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Stargate Atlantis - The Complete Third Season
Review by Charles Mohapel
Date: 27 December 2007 List Price $49.98 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Speaking as a fan of both the original show and its offspring, this Stargate Atlantis, Season 3 DVD set is a must-have for collectors who want more than what they see on TV. Enjoy all five discs, each filled with the kind of bonus features that make it worth collecting and keeping.

Following up on the nervous first steps of Season 1 and the action of Season 2, Season 3 does an admirable job of filling in more of the back story while maintaining the excitement carried from the end of Season 2. As we've learned from 10 seasons of Stargate SG-1 and 3 seasons of Stargate Atlantis, character-driven definitely does not mean boring and pedestrian.

Mission Directive: "Sateda" Featuring Director Robert C. Cooper
"Sateda" is an excellent sequel to "Runner" and fills in the larger-than-life back story of Ronon Dex while showing the growing relationships among the team members. Both Stunt Coordinator James "Bambam" Bamford and Jason Momoa were very excited to get this script, since it can best be described as "All Stunts All The Time". Executive Producer Robert C. Cooper, who directed this episode, says that he prefers the collaborative process since people work better when they have invested something in it.

Inside the Stargate Atlantis Visual FX Department
Here we get an entertaining and informative peek behind the scenes of how the visual effects for Stargate Atlantis are created under tight deadlines and on tight budgets. Not only do they have to perform minor miracles under challenging circumstances, they're always trying to raise the bar from their previous work.

The nice thing about the audio commentaries is that they provide a fascinating "post-game" analysis of each episode with a play-by-play breakdown of each scene. Watching each episode is a pleasure, but having the writers and directors provide light-hearted commentary on them is the best we can hope for since we can't be there on set to see things for ourselves. These audio commentaries are anything but boring.

Mission Directive: "Progeny" Featuring Director Andy Mikita
Here Director Andy Mikita takes us behind the scenes of this episode dealing with the Asurans, the human-form replicators created by the Lanteans to fight the Wraith and now led by Oberoth, the formidable Asuran leader played to perfection by David Ogden Stiers.

Profile on Rachel Luttrell Featurette
This featurette provides wonderful insights into both Rachel Luttrell and Teyla Emmagan, the character she plays. Here we confirm that Rachel is a triple threat as a performer, being a fine actress, a graceful dancer, and a gifted soprano. We've all seen her skills as an actress, but her background as a dancer means that her finely honed muscle memory makes learning the martial arts needed to be a convincing warrior a far easier task than one might think. Rachel's beautiful soprano voice was showcased to best effect in "Critical Mass", the Season 2 episode where she sings at the funeral of her close friend and mentor.

Mission Directive: "Phantoms" Featuring Director Martin Wood
"Phantoms" is an action-filled episode that takes place in the sometimes-not-so-Great Outdoors. We see the hands-on approach of Director Martin Wood as he personally takes a P2 video camera with a very wide lens and shoots the actors with the lens only 2 feet from their faces, providing a very interesting perspective.

Here we also learn a Very Important Lesson: If you are a stunt person, NEVER piss off the stunt coordinator.

"Fire In The Hole" is a great segment with lots of pyrotechnics performed under the careful supervision of certified professionals.

Amusing to the viewer but not so to those shooting the scene, the desert scene was anything but a real desert as it was shot under 50 mm (2 inches) of rain.

General O'Neill Goes To Atlantis
Since Richard Dean Anderson was already coming to Vancouver from his LA home for the Stargate SG-1 episode "200", the producers wanted to use him for four or five other episodes. Unfortunately for them, the story arcs for Stargate SG-1 precluded his involvement on that show but he was able to appear in "The Return – Part 1" and "The Return - Part 2".

We hear that Richard Dean Anderson likes to ad-lib, something he did a lot less after Season 3 of Stargate SG-1. He gleefully admits he loves to act over the top, something obvious to the show's longtime fans. Writer Martin Gero says that in "The Return – Part 2" you saw the return of Old School O'Neill with lots of action. I was intrigued to learn that RDA's underwater scene was shot in the wave tank at UBC (University of British Columbia).

Clearly RDA was happy to be back as evidenced by the discussion that he and Director Martin Wood have in the wave tank about the scene being shot at that time. Talk about both of them getting into the spirit of the moment.

Mission Directive: "The Game" Featuring Director William Waring
A mildly interesting featurette but nothing stirred my blood.

Masters Of The Alien
A fascinating look inside the Masters FX Makeup Studio. We hear actor Dan Payne say that the wonderful makeup people really take good care of the actors. Standing 6' 4" (1.93 m.) and tipping the scales at 226 lbs. (103 kg.), it is quite clear that he was an ideal choice to play the role of the physically imposing Superwraith who effortlessly tosses Ronon Dex around in "Sateda". Supervisor Todd Masters provides a friendly tour of Masters FX Makeup Studio, and it becomes quickly evident that the tremendously talented team assembled at Masters FX Makeup Studio really love their jobs, even if it means getting up at O-Dark-Hundred hours.

Mission Directive: "First Strike" Featuring Director Martin Wood
Director Martin Wood relates the professionalism of David Ogden Stiers, who drove up from Los Angeles for one scene, shot it seven feet (2.1 m.) away from Tori Higginson and David Hewlett whose backs were toward him, and then drove back to LA. The curious yet amusing thing about this scene is that when it appears on screen, Oberoth is seen talking to Dr. Weir and Dr. McKay on viewscreens that are light years apart.

During the dramatic scene where glass in the control room explodes when the Asuran energy beam grazes the tower, the Dr. Weir stunt double was supposed to be ratcheted across the room and land on a big pad. Due to the potential danger posed by flying glass, the stunt woman was given a clear plastic mask to wear and only her nostrils were exposed. This proved to be an eminently wise precaution since the cannon used blew numerous shards of razor-sharp glass past her and onto the crash pad. Fortunately for her the rigger was very alert and he instantly pulled the rope so that she flew above the shards of glass that would have ripped her to shreds.

Stargate Atlantis: A Look Back On Season 3 with Martin Gero
This amusing featurette covers the list of special guests such as David Ogden Stiers, Robert Davi, Richard Kind, Michael Beach, Mitch Pileggi and Kate Hewlett, as well as the various episodes. During "Sunday", the entire set was preternaturally quiet before the shocking death of Dr. Carson Beckett.

Disc 1:

    Episode 1: No Man's Land
    Episode 2: Misbegotten
    Episode 3: Irresistible
    Episode 4: Sateda
    Special Features:
      Audio Commentary on Each Episode
      Mission Directive: Sateda Featuring Director Robert C. Cooper
      Inside the Stargate Atlantis Visual FX Department
      Exclusive Still Photo Gallery & Production Design Gallery
Disc 2:
    Episode 5: Progeny
    Episode 6: The Real World
    Episode 7: Common Ground
    Episode 8: McKay and Mrs. Miller
    Special Features:
      Audio Commentary on Each Episode
      Mission Directive: Progeny Featuring Director Andy Mikita
      Profile on Rachel Luttrell Featurette
      Exclusive Still Photo Gallery & Production Design Gallery
Disc 3:
    Episode 9: Phantoms
    Episode 10: The Return – Part 1
    Episode 11: The Return – Part 2
    Episode 12: Echoes
    Special Features:
      Audio Commentary on Each Episode
      Mission Directive: Phantoms Featuring Director Martin Wood
      General O'Neill Goes To Atlantis
      Exclusive Still Photo Gallery & Production Design Gallery
Disc 4:
    Episode 13: Irresponsible
    Episode 14: Tao Of Rodney
    Episode 15: The Game
    Episode 16: The Ark
    Special Features:
      Audio Commentary on Each Episode
      Mission Directive: The Game Featuring Director William Waring
      Masters Of The Alien
      Exclusive Still Photo Gallery & Production Design Gallery
Disc 5:
    Episode 17: Sunday
    Episode 18: Submersion
    Episode 19: Vengeance
    Episode 20: First Strike
    Special Features:
      Audio Commentary on Each Episode
      Mission Directive: First Strike Featuring Director Martin Wood
      Stargate Atlantis: A Look Back On Season 3 with Martin Gero
      Exclusive Still Photo Gallery & Production Design Gallery
Absolutely a must have for any serious fan of Stargate Atlantis and the entire Stargate universe, the Season 3 DVD set is filled with a Santa's bag full of treats from a hardworking team who genuinely love their work. It shows in all the myriad details.

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