Posts Tagged ‘ stargate atlantis ’

Top 25 Characters

Four years ago I came up with a list of my top 25 characters. I couldn’t resist updating the list.

1Gaius Baltar (Battlestar Galactica)
A fascinating character, weaving from hero to villain and back again often within the space of a sentence. The religious stuff was laid on a little heavy towards the end, but the character managed to pull it off.

2President Bartlet (The West Wing)
Martin Sheen was so amazing, and the character so inspiring it’s hard to believe that he never won an Emmy. These days we may have Obama, but for a long time President Bartlet was the best hope we had.

3Sam Beckett (Quantum Leap)
Bumbling through history playing a variety of parts, but always being Sam. The only connection he had to his old life was his weird friend Al, but despite not remembering it, he desperately wanted to go home.

4Chandler Bing (Friends)
The only character in the series that managed to feel like a real person all the time (well, almost all) probably because it’s basically Matthew Perry playing himself.

John Crichton (Farscape)
Hilarious and heart-breaking, just your average astronaut (!) having a weird life.
“I try to save a life a day. Usually it’s my own…”

6The Doctor (David Tennant’s Dr Who)
Tennant’s Doctor was such a wonderful character covering the full spectrum from depression through anger to pure childish joy, that I decided he was eligible all by himself without needing his other versions.

7Michael Garibaldi (Babylon 5)
Garibaldi was always my favourite character on Babylon 5. He was the human element, he fought, he drank, he mocked everyone and the universe seemed to have some kind of grudge against him.

8Jethro Gibbs (NCIS)
I love Mark Harmon and his ex-marine is brilliant. Outwardly gruff and hard, but not so inhuman that he doesn’t show his affection to his team with a kiss on the cheek for Abby or a slap on the head for DiNozzo.

9Harper (Andromeda)
Andromeda had some epic problems with plots and writing, but it had some amazing characters and Harper was my favourite. He’s a scrounger, desperately trying to get through life as unscathed as possible while his friends seem weirdly obsessed with dragging him on suicide missions to save the universe.
Abel: You must be the engineer.
Harper: Why? Because I’m the short guy with the sense of humour, the wry wit? Huh? Because I’m so freakin’ amiable with the careless demeanor? Is that it?
Abel: Well, that – and the tools.

10Gregory House (House M.D.)
Most of the time he’s a complete and utter bastard, and yet he’s also generally right. Every now and then he shows that he might, just about care about his colleagues.

11Susan Ivanova (Babylon 5)
No one from B5 made the first list and now I’ve got two. I had decided on Garibaldi over Ivanova, but then when I started reading through quotes I remembered just how many brilliant lines she had and managed to squeeze her in.
“No boom today. Boom tomorrow. There’s always a boom tomorrow. What? Look, somebody’s got to have some damn perspective around here. Boom, sooner or later. BOOM!”

12Josh Lyman (The West Wing)
He’s a political genius who can’t keep track of time zones or find his luggage without his assistant. Sometimes he’s brilliant, sometimes he’s embarrassingly poor, but he always tries so hard.

13Rodney McKay (Stargate Atlantis)
Another character that says all the things normal people never would (I’m spotting a theme). He’s arrogant, obnoxious and rude… he’s also a geek, a genius and occasionally very sweet.

14George O’Malley (Grey’s Anatomy)
Poor George. He always means so well, and tries so hard and yet his colleagues are always the ones getting the glory. Except, just possibly, the last thing he does on the show, makes him the greatest success of all of them. His absence almost made me stop watching the show and there’s not much higher compliment can be paid a character.

15Veronica Mars (Veronica Mars)
Teenager with attitude. She’s the kid that’s so amazingly cool, the cool kids at school don’t even realise that she’s light years ahead of them. So she tells them. Except that occasionally she also has a bit of a cry, falls in love with the wrong people and needs her dad.

16Peggy Olson (Mad Men)
From a historical point of view her character is fascinating, a woman making the leap from being an object, to being an individual. As a character though she’s so compelling because she’s not making a statement about women at work in the sixties, she’s just doing what she wants to do.

17Hawkeye Pierce (M*A*S*H)
“I will not carry a gun…. I’ll carry your books, I’ll carry a torch, I’ll carry a tune, I’ll carry on, carry over, carry forward, Cary Grant, cash and carry, carry me back to Old Virginia, I’ll even hari-kari if you show me how, but I will not carry a gun!”

18Mal Reynolds (Firefly)
The hero who doesn’t want to be a hero, it never goes smooth for poor Mal. Some people are at their best when they’re having yet another bad day.

19Doug Ross (ER)
There are reasons why George Clooney is a star and they’re all demonstrated in Doug Ross. Mark Greene may have been the soul of ER but Ross brought some character to it. He drank too much, womanised, looked great in a tux, looked great in scrubs, said what he thought and even rescued drowning children!

20Nick Stokes (CSI)
Nick is a straight swap for his boss Gil. This is partly because Gil is gone and got a little irritating towards the end. But Nick deserves this place because he’s the little engine that could, never the smartest or most heroic of theCSIs, he’s just been quietly plugging along with his Texas twang and concerned looks until someone finally realised the department couldn’t run without him.

21Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Almost all the characters in this show are great, and it’s rare for me to chose a hero over a witty sidekick, but I had to go for Buffy over the others. She does occasionally wallow, but then if your teenage years were commandeered by destiny, wouldn’t you whine?

22Malcolm Tucker (The Thick of It)
He’s loud and obnoxious and rude beyond words. But he’s also generally the only one talking sense. Also I will forgive absolutely everything he’s ever done wrong, because while he was having the worst day of his career, he ran to his secretary’s defence because people were badgering her.

23Nora Walker (Brothers and Sisters)
The very definition of matriarch. Always ready with several bottles of wine, a shoulder to cry on, a rallying call, or even just a perfectly delivered cake. Nora not only rules her dysfuntional family, but is also trying to work out what a sixty year old woman does when her kids have all left home and her husband dies leaving her alone for the first time ever.

24Dean Winchester (Supernatural)
Amongst Supernatural fans there are Dean-girls and Sam-girls, I’m a (only slightly ashamed) Dean girl. He’s a simple guy wanting to kill monsters, drink, eat pie, sleep around, drive his car and above all keep his family safe. He pretty much never gets what he wants, but always has a witty comeback.

25Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Buffy and Angel)
In terms of character development you don’t get much more extensive than Wesley, turning from the annoying twit in Buffy to the scary hero in Angel. He does what needs to be done, regardless of the costs.

All things weird and wonderful all creatures good and bad

A mixed year for science fiction, but the fact that there’s enough shows out there to have a range is good news. Whether you call it sci-fi, SF, ‘genre’ or SyFy (although I’d really rather you didn’t) it’s now an enthusiastic part of the schedule. The slightly daft fact for me is that I’m not actually watching the two “most popular” sci-fi shows on US network television. I gave up on Lost back in season 3 when I lost faith that the writers knew what they were doing. I’ve heard that the most recent season is back on form, but I’m going to wait until the series finishes to make the call as to whether to go back and watch the whole thing again. As I mentioned a couple of days ago I watched the pilot of Fringe and didn’t get on with it. However I do plan to pick it up at some point.

Even without Doctor Who British sci-fi had a pretty strong year in terms of quantity, if not necessarily quality. I’ve already mentioned the really excellent Being Human, on the flip side we have the spectacularly disappointing final season of Primeval – a show which I started watching because of the fun idea of dinosaurs tromping through modern shopping centres. Then they introduced a complex and interesting timetravel-esque storyline which made me think there was more to it than just the cgi dinosaurs. But in season 3 the cleverness disappeared, several of the original actors disappeared and my will to care disappeared along with. The resolution of the big threat was absolutely ridiculous and made the previous two seasons seem a bit of a waste.

Then there’s Torchwood. I’m always faintly nervous watching Torchwood as for some reason I really like it, despite the fact that season 1 was pretty rubbish. However season two had really picked up in quality and I was intrigued by the new formula of 5 episodes in 5 nights although vaguely of the opinion that there was no way it could possibly pull it off. By the end of the first episode I was watching with my mouth open, astounded at the quality of writing, acting and story. It reminded me a lot of Battlestar in the way that I thought it was absolutely superb, but I’m not sure I want to watch it anymore. If it comes back it’s a completely different show and that makes me a bit sad. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the ‘resolution’ of the main plot was pretty bloody stupid, but that didn’t seem to matter as much to me as it maybe should of, so I’m shoving the point in brackets.)

Two big SF shows came to an end this year. I can’t say much more about Stargate Atlantis than it was a fun way to spend 45 minutes. That’s not a bad thing, a little bit of froth was definitely needed to balance out the weight of Battlestar Galactica. It seemed to take them an extraordinarily long time to get through just 70 odd episodes of Battlestar, although any faster and my brain might have exploded. The final season continued to excel and managed a mostly satisfying resolution to all the stories and mysteries (the final cylon was absolutely inspired – I never saw it coming), although I found the character resolutions less than satisfying. There were (as always) a few decisions and directions that didn’t really seem consistent to me, but I’m willing to put up with those for the otherwise superbness of the show and the fact that it did at least End.

Speaking of things that should maybe just end… Heroes continues to struggle along. I adored this show in its first season but it’s been going downhill ever since. I didn’t hate season 2 as much as some, more disappointed at the decrease in quality than actively thinking it bad, but the first volume of season 3 may have edged into that category. The writing was sloppy and all over the place with holes you could drive a truck through. Almost everything about the show now just irritates me, from wildly flip-flopping character choices to the over use of lip gloss! I’m a couple of episodes into the next volume and I’m hating it. I watched episode 15 with a housemate last night and we spent nearly twice as long bitching about it afterwards as we had watching it. I’ll stick it out until the end of the season for the sake of completeness, but unless there’s a dramatic turnaround, I don’t think I’ll be watching the next season.

My favourite new discovery of the year is Supernatural, I picked up season 1 for just eight quid on dvd and in less than two weeks I’d burnt my way through the whole four seasons. It starts off as a fun series with cool ideas and great characters, but the fourth season takes it to a whole new level which the writers pull off with style, skill and humour. I’m really looking forward to the fifth season, the show was apparently always planned to be five years and the pacing has been perfect for it, although I’d be sorry to say goodbye to the characters at the end of the year.

Stargate Atlantis: Season 5

The final series of Atlantis, that trundled on much the same as the previous seasons, with some wonderful character driven episodes, surrounded with some okish un-memorable regular episodes and a couple of action packed set pieces. Atlantis never really seemed to settle in, 3 commanding officers in 5 years and team relationships that never really seemed on solid ground, everyone edging round each other. It never really felt like there was a bond between the characters or much acknowledgement of their shared history – each episode felt a bit like a clean slate. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an enjoyable show to watch while eating dinner or on a lazy evening, and I’m sorry it’s gone. But I don’t think I’d ever list it as one of my favourite shows.

Stargate Atlantis: Season 2

Season 2 shows a noticeable shift in both the plot of the show and the characters, surprising as it’s so early in the show’s run. From the first episode of the new season Atlantis has regained contact with earth and obtained the marvellous plot device of a space ship with a transporter which is immediately put into use to save the day whenever necessary. I wish they’d actually been out of contact with Earth for longer, to establish both the base and the show as distinct entities. The ability to get help gave the writers the opportunity to become a little lazy at times and the show suffers for it.

The character changes are also a bit strange so early on. While Ford had suffered from poor character development in the first season it seemed a strange choice to just give up on him and start afresh. That said Ronan (and to a certain extent the recurring Major Lorne) made interesting additions, forming relationships a with the other leads a lot faster. Colonel Caldwell also helped to bolster both Weir and Shepherd’s characters by giving them someone to play against. Meanwhile making Dr Beckett a regular was certainly well deserved. Of the returning cast a lot more focus seemed to be placed on relationships, both the developing of them and the occasional breaking, a very important element that SG1 didn’t always manage to protray – I think the Atlantis characters have probably developed more in 2 seasons than the SG1 team did in 6.

The plots themselves are generally pretty standard sf fair that’s been told in half a dozen star trek and sg1 shows before to be honest. Some are re-jigged well (e.g. Coup d’Etat and Inferno) and some just get rather sloppy (Epiphany and Trinity for example). But frankly I don’t watch the show for innovative plots, I watch it ‘cos it’s fun and the dialogue makes me laugh. It’s got twice as much life in it as SG1 does these days and even poor episodes manage to make me laugh.

Stargate Atlantis: Season 1

Atlantis manages to succeed in all the ways SG1 did, while also occasionally falling into the same holes. At it’s heart this is an episodic sf series with a group of great characters and an abundance of sarcasm. The plots are usually interesting and fun, occasionally suffering from large holes or hammering home the ”shades of grey” moral issues a bit much. The arc storylines focus on exploring and setting up the new Atlantis base and the threat from the vampirey Wraith. The former allowed for some budget episodes and the chance to distinguish themselves from the more military feel of SG1. The latter plot was well handled through the first season and made a refreshing change from the complex political situation that the Gould became in SG1.

What sells this series for me though are the great characters and their interactions. Frankly all of the characters are at least faintly annoying, but that only makes them more interesting. The ”snarking” between characters is hilarious and feels very natural, they feel like real people not just The Doctor, The Soldier. The Jack-Daniel double act is replaced here with Shepherd-McKay, but here the Soldier also happens to be a bit of a geek and The Geek is something of a force of nature. The alien (Teyla) and the sidekick (Ford) get a bit of a slim deal in the first season but they manage to be more than their stereotypes even with only a few lines each episode. Probably the weakest link is Weir who never quite manages to have the gravitas that’s required from the leader, always coming across as rather deferring and wet.

Atlantis plays to its target audience with the geeks saving the day half the time and with characters referencing Star Trek and Back to the Future enthusiastically. It’s not the best science fiction out there, but it’s a very entertaining watch each week.

DVD Special Features (Region 1)
The Region 1 dvd is truly a thing of beauty, from the nice slim line box, to the huge amounts of special features to the great quality video. There are commentaries on about 1/2 the episodes including contributions from all the main actors, the writers, directors and even a couple of SG1 people that seemed to wonder in and feel like chatting. They are all as crazy and dedicated as each other and the commentaries are hilarious and interesting. The featurettes cover the usual stuff like set tours, make-up and behind the scenes on a couple of the episodes. The season 1 review is actually a showcase of everyone messing about and failing to take anything seriously. This show is either amazing fun to work on or everyone is a great actor.