The October 2nd premiere of Stargate Universe is fast approaching, and more and more informati0n is becoming available every day. I’ve heard things like, “This is not your father’s Stargate.” Or, “This is a darker Stargate.” To be honest, my first reaction was, “OK, but we liked our father’s Stargate, at whatever level of light you call that.” That notion of a new, different Stargate puts a lot of pressure on the premiere. It makes this the most important debut from the Stargate family in a very long time.
Last week I said that Supernatural was so good that I wondered if any other premiere could match it. The two hour kick off to Universe doesn’t quite do it, but it gets very close. The first two hours manage the delicate balance of bringing new viewers into the Stargate world, while not feeling like a ‘Stargate for Dummies’ introduction to those that have already logged their 300 hours. And it does that while laying the groundwork for what has the possibility to be another great series.
To explain where we are with Universe, it’s probably worth taking a look back at where we came from. The show had something of a rocky beginning. To start, the green light came on the heels of the cancellation of Atlantis. Some fans, understandably, weren’t thrilled with the choice. Adding fuel to the fire, cast breakdowns for casting calls leaked that suggested a much different Stargate. It was dubbed in many corners of the internet, Stargate 90210. Looking back now, after having seen the premiere, it’s amusing that the cast breakdowns caused such an uproar. There is really no 90210 to be found. And the cast is one of the great things about the show.
Most notably, Robert Carlyle as Dr. Nicholas Rush. I was rather surprised to hear he had been cast, simply because one of the reasons Universe won out over Atlantis was cost. And Robert Carlyle is a pretty big name for a show that has budget concerns. Whatever the cost, it was money well spent. He’s instantly the star of the show. After just the first two hours, Rush is already a well developed and fascinating character. Without spoiling just what the project he’s working on is, I’ll just say that he’s obsessed with it. To the point that the viewer, as well as the other characters, wonder if he can be trusted. It makes for a very intriguing dynamic that only serves to ramp up the tension.
The other two standouts in the first three hours are David Blue, as Eli Wallace, and Brian J. Smith, as 1st Lt. Matthew Scott. Eli is the everyman, coming to Stargate in a very unconventional, Last Starfighter, way. He serves as the catalyst to offer up a bit of a history lesson about the program for new viewers. And also adds a bit of comic relief. A small bit. Remember, this is the dark Stargate.
Scott is thrust into a situation he’s really not prepared for. Watching him come to terms with that, and respond, puts you on his side quickly. The rest of the cast is also very good, and I’m especially curious to see what we have in store for Ming Na’s Camile Ray. She finds herself the highest ranking member of the IOA on the Destiny, and we all know how that usually works out.
I’m not sure how much to really say about the Destiny at this point. I suppose it’s well known that it’s an ancient ship, and it’s following a pre-determined course. The Universe team is, for lack of a better description, along for the ride. How the team ended up there, and why the ship is following that course are mysteries to be revealed by the show, and not worth spoiling. I will add, however, that by the end of the pilot we have a clear idea of what the situation is for the crew. And with the third hour, we see exactly how the Destiny’s path is going to play out in their immediate futures.
That situation, as has been said elsewhere, is dark. I’d go so far as to say Universe owes an awful lot to Battlestar Galactica where its feel and tone are concerned. Situations certainly got bad on SG-1 and and Atlantis, but there was always this underlying current of hope, and you kind of figured it would all work out in the end. Universe doesn’t have that same feeling. The situation is desperate. And, at least at this point, it feels like anyone could go at any time. I suspect that feeling to change as we move along, and the crew gets on their feet.
Long time fans will be happy to learn that there are some familiar faces in the pilot. And probably happier to know that it’s possible we’ll be seeing a fair bit more of them in the future. I was concerned that the nature of the Destiny’s mission would preclude that option on anything more than the initial launch. It would be a huge spoiler to say how, but a door is opened that will offer up plenty of freedom for various cameos.
I came into the Universe pilot a skeptic. You could possibly even say I was bitter. I really liked Atlantis, and I thought it was as good as it had ever been at the end of the last season. Given the choice, I would have easily taken another season of Atlantis over Universe. That wasn’t possible though, and Universe is what we have. Fortunately, it looks like that was a win-win dilemma. The premiere grabbed me from the opening scene. And as they started working through how all of these people ended up on the Destiny I was already sold. Time to close the book on Atlantis (except for the movie!), and move forward on this new adventure. It should be fun.
I am actually surprised that the pilot hasn’t leaked onto the internet … I am looking forward to watching it in HD this friday evening.
That is rather surprising, considering how long the review copies of the first three episodes have been out. I’m looking forward to seeing what the fan reaction to the premiere is. It really is better than I could have imagined it being.
I am also surprised the pilot was never leaked.
Also I don’t think how there will be cameos from the other Stargates is any bigger of a spoiler than saying there will be. I aready have read the spoiler and it’s really not a big deal, just kind of a stupid idea to me. :)
I was an avid SGA fan and loved every utterance from David Hewlett’s mouth (was not a big Jewel Staite fan and felt she hijacked the fifth season). From there I went back to SG1 and loved those characters also. I am a viewer who likes Warehouse 13 and Eureka but not Battlestar Galactica so I liked the campy, hopeful aspects to the two original Stargate shows rather than the darker aspect that the showrunners and critics are talking about for SGU. In addition I am so bitter about the way the producers canceled SGA. The combination of lack of interest in the dark side of the gate and some lingering resentment make it a definite pass for me.
I’m the total opposite, no Warehouse or Eureka love, but deep love for BSG, and I’m really looking forward to Friday’s premiere. Good thing there’s something for all the different Sci-fi fans ;)
Put me down as another bitter SGA/SG1 fan who won’t be tuning in.
I LIKED the previous shows, I got sick of BSG after 2 years so why would I want to watch a BSG wannabe when I want to watch Stargate! Darn it all to heck!
And after reading some of the things Brad Wright has been saying about the franchise, I am really turned off by the whole thing. He has nothing but disrespect for the foundation shows of Stargate and I am so mad at him that I can’t see myself tuning in to Universe, even if I did think I’d like it.
SG-1 and Atlantis turned into piles of useless turd. It had no direction, they just pulled things out of their ass and tried to see what worked, a lot didn’t, most didn’t.
They should have taken a break but MGM needed the money so now they are going to try something new instead of rehashing old story lines from the first two Stargates that were rehashes of sci-fi storylines from decades ago they are trying something new.
So let’s see if it works before we bitch about it. I don’t think it will be anywhere near as dark as BSG, if only because BSG was about 50 billion people dieing and this show is about a few people stuck on an old ship.
SG-1 and Atlantis = tire formula writing, while I liked the first few years of stargate SG1, after that it was all down hill, I have never like stargate atlantis, but there where a handful of good episodes. there were also to many episodes where I guess their budget was so small that the story line is “their all trapped in a box, and figure their way out at the end” As for light, I am suprised they were not bought out by disney, so they can call it “Disneys Stargate Adventures”.
In fact this may happen yet, reuse all those old SG1 scripts and use 12 year old actors.
Heres my wish list, do not use any of the old writers from SG1 or Atlantis. Get some attractive women. they lucked out on SG1 with Amanda Tapping, Atlantis was DOA. Get some real stories, dark stories, Make me feel something. Do not make any attractive woman a team leader, No more women acting like men. They can be strong and still act like women.
Lets get some real drama, thats what all stories are about. put people in dangerous situations and some of them do die. those not killed are wounded or scared physically and emotionally, over time some are weakened and others strengthened. Characters view points will change over time. real life is about change, growth, and consequences. things you rarely ever see on tv. considering the majority of the actors on tv are weak, there is no such thing as over the top (in drama). there is no such thing as too dark. By the way Drama does not cost any more money, if their worried about their tiny budgets. You want it light and fluffy, watch the Disney Channel.