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DVD: Stargate Atlantis Season 3

It’s pretty safe to say that most people cringe at the idea of a TV show spin-off, and with good cause too. Traditionally they bomb. They lack the spark or cast dynamic or some other ingredient that made the original worth spinning off from in the first place.

However, every once in a while, after you’ve fought your way through the Joey’s and the That 80’s Shows you come across a Boston Legal or an Angel… And if you’re a really lucky nerd, then you find yourself watching Stargate Atlantis.

I’ll admit that when Atlantis first started I was something of an SG-1 bigot. I’ve watched Atlantis from the start and mostly enjoyed it, albeit while giving the show a condescending pat on the head while I waited for the next “real” Stargate episode to air. Slowly though, Atlantis found it’s feet and, to drag that analogy kicking and screaming all the way to the end of this sentence, it now stands on its own as a great show in its own right.

Clearly the Atlantis creators (of the show I mean, not like… aliens or something) bought a lot of what made SG-1 work with them, and while you can make comparisons between the characters on the two shows, the dynamic between them is vastly different. By season three the characters are cemented together, the writers have their rhythms sorted, the actors have settled into the skin of their characters and the series is able to use those feet that I mentioned earlier to stand along side SG-1, not as some lesser derivative, but as an equal.

Not surprisingly the season three DVD set boasts some extremely strong episodes, beginning with the pick-up from season two’s cliff hanger (No Mans Land) and cleaning up the loose ends of that story-line in the episode ‘Misbegotten’ — both episodes featuring Enterprise’s Connor Trinneer. The Ronon character is finally the focus of a couple of episodes too, in which we finally get to learn a little more about his past and, especially, his history with the Wraith.

Notably, Richard Dean Anderson appears in a couple of stand alone episodes and features in the mid-season double episode ‘The Return’ (1 and 2). And there’s a tragic loss during the episode ‘Sunday’, which will leave even the toughest nerd (which isn’t really saying much) with a tear in their eye. But for me, the highlight episodes of this season are ‘Irresistible’ and ‘Irresponsible’ which see the introduction of the character Lucius, played by Richard Kind. While there are other, darker, more intense episodes in the season and even a few that are far better ‘sci-fi’ episodes, the humour of ‘Irresistible’ and ‘Irresponsible’ (and Richard Kind’s brilliant presence) are the highlights of an altogether fantastic season.

The dvds are loaded with features too, including commentaries on every episode from a variety of people involved in the production of the show: Co-Excecutive Producer Carl Binder, Director/Supervising Producer Martin Wood, Producer/Writer Martin Gero and Director William Waring to name just a few. Each disc also features photo (and production design) galleries and featurettes like ‘General O’Neil Goes To Atlantis’ and Mission Directive shorts, which are packed with interviews and behind the scenes footage focusing on the production of specific episodes.

This is a great DVD release (due on shelves on the 26th) of a series which is just getting stronger and there are enough extra features to ensure that you’ll not be disappointed, even if you’ve already seen the episodes.

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    The key for a non-scifi fan such as myself, is humour. And of the original SG1 episodes I saw, there was quite a lot of sarcasm and it helped me to get into it without the show losing itself in its own little crazy sci-fi world. So to hear about humour in this, well, I guess it could be worth a viewing. There are too many shows to watch…not enough free time!

  • I agree with everything Elroy has said.

    Having not started watching Atlantis until series 3 had started (caught up with borrowed DVDs first), I completely agree that this last season was the most solid on all accounts.

    As I seem to be buying more TV shows on DVD than movies these days, this one may well end up in my collection.

  • Agreed. I didn’t start watching Atlantis until the first season was nearly over. Another Stargate just seemed like a shameless ripoff. I think last season, however, Atlantis was remarkably better than SG-1, and now I’m worried about the introduction of Carter to Atlantis…I don’t want a hold-over from SG-1 to mess up the good thing that Atlantis has going for it.

  • I’d never considered that xike – but now you’ve got me all worried! NAH, everything is better with a little Amanda Tapping!

    Seriously though, I still say that the Daniel Jackson character is a better fit for the cast of Atlantis. They have too many science nerds already!

  • Yeah, I also hate to see Dr. Jackson go. He’s a textured, well-developed character with great comedy.

  • Being both a nerd and a couch potato, I really had no choice but to sit back and start watching SG-A.

    Originally, because it is on late (and because I don’t have a life…) and couldn’t be bothered peeling myself out of the couch, I just decided to give it a whirl, but now, into series three, I’ve developed the vicarious link with the characters and enjoy the synopsis.

    The fact that I don’t have to change my viewing habits also helps.