View Full Version : SG1/SGA - Eclipse Magazine: Review of "Rising" and "Outer Limits"

June 23rd, 2005, 11:00 PM
From Eclipse Magazine:


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DVD Reviews : TV on DVD: From Immortals to Crusading Coroners – DVD Sets For The Discerning Viewer

Posted by Sheldon A. Wiebe on 2005/6/23 14:05:39

In the last few weeks, the barrage of terrific TVonDVD releases has given us ‘Highlander: The Raven – The Complete Series,’ ‘Northern Exposure – The Complete Season Three,’ The Outer Limits – The New Series’ [a collection of six DVDs built around six themes], ‘Dragnet 1967,’ and the pilot film for ‘Stargate: Atlantis' - works that range from just plain fun, to pure genius...


Stargate: Alliance – Rising

From its inception, ‘Stargate: Atlantis’ has done what a good spin-off should do: maintain the basic mythology of the original series while being, simultaneously, very different. It probably helps that the new team is based in another galaxy…

Certain aspects of the pilot are familiar: the idea of civilian and military working together on a Stargate project; exploring a galaxy by traveling through the Stargate; friction between some members of the command staff; a Big Bad that informs almost every episode without having to be the focus of every episode. The differences are at least as many: the expedition has a civilian commander; none of the team members are as easily pigeon-holed as the SG-1 team was in the beginning [Jack being irreverent, Teal’c being stoic, etc]; the new Big Bad, The Wraith, do not rely on technology for their longevity, and have a completely different reason to be feared; the Atlantis team is literally surrounded by advanced technology that could, in all probably, defeat the Goa’uld – they just have no idea how to use it; the Atlantis team cannot return home until they find sufficient power sources to get them there [and that could take awhile…].

In short, then, the “Stargate: Atlantis” of ‘Risen’ is about an exploratory expedition that may never be able to go home. They are literally alone against a hostile new galaxy. This makes them, immediately, more interesting from a storytelling telling point of view. Their existence depends on learning quickly, making friends and tap dancing like crazy…

The ‘Risen’ DVD includes a terrific commentary by the director, Martin Wood, and series male lead, Joe Flanigan; a ‘Preview to Atlantis’ featurette; a ‘Sneak Peek: Stargate: Atlantis – Season 2’; a teaser trailer for the ‘Stargate: SG-1: The Alliance’ video game; and art from the video game.

The commentary is excellent – before the track is more than a couple minutes old, we can tell that Flanigan is a definite student of film. His comments on technical aspects of the episode are smart and carefully thought out. Plus, his sense of humor is good match for Wood’s and their reminiscences of working on the pilot are great fun.

The ‘Preview’ featurette was run on the Sci Fi Channel, but remains interesting for the enthusiasm of its subjects for the new show. The season two sneak peel is pretty much a write off – though a humorous one. The video game looks like it could be fun, but the trailer is too much tease and not enough action – and the art from the game is pretty limited.

In short, then, ‘Rising’ is a terrific start for the ‘Stargate: Atlantis’ spin-off, and the extras are, with the exception of the commentary, fun but not really necessary. The commentary is what makes the DVD worth having – if you just can’t wait for the release of the first-season set that will inevitably follow. I think that this release is for diehard collectors and for renters to check out something cool that they might have missed when the pilot originally aired. If its release helps raise sales for the season one set and bring new viewers to the series, then its work is done.

Grade: Stargate: Atlantis – Risen – B+
Grade: Features – B

Final Grade: B+




The Outer Limits: The New Series

From the 154 episodes of its seven-year run, the producers of ‘The Outer Limits – The New Series’ have gleaned thirty-six episodes, collected on six DVDs by six themes: ‘Aliens Among Us,’ ‘Fantastic Androids & Robots,’ ‘Mutation & Transformation,’ ‘Death & Beyond,’ ‘Sex & Science Fiction,’ and ‘Time Travel & Infinity.’ These thirty-six episodes contain some of the most intriguing and challenging [and, yes, preachy] television in recent years – just like the original…

Some episodes, like ‘Alien Shop,’ in which an alien shopkeeper [Alex Diakun] gives a petty crook [Jonathan Schaech] a never-empty wallet, or ‘Time to Time,’ in which Kristen Lehman is recruited to a team of time guardians, walk a fine line between the preachy and the entertaining – but work because of the writing [both eps actually feel like backdoor pilots for series, but maybe that’s just me…].

The eps on ‘Sex & Science-Fiction’ are the original, Showtime cuts – nudity is definitely present. These eps are thought provoking and, maybe, just a little prurient [showrunner Pen Densham admits to it in an accompanying feature – and suggests a little prurience may not necessarily be a bad thing…]. That these eps feature nude scenes from Alyssa Milano, Natasha Henstridge and Polly Shannon, speaks to the intelligence of the scripts – and the carefully structured prurience of which Densham speaks.

Of the thirty-six episodes, my personal favorites include: ‘Quality of Mercy’ [on a remote planet, two soldiers share a cell – and one of them appears to be changing into one of the their alien foes – Robert Patrick and Nicole De Boer make this powerful one-set episode work], ‘The Other Side’ [a scientist discovers a way to communicate with comatose patients – but the there’s a particularly distracting side effect], ‘Glitch’ [an “everyman” discovers he’s really an android – and possibly an assassin!], ‘Double Helix’ [a geneticist discovers a secret code hidden in human DNA, but testing it on himself leads to the discovery of an alien spacecraft], ‘Bits of Love’ [the last man on Earth creates a holographic companion – who decides she wants to have a baby!], and ‘A Stitch in Time [the suspect in a fifty-year old murder has the perfect alibi – she was in kindergarten at the time!].

Guest stars like Amanda Plummer, Jon Tenney, Meatloaf, Kevin Nealon, Nancy Allen, Clancy Brown, Leonard Nimoy, Heather Graham, and Ron Rifkin give the series a certain cachet – quality talent generally gravitates to quality productions. The writing team, aided by the input of original series creator, Leslie Stevens, definitely had many more hits than misses over the course of the series [and as Densham says, in one featurette, it’s better to miss when you’re swinging for the fence – taking a risk – than just trying to get on base…].

Each of the six DVDs has one featurette in common – ‘Origins of The Outer Limits’ [the set will also available as individual DVDs], but they also have one or more featurettes specific to the theme of each particular disc. The interviews are enlightening, and suggest that working on the series was at least as much fun as work. Considering the quality of the eps in the collection, though, it would have been nice to have featurettes on special effects and casting – and most of the eps in the set are definitely commentary-worthy…

Grade: The Outer Limits – The New Series: A
Grade: Features: C

Final Grade: B




Richard Dean Anderson Fans

Fans of Joe Flanigan