Stargate Atlantis Volume 5 Review
Volume 5 brings Stargate Atlantis Season 1 to a close with episodes 17 to 20...
Episode 17: Letter from Pegasus
With confirmation of three Wraith Hive ships less than two weeks away from Atlantis Weir and her team of experts are looking for ways to strengthen their position. McKay suggests a plan he's been developing which would allow them to relay a message to mission control back on Earth, not that they can send any help but that Atlantis could at least share the data they have gathered before their potential demise. It also allows the entire expedition team a chance to record personal messages for their loved ones, an intriguing little character development trick by the writers which at its worst invites one too many clips from previous episodes as the characters reminisce, and at its best some wonderful video messages from the key players including McKay who remains a favourite of mine. His musings on everything from movies he will never get a chance to see to what makes the better pet, a dog or a cat, are all here along with a personal spin on his heroic (or not so heroic) actions over the course of the expedition. All are a genuine treat and cause for many laugh out loud moments. Weir takes the opportunity to record messages to the families of those lost on the expedition, creating for some sympathetic moments that give further credibility to her purpose as leader while a few other regulars just extend their base characteristics in brief messages. Something not done enough is the usage of tertiary characters and here the opportunity is both taken and missed, with a female scientist recording an amusing message confessing her interest in McKay whom she works for and a scientist we've seen before listing mistakes by the leadership in response to Weir embarrassing him back in the episode "39 Minutes". The opportunity is then missed when Weir speaks of the entire team’s heroics cuing a clip show focusing on McKay, Sheppard and well, that's about it. Not exactly showing diversity here are they? Interspersed between these regular activities on Atlantis is Teyla and Sheppard's reconnaissance mission to confirm the Wraith threat, which in turn leads to some harrowing scenes as they are forced to witness a Wraith culling they can do little about.
Episode 18: The Gift
Tensions remain high but none more so that Teyla whose ability to sense the Wraith is causing her restless nights filled with horrific visions. Enter Kate, a beautiful psychologist to help bolster the female contingent on the show as she begins working with Teyla to uncap the source of this connection which causes such duress in Teyla, not just because of the cold fear it strikes in her but the reaction it draws from others knowing the link she has. Probing into Rachel Lutrell's character and giving us our first glimpse at the Athosian people’s new settlement (and them for quite some time come to think of it) Teyla returns to consult one of the elders as the mystery behind this connection begins to unravel and leads to some interesting plot and character developments that will have a greater purpose in the pending episodes.
Episodes 19-20: The Siege Parts 1 & 2
Desperate times call for desperate measures and with the Wraith Hive ships just hours away last ditch efforts are coming into effect all around Atlantis. Weir and Zelenka are working on a way to purge the Atlantis computer systems and destroy the city should their defence fail, while Sheppard and Ford are looking for a planet to evacuate their people too. Meanwhile McKay and a small team revisit the ancients defence satellite in an attempt to bring it back online and Teyla fights against the prejudices the head of security Bates has always held against her, recently boiling over thanks to her new found connection to the Wraith. All of this takes place prior to the main event with a familiar face on the secondary character roster making an honourable sacrifice as the team's emotions start boiling over. Another strong episode the opening part of The Siege shows each of the central characters working to their strengths with Zelenka now very much another of the pivotal team members, even more important than Carson who is left here mainly for some not very effective comic relief. The lead-up to part two of this cliff-hanger finale to Season 1 is well executed and the action continues unabated with the second part introducing a few new characters as an unexpected blessing arrives through the Stargate. By the time "To Be Continued..." is printed onscreen you will have seen many signposted character swings take place as stereotypes play out amongst the new - and more than likely temporary - cast members while the special effects crew are working overtime to provide a full scale war over the city. Packed with explosions and "where to next" moments for the characters we're left to ponder similar questions ourselves with numerous cliff-hanger moments for the main cast as we await Season 2...
Menu design and coding for the discs to Regions 2 and 4 remain constant but so sadly does the chaptering structure making it more annoying than it should to skip the title and “previously on” sequences, while the presence of forced SG-1 and Atlantis trailers are now made worse by an additional videogame trailer to sit through.
Picture and Sound
Presented in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen the high production values and impressive special effects continue to look good with a clean transfer boasting good detail levels and solid colour reproduction. There is some minor artefacting that will be more noticeable the larger your display, but beyond this I can see little to complain about. Likewise the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is particularly impressive on this volume with The Siege episodes boasting a wide soundstage filled with the sounds of war around the city.
A German Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is also present, with subtitles on the episodes available in English, German and Finnish. Extras are subtitled in English and German only.
In the 'Transport Chamber' you'll find a Mission Directive featurette on The Siege which focuses on the director Martin Wood and features typical Atlantis special feature humour as the cast and crew deride the director's character while he plays the imposing guy that loves himself. Behind the Stargate: Secrets Revealed is another twenty minute look at both SG-1 and Atlantis with interviews on the set with the many cast members as they answer questions from the fans. A Look Back at Season One with Martin Gero is a 17-minute featurette in which one of the main writers and story editors for Atlantis Season 1 takes a look at the writing process and how the series has progressed over the course of Season 1. Once again the featurette is topped off with some humour that sees every actor and crew member interviewed by Gero pretending to not understand who he is or what the writers do, with the cast suggesting they make up the stories as they go along. It gets old fast but seems to be the de rigueur by this point in the extra features produced for the DVD releases. Preview to Season 2 is an 8-minute featurette that rather than show any clips or give any real definitive answers instead offers the show’s creators talking about their plans for the second season.
Another less-than-interesting photo gallery and weblink make up the remaining features on the disc.
The first season of Stargate Atlantis has developed over the course of its twenty episode run like most opening seasons do, with some tentative steps along the way as the writers and actors find their feet and ultimately play off each other to determine how the overall character arcs will develop. Entire colonies have been lost along the way, with the Athosian people now seemingly left to their own devices and with good reason, they were ultimately rather dull and the conflicts which arose out of their traditional ways proved to be an obstacle rather than an aid to the series progression. In a similar vein we have seen secondary and tertiary characters from the Atlantis expedition crew come and go with very few making any real impression, but when they have (Zelenka) they have rightfully been developed enhancing both the primary characters and the resources available to solve the various problems that have presented themselves to the Atlantis team. The central cast have remained approachable from the very offset, claiming their place in the main roster with only the occasional lapse in interest, such as the relatively under-developed characters of Beckett and Ford. Weir, McKay, Sheppard and to a lesser extent Teyla have all proven themselves to be good leads who can make the occasionally boring genre episodes more entertaining than they have a right to be, mostly thanks to the actor’s who portray them and bring a sense of camaraderie and charm to the proceedings. Direction over the course of the season has been steady with a core group maintaining the look and feel of the show adequately, though many of the action set-pieces could do with a little more verve on the director’s part and some blood and sweat on the part of the production crew with the series edging more towards Star Trek’s sanitised look and feel than say the homely, lived in sets of Firefly. On the whole though this has been a strong opening season that with some harsh decisions by the creators can only improve for season two and beyond.
Last updated: 29/05/2018 08:06:56