Why you should give Stargate Universe another chance

10Apr10

Stargate Universe logo

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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One Response to “Why you should give Stargate Universe another chance”

  1. First off, you should consider publishing some of this stuff on AssociatedContent. They might even pay you upfront for it. This is exactly the kind of stuff they like. You don’t have to give them any rights or anything either you can still publish it here and make money from it there as well. Sweet deal.

    Anyways let’s see… I already enjoy Stargate Universe quite a bit so I don’t need to give it another chance 😉 but I’ll give you some of my thoughts on the matter: I agree that the character drama was a bit much in the first half of the season. I love character drama… but only when it’s relevant to the plot… and… it was only really relevant about half the time.
    I tend to like the episodes where they’re somehow facing the unknown or some kind of ontological mystery of some kind… the midseason premiere was a great example of what I mean and I think there should be more episodes like that.
    I also want those stones to die. I don’t care what’s going on on Earth I’d much rather they be completly lost and on their own out in the universe I think that’s the only thing I really really want to change about the show.
    I’m also getting a little tired of the use of the ship as a microcosm for society… I think thematically that’s been done to death in other series and so far they haven’t provided anything really original to the table. That’s probably the thing that makes it most like Battlestar Galactica too. I’m hoping that bundle of themes will be resolved soon so we can move ahead with more awesome exploration/ontological mystery type plot arcs.
    I like the aliens. They were pretty cool and original compared to most of the cheesier alien species in the other Stargate series, but I’m not sure just having them as “The enemy of Stargate Universe” would be the best direction to go… I’m just hoping they bring something new and refreshing to the table compared with earlier series and don’t just get into another war with a random evil alien species just for the heck of defending Earth.

    I love Dr. Rush. He’s probably the main reason I watch so religiously. He’s definitely got some secrets up his sleeve. My worry, now that he’s been having some very direct confrontations with the Colonel in the last couple episodes is that they might somehow resolve the Dr. Rush mysteries and while that would be really interesting to see… I’m not sure how they would retain my interest too much in the show if they resolve all the Dr. Rushisms… they’re also getting dangerously close to having a “Final Confrontation” betwee Rush and the Colonel… Technically they’re have been several already but obviously all were resolved without eliminating any of the tension… again the worry is that if they keep having confrontations without end it’s just gonna get old fast (although it might create a bit of humorous monotony which could play in the show’s favor), or if they do resolve it for good, what’s going to keep the tensions high afterwards?
    This is a dilemma that most television shows have to face at some point between they’re 2 most rivaling characters… and it usually either breaks or makes the show… that is, unless something bigger, better, and more interesting comes along… which we can usually trust Stargate to provide.
    As a sub-note, Dr. Rush is seriously starting to look like a pathetic push over. He needs some real payback on the Colonel to even the score I think. If he’s really smart though he’s probably waiting for an opportunity where people will see it as a justified act.

    And yes, I did see Daniel Jackson in the trailer and I’m quite excited about that.


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