From the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

Posted on Fri, Jul. 16, 2004

New portal opens to 'Stargate' fans

"I've been in the puddle-jumper all day," bemoans "Stargate Atlantis" actress Rachel Luttrell.

Luttrell whose character, Teyla, is a human from a world in a distant galaxy has been cooped up in the tight confines of a set that looks like a small spaceship, doing take after take of battle scenes against the ships of the evil Wraiths, represented by dots on a green-screen background.

"Stargate Atlantis" premieres with a two-hour episode tonight on the Sci-Fi Channel. For seven seasons, Sci-Fi's "Stargate SG-1" has used ancient alien portals to send American military teams through wormholes onto distant worlds, always returning back to a base on Earth. "Atlantis" begins on Earth, then goes far away.

In the opening episode, "SG-1" regulars Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) and Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) head down to Antarctica to help diplomat Dr. Elizabeth Weir (Torri Higginson) explore a newly discovered portal and some powerful alien hardware.

Before long, Weir and astrophysicist Dr. Rodney McKay (David Hewlett) discover the portal leads to the fabled lost city of Atlantis.

Reckoning they have enough power for a one-way trip, Weir assembles a team of military personnel and scientists to explore the city. The military contingent includes two pilots, Maj. John Sheppard (Joe Flanigan), who has a genetic ability to interface with the alien technology, and Lt. Aiden Ford (Rainbow Sun Francks). Their commander is Col. Marshall Sumner (guest star Robert Patrick).

The team's first mission brings it into conflict with the pasty, insatiable Wraiths. These galactic baddies with serious dental issues hear about Earth and immediately start thinking of it as an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Along with the mythology, "Atlantis" keeps the storytelling style of "SG-1," which includes saving the galaxy one wisecrack at a time. It's a tradition that began in the original "StarGate" movie in 1994, with Kurt Russell as a cranky O'Neil, and continued with Anderson's droll, nonplussed O'Neill in the TV version.

In "Atlantis," the humor comes from the comedy duo of McKay and Scotsman Dr. Beckett (Paul McGillion), who can be counted upon to bounce one-liners off each other. And one never knows, McKay just might wind up also being the romantic hero of the piece.

"I'm not saying there's no romance in 'Atlantis,' " Wright says. "I'm just saying that we're not starting off with presumptions about romances that are going to take place between our core characters. But I think McKay, secretly or not so secretly, believes all women want to be with him."

What: "Stargate Atlantis" series premiere

When: 8 p.m. today (Midwest time zone)

Where: Sci-Fi Channel




Richard Dean Anderson Fans