Friday, October 2, 2009

Review - Stargate Universe Season 1 Episode 1 + 2 Air

I want to preface this by saying that I am a huge fan of the Stargate franchise. I've watched every episode of Stargate SG-1 multiple times and I probably know more about the show than any other show, The X-Files included. I've watched all of Stargate Atlantis though not as avidly, so I have a predisposition to Stargate that may introduce bias into my review. I'll try to stay objective and view this as just another show, but seeing some of the old characters brought out lots of nostalgic feelings.

First Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks) came, then Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping), Walter Harriman (Gary Jones), the second greatest Stargate character (behind Teal'c of course), Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson), and lastly Dr. Bill Lee (Bill Dow).

The opening scene starts in medias res and is very chaotic with people jumping through the gate on top of each other. It's nicely done, but felt too stylized. The shaking camera and screams seemed canned and didn't fully convey the enormity of the situation. In fact the whole episode felt too focused on a dark tone and total disorder instead of the characters and story.

The episode switches between the ship and the progression of Eli Wallace's (David Blue) discovery in a video game to a spaceship and then to the Icarus base where they had hope to use the 9th chevron. While the absurdly pompous senator played by  Christopher McDonald (think Barney Frank on steroids) is giving an equally absurd toast, the base comes under attack from the Lucian Alliance which is a nice extension to SG-1.

I was confused how the Lucian Alliance managed to get enough Death Gliders and Al'kesh to mount an attack since they were in shambles last time we saw them. I was also confused how they couldn't pick up the Ha'taks on sensors. The base cannot hold off the attack and since Dr. Rush activated the 9th chevron, they go on in.

The episode switches between the ship is apparently traveling faster than light yet not through hyperspace. The ship's life support system isn't working and there is still no clear hierarchy or even a sense of order. There is a moment of tension when Ronald Greer (Jamil Walker Smith) turns his gun on Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle) which was completely random and made me hate Ronald immediately. Greer was in detention before, so he's probably trouble. Searching for life support, Rush and Wallace discover they are several billion light-years from home.

Dr. Rush takes these devices which let him control people back on Earth to talk to O'Neill who appoints him the leader. He tries to impose order, but is shouted down. While the story of the episode is to regain life support, it is punctuated many times by constant reinforcement that their situation really sucks, humans aren't perfect, and oh yeah, their situation sucks. The ship is saved after the sacrifice by the senator (a positive since he was annoying) and all the well for now (not really...).

Everett Young (Justin Louis) is the military guy in charge and doesn't like Rush much. I'm not going to go over the other characters since none of them really set themselves apart. As the series progresses, I'll bring them up.

Why do new shows need 2-hour series premieres? They don't. The premiere of Warehouse 13 was unnecessarily long and the premiere of Stargate Universe seemed too long. It's difficult to sit for 2 hours of the same show. The next time someone wants a longer series premiere, I would recommend an hour and a half. It would allow for a good set-up while keeping people interested.

Stargate Universe may end of being a great show with depth and complexity, but so far all it is is a show with good visual/special effects, cool sets, and a very dark tone. Syfy is trying to pander to a new audience, but I'm afraid they may lose their existing fans. While the Stargate still remains  a force in this new series, SGU is vastly different than SG-1 or SGA. There isn't really any upbeat moments or humor. I will keep watching and while the concept is very interesting, the scripts must be beefed up.

Score: 8.3/10


Anonymous said...

I too am a huge Stargate fan. I was very disappointed. The show has very little connection with the two previous series which I think will lose many current fans of Stargate. I could live with this but the premiere was slow and boring and because of this lacked that edgy, dark feel the showrunners wanted.

The show lacked real drama or excitement. The worry about the lack of "Air" did not seem that serious. Nobody looked fearful of dying except the Senator who actually was dying and all we got were simple complaints about bad air and headaches. That is hardly the stuff of high drama.

The show has no villains other than a misguided scientist and an ancient badly leaking ship that looks more like a dirty dingy tramp steamer than a spaceship. And where was all the cool sci-fi tech stuff? All we got was a floating movable camera! You have got to be kidding me!

Like you said this show needs better scripts desperately. Otherwise I see the ratings dropping rapidly on this show. And that would be a shame considering the storied history of the franchise.

Anonymous said...

I've had enough of the "Survivor" or Big-Brother type shows - now do we have to have on in space?

We basically have Lost In Space with 5 or 6 Dr. Smith characters. I'll give it a few more episodes, but I can't stand these dark and serious shows with no humor whatsoever.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I were deeply disappointed. The dark tone and creepy characters were what put us off. This was not the Stargate universe as we know it. It was Stargate meets BSG or the Hills or something unpleasant like that. The characters were not likeable, and they were constantly fighting. Where was the military order of the SGC infrastructure - this should not have been a Lord of the Flies situation. Also, the set was sorta bland and cheaply done (recession probably), but in a bad way, not kitschy like Star Trek. The writing was weak. Oh and the sort of creepy sex scene early on, that told you all you needed to know - they want a BSG style show and not a Stargate show. We stopped watching BSG early on b/c of its penchant for nasty, unpleasant, unlikeable, bithcy, creepy characters and uncomfortable, dirty, gross sex and rape scenes.

Let's hope the marketing idiots who changed the "Sci-Fi Channel" to "SyFy" don't also destroy our favorite show with their ideas of what is "cool" and "hip" for the jaded "young kids" Hope is all we have and I fear it will be futile.


Anonymous said...

I was very disappointed as well. I am a big fan of the franchise. Because I didn't like the movie that started it all, I didn't watch SG-1 when it began. I started watching Atlantis on TV in its third season after catching a scene of Rodney and Beckett on YouTube. I immediately purchased the first and second seasons and instantly became hooked. I eventually purchased and watched all of SG-1 on DVD and while I now love it, I still hold Atlantis closer to my heart.

After these first two hours, I am not vested in any of these characters at all. I detest Greer and am not too fond of the lieutenant either. Right now I wouldn't be upset if we lost all of them. This is certainly not the fault of the actors - they did their best with what they were given. I'll hang in there, but I sure hope they give us more in upcoming episodes than what I saw last night. 4/10

Anonymous said...

I am a major Stargate fan, but I was extremely disappointed in the SGU premiere.

A sex scene in the first 20 minutes, WTH??? We are introduced to two characters in this way. The female characters all seemed weak. Military respect and protocol was extremely lacking.

There was only two somewhat likeable characters on #SGU for me and they were ELI and Dr. Rush.

I agree with the other comments above. I will try to watch another episode but I am not sure I will stick with this show.


Cie said...

SG-1, SGA where are you when we need you?

I posted in my own blog today ( Send Carter and McKay to rescue this dying show!

TV Obsessed said...

If it makes you feel any better, O'Neill is in the promo for the next episode. None of the SGU have close to the charisma to the characters of the other shows.

Anonymous said...

And where is Lou Diamond Phillip's character? Did I miss something or did he not go through the gate?

TV Obsessed said...

I think I saw him once at the Icarus base. He's a recurring character according to Wikipedia and he's only in 5 of the 9 episodes shot so far.

Anonymous said...

It was boring and I want Atlantis back.

Vladimir Poopen said...

All you dorks wanting SG-1 or Atlantis back take a dammed walk. I have watched every episode of SG-1 and Atlantis and felt they were not dark enough. Same went for the first 2 seasons of Star Trek Enterprise (was too light hearted until season 3 by that time it was too late.. the fan base wasn't there to keep it past season 4).

Sure they tool the film noir feel from BSG and I say "so what!". You got some cameos from O'neill, Carter and Jackson (the training videos). What else do you want? I prefer taking this dark approach... don't think I can handle any more of O'neill's one liners although they were entertaining. Basically, I embrace this change. If the tone was more like SG-1 or Atlantis, I would have balked.

Vladimir Poopen said...

Me forgot to state I was a little annoyed with the opening scene. I uttered "awe man... not some more damned shaky cam work. Guys it's getting old !!"

To quote the reviewer re: "completely random and made me hate Ronald immediately". It wasn't random. Ronald was taking Eli's side. Eli did state that Rush should not press that button because something would blow up (I don't remember the exact line).

As for Rush using the stones to communicate with Earth. Let's start taking bets now. Betcha O'Neill was behind this. They knew of the ancient ship and Rush was just checking in to tell O'Neill of their progress and the situation they were in. Carter has no clue about this secret mission.. only O'Neill and Rush do.

Anonymous said...

so i am a big stargate fan also. (which i think everyone leaving a message here is also). so far i will say this is different. i think there is a couple problems with the premire to point out. first, not much stargate travel. most stargate episodes deal with some form of going through the gate somewhere else. all i saw in that though was a little too much like BSG. i think though starting in next episode with them actually getting off the ship and running around we should start seeing new things. i also have a feeling we may even get to see some enemies besides the people on the ship and maybe even allies. i have a feeling the whole series will be based on repairing everything on the ship to eventually be able to go home.

SG-FANMAN said...

I'll keep this simple I’m a big stargate fan I have seen all SG-1 ep's, SGA and all the spin off films. SG-1 was fantastic, SGA was very good (but did start to drop off in the last season) but all the same, very good. But SGU so far is a disappointment. Things that I don’t like about SGU
1: The characters, none of them seem to really pull it off for me (lack Charisma)

2 The recruitment of Eli, Come on now! Hardly qualified to go into space, so what, big deal he solved one math equation.

3. Lt. Jared Nash is not believable enough or strong enough for a lead character.

4. And last but not least the whole continuation story, running though the stargate for a quick smash and grab before the timer runs out seem ridiculously weak to me.

like my fellow SG fans I will give it 4-5 Ep's too see if it gets better if not I’ll been tuning out.

Ps I think the cast of defying gravity would have been better suited for this series (why not port them over slowly seeing as that show now cancelled)

TV Obsessed said...

@Vladimir Poopen

The purpose of the Ronald scene had little purpose to the story or his character. It was a very artificial attempt to create some tension which was lacking throughout the episode by having someone pull a gun on someone else. The result was Ronald looking like a maniac and Dr. Rush looking like a hero since nothing bad happened.

Anonymous said...

Stargate Gilligan's Island Galactica meets a haunted house. BFD.


I wanted to stop watching at the 28 minute mark but stuck it out, realizing that I kept saying "Ooooh, no..." and rolling my eyes.

And the hell with the "Epileptic Cam" crap. It got old WHEN NYPD BLUE WAS STILL ON THE AIR.

Thanks for nothing. I hope it gets cancelled and all the copies destroyed within a month. But it won't. The Channel of Junk loves to piss money away on garbage. I won't be back to waste another minute on this unlikeable, horsecrap, GALACTICA SPINOFF.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, someone needs to come up with a funny name for that idiot who always shows up on a board whining, "get a life! if you don't like it, go away! quit complaining, losers! I don't like the fact that you are stating an opinion different from mine, especially a negative one, so you are all dorks!" LOL!
the GALer? (Get-A-Life-er?) I don't know, but they are just such a universal and specific kind of troll, they need a unique name....

Allen Charles Report said...

Good review, I will be reading your blog often if they are all this well written.

Being a Stargate fan going back to the movie and then Showtime for the first few seasons I was hoping for something other than what this version appears to be.

Some of the kids demanding a darker kind of show lack the loyality those of us that have followed and supported the franchise for nearly 15 years have come to identify with Stargate shows. All the Darkness we see everyday in the real world leaves a desire for something more light and fun when we watch TV. All I can say to the kids that want darkness is READ the NEWSPAPER because it is full of darkness. For the rest of us, please give us the built in values that have been associated with our show for over 15 years. I will watch a few more episodes but if the story continues as it might from the Premier, I will just watch my old recordings and let the kids have this version. If they lose the loyal viewers like me the drop will make it difficult to avoid being cancelled. Maybe the suits that are now running Syfy need to leave the writers and producers alone and let them produce the shows they know their viewers want to watch.

Danielle said...

I'm still very excited about where SGU is going. It still has a lot of the things I love about the franchise, but it's going somewhere new. Atlantis (which I do love) was only SG1 in the Pegasus galaxy. This is something else, and I'm excited to find out what that is.

Anonymous said...

The only problems i had with the show is that... 1.) I didnt get to see enough of the Eli Wallace (I really like that guy),
2.) I didnt wanna see all the sex scenes(what do we need those for other than attracting perverts?),
3.) the lack of an "outstanding badguy" (like the Goa'uld, Ori, Wraith, etc.)
Thats about it, i loved it and i totally agree with #17's comment, hahaha GALer, i like it. I can't wait to see where these people go, what their stories are, and how they get home.
p.s. if any SG-writers are reading this, I'd personally love to see an episode with the replicators

Anonymous said...

SGU will be a good show, it'll pick up midseason and get progressively better. The plot has potential beyond the STV and BSG analogies. You need to look at the "ancient" component and realise that our guys just got here and this ship's been around the block. SG1 and SGA have/had their place. SGU fills a new role and a new time. The talent for the most part is fresh and new and needs time to own their roles. We like what we're familiar with, this is all about unfamiliar, so we're slightly uncomfortable. I'm looking forward to SGU being "different" from SG1 and SGA as well as everything else. The promis of non-humanoid aliens is a big draw for me, hopefully they'll do a good job. Fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

I just don't understand why demographics are always skewed toward 20 somethings. They don't have the economic power of age 30, 40 or 50+ viewers. Okay maybe the more mature viewers have already developed brand loyalty, but they've got money to spend. Have any of the execs selling ads or the companies buying them done any research into who they are selling to? The 18-30 year old male template has held up for more than 25 years and frankly it isn't valid any more. (If it ever really was.) Too bad the powers that be are still as stupid and insulated in their ivory towers as they were in 1967 when they cancelled Star Trek. After all it was an expensive, unpopular show with no audience....

Anonymous said...

Old men have more spending power but they spend it on mortgages, car loans, life insurance, property taxes, boats luxury taxes and medical bills.. Young people = blow all their cash on tech crap and other junk = ideal advertising target (for non-pharmaceutical and luxury car ads)

The Lieutenant seems more like a private (and is not a leading man but maybe they'll correct this and make him supporting cast somehow), the female senator's daughter is also a lousy lead character and if the storyline involves a heavy dose of the fat kid and the private drooling over her then I don't think anyone will want to watch this show.
Dr. Rush and the Colonel are the saving grace character-wise so far. "Psycho" (Sgt. Greer) can create tension as well. Alaina is sufficient.
The show has potential but needs to edit some character roles from foreground to background.
And the show cannot just revolve around air, food, and water crises either...

Anonymous said...

SG1 Fantastic! SGA Fantastic! SGU-i have my doubts about this spin off,true we have to give it time...but i was not blown away. Not like the first two. All that hype! all i hope is that it turns out to be a fine wine!

Anonymous said...

I hope that this show doesn't turn out awful like SGA, but it can't be as awful because the actors (well, most) aren't high school drama program level. But the SGA creators behind the show is honestly a concern.

Anonymous said...

The Lieutenant seems more like a private (and is not a leading man but maybe they'll correct this and make him supporting cast somehow

Lt's are stupid and don't know anything. That's why senior NCOs, like MASTER SERGEANTS EXIST!

Anonymous said...

A lieutenant could have formerly been a master sergeant before OTS. Now, as far as the kid lieutenant goes, maybe they could have him anchoring a base they establish near a stargate and only occasionally appear on the show, or just kill him off (keeping in mind that it probably couldn't even create the weak drama of the senator's death so a big death scene would be a waste of airtime).

Anonymous said...

Woe me or lose me.
I have wasted 3 hours of my life watching this SGU crap. Bring back SGA

If it doesn't grab my attention in the first or second episode. So long, see ya on the canceled show list.

Anonymous said...

Whats with the sex scne.I am appalled.My kids wesiting wth us ad w ddn't realisthe stargate standards had fallen this low.We didn't encounter any of this sleaze in SG1 or SGA.Violnce children can cope because the news is full of it but sex ijust cheap.The firts 2 parts sucked .The air part 3 is more like it.Whats with the leadership issue.Make te doctor th leader.The army charaters suck.Bring Oneil back.

Anonymous said...

Just like star trek, the franchise needed something new and SGU is incredible so far… real characters, an actual sense of danger and a feeling that anything can happen. I'm actually on the edge of my seat wondering what will happen next week, and I can't recall the last time stargate made me feel like that. Die-hard fans hate change and it seems all they want is more tired sci-fi cliches, "good guys vs bad guys", corny two dimensional characters, and slapstick. You all were destined to hate it simply because it's not SG1 all over again, and that's the thinking that ran SGA into the ground. 15 years of the same thing is enough already, get over it.

Anonymous said...

I disagree wth u .SGA and SG1 were incredibly good shows.Thats why the ran aslong as they did.
SGU might turn out better later on but I am just against the sex.I think they would draw a widedr audience if not for the sex.Also the first episode was all ove he place.If anybody was new to Stargate they would have given up already.It cold have a start like Atntis and woul have beenbetter.
The ne thing that struck me bizarre was,all these people were at the icarus base.they would have had a chain of command so why all the mayhem on the ship about command.The sho could have been better planned

Anonymous said...

Yes they were good, but after 15 years it got old... and SGA was terrible the last two seasons as they kept making random plot decisions trying to fix what wasn't broken, and it ended up having no direction. Probably the only reason they let it last 5 seasons is because they needed a certain number of episodes to qualify for syndication (Enterprise anyone?). Overall things just became way too predictable and that's bad for any tv franchise.

I don't want a show full of sex either, but one short sex scene and people flip out... seriously you sound like a minister... have you seen any other tv shows?? Regular tv watchers would laugh at you... people need to stop trying to restrict sci-fi to some odd kind of child-like puritan status. Why is it ok to blow someone's head off, but you can't show 5 seconds of people having sex... there wasn't even any nudity for god's sake.

Actually, non stargate viewers (including non sci-fi fans) that I've talked to understood what was going on just fine... if they did it how die-hard stargate fans wanted then no one else would have known what was going on without a show "bible". They did it exactly right... you didn't need to know anything prior to watching and they explained only what they needed to.

Anonymous said...

I really want this show to be a success but I was not impressed with the first three hours. The second episode was better than the premiere but (spoiler alert) the triumphant moment was carrying home a big bag of sand so the air purifiers could scrub out the CO2 on the ship. A whole three hours came down to a bag of sand! And just how is new oxygen being produced by the ship? Was that ever explained?

This show just doesn't excite me the way SG-1 and SGA did with cool sets and cool special effects and great action scenes coupled with some pretty good acting.

Brad Wright says MGM gave Universe an extra million dollars per hour. Where is it being spent? Did it all go for salaries for the much bigger than needed cast? I mean did anybody actually feel like this show had a 50 percent bigger budget than SGA after seeing the first three hours? I know I didn't.

Anonymous said...

Well Co2 contains oxygen so the scrubbers would somehow remove the carbon producing clean oxygen.

As to what the extra money went to... how about way better special fx and set design... that's pretty obvious to anyone actually being objective. Even if some goes to a bigger cast I think that's a good thing... it's dumb to have yet another show that constantly revolves around four people.

Anonymous said...

Long time Stargate fan. Not impressed with this series so far. The premise is good, I don't mind the dark atmosphere... the trouble is when they need to 'fill' time with what I call the boo-hoo segments. I don't need those lame personal introductions on camera, it just makes the show dull. We're 4 episodes in and with the amount of story that's been told we could be halfway through episode 2.

Hopefully this will be the opposite of BSG - BSG started out good but eventually became dull (Come on, a political drama?) and in the last season, preachy. (We're science fiction fans, we don't need someone else's view on religion RONALD MOORE)

I'll watch a few more but if things aren't better by episode 6 or 7 I'm done.

tarabas said...

As most of the ppl, i have been an SG fan for many years and have watched multiple times the first two franchises. I was desperetally waiting for this third one and the set-up, ancient space-ship lost in space seeding stargates seemed quite stimulating.

However having watched the first four episodes, i am completely disappointed to the point of no return. One million dollar per episode? Come one dude, where do u spent them?? Did not see any justification..Visual effects? Poor, dull monotone. Acting?? My aunt can act better. No coherence in their behaviour. Drama? YES...but i am not here for the drama, i am here for the futuristic hight tech-stuff, the action the unknown, the exploration. Otherwise i would watch Desperate Housewives and that sort of...

However there is the other part of the story: We are already saturated with high-tech stuff and ancient technology and it is highly unlikely they cannot match the suberb scenes in the last two ones. I consider this highly potential. Especially if u have seen all descent sci-fi movies and series out there.

Huge dissapointment, very huge..The first two episodes from Stargate Atlantis has been the best start i have seen so far. Unless, they turn this into something OTHER that what we have seen so far, i consider the project SGU a big failure. That is my personal opinion.

alien0 said...

Well overall i have to say that i was really thrilled to see a new stargate show. it seemed to be a truly great and logical idea to switch to a spaceship-environment with a forced timeframe to explore different planets. this would enhance the possibillities even more.

well, as thrilled as i was when i was tuning in for the pilot.... so deeply disappointet i am after trying to FORCE me through all 5 episodes so far.

i am really sorry, i should represent the segment of people the show was initially aimed at. i loved BSG and i like dramatical character driven shows like ..let's say, house and so on. But all these shows are pretty much unike in their feels. Including Stargate with all its Movies and tv shows until now.

I feel a bit embarrased that this is named stargate. and i think the producers and directors, which i..just for the record, really like (they are great guys!), should be embarrased too. because what they came up with, is not working as it should. actually it is a lot worse than that. it is setting fire in all the stargate communitys.. you can read it all over the internet. I estimate that at least 70% of regular stargate viewers wich liked any sg show before are really dissappointed with the overall style of this show.

It is wayyyyy too cheesy... too much lovestory (90210 in space.. literally!), absolutely unrealistic use of recources.. for e.g. the comunication through the ancient devices. They could just swap the stupid crowd with the best and brightest airforce can offer!! And its Over the top ridiculously dramatic. But what hurts most is that its plain boring over long distances. In the face of death, instead of pulling together and work the problems they fight against each other and they are banging each other. No body trusts the guy next to him. It is absolutely PAINFULL to watch most of the characters interact. It is so fucking embarrassing!

Damn it's really a shame that they haven't tried something more subtile before they pushed full throttle ahead for the "ReallityTV/MTVdatingshow/i sold my wife for a new flatscreen and married a whore"-audience
What a load of blended crap.

The only guy you can really enjoy is ELI. Colonel Young the doc and carlyls character, rush, they have great potential. Robert Carlyl is GREAT! I hope they try a 180 degree turn. and fast please. because if i have to watch ONE more single random lovescene with random guys and random blabla instead of problemsolving in a show called stargate.. then i'm afraid i have to puke in a envelope and send it to MGM. If they are not bankrupt by then which i would really appreciate by now...... cheers

Anonymous said...

The real name "MGM-pop-baby-show" - "Idiots In Universe"

Anonymous said...

Finally watched it after two first i didn't like it too much, still don't to most of a degree, but im coming over slowly. the plot is compelling but unrealistic in the SG universe. you're telling me that no one on the ship can fix pre-million years ancient tech?.....come on.....carter would have had the ship up and running by episode 4.

the idea in an earlier post hinting to rust & o'neil being in on the destiny situation is a promising thread of thought, and i hope it is true somewhere in there.... otherwise SGU is just a BSG/LIS clone in stargate form.

i detest Eli the most....his character is out of place and untrue. it's like he's playing a game in outer space and there's no feel of the life/death situation from him as it should be. also greer character seems to be intentionally portrayed as a docile, unintelligent stable boy, and i didn't like it personally. the two black characters (greer & the cook) seem to be done this way intentionally by the writers....why so? apart from that, rust and young (my two favorites) ....everyone else is bland. but it's still early in the game.

SGU has promise, but that's a long ways off. it reminds me of a game in the SW universe that has SGU's same look and feel now. and back then, was out of place for the atmosphere of a SW game. yet, became the best SW game ever. remember SW KOTOR anyone??

Alex said...

I agree with some of the comments here. The opening few episodes were too focused on trying to establish the series as 'different' from its predecessors, when it should have just concentrated on telling a good story.

However, now that we're up to episode six or seven I would argue that this is a geniunely good show and whilst not as good as other television, its certainly better than the last seasons of both SG-1 and Atlantis.

For my take on Stargate Univere -

Related Posts with Thumbnails