Why you should give Stargate Universe another chance
Stargate Universe didn’t get off to the greatest of starts, I know. The interpersonal drama was heavy-handed and poorly executed, the similarities to BSG were painfully obvious, and the self-contained plots weren’t sustaining interest all that well. But since the second half of season 1 started the Friday before last, I think things have gotten considerably better (whether this was the plan all along, or because Sci-Fi/Syfy/whatever paid attention to the complaints) and the series is heading in a positive direction.
No, it’s not the same Stargate we know and love. There’s no doubt it’s a very different kind of series: Stargate has always been about sci-fi action, but whereas SG-1 and Atlantis derived much of their appeal from their self-referential, lampshade-hanging humor, SGU has decided to eschew the comedy, and give everything a much darker tone. As a result, a lot of people complained that this somehow violated the “spirit” of Stargate. There may be something to that argument, but I also think you can’t just keep rehashing the same formula over and over again (that’s why the later series of Star Trek were so lousy), even if that’s what the fans want: eventually you’ll inevitably run out of ideas. As it is, that’s probably why Atlantis only lasted 5 seasons to SG-1‘s 10, they knew there wasn’t really anywhere else to go. I for one am pleased that they weren’t satisfied with another stale repetition.
And the other aspects of the show are improving too. There’s a intriguing plot arc now, involving an actual alien menace (in true Stargate tradition, the aliens even speak English, although not in the way and not for the reasons you might think), rather than the one-shot deals we had before. The tedious, angsty love triangles are still there, but they’ve been shoved into the background (not occupying more than 5 minutes of the last two episodes), at least for the time being. Instead, we now have people fighting for control of the ship, which makes for much more interesting watching. (Personally, I hope they get rid of the interpersonal drama altogether. Syfy already has one very good drama show right now, Caprica, which is just making SGU look all the worse by comparison. We’ll see how that pans out.). Characters are being fleshed out more: Dr. Rush is now a very polarizing enigma, with the show leaving it to you to decide whether he’s a backstabbing jerk or a brilliant mastermind who’s doing what’s ultimately best for everyone; Col. Young is no longer the de facto best choice for running the ship, considering the mistakes he’s made; and a lot of the assumptions we made about other characters are starting to look shaky too.
And to top it all off, the season 1.5 trailer for SGU appeared to have Michael Shanks in it. Daniel Jackson!
All I’m saying is, things may have gotten off slowly, but the pace is picking up, and I think the show is getting much more hate than it deserves. If you are among the people griping about it, try picking it back up (the last three episodes are all still on the show’s Hulu page), with an open mind that even though this isn’t the same Stargate, it could be a good show in its own right. You might be pleasantly surprised.
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Tags: sci-fi, sgu, stargate, tv