This series is one that is definitely worth owning on Blu-ray, not just because of the extras, not just because it has strong visual effects that benefit from the sharper resolution, but because it's one of the few series that drags you back again and again. I'm not certain how many times I've gone through the 100 episodes of Stargate: Atlantis, but if I did, It would probably be so embarrassingly high I wouldn't say. In a lot of ways, this show is a kind of guilty pleasure. It belongs to an entirely different branch on television's evolutionary tree than shows like Breaking Bad, The Wire, Rome, Game of Thrones, and The Sopranos. It was a spinoff of a spinoff, with a modest budget and meager studio expectations. And as much as I love the show, the fact that in the 15 season history of Atlantis and SG-1 they never dealt with the stupidity of every alien in two galaxies speaking English -- when you can't go a city block without running into language problems -- is an indicator of how seriously the producers took the show (to be fair, blame rests with the original showrunners of SG-1; after leaving it unaddressed for the first couple seasons, it was too late. All the writers could do was 'hang a lantern on it' every so often, smile and shrug). But it did have some talented writers, like Martin Gero, whose skill with witty dialogue helped make Dr. Rodney MacKay and Lt.Colonel John Shepherd such memorable characters, and whose scientific knowledge aided with introducing some conceptual vigor to storylines. Carl Binder and SG-1 standouts Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie were also key factors in the show's appeal. And of course, the cast was likely the show's strongest element. Finding Joe Flanigan for the part of John Shepherd was a stroke of luck; his charisma and wry, laid-back sense of humor made him as strong a lead as Richard Dean Anderson was for SG-!. But David Hewlett, bringing his obnoxious, arrogant, but oddly compelling portrayal of MacKay from guest spots on SG-1 to Atlantis, was unquestionably the series' most memorable character, a perfect counterpoint to the whitebread perfection of Samantha Carter. Like Hewlett, Torri Higginson was introduced on SG-1, appearing in season 8 as Dr. Elizabeth Weir, replacing the actress originally picked to play Weir in the season 7 finale. Higginson was excellent in Atlantis, portraying Weir as an intelligent, compassionate, yet effective leader, willing to take good advice, but decisive and always able to make the hard decisions. I personally thought it was a mistake to (kind of) kill off her character in season 4 to make room for Col. Carter as new leader of the Atlantis Expedition, but the move obviously made sense to studio execs looking to ensure SG-1 fans made the jump to the Pegasus Galaxy. Amanda Tapping was fine, but bailed after one season; instead of writing Weir back in, Star Trek: Voyager and Stargate veteran Robert Picardo took over.
There have been many occasions when I've been reminded of how entertaining Atlantis was; while not every episode was great, 9 out of every 10 were at the least enjoyable, a far higher percentage than most series can boast. For me, Stargate: Atlantis stands the test of repeated viewings better than series that are, in most ways, superior. The Sopranos and Breaking Bad were masterpieces, but there's no way I want to watch them again every few months. Atlantis can be returned to in the same way The Simpsons: Season 3 - 10 or Seinfeld can be returned to. And as thoroughly watchable as the original Star Trek and it's followup series can be, at best 6 episodes out of 10 stand up... which makes Atlantis one of the most logical boxset-Bluray purchases around. If only they could have had another couple seasons... oh well, 100 episodes is a mark few shows get to hit.
One of the big arcs of the "Stargate SG-1" series was finding the Lost City of the Ancients, also known as Atlantis.
It also turned into fertile fodder for a spinoff series (come on, you KNEW they had to make one eventually). And though it had a slightly shaky start -- much like its parent series -- the following seasons saw "Stargate: Atlantis" blossom out into a solid sci-fi series with a legendary series, new alien parasites, and new nasty machines from long ago.
At the Antarctic base, Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) has finally figured out the location of Atlantis -- in the Pegasus galaxy. General Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) lets an exploratory unit to go to Atlantis -- even though they don't have the power to return back to the Milky Way, and will be stranded there.
So Dr. Elizabeth Weir (Torri Higginson) leads an international group of scientists and military personnel to another galaxy, and arrive in the sunken Ancient city of Atlantis. After some initial problems, the ancient city is secured and has risen above the water -- but unfortunately the military unit, including Major John Sheppard (Joe Flanigan), have run afoul of the parasitic, life-sucking alien Wraith, who destroyed the Pegasus Ancients long ago.
And the Pegasus galaxy has plenty of its own dangers -- nanoviruses, spies, life-sucking bugs, cannibal Wraith, enzyme addicts, whales, an egomaniac baker, weird Ancient devices, Wraiths transformed into humans (and vice versa), "alternate reality drives," Ancient artifacts, crooked businessmen, fear machines, a race of hybrid bug monsters, crystalline nightmare aliens, and a race of ruthless soldiers pretending to be Amish-like farmers.
The Atlantis base regains contact with Earth, but this may not be enough to save them from the Wraith's attempts to gain control of Atlantis, and an Ancient experiment gone horribly wrong. At the same time, Atlantis receives two new commander -- first Colonel Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), formerly of SG-1, and then the once-fussy Woolsey (Robert Picardo).
The whole idea was introduced over a few seasons of "Stargate SG-1," some of the characters were also recurring characters, and Tapping was a regular. Teal'c and Daniel even drop in. And while the first season is a bit bland ("The romancing of the alien priestess? It's very 1967 of you," Rodney snipes) the storyline hits its stride in the second season.
And it has plenty of sci-fi staples -- ugly nasty aliens, tightly wound scientists, little tubular ships, explosions, moral quandaries and a bit of classic-style horror (just look at Michael's "experiments"). But it doesn't lose its laid-back style, and the dialogue is pretty great, with lots of one-liners and snappy exchanges, with the occasional pop culture reference ("It's the ultimate answer to the great question of life, the universe and everything!").
Most are from Rodney ("Just once, I would like to be taken prisoner by the sexy alien!"), and Sheppard ("But then I'd be The Man, and who would I have to rage against?"). But there's humor from everyone ("He put his hand in my forehead! How can you resist that?" "Well, I like to close my eyes and think of England"), including the Wraith ("I hope they prove as delicious as the farmers who grew them").
One thing Atlantis does have is a high cast turnover, compared to the relatively unchanging cast of the previous series. But Flanigan has a nice O'Neillian snap to his performance ("I HATE clowns!"), David Hewlett is hilarious as the antisocial, ever-exasperated scientist, Tapping and Wigginson are solid commanders, and Paul McGillion is adorable as a Scottish doctor. And while Rachel Luttrell and Jason Momoa are never quite as endearingly alien as SG-1's Teal'c (who makes a guest appearance), they are quite solid as a psychic martial-artist and a rough-edged warrior.
As for the long-waited blu-ray series release, they FINALLY released details on the extras. It looks like the extras are pretty much the same as in the standard DVDs, with lots of episode commentaries from actors, directors and producers, actor profiles, photo galleries, character introductions, set tours, "mission directives," deleted scenes, and special behind-the-scenes featurettes focusing on unusual situations ("Dr Jackson Goes to Atlantis"). Among others.
"Stargate Atlantis" loses a few too many cast members, but the storylines and aliens add a fresh dimension to the Stargate universe. Definitely worth the while.