It's hard to pull of a sequel or spin-off show. Fans
want the elements that made them fall in
love with the original program, but at the same time something totally
different (or else what's the point of the sequel if it's just a clone.) That's the challenge that the creators of Stargate Atlantis faced and they rose to
the task admirably, creating a show that had all of the fun and wonder
of the original
show, Stargate SG-1, while creating
new and dangerous situations for the characters to face.
The fact that many of the writers who started
with Atlantis had also worked on SG-1
was undoubtedly a big help. The show ended
up running for five seasons
and a total of 100 episodes, a pretty impressive feat.
At the end of last year MGM packaged up all
five seasons in a nice looking boxed set, but it wasn't until 2010 that
got its hands on a review copy. I'm glad
we did, because though watching the entire series in a short amount of
a bit tiring, it's also very enjoyable. Stargate Atlantis is a great series and
a worthy successor to SG-1, which is
saying a lot.
I won't go into a lot of detail about the history of Stargate
and Stargate SG-1. I
anyone reading this is at least familiar with the concept of the show. Suffice to say that mankind has discovered a
Stargate, a device created millennia ago by a race called "The
can be 'dialed' like a phone and opens a doorway to other planets. In Stargate Atlantis an unusual address is
discovered, and one that needs immense power for the gate to function. That's because this address doesn't lead to
another planet in our area of the galaxy:
it leads to a planet in Pegasus, another galaxy three million
A large team is sent to through the gate once the address
has been established, and on the other side they find a miraculous city
by the Ancients: Atlantis. The
city is filled with Ancient technology
much of it dangerous and the rest hard to understand, and the
of explorers, cut off from Earth due to the high amount of energy
open a gate back to the Milky Way, starts to explore both the city and
Exploring can be a dangerous thing however, and the Atlantis
expedition soon discovers why the Ancients ultimately abandoned the
city: The Wraith.
Pegasus is home to a race of vampire-like creatures that feed on
by sucking the life-energy out of them, and they are quite formidable
foes. They fought the Ancients long ago
them to evacuate the galaxy, so they're no pushovers.
Like SG-1, this
show focuses on a single team that explores the universe.
This time around the team is lead by John
Sheppard (Joe Flanigan) a tough but likable Air Force Major. He's assisted by Teyla Emmagan (Rachel
Luttrell) a native of the Pegasus Galaxy who, due to having some Wraith
her makeup can sense the creatures, Aiden Ford (Rainbow Sun Francks) a
(eventually) Ronon Dex (Jason Momoa) large warrior whose planet was
by the Wraith, and Rodney McKay (David Hewlett) an egotistical yet
scientist. Staying at home and running
things is Dr. Elizabeth Weir (Torri Higginson) a non-military diplomat.
This show gets a lot right from the start. Like
its predecessor the focus is on a single
team and what they encounter exploring alien worlds.
Over the first couple of seasons they create
a rich universe peopled with interesting creatures and races. They encounter both friends and foes. One of the more interesting in the latter
are the Genii. Like other humans they
have been periodically culled by the Wraith.
They came up with a unique solution to their problem: They posed as simple farmers with little in
the way of technology, but in underground tunnels they worked on
their science with the goal of developing a weapon that could wipe out
Wraith. When the Atlantis team discovers
that they are on the brink of perfecting nuclear weapons.
Unfortunately the Genii and Atlantis have
very different ideas on how to do things and Altantis' refusal to give
advanced technology turns them into enemies.
In the later seasons a popular nemesis from Stargate SG-1
makes and appearance: The Replicators. While it could have been a case of "haven't
we already seen this?" the show does a great job of making the
this galaxy a bit different and much more interesting than the ones
Earth at risk.
There is one thing that I really loved about this show that
sets it apart from many other action/adventure programs:
I'm not talking about Red Shirts (to steal a term from Trek
some fairly major characters get written out.
In the first episode there's a significant death, but that's
written off as something that was planned from the beginning. A season or two into the show when something
happens to one of the characters that you've grown attached to it's
surprising and makes you wonder if others are going to have something
happen to them. It really adds a lot to
the show, putting that little doubt in the back of your mind "maybe
won't get out of this hopeless situation."
It does take a while to get used to the characters and for
the team to come together as a whole. I
honestly never thought the group on Atlantis
had as much screen chemistry as the folks on SG-1, but it was close. I thought the show really blossomed at the
end of the first season (each season ends with a pretty dramatic
and kept on going strong for the rest of its run. There
are some dramatic personnel changes and
the show gets a slight reworking at one point (I won't tell you where...
would be spoiling it) but it never gets stale.
Season five was just a notch below the standards set by the
but it was still a good set of programs but makes it clear that the
run its course.
This is a repackaging of the earlier releases with an extra
bonus disc included. The discs are exactly
the same, down to the labeling. They
still have the season set numbering: "Season
3 Volume 2 Disc 3" etc.
This complete series set comes in a custom container.
Each season gets its own small fold out
booklet. The bad news is that the discs
are slipped into little pockets with a soft rubber hub to hold them in
place. This is not the best storage idea
ever. The discs are very hard to remove
from the slots and the data side of the disc rubs across the hub as you
out. It's a real pain getting them back
in too. I carefully examined all of the
discs and I didn't receive any that were scratched, and I consider
lucky. After all the complaints that
studios have received on similar type of packaging, I'm a bit astounded
they're still creating sets like this.
Moving on, Each booklet features a picture of a main
character on the front, scenes from the season on the back along with a
image of Atlantis, and a listing of the episodes contained on each disc
as the special features. The five season
booklets, along with a sixth booklet for the bonus disc, are housed in
cardboard case that has a large v-shaped notch taken out of it so that
easy to remove the booklets.
Unfortunately this notch takes a chunk out of the nice images
on both sides, and the pictures on the exposed booklets don't match the
on case. It looks kinda dumb, and I was
hoping for more. The case is enclosed in
a pressboard slipcase.
The show is presented with a DD 5.1 audio track that is
exceptional for a TV show. The whole
soundstage is used to great effect and there's some great
directionality. The surrounds get a good
workout during the
many action sequences with laser blasts and bullets flying around all
of the room. The dynamic range is very
good too. Overall this is a great
Like the audio, the 1.78:1 anamorphically enhanced image
looks nice. The colors are solid and the
skin tones look natural and the level of detail is pretty good. The space scenes are generally impressive and
the CGI looks better than what's presented in most cable shows. There is some grain that pops up now and
again, and there's some blocking present, especially in low light
scenes. Aside from that the show looks
The original season sets were bursting with bonus features,
and all of those are included in this set.
Just listing all of them would take a couple of screens, much
reviewing them all, so instead I'll refer you to DVDTalk's earlier
get the low down on the commentary tracks and multiple feauterettes: Season One, Season Two, Season Three, Season
Four, and Season Five.
There is a bonus disc included with this set that wasn't
included with any the earlier releases.
It includes a pair of featurettes, both of which are interesting
100: Atlantis Reaches a Milestone is a
15-minute behind the scenes look at the filming of the 100th,
final, episode of the series. It's nice
to see the mixed emotions of the cast and crew, reaching the 100th
milestone and yet having to end the show.
Stargate Atlantis: A
Retrospective runs 27-minutes and gives a nice overview of the whole
series. There are interviews with the
cast and crew and it does a good job of telling the story of Stargate
Atlantis. I probably would have enjoyed it
more if I
hadn't just plowed through the whole series.
The bonus disc also includes the last two episodes of the
series... though I'm not sure why they're included.
Is this set worth the upgrade if you already have the season
sets? Nope, not really.
The extra bonus disc doesn't warrant the
cost, and the inferior packaging is a minus.
If you don't have this show in your collection however, this set
be a great way to get the whole fantastic series in one easy step. Reasonably priced and with fantastic content,
this series comes Highly Recommended.