Stargate Atlantis: Complete Series Gift Set, Blu-ray (2004-2009/2011)

by | Aug 7, 2011 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Stargate Atlantis: Complete Series Gift Set, Blu-ray (2004-2009/2011)

100 episodes on 20 Blu-rays – all five seasons of the sci-fi series which was carried on The Sci-Fi Channel and The Movie Network.
Starring: Joe Flanigan, Rachel Luttrell, David Hewlett, Jason Momoa, Torri Higginson
Studio: MGM/Fox [7/26/11]
Video: 1.77:1 for 16:9 1080i HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, DD 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH
Extras: Several on each of the episodes – All include an audio commentary track, most include a “Mission Directive” featurette, others include specials on certain characters or actors, set tours, stunt work, deleted scenes, etc. (over 50 hours total)
Length: approx. 50 minutes per episode
Rating: ****1/2

MGM’s Stargate franchise began in 1994 with the feature film Stargate, with the alien of indeterminate sex played by Jaye Davidson. The Stargate SG-1 series (the longest-running sci-fi series ever) became a successful spinoff from the feature, and then first Stargate Atlantis and later Stargate Universe were spun off from SG-1. Several separate feature films also grew out of the three series. In the final episode of the 7th season of SG-1 an Antarctic outpost left behind millions of years ago by the alien race The Ancients was discovered. In the pilot episode for the new series Dr. Daniel Jackson discovers the location of Atlantis, created by the Ancients, in the Pegasus galaxy. An international team is sent thru the Stargate in Antarctica to the one in Atlantis, with the understanding that they may have enough power for travel in only one direction, and not be able to return to Earth.  The military sci-fi TV series was shot in Vancouver, Canada, and received many awards and nominations for awards during its five-season run. Fans often refer to it as SGA.

The great race of the Ancients created their super-city Atlantis on Earth but somehow took it with them when they abandoned Earth for the Pegasus galaxy, and put it undersea to protect themselves from the terrible Wraith (hence the Atlantis legend we have on Earth).  However, when the intrepid team of military and scientists arrive via the Stargate, Atlantis has not been inhabited for millions of years and there is no longer enough power to keep up the force fields holding back the ocean. Just when all seems lost, the city slowly rises to the surface. Some of the team travel via the Stargate to planets in the Pegasus galaxy, and at the first one they visit they find a primitive human civilization cowering in fear of the occasional attacks of the Wraith. The Wraith are awful cannibals who look a bit like relatives of guitarist Johnny Winter, and nothing can seem to stop them from “feeding.”

The Wraith are not involved in all of the episodes.  There is a good one without them – “Thirty-Eight Minutes” – in which the small spacecraft the Ancients had in Atlantis gets stuck halfway in the Stargate while Major Sheppard, the reigning military leader, is dealing with an alien bug that has attached itself to his neck. In another episode Atlantis must endure a planet-sized hurricane about to hit them. Other of the main characters include Teyla, a beautiful young leader of the primitive civilization the team has taken to Atlantis for their safety, the clever but very neurotic astrophysicist Dr. McKay, Lt. Ford, Sheppard’s second-in-command, and the Scottish accent was taken from Star Trek’s Scottie and given to the team’s doctor, whose name I forget. And all are ruled over by the always-serious and dedicated civilian specialist in diplomatic relations, Dr. Elizabeth Weir.  Speaking of being reminded of other characters, Dr. McKay reminds me of Frazier.

Of course I haven’t seen all 100 episodes, but so far I liked this series better than the later Stargate Universe, which I understand had a bigger budget and concentrated on more character development, but seemed claustrophobic to me.  It has a sort of more relaxed style than some sci-fi series, and though another reviewer thought the dialog dumb, I can’t agree. Some one-liners are wonderful, and there was even a reference to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – a character saying “It’s the ultimate answer to the great question of life, the universe and everything!” (That was the number 42, in case you’re not a Hitchhiker’s fan as I am.) I’ve already run into spies, weird devices of the Ancients, life-sucking bugs, and shadow aliens, and I understand if I can stick with it thru more of the 100 episodes (the first two years are in one box, the next two in another box, and the fifth in a separate smaller box) I’ll be dealing with nanoviruses, whales, enzyme addicts, fear machines, crooked businessmen, alternate realities, nightmare aliens, Wraiths morphing into humans and the reverse, and would you believe some ruthless warriors pretending to be simple Amish-like farmers.  Interest is kept up by an interesting turnover of cast members, rather than having all the same characters thruout as did SG-1. A young guy with big dreadlocks evidently comes aboard in Season Five.

I understand there were many complaints about the packaging of the standard DVD set of all five seasons; some users couldn’t even get the discs out of the package! Plus it took 26 discs and had less bonus features – the Blu-ray is 20 discs and costs the same.  It is sensibly packaged and in a lovely slipcase. The image quality is excellent and while the few extras I’ve had time to view may not be for everybody they certainly will be valued by avid Stargate fans. As with most TV series, there’s not much effort to make use of Blu-ray’s DTS lossless surround field, probably because the original series used an inferior surround coding if it used any at all.

 — John Sunier

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