Stargate: Atlantis-Season 3 (2006)

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Released 25-Sep-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Audio Commentary-On 19 episodes
Featurette-Making Of-For 5 episodes 'Mission Directive'
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Inside the VFX Department
Featurette-Profile On : Rachel Luttrell
Gallery-Photo
Featurette-General O'Neill goes to Atlantis
Featurette-Masters of the Alien
Featurette-A Look back at Season 3
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 835:46
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

Twentieth Century Fox
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 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/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
French
Dutch
English Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

        Back in 1994, a movie called Stargate was released which was very popular (although not 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 has now finished after its 10th season on US television. This spinoff series, Stargate: Atlantis used 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. Now in Season 3 the team have been through a variety of ups and downs, added (and subtracted) members and investigated the Pegasus galaxy.

    The characters in this series are mostly new, although some have appeared in a few episodes of the original series. 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. The episodes are generally of high quality with good scripts and very good acting accompanied by some excellent special effects (these have even become better in this third season). The writing is quite amusing and includes many references to other shows including Star Trek. Another excellent addition to this series is a new a 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.

    When I started watching this third season, I started to get very concerned as the first couple of episodes were very much like SG1, focussed more on bureaucracy and stuff going on back on earth rather than this series' strength being its core team. Luckily, after these first two episodes, which were only average, the quality goes back to what I have come to expect and does not let up until the end of the series. One of the episodes of this season caused much anger amongst fans of the series due to (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) the killing off of Dr Carson Beckett. This action by the show's producers caused a great outcry amongst fans including the creation of a website linked here to save his character. It would seem that the show's producers wanted to shake things up a bit as they were concerned that Atlantis would not be renewed once SG1 was canned.

    This five disc set includes all 20 episodes of the third season of the show (spread over 5 discs) plus plenty of extras which are detailed below. The show is currently in its fourth season in the US. The episodes are as follows:

  1. No Man's Land (41:42) - Continues Season 2's cliff-hanger. Weir gets recalled to Earth to face questions about her command whilst Wraith ships are trying to get to Earth. Continued in episode 2. One of the two average episodes mentioned above.
  2. Misbegotten (41:58) - The second average episode focuses on Beckett working on a vaccine to convert Wraiths into humans.
  3. Irresistible (41:38) - The team investigate a planet which shows signs of life. It seems to be run by a man called Lucius who has a cult of personality but little other obvious skills. A light and funny episode starring Richard Kind.
  4. Sateda (41:49) - One of the best episodes from any season of this show. The team are exploring a new planet. McKay gets shot in the bottom and Ronon gets captured and one of the Wraith remembers him from his runner days. They return him to his home planet of Sateda. Big full-bore action episode.
  5. Progeny (41:46) - The Atlantis team find a planet with a very advanced culture who seem to know Ancient technology very well. They have a much larger city much like Atlantis but all is not as it seems. Guest star - David Ogden Stiers.
  6. The Real World (41:48) - Weir wakes up in a psychiatric hospital on Earth and everything she believes is challenged.
  7. Common Ground (41:49) - Kolya, the rebel Genii first introduced in Series 1, captures Shepherd and wants to swap him for the current Genii leader. Shepherd needs to make a strange alliance to get away.
  8. McKay & Mrs Miller (41:48) - McKay's sister (played by Hewlett's real life sister) submits a Physics equation to her professor which gets picked up by the air force as a solution to a problem being faced by Atlantis. They want McKay to convince her to get involved, however, they have not seen each other for a while. This episode reveals Rodney's real first name and has some fun Red Dwarf links.
  9. Phantoms (41:49) - A team sent to a planet to investigate high energy readings does not return. The top team goes to investigate with Beckett. They start to get affected badly by something on the planet.
  10. The Return - Part I (41:47) - First half of mid-season double header. McKay has created a chain of stargates from Atlantis to Earth to make the trip easier and quicker. They notice what seems to be an ancient warship travelling below the speed of light. They find live ancients aboard.
  11. The Return - Part II (41:47) - Continues previous episode.
  12. Echoes (41:49) - The team starts seeing visions around the corridors. A large whale-type-thing which rescued McKay in season 2 starts circling the city.
  13. Irresponsible (41:48) - A planet supposedly has a super warrior who can single-handedly defeat the Wraith. The team investigate only to find it is their old friend Lucius from episode 3.
  14. Tao of Rodney (41:48) - They find a control room within the city which was activated during Episode 10. An energy pulse causes a major change in Rodney. Excellent episode.
  15. The Game (41:49) - They find a planet which has two competing civilisations, once of which seems to worship pictures of McKay. Seems somehow to be related to a game which Rodney & Shepherd have been playing.
  16. The Ark (41:54) - A really inventive episode in which Shepherd and McKay find an abandoned space station. When they power it up, someone appears and they have to work out what is going on.
  17. Sunday (41:48) - An explosion rocks Atlantis during a rare day off for the team. A slightly hard to follow episode due to time shifting but ends with major plot point which is explained in the spoiler above.
  18. Submersion (41:48) - The team are searching for a mobile drilling station under the ocean around Atlantis which is proving hard to find. Teyla senses the presence of a Wraith.
  19. Vengeance (41:48) - Atlantis has lost contact with a friendly settlement near a volcano. The team investigates and finds evidence of a large life form they have not encountered previously.
  20. First Strike (41:49) - The spaceship Apollo arrives from Earth with plans to launch a military offensive against the planet introduced in Episode 5. The Atlantis team are against this approach. Leaves a cliff-hanger for Season 4.

    Despite a slightly slow start and one highly controversial episode, this is another great season of science fiction television. Roll on Season 4! Highly recommended.

 

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is reasonable but nothing special.

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

    The picture was variable in clarity and sharpness with some sections being quite soft. It seemed to be related to a variable bit rate. There was no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was reasonable. There was some light MPEG grain from time to time.

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

    There were some aliasing and jagged edges around although mostly mild in nature such as on the wire fences in the Atlantis control room. There was some noticeable motion blur on some camera pans.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired for the show plus subtitles for the commentary. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read and included some summarisation. Subtitles are also available in German, French & Dutch.

    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 set contains English, German & French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks encoded at 384 Kb/s plus commentary tracks at 96 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was generally very good although occasionally 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 quite a lot of effects including spaceships flying past, battles 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, tension sounds 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. All featurettes are presented 4x3 and in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. Unfortunately, the commentaries for this season are by technical crew only, no actors, which is a shame. On a happier note just about every episode has one!

Menu

    The menu included a nice technical design, music, motion and access to subtitles and audio options.

Disc 1

Mission Directive: Sateda featuring Robert C. Cooper (15:37)

    Episode making of featurette hosted by the episode's director. Includes on set footage, discussions of the writing, stunts, characters and crew.

Inside the Stargate Atlantis Visual FX Department (17:56)

    A fairly tedious featurette about the FX department but there is some interesting stuff about the process of doing the FX and the people involved.

Commentary - Ep 1 - Writer/Director/Producers Martin Gero and Martin Wood

    Good quality commentary which is self deprecating and informative.

Commentary - Ep 2 - Writer/Director/Producer Martin Wood and Writer Paul Mullie

    Not quite as good as the first one but still worthwhile.

Commentary - Ep 3 - Writer/Director/Producer Martin Wood and Director of Photography Michael Blundell

    Good quality commentary which is more technical than the others.

Commentary - Ep 4 - Series creator Robert C Cooper & DOP Brenton Spencer

    Another quality commentary featuring lots of interesting discussion.

Production Design Gallery & Photo Gallery

    Various stills in two separate galleries.

Disc 2

Mission Directive : Progeny featuring Andy Mikita (10:59)

    Episode making of featurette hosted by the episode's director. Includes on set footage, discussions of the story, technical challenges, etc.

Profile on: Rachel Luttrell (14:59)

    A featurette on the actress and her character including interviews with her and other cast.

Commentary - Ep 5 - Director Andy Mikita & VFX Supervisor Mark Savela

    Decent but quite dry commentary. Savela is a bit boring.

Commentary - Ep 7 - Director William Waring & DOP Brenton Spencer

    Good quality commentary with a chatty, amusing style.

Commentary - Ep 8 - Writer/Director/Producers Martin Gero and Martin Wood

    Good quality commentary featuring anecdotes and trivia along with details of how Hewlett's sister got involved.

Production Design Gallery & Photo Gallery

    Various stills in two separate galleries.

Disc 3

Mission Directive: Phantoms featuring Martin Wood (14:44)

    Episode making of featurette hosted by the episode's director. Includes on set footage, discussions of the effects, stunts, characters and crew.

General O'Neill Goes to Atlantis (14:02)

    Featurette about how they used Richard Dean Anderson in some of the episodes. Snore.

Commentary - Ep 9 - Writer Carl Binder and Martin Wood

    Good quality commentary which is technically focused.

Commentary - Ep 10 & 11 - Writer/Director/Producer Martin Gero and Writer Paul Mullie

    A relaxed and fun commentary on the mid-season double episode.

Commentary - Ep 12 - Director William Waring & DOP Brenton Spencer

    Good quality commentary with a chatty, amusing style.

Production Design Gallery & Photo Gallery

    Various stills in two separate galleries.

Disc 4

Mission Directive : The Game featuring William Waring (13:36)

    Episode making of featurette hosted by the episode's director. Includes discussion about the concept of the episode, set design, props, green screen work and Jason Momoa playing guitar!

Masters of the Alien (17:55)

    Featurette about the makeup and prosthetics used for the Wraith and other characters.

Commentary - Ep 13 - Writer/Director/Producer Martin Wood and Director of Photography Michael Blundell

    An honest and informative commentary in which they discuss how they weren't completely happy with the episode.

Commentary - Ep 14 - Writer/Director/Producer Martin Wood and Director of Photography Michael Blundell

    Another honest and informative commentary from these two as they discuss stuff-ups and how some of the effects were done.

Commentary - Ep 15 - Director William Waring & DOP Brenton Spencer

    Good quality commentary which covers various difficulties in the shoot and some trivia.

Commentary - Ep 16 - Martin Wood & VFX Supervisor Mark Savela

    Decent commentary but Savela is once again a bit dry.

Production Design Gallery & Photo Gallery

    Various stills in two separate galleries.

Disc 5

Mission Directive: First Strike featuring Martin Wood (11:55)

    Behind the scenes featurette on the season ending episode which is focussed on the director Martin Wood and is not overly interesting.

Stargate Atlantis: A Look Back on Season 3 (20:20)

    Covers changes during the season including new bad guys, more of a focus on character interaction and increasing complexity of the Wraith. Also includes a preview of Season 4's direction.

Commentary - Ep 17 - Writer/Director/Producer Martin Gero and William Waring

    Covers the anger which this episode caused amongst the fan base and their reasoning for doing what happens in this episode. Good stuff.

Commentary - Ep 18 - Director Brenton Spencer and VFX Supervisor Mark Savela

    Savela brings us his usual dryness but Spencer is more interesting.

Commentary - Ep 19 - Director Andy Mikita & Creature Effects Designer Todd Masters

    Good commentary focused on the design for the new creatures in this episode.

Commentary - Ep 20 - Martin Gero, Martin Wood & Mark Savela

    Another good quality commentary to round out the season.

Production Design Gallery & Photo Gallery

    Various stills in two separate galleries.

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 only real difference between the sets is the languages; Region 1 only includes a French 2.0 track in addition to English. Let's call it a draw.

Summary

    An excellent science fiction series which betters the show it was spun off from.

    The video quality is average.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The set has a large collection of extras, mostly of good quality. However, none of them are really essential viewing.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, October 15, 2007
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
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

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