Plot: What’s it about?
Who would have thought that a movie made in 1995 called “Stargate” would have such a long-lasting influence on the small screen? Admittedly “Stargate” was a modest success at the box office and most science-fiction movies do capture the attention of a certain group of people. The movie spawned two television series: “Stargate SG-1” and “Stargate: Atlantis.” And now that both of their respective runs have ended, we have to ask ourselves if the “Stargate” universe is somewhat akin to that of “Star Trek” or “Star Wars?” If you’re like me then you’ve only invested two hours of your time and have seen the movie. But there’s literally a whole world out there, several actually, and now that “Stargate: Atlantis” has completed its run, let’s take a look at what the series was all about.
Spanning five seasons, “Stargate: Atlantis” derives from “Stargate: SG-1” with some of the same characters making appearances in the show’s opener. We meet the main characters in the first season, most of whom make it through to the final episode in the fifth season. Dr. Elizabeth Weir (Torri Higginson), Dr. Rodney McKay (David Hewlett) is more of the comic relief and Lt. Col. John Sheppard (Joe Flanigan). Every series needs good and bad guys and the bad guys here are the Wraith. These guys feed on others throughout the universe and use the stargates to invade Earth. Throughout the course of the series, we get some more in-depth looks at the characters, but by and large we do see the ins and outs of their battles with the Wraith. There’s more to it, of course, but to describe nearly 100 episodes is something that’s both been done by many and the time involved is something I simply don’t have! Fans of the series will no doubt be in heaven and with the popularity of the “Stargate” series, don’t be at all surprised to see another show coming up soon.
Video: How does it look?
Having never seen the “Stargate: Atlantis” show before this Blu-ray hit, I really had no basis for comparison. That said the 1.78:1 AVC HD image looks, by and large, good. I have to admit that I was expecting to see something with a little more punch, but then again this set has been released by MGM and they’re somewhat inconsistent when it comes to the actual quality of their titles. This is a science-fiction release, no doubt about it, so we do get the detail with their tech toys and digital readouts on pretty much everything. Black levels are strong and consistent and flesh tones seem a bit on the edgy side. I was surprised by a few instances of a dirty print, but I suppose die-hard fans of this series won’t really mind all that much.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio is a bit better in terms of quality as each episode of every season has been re-mastered with a DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack. While more engaging than a standard Surround or even Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, I felt that the use of the surrounds was more than expected. In particular, the rear surrounds were very engaged during a majority of the episodes. Again, we read “science-fiction” to be on the same page as “great sound” and in this case it’s the truth. Certainly some episodes are more active than others, but by and large this series delivers on the audio front.
Supplements: What are the extras?
When it comes to supplements I have to admit that I didn’t realize what I was getting myself into. Still, this set has a high price tag so I will say that you’re getting your money’s worth when it comes to supplements. Let’s get started, shall we? The entire series has 88 commentaries on them. I’ll be very honest and will say that I didn’t listen to them all. I don’t think it’s humanly possible with the amount of time involved, but these are the same ones from the DVD releases of the show so if you’re one of the few that have listened to them all then I can say that they are, indeed, the same. Now, breaking down the individual seasons, we find more supplements. Again, here we go.
“Stargate: Atlantis Set Tour” is just that, we get a look as the directors take us around. “Wraithal Discriminiation: It’s Not Easy Being Green” has a few inside jokes that poke fun at the Wraiths. “Diary of Rainbow Sun Francks” is a chat with the character and his involvement in the season. Finally we have “A Look Back on Season One” in which we see just that. Hosted by Martin Gero (a writer for the show), we get a nice retrospective on the story, character arcs and pretty much everything in between.
Moving onto the Sophomore season we get “Introduction to a Character: Ronon Dex” and we meet the new cast member and we see how he integrates into the show. “Stargate: Atlantis’ Stunts” is just that, we get words with James Bamford and his team of artists as we get more insight in this more physical season. “Road to a Dream” is Gero talking about his fulfillment of his life’s desire. Actor profiles runs nearly an hour with actors David Hewlett, Rachel Luttrell and Paul McGillion are all featured.
The third season has some more technical aspects with “Inside the ‘Stargate Atlantis’ FX Department” as the show’s effects are detailed. “General O’Neill Goes to Atlantis” gives McGyver himself some deadpan humor. “Masters of the Alien” shows us the make-up involved to make the actors become aliens. Finally we get “A Look Back on Season Three.”
The penultimate season starts off with “A New Leader: Amanda Tapping Joins ‘Atlantis'” as we meet the former star of “Stargate: SG-1” and how she acclimated to this new cast/series. “Stargate: Atlantis Bloopers” is merely some outtakes. “The Making of ‘Trio'” is a featurette for the episode in question. Weird. Some deleted scenes are also shown as is “A Look Back at Season Four.”
The final season has the most supplements and we start off with “Bringing the Seed to Life” as we get a little detail about “The Seed.” “Showdown! Ronon vs. Tyre” as we get a look at the fight scenes of the show. “Tricks of the Trade: Submerging the Stargate” gives us another video effects look. “Joe Flanigan: A Conversation with the Colonel” is an interview with actor John Sheppard. “Building a Humanoid” gives us a look at the production design and the new aliens introduced during the final season. “Dr. Jackson Goes to Atlantis” is a discussion with actor Michael Shanks. “The Life and Death of Michael Kenmore” is a short look about his said character. “‘Stargate: Atlantis Goes to Vegas” gives us a look at the last episodes of the series. We end with some deleted scenes.
There’s an overall “Mission Directives” feature that are spread across all five seasons which have their own featurettes and aren’t season-specific.