Sanctuary in the UK

Sanctuary, the new Amanda Tapping project, begins in the UK tonight. It will be on ITV4 at 9pm. It will be repeated on Wednesday. Amanda Tapping, known for playing Major Samantha Carter on Stargate SG1, stars. The show was made originally for a 'pay per view' audience on the web. It was made on a budget using green-screen technology to achieve professional standards. In the US, the Sci Fi channel have commissioned a second series of 13 parts. The first season (which is being transmitted tonight) was originally 8 webisodes - these have been re-shot for television, the first four webisodes make up episode one which will be transmitted tonight..

Stargate: Universe

Atlantis is no more - Long live Universe.

With some still getting over the demise of SG1, its successor, Atlantis, is to finish after 5 seasons. Atlantis, like SG1, will continue in direct-to-DVD movie format.

I've grown to like Atlantis, so this is a real shame. However, Stargate is not going the way of the Trek franchise, at least not yet, it continues with Stargate: Universe.

The premise of SG:Universe is that the Ancients (who created the Stargates, devices which can provide instant long distance travel and which are the fundamental conceit of the show) decided to expand the Stargate Network.

They had already planted Stargates throughout the Pegasus galaxy (from Atlantis), through the Milky Way (from a base on Earth), and then decided to spread the network through the universe. They did this by sending a ship out to plant the gates, which would then be followed up later on. For the ancients, later on never happened - and the ship continues to this day. The premise of SG:Universe is that Earth discovers how to send a mission to the ship - not realising that there was no way to 'dial home'. The mission is therefore stranded, on a ship with a pre-determined mission (i.e. the ship leaves you behind, tough!)

In the series, we discovered the Milky Way network first, then found out how to connect back to the Atlantis gate. This was to be a one-way trip, but two way travel was worked out (even if it wasn't instantaneous.

Universe could promise to do what Atlantis promised originally, that is to have a completely 'cut off' scenario, separate from Stargate Command.

However, there is an interesting possibility given the established idea that a Stargate is 'one way'. In other words, it has been established that once A opens a stargate to B, then stuff can only go from A to B, not from B to A - but radio is 2 way. This could be 'explained' as the ship isn't a fixed point of origin combined with some bit of technobabble about a ninth chevron on the Earth Gate.

This means that there is the potential for reinforcements and supplies being sent from Earth, and intelligence flowing back from the ship - but anyone joining the mission knows that it is a one way deal - this could give rise to some interesting scenarios. For example, what if the 'Universe' commander is to be replaced by Earth, but the people on the ship refuse to accept the replacement? What if the (presumably international) ship crew knew that earth was having international problems, and their radio link was severed for some time. They might presume a nuclear war on Earth. Would the tensions spill out onto the ship?

In the Stargate Universe (as opposed to Stargate:Universe), we have seen existing characters in one series moving on to another. David Hewlett's character of Rodney McKay went from a minor SG1 character to a major part in Atlantis, for example. I'd hate to see the back of Rodney McKay - and would welcome him on SG:Universe - but, to continue this theme, I've been thinking about which relatively minor existing character I'd like to see move to Universe. This makes sense from a story point of view - a new military expedition would seek experience, but there would also have to be thought to the existing teams.

I can think of two such characters I'd like to see. Walter, from SG1 and Zelenka (David Nykl's Blog) from Atlantis.

Certainly, to earn his stripes, Zelenka would have to save the day in Atlantis at least once and show Rodney to be wrong in the process (have we have any purely Zelenka ideas which weren't immediately spotted to be Bad by Rodney?)

It'll be a shame to see Atlantis go. Universe, like Atlantis before it, will be a risk - I hope it'll be a risk that pays off - I've got used to seeing Stargate on my screen.

Don S Davis: RIP

Don S DavisDon S Davis has passed away, aged 65, of a heart attack. He was best known for playing General Hammond in Stargate SG1.

Dear Fans and Friends of Don S. Davis,

So many of you have been touched by not only the work and art of Don S. Davis, but by the man himself, who always took the time to be with you at the appearances he loved, that it is with a tremendous sense of loss I must share with you that Don passed away from a massive heart attack on Sunday morning, June 29th.

On behalf of his family and wife, Ruby, we thank you for your prayers and condolences. A family memorial where Don's ashes will be scattered in the ocean will take place in a few weeks, and should you wish to, please make a donation to the American Heart Association in Don's memory.

DVD Annoyances

This morning, whilst having my breakfast, I thought 'I know, I'll put an episode of Stargate on in the background'. I've a DVD boxed set of season 8 waiting to be watched. In went disc 1.

Several minutes of adverts, which couldn't be broken into, to buy DVDs of.... Stargate.

Arrrgh! Recursive Dilemma, Batman!

I can't stand those ads on DVDs, they do nothing but annoy. If they must go on the disc, then make them skippable, please... or better still, something selected from a menu option. I just hope that they're not on every disc in the set. I fear they will be.

Still, the episode began and the annoyance was overlooked, until next time...

Season 8 of SG1 and Season 1 of Atlantis go together, and can be watched separately or in parallel. We watched the first episode of SG1. It's quality stuff, for me the episode really finds its stride about the time when Jackson and Weir start discussing Lord Yu ("don't... every pun has been done to death"), and Carter and Teal'c start talking to Thor ("That's understandable.."... "For Some")

Stargate really is quality stuff.

A Dog's Breakfast

David Hewlett's film, A Dog's Breakfast, has a DVD release in the US (as of September) - and it's already at number 15 from pre-release sales alone. Unfortunately, as I write there are no plans for an International release. This is rather annoying, and David Hewlett is unhappy. Don't make him angry... (Hmm. Hewlett as Dr. David Banner....)

Now, I'm really annoyed, as I missed being able to get to a UK screening by one day, and I've been following this film for some while. Now, they won't even sell me a DVD? Ptch!

I've emailed playusa, and got the standard 'we put things on the site when we are given info from the distributor. It would have been nice of them to ask the distributor... I've had no reply from

More David Hewlett news

On Youtube there is a clip from "A Dog's Breakfast", Rachel Luttrell (from Atlantis) appears in the programme they're watching.

Hewlett is also to write a series called 'Starcrossed', which is referred to in "A Dog's Breakfast" (apparently), and is a comedy, removing the 'fourth wall' of television. Think Galaxy Quest, Studio 60 and Larry Sanders for the idea, although the actual flavour remains to be seen.

David Hewlett's a busy little bee at the moment! I'm so annoyed that I missed a London Screening of his film, Kate Hewlett was in town for this.

David Hewlett's film

Reading around Stargate news, I found that David Hewlett has produced a film called 'A Dog's Breakfast', it was filmed using the Atlantis cameras, props etc - and a lot of the cast! Christopher Judge is also in it, apparently. It's a lot easier to make a low budget movie when you can borrow a film studio! It does look good, though, and with the borrowed cast there's a ready made group of people who will want to see it. David Hewlett blogs on the film's site too.

So far the voting on IMDB gives it 9.7 out of 10, which is pretty good (how many of those will have seen it?) The trailer does look good, but unfortunately I don't know about a UK release date. That reminds me, I never got to see Emma Caulfield's 'Bandwagon' either. I do hope this one does find it's way to DVD!

What next for Amanda?

With SG1 finishing, Amanda Tapping is moving on. She is now working on a new series for the web called 'Sanctuary' which launches 'in the spring'. Unfortunately there is no RSS feed to automatically remind people, and we're invited to 'please return to the website for updates.'

SG1 is to be tied up with two 'made for TV' movies, the Arc of Truth and Continuum. Amanda is to spend 14 episodes on Atlantis. Also, Jewel Staite is to become an Atlantis regular (having previously played an unrecognisable Wraith). Jewel also has an upcoming film, The Tribe (which looks like 'Lost' in premise but without the numbers and all that stuff).

Amanda was interviewed on a Canadian show, which looks to be their 'Richard and Judy' equivalent:

SG1 Cancelled

SG1 has been cancelled after a record breaking run, the 10th season will be the last. SGA is to continue. SG1 will be missed, it's a series with rich mythology, delving into all sorts of ancient history although it is time to pass the baton fully. The franchise is a good one, no reason why it should not be possible to continue it in some form or another, even beyond Atlantis.

I'm expecting strong links between season 3 of SGA and season 10 of SG1 given where things were left at the end of season 2 of Atlantis.

Areas I'd like to see covered at some point in the stargate franchise include:

  1. Some history, i.e. the formation of the gate network
  2. The rise of the Goa'uld
  3. The Asgard - they're reasonably familiar, but it'd be good to see them from their own viewpoint
  4. The Furlings
  5. In SGA the Major Ford storyline needs resolving

With SG1 finishing, the difficulty of travel between Earth and Atlantis can be eased a little (to allow some crossover of characters), however, with the Daedalus giving a three week traveltime, this is not really a major issue anymore, so I don't think that they'll find a shortcut anytime soon (short of the demands of plot).

My main concern with SGA is that as things go on, the stargate universe is not 'left hanging' by the TV execs not giving enough notice of the money running out. It looks like SG1 will have a satisfactory finale, I hope that Atlantis will be treated well too.


I've just seen the Simpsons Episode with Richard Dean Anderson. Clicking around, I see that he revived his MacGyver role for this rather good Mastercard commercial which was transmitted during the superbowl (which is some championship in a minor world sport of some kind).

Pure Genius.

Turkey Baster?

(To visiting merkins: Yes, and I know that the show went out in April in the US, but we've only just had it over here.... and the game you're looking for when you pad up for the superbowl is called 'rugby')

Army of Ghosts

(Warning, minor spoiler below). That was a good episode of Dr. Who. There's something for everyone in there...

... who was it written by...? Crikey Russell T Davies himself. His episodes are usually somewhat disappointing. Well done that man.

Now I've seen the author I'm a little concerned that the resolution will be something a bit 'touchy feely', like making all the daleks love each other and all the cybermen want to sunbathe.....

Oh, one more thing, an SG1 nod? They referred to a captured Jaffa Sunglider (in SG1 the Jaffa have deathgliders).

Richard Dean Anderson in SG1 reprise

Richard Dean Anderson is to reprise his role in SG1 for the show's 200th episode. According to this story the show will reference the excellent 100th episode (the one with Wormhole X-treme - i.e. the one that you appreciate if you've been following the series). Anderson will also make an appearance or two in Atlantis.

Incidently, Claudia Black is joining the cast as a regular.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is striking. However, should I be concerned that I spotted which of the two pictures was Earth without a moment of hesitation? It does make the point quite nicely that Earth is a varied planet and that it is unreasonable to categorise any other planet from one or two shots (Ice Planet Hoth or Forest Moon of Endor, anyone?).

Stargate SG1 once showed this very well by having Carter and O'Neill wind up in Antarctica, and Carter reports back 'Colonel? It's an ice planet. That's all there is as far as the eye can see. No chance.'. (Season 9 of SG1 is now filming).

Maj. Samantha Carter

Major Samantha CarterFollowing a few rather dodgy experiments, I have decided that I need to practice faces as often as I can. Though I did draw Einstein to my satisfaction, this wasn't drawn by looking at Einstein, it was drawn looking at him upside down, I won't be able to persuade people to stand on their heads for me. Nobody was around, and so I popped in a DVD, in this case, Stargate, and forwarded to a scene where someone filled the screen. It just happened to by Major Samantha Carter, i.e. Amanda Tapping.

Now, there's plenty of things about this that doesn't work, it's not really her on the page - the shading is not right, the eyes and so on. However, considering where I'm coming from, I can see lots of reasonable things, she's recognisable (if you squint a bit and look at it from an angle) and that's a big thing... and she was drawn right side up!

Portrait PracticeThese are some practice sketches from earlier in the week. The top left sketches are from a colleague to show me the proportions of the head. The sketch on the right is the wife - done before the help from the colleague. The nose is wrong, as it the size of the cranium.

The bottom left sketch was not done from life, it was purely an exercise in the proportions. Drawing in the cranium felt SO unrealistic, it felt huge, however, as soon as it was covered with hair, it seemed to shrink. I think it's because the human brain concentrates on the bottom half of the face where all the features are.

Another trial of a faceThis is another trial of a face, again not from life, it's really an exercise in proportion, this was done immediately before Major Carter! One can see the construction lines I used as a guide.

Portraits in PenThese last few were quick sketches I made at the bottom of a scrap piece of paper I was using for some quick jottings. The one on the left started as a portrait 'from life', but went a little wrong so it ended as a doodle. The others were doodles from the start!

Once I clicked through a few of the technorati tags, I soon found this site of Stargate cartoons, and this made me laugh out loud.