Picking up from a good cliffhanger last season, like Battlestar Galactica, Atlantis doesn’t seem to have lost the pace. The drama grabs you from the start, and doesn’t let go. It’s an hour of television that passes very quickly, for all the right reasons.
The effects are top quality, the sets are fantastic, the Daedalus is exciting, the acting quality even manages to scrape itself up off rock-bottom. There’s room for everything here, from great special effects and epic shots, to quieter character moments and healthy banter between Zelenka and McKay.
Unlike the SG-1 premiere, “Avalon”, Atlantis manages to jump effectively right back into the action with all characters predicaments either disappearing or getting worse. SG-1 lingered for sometime on character issues, which is fine, but then decided to start telling a story in the last act, which threw the entire show off-balance. Here however, they know right what they’re doing from the start, and it shows.
As for what I thought was good: an awful lot. The Daedalus commander appears confident and capable, although a little bland as of yet. Perhaps this is an unfair comment to make of a new character, but they managed to give General Landry some depth in Avalon that wasn’t present here. Ford was fantastic (never honestly thought I’d say that), he plays the Wraith part perfectly and I was quite frightened by that eye! Hats off to the make-up department.
The ZPM being plugged in, and the shield raising was excellent – as were the Wraith Darts slamming into it. One little niggle I have however, is why did they make McKay look like an incompetent when plugging in the ZPM? He’s had time enough to study it, and he would surely know you plugged it in – I mean, it looked wrong to me! It seemed like a cheap way to heighten the dramatic tension. The Daedalus engineer was quite simply annoying – another juvenile actor plagueing the Stargate franchise – I was relieved to say the commander of the ship at least wasn’t under 30. The addition of an Asgard to the crew is an interesting development, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out.
The story is much stronger than the SG-1 episode, pacing is excellent, and all the characters play an evident role. That’s what I want to see, however, the acting was still bad in places. McKay was excellent as usual, and I have no qualms with either Sheppard, Weir or Zelenka (or even Ford, this week), but Beckett and Teyla still grate on me. Teyla simply cannot act that role, especially when she tries to be enigmatic. It doesn’t work, in my opinion.
But overall, this is a much stronger hour of television than SG-1 turned out, with none of the cheap “Let’s make babies” humour that was present there. Atlantis has so much potential to be an outstanding sci-fi series, and this episode pushed it a little closer to fufilling that potential.