Stargate Universe

I can count the number of people I know that have watched Stargate Universe on one hand and I don’t even need to use my thumb.  Just last night I finished re-watching the series with my wife and it reminded me how good that show was (she liked it too and she isn’t a huge sci-fi fan).  It is easily one of the five best shows I’ve ever watched and even as I write this review I am thinking back on key moments in the series.

Most conversations about SGU are quick and go one of two ways:  1.  “I’ve never heard of it.  I don’t like sci-fi.  No thanks.”  2.  “It has Stargate in the title.  That means a corny concept at least and a silly show most likely.”  If this describes you, I urge you to give SGU a try.  The entire tone of the show is very different from the movies and other TV series.  If you have never seen the movie Stargate or need a refresher on its basic premise, watch this little video and you’ll enjoy SGU more.

I’m sure I’m going to get negative feedback for saying it but the original movie was more than a little goofy.  It was well made and entertaining but it was hard to take seriously.  That tone followed into the TV shows SG-1 and Atlantis from what I’ve observed.  Admittedly, I’ve only seen an episode or two of each.  I couldn’t stand them.  Because of this I came to SGU late in the game.  The series had almost finished up and I had to catch late night reruns on Tivo.  As a matter of fact, I think it was Tivo that suggested that I give the show a try in the first place.  Thanks Tivo.

Anyway, SGU seems more grounded in reality to me.  Decisions have consequences and looming danger is effectively conveyed.  It reminds me of Battlestar Galactica (the newer series) in these ways.  Its focus is much more on the people and their relationships to one another and the act of surviving in a very desperate situation.  If you like Robinson Crusoe, you owe it to yourself to give this show a try.  Few and far between are the giant battles and crazy aliens that this franchise seems to be best known for.

I loved the overall story (which is always the most important thing to me).  It is full of surprises and cleverness.  Who is good and who is bad?  What is the “good” or “bad” decision? Can this person be trusted?  The dialog and character interactions are superb.  I have a feeling as the episodes started filming, the writers saw this strength and began to use the characters to drive the story. The acting is wonderful and you really believe that these actors are the people they are portraying.  The production values are high (which I imagine had to play heavily into the decision to cut the series). Even the soundtrack is great with songs from folks like Alexi Murdoch, Flogging Molly, and Mumford & Sons.

It only ran for two seasons on the then-named Sci Fi Network so it wouldn’t take you long to get through the entire series.  Now that it is summer break for most TV shows, this is the perfect time to give it a try.  I think if you watch the first two or three episodes you’ll be hooked.

You can find the most recent episodes on SyFy’s website but don’t watch them first.  This is one continuous story that would be easy to ruin by watching the series out of order.

You can buy the DVD’s or download episodes from Amazon, check them out from your local library, and many other ways.  Just give them a watch and let me know what you think in the comments section.

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3 thoughts on “Stargate Universe

  1. What books, Spinoff series like Horizon and destiny ect, and other stuff should I look for and what should I avoid. How do I know what is part of the offical story and not some ripoff like stargate infinity. Any suggestions on books or something. I want to learn everything I can abouth the stargate universe so I can compete against my friend and his star wars knoledge. I have only had the SG1 and SGA to go on. i love stargat so much so a little help would be nice.

    1. I’m sorry on two counts for you: 1. Your comment got scooped up by my spam filter so I’m just now responding. 2. I can’t give you any suggestions about what to read as I’ve never read any of the SG books.

      Perhaps as a little consolation I’ll mention that if you liked SG1 and SGA, you will probably love SGU. Also, if you’ve never watched the newer Battlestar Galactica TV series, that is one to watch too. Really great. Make sure to watch it from the beginning and in order otherwise you’ll spoil the show though. By doing this maybe you won’t be able to beat your friend with specific Star Wars knowledge but you’ll take the prize for a more well-rounded knowledge of sci-fi. 🙂

      Also, you have a really nice looking website.

  2. Ok… ahem … “Seen’em all.” What? SGU? SG-1? SGA? “ayup.”

    SG-1- Good once you get into it (ymmv). A modern version of Star Trek (the original). A team of 4 disparate souls finds themselves in serial mis-adventure once per week. It’s actually my favorite of the choices. Campy, but grows on you after you get to know the characters. It isn’t driven by character growth/change, but taking the same characters and changing the situation around them. You can count on the chars, like old friends. After a gazillion seasons, though, you find that the under-lying story repeats. ie, old star trek “uh oh, the transporter broke… can they survive on planet?” “uhoh, they can’t warp… can they survive the space battle?” So after what, 10 seasons? the series was getting long in the tooth. (But honestly, I was still watching weekly, and would’ve continued.) So they start SGA. Same concept-ish, a little more arcing in the story, but new characters in the old roles. You see the same things in video games, though. Every party has a barbarian, a sorcerer, a knight, and an archer/hunter. Nothing new here. But i still watched it every week, and would’ve continued watching it. I think they were doing ok, but it wasn’t really catching on, and they axed it to do SGU. Strategic mistake, IMO.

    SGU… Hit or miss with SG fans. Why? because of the things Jason likes. It’s moody. Action is sparse. You feel cooped up in a can with strangers. With the first two series, you feel that the world is a very big place, and you get to see a new corner every week. In SGU, you are trapped in a tiny little can, in a very big, empty space. Very different mindset. I think it actually started finding its legs in the second season, when they began to find a balance between the moodiness that over-dramatized in season 1 with some of the action lacking in SGU but missed from the earlier series. But by then, it was too late. They had lost the original SG crowd (I was sorely tested) and not picked up enough BSG-types to make it. Because even though its decent, its no BSG. I can tell you, though, that the intent all along was to make the series driven by character growth and interaction, to cleanly break from the original two series method/motivation. It was TOO moody and character driven to survive. An issue I had personally was that I could recognize character archetypes and behaviors from previous sci-fi, so I never was able to break from the expected behaviors. SGU was Lost In Space. Would they ever get home again? Would that nefarious Dr. Smith /Rush stop sabotaging things? Was he helping or hindering? What, Eli is a whiz kid? shucks, didn’t see that coming. (What, Scotty? oh, he’s you? Better get the warp drive/hyperdrive back on line..) So while I agree with many of the things Jason said, I also find cracks that lost them their original SG audience, while never quite living up to the BSG character-driven, non-definable roles. (And while yes, I will say Baltar:BSG was the Dr. Smith type, he broke the mold, many times, and Dr Rush:SGU did a decent job, it doesn’t even compare in my mind. ) SGU fell into that middle ground where it wasn’t SG, and it didn’t reach the level of BSG. I watched it, but was disappointed over and over that it wasn’t better. I wish ANY of them were still on, though. I’d still watch. I miss my SG.

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