Stargate: Atlantis-Season 1 (2004)

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Released 14-Nov-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Trailer-Stargate SG1
Theatrical Trailer
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Stargate Atlantis Set Tour With Martin Wood & Peter DeLuise
Featurette-Preview Of Stargate Atlantis
Gallery-Photo
Web Links
Featurette-Diary Of Rainbow Sun Francks
Featurette-Atlantis Mission Directive: The Storm/The Eye
Audio Commentary-Writer And Cast - Childhood's End
Featurette-Mission Directive: Sanctuaries
Featurette-Wraithal Discrimination: It's Not Easy Being Green
Audio Commentary-Cast And Crew - The Storm, The Eye, The Defiant One
Featurette-Mission Directive: Before I Sleep
Featurette-Mission Directive: The Brotherhood
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Behind The Stargate: Secrets Revealed Part 1 And Part 2
Audio Commentary-Cast And Crew - Hot Zone, The Gift, The Siege Parts 1 & 2
Featurette-Mission Directive: The Siege
Featurette-A Look Back On Season One With Martin Gero
Featurette-Preview To Season 2
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 838:25
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (5)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Mario Azzopardi
Holly Dale
Peter DeLuise
James Head
Studio
Distributor

MGM
Starring Joe Flanigan
Torri Higginson
Rachel Luttrell
Rainbow Francks
Jason Momoa
Paul McGillion
David Hewlett
James Lafazanos
David Nykl
Craig Veroni
Dean Marshall
Paul McGillion
Case ?
RPI $79.95 Music Joel Goldsmith


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
Finnish
French
Dutch
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Before I start the review proper, a small whinge. Here is an excellent new science fiction series which was picked up by one of our commercial networks and promptly treated poorly with a late time slot, which became later and later until it disappeared completely. Shame, Shame, Shame!

    Back in 1994, a movie called Stargate was released which was very popular (except with the critics). Following on from the success of the movie a television series, Stargate SG1, was spun off following the premise of the original movie. This also was very popular and is now in its 9th season on US television. This new spin-off series, Stargate: Atlantis uses a set up provided by the final episode of Season 7 of Stargate SG1. In that episode, the team from that series uncover a stargate and hidden weapons emplacement hidden under Antarctica, built by the ancients many thousands of years previously. Dr Daniel Jackson, the lead scientist from the SG1 team, believes that Atlantis can be reached through the stargate under Antarctica and that the lost city was moved from Earth to a far off galaxy, Pegasus, 5-10 million years before. Accordingly, Stargate Command gather a multi-national team of scientists and military to go through the stargate and hopefully reach Atlantis on the other side. Their mission is to collect information about the ancient's technology and bring back to Earth anything of interest. They set off knowing that they may not be able to return.

    The characters in this series are mostly new although some have appeared in a few episodes of the original series. Richard Dean Anderson & Michael Shanks appear in the first episode from the main cast of Stargate SG1. The main characters in this series are:

    One of the great strengths of this series is the interesting set of main characters and their development both individually and as a team over the course of the season. This set of characters and the less than serious tone of the whole series is what to my mind makes this series better than the original Stargate television series and the new version of Battlestar Galactica. I realise some will see this as a big call but I thoroughly enjoyed this series. The episodes are generally of high quality with good scripts and very good acting accompanied by some excellent special effects. The writing is quite amusing and includes many references to Star Trek which will please trekkies. There are only a couple of episodes which slip a little in quality but they do not slip very far, still being entertaining and worthwhile. Another excellent addition to this series is a new and completely different main enemy to SG1. The new enemy are the Wraith, a race of creatures who farm humans for food. They show no pity and treat humans as we would sheep or cows. Most of the planets in the Pegasus galaxy are used by them as farms. Another couple of minor changes include using spaceships called Puddle Jumpers to travel through stargates and also that the stargates are a new digital design rather than the analogue ones used in SG1.

    This five disc set includes all 20 episodes (if you count the pilot as 2) of the first season of the show plus plenty of extras which are detailed below. Annoyingly each disc also includes trailers before the menu for SG1 and Atlantis which seem a little redundant. At least you can skip through them. The show is currently in its second season in the US. The episodes are as follows:

  1. Rising (84:30) - An excellent pilot which establishes the concept well and incorporates some great special effects including space battles and the city itself. Upon arrival in the city the team find a hologrammatic message from the ancients explaining why the city was abandoned, along with a large variety of technology, some of which they can operate. Unfortunately, they quickly realise they are in grave danger and have no way to return to Earth because of the low power reserves in the city. They decide to use the stargate for local trips within the Pegasus galaxy, in order to visit local planets in the hope of obtaining more power modules, known as ZPMs (zero point modules). The first planet they visit is Athos where they meet Telya and her people. They explain to them about the treatment of the Wraith and the fact that the Wraith return every few years to cull the population. While they are visiting Athos, some of their party are captured by the Wraith including the military commander, Colonel Sumner (Robert Patrick from Terminator 2). When they try to rescue those captured they learn more about the Wraith including their abilities to regenerate after wounds and their ability to make people see things which aren't really there. Unfortunately, the rescue mission is not completely successful and causes a much larger population of Wraith to be alerted and therefore awaken from hibernation. This becomes the central threat to Atlantis throughout the first season. I have tried not to give away everything which occurs in this first episode.
  2. Hide and Seek (41:58) - The team have worked out what the gene is which enables humans to control ancient technology and try to isolate it so they can inject others with it. The first trial is on McKay. After some technical malfunctions it becomes obvious that something or someone else is on Atlantis and they need to work out what it is and how to get rid of it. This is one of the two slightly off the pace episodes, which although still entertaining are not up to the high standard of the rest of the season.
  3. Thirty-Eight Minutes (41:55) - The regular recon team of Shepherd, Teyla, McKay and Ford return from a mission with an alien insect attached to Shepherd's neck sucking his bodily fluids. As they try to return through the stargate, a problem with the puddle jumper results in them getting stuck halfway through. They have only 38 minutes to solve the problems before the stargate closes on them leaving them in space with only half a spaceship. A very good episode.
  4. Suspicion (41:55) - The recon team return from a patrol where they encountered the Wraith and there is suspicion that someone has been tipping the Wraith off about their movements. The Athosians are suspected by some of the team from Earth and tensions spiral. Another very good episode.
  5. Childhood's End (41:55) - Another recon mission sees the team arriving on a planet where there is a strong energy field which causes the puddle jumper to crash. They encounter a civilisation which consists of only people under 25. This is because they kill themselves when they turn 25 as they believe this keeps the Wraith away. Another great episode.
  6. Poisoning the Well (41:55) - They visit another planet and encounter the Hoffans, an old fashioned civilisation who believe they have nearly developed an antidote for the poison used by the Wraith to paralyse their victims before eating them. Dr Beckett agrees to help them and starts to fall for their lead scientist.
  7. Home (41:55) - An intriguing episode in which they visit another planet which seems to have nothing except lots of energy. Mckay believes the energy should allow them to open a wormhole back to Earth. They do so, however all does not seem right.
  8. Underground (41:49) - Another very good episode where they visit a planet inhabited by a simple 'Amish' style people called the Genii in order to trade with them for food. They discover there is more to these people than meets the eye. Guest stars Colm Meaney as the Genii leader.
  9. The Storm (41:55) - The first half of an excellent mid season double episode. Shepherd discovers that a huge storm is headed toward Atlantis which could cause great damage and loss of life. They decide to move some of the people off Atlantis until after the storm, but the planet who agrees to shelter the people has other plans. Guest stars Robert Davi.
  10. The Eye (41:33) - Fantastic conclusion to the previous episode which includes some incredible special effects. It is very dramatic and obviously involves the eye of the storm. Watch out for the cat fight!
  11. The Defiant One (41:54) - The recon team find an old satellite built by the ancients in space. While investigating they receive a distress beacon from a close-by planet. Shepherd, McKay and two other scientists investigate, finding an old Wraith ship which has been stranded for thousands of years.
  12. Hot Zone (41:54) - Groups of people are checking the structural validity of Atlantis after the storm, however two of their number die mysteriously after seeing visions. McKay believes it could be an infection and the situation worsens as others start to die. This was the second episode which I thought was a little below par, especially the unbelievable ending.
  13. Sanctuary (84:30) - While out on a recon patrol the team are saved from the Wraith by a powerful energy weapon emanating from a nearby planet. The investigate and find an old style culture with very little technological advancement. They meet the planet's high priestess, Chaya, who explains that they live in peace with no fear of the Wraith.
  14. Before I Sleep (41:54) - While exploring Atlantis they come across a very old woman in stasis. When they wake her up they discoverer she has been there for 10,000 years and seems to know a lot about them.
  15. The Brotherhood (41:52) - They visit a planet looking for a ZPM which they believe to be there. They find that the planet was previously inhabited by a brotherhood of monks who were entrusted with a ZPM by the ancients. The team have to solve a puzzle to find it but the Genii have other ideas.
  16. Letter From Pegasus (41:54) - The first in a series of four episodes which build to the end of season cliffhanger. Due to the fact that three Wraith hive ships are headed toward Atlantis, McKay devises a way to send a message back to Earth and all of the team record messages to send to their loved ones. Not a spectacular episode but important in the build up.
  17. The Gift (41:55) - This episode includes some major plot developments involving Teyla, bad dreams and a search for weapons to combat the Wraith.
  18. The Siege Pt 1 (41:54) - Great episode in which involves McKay and a team of scientists trying to use the ancient satellite as a weapon against the Wraith, Shepherd searching for worlds to evacuate to and Zalenka working on a complete self-destruct mechanism. Excellent finish to the episode plus there are growing tensions between Teyla and the mission's head of security, Bates.
  19. The Siege Pt 2 (41:54) - The Wraith arrive in Atlantis but so does some unexpected assistance. Includes some excellent space battle scenes and ends in a cliffhanger. Great episode.

    Overall this is an excellent season of science fiction television with interesting multi-dimensional characters, well written story ideas, great special effects and a strong desire to not take itself too seriously. Highly recommended.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good but not without some minor issues.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is probably the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was clear and sharp throughout except for an occasional soft passage especially noticeable in the episode Before I Sleep. It seemed to be related to a noticeable drop in bit rate during that episode. There was no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was generally excellent.

    The colour was very good throughout with only some minor colour bleeding, especially from light colours, to mar it.

    There was some aliasing and some jagged edges around, although this was mostly mild in nature such as on the wire fences in the Atlantis control room, a grille at 1:21 in Episode 1 and some shorts and jackets from time to time. I also noticed some mild macro-blocking in backgrounds during the episode Before I Sleep.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired and German and Finnish on disc 1 plus French & Dutch on the other discs. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read and included some summarisation. It is a bit bizarre to have different subtitle options on some discs.

    The layer changes seem to occur between episodes as they were not noticeable.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is very good.

    The first disc contains only English and German Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks encoded at 448 Kb/s, whereas the other discs add a French 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack also at 448 Kb/s. This is very strange. Having said that, if you speak English it will not bother you.

    Dialogue was really the only reason that the sound did not achieve an excellent rating from me. Unfortunately the dialogue is sometimes a little muffled and other times drowned out by effects. I found the need to have the subtitles on sometimes.

    The score of this film by Joel Goldsmith is excellent, very suitable to the nature of the program and quite stirring as required.

    The surround speakers were used for quite a lot of effects including spaceships flying past, battle scenes, the storm and explosions. Considering this is television rather than a major motion picture the surround use is excellent.

    The subwoofer was also well used for spaceships and explosions.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are copious extras spread over all five discs. Unlike many extras, these are light-hearted and entertaining which makes them well worth your time. All featurettes are presented 4x3 and in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. There is something here for everyone.

Menu

    The menu included a nice technical design, music, motion and access to subtitle and audio options. As I mentioned above, the menu of each disc was preceded by trailers (the same on each disc).

Disc 1

Stargate : Atlantis Set Tour With Martin Wood and Peter DeLuise (11:20)

    Two of the directors take us on an amusing and tongue in cheek tour of the various sets, showing off the various props and introducing members of the cast & crew. Worthwhile.

Preview to Stargate : Atlantis (23:01)

    A good quality featurette about how this series came into being including its development, the concept, art direction, casting and character development. Includes interview with major cast & crew.

Production Design & Photo Gallery (3:20)

    Various stills without sound or music.

WWW (0:31)

    This option appears on all discs and plays a 30 second promo for the Stargate fanclub website.

Disc 2

Diary of Rainbow Sun Francks (9:14)

    A video diary by the actor where he discusses his last minute casting, his experiences on set, his interactions with other cast members, his favourite episodes and some anecdotes. Pretty good.

Mission Directive : The Storm, The Eye (5:59)

    A behind the scenes featurette about these episodes including how they created the big storm and other effects. Slightly bizarre in that the episode in question is not on this disc.

Commentary - Childhood's End - Writer Martin Gero with actors Rachel Luttrell & Rainbow Sun Francks

    Good quality commentary which is light-hearted and still informative. They discuss the locations, some items of trivia, goofs, technical detail, the guest cast members and the storyline. There is also some joking about Rachel Luttrell's wigs.

Production Design & Photo Gallery (4:00)

    Various stills without sound or music.

WWW (0:31)

    This option appears on all discs and plays a 30 second promo for the Stargate fanclub website.

Disc 3

Mission Directive : The Sanctuary (11:33)

    Behind the scenes of this episode with director and actors. Not overly interesting and strangely the episode in question is on the subsequent disc.

Wraithal Discrimination : It's Not Easy Being Green (11:27)

    A featurette about the Wraith and the actors who play them. Most are played by only two actors. Includes detail of the special effects used, makeup and interviews with the cast & crew. Not bad.

Commentary - The Storm - Director, Martin Wood, Writer Martin Gero with actor David Hewlett

    A good quality commentary which is light-hearted and interesting. It includes discussion of the genesis of the idea for the double episode, fitting in all the exposition, trivia, humour in the show, technical info, anecdotes and pointing out continuity errors. Good stuff.

Commentary - The Eye - Director, Martin Wood, Writer Martin Gero with actor David Hewlett

    Really a continuation of the previous commentary with the same people. This time they cover creating the storm, the experience of shooting while everything was very wet and sound issues caused by the on-set effects. More quality stuff.

Commentary - The Defiant One - Director Peter DeLuise & Stunt Co-ordinator Dan Shea

    It should be noted that Dan Shea is not the stunt co-ordinator for this show but rather for SG1. It seems like they decided to do another commentary after doing one for an episode of SG1. Shea knows very little about this show and DeLuise spends a lot of time explaining things to him, which becomes annoying. Despite this there is still some interesting information about the cast, locations, sets, art directions and tricks for stretching the budget. Not as good as the other commentaries.

Production Design & Photo Gallery (4:00)

    Various stills without sound or music.

WWW (0:31)

    This option appears on all discs and plays a 30 second promo for the Stargate fanclub website.

Disc 4

Mission Directive : Before I Sleep (13:56)

    Behind the scenes featurette which focuses on how they achieved having one actress play two characters in this episode. OK but a bit long.

Mission Directive : The Brotherhood (14:11)

    Behind the scenes featurette which again is decent but too long for the amount of information provided.

Behind the Stargate : Secrets Revealed Part 1 (21:55)

    Documentary hosted by David Hewlett which responds to questions from audience members about some of the show's secrets. It covers both SG1 and Atlantis and is light-hearted and quite entertaining. It includes trivia, jokes, crew and cast interviews and how special effects were achieved. Worth watching especially for fans.

Commentary - Hot Zone - Writer Martin Gero with actors Rachel Luttrell, Paul McGillion & Rainbow Sun Francks

    Another good quality commentary which includes the rest of the commentators asking McGillion various questions and covers sets and other trivia about the episode.

Production Design & Photo Gallery (4:00)

    Various stills without sound or music.

WWW (0:31)

    This option appears on all discs and plays a 30 second promo for the Stargate fanclub website.

Disc 5

Mission Directive : The Siege (11:12)

    Behind the scenes featurette on the season ending episode which is focussed on the director Martin Wood and is frankly a bit silly.

Behind the Stargate : Secrets Revealed Part 1 (19:35)

    Continuation of the featurette on Disc 4 which continues with the light-hearted approach to answering viewer questions about both Atlantis and SG1.

A look back on Season One with Martin Gero (17:23)

    Although some of this extra is interesting, too much of the running time is taken up with silly jokes involving Gero asking the cast what they thought of the writing and them pretending to either not know who he is or slagging off the writing. When he does get to the point he covers some worthwhile stuff about casting, stories, the characters, guest stars and answers some fan questions. Not bad but a bit annoying.

Preview to Season 2 (8:37)

    An interesting extra where the creators talk about what they think will change in Season 2 and some new set designs are discussed and shown. Worth a look.

Commentary - The Gift - Director Peter DeLuise & Actor Gary Jones

    Once again in this commentary DeLuise is paired with someone from SG1 rather than Atlantis which means he knows nothing about the show. They discuss casting, acting and guests but it's nothing special as a commentary.

Commentary - The Siege Pt 1 - Director, Martin Wood, Writer Martin Gero with actor David Hewlett

    Another good quality commentary which covers the idea for the episode, writing, trivia, shooting complexities and other details.

Commentary - The Siege Pt 2 - Director, Martin Wood, Writer Martin Gero with actor David Hewlett

    A continuation of the previous commentary. The menu indicates that Joe Flanagan also appears on this commentary but I did not hear him, so maybe he was just there in spirit.

Production Design & Photo Gallery (4:00)

    Various stills without sound or music.

WWW (0:31)

    This option appears on all discs and plays a 30 second promo for the Stargate fanclub website.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This series is also available in Region 1. The differences are as follows;

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    So you are comparing five commentaries to five featurettes, so it probably depends on which style of extra you prefer. Let's call it a draw.

Summary

    An excellent new science fiction series which betters the show it was spun off from in my opinion.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The set has a large collection of extras, mostly of good to very good quality.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Sunday, December 11, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Many Alantis discs have scratches -
I was actually pleasantly surprised by this show! - REPLY POSTED