Stargate Atlantis went into its third season with a lot to prove. Its companion and older series SG-1 was winding down and preparing to take its show to the longer direct to video path. Atlantis rose to the challenge and had what was arguably its best season to date. The best decision the show runners could have made was the one to concentrate on their core characters and give us episodes that were obviously intended to help us learn more about them. We meet McKay’s sister and Ronon’s wife and family along the way. We get to witness Sheppard in his alluded to battle in
The story and cast have remained pretty much the same: an ancient facility beneath Antarctica becomes the launching platform to the lost city of
There are 5 discs that are each loaded with episodes and wonderful extras.
No Man’s Land and Misbegotten: These first episodes continue with the Michael story that ended season 2. Connor Trinneer returns as the “is he a wraith or is he a human” Michael. While the team struggles with whether to trust him or not, Dr. Weir is recalled to Stargate Command where the group overseeing the Atlantis mission question her leadership skills. Woolsey (Picardo) ends up coming to Atlantis to see for himself and report back to the group. This episode foreshadows the return of Woolsey later as the head of Atlantis in season 5.
Irresistible: Here we share a more lighthearted episode likely intended as a breather from the pumped up season openers. Richard Kind creates one of Stargate’s best characters in Lucius. Lucius has found a drug that makes him irresistible to all others. When he’s brought back to Atlantis he has the entire population eating out of his hands. He loves to regale his admirers with tall tales of his heroic exploits and all listen in awe and admiration, all except Sheppard who was not exposed to Lucius’s drug. There’s a lot of Harry Mudd in Lucius, and he fortunately returns again before the end of the season. I have a soft spot for these mostly harmless characters that are more con artists than true villains. Lucius comes from the same mold as Q, Harry Mudd, and Cyrano Jones.
Sateda: If you like rock ‘em sock ‘em action, this is an episode for you. Ronon is captured by the Wraith and returned to his destroyed home world, Seteda. There he is reunited with his wife and set again as a runner for the Wraith’s enjoyment. He fights his way across the planet. The episode is not only rich in action but provides wonderful insight into Ronon through his own past. Seldom has episodic television packed more into 45 minutes than this one.
Progeny: Dr. Weir joins an away team when they discover a city very much like Atlantis. The advanced civilization, the Asuras, occupy an ancient city that is also a large spacecraft, and now they are heading toward Atlantis to destroy it. The episode stars David Ogden Stiers from MASH as Oberoth, the arrogant leader of the Asuras.
The Real World: This is definitely a “been there, done that” kind of an episode. Dr. Weir wakes up on Earth to discover there is no such thing as a Stargate, and she has been a patient at a mental health facility for her Stargate delusions. Richard Dean Anderson returns to the Stargate franchise to once again play Jack O’Neill. The episode is really a small sequel to the previous one as the nanites that were used to program the Asuras are keeping Weir in a coma where she is living this alternate reality.
Common Ground: The episode brings about the long anticipated return of the Geni and in particular Koyla. The Geni once again have captured Sheppard, and his only ally might just be the Wraith occupying the cell next to his. Robert Davi is always excellent as Koyla, and he’s his best ruthless self in this episode. We learn a few interesting things about the Wraith capabilities here, including a new power that could save Sheppard’s life.
McKay and Mrs. Miller: Rodney has a sister, and guess what, she’s played by Hewlett’s real sister, Jeannine Hewlett. We also get a dose of Amanda Tapping’s Carter in this episode as well. Top it off with 2 Rodney’s, one a very modest nice guy, and it’s another nicely done light moment in the Stargate universe.
Phantoms: The team is stuck on a world with a machine that causes deadly infighting, setting the colleagues against each other. This is yet another wonderful opportunity to get some character back story as their deepest fears are exposed. It is here that we learn more about the baggage Sheppard still carries from his tour in
The Return: This is a two-part episode. Again the crew meets up with what could be ancients. The Atlantis Mission is ordered to vacate the city and return it to its rightful owners. When the team returns to Earth, O’Neill and Woolsey are left alone in the city acting as liaisons with the Atlantians. It’s nice to see O’Neill in need of rescue for a change by the former Atlantis team who are ordered not to go. This is also the first test of the new
Echoes: Could there be ghosts of the Atlantians roaming the city? This episode is a rather odd one and probably my least favorite of the season. The show overdoses on cuteness as McKay discovers an indigenous whale that ends up helping the team. Of course, there’s the brilliant plan to save the city in a way the thousands of years old ancients never figured out. I was half expecting a Klingon bird of prey to come sweeping out of nowhere with a pair of humpbacks named George and Gracie.
Irresponsible: Lucius is back, and is he as funny as ever. Same con, different method. Now he has a personal shield that makes him invulnerable to attack. He uses the shield to appear as a brave superhero for a backwoods community and once again finds himself the object of affection and admiration, that is until the Atlantis team shows up. If that wasn’t enough, we get the return of Koyla has well. Richard Kind and Robert Davi make this another sweet episode.
The Tao Of Rodney: How about a McKay with super powers? Can you imagine if he could read minds? Imagine no longer with this lighter moment in Atlantis lore. They say what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, but in McKay’s case what makes him stronger is gonna kill him. Again Rodney’s arrogance has him rushing in where wise men fear to tread. Everything’s just peaches and cream until he discovers the powers come with a price. He’s only days away from ascension, as in dead. Now Rodney has to become a nice guy so at least he can ascend instead of just dying; good luck with that, Rodney.
The Game: Fans of the game Civilization will love this episode. Sheppard and McKay stumble on a game in the computer banks of Atlantis that is very much like Civilization. They enter into some heated competition, not knowing that the game is linked to actual civilizations, and they are, godlike, driving the evolution of an entire planet to the brink of Armageddon. This is another great character episode and is another one of my all time favorites.
Sunday: This is such a bittersweet episode for Atlantis fans. The episodes offers a rare look at the team enjoying time off and interacting without the constant threat of life or death on their heads. Unfortunately this is where we lose Dr. Beckett. At least the episode provides a nice long look at the character and a fitting demise. Of course, he does return somewhat again, but this marks his last episode as a series regular.
Submersion: Another superwraith story. This was an obvious budget saving bottle show that offers far less in spectacle than we’ve become accustomed to. The Wraith is discovered in an as yet unexplored underwater lab in Atlantis. We do learn quite a bit about the Wraith society and meet a Wraith Queen. There’s the usual ticking clock before the city is destroyed. We get to see the team walking in crude diving suits to save the day at the last minute, of course.
Vengeance: This one reminds me of an old time 50’s sci-fi film. You’ve got mutant bugs and an army led by Michael. You always knew this guy was coming back, and here he is, folks. The team is trapped with some killer bugs because someone has sabotaged the Gate. Now Michael’s running some experiments of his own. How nice for us.
First Strike: Another cliffhanger ends the third season with yet another bang. The latest ship from Earth is called the Apollo, and it’s heading straight into a galactic war. The ship’s mission is to take on the new replicators before they can find Earth. They decide to attack the replicators’ home world. Of course all that did was piss them off, so here they come. The only hope for Atlantis? Remember that city that took off like a starship? I guess Atlantis has the same capability, and the season ends with the entire city flying off into the sunset. To be continued…
Stargate Atlantis is presented in its original HD wide screen 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 Dolby Digital 5.1 track is as good as it’s been since the first season. The same effort put into making the show look as good as it does obviously translates to the sound presentation. Rich score music works in perfect harmony with the needs of the dialog and ambient sounds. While the rears are not used extensively, they do manage to surprise you now and again with just the right touch to place you square in the action.
Every episode comes with its own great commentary track involving actors, directors and producers to skilled members of the show’s crew.
Each disc also includes a photo gallery bursting at the seams with great stills.
Inside The Stargate Atlantis Visual F/X: I really never tire of seeing these behind the green screen features on Stargate or any fantasy DVD release. The feature isn’t all just CG magic. It never forgets the human element behind the wonderful f/x. You get to meet a lot of the key folks in the Stargate f/x department.
Profile – Rachel Luttrell: It’s about time that Luttrell and her Teyla character got one of these profiles. There are the usual character “greatest hits” moments, and a lot of insight from the actress. With no prior sci-fi or martial arts knowledge coming in, she was able to pick up the essentials rather quickly and does a lot of the fighting stunts herself. Her singing role is also covered here, harking back to her solo hymn. Finally she answers some fan submitted questions.
General O’Neill Goes To Atlantis: Richard Dean Anderson continues to keep his hands in the Stargate universe. They don’t address it here, but it sure looks like
Masters Of The Alien: Let’s be honest. Stargate has given us some really cool monsters and aliens over the years. This is a pretty intimate look at the people who have worked so hard to bring us these great creatures. Unlike Star Trek’s idea of changing around a nose or forehead, these guys put some real effort into creating exciting new species for us to admire. From conceptual design to makeup application, it’s all here.
Stargate Atlantis A Look Back On Season Three: Martin Gero guides us through the main story arcs and the many high points of the third season. He lets us in on the concept that season three was about characters and their rapport. It was a great decision and one that served it well enough to be one of the best Stargate seasons of all.
<>The best science fiction has always and will always be about characters and stories. As long as you have chemistry with the cast and the characters are fleshed out enough to be interesting you can place them in great stories where we’ll follow them anywhere. Perhaps it was Atlantis getting more attention at the