Stargate: Atlantis premiered ten years ago today. I’m celebrating with a look back at my Top 10 favorite SGA memories.
In no particular order…
#10. RODNEY MAKES THE CUT. BUT JUST BARELY!
Production on the new Stargate spinoff was fast-approaching, but we were scrambling to cast one crucial role: the part of the intrepid, dedicated team doctor. Multiple auditions yielded no suitable candidates and the producers were at a loss until… Robert Cooper suggested a different tact. Instead of casting a new character, why not bring in an established one – namely, Dr. Rodney McKay who had already put in a couple of appearances on Stargate: SG-1? To say that this last minute switch “worked out quite nicely” would be an enormous understatement. Could you imagine Atlantis without him?
#9. ENTER GOLDEN BOY MARTIN GERO
Faced with the prospect of 40 episodes of television a season, we sought out new talent for the writers’ room. Enter young Martin Gero who proved himself with his first script, Childhood’s End – and then went on to become the most prolific writer on the show.
#8. ENTER CARL BINDER
Later in SGA’s first season, we added one more writer to the room, a veteran of Punky Brewster with a penchant for schnitzel and off-colour humor. He proved himself with his first script, Before I Sleep – and then went on to become the most prolific writer of ghost-themed episodes on the show.
#7. ENTER RONON
The show saw several cast changes over the course of its five year run, but perhaps none quite as significant as the introduction of the rough and ready Satedan, Ronon. A great onscreen presence, Jason Momoa was also a hell of a lot of fun to work with.
#6. INTRODUCING…TODD THE WRAITH
There’s nothing I enjoy more than an interesting, multi-layered villain and, while the show had them in bunches, none (in my humble opinion) matched the depth and color of Todd the Wraith, a soul-sucking alien with a devilish sense of humor.
#5. GOODBYE, CARSON
This one rivals the closing moments of SG-1’s Meridian as one of the most touching scenes of the franchise. Rodney says goodbye to his friend who fades away to close the episode and Carson’s story…for a little while anyway.
#4. WOOLSEY IN CHARGE
I loved Richard Woolsey’s evolution from pencil-pushing bureaucrat to principled suit, so when Amanda Tapping’s departure opened up the position of Expedition Commander, the first name that came to mind was: Bob Picardo. I called him up, made him the offer and we closed the deal that afternoon. One of my favorite characters to write for.
#3. BEHIND THE SCENES FUN
It’s hard to pick one moment among the countless great ones I enjoyed as a member of the Atlantis writing team. Amid all the story sessions, script notes, cut screenings and mixes, there was much hilarity. More often than not, it involved Carl being “tricked” into eating something awful (https://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2007/06/08/june-7-2007/).
#2. MY FIRST SAN DIEGO COMIC CON
Meeting 5000 Stargate fans – simultaneously.
#1. ALL GOOD THINGS….
Although it wasn’t planned as a series finale, the show’s last episode served nicely as a nice send-off, wrapping up existing storylines yet leaving the door open for further adventures. The final group shot on the balcony overlooking San Francisco Bay was an emotional one for all. We’d had five great years – but, dammit, we could have had so many more!
Picking up a selection of home made marshmallows at Archimallows pop-up stand.
Birthday lunch at Bel Cafe. Banh Mi for me.
And spicy chicken salad and a matcha latte for Akemi.
And some hazelnut dragees to go. I’m a sucker for those complimentary samples.
New running shoes, a.k.a. new chew toys for Lulu.
Then, over to Main Street to check out the Candy Meister truck.
And, of course, her favorites – and the reason we chase this truck around town – the handmade marshmallows.
An afternoon walk/roll with the dogs.
Doggy bath time.
Sushi dinner at Miku Restaurant
Drinks. For her, some sort of Yuzi liquor.
For me, the sake sampler.
And the “lotus root salad” that was served, completely devoid of lotus roots. When I asked about this, I was informed that they were out. Really? On the bright side, our sushi was served with the expected fish.
And, instead of birthday cake, Akemi opted for birthday gelato at Bella Gelateria. Yes, it’s that good!
Another Carl Binder-san spectacular. I loved this episode even more on repeat viewing. It’s got action, humor, and high-stakes developments with all of our characters in play (even Zelenka, Lorne, and Amelia Banks). Fast-paced fun!
And Akemi agreed. She laughed out loud a couple of times, jumped at others, and seemed just as anxious as Teyla when she was in hiding with her baby. The night time establishers of the city all lit up never fail to amaze, and the “really cool fighting scenes” in this one wowed her as well, especially the final showdown at the top of the tower (Again, thanks to Mark Savela and our VFX crew and James Bamford and our stunts crew). Her only quibble with this episode: “I’m so sad I didn’t see any scenes with Jewel. Where’s Jewel?” I dunno. Night off?
She was at her most animated when Sheppard almost tumbles off the tower and is left dangling: “Now Mike Dopud can take over team!”
When Teyla approaches Michael hanging on by his fingertips: “Kick him off.”
And when she does just that: “What?! He isn’t really dead, is he?” And when I informed her that, yes, he was: “Wow. Michael die. Are you sure? Who will they fight?” No one! The last six episodes of the final season will feature scenes of them sitting around, talking about their feelings.
And a closing observation as the end credits started to roll: “Sheppard never die, ne? Don’t you think so? Why not?”
A reminder to all that our book club reconvenes this Monday (April 7th) for a discussion on our April BOTMC pick: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer.
You can always check this blog’s right sidebar for info on our upcoming Book of the Month club reads (including our May selection: The Rich and the Dead by Liv Spector).
Last night marked the resumption of our Stargate: Atlantis rewatch or, in my girlfriend Akemi’s case, First Watch. Her thoughts on the season premiere: Search and Rescue…
First and foremost, she was mightily impressed by the visual effects that, in her estimation, have come a long way since the show’s first season. Plenty of oohs and aahs during the space battle, and also plenty of praise for the design and construction of the hive ship interior.
Speaking of the wraith, she missed them in this episode: “I’m kind of missing old-fashioned wraith, both good hair and bad hair wraith.” I assured her that we’d be seeing them – and their memorable locks – real soon.
One of the reasons she so looked forward to the show’s fifth season was to check out Robert Picardo in action who she has gotten to know over the course of his occasional Vancouver visits. When he appeared in the opening credits: “Nice to see Bob.”. Then, halfway through the Woolsey-less episode: “Where’s Bob?”. And then, after his late appearance in the episode’s closing scene: Yay Bob!”.
Even though she only got to know Carter over the course of this one episode, Akemi quite liked her and was sorry to see her go.
When the episode opened and we saw Sheppard and Ronon trapped in the rubble, she predicted Sheppard would die and that Ronon (“He’s is so handsome!”) would take over as team leader. When that didn’t happen, she was genuinely disappointed. Nevertheless, it looks like Sheppard may be growing on her. Sort of: “I don’t hate Sheppard as much as I used to. But hard to say after only one episode.”
She called bullshit on Sheppard’s ability to walk around so soon after his injury and then, when Sheppard disobeys Carter’s order in order to take part in the rescue op: “Don’t be so arrogant. Follow boss’s orders!”.
As usual, McKay was a highlight, especially the birth scene with Teyla that actually had her laughing out loud at times. “He is typical nervous father,”she said.
All in all, an episode with plenty of highlights and surprisingly no lowlights so far as Akemi was concerned: “I’m very excited to see Jewel. Very excited to see Bob. And handsome big guy.”
Alas, it was a herculean task and despite my best efforts, I came up short. In the end, I sampled only 47 of the some 60 varieties of hot chocolate offered for this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival. Still, 47 hot chocolates in 24 days aint bad, especially considering I took those four days off to visit mom in Montreal. This year, I doubled last year’s score. And, next year, I vow to do even better!
So, what were the standouts? Well, what follows is my list of the Top 5 Hot Chocolates of this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival!
When all was said and done, six hot chocolates actually made by top 5 list. After much consideration, I decided to offer a Top 5 +1 for good luck!
Honorable mention goes to…
A Snowball’s Chance in Hell:Single origin Mexican chocolate with Mexican chili poured over house made chocolate ice cream. Accompanied by a flourless chocolate cookie.
Available at: Chocolate Arts 1620 West 3rd Ave., Vancouver (Kitsilano).
Ah, now this is more like it! Akemi was on the edge of her seat (or, actually, her side of the bed) throughout this episode. She loved it. Action! Suspense! Humor! And, best of all, those dazzling visual effects! She was blown away by the the sequence of Atlantis shielding itself within seconds of the giant wave crashing down on the city (“Always very last minute your show!”) and also had high praise for the Teyla-Sora showdown (compliments of our former SGA stunt coordinator James Bam Bam Bamford). She continues to enjoy McKay, greatly appreciated seeing her favorite Dr. Beckett, and is even warming up to Sheppard. She had one big bump = McKay dressing his arm wound OVER his sleeve.
Overall: “I liked it a lot. I’m getting used to this city. At first I thought not as good as SGU’s ship but now pretty cool.” And then: “I’m beginning to like SGA too!”
A couple of years ago, I offered some thoughts on this episode (and the next one) in one of my Trip Down Memory Lane entries:
I’ve found that, in my past visits, the flavors of the gelato bars got lost in the hot chocolate so I requested a cup with half the milk. The result was a cup with a more concentrated hot chocolate that actually did a better job of showcasing the individual gelato flavors – in this case, black sesame and matcha.
Verdict: I’m a traditionalist, preferring my hot chocolates hot and chocolatey.
Winner: Black Magic (Bella Gelateria)
Red Hot Chili Pepper: gBAR flavoured with chocolate, cinnamon and cayenne. Served with Erin Ireland’s “To Die For” Banana Bread.
Available at: Bella Gelateria,1001 West Cordova Street.
Strange, but not for the reasons advertised. Instead of the expected subtle cedar, I (and my friend Kathy) picked up notes of cheese – blue or roquefort. I inquired and cheese was not one of the ingredients. Hmmmm.
Verdict: I do prefer my hot chocolates hot and chocolatey – but not surprisingly cheesy.
Winner: Sour Cherry Tisane (UVA Wine Bar)
Hera’s Habit:Made from 50% deep milk chocolate with malted milk balls. Served with vanilla bean cinnamon shortbread.
Available: At Cocoa Nymph3739 W. 10th Ave (at Alma), Vancouver
As soon as my name came up on screen alongside the written by credit, Akemi was instantly on guard: “I’m very nervous about your episodes because you’re twisted.”
True. And, as expected, she was plenty confused by the episode. But that was the point! The audience is supposed to be confused – until the big reveal at episode’s end. Unfortunately, said big reveal only succeeded in confusing her even more: “Very confusing. Very complicated. Don’t you think so? Were you okay when you wrote the episode? Like person who did marijuana.”
But after I took the time to break it down for her, explaining the mist was sentient and responsible for their hallucinations: “Ah, interesting. Now makes sense! Takes so long. So fog was smart!” Indeed.
Some other insights she offered while watching…
On Weir motoring around in her vintage car: “She is piece of Mrs. Old Fashioned.”
On Sheppard: “He seems to like girls.”
On McKay: “I like his t-shirt, I’m with Genius.” Thank you. “I like the fact no one left message and he’s eating old chips.”
On the necklace Simon gifts Weir: “She seems to make a lot of money. And he seems to make a lot of money, right? Nice brand necklace is better. Very cheap.”
Overall – in retrospect, she liked it. Interestingly: “I feel like I’m watching SGU this episode. Technical terms a lot.”
Hmmm. It would appear Akemi is fast losing interest in this show. I keep thinking that if we can just make it to the mid-season two-parter, The Storm/The Eye, we should be okay. Those two episodes, in my estimation the high point of SGA’s first season, should revitalize her interest in the series and keep her focused through to the season one finale. Apparently, Carson Beckett’s charming eyes will only get the series so far.
Alas, Underground didn’t rate that highly for her because she had a hard time following what was going on. But once the episode moved past people the various people-sitting-at-tables-talking scenes (about two-thirds of the way through), her interested picked up. Still…
On the story: “Chotto difficult to understand this episode. A little bit complicated. Seems very odd from the beginning.”
On Teyla: “Too much make-up this episode.”
On Teyla informing the Genii that team Atlantis had awakened the wraith: “She is stupid!”
On McKay: “I like arrogant guy!”
And overall: “Surprisingly not so much episodes of the actual Atlantis. I’m looking for more inside of Atlantis.” Crap! She’s beginning to sound like YOU guys!
Yes, our Book of the Month Club is back and we’re kicking things off with a March 3rd discussion of Matthew Kloos’s Terms of Enlistment, the book YOU selected in our January poll. Aint democracy grand? With February upon is, it’s time for another round of voting as we choose our April Book of the Month Club pick. Like last month, I made use of SF Signal’s handy monthly rundown of genre book releases complete with covers and links to synopses:
I refined the process, selecting only those books available in paperback so that everyone can participate. As a result, some of my hardcover nominees failed to make the cut (The Martian, The Winter People, Influx, Strange Bodies, and The Waking Engine) but, for those of you nevertheless intrigued, I’ll be reading and reviewing them as part of my new “Monthly Reads and Capsule Reviews” which will also include all of the nominated titles in our monthly poll – so that I can inform you whether you made the right choice or not.
Anyway, here are the nominees for our April Book of the Month Club discussion…
SKYLIGHT (Kevin R. Hopkins) Paperback, 400 pages.
One October night, millions died when the air suddenly became unbreathable. Miraculously left alive, Martin Fall journeys home to Los Angeles and watches as society collapses all around him, leaving him to pick up the pieces. But when he’s recruited for a dangerous mission, he must confront his tragic past to rescue a technology that could save the earth from destroying itself.
NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (Davis Grubb) Paperback, 198 pages
Inspired by serial killer Harry Powers, “The Bluebeard of Quiet Dell,” who was hung in 1932 for his murders of two widows and three children. This best-selling novel, first published in 1953 to wide acclaim by author Grubb, (who like Powers lived in Clarksburg, West Virginia), served as the basis for Charles Laughton’s noir classic . Renamed “Harry Powell,” the lead character in this book, with LOVE and HATE tattooed on his fingers, is remembered as one of the creepiest men in book and cinema history.
[This one is, obviously, a re-release of the original book. But I've heard mixed reviews of the new edition so feel free to grab any copy if this one wins out].
Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.
This is the twelfth expedition.
Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.
They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.
[Jeff is a past Book of the Month Club participant who was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions - included here because I enjoy his work:
THE SUN WARRIORS (Robert Mills) Paperback, 288 pages.
This captivating combination of science fiction and political satire draws the reader into an alternative present, where the threat of alien life destroying our beloved planet is all too real. It’s raining salt-water in the Sahara desert. In Thailand it’s snowing. All over the world, strange phenomena are beginning to occur and the young Thai climatologist, Dr. Thongchai Pakpoom, concludes that there is only one possible explanation: intervention by extraterrestrial beings. He is soon to be proved correct. Fugitives from the unstable Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy have decided to settle on Mars. In order to make it suitable for their needs, they decide to fire missiles carrying warheads into the sun, which proves to be effective for them but disastrous for Earth. Meanwhile, Thongchai is one of four humans who are ‘collected’ by alien scientists as part of their research. As the national leaders of Earth are unable to reach an agreement with their new neighbours, it’s up to the captives to persuade their abductors to change their policy before it’s too late.
[Political satire. Hmmm. It's all in the execution.]
HER HUSBAND’S HANDS AND OTHER STORIES (Adam-Troy Castro) Paperback, 336 pages
A utopia where the most privileged get to do whatever they want to do with their lives, indulging their slightest whims via the bodies whose wombs they occupy; a soldier’s wife tries to love a husband who is little more than backup memory; a society in which the citizens all make merry for nine remarkable days, and on the tenth get a taste of hell; the last ragged survivors of an expedition to a savage backwater world hunt down an infamous war criminal; a divorcing couple confront their myriad troubles to gain resolution, reason, respect – but not without sacrifice.
[Another familiar name - Adam is also a past Book of the Month club author who took the time to answer our questions. Also included because I enjoyed his past work:
THE 400lb. GORILLA (DC Farmer) Paperback, 232 pages.
Matt Danmor thinks he’s lucky. Not many people survive a near death accident with nothing more than a bout of amnesia, a touch of clumsiness and the conviction that the technician who did the MRI had grey skin and hooves. Still, it takes time to recover from trauma like that, especially when the girl who was in the accident with you disappears into thin air. Especially when the shrinks keep telling you she’s just a figment of your imagination. So when the girl turns up months later looking ravishing, and wanting to carry on where they left off, Matt’s troubled life starts looking up. But he hasn’t bargained for the baggage that comes with Silvy, like the fact she isn’t really an English language student, or even a girl. Underneath her traffic stopping exterior is something else altogether, something involving raving fanatics bent on human sacrifice, dimensionally challenged baked bean tins, a vulture with a penchant for profanity, and a security agent for the Dept of Fimmigration (that’s Fae immigration for those of you not in the know) called Kylah with the most amazing gold-flecked eyes.
[Sounds crazy. Crazy-good or just crazy? That's for you to decide!]
Start voting! Polls close on Tuesday!
Continuing our Stargate: Atlantis rewatch with…Poisoning the Well!
I offered some insight into this episode a couple of years ago. In the blog entry, I discuss Steve, pro-wraithers, and perhaps the unwieldiest line in Stargate history:
Well, right off the bat with the opening scene: “So many humans on these planets. I don’t believe it.” And: “And everyone speak English! And no Asian!”
On Beckett: “He’s so handsome.”
She was impressed with wraith-Steve’s patience in approaching his offered meal: “He was waiting for feeding time politely even though he is super hungry.”
Still, she couldn’t help but notice a certain wistfulness on the part of Sheppard on Steve’s demise: “Maybe Sheppard a little attached to him.”
But then, when he doubled-over and fell to the ground in obvious pain: “Caca?” Probably.
On the bittersweet ending: “Too bad for Scottish guy. Not happy ending. He has such beautiful eyes, don’t you think?”
Overall, a solid episode: “I liked the idea of the underground city. I found pretty smart.”
Our Stargate: Atlantis rewatch takes the long weekend off and resumes on Monday when we watch…Underground!
Randomness writes: “Do you think team Atlantis ever returned to the planet to check on how things were going there? It seems like a whole new chapter unfolding on that planet what with the suicide pact not being needed, do you think they will progress a bit as a society now?”
Answer: Actually, we did revisit the planet – albeit off-screen – in a later episode. Remember? The one where Zelenka returns to Atlantis covered in warpaint? Come on you, SGA-xperts. Which episode was it?
gforce writes: “Also why, after getting an arrow in the chest, did Keras then have his arm in a sling in the scene after?”
- This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
- The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
- Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
- Cataract City by Craig Davidson
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
- All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
- Half A King by Joe Abercrombie
- Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
- Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch
- We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt
- The Troop by Nick Cutter
- Shroder by Amity Gaige
- The Road to Reckoning by Robert Lautner
- The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay
- Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to the Comic Book Universe by Tim Leong
- House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
- A Calculated Life by Anne Charnock
- We Are All Complete Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
- The Circle by Dave Eggers
- The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
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Only God Forgives