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SYFY WIRE Stargate Atlantis

SDCC: Stargate Atlantis cast performs scenes from unmade TV movie for 15th anniversary

By Trent Moore
Stargate Atlantis cast Getty

The cast and crew of Stargate Atlantis made one more trek back through the wormhole at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 today, assembling to share their favorite memories and discuss the legacy of the SG-1 spinoff on the 15th anniversary of its original premiere.

The Stargate Command crew made one thing clear from the jump — this one was all about looking back at the legacy of Atlantis, so no new Stargate shows or projects were announced. But, the folks with Stargate Command promised they are "working on it." Just, you know, nothing yet.

That said, they did have something new for fans — a table read from the unmade Atlantis TV movie, Extinction, which never made it off the drawing board. The film would've found the team trying to get Atlantis back to the Pegasus Galaxy in the wake of the series finale that moved the city to the Milky Way, with Atlantis stationed on the dark side of the moon. But, Earth forces want to keep the base in the Milky Way permanently — at least until a fail safe in the city kicks in to make sure it is returned to the Pegasus Galaxy or else. The scene performed found the crew trying to figure out how to save the city with the wormhole drive to make a jump.

They also debuted a reading for a special scene, written specifically for the panel, that explains how they could've brought Dr. Elizabeth Weir (Torri Higginson) back into the story, had the show continued. The scene follows the team as they find a stasis pod on an alien planet... with Dr. Weir inside. Following a diagnostic, they realize Weir is back and nanite free. So, had Atlantis been able to continue, that's how Weir's return would've happened. It just, you know, would've been a bit awkward with Woolsey in her office.

Producer Joseph Mallozzi looked back at the show's genesis, when it was originally supposed to take over for SG-1 on the schedule as the flagship Stargate series. Instead, the the Sci-Fi Channel (now SYFY) kept both shows on the air together, cranking out a mind-boggling amount of episodes per year.

"I started on SG-1, we thought SG-1 would end, and the plan was to create this spinoff and pass the torch," he explained. "We were producing 40 episodes of television a year, which was unheard of... That two-year gig turned into a 12 year gig thanks to [the fan] support."

The cast in attendance also talked about their first experiences with the franchise, and how they came to join the Atlantis Expedition. Jewel Staite, who played Dr. Keller, revealed she originally auditioned to portray a Wraith — though she didn't know what that meant at the time. So, she went through the make-up gig for the Wraith look and wasn't a fan of those hours in prosthetics. But, the crew liked her enough to invite her back to play Keller.

Paul McGillion, aka Dr. Carson Beckett, said he was originally told not to use his Scottish accent during the audition. But, as fans are well aware, he went ahead and did it anyway.

"I said there are educated people in Scotland, not everyone sounds like they're in Trainspotting," McGillion joked. "So, I did an educated Scottish accent... I kept to my guns, and I was the first person they cast. I brought a little Scotland into it... then they killed me off and brought me back."

McGillion also took the time to look back at his character's death on the series in the episode "Sunday," calling it touching and sad. He admitted his eventual return was a bit weird, but thankfully it's sci-fi, so you can McGuffin just about anyone back.

SG-1 stalwart Gary Jones, who ran the computer in the gate room on the flagship series for decades (though he started off listed simply as "Technician" in the script) said during the audition he tried to read it funny, drawing on his comedy chops, since he didn't really know the tone of the series at the time. It didn't really fit the vibe, but the producers thought it was hilarious, so Jones got to stick around for more than a decade.

Stargate Atlantis, a spinoff of the long-running Stargate SG-1, aired from 2004 until 2009 on the Sci-Fi Channel. The series ran for five seasons and 100 episodes. The panel was hosted by Stargate Command, the franchise’s online home and subscription streaming service.

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