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 has spawned its first spin-off, "Stargate: Atlantis", an enjoyable effort that airs 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.
The fourth season of the series continues where the 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.
61. 4- 1 402 28 Sep 07 Adrift (2)
62. 4- 2 403 5 Oct 07 Lifeline (3)
63. 4- 3 407 12 Oct 07 Reunion
64. 4- 4 401 19 Oct 07 Doppelganger
65. 4- 5 404 26 Oct 07 Travelers
66. 4- 6 406 2 Nov 07 Tabula Rasa
67. 4- 7 405 9 Nov 07 Missing
68. 4- 8 408 16 Nov 07 The Seer
69. 4- 9 412 30 Nov 07 Miller's Crossing
70. 4-10 409 7 Dec 07 This Mortal Coil (1)
71. 4-11 410 4 Jan 08 Be All My Sins Remember'd (2)
72. 4-12 411 11 Jan 08 Spoils of War (3)
73. 4-13 413 18 Jan 08 Quarantine
74. 4-14 417 25 Jan 08 Harmony
75. 4-15 419 1 Feb 08 Outcast
76. 4-16 418 8 Feb 08 Trio
77. 4-17 416 15 Feb 08 Midway
78. 4-18 414 22 Feb 08 The Kindred (1)
79. 4-19 415 29 Feb 08 The Kindred (2)
80. 4-20 420 7 Mar 08 The Last Man (1)
VIDEO: "Stargate: Atlantis" episodes are presented here in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, the show's original aspect ratio. The presentation remained crisp and detailed throughout much of the episodes, with only a couple of slightly soft moments here-and-there. 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 Dolby Digital 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: 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.
Final Thoughts: "Stargate: Atlantis" is a terrifically entertaining spin-off to the enjoyable original series, with great performances, an engaging story and great visuals. The DVD provides loads of bonus features and very good audio/video quality. Recommended, although those new to the show should definitely start off with the first season or risk being lost.