Stargate Week: Search & Rescue

by Paul William Tenny

Stargate Atlantis: Search & Rescue
Click to enlarge.
Put simply, I loved this episode.

Search & Rescue was hitting on all cylinders right away, from the previous episode recap until the end of the fourth act, when all of the sudden the thing just stopped. I was confused, disappointed, and a little bit mad, all bad moods to be in when you're getting that all too valuable first impression. Is that really how this episode was going to end? Did they morph this sucker into a two-parter and I had somehow missed the news?

Did my DVD player just do an impression of a VCR and eat my brand-spanking-new press screener?

No, thankfully it turned out that it was just the software choking, so after some tinkering I did get to see the final act of Search & Rescue and was extremely pleased with how it turned out. Actually, that's an understatement, this wasn't merely enjoyable from a fan perspective or even from a television perspective , this was something on a level that Stargate Atlantis done before.
Writing a preview without giving anything away is a challenge, especially since I've never done one before. The premier airs a little over 48-hours from the time I'm writing this and before I get into it, I'd like to once again thank Joe Mallozzi for asking the Scifi Channel to send me the premier for early review and the handful of people at Scifi that I spoke with that week, even if none of them are actually going to see this or read the site.

Thanks anyway, you guys (and gals) were great.

Kind of like this episode, actually. Everyone that I spoke with a couple of weeks ago were extremely helpful and above all else, the epitome of professionalism. And so was this episode. I realize not every episode can be like this because of time and financial constraints, but Search & Rescue obviously had lots of both put into it, because the result was essentially half of a feature film (being an hour-long show, after all.)

That's what it felt like in every facet though, from writing to the score, acting, effects, direction, producing, sets, and especially how it looked. Most shows don't have the time for extensive blocking (what actors do physically and how the camera moves in and around them) but it's clear that the show's producers took the time to do that in the season premier. And while the complex camera movements in and around the actors stands out the most, everything else was pretty darn good too. In fact there's nothing I can think of a day later that stands out enough in a negative sense to find something worth complaining about.

That's the key, where something is good enough that you can get lost in it and just ignore what you might otherwise feel like whining about.

Quite the opposite, there are a couple of points that stood out in a positive way that I'd like to single at least one out for praise. David Hewlett had a hilarious scene with Rachel Luttrell that was powerful and moving, somewhat suspenseful -- as much as scenes like that can be -- and ridiculously fun to watch. I can't really tell you what happens but once you've seen it, you'll certainly understand and agree, Hewlett walked a fine line between intense emoting and virtual self-parody, but he pulled it off.

I for one will be looking forward to seeing what David can do when he pairs up with SG-1 regular and fan favorite Michael Shanks in the midseason two-parter. Based on what he's shown that he's capable of, it should be supremely entertaining and leaving us wanting more. I'm also hoping that those two episodes are produced on a level approaching or equaling what you'll see later this week. If there is anything that bugs me with Search & Rescue, it's that I fear they set the bar a little too high visually. There's no way any show can sustain those kinds of production values without gobs of money or more time, and it shows a little bit as the episode progresses into the fourth and fifth acts, which looked much more like a typical episode.

It's still a treat either way.

There are a fair number of special effects for those that like them, I know I certainly enjoyed what I saw. There should be a handful of episodes early on that should rock the boat when their time comes and the first half actually sounds quite strong, perhaps at least as well as the fourth season which I actually think had a better premier than was Search & Rescue. First Strike and Adrift set the bar pretty high, even though they weren't as impressive visually (effects yes, real camera work no) -- they both looked and felt like regular television productions whereas S&R felt and looked like a movie -- they were stronger stories with far more suspenseful situations and more satisfying resolutions.

That's not a knock on S&R at all, but an acknowledgment of how good last years pairing was compared to the entire series and hell, television in general. Maybe those two aren't at the top, but they aren't very far from it, that's for sure.

You will not be disappointed this year if the premier is any indication of how the entire season will turn out, and I've no doubt that if they continue hitting their marks just as they've done with Search & Rescue that a sixth season will be ordered. That doesn't mean that it's going to come free, though. If you want it as a fan, your job is to watch it on TV instead of on your computer and to introduce your friends and family to the show if you can.

The more people that watch this show, the better.

It really deserves it.

This post is part of a week-long series on Stargate Atlantis. All posts can be found here.
in Television


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1 Comment

I agree whole heartedly with your assessment of Stargate Atlantis, Paul.

The quality of the series, in front and behind the camera, shows in every episode. It may not take a village to create and run a successful TV series, but it does talented people who enjoy their work and enjoy where they work.


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