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DVD Review

DVD cover

Stargate: Atlantis
The Complete Fourth Season


Starring: Joe Flanigan, Amanda Tapping, Rachel Luttrell, Jason Momoa and David Hewlett
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: £39.99
Certificate: 15
Available 04 August 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.


Disc two:

Imprisoned and forced to reactivate a radiation-emitting dormant Lantean spaceship, Sheppard sends a distress signal that attracts a Wraith cruiser...

Travelers sees Sheppard captured by a Nomadic band of warriors who for years have lived onboard spaceships in order to stay one step ahead of the Wraith. Their leader, has made it her quest to search down Sheppard and his team, after hearing tales of their success in controlling Lantean technology. This race has found a damaged Lantean ship which they want Sheppard to fix in order to guarantee the future of their species.

This episode reveals that Ronon has also crossed paths with this race in the past - obviously acquiring his famous firearm from them.

Amanda Tapping's Carter doesn't appear in this episode, which is interesting. Personally, I'm glad that the producers are using her in exactly the same way as Weir. I was a little worried that, with a new regular character on the show, the writers would concentrate more on her and write her into the bulk of the episodes.

Paul Mullie (executive producer / writer) and William Waring (director) provide this episode's audio commentary. Highlights include them pointing out that Sheppard doesn't actually get that much "Kirk action" in the show, despite some fans complaining whenever there is a love interest for him in an episode; and their discussion on how this travelling race has managed to keep their leader in lip gloss and hair care products.



Plant samples brought back from a new planet introduce an amnesia-inducing virus that strikes everyone in the city except Teyla and Ronon...

Tabula Rasa borrows heavily from the movie Memento. The episode opens with Rodney handcuffed to a chair, with no memory of who he is or where he is. In front of him is a laptop with a post-it note that directs him to push a button. When he does, a message from himself appears on the screen telling him that he must find Teyla or everyone onboard Atlantis will die. The rest of the episode alternates between the past and the present, as the audience is slowly shown what has happened to everyone.

While an entertaining enough episode, some may feel a little cheated by the amount of material lifted from Memento. It wouldn't have been so bad if one element had been used to show that the producers were paying homage to the movie, but there are a few too many. These include the memory loss (obviously); trying to make the audience as disorientated as the characters; McKay writing on his body; and Lorne having a polaroid picture in his pocket.

Alan McCullough (producer / writer) Martin Wood (director / supervising producer) and Amanda Tapping provide the audio commentary. Highlights include them pointing out that the skylight in McKay's office was added specifically for this episode, and that you won't see it in any other episode; and the revelation of what David Hewlett was actually writing on his body (examples being: "Why am I writing on myself?" and "I love the hot blonde").



Captured in a strangely deserted settlement on New Athos by a fierce warrior tribe, Teyla and Keller are threatened with death unless they betray the location of Atlantis...

Missing is the first episode where Jewel Staite's Jennifer Keller takes centre stage, as she and Teyla are trapped off-world. This episode sees the two travelling to Teyla's home world. However, when they get there Teyla's people are nowhere to be seen, and it's uncertain whether they have been slaughtered, taken by the Wraith, or abandoned the settlement. This episode is the start of a change for Teyla - which will see her become a lot darker through out the course of this season.

While it's good to see Keller given a little more screen time, sadly the main plot felt more like a b-plot - there's only so much running around a forest planet you can do before the audience starts to get a little bored.

Carl Binder (co-executive producer / writer) and Andy Mikita (director) provide the audio commentary. Highlights include the fact that Mikita's wife used to baby sit one of the guest stars; and Mikita's tale of being scared by an owl while on location.




Teyla seeks help from a seer in her search for her lost people, as the Wraith offer their help in stopping Replicators from destroying humans throughout the galaxy...

The Seer stars Martin Jarvis as a mystical figure who is able to see the future - and, more importantly, by touching another he is able to let them experience the vision also. We also discover that the Atlantis team has a new threat. When they rewrote the Relicator base code - so that their main objective was to hunt down and destroy the Wraith - they didn't foresee just how far the Replicators would go to complete this mission. It appears that the Replicators are targeting the Wraith's food supply in a bid to starve them to death, which means that the Replicators have taken to destroying entire planets that are colonised by humanoids.

This episode's audio commentary is provided by Alan McCullough (producer / writer) Andy Mikita (director). Highlights include them talking us through what is probably the longest continuous shot to have appeared on Stargate so far; and the fact that there will be a new conference table from Season 5. Be warned though, there is a pretty major spoiler about a character leaving at the end of this season, and another familiar face replacing them.



Extras include the aforementioned audio commentaries; The Doctor Is In: The Return of Paul McGillion (14 min, 11 sec really silly addition for this disc as it provides a huge spoiler that you can't escape as the feature's title gives it away. As McGillion doesn't turn up on this disc's episodes I'm baffled as to why this extra is here); Stargate Atlantis Bloopers (7 min, 09 sec outtakes with introductory segments by Martin Gero. However, be warned, as this also spoils a lot of the mystery surrounding McGillion's return); Photo Gallery and Design Gallery.

While the episodes are entertaining enough, I was a little surprised at the featurettes that were chosen for his release. Those that were unaware that McGillion was returning, or those that were unsure as to whether he'd be back as a regular, will have their enjoyment of future episodes totally ruined.


Disc three:

After helping her brother McKay with Replicator coding, sister Jeanie is kidnapped, prompting McKay to travel to Earth, where he, too, suddenly goes missing...

Miller's Crossing features David Hewlett's real life sister Kate as his onscreen sister Jeanie Miller. As with last season's McKay and Mrs Miller, the chemistry is already there, but the interaction between the two siblings is incredibly funny.

Stargate: SG-1 fans will be pleased to see Chief Master Sergeant Walter Harriman, played by Gary Jones, make one of his best appearances in the franchise.

It's also interesting to see that Rodney acts in exactly the same way as the industrialist when it's his sister on the line - and this isn't over played either, which makes for a more satisfying twist when you pick up on it.

Martin Gero (co-executive producer / writer) and Andy Mikita (director) provide the audio commentary. Highlights include Gero moaning about the nurses in bathrobes; Gero attacking the paintings in a scene as they are very distracting and you can't work out what they are supposed to be; and Sheppard reading a comic book that features Martin Wood on the cover as a superhero.



Convinced that the Replicators have finally found their location, the team grapples with the prospect that their problems may very well be insurmountable...

This Mortal Coil will present quite a few problems for hard-core fans. There seem to be quite a few inexplicable issues within the first couple of acts: Lorne acting out of character; Sheppard wanting to pool all their resources into checking out the probe, rather than trying to get the gate operational; and doctor Keller not taking Sheppard's concerns about his health seriously enough. But, as the episode unfolds, it soon becomes apparent that these are all intentional scenes.

An additional clue can be garnered as to what is going on by paying close attention to the teams uniforms. This episode also sees another one of the prophecies from this season's The Seer coming true - but not as expected.

Joseph Mallozi (executive producer) and William Waring (director) provide this episodes audio commentary. Highlights include the fact that the actors were asked what they'd most like to change this season. They said the show's uniforms and table reads before each episode; pointing out that a table that was destroyed should have fallen over, or at least moved, as if you look carefully you can see that it is on wheels; and a scene where Jason Momoa runs into a tree which then spins around a little - it was placed there by the set dressers and wasn't very sturdy.



As Teyla and Ronon evacuate humans from advancing Replicator forces, McKay partners with a Wraith scientist to try to create a program to shut down the Replicators...

Be All My Sins Remeber'd finally sees the payoff to all of the previous story arc threads that have slowly been building. This makes for a very enjoyable and immensely satisfying episode - or two episodes I suppose you could say, as this is really the first part of a two-parter.

Gero and Mikita both return to provide this episode's audio commentary. Highlights include the two moaning about the conference room set; the fact that the scene where Sheppard briefly looks down Larrin's low cut top, as she leans towards him, was not scripted; and the two asking why David Hewlett's hair is so unruly in one scene.



When the team follows a tracking signal to a damaged hive ship drifting in space, they discover references to a secret Wraith base...

Spoils Of War has an interesting opening scene. We see the end of the last episode once again, but this time from the Wraith's perspective. Here we learn that a ZPM has been stolen from the Replicator's home world.

Teyla, once again gets to step inside the mind of a Wraith queen - however, this time she has a lot more to lose should her plan backfire.

Alan McCullough (producer / writer) and William Waring (director) provide the audio commentary. Highlights include a breakdown of the writing process; and how the writers discovered that Lorne's forename was Evan. Be warned though, there's also a spoiler about a character who will turn up later in this season.



Extras include the aforementioned audio commentaries; Mission Directive: This Mortal Coil with William Waring (12 min, 27 sec behind the scenes look at This Mortal Coil. There's a great segment with Momoa playing guitar and Hewlett doing some awful singing); Photo Gallery and Design Gallery.


Disc four:

The entire population of Atlantis is held captive in various locations throughout the city when Dr. McKay's quarantine lock down program accidentally kicks in, sealing all doors, and halting all communication...

Quarantine is an interesting episode as it takes different members of the Atlantis team and traps them together in various rooms through out the city. So, we have McKay and Katie Brown; Sheppard and Teyla; Ronon and Keller; and Carter and Zelenka having to work together in teams of two in order to try and work out how to get the city back to normal. There are also a few interesting revelations about some of the crew relationships.

Martin Wood (director / supervision producer) and Amanda Tapping provide the audio commentary on this episode. Highlights include Wood joking about the Zelenka/Carter love story; mention of a scene, which was cut, where Zelenka tried unsuccessfully to hit on Carter; and the fact that a planned scene with Ronon in a hazmat suit was cut because Jason Momoa's head was too big to fit in the helmet.



While visiting an off-world trading partner, Sheppard and McKay agree to accompany Harmony, a young girl who is successor to the throne, on a time honoured quest that will allow her to become queen. But, or course, not everything goes to plan...

Harmony is one of the funniest episodes so far this season and sees McKay and Sheppard having to escort a bratty little girl on, what should have been, a dull walk in the forest. However, it soon becomes clear that this is anything but a simple task, as a patrol of Genii are on the planet and want Harmony dead. And, if that wasn't enough, there also appears to be a flesh eating beast loose in the forest.

This episode stars Jodelle Ferland who played Jeliza-Rose in Terry Gilliam's Tideland, as well as portraying Adria (aged seven) in the first episode (Flesh and Blood) of season 10 of Stargate: SG-1. She really is an incredibly good actress - if you don't believe in her then the whole episode falls apart.

Martin Gero (co-executive producer / writer) and William Warring (director) provide this episode's audio commentary. Highlights include the fact that Ronon was originally supposed to appear in this episode along with McKay and Sheppard, but due to scheduling issues Momoa had to be cut from the script; Gero joking that he based Harmony on how he imagined producer Joe Mallozzi would be if he were a 14 year old girl; and the fact that David Hewlett split his trousers and had to shoot some of his scenes with black tape holding his trousers together.



While on Earth for the funeral of Sheppard's father, Sheppard and Ronon meet Ava Dixon, who tells them that a replicator humanoid has been created in a lab she works for. When it escapes a hunt is initiated that sees our heroes having to track the replicator before it can cause any more harm...

Outcast is an entertaining enough episode, it's just that it is nowhere near as good as the other episodes on this disc, which makes it stand out quite a bit. The biggest problem, for me, was that I worked out the supposed major twist way before it was revealed. There's also way too much "borrowing" of ideas from Terminator 2 - from the replicator's style of running and the bullet hit effects.

On the plus side we do get to see more of Sheppard's back story - something that hasn't really been dealt with before. This episode also features Dylan Neal (Blood Ties) as Sheppard's brother.

Allan McCullogh (writer) and Andy Mikita (director) provide the audio commentary. Highlights include the fact that the original story idea was pitched by Joe Flanigan; the actress that played Ava used to be a Power Ranger; and pointing out a Stargate competition winner who appears in a couple of scenes.



During an off-world mission, Carter, McKay and Keller become trapped in an underground mining chamber that's rocked by fierce seismic tremors...

Trio is one of those episodes that, from the synopsis, sounds like the dullest idea for a 40 min episode. Thankfully though it's not - in fact it's one of the show's best episodes to date. There's so much jeopardy, and plans that just don't quite work, that you'll be on the edge of your seat for the whole duration.

There's some great comedy moments including McKay trying to get Carter and Keller to bare their breasts in an attempt to get some boys to help them, and McKay finally playing the "if you had too" game with the girls.

Martin Gero (co-executive producer), Martin Wood (director / supervising producer) and Amanda Tapping provide the audio commentary. Highlights include the fact that Gero was not overly happy with the fact that Flanigan insisted on eating a lollipop in one scene; the fact that poor Tapping was really scared of heights; and Wood pointing out that Keller seems to be after every man in Atlantis (although he's quickly corrected and it's pointed out that Sheppard never gets any stick and he's far worse).



Extras include the aforementioned audio commentaries; Mission Directive: Quarantine with Martin Wood (10 min, 22 sec behind the scenes look at the episode Quarantine) Mission Directive: Outcast with Andy Mikita (10 min, 17 sec look at the making of Outcast); The Making Of Trio (16 min, 33 sec); and photo and production design galleries.


Disc five:

Teal'c's attempts to calm Ronon in preparation for a critical IOA interview don't go as planned. But far more threatening than Ronon's temper is a Wraith plan to attack the Midway station...

Midway sees Teal'c arrive on Atlantis in a bid to prepare Ronon for his IOA interview. However, Ronon seems to have anger issues which threaten to have him kicked of the Atlantis team. As the two head to earth, via Midway station, they are caught up in a Wraith attack.

While this is an interesting episode, this is mainly down to the Ronon/Teal'c relationship. Doctor Lee and Doctor Kavanagh also appear as part of the team manning Midway.

This is the only episode of season four to not feature an audio commentary.



As Teyla and Sheppard search for signs that Kanaan is still alive, a mysterious illness is traced to a human-engineered protein found in the Wraith's food supply...

The Kindred sees Connor Trinneer reprise the role of Michael as we learn why Teyla's people have been taken. I was also genuinely surprised by the ending to this two-parter. While I knew that a certain character would be making an appearance this season, I wasn't sure when they would be popping up.

Joseph Mallozzi (executive producer / writer) and Peter F. Woeste (director) provide this episode's audio commentary. Highlights include the fact that fan's are always asking where are the Ancient bathroom facilities on the station - a point that will be tackled in season five when we will see McKay in an Ancient bath. Apparently you need the Ancient gene to flush the toilets on the station; the pair asking why Sheppard is always wearing armbands; some amusing stories about what Christopher Judge is scared of; and what is really written on the plexiglas on the Daedalus.



A friend once believed dead returns to Atlantis. Meanwhile, Teyla, now captive herself, plots an escape for fellow Athosians who are interned at a secret facility...

The Kindred - Part 2 doesn't conclude the Teyla story line - leaving it hanging in the wind to be concluded in the next season. The reasons for this are pretty obvious as the actress, Rachel Luttrell, had left the show at this point to have a baby. However, it does wrap up quite a few loose plot points.

This episode also has one of the most moving conclusion I've seen on an Atlantis episode.

Alan McCullough (producer / writer) and Martin Wood (director / supervising producer) provide the audio commentary. Highlights include the pair asking why Atlantis has PA systems when everyone wears those tiny headsets; and the fact that Joe Flanigan's sons make appearances in this episode.



Unable to locate Teyla, Sheppard heads back to Atlantis, only to discover that the city is suddenly missing something - its inhabitants...

The Last Man is a Sheppard and McKay episode. It sees Sheppard trapped in the future with no way of getting back to the Atlantis he left. His only hope is that a holographic McKay can help him. But, as the hologram was only programmed with a finite number of scenarios that would help Sheppard, the fact that he McKay hadn't counted for the fact that most of Atlantis would have been consumed by sand is not promising.

I did find the conclusion to be a little dull. It was almost as though the writers hadn't thought the cliff-hanger ending through until the last minute and then said: "I know..." It's not that it's that bad, just not your usual "Oh, my god!" season ender.

Paul Mullie (executive producer / writer) and Martin Wood (supervising producer / director) provide the audio commentary. Highlights include the fact that cornmeal was used for the sandstorm scenes; and the picture in Lorne's room is the same one he was painting in an earlier episode.



Extras include the above mentioned audio commentaries (only three on this disc for some reason instead of the usual four); A Look Back on Season 4 (11 min, 56 sec look back over this season); Deleted Scenes (24 min, 24 sec featurette that features some of the cut scenes from this season with explanations from the crew on why each scene was lost from the final edit); and Photo and Design galleries.

Pete Boomer

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