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Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Fifth Season by Various Directors
Review by Charles Mohapel
MGM (Video & DVD) DVD  ISBN/ITEM#: B00243FQFA
Date: 25 July 2009 List Price $49.98 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Once I learned that the SciFi Channel had decided to kill off "Stargate Atlantis" after only 5 seasons and precisely 100 episodes instead of the 7 seasons that are the industry standard for syndication, I watched each episode with heightened anticipation. Given the subsequent name change to Syfy, it appears as if their new management is trying to change the channel's focus, a somewhat questionable decision given that many of the biggest recent box office hits on the Silver Screen are genre movies like Iron Man, WALL-E, The Dark Knight, and the Harry Potter franchise.

Disc 1
Promo for Stargate Universe on SyFy

Episodes:
Search And Rescue
The Seed
Broken Ties
The Daedalus Variations

Special Features:
Mission Directive: Search And Rescue Featurette with Andy Mikita and Martin Gero (11:25)
Watching this featurette, I felt it was superior to watching the same episode with commentary - it cuts back and forth between behind the scenes on set and Andy Mikita and Martin Gero talking to the camera afterward. I much prefer Martin Gero when he is describing an episode to when he is attempting to be funny.

Showdown! Ronon v. Tyre Featurette (5:48)
This featurette has Stunt Coordinator James "Bambam" Bamford and Jason (Ronon Dex) Momoa speaking and it kicks major butt. This featurette shows how a big fight scene was blocked out, choreographed with the actors, rehearsed, and shot. Loads of fun.

Bringing The Seed to Life Featurette (6:52)
While watching and listening to Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Savela and Director Will Waring discuss shooting this episode, I found myself wondering if the tentacles in the story taste like calamari when fried.

Commentary on "Search And Rescue" by Executive Producer Martin Gero and Director/Producer Andy Mikita
Listening to Andy Mikita speak in the past, I have always found him to be likable and a decent source of tidbits about any episode where he provides the commentary, but here he is overwhelmed by Martin Gero who frequently plays the smart aleck. Unfortunately Gero is nowhere near as entertaining a smart aleck as Richard Dean Anderson, Martin Wood, or Joe Flanigan.

Commentary on "The Seed" by Director William Waring and Executive Producer's Assistant Lawren Bancroft-Wilson
As is the case with Andy Mikita, I have always found William Waring to be likable, but here I found that the commentary left me indifferent. Then again, I didn't particularly care for this episode either.

Commentary on "Broken Ties" by Executive Producer Joseph Mallozzi and Actor Jason Momoa
I really enjoyed this commentary, particularly the friendly banter between the two commentators. This was Jason Momoa's first ever commentary and was recorded after the final episode had aired. Too bad for us because he came across as being funny and very enthusiastic about the show, especially when he was speaking about fellow Hawaiian Mark Dacascos.

Commentary on "The Daedalus Variations" by Supervising Producer Alan McCullough and Director/Producer Andy Mikita
In my opinion, this was the second best commentary on Disc 1, especially listening to Alan McCullough who also wrote this episode. I wholeheartedly agree with them about the hulking new grey aliens who tossed Ronon around like he was a child. I was quite surprised to learn that shooting fireballs in HD video unlike on film so overloads the sensor that it blanks out/washes out the screen and the massive fireball had be done as a CGI shot.

Photo & Design Galleries

Disc 2
Promo for Stargate SG-1, Seasons 1-10 on DVD

Episodes:
Ghost In The Machine
The Shrine
Whispers
The Queen

Special Features
Mission Directive: Whispers Featurette with William Waring and Joseph Mallozzi (10:47)
Both men are fans of horror movies and Will Waring talks of how he watched a lot of them before shooting this episode in order to see how other directors created the special effects.

Tricks of the Trade: Submerging the Stargate Featurette (6:46)
Director/Producer Andy Mikita, Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Savela, Director of Photography Jim Menard discuss sinking the gate in "The Shrine". I learned that the P2 camera in a waterproof housing worked better than a snorkel lens underwater. A cool feature.

Joe Flanigan: A Conversation with the Colonel Featurette (6:11)
Having spoken one-on-one with Joe for a few minutes at Comic-Con 2007, I found him very pleasant to chat with. This featurette was way too short!

Commentary on "Whispers" by Executive Producer Joseph Mallozzi and Director William Waring
JM is a big fan of J-Horror (Japanese Horror – an acquired taste like sushi). While this episode was not one of my favorites, watching it with their commentary was a real treat.

Commentary on "The Queen" by Supervising Producer Alan McCullough and Director Brenton Spencer
This was an episode where Teyla was the featured character in a script written by Alan McCullough who used a Shakespearean flavor for the episode. I was surprised to learn that Christopher Heyerdahl who plays Todd the Wraith is a trained Shakespearean actor with experience working in Stratford and McCullough refers to his character as Polonius. The scene with the fruit bowl on board Todd's ship was hilarious.

It was interesting see how Teyla progressed from apprehensive after her temporary transformation into a Wraith in the beginning to being totally in character by the end of the story on board the Wraith ship.

Photo & Design Galleries

Disc 3
Promo for Stargate: The Ark of Truth

Episodes:
Tracker
First Contact
The Lost Tribe
Outsiders

Special Features
Mission Directive: "Tracker" Featurette with William Waring and Carl Binder (12:24)
In this episode Ronon and McKay vie for Dr. Keller's affections. We finally meet Kiryk, a second Runner played by actor/stuntman Mike Dopud, who previously played Odai Ventrell, the bounty hunter pursuing SG-1 in "Bounty", episode 15 of Season 10. Waring talks about how he hates shooting in HD since even in outdoor sets like this, since the production is tethered in place and they can't pick up the cameras and move around. It was really weird seeing actors portraying Wraith smiling and not in a menacing manner.

Dr. Jackson Goes to Atlantis Featurette (6:10)
Michael Shanks and Martin Gero speak separately about Dr. Jackson's appearance in "First Contact" and "The Lost Tribe", the two parter. I wish there had been more Michael Shanks and less Gero.

Building a Humanoid Featurette with James Robbins and Martin Gero (7:20)
Creating a new race of nasty villains with Production Designer James Robbins. Martin Gero, and Head Model Maker Gord Bellamy talking about the 4 month process of designing and constructing the menacing power suits used by the Asgard offshoots. They researched current exoskeleton designs and ended up creating a Steampunk retro look. Way cool, but too Short!

Commentary on "Tracker by Executive Producer Carl Binder and Director William Waring
Here we learn that towards the end of Season 5 the opening credits are really short so that more commercials can be shown. Another reason Waring hates HD cameras is that you simply can’t fit a really long lens onto one and the so-called long lens aren't long enough. This commentary was really very enjoyable.

Commentary on "First Contact" by Executive Producer Martin Gero and Director/Producer Andy Mikita
They discuss how if the powered suits of armor had been designed and built after the script was written, they would have cost several hundred thousands of dollars, but with several months lead time, the cost while still quite significant, were lower. Gero and James Robbins spent three months doing R&D on the suits, then another three months constructing them. They ended up machining so many spare parts that they made 4 suits, not the 3 originally required. Surprisingly enough this commentary was quite fun.

Commentary on "The Lost Tribe" by Executive Producer Martin Gero and Director/Producer Andy Mikita
Martin mentions that this is Andy's 4th commentary that day and Martin's 3rd. Andy adds that this was done on Thanksgiving Weekend, but since I don't know where the audio for the commentaries was recorded, I assume it was Canadian Thanksgiving, celebrated on Columbus Day in the US.

(Note: The above episodes are a 2-parter and I actually enjoyed the Commentaries)

Commentary on "Outsiders" by Supervising Producer Alan McCullough and Director William Waring
Enjoyable.

Photo & Design Galleries

Disc 4
Promo for Stargate: Continuum

Episodes:
Inquisition
The Prodigal
Remnants
Brain Storm

Special Features
Mission Directive: Brain Storm Featurette with Martin Gero (13:05)
Guest starring Dave Foley as McKay’s nemesis, as well as Bill Nye the Science Guy (a close friend of Robert Picardo) and Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, described by Gero as our generation’s Carl Sagan.) Excellent!

The Life and Death of Michael Kenmore Featurette (Connor Trinneer) (7:05)
Co-Executive Producer Carl Binder talks about the moral dilemma of this story and Connor Trinneer talks of playing Michael. TOO SHORT!

Deleted Scenes, Season 5 (Part 1)
Search And Rescue – Captain Vega
Broken Ties – complete fight Scene between Ronon and Tyre (Too bad it was cut)
The Seed – scene where Wolsey has just dressed down Sheppard, Ronon, & Teyla (A real shame they cut it)
The Shrine – conversation between McKay & Zelenka set up Stargate Universe (Pity it was cut since it gave us background on the upcoming series)

Commentary on "Inquisition" by Director Brenton Spencer and Actor Tobias Slezak
Outside of learning that Tobias Slezak is the grandson of actor Walter Slezak and plays Myrus in this episode, there seems to be no compelling reason to watch this commentary.

Commentary on "The Prodigal" by Executive Producer Carl Binder and Director/ Producer Andy Mikita
Connor Trinneer is described as a very nice guy as well as being a well prepared professional who inspired others to raise their game. Some interesting insider info shared with us.

Commentary on "Remnants" by Executive Producer Joseph Mallozzi and Director William Waring
This was their last commentary for this season. It was interesting but nothing earth shattering in the way of new or cool info.

Commentary on "Brain Storm" by Executive Producer/Director Martin Gero
Even he admits that doing a Commentary solo is hard and I much preferred his Mission Directive on this episode over this Commentary.

Photo & Design Galleries

Disc 5
Episodes:
Infection
Identity
Vegas (Extended Episode)
Enemy At The Gate (Extended Episode)

Special Features
Stargate Atlantis Goes to Vegas Featurette (20:23)
Executive Producer Robert C. Cooper talks about driving 2 1/2 hours to Osoyoos, BC since it's a dry dusty desert region in the interior of BC, is the northern tip of the Mojave Desert, and is the driest place in all of Canada. James "Bambam" Bamford talks of assisting Ray Douglas and his crew in getting everybody back to a safe distance. When the trailer blew up, one of the fuel tanks inside failed to blow up, only to blow up a few minutes later.

They did interior shots at the Planet Hollywood Resort in Las Vegas. The high stakes poker game with the Wraith in Vegas included Charlie Collins (Exec VP of MGM and a big fan of the show, without whom they wouldn't have shot in Vegas); Stargate composer Joel Goldsmith; Roy Winston and Todd Brunson (son of Doyle) – 2 professional poker players, and Steve Schirripa and Frank Vincent (both formerly on The Sopranos).

While this was not my favorite episode, I now have a much better appreciation of it and this was the first of two extended episodes where less material was cut. I'm glad they did this version.

Inside the Stargate Costume Department (7:03)
With Val Halverson (Costume Designer) and Co- Executive Producer Martin Gero. She discusses the costume needs for each episode with the writers. Jason Momoa likes to collaborate with the Costume Department. A MUST SEE for costumers.

Deleted Scenes (Part 2) (8:42)
Whispers – Dr. Carson Beckett (Interesting background info the fans would love, but did nothing to move the story forward)
Remnants (This episode was 9 1/2 minutes too long but had to be cut - pity
Brain Storm – (The scene with Ronon and Sheppard was cut - no loss in this case. Dave Foley and David Hewlett play basically the same character times two. Too bad the 50 second scene with Bill Nye was cut.)

Commentary on "Vegas" by Executive Producer Robert C. Cooper, Producer John G. Lenic, and Editor Mike Banas
In addition, we had a cameo by Brad Wright. This was an interesting and entertaining commentary and while I can't say I learned anything major, it was nice and relaxingy.

Commentary on "Enemy At The Gate" by Executive Producer Paul Mullie and VFX Supervisor Mark Savela
A disappointing commentary for the series finale, especially given that we're treated to the second of two extended episodes where less material was cut.

Photo & Design Galleries

While the fifth season of Stargate Atlantis wasn't my favorite, I would categorize the majority of the episodes as good to excellent. That said, I know that some episodes I didn't care for where loved by many other fans.

In the final analysis, I would strongly recommend that you buy Stargate Atlantis: The Complete Fifth Season, either to complete the set or to watch after you've viewed Seasons 1-4 first. There are so many great extras you would never get just watching the episodes when they aired or in reruns.

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