Created by Robert C. Cooper
Starring Joe Flanigan, Rachel Luttrell, David HewlettJason Momoa
Stargate SG-1 is the longest running television sci-fi series of all time. The show ran for a total of ten seasons from 1997 to 2007. The series launched on premium cable and later transitioned to basic cable losing its edginess but still surviving and even building more fan following. In 2004 the Sci-Fi Channel launched an SG-1 spin-off called Stargate Atlantis. After SG-1 ended Atlantis continued for another couple of years to appease fans.
Space travel via a giant ring sounds really cool right? That element is at the center of the entire Stargate Universe (Wink wink, yes there was another series featuring that title). Just when the international team of scientists thought they had these pesky rings under control they discover another one in the Pegasus Universe. They rush there to check the gate out and discover a new brutal enemy known as the Wraith that loves to use the gate to travel around spreading woe across multiple galaxies. So begins the adventures of this new team, jumping through space and checking out new worlds. There was this old show called Sliders where a teen couple and a scientist jump through dimensions with a remote control. Is it better to jump through a giant ring or change channels with a remote?
The series actually sprang from the season seven finale of Stargate SG-1. An outpost was discovered in Antarctica built by an alien race called “The Ancients”. Through the investigation of the outpost scientist found the location of the lost city of Atlantis, a new Stargate, and of course the new Gate in Pegasus. There were many character crossovers from the two series during the last few years of SG-1 helping build the fan base for Atlantis. New blood got pumped into the series in the last couple of seasons with the addition of actors from two other cancelled fanboy shows: Firefly and Farscape. Fans who had not watched Atlantis before began tuning in to see what their favorite actors from those other two shows were up to in this new science fiction franchise. The problem was that Atlantis was a fairly serialized show so it was a little tough to jump into the series so late in its run. Many of the episodes were self contained “adventure of the week” stories but even those episodes still fed into the larger story of the series.
Stargate Atlantis is a high concept action packed melodramatic pulp sci-fi television series. All of these descriptors are meant as compliments. Overall it feels a little low brow compared to shows such a Battlestar Galactica (the new one) or Babylon 5 but it fits perfectly in with series such as Farscape, and Andromeda. The acting is solid from everyone, special fx, while low budget, are well executed, and action scenes are generally suspenseful. The writing here isn’t particularly complex and it shouldn’t be. The series is supposed to be high adventure and purely entertaining. In other words the show is more Star Wars than Blade Runner. Not that there’s something wrong with complexity because in the long run complex and deeply written shows and movies will stand the test of time better but there’s nothing wrong with a little simple fun.
Newer episodes of Stargate Atlantis come off much stronger in this HD presentation than older ones. The older episodes are a little grainier and the colors are slightly more washed out than new installments. Special fx looked low budget when the show originally aired and unfortunately they can look even cheaper in HD. That’s not due to the transfer to blu-ray as much as it’s just a symptom of the source material. Overall contrast is good, black levels are fair, and compression artifacts are minimal in this complete series box set. The presentation here isn’t mind blowing but it’s solid for a basic cable television series.
The Dolby Surround audio is clean and well mixed here but it seldom truly takes advantasge of the entire soundstage. Sound is mostly restricted to the front speakers and center channel of the five speaker experience throughout the run of the series. There are a few immersive moments but overall the best description of the audio here is that it’s “basic”. Dialogue is easily heard through most of the episodes and that’s the most important element of the listening experience.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The 20 discs come packaged in a slim and sturdy cardboard box. The box is sleekly designed and feels fairly plush, as it should be. If we’re getting a complete series box set we should get premium packaging. While there’s nothing innovative about a cardboard box it doesn’t feel cheap either. As a side note, if you’re located outside the U.S. these discs are region free.
Audio commentaries are a must for some fans and not so important for others. For the true fan of a movie or TV show they are a must because it’s fascintating to hear producers, writers, and actors discuss a particular episode of a show while the episode plays out. Here there are a total of 88 commentaries across the five seasons of the series. So, there’s a lot to soak in as far as just commentaries for the hardcore fan. There is a series of featurettes called Mission Directives that run across all of the seasons that offer behind the scenes details on the making of particular episodes. In total these featurettes run just over 4 hours. There are 27 additional documentary featurettes covering characters, set tours, story, special fx and much more. Some of these featurettes feel a little like fluff pieces but even those are still entertaining. Most basic cable shows get very few or no bonus features so the bevy of bonuses here is really surprising.
Stargate Atlantis is first for fans of Stargate SG-1 and second for fans of simple sci-fi. Even if you didn’t watch SG-1 you can still pick up with this series from the beginning. There will be some instances where the writing assumes you watched SG-1 but not as often as you might think. Honestly the show is a little derivative of other campy sci-fi films even down to The Running Man but even with that it’s still just good fun.
Overall (Not an average)7.5/10
The Series 8/10
The Video 7.5/10
The Audio 7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 9/10
Overall (Not an average) 7.5/10