Stargate: Atlantis
Volume 11
(Season 3 - Vol 1)

Starring: Joe Flanigan, Torri Higginson, Rachel Luttrell, Jason Momoa, Paul McGillion and David Hewlett
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 27 August 2007

After tricking the humans of Atlantis into revealing Earth's location, two Wraith hive ships capture Dr. McKay and Ronon and head for the planet. What they don't know is that Colonel Sheppard and his F-302 fighter are in their midst. When the Wraith show their contempt for Michael, he decides to betray his race and help Sheppard stop the Wraith attacking Earth...

No Man's Land picks up where the Season Two finale left off. Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise's Commander Charles 'Trip' Tucker III) is back in the role of the Wraith Michael Kenmore. And, when he realises that the Wraith are treating him as an outsider, he decides to try and help the members of Atlantis.

As you'd expect, most of the humour in this episode comes from McKay. There's a memorable scene where he compares the Wraith downloading the location of Earth to the time he: "got a virus downloading por... er... music".

Martin Gero (producer / writer) and Martin Wood (director / supervising producer) provide an interesting audio commentary - even if Gero insists on talking over Wood most of the time. I was surprised that Wood didn't lean over and slap Gero to shut him up for two seconds. Interesting observations were made on how similar the storylines of both the SG-1 and Atlantis season openers were this year - as though one was copied from the other. Gero also points out an interesting fact about the special effect budgets - that basically the money generally goes on the season finale, but there is a bit more money available than usual for the season openers.

After taking control of one of the Wraith hive ships, the Atlantis team must decide what to do with the two hundred Wraith they have temporary turned into benign humans. Meanwhile, Dr. Weir finds herself under the scrutiny of Richard Woolsey and the International Oversight Advisory...

Misbegotten is not really the conclusion to No Man's Land - more a continuation. The Wraith, having been exposed to the retrovirus gas, are without their memories and stranded on a planet. Looking after them is Dr Beckett, who is determined to try and help them. But, some of the Wraith are getting suspicious as to why they are there. Not all of them believe the cover story that they are being quarantined after a plague infected their planet.

Meanwhile, in an obvious attempt to help unconverted Stargate: SG-1 fans to migrate over to Atlantis, in much the same way that the SG-1 episode The Pegasus Project was designed to do, Weir is requested to return to the SGC to explain how the Wraith managed to discover the location of the earth.

Paul Mullie (executive producer) and Martin Wood (director / supervising producer) provide the audio commentary. There are some interesting observations about how Wood wanted Michael to be portrayed in this episode. As he was being shunned by the Wraith, Wood wanted Michael to act more Wraith like - in an effort to appear more like them. And when he was with the humans, Wood wanted him to appear more human. There is also a humorous look at the scene between Caldwell and Woolsey, which takes place on one of the balconies of Atlantis. The set up, as always, involved getting several large fans in to make it appear as though the two actors were outside. However, as neither actor has enough hair to blow around Wood soon realised that the fans were a total waste of time.

When the Atlantis team travel to a new planet they meet a civilisation that seem friendly enough, but their apparent leader, Lucius Lavin, seems to be a little too friendly and his people seem a little too accommodating towards him. When Dr Beckett spends some time with Lavin he comes back smitten with what a great guy he is. And when the rest of Atlantis start to fall under his spell McKay and Sheppard realise that their new friend is not what he appears to be...

Irresistible is an episode played almost entirely for laughs. In spirit, this reminded me of many an old Star Trek: The Next Generation episode. The crew arrive on a world full of beautiful people, all wearing bright coloured clothing and bathed in that light that you only get in productions shot inside a studio. Richard Kind's deliberately over the top portrayal of Lavin is one performance you won't forget in a hurry.

I wasn' overly impressed with the plot thread that saw the reason behind Sheppard not being susceptible to Lavin's charms was down to the fact he had a head cold. My problems with this were firstly, it was signposted from the very first scene - so you were waiting for it to mean something. And secondly, it was pointless as Sheppard was never alone with Lavin for that long - even McKay managed to stave it off for ages because he was not in Lavin's immediate vicinity. Although, I suppose it did help to stop him becoming infected once Lavin realised what was going on.

Martin Wood (director / supervising producer) and Michael Blundell (director of photography) provide the audio commentary. Wood provides an interesting explanation as to why background actors can sometimes look unconvincing. Apparently directors are not allowed to give direction to background actors, because then they are classed as actors and must be paid a lot more money.

Sheppard, Teyla, McKay and Ronon travel through the Stargate. When the inhabitants of the planet spot Ronon they attack the Atlantis team - taking all but McKay prisoner. It turns out that Ronon had been to that village years before, when the Wraith were chasing him. On that occasion the villagers had looked after Ronon, only to have the Wraith attack them for their troubles. Now that Ronon has returned, the villagers have a bargaining tool that should stop the Wraith from ever visiting them again...

Sateda is a Ronon based story that examines the background to the character. We see him before he was originally captured by the Wraith to be used for sport as a "runner" where he was implanted with a tracking device and then set free for the Wraith hunters to chase.

We discover that Ronon was not always the tough character that we now know. There was a time - when he was with his wife - when he would run from trouble.

The Wraith probably make their biggest mistake taking him back to his deserted homeworld to make their final kill. Ronon knows the buildings and landscape like the back of his hand. In essence this episode is about as close to a Western as the writers could get without making it too obvious.

Robert C Cooper (executive producer / writer / director) and Brenton Spencer (director of photography) provide the audio commentary. Cooper explains the benefits of being the executive producer, writer and director. He wrote this story to have three main locations, not for a minute thinking he'd get the budget. Thankfully he did.

Extras include the already mentioned audio commentaries; Ark Of Truth Promo; Mission Directive: "Sateda" Featuring Robert C. Cooper (16 mins behind the scenes look at Sateda - highlights for me included the crazy stuntman who just throws himself at walls); Inside the Stargate Atlantis visual FX Department (18 mins behind the scenes with Mark Savela and his visual effects team); Still Gallery and Production Design Gallery.

This DVD represents a good mix of episodes - there's something here for every fan's tastes.

Pete Boomer

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