Friends, Wraith, Replicators, lend me your ears. I come to bury the fifth season of Stargate Atlantis, not to praise it. Two years on from the end of it's parent series, Stargate: SG-1, and the lost city of Atlantis has finally been sunk once and for all. But the big question remains; does anyone really care anymore?
Having viewed the entire fifth season twice now I’d have to say ‘no’. Obviously even the creative forces behind the camera have all grown as tired and disinterested with their own creation as the viewers have done. This final season is a lacklustre assortment of the occasionally good, the horribly bad and consistently bland. Being the show’s swansong year several major plot threads are brought to a conclusion but often in an unsatisfactory way. The ending of the Michael arc is clumsily handled, turning one of the series best villains into a whinny teenager while the series’ grand finale ‘Enemy at the Gates’ is an exceptional disappointment. Clearly no one is bothered about wrapping things up neatly and giving everyone a memorable send off. That’s what the inevitable DVD movies are for.
There are a few diamonds in amongst all the rough. ‘The Shrine’ gives both David Hewlett and Jewel Staite the chance to shine with gusto. The midseason two-parter ‘First Contact’/‘The Lost Tribe’ is a great and features the return of Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks). Although, that did have the side effect of making me miss SG-1 all over again. Finally, the series manages to slip out of format for a week with the brilliant, CSI inspired ‘Vegas’ an episode that gives us the sight of a Wraith strolling through as casino to the sound of ‘Sympathy for the Devil’. In a word, brilliant!
Sadly the rest of the season is primarily made up of filler material including a lousy clip show. The cast also don’t seem that enthusiastic this season. The majority of the time they seem just as bored making it as I felt watching it. With Amanda Tapping too busy with Sanctuary to put in any regular appearances Carter is replaced by Richard Woolsey (the great Robert Picardo) but he’s just as underused this season as she was last season. Another in a long line of season five’s wasted opportunities.
Despite it humble begins Stargate managed to achieve what Babylon 5 had failed to do and supplement the once mighty Star Trek as the dominate sci-fi franchise on TV. But at the same time it fell into the same trap as Trek, becoming so safe and stale that audience become disenfranchised and eventually switched off for good. It remains to be seen if Stargate Universe can be the glorious revival its creators are hoping for or will it be just another nail in the franchise’s coffin. Besides, it’s got to be better than Stargate Infinity, right?
Rating: * *