but that downgraded him to recurring. To replace him, they created Ronon Dex as a sidekick for Lt. Col. John Sheppard, but finding an actor with the physical presence and the acting ability necessary was not easy until they saw Jason Momoa's tape. X-files veteran Mitch Pileggi was added to the cast in the recurring role of Col. Stephen Caldwell. Paul McGillion's character, Dr. Carson Beckett, became a regular in season two.
Season 3 changed the cast lineup again. Paul McGillion's Dr. Carson Beckett was killed in episode 17, "Sunday", (though only temporarily, it appears, as Joe Mallozzi stated on April 9, 2007 that he will be bringing Beckett back, alive and well, in a 2-part episode in season 4). Amanda Tapping will cross from Stargate SG-1 for 14 episodes in Season 4, while Torri Higginson will become a recurring character.
Stargate Atlantis is filmed at Bridge studios in Vancouver and on location in several places in British Columbia. The Pemberton Glacier doubled for Antarctica during the opening flying sequence in series premiere "Rising". Lynn Valley Canyon was, for example, where the episode "Instinct" was filmed.
Stargate Atlantis inherited Blade Trinity's effects stage. The Blade Trinity production gave the set to Stargate Atlantis to save the high cost of dismantling the massive construct. The set has appeared several times. For example, the walkway Sheppard walks in "The Storm" is the topmost part of the Blade Trinity set.
The events of Stargate Atlantis follow the cliffhanger Stargate SG-1 seventh season finale "Lost City", where the SG-1 found an outpost made by the race known as the Ancients in Antarctica. After the events of Stargate SG-1 season eight premiere "New Order", the Stargate Command sends an international team to investigate the outpost. Soon, Dr. Jackson discovers the location of the greatest city created by the Ancients, Atlantis.
The series follows the adventures of a group of scientists and soldiers that take this possibly one-way trip to this lost city of Atlantis in the Pegasus Galaxy. Like the SG teams of Stargate SG-1, the new team's use of the Stargate has brought humanity into contact with other cultures, some human and some alien, some friendly and some quite hostile, including their new and most powerful enemy: the Wraith. All while trying to uncover the secrets the Ancients left behind.
Stargate Atlantis employs an ensemble cast to portray the members of the multinational Atlantis expedition, their friends and enemies. The core of this cast are the highest ranking characters: military commander Lt. Col. John Sheppard, expedition leader Dr. Elizabeth Weir and chief scientist Dr. Rodney McKay. Around them, Pegasus galaxy natives Teyla Emmagan and Ronon Dex round the ranks of the series regulars, the latter replacing season 1 regular Lt. Aiden Ford.
The series also features a recurring cast that includes Dr. Radek Zelenka, Maj. Lorne, Col. Steven Caldwell and Chief medical officer Dr. Keller, who temporarily replaces former regular Dr. Carson Beckett. Also, since season 2, some characters from sister series Stargate SG-1 appear in guest roles.
Stargate Atlantis is set in the city of Atlantis, on a planet called "Lantea" in the Pegasus galaxy, built millions of years ago by the most advanced race of the Stargate universe: the Ancients. Five to ten million years ago, due to a plague in the Milky Way Galaxy, they were forced to flee to a planet in the Pegasus Galaxy and there they seeded life on hundreds of worlds as they had done in the Milky Way. After encountering a powerful enemy known as the Wraith and going to war with them for more than one hundred years, the Ancients ultimately lost and were forced to submerge their city into the ocean (in order to hide from the Wraith), which, in the Stargate universe, is the source of the Greek myth of the Lost City of Atlantis.
The city of Atlantis hosts much of the action in the series and is the source of much of the technology which the characters employ. While trying to uncover the secrets the city still holds from her new human inhabitants, the Atlantis expedition also use the Stargate to explore the Pegasus galaxy, looking for energy sources and other technology that the Ancients may have left behind and that may help them defeat the Wraith. They have only explored a handful of planets in Pegasus. While some of them are friendly, others have become enemies (the Genii) or were completely culled away by the Wraith. Even others have made moral choices the expedition could not agree with.
The expedition also use human SGC technology, itself a blend of human-developed technology and technology adapted from the Goa'uld, as well as given by the Asgard and, recently, acquired from the Wraith.
What to feature next? - Previously featured