Stargate Universe, Season 1

Stargate Universe, Complete First SeasonThanks to a lucky purchase at our local used book/music/movie shop, I recently picked up Stargate Universe, The Complete First Season on DVD1)At $13+tax, it was a must buy.. Since picking it up I’ve been rushing through watching it as fast as I can; partly because I really enjoy it and partly because I wanted to loan it to a friend. As I’ve completed watching the discs, thought I’d post a few notes on the show.2)Excluding the commentaries, but including all the rest of the special features.

Things done well

  • Usage of music, particularly where the show’s creators have selected a single song as a theme for a particular episode (e.g. Flogging Molly’s The Worst Day Since Yesterday, SGU S01E09: Life) is stunning.
  • Despair of ever seeing home again is handled fairly well, though the most interesting characters3)Eli & Rush tend to spend more screen time in enjoying the experience of being where they are rather than pining for home.
  • Special effects and set design: To understand how impressive this really is, you need to watch the special features on the DVDs to see how things look without the special effects and to see how much of their set can be reconfigured to work as different areas of the ship.

Things done poorly

  • Leaving people behind on a planet and getting them back again in the very next f**king episode. If you’re trying to convince viewers that the plight of people on that ship is so deadly serious; once a character gets left behind, they should be gone permanently4)Unfortunately they can’t seem to help themselves with bringing people back; as they do it again in the second season. Though in season 2, at least the character wasn’t brought back in the very next episode.
  • They don’t handle the portrayal of limited supplies well. Sure, we get a lot of talk about food, water & medicine (with the occasional note about ammunition), but….
    • They never seem to run out of bullets and sometimes use them in seemingly wasteful ways (e.g. in S01E06: “Water” they used their guns to carve chunks out of a frozen waterfall).
    • Some characters suddenly have different cloths (e.g. Chloe starts off with an ugly dress but ends up with a rather nice pantsuit).
    • Rush never seems to run out of those little notebooks.
    • Almost everybody’s clothes or uniforms look spotless all the time. With the exception of a character who just got back from a planet5)This is only true towards the end of the first season. Paying close attention to the clothes in earlier episodes shows bloodstains & whatnot on a variety of characters.
  • No real sense of isolation and there should be, but they spend a fair amount of time using the ancient communication stones to pop back to Earth. Doing so helps them to explore character back-stories and motivations but it also severely undermines how isolated and far from home they really are.
  • Chloe, Eli & Matt: SyFy6)*shudder* I still hate that you guys changed the name of your channel. you’re writing a show that caters to geeks and we geeks like to see the geek get the girl. Keeping Eli as the best friend to both Chloe & Matt, is at best annoying.

Notes   [ + ]

1. At $13+tax, it was a must buy.
2. Excluding the commentaries, but including all the rest of the special features.
3. Eli & Rush
4. Unfortunately they can’t seem to help themselves with bringing people back; as they do it again in the second season. Though in season 2, at least the character wasn’t brought back in the very next episode.
5. This is only true towards the end of the first season. Paying close attention to the clothes in earlier episodes shows bloodstains & whatnot on a variety of characters.
6. *shudder* I still hate that you guys changed the name of your channel.

3 Comments

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I cynically think that the show runners for SGU are using the “Survivor” method for show development. That is, no-one on the show is likable, but one tunes in to see the most hated characters get their come-uppance.
My complaints of the show are myriad, but I’ll keep tuning in, ‘cuz I likes me to watch Robert Carlyle chew the scenery. And I keep hoping Ming Na will get better parts. And while I know I’m supposed to sympathize with Eli, he needs to nut up or shut up.

    And that’s one of the reason I’m so annoyed by how they keep bringing back characters who get left behind.

    Ming Na (Camile Wray) has been growing on me as the show has gone on. While I still hate Dr. Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle), even after seeing all the backstory they’ve given us for him. And as for Eli (played by David Blue), I actually really like his character. Eli’s lazy and whaffling attitude is part of his charm for me.

Is it just me or is SyFy trying to become the Fox by cancelling all their decent shows?

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