Saturday, February 23, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"Enemy at the Gate"

“Enemy at the Gate” is the final episode of Stargate Atlantis.   We finally arrive at it months later than originally planned.  Darn that burst diverticula, no?   There is a general feeling I have been doing little more than phoning these in for three weeks now, so why do we not hurry up and get it over with, all right?

Todd, who has cured himself with an Iratus bug, contacts Atlantis with the news a rival Wraith has swiped a ZPM from him, modified a Hive ship, and has learned the location of Earth from the signal sent from the alternate Las Vegas.  Our heroes have no choice but to trust him.  The ZPM Hive makes short work of Daedalus and Apollo on its way to Earth.  Sheppard is called back to Earth as part of its efense as Atlantis uses another of Todd’s ZPM to pursue.

Sam and Maj. “Disaster” Davis gather in Earth’s deense.  Lorne joins AR-1 in sneaking aboar the Hive ship when it drops out of hyperspace halfway to Earth for…refueling?  I do not know.  They make up an excuse because the Hive cannot engage in a cullin or dramatic reasons.  Firefights ensue.  Ronon dies only to be revived by a Wraith for interrogation.  X302 fighters engage in a special effects laden dog fight.  Atlantis arrives in the nick of time to destroy the Hive ship before crashing into san Francisco Bay.

That, folks, is the end.  A straight to DVD film was supposed to wrap up the Wraith culling Pegasus storyline, but that is not going to happen at this point.  Use your imagination.   

As a digression, you really have to wonder about Todd.    A few episodes back, he jumped to the wrong conclusion about being betrayed and stole Daedalus.  he gets his entire crew killed working with Michael’s genetic modifications.  Then he hands over a ZPM  to another Wraith in order to modify a Hive ship.  The other Wraith promptly screws him over and steals the  uber-Hive ship.  In seeking revenge, Todd winds up stranded on Earth where he is going to starve to death as a prisoner because no one is going to give him a human to consume.  Todd is pretty much an idiot, is he not? 

It is funny how the episode features virtually every major character in at least one scene to the extent it is almost funny how much credibility is stretched to justify the cameo.  Keep this in mind when realizing we do not catch even a limpse of the Wraith attacking earth until the final act and then he is on screen for less than a minute beore being killed by AR -1.  Kind of bad form, that.

Nevertheless, “Enemy at the Gate” is a worthy conclusion to the series.  I would call it a much better send off than SG-1 received from its final episode.  The story is sufficiently large and, unlike most of the season, not lost in an ocean of overwhelming special effects.  Some of the character appearances are forced, but that is a minor complaint. The biggest flaw?  Ronon should have died.  His sacrifice would have given the episode some emotional punch.

As far as series conclusions go, “Enemy at the Gate” is satisfying.  This show should have been treated better than only being allowed five seasons.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"Vegas"

I have said numerous times before I am a sucker for alternate reality stories.  I do demand they have some implications, however--witness my distaste for the DS9 Mirror Universe stories or some otherwise interesting hook.  “Vegas” is an homage to the CSI television franchise.  While I am not a fan, it appears the powers tat be got the look and feel down pat.

In this reality, Sheppard is a loser Las Vegas detective investigating nine murders that the viewer immediately recognizes as Wraith feedings.   There is a wraith on the loose.  He is playing poker in order to win enough money to buy parts for a long range transmitter he is building in a trailer out in the middle of the desert.  Sheppar is recruited by Rodney, who has left this reality’s Atlantis for Area 51 after a wraith ship crashed on earth, to hunt the poker playing Wraith down.

If that all sounds weird, believe me, it is.  “Vegas” is a serious case of a series having been cancelled, so the writers are fulfilling fantasies onscreen.   Most of our regulars are playing different roles.  Woolsey is an FBI agent, for instance.  Keller is the las Vegas coroner.  The episode is odd, but something I felt compelled to pay attention to, anyway.

I bet if I were a big CSI fan, I would like “Vegas” more.  Instead, I like it for the curiosity of it all.  It is very different, yet not so out of whack as to not be as entertaining as the series normally is.  The loud soundtrack is obnoxious.  I assume that is a CSI thing.  Learn a little about mood setting with music from Miami Vice, folks.  I do think the Wraith rocking out to Marilyn Manson is funny considering fan complaints the early wraith make up resembled Manson’s.

Tomorrow--the final episode.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"Identity"

It certainly seems like every Keller-centric episode has her big, brown eyes in desperate need o rescue.  “Identity” is no different.  “Identity” is not different in a lot o ways, starting with those communication stones from the parent show serving as a plot point.   The fifth season is not big on originality.

A thief named Neeva is stealing a set of communication stones shortly after Keller has touche another set found in Janus’ lab a few episodes back.  The wo find themselves in each other’s body.  Neeva has a difficult time pretening to be Keller.  Stabbing Zelenka contributes to the problem.  Keller is in prison about to be executed for Neeva’s crimes.  Neeva leads AR-1 to the planet, but her cohorts have rescued Keller thinking she is Neeva before they get there.  Everything is straightened out, but not before Keller is shot and Neeva is killed over the mistaken identities.

What can I tell you?  It is a passably enjoyable episode of Stargate Atlantis without much frills to raise it above that bar.  As with a couple episodes back, Jewel Stait shows off ample cleavage to compensate for any script shortcomings.  It works for me. 

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"Infection"

“Infection” features the end of Todd the Wraith’s story arc amid a Zombie Wraith movie.   That is pretty much the episode in a nutshell.  Like many in the fifth season, there is a lot of energy spent on eye candy, but not much on the script.  The eye candy is pretty cool, though.

Todd’s Hive ship appears in orbit with the entire crew in hibernation pods.  It turns out the serum that eliminates their need to feed on humans causes cancer.  As our heroes work on a cure, they become trapped as the ship creates new walls blocking their way in an attempt to fix the cancer.  If that was not bad enough, Wraith begin awakening with carnivorous intentions.  Ourt heroes are forced to kill them all except Todd, who remains alive to manage a crash landing on the ocean.  He departs freely as thanks and goes off in search of an Iratus bug to hopefully cure him.

A Hive ship as a floating tumor is a gross, but neat idea.  The sets and special effects are the highlight of the episode, especially the ocean splashdown.  The Zombie Wraith aspect could have been a bit more exciting.  Instead, it feels like action sequences thrown in there at the last minute out of obligation.   “Infection” is not all that bad, but it is clearly a quick storyline wrap up from a cancelled show.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"Brain Trust"

Jewel Staite wears that outfit through 98% of “Brain Trust.”  The episode also features Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye the Science Guy taking jabs at Rodney’s arrogance.  You would think with that combination, we would have a winner here.  We do not.  What is the problem?  A dumb plot and a preachy global warming lecture.

Rodney invites Keller to join him at an unveiling ceremony of the latest project by one of his rivals, Malcolm Tunney.  Tunney is played splendidly by Kids in the Hall and NewsRadio alum Dave Foley.  He is about the only highlight.  Rodney is ready to head for the hills after being needled mercilessly by Tyson and Nye, but not only stays, but becomes incensed when he realizes Tunney has stolen some of his work.

Tunnry has created some space/time techno babble device inadvertently based on one of Rodney’s Pegasus projects.  It is designed to cool the Earth down on a massive level.  Tunney demonstrates it on the building in which the scientists are currently gathered,.  In so doing, he ignores Rodney’s warnings space/time cannot be controlled.  Long story short--everyone is trapped and going to freeze to death.

It looks like it is up to Rodney to save the day, but he runs off to rescue Keller from a flooding room.  They share their first smooch ater she declares him her personal hero.  The day is actually saved by Tunney and Nye--yes, the Science Guy--by turning the darn thing off.  Well, there you go.

Staite is hot, Foley, Tyson, and Nye are funny, but “Brain Trust” just does not fly.  I am not big on global warming alarmism, nor can I get into meaningless techno babble solutions to problems.  I suppose if one is a big David Hewlett fan, seeing him in a pair of tux smooching Jewel Staite might be a thrill, but it is not enough to save “Brain Trust” from its too many dumb ideas.

Rating: ** (out of 5)   

Monday, February 18, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"Remnants"

The fifth season has featured many corrections of past mistakes.  These corrections have been met with varying degrees of success.  Should not have killed of Beckett?  Bring him back as a clone.  Cannot convince Torri Higginson to reprise her role?  Hire a new actress to represent her in a Replicator body.  Want to bring back the decease Kolya?  Now he is an hallucination.  It is that final one that happens in “Remnants,” and it is a pointless exercise.

The plot is that the artificial intelligence representative of a long dead silicon based civilization causes Rodney, Woolsey, and Sheppard to hallucinate zelenka, a potential love interest, and Kolya for each respectively to convince them to preserve a pod containing the knowledge of said civilization.  Such is the tall and the short of it.

Robert Davi gets to play Kolya again in all his sadistic glee, so that is a plus.  As with the last couple seasons of VOY, Robert Picardo is required to do a lot of heavy lifting.  This time,  he is in love with a fiment of his imagination.  Davi and Piaro are about the only two saving graces in an episode that does not mean muh passed the shock value of seeing Sheppard’s left hand get chopped off.  Ouch.

I am not a fan of “Remnants.”  It is nothing more than an excuse to bring back Kolya, but it is ultimately too flimsy an excuse to be worthwhile. 

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"The Prodigal"

I might have been disappointed by the inclusion of a clip show this late into the final season, but “The Prodigal” more than makes up for it.  Stargate Atlantis wraps on loose ends in spectacular fashion here.  More specifically, Michael meets his final fate after challenging our heroes with every skill at his disposal.

Michael lays seige to atlantis, cutting off power by way of a stolen jumper, in a plot to kidnap teyla’s baby for experimentation.  The episode is good, not only because it is action packed and exciting, but because each of the main characters contributes to Michael’s defeat by doing what he or she does best.  Rodney and Zalenka are the scientists attempting to regain control of Atlantis.  Ronon engages in a brutal fistfight with Michael.  Sheppard is ready to sacrifice himself in a suicide mission to prevent Michael’s escape.  It all flows beautifully.

The best part is that Teyla is the one to put an end to Michael.  Granted, she kills him in cold blood, which is not very heroic, but you know what they say about a woman scorned.  Never try to kidnap a mother’s newborn. 

I have to give major credit to writer Carl Binder for placing every character in his or her exact element.  Binder has been my favorite writer for the series.  ’The Prodigal” is a fine example why.  There are some implausible bits.  For one, Ronon falls off a balcony and endures a backbreaker on a handrail. But winds up perfectly fine.  Torren also sleeps through the entire ordeal, including during a fight in which Teyla is holding him!  Talk about a heavy sleeper, no?

“The Prodigal” is one of my favorite episodes of the season based purely on its entertainment value.  That Michael, who is as good a villain as Kolya, gets a worthy send off is icing on the cake.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"Inquisition"

A clip show.  Wow.  Seven episoes left, and Stargate Atlantis decides to go with a clip show.  Yet again, I see why the actors complain the writers were tired of them towards the end.  “Inquisition” barely even qualifies as phoning it in.

I will give “Inquisition” one kudo--at least the episode reasonably uses clips from past episodes.  It is still a lazy, budget saving move, but placing the Atlantis crew on trial and using old clips to illustrate their defense testimony at least reinforces the testimony.   Sp there is that.

As mentioned, the plot is that a new coalition of human worlds have captured AR-1 and placed them on trial for crimes against the Pegasus galaxy.  A strong case is made against them.  Sheppard did initially awaken the Wraith.  They did interfere with the Genii plan to destroy the Wraith.  They did create Michael.  They did spark off the Replicator-Wraith War.  The tribunal did not even bring up that Rodney destroyed an entire solar system.  All tolled, two million people have died due to these actions. 

The most amusing part about the charges is that they are so solid, the only way to avoid a guilty verdict is for Woolsey to secretly create an alliance with two of the coalition powers with the argument they cannot fiht of the Wraith without the power of Atlantis behind them.  The plan works, and our heroes are found not guilty.

Is there a jab at military tribunals for Gitmo prisoners here?  I expected one, but was pleasantly surprised that nothing jumped out at me. 

“Inquisition” is a neat idea.  If it had been more elaborate, it might have even made for a good final episode.  Maybe the writers decided against it because our heroes really were guilty of everything of which they were accused.  A little too Seinfeldian, perhaps?  The episode does feel extremely cheap.  I am surprised one of the few remaining episodes of the series would be wasted like this.  “Inquisition” is a disappointment because of how much potential is squandered.  Not even Robert Picardo as the defense attorney save the episode.  

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"Outsiders"

Beckett Clone returns for what could have been a compelling moral dilemma, but turns out to be a run of the mill adventure. Not that the result is bad, but the series has already been cancelled. The writers have nothing to lose by taking some chances, but they are merely coasting.

Beckett Clone is now a traveling doctor in the Pegasus galaxy. He comes across a planet that has taken in refugees infected by the Hoffa virus. They have been displaced because the Wraith destroyed their planet. When the Wraith come for the refugees, the settlement’s leader, Jarvis, plans to give them up in order to save his people. Ultimately, it does not happen because AR-1 relocates the refugees after defeating the Wraith.

“Outsiders” is a missed opportunity. Jarvis is faced with a tough leadership decision. Should he give up a group of people to whom he has promised sanctuary to certain death in order to save his own people or take a stand on general principle. It would have been a thought provoking ending had he gone through with the former, but there a relatively convenient ending so no one has to deal with any nasty moral implications for morally gray decisions. “Outsiders” might ave been elevated otherwise.

Which is not to say “Outsiders” is bad. The episode is a solid, but generic episode of the series. One would hope for something more special for the return of paul Mcillion, not to mention one of the final episodes of the series. Alas, no.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"The Lost Tribe"

The virtue of watching a series or the first time years after it has been cancelled appear yet again.  I had no idea a surviving faction of Asgard were going to show up on Stargate Atlantis.   Raise a glass in salute to those long lost, pre-internet days when every revelation was not spoiled months in advance.  Days like those will never come around again.

I have much hih praise for “The Lost Tribe” beyond the surprise appearance of the Asgard in spite of some minor issues.  The cliffhanger resolution--Sheppard an Zelenka survive the tower explosion by moving away ten feet--is a cop out solution.  The Asard disappear 2/3rds of the way in because the CGI to animate Vanir is too expensive on a basic cable budget.   The Travelers also return, but Jill Wagner is not among them because she was serving as the eye candy for the brainless game show Wipeout at the time.  Bummer.  But these are only minor gripes in an otherwise excellent episode.  Particularly the bit about Wagner, as she is replaced by the equally hot Daniella Alonso.

“The Lost Tribe” is a fun, epic adventure that strikes the right balance between its two concurrent plots.  One, Ronon and Keller play Die Hard in sabotaging Daedalus to thwart Todd’s plan to attack Atlantis .  Two, Rodney and daniel have to stop the Asgard from using the device to destroy the Wraith because it causes every active stargate to explode.  That is quite a negative consequence.  The two stories come together when Sheppard recruit’s the Travelers to help save everyone.

Of particular note for those not primarily thinking with their gonads is the rationale of the Asgard for their actions.  They face the same problem as their Milky way brethren, namely they can only reproduce by cloning.   They need humans to experiment on, so those pesky wraith need to stop culling the fresh supply.  The survival of the Asgard justifies their actions according to spokesman Vanir.  Thor and company would not dream of destroying the stargate system and killing millions in the process just to save themselves.  However, Thor and his people are al dead.  Vanir and his are still alive.   As Vanir tells Daniel, it is difficult to argue with the results.       

But none of you care about a philosophical discussion on the ens justifies the means morality of Vanir’s effort to preserve the Asgard.  You all only want to see Daniella Alonso in a bikini.  Fine.  I can accommodate:
While we are on the subject of love/lust, Keller confesses to Ronon she is interested in someone else.  Presumably Rodney, but I am not taking that for granted.  Whatever the case, the competition between Ronon and Rodney for her affection was short lived.

I have said about all I can say about “The Lost Tribe.”  It is a great episode.  One that makes you wonder why the series was cancelled so unceremoniously.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"First Contact"

“First Contact” is the midseason finale for the fifth and final season of Stargate Atlantis. As such, it features a lot of set up designed to convince us to come back for the remaining ten episodes. That is right. Only ten left. The nearly our month hiatus in reviews makes it feel like there should be many more episode in the bag since I bean these reviews such a long time ago.

A midseason finale needs something special, and what we get in “First Contact” is Michael Shanks reprising his role as Daniel Jackson. He has come to Atlantis to search for a hidden Ancient lab, which he and Rodney find. Some device in the lab alerts mysterious, armored aliens to attack Atlantis, take the device, and kidnap Rodney and Daniel. The aliens force Rodney to activate the evice. It causes Wraith hyper drive to explode, but the consequences of using it are so dire, the Ancients abandoned the project.

Meanwhile, Daedalus meets up with Todd’s Hive ship in order to work on the genetic alterations that will allow Wraith to stop feeding on humans. When Rodney activates the device, Todd thinks he has been betrayed and hijacks Daedalus. Ronon and Keller are the only ones free to stop him.

The big cliffhanger involves Sheppard’s team, who are preparing to head of for Daedalus, aborting the trip through the stargate as it overloads and explodes, taking much of the tower with it. Too be continued…

The alien invasion of Atlantis is one of the coolest action sequences of the series. “First Contact” is worth watching just to see it. The banter between Daniel and Rodney is fun, too. Why have they not sparred before? The big question is whether the cliffhanger compel the viewer to come back for the conclusion. In my case, yes, they do. Ergo, “First Contact” is a success.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"Tracker"

The second Keller-centric episode of the fifth and final season is much better than the first. Then again, having a giant plant growing out of her is not a hard to top plot. “Tracker” is a solid character piece that transcends its generic plot.

Ronon and Rodney accompany Keller on an off world humanitarian mission to treat a contagion. Keller is kidnapped by a Runner named Kiryk who needs her to treat an injured little girl who has been in his care since her parents were killed because they gave hi refuge for a night. Why does Kiryk not just ask for Keller’s help? Too risky, he says. Kidnapping is a much safer idea. There is television logic for you.

Ronon and Rodney follow their trail while battling both Wraith that have followed Kiryk an each other, because they are both now competing for Keller’s affection. I cannot blame them. Who would not want Jewel Staite after them romantically?

The plot is fairly predictable. Kiryk is not really a bad guy. He bonds with Keller before sacrificing himself so the little girl can get to Atlantis for medical treatment. Ronon and Rodney flare up a rivalry to which keller is oblivious. There is lots of gunplay and fist fights with Wraith. Even Keller gets in on it after some training from Ronon. Finally, she is a woman of action. Totally cool. I will not say “Tracker” is a cannot miss, but it is not bad.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"The Queen"

The Queen! The Queen! God save that old broad.

The entertainment value of that joke still has not worn off for me. With only twelve episodes of Stargate Atlantis left, the odds I will have another opportunity to run it into the ground are slim, so take heart, weary readers.

If you have even a marginally better eye than I do, you will notice the queen above is actually Rachel Luttrell. The plot of ‘The Queen” is Teyla must pose as a rival Queen in order to convince the big matriarch to accept the genetic alterations Michael used to eliminate the need to feed on humans. Unfortunately, Todd uses the opportunity to murder the matriarh, make Teyla the Queen, and put himself in chare of a lare faction of Wraith. Such is the status at the end of the episoe.

A couple points about “The Queen” are incredibly hard to swallow. One, the way things played out, you would have to be an idiot to not think Todd was planning a double cross. Good Lord, he flat out acknowledged he would miss te taste of humans to go through with the genetic alterations himself. All he wants is power! Two, and more importantly, Keller can surgically turn Teyla into a Wraith merely by following Tod’s instruction. Yeah, I do not buy that at all. Where does Todd get that kind of medical skill/ The writers really do not give a crap about the final season.

“The Queen” has some virtues. There is a lot of special effects eye candy on display. One suspects, as is seemingly the case with recently poorly written episodes, the special effects are there to compensate for poor storytelling. Luttrell looks like she is having a ball playing the vile villain. The palace intrigue is pretty cool, too. It is subtle, but I swear the former queen’s right hand man hints he is a eunuch by his mannerisms. But none of this stuff elevates the episode beyond mildly entertaining.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"Whispers"

“Whispers” is another in the mini-theme of Stargate Atlantis paying homage to gothic horror. The results are lackluster for various reasons, but lookee, lookee--DS9’s Nicole de Boer takes a break from her stagnant straight to DVD movie career in order to play a scientist member of a rival AR team. She is still cute, too.

Said rival AR team, which happens to be filled with hot women, discovers one of Michael’s secret labs. Sheppard and Beckett clone join up with the ladies to investigate the lab. There are more hybrids there, and a local dunce sets them free thinking one might be his captured wife. The hybrids stalk our heroes through the dense fog until all twelve of them are shot to ribbons.

So there is not much of a plot. Are there good points regardless? Indeed, they are. For one, the episode explain Beckett clone has been on Earth for the last six months, which explains his conspicuous absence from the medical emergencies during the last few episodes. The hot female AR team is pretty cool, too. With them in action, Sheppard and Beckett Clone are almost incidental to te hybrid culling.

What is bad? The hybrids, mostly. Why would Michael create a blind army? Because he wanted bats at his command? The critters are visually stunning and it is creepy how they hunt by smell and motion, but those capabilities really make no sense when scrutinized.

There is not too much to “Whispers.” The usual cast is reduced to secondary players if they appear at all. The horror homage has been done better in the past. The hybrids are cool looking, but that is about it. The ending is nothing but killing them all in a hail of bullets. I would not skip “Whispers,” but I would not give it a whole lot of thought, either. It is hot chicks fighting pseudo-zombie stand ins.
Rating: ** (out of 5)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"The Shrine"

Kate Hewlett returns to star with her brother David in what is the best episode thus far of the fifth and final season. The episode takes a big risk by forcing David Hewlett to play Rodney as a man becoming more confused and childlike as a parasite robs him of his intelligence and memories. Such a performance could easily come off as overacting and insulting to the developmentally retarded, but Hewlett does a very good job at avoiding the pitfalls.

I have already reveale the plot--Rodney is infected with a brain parasite which saps his intelligence and memories. It is touching both how his friends rally around him an Rodney reveals his honest feelings about their friendship as he deteriorates. His sister, Jeannie, arrives to spend his last days with him. Ronon tells her of the title shrine that can alleged make Rodney lucid again for a ay. AR-1 braves the Wraith to take Rodney, Jeannie, and Keller there. Once at the shrine, it is discovered a certain radiation affects the parasite causing infected people to et better for a short time. Keller performs unsanitary brain surgery right there to remove the parasite. Miraculously, Rodney does not wind up getting coloring books for Christmas the rest of his life because of the emergency surgery.

“The Shrine” is another one of those efforts to humanize Rodney. It may be the best so far. I am not certain why virtually all of them have to involve a rain disorer killing him, but there you go. What could have been a painfully embarrassing imitation of a retarded man is played poignantly by Hewlett. It is good to see his sister back, too. Is this for the final time? I hope not.

Rating: **** (out of 5)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"Ghost in the Machine"

“Ghost in the Machine” is the first alteration from the original plan for the fifth season. The episode resumes and presumably concludes the story arc rogue group of Replicators lead by Replicator Weir. As Torri Higginson refused to reprise the role of Weir for the originally planned arc, this episode had to wrap it up quickly sans Weir. So how did it do? Subdued, but surprisingly effective under the circumstances is my call.

While investigating a planet inhabited by flying monkeys--there is a subtle ’there’s no place like home’ there throughout, a la The Wizard of Oz--AR-1’s puddle jumper becomes infected with a computer virus. When the virus infects Atlantis itself, the virus is revealed to be the disembodied Replicator Weir. She and her merry bunch develop a way to leave their bodies behind and live in subspace. It is a painful existence, however, an now they want real bodies back.

Our heroes reluctantly agree to allow them to recreate minimal Replicator bodies in order to construct permanent, organic bodies. When one of her acolytes bucks the plan and tries to escape in his current minimal Replicator body, Replicator Weir is forced to destroy him. Feeling she cannot trust everyone to avoid temptation, Replicator Weir leads the rest of them to float out in deep space forever where they cannot harm anyone.

Such an episode had to be done to avoid loose ends. The writers did the best they could without Higginson, but her presence is sorely misse. One suspects her absence sticks in the craw of fans the way Sabrina Lloyd burned Sliders fans when she refused to appear one last time to conclude wade’s story arc. Still, “Ghost in the Machine” is effectively emotional when you realize the huge risks our heroes are taking solely because they want to help their old friend. It coms across well considering their old friend is not really there. The score might have been four stars if Higinson had returned.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"The Daedalus Variations"

I am a sucker for alternate reality stories. “The Daedalus Variations” turns out to be parallel universe jumping on a small scale with a lot of CGI space battle eye candy thrown in to pad out the script, but it is still an enjoyable adventure.

A completely deserted Daedalus appears in orbit around New Lantea. When AR-1 arrives to investigate, the ship is transported to another universe wherein our heroes discover their alternate selves faced the same predicament and died before they could get back home. Rodney is on the case as the other three confront new problems in each jump to a new parallel universe, including arriving too close to an expanding sun and repelling an attack from never before seen green aliens.

Upon encountering the mystery alien ship attacking the alternate Atlantis, I immediately thought it was Replicator Weir’s ship. Torri Higginson refused to reprise the role, but I am unaware exactly when she refuse to do so. Alas, it turns out to be new aliens. Perhaps an alternate wraith or the preview of new villains. I do not know, but the lack of Replicator weir bugs me enough to not dwell much on other questions about them. It is probably not fair to do that, but there you go.

Rodney techno babbles a solution and the episode ends with him finally getting to hold Teyla’s baby for all of the fans out there who like to see Rodney humanized.

My soft spot for alternate realities shines through here. There is a lot of action again some nifty looking aliens here, too, which makes up for a lot of unnecessary CGI battle footage and mind numbing techno babble. The episode is a lot of fun to watch because AR-1 is back in action accentuating the skills of each member. How long has it been since that has happened?

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"Broken Ties"

I have made no secret Ronon is not one of my favorite Stargate Atlantis characters, so Ronon-centric episodes makes me wary. “Broken Ties” is one of the better Ronon episodes, however. Or maybe I am just cutting Jason Monoa a break since his big screen flick, Bullet to the Head, with Sylvester Stallone bombed last weekend in its debut. Whichever the case, I am going positive with this one.

Tyre, one of Ronon’s fellow Satedan soldiers who became a Wraith worshipper, captures ronon and hands him over to the wraith in the hopes of getting back into their good graces. In doing so, he hopes to end his painful Wraith enzyme withdrawal symptoms. The Wraith take Ronon to turn him into a worshipper, but reject Tyre. With Keller’s help, he overcomes his addiction to the enzyme and helps rescue the brainwashed Ronon, sacrificing himself in the process in an act of reemption.

Meanwhile, Teyla cans maternity leave and returns to active duty.

“Broken Ties” winds up more an action piece than a character study of Ronon. Tyre’s story arc is terribly predictable, right down to sacrificing his life in the end But there is still not much to complain about. The action and humor, particularly Woolsey’s difficult time adjusting to Atlantis, make broken ties enjoyable.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"The Seed"

“The Seed” is a strange critter. Not only does it feature a strange plot involving a Hive ship growing out of a main character, but the central characters of the piece have very little to do, which makes one wonder who the focal point was intended to be. Whatever the case, “The Seed” is a rather generic adventure with Sheppard predictably saving the day yet again with reckless behavior.

Woolsey takes command as Keller randomly comes up with a cure for Beckett Clone’s cellular degradation just before she succumbs to a virus which causes a Hive ship to grow out her body. Sai virus has been dormant since her last off world trip. Beckett clone happens to know about the virus and creates a cure. Sheppard throws caution to the wind and rushes past a jungle of CGI vines to administer it. Woolsey is upset he let the whole affair be resolved in an unorthodox manner.

So who is the main character? Beats me. Woolsey stands around with a furrowed brow while doing nothing but reacting. Keller lays in bed cocooned. Beckett Clone miraculously comes up with a cure without much drama. Naturally, Sheppard saves the day in spite of his minimal involvement up until that point. We have three character pieces thrown into one with little time to develop any. Woolsey is the shaky new leader, Keller is still a virtual unknown, and Beckett clone returns unceremoniously. There are three possible episodes there, but they all get crammed into one with no time to flesh things out. Add in a pat ending while we are at it. Very disappointing.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Stargate Atlantis--"Search and Rescue"

“Search and Rescue” is the fifth and final season premiere for Stargate Atlantis. It is also the final episode to feature Amanda Tapping as Sam. General fan buzz is the fifth season offers the clearest evidence yet the writers were bored with the show and simply phoning it in by this point. I am therefore bracing myself for the next nineteen episodes in case the notion holds true.

Our heroes survive the building explosion, but wind up trapped under rubble as Sam races against Michael to arrive there first. Caldwell even shows up with the Daedalus. did he even make an appearance last season? Maybe Mitch Phileggi was off filming his blink and you will miss it part in The X-Files: I Want to Believe. We have elaborate space battles and the darin rescue of Teyla from Michael’s flagship. Michael rides off into the sunset two-thirds of the way in. I guess he did not need that unborn kid so much after all.

Predictably, Teyla goes into labor durin her rescue. Even more predictably, roney is alone with her and must deliver the child. Hilarity ensues, naturally. I am not certain how often in popular entertainment a baby has been born while escaping an alien warship, so maybe I am being too harsh about the originality.

The story is overwhelmed by the production. The production design crew went all out in building the ruins trapping our heroes and the inside of Michael’s flagship. There are more special effects shots than we are used to, as well, including two, long pullbacks through space from one location to another that serve no purpose other than some artist found a cool app on his MacBook Pro an used it as much as possible. Actual content is razor thin and everyone knows it. Even David Hewlett phones in the comedy bits as he delivers the baby. Tapping practically has her suitcases packed on screen.

“Search and Rescue” is a lot of eye candy, but is very subdued for a season premiere. It feels like the powers that be were in a big hurry to get Teyla’s story out of the way to move onto other things. I am wary of how lackluster those other things are goin to be.

Rating: *** (out of 5)