A spin-off of the long-running science fiction series Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis utilized the earlier series' basic premise -- that millions of Stargate "portals" exist throughout the galaxy, through which aliens from alternate universes can pass into ours and vice versa -- to introduce a whole new set of characters and circumstances. After thousands of years of fruitless searching, the lost city of Atlantis was rediscovered -- not deep below the ocean's surface on Earth, but in the faraway Pegasus Galaxy. Investigating, Stargate Command determined that Atlantis had been constructed by a race of powerful space aliens who had used the city as a repository for all their knowledge and discoveries. There was also the possibly that the residents of Atlantis were not the original settlers, but instead lost souls from a variety of distant planets (including the Earth). Under the leadership of Dr. Elizabeth Weir (Torri Higginson), the call went out for volunteers to man a Stargate space vessel to travel to Atlantis on a fact-finding mission -- with the understanding that these volunteers would not be able to return to Earth until they'd found the necessary technology to do so in either Atlantis or one of its neighboring planets. Headed by Major John Sheppard (Joe Flanigan) and his second in command, Lt. Aiden Ford (Rainbow Sun Francks), the SG expedition arrived in the Pegasus Galaxy, making a stopover on a hitherto unchartered planet -- only to come face to face with the Wraith, a fearsome, voracious enemy race that had destroyed (actually, devoured) the original civilization of Atlantis. Unless Sheppard, his crew, and the current denizens of Atlantis could do something fast, human beings would be the next entrée in the Wraith's bill of fare. Along the way, the Stargate team picked up a strong and fearless ally in the form of Pegasus Galaxy native Teyla Emmagan (Rachel Luttrell). Also in the cast was Earth scientist Dr. Rodney McKay (David Hewlett), a character introduced on Stargate SG-1. Created by Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper, the weekly, 60-minute Stargate Atlantis premiered July 16, 2004, on cable's Sci-Fi Channel.
by Hal Erickson synopsis