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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Stargate Universe, The Review

Saw the new Stargate Universe last night. Since I am a huge sci fi fan, the new series was one I was looking forward to with great anticipation.

It didn't disappoint.

I will say at the outset that I'm not a huge SG-1 or Atlantis fan. Those shows get a C/B in my book. Watchable, but not addictive. I always found the writing too much on the nose. And I prefer my sci fi to be serialized, as Battlestar and Farscape were. That way you get sucked into the fantasy more. It always irked me that there was little emotional consequences from episode to episode in the previous Stargate shows. An enemy was defeated and the clock goes back to zero for the next enemy. The heroes never grew (except maybe Daniel in SG-1) or changed over time (okay, Amanda Tapping's hair changed). Even injuries, when they were sustained, never lasted from episode to episode. These shows were styled to be old-fashioned episodic dramas, like Bonanza.

But hopefully, Stargate U has taken a leaf from Battlestar's success. The pilot certainly hinted at that. The scenes shot in the present, on board the weird, damaged ship in the middle of nowhere, are lit with a lot of shadows and the set is nicely dark. Dr. Ross, one of the main characters, is equally dark and seems to hold a lot of secrets. Same with the commander, played by Louis Ferierra (who btw, plays the serial killer in Durham County with such creepiness you can hardly believe they're the same actor...). The Lieutenant with too much to handle was nicely out of his depth with plenty of room for growth, and he, too, has a secret. And secrets are the bread and butter of great drama.

The writing still has a bit of the Stargate cheesiness to it. There are stupid lines ("You knew, dammit, Dr. Ross!"), out of character speeches (Ross telling Chloe her father's death isn't his fault), and one-dimensional characters (the rep from IOA who challenges Ross's supposed promotion to Leader). Neither Cooper nor Wright have proven themselves to be subtle writers in the past. It will be interesting to see if they can tone themselves down for the rest of the series. Certainly the attack on the base with the whole "the planet is exploding, the planet is exploding" plot reason for the evacuation to an unknown gate address, was rushed and seemed contrived because of it.

BUT--what the hey. I still enjoyed it and can't wait for more.

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Blogger Jody W. and Meankitty said...

I had approximately the same reaction to it. Remains to be seen if they can do justice to the female characters. I usually find I care more about that issue than I expect to. Or perhaps I should expect it by now?

October 9, 2009 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Annie Solomon said...

Well, the shows do tend to be pretty man heavy. But they always have at least one woman in a position of power. It will be interesting to see who that will turn out to be. I don't think their women are very interesting. Part of that problem for me is the casting. Amanda Tapping is so...blah. And the former Atlantis leader (forgot her name) was like a stick of wood up there. I think I'm in the minority there, but... The fighter chick in Atlantis was cool but they never gave her much to do. So, yeah, they probably won't do justice to the women. But I'm still intrigued.

October 9, 2009 at 9:37 AM  

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