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Stargate Universe a Welcome Evolution of the Brand

By - Monday, October 12th, 2009

Stargate UniverseSome are calling Stargate Universe a cross between the latest Battlestar Galactica and Lost. While I don’t see how this new Stargate series relates much to Lost, I do see some BSG influences in the grittier, darker SGU.

I was never drawn in to watch Stargate: SG1 on a regular basis. It was one of those shows I would watch once in a while when I happened to catch it. I was a Farscape fan, and SG1 really didn’t cut the mustard compared to Farscape. Bringing on Ben Browder and Claudia Black did not convert me to SG1 – it actually kept me away. Why ruin my good Farscape memories just to see Ben and Claudia in an inferior show?

I caught Stargate Atlantis a few times and found it entertaining, but not so much that I wanted to include it on my regular TV schedule. It was always one of those “well, I’ll watch this series at some point on DVD when nothing else is good on TV” type of shows.

So I wasn’t waiting for the premiere of Stargate Universe with baited breath. Since the SciFi channel turned into the watered down SyFy I haven’t really paid much attention. But I just happened to see SGU was available on Hulu and decided to give it a go.

Not being attached to the previous Stargate shows, I was able to watch SGU with fresh eyes. I liked that it was a little less shiny and plastic than previous Stargate incarnations. The quality of the filming seemed to be more cinematic. (Notably, some of the desert cinematography was particularly well-done for a TV show in the last installment of the opener.)

While some of the plot elements were a little canned (such as – SPOILER ALERT – the ridiculous sacrifice on behalf of the politician with his daughter stupidly freaking out and trying to stop what obviously could not be stopped), I liked the idea of a group of refugees being stuck on a mysterious ship way out in the middle of nowhere.

The characters on SGU are a mixed bag. Geeky Eli who is a fish out of water is my favorite (loved his comments on the desert planet about finding a half-buried Statue of Liberty). The military guys are pretty good, and the amoral scientist with the requisite accent is also an intriguing character. The women I am not so fond of. Chloe, the daughter of a senator, is whiny, moody, and very unappealing personality-wise. She’s not even that attractive so I have to wonder why on earth she was cast. (As I noted on Twitter, there seems to be this bizarre trend lately towards girls with really huge foreheads.)¬†We also have a female medic who one Internet fan called a “7 of 9″ clone, and Ming Na, who has not really done much so far, so I can’t really judge.

If I have one minor nitpick, I hate the fact that when they use their “communication stones” to talk to people on earth, they make it look like the people have switched bodies when they haven’t. I understand this is a device to make the audience understand a new personality is taking over the body on earth, but it would make a lot more sense to me if the actors simply mimicked being the character that is inhabiting the body. It really takes me out of the story when they use a device like that. (Kind of like the silly body switch they’ve been doing lately on Ghost Whisperer.)

Stargate Universe does have problems sometimes with pacing – the show can drag a bit at times, and it has yet to find a good rhythm and rapport with all the diverse characters. I am intrigued, however, and Hulu gives me an easy way to watch the show at my convenience. So I’ll be tuning in for more…for as long as SyFy keeps the show alive.

Now if SyFy would get it together and actually offer a Farscape spin-off…ahhh, a girl can dream…

One Response to “Stargate Universe a Welcome Evolution of the Brand”

  1. 1

    I am certainly with you 100% on that last sentence.

    SGU is a nice Friday night option for those of us still accustomed to sci fi Friday and who’ve gone through the Farscape DVD set about 10 times already.

    I hope they do something interesting with the women characters soon. Past incarnations of SG have shown me that the producers don’t always know how to treat a woman. Maybe they should watch some Farscape.

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