Stargate Atlantis: Complete Series Gift Set Blu-ray

Actors: Joe Flanigan, Rachel Luttrell, David Hewlett, Jason Momoa, Torri Higginson
Directors: Andy Mikita, Brad Turner, Brenton Spencer, David Warry-Smith, David Winning
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: English
Subtitles: English
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Number of discs: 20
Rated: Unrated
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
DVD Release Date: July 26, 2011




Stargate Atlantis faced the same daunting challenge that all spin-off series do: capture the spirit of the original series while still establishing its own identity. Though imperfect at times, it sets about its task with enthusiasm and pluck, and modestly succeeds at carving a place for itself in the Stargate sun. The new Blu-ray edition is an ideal way to enjoy it as a fan, though newcomers may find the set a little overwhelming.

The plot itself actually does much better than the last few seasons of SG-1 at enhancing and expanding the Stargate universe. It focuses on the titular lost city: an outpost of the mysterious “Ancients” that has been left abandoned for countless thousands of years. A Stargate team is sent to explore it, but find themselves cut off from Earth with a dangerous new enemy to confront. For three seasons, the show followed this pattern, and it marked the strongest period in the show’s history.

Seasons Four and Five represented a departure, with new team leaders added and the formerly stationary city flying towards the heavens. It smacked of excessive gimmickry – despite the welcome presence of Amanda Tapping and Robert Picardo as series leads – and prevented the show from settling on a regular tone. That may have ultimately doomed it, though it taught some important lessons that Stargate Universe capitalized on.

Even amid the worst of it, however, it wasn’t bad. The cast possessed an easy chemistry and had a wonderful time with the material, which featured the usual array of imminent threats, death-defying escapes and insurmountable problems dispatched with the timely use of technobabble. The best episodes found new ways to deviate from formula and develop cool ideas like the villainous Wraith. The less-than-great episodes felt too much like SG-1 leftovers, or worse: half-hearted cribs from Star Trek. But good or bad, they all contain copious amounts of swashbuckling action, and do their all to keep us entertained.

In totem, there are exactly 100 episodes in the Blu-ray collection, a daunting amount to pin down as far as quality goes. The Stargate franchise never endeavored to the kind of greatness exemplified by Farscape or Babylon 5, content instead for mere reliability. Atlantis suffered more under that weight than SG-1 did, as a more brazen money-making endeavor than its predecessor. It was never brilliant, but it was often decent and occasionally pretty darn good. And with the number of sweeping arcs it undertook, purchasing it piecemeal really doesn’t make much sense. Those who go in for it go all in, in which case the new Blu-ray set is the perfect means of enjoying it.

THE DISCS: It’s a big-ass set and it shows. Twenty discs are divided among three cases, all kept in a good-looking box. Each Blu-ray disc has at least one behind-the-scenes featurette and a handful of audio commentaries for the episodes. Many discs offer expanded episodes and some feature deleted scenes as well. The box advertises “over 50 hours of special features,” which is a little deceptive (audio commentaries hardly count) but it’s a lot to take in regardless.

The set really shines in audio and video quality: absolutely sterling in every episode. The 1080p resolution works exceptionally well with the show’s color palette and the sound is crisp and clear. Stargate Atlantis suffers a bit in the clarity of the effects, which were designed before HD resolution and thus look a little fuzzy sometimes (one of the reasons why you haven’t seen shows like Next Generation on Blu-ray yet). But those quips aside, this is a damn good looking set.

WORTH IT? It’s an expensive set, but the additional cost definitely shows. Break it down and you’re looking at about $2 per episode . . . a good bargain all things considered.

RECOMMENDATION: At a whopping $200 American, it’s a lot to ask for non-fans to pony up. If you’re new to Atlantis and want to sample it, you’d be better off with the “Fans Choice” sampler Blu-ray available for a much more reasonable price. Stargate lovers looking for something definitive to put on their shelf, however, will find very little to complain about here.

- Rob Vaux



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