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From Scifi.com

Atlantis Forges Own Identity

Friday 16 July 2004, by xanderbnd

Robert C. Cooper, executive producer of SCI FI Channel’s upcoming original series Stargate Atlantis, told SCI FI Wire that the show will be more than simply a rehash of its predecessor series, Stargate SG-1. "We want to appeal to the audience of SG-1, and we wanted to capitalize on what we feel has made SG-1 a success and made it this long-running show," Cooper said in an interview during a break in filming on the show’s set outside Vancouver, B.C. "And yet we also wanted it to feel like it wasn’t SG-2, that it’s a new show."

Originally, Atlantis was designed to replace SG-1 once it left the air, Cooper said. "There was a plan to basically have SG-1 come to a close as a television series and maybe roll into a series of feature films, and have that be more of a passing of the baton into the new series," he said. "But SCI FI asked us to do season eight [of SG-1] and season one of Atlantis at the same time. So that caused us to rethink the concept a little bit for the spinoff series, so that it would exist at the same time."

As a result, Cooper and his team of writers opted to ship the Atlantis team of explorers to the distant Pegasus galaxy, where they discover the lost city of Atlantis-but also find that they can’t return to Earth. "I think that made the spinoff series better, made it stand alone a little bit more," Cooper said. "We decided to set it in a different galaxy, which allowed us to kind of wipe the slate clean and meant that the new team of heroes wasn’t going to be running into the same old enemies or crossing over ... with SG-1. We didn’t want people to wonder, ’Well, why isn’t SG-1 coming to save the day?’ ... And there was also something about why hadn’t we discovered where the lost city was? And the fact that it was moved to a whole other galaxy, and there’s this other new frontier, so to speak: a whole new network of Stargates that you can’t really connect ... easily with from the network in our galaxy. And then coming up with a different enemy: That ultimately ... set the tone for the show."

The new enemy is the Wraith. "All of the planets we visit are cultures that are shaped by the Wraith and the context of having this enemy," Cooper said. "In many ways, the tone of SG-1 was set by the fact that the Goa’uld had taken people from various times in Earth’s history and transplanted them in other galaxies, and we kind of went around finding these little pockets of ancient culture. ... The cultures in the Pegasus galaxy are all being shaped by how they’ve dealt with the overriding presence of the Wraith." Stargate Atlantis premieres with a two-hour episode, "Rising," at 9 p.m. ET/PT on July 16.