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Stargate Atlantis

Sci Fi Channel • Friday Sept. 28/Oct. 5 (10 p.m.)

Stargate Atlantis’s fourth season — the first untethered from canceled Stargate SG-1 — is off to a solid start, creatively. Two action-filled episodes, directed by Martin Wood, showcase two cast members: Elizabeth Weir, leader of the Atlantis operation in distant Pegasus galaxy, played by Torri Higginson; and Rodney McKay, the plucky, if overly emotional, science officer (David Hewlett).

McKay should play a critical role in future episodes, too, as Atlantis transitions to a new leader: Col. Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping). He’s also been known to admire attractive women, like the other new addition: medical doctor Jennifer Keller (Jewel Staite). These linked episodes let Weir/Higginson shine, and exit bravely. Carter arrives gradually, with SG-1 compatriot Dr. Bill Lee (Bill Dow) as her foil.

— Kent Gibbons


Oxygen • Sunday, Oct. 7 (10:30 p.m.)

Oxygen makes a pro forma addition to the true crime programming niche with Captured.

You’ve seen the formula before: the disembodied narrator, interviews with those affected by the crime; gruesome photos and pictures of news coverage.

The debut focuses on the murder of Judy Johnson, a grandmother raped and murdered in her own home before the attacker turned on her six-year-old granddaughter. The young victim identifies an uncle as the perpetrator. The young victim’s aunt spends the next seven years trying to prove her husband is innocent. While some true-crime series are mawkish, this high-level, rote view of the crime is oddly emotionless. That may repel viewer engagement.

— Linda Haugsted

The Sarah Silverman Program

Comedy Central • Wednesday, Oct. 3 (10:30 p.m.)

Sarah Silverman fans and detractors agree on one thing: The comedienne knows how to make an audience uncomfortable. The love-her and hate-her camps split over whether that’s such a good thing.

Silverman revels in the offensive and derogatory with such gusto that it’s almost endearing – if you can stomach jokes about pooping your pants (last season) and bestiality (this one).

The season two opener, titled “Bored of the Rings,” threads together a plot about Dungeons and Dragons with a send-up of the pro-life movement, complete with a musical montage in an abortion clinic (set to the Green Day pop tune “Time of Your Life”). Silverman’s latest round of shock shtick is certain to continue attracting attention.

— George Vernadakis