While the Kurt Russell/James Spader 1994 movie "Stargate" (a film about ancient gates that allowed beings to travel huge distances across space to other gates) likely remains a fuzzy memory for all but the film's fans, the story has lived on in a way that I think few likely expected. First, "Stargate SG-1" (which stars "MacGyver"'s Richard Dean Anderson) became a hit in syndication, starting in 1997 and running a whopping ten seasons so far, showing no signs of slowing down.
Now, "Trek"-like, the series spawned a number of spin-offs including "Stargate: Atlantis", an enjoyable effort that aired on the Sci-fi channel. The series has a new team of scientists who head to the distant Pegasus galaxy, where they find the mythical lost city - and a deadly enemy in the Wraiths, a vampire-like species that snacks on humans. Lead by Major John Sheppard (Joe Flanigan), the explorers must defend themselves from wraith attacks while learning about their mysterious new world.
While all five seasons are absolutely worth viewing, the fourth season of the series is certainly a highlight, continuing where the terrific cliffhanger of season three left off - the power system of Atlantis has been severely damaged, shutting down artifical gravity and causing decompression. With the shields begining to fail, McKay only has a limited time to try and figure out a solution before it's too late. Some of the highlights of this season include: "Lifeline" (Col Sheppard leads his team to the core of the Replicator home world to steal a ZPM, while Col. Samantha Carter - aboard the Apollo - races against time to locate Atlantis), "The Seer" (While trying to find her people, Teyla and the team meet a man with extraordinary prophetic abilities who predicts a frightening future for Atlantis), "This Mortal Coil" (The worst fears of the Atlantis team may be realized when a mysterious drone crashes into the city) and the finale, "The Last Man"
The show's production values prove that it is quite possible for a cable series to still look quite dazzling at times. The show's visual effects artists quite capably fill out the show's many on-screen battles with an impressive level of detail and controlled chaos. Production design and cinematography are also excellent, and the entire production consistently offers viewers a show with the looks of a feature film. Performances are excellent, including the great addition of "X-Files" star Mitch Pileggi as Col. Steven Caldwell.
This set includes all five seasons.
VIDEO: The show is presented on Blu-Ray with an excellent transfer in the show's original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The presentation remained crisp and detailed throughout much of the running time, with the Blu-Ray appearing noticeably crisper than the DVD, with better small object detail. No edge enhancement was noticed, but a few scenes did display some minor artifacting. Colors looked bold and bright, with excellent saturation and no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: "Stargate: Atlantis" is presented in DTS-HD 5.1. Unlike most shows, the series makes good use of 5.1 audio, putting the surrounds to work to deliver plenty of various sound effects (laser fire, ships, etc.) and ambience. Audio quality is marvelous, with a full, rich-sounding score and powerful, well-recorded effects. Dialogue also remains clear, even in the most intense sequences.
EXTRAS: Season 1: Most episodes include commentary from cast and crew. We also get "A Look Back on Season 1 with Martin Gero", "Mission Directive: The Siege", "Mission Directive: "The Storm/The Eye", "Mission Directive: "Before I Sleep", "Mission Directive: "Sanctuary", "Diary of Rainbow Sun Francks", "Wraithal Discrimination", "Tour With Martin Wood and Peter DeLuise".
Season 2: All episodes include audio commentary from cast and/or crew. We also get photo galleries, production design gallery, "Mission Directive: The Intruder" featurette, "Mission Directive: The Siege - Part III" featurette, "Mission Directive: Instinct" featurette, "Introduction to a Character: Ronon Dex" featurette, "Road to Dream" featurette with writer Martin Gero, "Profile on David Hewlett" featurette and "Stargate Atlantis: Stunts" featurette.
Season 3: Audio commentary from cast/crew on all episodes. "Mission Directive" featurettes for "Sateda", "Progeny", "Phantoms", "The Game" and "First Strike", as well as "A Look Back on Season 3", "Masters of the Alien", "General O'Neill Goes to Atlantis", "Inside Visual FX" and "Rachel Luttrell" featurettes.
Season 4: All episodes include audio commentary from cast and/or crew. We also get photo galleries, production design gallery, "Mission Directive: This Mortal Coil With Will Warring", "Mission Directive: Quarantine With Martin Wood", "MIssion Directive: Outcast With Andy Mikita", "Making Of" featurette for "Trio", "A Look Back at Season 4" featurette, "A New Leader: Amanda Tapping Joins Atlantis" featurette, "Mission Directive: Doppelganger With Robert C. Cooper" featurette, "The Doctor Is In: The Return of Paul McGillion" featurette, deleted scenes, bloopers.
Season 5: Audio commentary by cast/crew on all episodes. "Mission Directive" featurettes on "Search and Rescue", "Whispers", "Tracker" and "Brainstorm", as well as "Stargate Atlantis Goes to Vegas", "Inside the Stargate Costume Department", "The Life and Death of Michael Kenmore", "Dr Jackson Goes to Atlantis", "Tricks of the Trade", "Joe Flanigan: A Conversation with the Colonel", "Bringing the Seed to Life" and "Showdown: Ronon vs. Tyre" featurettes. Also included: deleted scenes.
Over 50 hours of bonus features are included.
Final Thoughts: Fans will be thrilled by this Blu-Ray set, which delivers the entire series with terrific audio/video quality, as well as 50+ hours of extras. Recommended.