Review – Stargate Universe – A Stargate For The Rest of Us

Jon Lachonis September 30, 2009 85

NUP_135134_0014I am not a big fan of the various Stargate TV shows. I liked the movie ó by which I mean the Kurt Russel/James Spader one ó but never really dug the television versions. I can’t explain why, and it is not a vehement hatred so don’t flame me, I was just never ‘ėhooked.’The only reason this is significant now is because of how much I absolutely loved Stargate Universe.

I’m going to guess that Stargate Universe is going to appeal to the legions of Stargate fans out there, but before I even watched the pilot my condition for liking the show was that it had to appeal to someone who was completely unaware of the Stargate Universe as defined by SG1, Atlantis, and whatever constituent material that belongs to those worlds. Not because I loathe them so, because I don’t, but because I would be completely lost if they relied on me knowing those histories.

On the other hand, my pre-viewing meditation on what would make a good Stargate show also turned up another requirement. If SyFy were smart they would want Stargate Universe to stand apart from the established mythology, widening their net beyond the viewership of the existing fan base. It would be bold, and probably a bit dangerous, but if SyFy were serious about this they would try to create a vehicle that looped in the hardened core of Stargate fans while simultaneously reaching out to the skeptics, like me. Thankfully, SyFy took that chance.

Stargate Universe is a Stargate for the rest of us. Fans of SG1 and Atlantis will probably tell me differently, but in my mind this Stargate is designed to appeal to television fans who admire a different brand of storytelling. SG1 and Atlantis may be perfectly great action shows, but to some of us they are simply hectic bags of eye-candy. Stargate Universe retains that brand of high-octane fun, but pads it with subtle mysteries, challenging character conflict, and tried and true cliffhanger styled story telling.

Stargate Universe ó The Story

I’m reluctant to limit Stargate Universe with high-concept comparisons, but it wouldn’t be too much NUP_133837_1284of a stretch to say that SGU is a little like LOST in space, and a little like LOST In Space as well.

Before we get into the ‘ėhook’of SGU, let’s talk about the genius way in which it connects with non-fans. If you have never watched an episode of any Stargate series, or even seen the movie, you are in luck ó because either has Eli Wallace. Played by David Blue, Eli is SGU’s gateway character. A mid-twenties gamer freak living with mom who cracks a code on an MMO and finds himself drafted into the Stargate program.

The narrative of the SGU pilot is tethered to Eli, and as such we are indoctrinated to the machinations of the Stargate reality with a conciseness befitting any intelligent noob. Eli’s mentor within the ‘ėIcarus’program, Doctor Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle) tells Eli everything he needs to know to enter the phase of his grand experiment, and consequently everything we need to know to comfortably enter the world of Stargate. This is not to say that Eli is strictly a utility character, in fact there are no ‘ėutility’characters in Stargate Universe, yet when it comes to breaking in viewers who have no idea what the other series have been about Eli provides a comforting passage into this particular story.

Essentially, Stargate Universe is about this project involving these gates ó ancient interdimensional portals left over by some long-vanished race ó and an addressing scheme that has never been cracked. It is thought that his code would expand the range of the gates. The math needed to crack the code correlates to Eli’s game wizardry. Eli is plucked from his suburban gaming den and taken away to an alien world to work on the project. Any similarity to ‘The Last Starfighter’is completely lost in the execution, even when Stargate Universe skates close to clich√© it seems to rescue itself with a flash of uniqueness.

Once at the Icarus installation, bad guys attack and Rush makes a fatal decision to continue dialing the newly cracked address rather than opening the Stargate to Earth. The result: they are teleported to an ancient spaceship hurtling through space billions of light-years away. It’s a heat of the moment decision, and Rush’s logic is only partially flawed. The argument could be made that any escape is escape, and there is plenty of time to dial Earth from the other side. The result is that the survivors from the Icarus station are now stranded on this alien ship, hurtling through hyperspace as Earth becomes further and further distant.

The first concern is finding a way back to Earth, but the prospects look bleak. Instead, Stargate Universe seems to orient itself more towards a survivalist drama with an underlying set of mysteries involving who designed the ship, and what its purpose is. Shades of Star Trek: Voyager emerge, but are quickly suppressed by the high-drama of SGU’s character interplay, and the eroded look of its decrepit technology.

The SGU-Naut’s are able to contact Earth via thought stones that allow the ‘ėcaller’to enter the body of a receiver, taking control of their meat to comingle with Stargate officials back home. The stones can also be used by those on Earth to dial the SGU-nauts. Problem is, there are only five stones at the beginning of the pilot, and two are used so far.

The worst-case scenario of this setup rears its head immediately. With no engineering knowledge of the ship, the survivors are suddenly faced with a dilemma: the atmosphere is escaping through a hole in a room they cannot seal from the outside, and the air-filtration system is degrading rapidly. They will suffocate in hours.

The bickering, politicking, and panic that ensue define the character-scape of Stargate Universe. Rush’s initial decision seems to be the one that will provide the most debate in the near future of the story, but the plot seems driven by choices of action and ambiguity. A constant struggle of choosing which action will serve the whole, whose decisions may be lined with self-service, and plain old acts of faith. This is where Stargate Universe takes flight.

Stargate Universe ó The Characters

As anybody knows, even the best concepts can be foiled by bad characters. Stargate Universe features compelling characters played to perfection by a cast that means business. The talent presented here NUP_135134_1942was staggering. To contrast to a recent show, FlashForward managed to present its ensemble in a compelling way that had all of the signs of high-art; Stargate Universe achieves the same effect in a way that is pleasingly organic, fluid, and perhaps more believable.

Regardless of how you breakdown the formula, the Stargate Universe ensemble works. The usual archetypes are present and accounted for: tough and fair leader afflicted by a secret ‘ėcondition’Col. Everett Young played by Louis Ferreira. The righteous scientist driven by cruel logic – yet tainted with genuine humanity ó Dr. Nicholas Rush, played by Robert Carlyle. The young loner using crisis as a crutch for his limping sense of self, 1st Lt. Matthew Scott (Brian J. Smith). The frigid Senator’s daughter Elyse Levesque (Chloe Armstrong), memorializing the sacrifice of her father by channeling his resolve and unyielding demand for checks and balances.

There are more, the bureaucrat Camile Wray (Ming-Na), the mysterious and thuggish Master-Sergeant Ronald Greer (Jamil Walker Smith), 1st Lt. Tamara Johansen (Alaina Huffman) the medic whose skills are stretched beyond their limits. In the periphery, Lou Diamond Phillips earth bound Col. David Telford.

By far, the most intriguing characters, so far, are in the tier of Eli, Rush, Ferreira, Scott, Elyse, and Johansen. Eli’s ‘ėeveryman’is always a pleasure to watch, serving both as a lovable geek we can all relate with, and a moral gyroscope that always points in the right direction. Carlyle’s Rush has a future on the mantle of memorable TV characters. He is colored with a combination of ambition, skittishness, and duplicity that demands fascination. There is a definite soft and human core to his character, but Rush is also dangerously obsessed with cruel logic.

The Bottom Line

Stargate Universe is fantastic Sci-Fi fun wrapped in a compelling mystery populated by addictive characters whose fates you will willingly become invested in. This television season offers a lot of genre options, SGU is one that you should not pass up. And as someone who passed on SG-1 and Atlantis, I can honestly say that you don’t need to be steeped in Stargate lore to jump on board and have a good time.

Stargate Universe Airs Friday, October 2 @ 9 PM ET/PT

  • A Non PC thug

    Actually a lot of Stargate fans are not happy about this new Emogate. What do you mean different style of storytelling? At least with the first two stargates you didn't get stupid pc thug crap and could watch a good and non emo show. Also its not new its called BSG.

  • A Non PC thug

    Actually a lot of Stargate fans are not happy about this new Emogate. What do you mean different style of storytelling? At least with the first two stargates you didn’t get stupid pc thug crap and could watch a good and non emo show. Also its not new its called BSG.

  • Les Ferris

    "Actually a lot of Stargate fans are not happy about this new Emogate. What do you mean different style of storytelling? At least with the first two stargates you didn't get stupid pc thug crap and could watch a good and non emo show. Also its not new its called BSG."

    This fan, who loved SG1 and SGA, is VERY happy about the new show. We had the same thing year-in year-out for 15 years. Time for a change. This show has had better reviews than any of the ones that came before it, and looking forward to a new chapter in the franchise and one that one reviewer even said was the best show the SciFi channel has ever produced.

  • Les Ferris

    “Actually a lot of Stargate fans are not happy about this new Emogate. What do you mean different style of storytelling? At least with the first two stargates you didn’t get stupid pc thug crap and could watch a good and non emo show. Also its not new its called BSG.”

    This fan, who loved SG1 and SGA, is VERY happy about the new show. We had the same thing year-in year-out for 15 years. Time for a change. This show has had better reviews than any of the ones that came before it, and looking forward to a new chapter in the franchise and one that one reviewer even said was the best show the SciFi channel has ever produced.

  • Ryan

    Just would like to say i'm sorry it took you so long to relize the potential in the stargate franchise and that you could have been enjoying the metholagy and charactors years ago if you would have opened your mind. I guess it just take some people a little longer to get over that silly sci=fy myth.

  • Ryan

    Just would like to say i’m sorry it took you so long to relize the potential in the stargate franchise and that you could have been enjoying the metholagy and charactors years ago if you would have opened your mind. I guess it just take some people a little longer to get over that silly sci=fy myth.

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  • Featherlite

    I have been waiting for this! I liked the movie and then fell completely in love with "Stargate: SG-1". I faltered a bit with the cast changes of Seasons 9 and 10 but stuck with it. I watched "Stargate: Atlantis" but never had the same connection to it. And then they announced "Stargate: Universe". Friday can't come quick enough. I've been in withdrawal for months.

    I like the fact that they are taking a new approach to the series. The old approach has been done; done well, mind you, but already done. Fresh ideas on an established base may be exactly what the franchise needs.

    I hope it does appeal to both old and new fans. Old fans should find comfort in the premise and new fans should realize that 15 seasons of Stargate later, perhaps there is something worth checking out.

    Thirty-six hours and counting…

  • Featherlite

    I have been waiting for this! I liked the movie and then fell completely in love with “Stargate: SG-1″. I faltered a bit with the cast changes of Seasons 9 and 10 but stuck with it. I watched “Stargate: Atlantis” but never had the same connection to it. And then they announced “Stargate: Universe”. Friday can’t come quick enough. I’ve been in withdrawal for months.

    I like the fact that they are taking a new approach to the series. The old approach has been done; done well, mind you, but already done. Fresh ideas on an established base may be exactly what the franchise needs.

    I hope it does appeal to both old and new fans. Old fans should find comfort in the premise and new fans should realize that 15 seasons of Stargate later, perhaps there is something worth checking out.

    Thirty-six hours and counting…

  • Mark O. Estes

    Jon, I too, was a fan of the movie starring James Spader and Kurt Douglas. I also dabbled in SG-1 and was faithful of Atlantis during most of it's run. I am glad that Stargate Universe is an open series, meaning that people who didn't tune into the previous series can tune into this one. Atlantis was a storyline of SG-1 before it got it's own series, so it's great that you don't have to watch a season of Atlantis to get SGU. While the first poster is slightly right about fans not really caring for SGU, they based that opinion on casting calls and character beat sheets; things that change over time. I hope that Stargate fans don't turn the franchise into another Star Trek debacle.

  • Mark O. Estes

    Jon, I too, was a fan of the movie starring James Spader and Kurt Douglas. I also dabbled in SG-1 and was faithful of Atlantis during most of it’s run. I am glad that Stargate Universe is an open series, meaning that people who didn’t tune into the previous series can tune into this one. Atlantis was a storyline of SG-1 before it got it’s own series, so it’s great that you don’t have to watch a season of Atlantis to get SGU. While the first poster is slightly right about fans not really caring for SGU, they based that opinion on casting calls and character beat sheets; things that change over time. I hope that Stargate fans don’t turn the franchise into another Star Trek debacle.

  • BenLinus

    You know Doc, I was hoping somebody would point out how it's a "little like LOST in space". I thought the same thing too when I first heard about the show. And I do love SG-1 and Atlantis. I think it's a bold move from the show's producers and writers to steer this new Stargate show towards the path of character-oriented drama. Comparing it to lost, the Ancient Spaceship is in many ways similar to the Island. Character centric episodes and flashbacks would also make it great. All in all, I'm way more excited to watch SGU than Lost at the moment….. Until January of 2010 I hope…

    • Jon Lachonis

      Y'know, it's funny because I had written a passage comparing the two more point by point, but decided it didn't do SGU credit. SGU is definitely a lot like LOST in structure, but also a good example of how LOST does not own things like 'Flash backs' and character centric eps. SGU is definitely not a pastiche of LOST. The ship, though, is definitely similar to the island. I hope they make the ship a character like LOST did with the island, but either way its a good setting.

      SGU is every bit as sophisticated as LOST. I think i will do well.

      • BenLinus

        As do I, I have very high hopes for this show. More about the ship itself; I think the obstacles it will present could qualify it as a character, just like the Island. But then again, the island itself is still a place of mystery, much of it is still to be revealed, and the last season of the show is nearly upon us. I guess what I'm trying to say is, the writers will need to decide how much to hold back and how much to give away, so as keep to a sound balance of answers and mystery. Having watched the two previous stargate shows, I can tell you that plot points were resolved fairly quickly (with a few exceptions).

        Anyway, I hope to hear more from you about this show after it's aired :)

  • BenLinus

    You know Doc, I was hoping somebody would point out how it’s a “little like LOST in space”. I thought the same thing too when I first heard about the show. And I do love SG-1 and Atlantis. I think it’s a bold move from the show’s producers and writers to steer this new Stargate show towards the path of character-oriented drama. Comparing it to lost, the Ancient Spaceship is in many ways similar to the Island. Character centric episodes and flashbacks would also make it great. All in all, I’m way more excited to watch SGU than Lost at the moment….. Until January of 2010 I hope…

    • Jon Lachonis

      Y’know, it’s funny because I had written a passage comparing the two more point by point, but decided it didn’t do SGU credit. SGU is definitely a lot like LOST in structure, but also a good example of how LOST does not own things like ‘Flash backs’ and character centric eps. SGU is definitely not a pastiche of LOST. The ship, though, is definitely similar to the island. I hope they make the ship a character like LOST did with the island, but either way its a good setting.

      SGU is every bit as sophisticated as LOST. I think i will do well.

      • BenLinus

        As do I, I have very high hopes for this show. More about the ship itself; I think the obstacles it will present could qualify it as a character, just like the Island. But then again, the island itself is still a place of mystery, much of it is still to be revealed, and the last season of the show is nearly upon us. I guess what I’m trying to say is, the writers will need to decide how much to hold back and how much to give away, so as keep to a sound balance of answers and mystery. Having watched the two previous stargate shows, I can tell you that plot points were resolved fairly quickly (with a few exceptions).

        Anyway, I hope to hear more from you about this show after it’s aired :)

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    • Nathaniel

      The Show sucks!

  • TV Obsessed

    I'm a huge fan of the Stargate franchise having watched all the SG-1 episodes multiple times and every SGA episode. I wanted to like SGU, but it tried too hard to be dark like BSG instead of focusing on story or characters. The 2-hour series premiere was completely unnecessary and could have been cut to an hour thirty or an hour. Full review of the episode.

    http://th3tvobsessed.blogspot.com/2009/10/review-

  • TV Obsessed

    I'm a huge fan of the Stargate franchise having watched all the SG-1 episodes multiple times and every SGA episode. I wanted to like SGU, but it tried too hard to be dark like BSG instead of focusing on story or characters. The 2-hour series premiere was completely unnecessary and could have been cut to an hour thirty or an hour. Full review of the episode.

    http://th3tvobsessed.blogspot.com/2009/10/review-

  • Nathaniel

    The Show sucks!

  • Povilas

    Very strong pilot. Looking forward to seeing other episodes. In my book all changes are only for the good. It has something from other TV shows, but at the same time it's very different because of Stargate. Good start. I hope to see at least 5 great seasons.

  • Povilas

    Very strong pilot. Looking forward to seeing other episodes. In my book all changes are only for the good. It has something from other TV shows, but at the same time it’s very different because of Stargate. Good start. I hope to see at least 5 great seasons.

  • Jennygirl

    I am a huge fan of the original movie and both series. Still watch re-runs. I think as a fan though, you have to admit that the shows were losing steam. Atlantis at times was a bit much and a little too shinay and happy. My main problem was the way Sci-fi (Sy-Fy whatever!) ended those series. SG-1 made that netwrok for the most part, and dropped it like a bad habit. Same thing with Atlantis. Never finished the storyline which alienates the fan base.

    I liked SGU. Different direction, lots of chances to mix it up every week, a little darker. And maybe more realistic in terms of how humans behave, like Ming-Na's character. Definitely need some comic releif though from time to time and I think Eli's character will provide that. looking forward to a good sseason. Excellent article!

  • Jennygirl

    I am a huge fan of the original movie and both series. Still watch re-runs. I think as a fan though, you have to admit that the shows were losing steam. Atlantis at times was a bit much and a little too shinay and happy. My main problem was the way Sci-fi (Sy-Fy whatever!) ended those series. SG-1 made that netwrok for the most part, and dropped it like a bad habit. Same thing with Atlantis. Never finished the storyline which alienates the fan base.

    I liked SGU. Different direction, lots of chances to mix it up every week, a little darker. And maybe more realistic in terms of how humans behave, like Ming-Na’s character. Definitely need some comic releif though from time to time and I think Eli’s character will provide that. looking forward to a good sseason. Excellent article!

  • Justin

    Jon, go back and watch SG-1, I don't think you'll be disappointed. Kick it off with the DVD re-release of "Children of the Gods".

  • Justin

    Jon, go back and watch SG-1, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Kick it off with the DVD re-release of “Children of the Gods”.

  • Jerome

    After Friday I'm officially finished with Universe. It's interesting that you say there are characters to "get invested in" when that's exactly what I can't seem to do. Bye-bye Stargate. It was fun while it lasted.

  • Jerome

    After Friday I’m officially finished with Universe. It’s interesting that you say there are characters to “get invested in” when that’s exactly what I can’t seem to do. Bye-bye Stargate. It was fun while it lasted.

  • ihammee

    I've loved Stargate the movie then SG-1 and Atlantis for the most part. There have been a few stray shows and story arcs but that's to be expected with so many episodes and movies. This latest was very bad in premiere and getting worse (well I enjoyed darkness better than the other three but it's still slightly below worthless crap) I guess they are trying to learn from the huge following and success of BSG but 1) this isn't even close in any way and 2) I for the most part hated the convoluted BSG nonsense anyway – show didn't know where it was or where it was going but hey a bunch of kiddies who don't know were they are or where they are going but like more harsh sex and violence and substance abuse issues loved it – whatever

    This rant brought to you by dazed idiots writting convoluted nonsense – but at least I knew where I was going a nice change from BSG and now SGU

  • ihammee

    I’ve loved Stargate the movie then SG-1 and Atlantis for the most part. There have been a few stray shows and story arcs but that’s to be expected with so many episodes and movies. This latest was very bad in premiere and getting worse (well I enjoyed darkness better than the other three but it’s still slightly below worthless crap) I guess they are trying to learn from the huge following and success of BSG but 1) this isn’t even close in any way and 2) I for the most part hated the convoluted BSG nonsense anyway – show didn’t know where it was or where it was going but hey a bunch of kiddies who don’t know were they are or where they are going but like more harsh sex and violence and substance abuse issues loved it – whatever

    This rant brought to you by dazed idiots writting convoluted nonsense – but at least I knew where I was going a nice change from BSG and now SGU

  • Susan

    I was very interested in SGU, loved the pilot, am not so sure the storytelling will hold up (after seeing Episode 3 last night), though I'm going to keep watching for now. I agree with your assessment about SGU. I like the idea of the ship hurtling through space, and the characters trying to figure how the ship works and survive. Very intriguing. Robbie Carlyle is a steal as the scientist – mesmerizing, and the other characters you mention too – nice assessment of the role Eli plays!

    I tried original Stargate – my son kept trying to get me to watch it – but it had terrible dialogue and formula plots so I gave up. I'm hoping SGU can be more original. Did you notice it's in BSG's Friday night time slot? I was a huge BSG fan. Miss that show so much!

  • Susan

    I was very interested in SGU, loved the pilot, am not so sure the storytelling will hold up (after seeing Episode 3 last night), though I’m going to keep watching for now. I agree with your assessment about SGU. I like the idea of the ship hurtling through space, and the characters trying to figure how the ship works and survive. Very intriguing. Robbie Carlyle is a steal as the scientist – mesmerizing, and the other characters you mention too – nice assessment of the role Eli plays!

    I tried original Stargate – my son kept trying to get me to watch it – but it had terrible dialogue and formula plots so I gave up. I’m hoping SGU can be more original. Did you notice it’s in BSG’s Friday night time slot? I was a huge BSG fan. Miss that show so much!

  • Robin Shiller

    Let me weigh in here: After four hours (three weeks), I'm still waiting for SG-U to do **something**. With the exception of the Geek Kid (who is likable and obviously growing into the 'McKay' role) and the Crazy Scot, the characters for the most part are as paper-thin as the storyline and the supporting scripts.

    In fact, considering that most of the production team has been carried over from SG-1 & SG-A, it is really surprising as to how bad this show is.

    And, yes it is really, really bad.

    Maybe it’s the show's 'left-turn' approach to the SG franchise, which has been characterized by a sense of drama amidst light-hearted adventure. Big moments were B-I-G when they showed up in the previous series, but in SG-U, they barely register.

    Two examples, beginning with the Senator's death scene in the pilot. A moment that should have been filled with impact and emotion, yet went by with barely a twitch on the 'Big-meter'. Why? Because the writers (for whatever reason) failed to make us care about the character, his daughter or their situation. The story gave us no reason to relate.

    Secondly, "finding an alien life form' on the sand planet. The writers focused us on the risk of the soldier's survival (who was he again?), and when the alien dust bunny saves the day, the Big-meter – which the writers want to have focused on the life saving qualities of the sand, barely moves.. and the 'unique' alien is cast aside with nothing but a small mention.

    Poor writing is the bane of a great story. So is Direction without a purpose.

    The comparisons to Battllestar Galactica are inevitable, but they flatter to deceive: SG-U is no match for Battlestar Galactica, which stands as one of the very best-written and -directed drama series, ever. If you don't believe me, do your own research on the show's qualities and the wide net that it cast.

    Without great writing (character and plot development) and visionary production, SG-U can be nothing more than a half-baked success. BG's 'stark reality' had purpose and **gave** purpose. We immediately bonded with the characters and the plot.

    No such empathy exists with SG-U, or within it, for that matter. I get no sense that these characters care for each other in any meaningful way, and this, combined with a lackluster and unfocused storyline, leaves us wondering "why should we care?"

    Compare that to 'Flash Forward', '24' or 'Sleeper Cell". Love 'em or not, they grab you and make you invest.

    If SG-U doesn’t want to be the lighthearted space romp that its predecessors were, fine. But if it wants to be a serious drama, it needs to really, really ramp up quickly.

    There are too many fine dramas which compel us to watch, and no new series can afford to spend 8-10 weeks trying to make us care.

    Right now, it’s not happening.

    B-I-G time.

    • Chris R

      I agree totally, with the exception of your inclusion of FlashForward in your list of contrasting shows. FF suffers from almost the same malady of weak weak character development, to the point that I'm starting to think all science fiction TV drama writers came down with a terminal case of the duhs over the summer.

  • Robin Shiller

    Let me weigh in here: After four hours (three weeks), I’m still waiting for SG-U to do **something**. With the exception of the Geek Kid (who is likable and obviously growing into the ‘McKay’ role) and the Crazy Scot, the characters for the most part are as paper-thin as the storyline and the supporting scripts.

    In fact, considering that most of the production team has been carried over from SG-1 & SG-A, it is really surprising as to how bad this show is.

    And, yes it is really, really bad.

    Maybe itís the show’s ‘left-turn’ approach to the SG franchise, which has been characterized by a sense of drama amidst light-hearted adventure. Big moments were B-I-G when they showed up in the previous series, but in SG-U, they barely register.

    Two examples, beginning with the Senator’s death scene in the pilot. A moment that should have been filled with impact and emotion, yet went by with barely a twitch on the ‘Big-meter’. Why? Because the writers (for whatever reason) failed to make us care about the character, his daughter or their situation. The story gave us no reason to relate.

    Secondly, “finding an alien life form’ on the sand planet. The writers focused us on the risk of the soldier’s survival (who was he again?), and when the alien dust bunny saves the day, the Big-meter – which the writers want to have focused on the life saving qualities of the sand, barely moves.. and the ‘unique’ alien is cast aside with nothing but a small mention.

    Poor writing is the bane of a great story. So is Direction without a purpose.

    The comparisons to Battllestar Galactica are inevitable, but they flatter to deceive: SG-U is no match for Battlestar Galactica, which stands as one of the very best-written and -directed drama series, ever. If you don’t believe me, do your own research on the show’s qualities and the wide net that it cast.

    Without great writing (character and plot development) and visionary production, SG-U can be nothing more than a half-baked success. BG’s ‘stark reality’ had purpose and **gave** purpose. We immediately bonded with the characters and the plot.

    No such empathy exists with SG-U, or within it, for that matter. I get no sense that these characters care for each other in any meaningful way, and this, combined with a lackluster and unfocused storyline, leaves us wondering “why should we care?”

    Compare that to ‘Flash Forward’, ’24′ or ‘Sleeper Cell”. Love ‘em or not, they grab you and make you invest.

    If SG-U doesnít want to be the lighthearted space romp that its predecessors were, fine. But if it wants to be a serious drama, it needs to really, really ramp up quickly.

    There are too many fine dramas which compel us to watch, and no new series can afford to spend 8-10 weeks trying to make us care.

    Right now, itís not happening.

    B-I-G time.

    • Chris R

      I agree totally, with the exception of your inclusion of FlashForward in your list of contrasting shows. FF suffers from almost the same malady of weak weak character development, to the point that I’m starting to think all science fiction TV drama writers came down with a terminal case of the duhs over the summer.

  • Season is a Joke

    The first episode they have their first failed "dramatic death" for a senator where as the viewer had no feelings or connection towards. So when he died, I was like… eh, whatever. The whole second episode was about finding water on a desert. SERIOUSLY???

    On the last episode it about power failure and a ship filled with idiots are headed towards a sun. Next episode, they're probably going to spend the whole hour trying to avoid it. I'm done with this series. 4 episodes, 4 chances to get me hooked and it failed. The opening should have easily grabbed me in but it was more of an annoying roadtrip in space with whiny and cranky people.

  • Season is a Joke

    The first episode they have their first failed “dramatic death” for a senator where as the viewer had no feelings or connection towards. So when he died, I was like… eh, whatever. The whole second episode was about finding water on a desert. SERIOUSLY???

    On the last episode it about power failure and a ship filled with idiots are headed towards a sun. Next episode, they’re probably going to spend the whole hour trying to avoid it. I’m done with this series. 4 episodes, 4 chances to get me hooked and it failed. The opening should have easily grabbed me in but it was more of an annoying roadtrip in space with whiny and cranky people.

  • http://www.tvonthebrain.com/ TV on the Brain

    I was a reluctant fan of SG1 (only drawn in after Atlantis was released), and own all the SG1 and Atlantis (sans season 5, as I'm waiting to pick it up cheap) dvds.

    Truth be told, the first episode of Universe left me just wondering WTF these guys were thinking. I was told the second one was better, but it's not that much better, and the third one, well, still processing.

    Honestly, I can very easily see the "Lost in Space" comparison here, and, it fits very nicely. What NBC/Syfy was thinking was basically "we need cash". They killed of their staple syfy program(s) in SG and BSG, and they're hoping SGU brings it back, but cheaper. Honestly, not so much.

    I wanted to see SGU succeed, but honestly, I don't think it'll make it past season 1, IF it continues at all. There is no depth whatsoever to the story, no continuation point.

  • http://www.tvonthebrain.com/ TV on the Brain

    I was a reluctant fan of SG1 (only drawn in after Atlantis was released), and own all the SG1 and Atlantis (sans season 5, as I’m waiting to pick it up cheap) dvds.

    Truth be told, the first episode of Universe left me just wondering WTF these guys were thinking. I was told the second one was better, but it’s not that much better, and the third one, well, still processing.

    Honestly, I can very easily see the “Lost in Space” comparison here, and, it fits very nicely. What NBC/Syfy was thinking was basically “we need cash”. They killed of their staple syfy program(s) in SG and BSG, and they’re hoping SGU brings it back, but cheaper. Honestly, not so much.

    I wanted to see SGU succeed, but honestly, I don’t think it’ll make it past season 1, IF it continues at all. There is no depth whatsoever to the story, no continuation point.

  • Ow, my eyes

    Yeah, I liked SG-1 and Atlantis. I pretty much hate SGU. It's a try-hard BSG. SG-1 and Atlantis was about Characters that were more than ordinary, or ordinary people who rose to extrodinary circumstances. SGU is basically Starget: Rejects. Just like BSG everyone is a loser.

    Why would I want to watch that?

  • Ow, my eyes

    Yeah, I liked SG-1 and Atlantis. I pretty much hate SGU. It’s a try-hard BSG. SG-1 and Atlantis was about Characters that were more than ordinary, or ordinary people who rose to extrodinary circumstances. SGU is basically Starget: Rejects. Just like BSG everyone is a loser.

    Why would I want to watch that?

  • Vienna

    As far as I'm concerned, "the rest of you" can have this Stargate. I thoroughly enjoyed both SG-1 and Atlantis (at least, before both series started going downhill), but I gave SGU a shot and was bored out of my mind. What I've gathered from the parts I've watched is that the characters are all merely thin, hackneyed versions of character types we've already seen in previous Stargate shows–the geeky, chubby scientist, the stoic soldier trying to fill big shoes, the medic who's in over her head, etc. Been there, done that, found it way more interesting the first time around. They should have stuck with developing and improving what they *had* instead of running it into the ground and finally axing it in order to make way for this dreck.

  • Vienna

    As far as I’m concerned, “the rest of you” can have this Stargate. I thoroughly enjoyed both SG-1 and Atlantis (at least, before both series started going downhill), but I gave SGU a shot and was bored out of my mind. What I’ve gathered from the parts I’ve watched is that the characters are all merely thin, hackneyed versions of character types we’ve already seen in previous Stargate shows–the geeky, chubby scientist, the stoic soldier trying to fill big shoes, the medic who’s in over her head, etc. Been there, done that, found it way more interesting the first time around. They should have stuck with developing and improving what they *had* instead of running it into the ground and finally axing it in order to make way for this dreck.

  • Roberto

    After 5 episodes I personally would turf the writers. Zero excoyement or anticipation, what a shame after the previous 2 series were good. Not knocking the actors as they are fine, it's the writing that is elementary. Such a shame, we need more Sci Fi shows, so much crap on TV now…Sanctuary…another epic fail.

  • Roberto

    After 5 episodes I personally would turf the writers. Zero excoyement or anticipation, what a shame after the previous 2 series were good. Not knocking the actors as they are fine, it’s the writing that is elementary. Such a shame, we need more Sci Fi shows, so much crap on TV now…Sanctuary…another epic fail.

  • Al

    You hit the nail on the head with Lost In Space, but after fiv e epsiodes I've figured ouit what's missing, and that is fun. SGU might just be a little too gloomy. Secondly, I am not making an emotional connection to any of the characters. I wish they would lose the intergalactic whatchamacallit communication device. It seems pointless. A pointless distraction. I am not going to connect to these characters because of an occasional home visit.

  • Al

    You hit the nail on the head with Lost In Space, but after fiv e epsiodes I’ve figured ouit what’s missing, and that is fun. SGU might just be a little too gloomy. Secondly, I am not making an emotional connection to any of the characters. I wish they would lose the intergalactic whatchamacallit communication device. It seems pointless. A pointless distraction. I am not going to connect to these characters because of an occasional home visit.

  • true

    I'm through with it. The acting is terrible, the writing horrible. The sets and special effects are so beyond the actors involved. Very disappointed. This show is a huge let down.

  • true

    I’m through with it. The acting is terrible, the writing horrible. The sets and special effects are so beyond the actors involved. Very disappointed. This show is a huge let down.

  • theblur

    What a bunch of cry-babies! This show has enormous potential. How can you decide in just a few episodes. You're missing out on what could be the next big thing. After this last ep., the ship now has full power reserves, and is back on track. I think the story dragging out all along was more for discovery and character development. I fully believe it takes off from here.

    As for the original SG series: the original movie with Kurt Russell and James Spader was great, an original idea. I tuned into the series when it was first on Showtime for a while, but it lost me in it's cartoonish "Saturday Afternoon" style. I gave Stargate Atlantis a chance for a whole season, but found it was much the same as SG-1.

    This show, SGU, has the grittiness of BSG, (hard not to notice the similar production work, camera style), and the uniqueness of the original movie. I'm in at least for the remainder of this first season.

    It's not without it's flaws, there isn't a show that is, but give it a fair chance. There's not much else on TV that offers any better, (Sanctuary anyone?).

    • Ugh

      "There's not much else on TV that offers any better,"

      In other words, nothing else is on, lets watch this drivel. I would rather watch re-runs.

    • Paul

      My Dad has the same mantra "Well theres nothing much else on!", he's in his sixties, no incling of ambition and would watch the test card if it still existed! It's this exact kind of attitude which encourages second rate producers to fill the slots with nonesense, for they know people like that will always watch regardless of effort on their part!

  • theblur

    What a bunch of cry-babies! This show has enormous potential. How can you decide in just a few episodes. You’re missing out on what could be the next big thing. After this last ep., the ship now has full power reserves, and is back on track. I think the story dragging out all along was more for discovery and character development. I fully believe it takes off from here.

    As for the original SG series: the original movie with Kurt Russell and James Spader was great, an original idea. I tuned into the series when it was first on Showtime for a while, but it lost me in it’s cartoonish “Saturday Afternoon” style. I gave Stargate Atlantis a chance for a whole season, but found it was much the same as SG-1.

    This show, SGU, has the grittiness of BSG, (hard not to notice the similar production work, camera style), and the uniqueness of the original movie. I’m in at least for the remainder of this first season.

    It’s not without it’s flaws, there isn’t a show that is, but give it a fair chance. There’s not much else on TV that offers any better, (Sanctuary anyone?).

    • Ugh

      “There’s not much else on TV that offers any better,”

      In other words, nothing else is on, lets watch this drivel. I would rather watch re-runs.

      • Skiznot

        actually I thought Science fiction on TV was over and I was ready to go back to reading for my space science fiction. Imagine my surprise when SGU came with Scalzi's input knocking it out of the park with some true science fiction and not the Scooby-doo in space of previous Stargate shows.

    • Paul

      My Dad has the same mantra “Well theres nothing much else on!”, he’s in his sixties, no incling of ambition and would watch the test card if it still existed! It’s this exact kind of attitude which encourages second rate producers to fill the slots with nonesense, for they know people like that will always watch regardless of effort on their part!

  • me

    Ok so I'm writting this as yet another episode looks to be a worthless piece of crap.

    I'm watching a recording of Water and am at the very early point of the boss saying he'd be happy with a half a ton of ice.

    UMMMM..

    FOR EIGHTY PEOPLE

    WHAT THE HECK!

    Ok I'm on a huge ship that stops every so often and we have to venture out to some boring unknown place in search so I'm like um like going to want water like for two days like ummm yeah like that would like be good like yeah

    The above has better writing than any of SGU so far.

    blech

  • me

    Ok so I’m writting this as yet another episode looks to be a worthless piece of crap.
    I’m watching a recording of Water and am at the very early point of the boss saying he’d be happy with a half a ton of ice.
    UMMMM..
    FOR EIGHTY PEOPLE

    WHAT THE HECK!

    Ok I’m on a huge ship that stops every so often and we have to venture out to some boring unknown place in search so I’m like um like going to want water like for two days like ummm yeah like that would like be good like yeah

    The above has better writing than any of SGU so far.

    blech

  • Al

    For the first time I truly enjoyed an episode of the show! Took seven episodes to do it, but they finally did it. Nice twist at the end. The Col’s wife been sleeping with Talford. Lucy, you got some splanin to do!

    • Paul

      Yeah, but that was plainly obvious from the get go! The writers didn’t exactly hide it very well. The long wanting stares, the uncomfortable proximity. Hardly true drama in my book, thought we were supposed to be understanding and tolerant of that sort of thing by now.

  • Al

    For the first time I truly enjoyed an episode of the show! Took seven episodes to do it, but they finally did it. Nice twist at the end. The Col's wife been sleeping with Talford. Lucy, you got some splanin to do!

    • Paul

      Yeah, but that was plainly obvious from the get go! The writers didn't exactly hide it very well. The long wanting stares, the uncomfortable proximity. Hardly true drama in my book, thought we were supposed to be understanding and tolerant of that sort of thing by now.

  • John

    This new Stargate is a Soapgate, if I can coin the phrase. Its called Science Fiction not Soap Fiction… I like the story, and the characters are ok. My wife feels that the men are all a little on the ugly side though… she misses Daniel. Anyway, this is reminiscent to me of the Battle Star Galactica thing, I was so excited to see that come out, then it did… I lost interest in a couple weeks. I am not interested in a “Dallas” or “General Hospital” with tech and cool graphics in it. I watch SG for the action, tech, and imagination. My wife watches soap operas and even she does not like this new SGU.

    I liked that new Star Trek movie, that would make a great series. If this series does not have a turn around soon (7 episodes now) I will not continue watching it, and will not be going to the movie HA! I mean, I want to see math boy be a genius a couple times, instead he is a peeping tom with high tech cameras, woo hoo, way to reach for his potential. Don’t tell me that the cliff hanger at the end of the series is that the Col. wife is pregnant with Talford’s kid! ROFL! Even better, lets have her start sleeping with everyone that comes to her door that claims to be her husband in another mans body, that way we can just try to figure out who’s kid she is pregnant with. Jeese, who comes up with this crap.

  • John

    This new Stargate is a Soapgate, if I can coin the phrase. Its called Science Fiction not Soap Fiction… I like the story, and the characters are ok. My wife feels that the men are all a little on the ugly side though… she misses Daniel. Anyway, this is reminiscent to me of the Battle Star Galactica thing, I was so excited to see that come out, then it did… I lost interest in a couple weeks. I am not interested in a "Dallas" or "General Hospital" with tech and cool graphics in it. I watch SG for the action, tech, and imagination. My wife watches soap operas and even she does not like this new SGU.

    I liked that new Star Trek movie, that would make a great series. If this series does not have a turn around soon (7 episodes now) I will not continue watching it, and will not be going to the movie HA! I mean, I want to see math boy be a genius a couple times, instead he is a peeping tom with high tech cameras, woo hoo, way to reach for his potential. Don't tell me that the cliff hanger at the end of the series is that the Col. wife is pregnant with Talford's kid! ROFL! Even better, lets have her start sleeping with everyone that comes to her door that claims to be her husband in another mans body, that way we can just try to figure out who's kid she is pregnant with. Jeese, who comes up with this crap.

  • John M

    As an avid SG-1 and even Atlantis fan, after watching each of the initial Universe episodes to date I am not a fan. SG-1 had good characters. Atlantis as well though not as good. Universe? Horrible characters. No substance, no humor, no fun. And the acting….yes it can be worse the the other series..

    Anyway, I predict this series will not last more than two season..

  • John M

    As an avid SG-1 and even Atlantis fan, after watching each of the initial Universe episodes to date I am not a fan. SG-1 had good characters. Atlantis as well though not as good. Universe? Horrible characters. No substance, no humor, no fun. And the acting….yes it can be worse the the other series..

    Anyway, I predict this series will not last more than two season..

  • Frank

    The show is floundering without a strong antagonist. It’s too much emo, too much stargate babies (too many kids,) too much the same every week – they need something, the ships’s systems provide it, they don’t realize it, but does Rush know it and is he manipulating something?

    If there’s an antagonist up to no good let the audience in on it. Keeping everything a mystery from the audience is a cheap trick that leads to a short run or to no replay value.

  • Frank

    The show is floundering without a strong antagonist. It's too much emo, too much stargate babies (too many kids,) too much the same every week – they need something, the ships's systems provide it, they don't realize it, but does Rush know it and is he manipulating something?

    If there's an antagonist up to no good let the audience in on it. Keeping everything a mystery from the audience is a cheap trick that leads to a short run or to no replay value.

  • drazen

    If SG:U is “for the rest,” they can keep it. The show is awful – gaping plot holes, cardboard characters, irrational unlikeable unrealistic people, and completely ignores or glosses over greater philosophical and moral issues about, say, the communication stones.

    SG:U is teevee By Dummies For Dummies. Even the flailing “Heroes” is having a better season than this dreck, and that show’s been beyond damaged for a year and a half!

  • drazen

    If SG:U is "for the rest," they can keep it. The show is awful – gaping plot holes, cardboard characters, irrational unlikeable unrealistic people, and completely ignores or glosses over greater philosophical and moral issues about, say, the communication stones.

    SG:U is teevee By Dummies For Dummies. Even the flailing "Heroes" is having a better season than this dreck, and that show's been beyond damaged for a year and a half!

  • Al

    WTF! I fell asleep on this one. All I remember is that the fatboy was beginning to annoy me. No. It started with the fatboy then all the characters started to annoy me.

  • Al

    WTF! I fell asleep on this one. All I remember is that the fatboy was beginning to annoy me. No. It started with the fatboy then all the characters started to annoy me.

  • stargatefan

    This show has absolutely nothing to do with Stargate. Why is it named Stargate? I feels very deceiving to bring all the Stargate fan base to watch a 11am TV soap.

    “Time” has just aired. Now I can truly say, who approved these awful scripts? The stories are full of flaws. The dialog is unbearably childish. There is a lot of spontaneous crying and screaming. And the whole idea of people freaking out all the time and not trying to helping to save themselves when they are in danger makes no sense. Asking for coherence and logic flow on a story isn’t much. This show’s screenplay is worse than B movie.

  • stargatefan

    This show has absolutely nothing to do with Stargate. Why is it named Stargate? I feels very deceiving to bring all the Stargate fan base to watch a 11am TV soap.

    "Time" has just aired. Now I can truly say, who approved these awful scripts? The stories are full of flaws. The dialog is unbearably childish. There is a lot of spontaneous crying and screaming. And the whole idea of people freaking out all the time and not trying to helping to save themselves when they are in danger makes no sense. Asking for coherence and logic flow on a story isn't much. This show's screenplay is worse than B movie.

  • Camilla

    I am a loyal fan of Stargate the movie, SG1 and Atlantis. I’ve seen all the episodes multiple times over the years and have all the DVDs. I gave SGU a chance hoping it would be as good as the originals. I am very disappointed. SGU is more like Battlestar Galactica/Lost(two shows I hate). SGU is too dark(literally and figuratively), gritty, depressing and boring. The characters are so unlikeable not even a mother could love them. I was hoping the ship would fly into that sun and disintegrate into oblivion. I think the writers and producers slammed the door on all the fans of SG1 and Atlantis, going over to the dark side to lure fans of Battlestar Galactica. I actually feel betrayed. And it isn’t surprising that non-fans of SG1 and Atlantis love SGU; it is completely opposite to what we loved for all those years. And I wouldn’t doubt that the majority of the fans of SGU are Battlestar Gal. fans as well. So the writers and producers evidently don’t care how the fans of SG1 and Atlantis feel. Maybe they think Battlestar was better?? Then why did they work on SG1 so long? Do they think Battlestar fans will spend more money than SG1 fans?? Normally, there’s some profit motive involved. I don’t know; I don’t understand and I don’t care for SGU.

    Read more: Stargate Universe: This isnít your motherís Stargate

  • Camilla

    I am a loyal fan of Stargate the movie, SG1 and Atlantis. I've seen all the episodes multiple times over the years and have all the DVDs. I gave SGU a chance hoping it would be as good as the originals. I am very disappointed. SGU is more like Battlestar Galactica/Lost(two shows I hate). SGU is too dark(literally and figuratively), gritty, depressing and boring. The characters are so unlikeable not even a mother could love them. I was hoping the ship would fly into that sun and disintegrate into oblivion. I think the writers and producers slammed the door on all the fans of SG1 and Atlantis, going over to the dark side to lure fans of Battlestar Galactica. I actually feel betrayed. And it isn't surprising that non-fans of SG1 and Atlantis love SGU; it is completely opposite to what we loved for all those years. And I wouldn't doubt that the majority of the fans of SGU are Battlestar Gal. fans as well. So the writers and producers evidently don't care how the fans of SG1 and Atlantis feel. Maybe they think Battlestar was better?? Then why did they work on SG1 so long? Do they think Battlestar fans will spend more money than SG1 fans?? Normally, there's some profit motive involved. I don't know; I don't understand and I don't care for SGU.

    Read more: Stargate Universe: This isn’t your mother’s Stargate

  • Haiden

    I agree it’s time for change and was really looking forward to the new series. Unfortunately, it’s been very disappointing. Compare it to Lost in Space if you will, but I think it’s more like Battlestar Galactica. The SGU crew isn’t lost. They know where they are, they just can’t get back home.

    The writing is weak, the characters are weak, and the plots are also weak.

    I don’t understand why there is so much character building and background this early in the series. Character background works well when you actually care about the characters. But that takes time. We haven’t been given any time, or any reason, to care about these characters. So the background is just boring.

    I’m going to stick it out for the first season though because I love Sci-Fi and I’ve seen worse. I don’t think it’s a terrible show. It’s just not that good, but considering that I thought SG1 and SGA were both great shows, it disappointing to see the franchise stumble.

  • Haiden

    I agree it's time for change and was really looking forward to the new series. Unfortunately, it's been very disappointing. Compare it to Lost in Space if you will, but I think it's more like Battlestar Galactica. The SGU crew isn't lost. They know where they are, they just can't get back home.

    The writing is weak, the characters are weak, and the plots are also weak.

    I don't understand why there is so much character building and background this early in the series. Character background works well when you actually care about the characters. But that takes time. We haven't been given any time, or any reason, to care about these characters. So the background is just boring.

    I'm going to stick it out for the first season though because I love Sci-Fi and I've seen worse. I don't think it's a terrible show. It's just not that good, but considering that I thought SG1 and SGA were both great shows, it disappointing to see the franchise stumble.

  • mooterific

    this show got me interested in stargate, a series that… as you said, did not appeal to me. I liked the story, disliked the show and that can be a little probematic. but this new show is a fantastic story-telling vehicle that i'm pretty sure the writers are building to a climax.

  • Skiznot

    I was huge fan of Stargate until SGU. Now I'm going back and catching the SG-1's I missed. It's not nearly as good as SGU but it's like watching the history of the best show.

  • Skiznot

    oops I meant' "" I was NOT a huge fan of Stargate until SGU came along. It's nice to see a Stargate story that isn't about endless war. And it's full of good science fiction and astronomy infused into every story.

  • William C

    I THINK SGU WAS THE BEST SG SO FAR AND IM VERY P!@#$%$# ITS GONE. JUST WHEN IT WAS GETTING GOOD.