STARGATE ATLANTIS - THE COMPLETE SERIES (Blu-Ray)
I can't believe I'm still banging my head against the wall on this one. How many of you out there STILL have your noses up in the air about giving a try to the Stargate brand television series out there? Go ahead, raise your hands, let's do a count. Okay, now for you hold-outs, how many of you don't watch it because the original movie was kinda crap? One, two, three..that's most of you. Indeed, it's why I held out as long as I did. But then I remembered a little thing called "Buffy The Vampire Slayer", how crap the original film for that was, and what an idiot I'd have been if I refused to ever check out the show because of it. There are different rules these days that seem to make no sense, but that's the way of the TV world.
So let it be said that Stargate should be considered a success guided by that new set of rules. Certainly the first series, "Stargate SG-1" enjoyed enormous success, having had ten seasons and multiple direct-to-dvd movies (it's the longest running North American sci-fi series), but a lot of fans checked out afterwards and never gave a real shot to the first spin-off, the considerably shorter series (but more entertaining for my buck), the five season, "Stargate Atlantis".
Make no mistake about it, SA is episodic science fiction television with the ‘humans are inherently good’ conceit to us exploring the universe. Sure, day to day these guys don't always see eye-to-eye and perhaps even get a bit on the bitchy side, but not compared to the later by any stretch. It’s also science fiction that has the pleasant surprise of lacking the techno-fear that seems to be a big part of a lot of the modern genre. Despite a slight ramping up in violence (these folks have machine guns not stun phasers) I can’t imagine any but the most stubborn fan of modern Trek not being able to embrace this franchise. That is, if they'd just give it a damn try. Can't you see my forehead is already dented from this wall? Get to it.
Let's just dive into it: relatively recently, mankind discovered ancient alien portals called Stargates, and they work kind of like telephones but for teleportation instead of just for ordering pizza. You dial in the number of any other Stargate, of which there are as many in the universe as the writers find opportunities to keep creating, and you almost instantaneously (after a short CG wormhole insert) cross space-time to end up there. In the original show, the forces of Earth explore gates that connect to one kept in a secret Air Force base in Colorado. In this sequel show, another gate is found on Earth, hidden away in an Antarctica ‘Ancients’ outpost that, surprise surprise, connects to an entire other galaxy, and directly to the capital city of the old race who created them all in the first place. Okay, yeah, it's called Atlantis, and I can actually hear your eyes rolling, but stick with me here.
Apparently, 10,000 years ago, the Ancient race was driven out of the city and to Earth by their enemies, the Wraith, an insect/human hybrid that suck the life force of their victims right through their chests. Worse news: they're pretty darn hungry, having just gotten up because of a bunch of humans noisily poking around and knocking shit over, and oh look, how nice, a pink, meaty human buffet! Luckily for the crew stuck onboard the farflung outpost, they've got an endless amount of old Ancient tech to uncover. Sure helps to have super-technology around when the insecty harbingers of sucking chest wound death come calling. Especially when the door back home is unwieldy at best.
Facing the fact that it’s impossible for me to give a detailed analysis of all 100 episodes of the show here, let’s just take a look at the characters that you're going to come to know if you choose to dive in (and if I do a lot of Trek references during this list, well, so does the show):
ELIZABETH WEIR (Torri Higginson)WHO IS SHE
: The non-military leader of the Atlantis expedition, a trained diplomat.WHY SHE’S COOL
: She’s got that whole young Sigourney Weaver
kind of hawtness going on, for one. She’s also the Jean-Luc Picard
of the first three seasons of the show; smart, compassionate, yet tough when she needs to be.WHY SHE’S LAME
: She goes to reoccurring character status after season three ends. Just when I felt like we had something special.BEST EPISODE
: “Before I Sleep”
: a stasis unit found in the immense city holds an extremely aged Elizabeth
from a previous timeline whose actions prevented all the deaths of the expedition in this one. Talk about having your cake and eating it too...at least for THIS timeline's Liz
. The other got totally screwed.
JOHN SHEPPARD (Joe Flanigan)WHO IS HE
: Second in command of the expedition, a military commander who leads most of the away teams.WHY HE’S COOL
: He’s the show’s Kirk
, although he rarely if ever gets to ‘close the deal’
, if you know what I mean.WHY HE’S LAME
: He sounds and acts distressingly at points like a long-lost Wilson
brother. Plus, he definitely should be getting to hook up with the alien hotties more. He's so
: “The Last Man”
is accidentally sent 40,000 years into Atlantis’s future by a gate malfunction where he must deal with an aged and still cranky Rodney
hologram who has been left with instructions on how to possibly send him back to his own time. The LONG way around.
RODNEY McKAY (David Hewlett)WHO IS HE
: Head scientist on the Atlantis expeditionWHY HE’S COOL
is SUCH a good actor that he makes Rodney
pretty much the main attraction for the show. He’s funny, sharp, and full of quirks that you can’t help but feel affection for (assuming you dig nerds, and presuming you're watching the show in the first place, I'd say that's a given). I love that he’s always pulling a Scotty
as far as how long he needs to do things, and even is willing to admit it. I’m hoping Hewlett
gets to go on to much bigger things as he clearly has the capability to do so.WHY HE’S LAME
: Some folks might see his outrageously arrogant and egotistical scientist as nothing but irritating. I probably wouldn’t get along with those people that well. I'm not saying I identify with him I just, well, okay, I identify with him.BEST EPISODE
: “The Shrine”
: It’s hard to pick a best Rodney
ep, because there are so many great ones, but this one where he gets space Alzheimer's is definitely one of his best acting performances of the show. It’s kind of scary and very affecting.
TEYLA EMMAGAN (Rachel Luttrell)WHO IS SHE
: The leader of the Athosians,
an agrarian society on the same planet as the Atlantis outpost who were largely picked off by the Wraith,
and who now works under Sheppard
as part of his away team.WHY SHE’S COOL
: Strong ass-kicking lady on the show? Never a bad thing.WHY SHE’S LAME
: Sometimes the using of her as the ‘conscience’
of the Atlantis expedition gets more than just a bit cloying. She’s like Troi
if she was a martial arts badass. You can probably see how that might get a little annoying. But not as annoying as Troi
: “The Queen”: Teyla
gets turned into a Wraith
queen for an undercover operation. She gets to play at being evil and team up with the show’s best villain/ally, the Wraith
they named Todd,
performed by the always fantastic Christopher Heyerdahl
AIDEN FORD (Rainbow Sun Francks)WHO IS HE
’s second in command until he ran off with a bunch of Wraith
enzyme addictsWHY HE’S COOL
: Hmmm. Oh wait, I got it! Because he for the most part leaves the show after the first season.WHY HE’S LAME
: They never really found a niche for this character so they just wrote him into being a pseudo villain. And a whiny one at that.BEST EPISODE
: “The Lost Boys”: Aiden
may be confused and drugged out on Wraith
body juice, but his new eye looks cool and this episode, where he’s trying to convince the away team that he and his new juiced-up steroided soldiers are the way to go in fighting the Wraith
, is a fun one.
CARSON BECKETT (Paul McGillion)WHO IS HE
: Up to a certain point in season 3, he’s the expedition’s head docWHY HE’S COOL
: Scottish accent, comic relief, and they found a neat way to bring him back.WHY HE’S LAME
: It’s when it becomes very, very clear that no one ever gets to die for real on “Stargate Atlantis”
. Kind of takes away from the drama.BEST EPISODE
: “The Kindred (Part Two)”
is brought back to the show by apparent enormous fan demand and he has to deal with his own planned obsolescence.
RONON DEX (Jason Momoa)WHO IS HE
: A big barbarian looking guy and former ‘runner’ from the Wraith
who now works as part of Sheppard
’s away team.WHY HE’S COOL
: He doesn’t say much but has a certain kind of odd charisma in his trademark combination smile and scowl that he wears most of the time. He's a decent scrapper capable of impressive fighting scenes.WHY HE’S LAME:
He can’t act. It’s even kind of embarrassing at points. I know they wrote this guy to be taciturn but when he does speak up, he makes you wish he didn’t. While he gets better as the show goes on, he never holds up to the rest of the cast. And come on...Ronon
the barbarian? *sigh* Not all that surprisingly, Momoa
is indeed playing Conan
in the new remake (and I'll even admit, he was well cast in "Game of Thrones"
, but then again, he really didn't have any lines.BEST EPISODE
A “Stargate SG-1”
, shows up and teams up with Ronan
to defend a midway gate station against the Wraith
. Why is it Ronan
’s best episode? Because he beats a lot of people up. What else does this guy have going for him? I swear, it's not just because I'm a big geek and he scares me.
SAMANTHA CARTER (Amanda Tapping)WHO IS SHE
: Cross-over character from SG-1
who takes over command of the expedition for season four.WHY SHE’S COOL
: She’s the sexiest boss you ever wish you had with a mind superior to most, and the bearing of a natural leader. Plus, I'm a fan of hers from the show "Sanctuary"
as well. WHY SHE’S LAME
: Only one season? What's that all about?BEST EPISODE
: “Grace Under Pressure”
wasn’t part of the show at this point and neither was her character technically
in this episode. But Rodney
’s hallucinations of her while he’s trapped under the Atlantean sea in a downed ship are pretty convincing. It sets her up nicely for future episodes as the one mind even Rodney
admits is possibly better than his own. Plus, she gets wet and strips down to her underwear. Trust me, that's a serious bonus.
JENNIFER KELLER (Jewel Staite)WHO IS SHE
: Head doc after Beckett
(temporarily) leaves the showWHY SHE’S COOL
: Well, I don’t want to keep thumping my Joss Whedon
drum (although I will anyway) but she was Kaylee
! Specific to this
show, there's an interesting new love triangle between her, McKay
. Just in case you were worried, McKay
don't end up together. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Except in this SPECIFIC case. Ew. Fan fictioners....I don't even want to know.WHY SHE’S LAME
: Takes a little while to warm up to. She doesn’t slip easily into the part of a super space doctor.BEST EPISODE
: Jen is forced to ‘man up’
while trapped offworld with Teyla
and being hunted by primitive warriors. I’d be ten times as whiny in her situation, to be sure.
RICHARD WOOLSEY (Robert Picardo)
WHO IS HE: A tool of ‘the man’ back on Earth (and a tool just in general at first) who ends up commanding the expedition in season five.
WHY HE’S COOL: He gets a lot of growth in his one full cast member season. He goes from scared, nerdy, rule-stickler, to a guy who not only has grokked that rules aren’t always hard and fast, especially out in the wilds of space, but who ends up becoming a confident leader.
WHY HE’S LAME: It’s a long trip to that confident leader character growth and most of the time you just want to smack him. Neurotic hologram ship's doctor was a role that Picardo was cast perfectly for. Brave leader of the future....maybe not so much. But I'll admit, by the end, he had pulled it off.
BEST EPISODE: “Inquisition”: When the Atlantis expedition is put on trial in a kangaroo court run by a new human civilization run coalition, Woolsey puts on his lawyer suit to show ‘em how the big boys do it.
Unfortunately, "Stargate Atlantis" doesn't exactly come to a thrilling conclusion. Apparently, they didn’t even know it was gonna be the last episode, only the 100th one, so at least it wasn’t a total wash-out. The even worse news is that even though a two-hour direct to dvd movie “Stargate Extinction” was planned to continue the story, now, with a decline in DVD sales, it’s on what very well could be perpetual hold. In fact, the executive producer just confirmed as much this April. But wait...if they're SO sure that the appeal is gone, why release an expensive to put together brand new Blu-Ray complete edition just a year or so after the DVD release?
So there it is: if you're a fan of SA, you might want to seriously consider re-buying the series in this new, comfortably compact (much more so than the DVD edition), blu-ray set. Quite a few episodes are presented in extended versions, and there's a LOT of bonus features: 88 commentaries (seriously), behind the scenes featurettes, interviews, gag reels, jokey features, actor profiles, and lots more. Strangely, this leaves out the bonus disk features included with the DVD set that were retrospective oriented, but I can live with that. The upgrade in sound and vision is largely a big success and I'm definitely not upset by the new packaging either.
Whether you're a long time fan only now with the greenbacks put together to spend or a noob who, I assure you, doesn't have to have seen the ten season SG-1 first to grok what's going on here, this is THE way to own this series. Now let's all go buy this RIGHT FRICKING NOW so they can get financing for some direct-to-dvd movies and Cyrus can get his fix. Cyrus needs his fix. Do not taunt happy fun Cyrus.
--CLICK HERE TO BUY Stargate Atlantis: Complete Series Gift Set [Blu-ray]