Stargate SG-1 is about to enter its ninth year. There was speculation that after season 8 the series would bow out gracefully with the anticipated exit of Richard Dean Anderson. With that plan in mind the folks at Stargate Command decided it was time to spin off the franchise, and so was born Atlantis. Stargate Atlantis boasts pretty much the same team as SG-1. The quality of the production and tight storytelling have translated well to this sister series. The only flaw in this plan is that fans don’t want to let go of the original. With a cast shake-up that brings us a newer look, SG-1 Atlantis will find it harder to learn to stand on its own.
An ancient facility beneath Antarctica becomes the launching platform to the lost city of Atlantis. Atlantis is buried beneath an ocean in another galaxy and can only be reached with an additional symbol on the Stargate. Because of power limitations this trip, at least for the time being, is a one-way adventure. A crew of scientists and military officers from many countries assemble to explore the Pegasus Galaxy from the Atlantis gate. Led by scientist Dr. Weir (Higginson) and Maj. John Sheppard (Flanigan) they take over the Atlantian command center and begin to explore. In their initial investigations they accidentally awaken the area’s top bad guys, The Wraith. These vampire-like beings suck the life-force out of humans.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is not near as active as SG-1 discs have been. The sound is still quite clear and dynamic but with less effective use of ambient channels. All dialogue is clear and well centered.
There is an extremely entertaining commentary track which features Stargate veteran director Martin Wood and actor Joe Flanigan. Like all previous Stargate commentaries, this one provides plenty of insight and even more amusing banter. It’s just like having these guys in your living room. The conversation is usually light and fun.
Stargate Atlantis is presented in its original 1.78:1 HD broadcast format. It is obvious that the original print is a digital camera image. Gone is any of the grain or saturation of the SG-1’s filmed texture. This is a clean, if somewhat sterile image. Colors are incredibly sharp as is the contrast. Blacks are dead on perfect. The range of color and light is considerably expanded in this format.
“Preview to Atlantis” is provided using a ton of stuff from the Sci-Fi channel “The lowdown” broadcast. If you bought your last SG-1 set from Best Buy, you have an extra disc with the entire Lowdown episode already. This is a watered down version dealing just with Atlantis, while the full version explores both shows.
“Season 2 Sneak Peak” This feature begins as if it will not be much of a sneak peek. You’ll go through a few minutes of more “about the show” talk. Soon you’ll get an interesting look at the uncompleted sets for season 2. The biggest bit of news we get here is that Weir’s office will be bigger. Finally they’ll be some mention of the things we can expect in future storylines. Mostly, a reconnection with Earth seems likely.
A trailer and artwork gallery from the video game Stargate: Alliance plays out like your typical advertisement.
Unless you’ve not seen the pilot or just can’t wait, I would hold off buying the disc. The entire first season of Atlantis is already planned and will be announced very soon. This box set will include the pilot and the same commentary track. You can count on better extras with that upcoming set. Save your pennies for that ultimate release. Just be patient and in a few months you may “begin the dialing sequence”.