STARGATE ALANTIS: THE COMPLETE SERIES
MOVIE: ***** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Half-way through it’s record-earning television run, the series “Stargate SG-1” was spun off to “Stargate Atlantis.” This new series featured a mix of military and civilian personnel traveling to the Pegasus Galaxy to live in the city of the Ancients. There, they encounter a new enemy – the soul-sucking vampire-like creatures known as the Wraith. Over five years, the crew of the Atlantis base overcome the challenges of isolation and new enemies, including a new set of Replicators. Now, all five seasons of the SciFi Channel original series are available in a Blu-ray box set.
WHAT I LIKED
Not too long ago, when “Stargate Atlantis” was still on the air, I was in sci-fi television heaven. Between this series and the “Battlestar Galactica” revamp, we were in a new golden age. But sadly, a few years ago, both of these series were cancelled, and we were left with network programming like “The Event” or substandard Syfy programming like “Stargate Universe” to fill the gap.
Now, having a chance to rewatch the show from episode one, I am reminded how fantastic this series was. Indeed, these old episodes of “Stargate Atlantis” showed what absolute crap “Stargate Universe” was.
In this incarnation of the Stargate universe, the people worked together. They got over the differences, and they were a team. They weren’t sneaking off to closets to have sex, like some ratings-grabbing episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Instead, they were united against a deadly threat, and they worked with each other to overcome it.
Seasons 2 and 3 were the best of this series, and they continue to hold up even close to a decade later. The minor bugs from the first season were worked out, and the show hadn’t suffered severe cast changes (like the loss of Paul McGillion and Torri Higginson. There was also the inclusion of the character of Ronon Dex (Jason Momoa) to act as the Chewbacca of the group.
But regardless of the wrinkles the series faced throughout its five-year run, it was still some of the best science fiction television of its time. There’s a nice balance between the one-off episodes and those that further the greater story arc of the series. Like the classic “Star Trek” series, “Stargate Atlantis” allowed the audience to chuckle by including humor into the dialogue, something the “Stargate Universe” crowd totally neglected.
While I enjoyed “Stargate SG-1,” “Stargate Atlantis” is more focused from the first season, and it wasn’t stumbling as it retrofitted the original film into the characters. The Wraith and the Replicators were fantastic villains for the series, and they were less convoluted than the Gao’uld and the Jaffa from SG-1.
There are few DVDs and Blu-rays that I treasure, and this is one of them. It’s a great series, and it’s fantastic to have it all on my shelf in a single box.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The only thing that I had a problem with on this show were the cast changes that happened in the later seasons. The loss of Paul McGillion was a calculated risk of the writers that backfired, and it resulted in the return of the characters not long afterwards. And as darling as Jewel Staite is as Dr. Keller, she never quite filled the shoes of Carson Beckett. When Torri Higginson left the show, the result was a shuffle of Atlantis leaders that went through Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping) and Robert Woolsey (Robert Picardo). While Woolsey was a better fit than Carter was, there was a definite hole in the show without Dr. Weir in charge.
First of all, the Blu-ray presentation of the show looks fantastic. The contrast and resolution isn’t perfect in the earlier episodes because the series wasn’t quite set for high definition. True, “Stargate Universe” looks better on Blu-ray, but “Stargate Atlantis” looks pretty spectacular too, especially in the later seasons.
All the special features have been imported from the previous DVD releases. There’s nothing new, but it was still impressive how the series managed to include a nice selection of bonus material through all five years (which is rare, considering bonus content usually burns out by season three).
The total bonus material amounts to more than 50 hours of content on 20 discs. A good number of episodes include commentaries and extended editions. The “Mission: Directive” featurettes highlight an aspect of the various episodes. There are also spotlights on the different cast members and characters throughout the series. Additional features include deleted scenes, photo diaries, set tours, season retrospectives, making-of documentaries, stunt profiles, a look at special effects and bloopers.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
“Stargate Atlantis” fans, naturally. And anyone who wants to dive into an awesome science fiction television series.