Stargate Atlantis took a little getting used to. I wasn’t sure the characters had enough chemistry or were even dynamic enough to carry the high expectations for a Stargate series. When the show was first introduced it was likely that Atlantis would soon take over for the original series. Anderson had wanted to leave for years and it seemed the end was near for SG-1. Since that time SG-1 is about to enter a tenth season and the new format is working quite well. Now I can view Atlantis more as the companion show it really excels at being. Atlantis maintains all of the tight writing and production values that made SG-1 such a great show. I am a little weary of The Wraith already. For some reason they just don’t work for me. The Ori, SG-1’s new baddies, are far more interesting. The Wraith are just sinister. We haven’t had a chance to view them as a society yet. There were high hopes when Teyla began to connect with them, but that has become a dead end. I think Atlantis has some real growing to do, or it risks falling into the “Deep Space Nine” wormhole.
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 tracks are not 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.
Most of the episodes have the kind of commentaries you have come to expect from the SG-1 sets. Mostly production folks. The talks are often interesting and are worth a listen through.
Stargate Atlantis is presented in its original 1.78:1 HD anamorphic widescreen 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.
The packaging has changed from the deep boxes to a collection of slim cases. If you bought the Pilot DVD because you just couldn’t wait for them all, take heart. None of the features from that disc remain on this one.
The extras can be found on most of the discs in the set. Each disc contains a photo gallery. Menus are a bit more complicated than the SG-1 sets. They are less static and probably reflect newer technology.
- “Stargate Atlantis Set Tour with Martin Wood and Peter DeLuise” is pretty much what it sounds like. You get a quick 10 minute tour of the Atlantis main sets.
- “Diary Of Rainbow Sun Francks”: Francks is better known as the ill-fated Lt. Ford. He talks about his experience with the show. This is a good profile of a character I hope we’ll see more of again.
- “Wraithful Discrimination: It’s Not Easy Being Green”: This is a very humorous look at the resident bad guys. It’s intended more for fun than a serious study of the Wraith.
- “Mission Directive: The Storm/The Eye”: This 2-parter had its series of problems. This short feature takes a look at the massive storm f/x created for the episodes. It seems the filming was no day at the beach for cast and crew.
- “Mission Directive: Sanctuary”: Another very short look at an episode. These Mission Directive shorts are much like the Director Series shorts on the SG-1 sets. Lot of behind the scenes looks and a steady diet of antics.
- “Mission Directive: Before I Sleep”: This is one of the better episodes of the show, and you get a good look at it from the inside out here. This is one of the best stories. You get to have a better feel for The Ancients than any previous episode gave you.
- “A Look Back At Season One”: This is your basic season recap. Nothing new to learn here.
- “Mission Directive: The Siege”: The Finale was quite an action filled 2-parter. This Directive takes a look at the cast and crew as they close out their first season.
As I mentioned in my review of the Pilot episode of Atlantis, this is the set that was worth waiting for. The extras are not quite up to the SG-1 sets, but they are appreciated. So many shows come out with barebones sets that things like commentaries are very refreshing to have. Truth be told, broadcast television in HD is now high enough quality that spending money on DVD sets is a waste unless there’s something more offered. These DVD’s will help keep track of this show as it grows up. Season 1 down; Season 2 coming up. “Let’s get started”.