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DVD Review

Stargate: Atlantis
Volume 16 (Season 4 - Vol 1)


Starring: Joe Flanigan, Amanda Tapping, Rachel Luttrell, Jason Momoa and David Hewlett
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 02 June 2008

Atlantis is still travelling through space, but its shields are about to fail completely leaving the city's inhabitants to succumb to the vacuum of space. And if that wasn't enough of a problem for the team, Weir is close to death, Rodney has an endless stream of jobs to complete to keep everyone alive and a huge asteroid belt is fast approaching...

Adrift is an incredibly tense opening episode for Atlantis' fourth season. There's so much going on, and so much jeopardy, that fans will be kept glued to their seats for the duration. There's also plenty of humour with McKay getting increasingly annoyed that after every time he solves a problem another one emerges.

This season sees a bit of a shift in the team (don't worry for those that don't know I won't spoil anything). Needless to say one regular cast member leaves in this volume, and another joins. Sadly, the fact that Amanda Tapping joins as a regular cast member is spoiled by having her name and picture on the opening credits as well as on the front of the DVD case. It's a shame that the producers couldn't have left the credits the same as the end of Season Three just for the first two episodes in this season, but they didn't.

I won't reveal who leaves, even though most people already know, but I was surprised to learn that the reason to replace one actor with the other wasn't because they wanted to bring Carter onto the show to bring over SG-1 fans. Apparently, at the end of Season 4 things were still up in the air and it was only during the break between seasons that the producers decided to get rid of one actor (for reasons unknown) and replace them with Carter. Although, the fact that this character is absent from the opening credits will tip fans off to the fact that they won't be a regular cast member this season.

There's a particularly impressive CGI effect in this episode where Sheppard and Zelenka have to jump through space from one part of the city to another.

Martin Gero (co-executive producer/writer) and Martin Wood (director/supervising producer) provide the audio commentary. It was interesting to learn that Beau Bridges was also under consideration for jumping over to Atlantis. Also, be warned that there is a minor spoiler in this commentary about events to unfold in later episodes in the season.

A good, solid start to the show's fourth season.



In order to get Atlantis' power back up and running, Sheppard and his team hatch a daring plan to raid a ZPM from the Replicator homeworld. The mission is suicidal, but they have help in the form of a very familiar crew member who now has Replicator nanites coursing through their body...

Lifeline sees Weir, Sheppard, McKay and Ronon head off to the Replicator homeworld in order to attempt to steal a ZPM to help restore power to Atlantis. As you'd expect, it's not going to be an easy mission, but the team has a slight edge in that they are able to tap into the Replicator collective and stay one step ahead of their enemy.

There's a great little throwaway line where Sheppard calls Ronon Chewie in this episode - apparently the cast and crew have taken to referring to Ronon as Chewie due to the similarity between him and Star Wars' Chewbacca.

Martin Wood (director/supervising producer) and Amanda Tapping provide the commentary on this episode. Tapping reveals that she was very conscious of replacing a regular member of the team and was eager to slip in without putting anyone's nose out of joint. Wood also reveals that a slight clue as to the twist is revealed by the way that the crew act in certain scenes.

Overall an enjoyable episode that also sets up the drama for future episodes, by changing the dynamics of the Stargate universe.



Ronon is surprised to discover three of his old friends, who he thought dead, survived the Wraith attack on their homeworld and have been travelling from planet to planet. Atlantis' strict new policy of not allowing unknown aliens to enter the city, throws up a conflict of interest for Ronon. When his friends decide to attack a Wraith outpost Ronon decides that once this mission is complete he will leave Atlantis and rejoin his old friends in their fight against the Wraith...

Reunion is a Ronon based episode that sees him being reunited with three of his old friends from his homeworld. With the change of command at Atlantis, Ronon feels alienated and, now his old friends are back, he is torn between rejoining them in their quest or staying on Atlantis with his new friends.

Joseph Mallozzi (executive producer) and William Waring (director) provide the audio commentary. While this is easily the most enjoyable of the four on this collection, beware as it is also peppered with plenty of huge spoilers. Highlights (of a none spoiler nature) include them pointing out Rachel Luttrell's bump - as she was expecting during filming; the fact that Christopher Judge appears in a later episode this season mainly due to the fact that he agreed to make a cameo in this episode for a nominal fee; the revelation that Jason Momoa surprised the production by getting a tattoo done during the break between season's three and four, and how they worked this into the show in this episode; the fact that Ronon's dreadlocks will be disappearing in season five; the disgusting revelation that the goo they used on the Wraith ship doors was actually methyl - one of the key ingredients of milkshakes; and the fact that the wraith in this episode reminded Mallozzi of his grandmother.

This is an interesting episode which allows Momoa to stretch his acting abilities a little more than usual.



While on a routine expedition on a jungle planet, Sheppard becomes the unwitting host of an alien entity after touching a strange crystal. The alien is capable of creating horrific nightmares when the host body is asleep. As the alien gets stronger and stronger it starts to pose a serious threat to the Atlantis crew...

Doppelganger takes its cue from Stargate: SG-1's first season episode Cold Lazarus in which O'Neill touches a blue crystal-like entity on a desert planet and a double of him appears and heads back to Stargate command. In Doppelganger it's Sheppard who touches the crystal on a jungle planet.

The alien entity is then able to create dreams in the host. The worse the dream, the more the fear and the more the alien is nourished. Then it simply passes onto a new host. But, as it moves from body to body it gets more and more powerful, creating worse dreams - the worse case scenario is that a host may die from fear.

Robert C. Cooper (executive producer, writer and director) and Mark Savela (VFX supervisor) provide the audio commentary, with Cooper at pains to point out that this is not the same story as Cold Lazarus... well... no, technically not. It's a white crystal instead of blue... and a forest planet, not desert planet... Do you see the difference? Come on! This is so obviously the same story reworked and to claim otherwise is just treating the fans like idiots. Sure the dream idea is different, but the more that Cooper is so keen to point out the differences the more similarities fans may see.

While this isn't a terrible episode, the fact that it reuses one of the first season's lamest plots (in my opinion) may turn a lot of fans off.



Extras include the aforementioned audio commentaries on each episode; Mission Directive: Doppelganger With Robert C. Cooper (14 min, 47 sec behind-the-scenes look at the episode Doppelganger); A New Leader: Amanda Tapping Joins Atlantis (15 min, 16 sec look at the arrival of Amanda Tapping's character and what she gets up to in this season); Photo Gallery and Production Design Gallery.

Pete Boomer

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