First Aired: July 16, 2004
A new Stargate team embarks on a dangerous mission to a distant galaxy, where they discover a mythical lost city and a deadly new enemy — the vampiric Wraith, which is oppressing the Pegasus Galaxy by feeding on sentient beings.
- The producers’ original plan for the Stargate spin-off series was to set Atlantis on Earth, under the Antarctic ice. But when SG-1 was renewed for an incredible eighth season, the lost city of the Ancients was moved to another galaxy — where the two shows could live side-by-side without their respective storylines interfering with each other.
- Casting for the spin-off was a long and sometimes challenging process, and even the scripted characters themselves changed as a result. Perhaps most famously, the role of the African Canadian “Dr. Benjamin Ingram” was to be replaced with a different scientist after producers realized they had a great character already introduced on Stargate SG-1: David Hewlett‘s Rodney McKay. (In fact, David had even auditioned for the role of Dr. Ingram.)
- Among those who was considered for the role of John Sheppard — a swaggering, O’Neill-esque Air Force Major — was Farscape‘s Ben Browder. He was busy filming The Peacekeeper Wars at the time, however, and would join the franchise one year later as Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell. Atlantis found its Sheppard in actor Joe Flanigan.
- Rachel Luttrell was the last to be cast, as Teyla Emmagan — whose alien queen was originally named “Mikala.” Other actresses who auditioned for the part included Ona Grauer (SG-1‘s Ayiana, who would return in “Rising” in the opening flashback) and Kira Clavell (who instead was cast as the Goa’uld Amaterasu on SG-1).
- Torri Higginson (“Elizabeth Weir”) and Rainbow Sun Franks (“Aiden Ford”) rounded out the main cast. The new show also included a number of Vancouver actors who had already appeared on SG-1, now recast as different characters — including Christopher Heyerdahl (Halling), Garwin Sanford (Simon), Craig Veroni (Peter Grodin), and Paul McGillion (Carson Beckett).
- Original feature film characters Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) and Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) were on hand to launch the spin-off … but the rest of the SG-1 team was benched, mainly due to legalities having to due with long-term royalties for the show. Carter and Teal’c would eventually make guest spots, with Amanda Tapping joining the Atlantis cast full-time for its fourth season.
- “Rising” aired as a 2-hour premiere event and set a ratings record for a SCI FI Channel weekly series — a 3.2 household rating and some 4.2 million viewers. This bested SG-1‘s eighth season opener the week before, which had scored a record 3.2 million. (The record would stand until 2009, when it was dethroned by an early episode of Warehouse 13.)
“Rising” on GateWorld:
- Episode Guide (Part 1 – Part 2)
- Episode Review
- Episode Transcript (Part 1 – Part 2)
- Photo Gallery (Part 1 – Part 2)
- Screencap Gallery (Part 1 – Part 2)
- Discussion Forum (Part 1 – Part 2)
- Atlantis Season One Podcast
- Interview with Torri Higginson (2004)
- Interview with Joe Flanigan (2004)
- Interview with David Hewlett (2004)
- Interview with Rachel Luttrell (2004)
- Interview with Rainbow Sun Francks (2005)
- Interview with Brad Wright & Robert C. Cooper (2005)
Rewatch “Rising” (Parts 1 & 2) this week! Then post your comments below, or head over to the episode discussion threads and see what people were saying back in the day. What are your favorite moments?
Each week we’re highlighting a favorite episode from Stargate’s 17 seasons. Watch the episode with us this week and join in the fun!