While I think Season 4 is probably the best season of SG-1, there was a definite beginning to a shift in tone after Glassner left and Mallozzi and Mullie were brought in. Despite what I believe Wright and Cooper later said, SG-1 in the beginning was a not a comedy, but a Sci-fi adventure with comedic elements. One of the great things about the series was its ability to seamlessly shift between action/adventure, comedy, and even sometimes thoughtful science fiction in the same episode, though with a definite emphasis on the first. After Season 3, they almost gave up on the former. Like I said, I think Season 4 is my favorite season, but when I think of the best episodes of it (Window of Opportunity, Double Jeopardy, Exodus) they're either action/adventure or all-out comedy. When I think of my favorite episodes of Seasons 1-3, I think of Torment of Tantalus and The Fifth Race, which, while they had their share of comedic moments, they fit in with the serious plot. But, what worked in Season 4, and then 5 (though they actually got back to some more serious episodes in Season 5 with Between Two Fires and Meridian), began to unravel in Season 6. See, the mix of action/adventure and comedy only works when the action/adventure is fun and the comedy is funny. And, well, you can only put your main characters in so many impossible situations before it gets boring. So, basically, all your action/adventure plots either end up being the same or you've run out of good ideas and start using the bad ones (Nightwalkers, Sight Unseen). A real problem was that instead of having episodes that were a mix of action/adventure, comedy, and serious plots (with some episodes leaning towards each), you had either action/adventure episodes, comedy episodes, or serious episodes. There were some episodes that still managed to combine the three, and shockingly they were the best of the season (Abyss and Full Circle). It's also where it started to become apparent that the best episodes were going to be credited with either Cooper or Wright. Lost has the same problem, almost all of the big episodes from the last three seasons are credited with Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, or both. Now, since these guys are the showrunners they obviously tend the write the important episodes (see Behr, Ira Steven), but in Stargate’s case not only were these episodes more important than the others, they were also head and shoulders above the rest of them. For example, from Season 6 on, they wrote: Redemption (Parts I and II) (Cooper) Frozen (Cooper) Abyss (Wright) Unnatural Selection (Cooper & Wright) Paradise Lost (Cooper) Full Circle (Cooper) Fallen (Cooper) Lifeboat (Wright) Heroes (Parts I and II) (Cooper) Lost City (Parts I and II) (Cooper & Wright) New Order (Part II) (Cooper) Zero Hour (Cooper) Covenant (Cooper, co-story) Citizen Joe (Cooper, co-writer) Theads (Cooper) Moebius (Part I) (Cooper & Wright, Co-Story) Moebius (Part II) (Cooper & Wright, Co-Story, Cooper, Teleplay) Avalon (Parts I and II) (Cooper) Origin (Cooper) Beachhead (Wright) Ripple Effect (Wright, Co-Story) Ethon (Cooper, Co-Story) Crusade (Cooper) Flesh and Blood (Cooper) The Pegasus Project (Wright) 200 (Everyone) The Shroud (Cooper & Wright, Co-Story, Cooper, Teleplay) Unending (Cooper) Now, there are some real clunkers credited in part with Cooper there, and there are some quality episodes not included (Reckoning, Camelot, ect.), but for the most part those are the highlights of the last four seasons. Now, writing is a collaborative process, so I’m not sure how many of those ideas came from the other writers. Also, since Wright and later Cooper were showrunners of the show, you’d have to say that they are also responsible for making sure everyone else’s episodes don’t suck, but according to Wright they stopped re-writing Mallozzi and Mullie’s stuff back in Season 6. Now, their record in Atlantis after the pilot isn’t nearly as impressive (Irresistible’s story credit. ‘Nuff Said.). But The Shrine, written by Wright, despite its flaws was leaps and bounds better than anything else Atlantis has done this season. And, while I think Atlantis certainly took a dip in quality in Season 3, it took a free-fall after Mallozzi and Mullie became showrunners in Season 4. Atlantis started out much like SG-1, it was darker, more serious, and had a nice mix of action/adventure, comedy, and seriousness. Episodes like The Eye/The Storm leaned towards action/adventure, while episodes like Poisoning the Well leaned towards serious drama. But, Atlantis dropped the serious drama much faster than SG-1 did. It became the Shepperd and McKay show, which isn’t really surprising since those were far and away the best character the show had. Teyla (Female Teal’c) and Ronan (Tough guy, who oddly is right most of the time) were never really interesting, Ford had potential both as a team member and as an antagonistic ally (think Todd) before they killed him off, and they killed off the only other two characters people gave a shit about (Note: I’m not including Zelenka because he’s not a member of the main cast, but despite him having about a quarter of the screen time of Teyla and Ronan he’s much, much more… awesome). In the end, though, some of it isn’t about the tone of the episodes, but of the overall storylines. SG-1 had a few things going for it in the beginning, a definitive, powerful enemy with an idenitity, strong character arcs for it’s main cast (O’neill still sort of recovering from his son’s death, Daniel finding Sha’re, Carter and her father, Teal’c and his betrayal and his family), and a nice hook in the form of a foundation in ancient mythology. Now, when I mean character arcs, I certainly don’t want a BSG type thing where every character is whiny and annoying and unlikable, but a little motivation is nice. As the series went on, the enemies got weaker and were replaced by more powerful and less interesting enemies, the characters got over and drama in their lives (Which, of course, prompted the whole Carter/Jack shipping fiasco to add some kind of personal drama), and the mythology element became downplayed (Even the Ancient originally had backgrounds in both Buddhism with the ascension and Roman in their language). Also, they had Never Ending Subplot Syndrome with the NID, which just would not go away no matter how many times they destroyed it. One of the reasons I like Seasons 9 and 10 more than a lot of people here was that it gave back an enemy that was grounded in Earth tradition (this time, Christianity) and was genuinely powerful enemy (later getting an identity of their own in Adria), and characters with some kind of drama (Mitchell and trying to connect, Vala trying to prove she’s trustworthy). Despite the continuing tone and quality issues with individual episodes, I thought Seasons 9 and 10 were quite an improvement over 7 and 8. Which brings me back to Atlantis. While SG-1 was fixing structural issues with itself, Atlantis inherited all of its bad traits. Like I said previously, they only had about four main characters who mattered, then they killed half of them. The Wraith at least had some vague relation to mythology, but it was mostly ignored along with the whole regeneration thing they have. The Genii had serious potential as villains with Cowan and especially Koyla, but then they became “friends” and contracted Never Ending Subplot Syndrome with a million “rogue factions”. Then they pissed on their own franchise’s continuity by bringing in the human form replicators that were exactly like the other human form replicators despite being created under completely different circumstances. Oddly, despite the general decline in writing during Season 4, they actually did make a genuine effort to rectify the issues. Michael became a pretty good villain, Todd made a fantastic antagonist/friend, and they gave Teyla something to do. Unfortunately, they should have done that back in Seasons 1 and two with Koyla, Ford, and Teyla (giving somebody drama after 3 years of us not caring about them usually doesn’t work). Unfortunately, these good ideas couldn’t save the fact that the quality of most of the individual episodes in Season 4 was pretty awful compared to other seasons. So, whose fault is this, and will Universe work? Honestly, I don’t know, I haven’t been into the writer’s room to see who deserves credit for what and I haven’t read the pilot for Universe so I have no idea how it will be. I think that Cooper & Wright are getting blamed too much in this thread, since for the most part they’ve done a decent job with the stuff they’ve been directly involved in. When Wright left the day-to-day operations for Atlantis after Season 3 to work on Continuum/Universe, there was a definite dropoff in quality. Mallozzi and Mullie, on the other hand, while they are definitely capable of writing a good episode once in a while, and they have had some good ideas I haven’t been nearly as impressed with the stuff they’ve been directly involved in. I mean, I know that it isn’t as popular to rag on Mallozzi because he’s a nice guy and his blog is actually a really good look into the background process of the show, as compared to “We are very pleased at our valentine to the fans” B&B, but still. None of these guys are going to win Peabodys any time soon, but they are capable of making a pretty good sci-fi show if they just remember to stick with what worked in early SG-1.