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The series may have ended just at the right time.

DVD Review: Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Fifth Season

Written by Pirata Hermosa

While the final season of Stargate Atlantis may have come to a conclusion, the final story has not been written for the crew of Earth’s most famous and mythical city, Atlantis. Having reached the all-important fifth season where the show can reach its full syndication potential, it can now be spun off into films released on DVD as to take advantage of a fanbase now forced to pay for something that they once received for free.

The Sci-Fi Channel, which originally aired the series, has always been known for cutting shows too soon, but after watching the final season, they may have done it just at the right time. The show may have survived a change in command from Dr. Elizabeth Weir (Michelle Morgan) to Colonel Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), and the loss of Dr. Carson Beckett (Paul McGillion) and his replacement by Dr. Jennifer Keller (Jewell Staite), but season five starts with a change in command once again.

Richard Woolsey (Robert Picardo), who was once a major opponent of the Stargate project, has now taken over for the Colonel after only one year of command. It is surprising that a show can withstand so many character changes, but it’s a sign that the other various behind-the-scenes issues might be affecting the show.

Two other indications that the show may have run its course show up in the episodes “Inquisition” and “Remnants.” “Inquisition” is nothing more than a typical clip show. The Atlantis team is abducted by a council that puts them on trial for everything that they have done during their five-year stay in the Pegasus galaxy. Not only is this type of episode incredibly boring, but it’s been done many times before. “Remnants” is almost as bad as a clip show, but without the clips. This is the equally boring performance-review episode where Woolsey must justify all of his command decisions to some appointed overseer who will evaluate him and decide whether or not he is fit to command. It is somewhat ironic, since Woolsey is the one who evaluated the original Stargate team, SG-1, in the previous TV series. Thankfully, there is a secondary storyline that is more interesting than the main plot.

Even with a few weak episodes mixed in with the regular season, the episodes still work. After seeing a group of characters evolve over five seasons, they become familiar. The characters grow and just their basic interactions with one another are fascinating and entertaining. It’s good that the cast and crew knew that this was going to be the final season. Unlike many other cancelled shows, Atlantis was given plenty of time to tie up a lot of storylines.

The love triangle between Dr. Rodney McKay (David Hewlett), Dr. Jennifer Keller, and Ronon Dax (Jason Momoa) is resolved in “Brainstorm,” an episode where the two doctors return to Earth for a conference on global warming presented by Rodney’s rival Malcolm Tunney (Dave Foley). Of course, things go horribly wrong, bringing the two closer and resulting in Jennifer making a last-minute confession of her feelings.

In “Prodigal,” Michael Kenmore (Connor Trinneer) invades the city of Atlantis in his final attempt at capturing Teyla Emmagan’s (Rachel Luttrell) son in order to use his human/wraith hybrid blood to change the evolution of the wraith. While originally a single-episode character, Michael transformed into a reoccurring villain that Teyla deals with in a very conclusive way.

In the series finale, “Enemy at the Gate,” the biggest loose thread is tied up. Todd the Wraith (Christopher Heyerdahl), who has had a strange parasitic relationship with the Atlantis crew over the last couple of seasons, appears with a new proposition and request for assistance. Originally, the plan is to stop his mutinous crew from increasing their power using stolen Z.P.M.s, but it quickly turns into a race for the survival of Earth as its location is revealed and a newly modified wraith hive ship races to destroy it.

Most of the threads have been tied up by the end of the series, but Todd is still alive, Lieutenant Aiden Ford (Rainbow Francks) is still on the loose and hooked on the wraith enzyme, and somebody has to make a decision on what to do with Atlantis. There are plenty of options for the story to continue in future feature films, but for a new Stargate TV series you only need to wait until the fall when Stargate Universe is expected to premiere.

The DVD has 20 episodes on five discs and contains the following Special Features:

Audio Commentary by Directors, Producers, and Stars – It’s always nice to learn about the creative artistry that goes into filming an episode.

Mission Directive Featurettes – There are many of these for season five, but my favorite one is “The Life and Death of Michael Kenmore.” It’s an overview on the character of Michael from his birth to his final moments, discussing his character evolution and why he is likeable even though he ultimately becomes a villain. I also enjoyed the featurette on “Brainstorm,” because the very entertaining Martin Gero hosts it. He also wrote and directed the episode.

Deleted Scenes – I’m not a big fan of deleted scenes because they are generally pretty dry, and not completely finished. On this DVD set they are all clumped together on a couple of the discs and it’s difficult to remember where they actually fit into the episodes. I’d rather they put them after the ending credits of each individual episode so you’d at least remember what context they were originally created for.

Photo & Design Galleries – Lots of still photos from episodes and general designs used in the series.

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