Upfront: Stargate Universe premiered to a lot of hype that wasn’t completely fulfilled. The episode was dark, as expected, but lacking in the energy I needed to really get hyped about it. The acting wasn’t stiff, but I think the background music kept things in a very mellow state.
My devotion to the franchise kept me riveted and though I don’t think tonight’s episode was a stellar hit as some would lead you to believe, it delivered an interesting situation that will have me coming back for more… if anything, just to see if things improve or as I get more involved with the characters than I did tonight.
I don’t give everything up, but there are spoilers included below.
A Bit Of A Recap
The Stargate Universe opening scene has viewers watching a ship (the Destiny) drift towards them. The scene has a rather epic looking feel to it and what I didn’t know at the time was that this might have been the best scene of the show.
We go inside the ship and watch it slowly powering up the hallways, eventually finding ourselves looking at a Stargate powering up itself up and the event horizon bursting forth from the ring. People start to come flying through it, piling in on each other in an obvious state of panic.
Meanwhile, Dr Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle) is on a balcony, looking down on the scene, almost looking pleased.
We then experience a series of flashbacks interjected with the developing real-time plot (ala Lost) that help explain some back-story on some of the characters and the developing scenario.
We see boy genius Eli Wallace (David Blue) get recruited because he solved an online game that was designed by Dr. Rush from Stargate Command. After Wallace solves the game, Lt. General Jack O’Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) and Dr Rush show up at his door the next morning. Anyone ever see The Last Starfighter? I’m just saying.
When Wallace gets on board, he’s shown a series of videos to get caught up on the history of the Stargate program. LOL – “Hi, I’m Dr. Jackson (Michael Shanks), and behind me is a Stargate.” I felt like I was watching the DNA video from Jurassic Park.
The rest of the Stargate Universe premiere shows us the attack that forced the impromptu evacuation, focusing on the people on board the Destiny as they try to comprehend their new situation situation – between each other and between them and the ship/environment they now find themselves in.
The Destiny is a ship built by the Ancients. Apparently, the Ancients sent these automated vessels out into the universe to plant Stargates, but then they ascended and kind of forgot about the ships. The Destiny is in mechanical disarray and it reminds me of my 1969 Mercury Cougar, where it will be needing a lot of duct tape.
The creative team behind Stargate Universe, Brad Wright and Robert Cooper, tries to pull the viewer into the dark and desperate atmosphere the survivors are in. Much like the desperate plight humanity found itself in on Battlestar Galactica.
It wasn’t very distracting to me, but if you remember, they were going to use a different filming technique that was inspired by how Joss Whedon filmed Firefly. They used a lot of hand-held camera angles and it complemented the desperate situation the people were in. If they don’t get too carried away with this technique, it should be acceptable for viewers throughout.
Another difference I noticed only took place once in this 2-hour premiere; When we came back from a commercial break, we experienced a flashback, then we jumped into a different scene where there was a seriously steamy interaction between two people. If you were expecting a family friendly show like all the previous incarnations of Stargate, even if it was one scene, it was there. And from what I’ve read in other sources, it won’t be the last time they throw a curve ball at the viewer in the sexuality department.
I don’t like Dr. Rush, and that’s a compliment to Robert Carlyle’s portrayal of the role. The scientific greed that Dr. Rush exhibits makes me dislike or distrust this guy. It’s Rush’s fault they ended up on the Destiny. During the unexplained attack on the base that forced the evacuation, Rush interrupted the emergency dialing of Earth to try a new idea he came up with about the 9th chevron. Guess it worked.
Yes, an unexplained attack. Three enemy ships just pop up, start shooting, blow up the planet and the only info we have about the attack comes from some conjecture between Col Samantha Carter (Amanda Tapping) and Lt. General O’Neill.
Back in October of ’08, Vic felt like we might have another Lost In Space and didn’t find himself too excited about the description of the show. I think the man might be a dang fortune teller!
After all the hype dispensed by Syfy, we were told that viewers didn’t need to be franchise fans to understand to show. Sure, we got a quick outline on the Stargates, but I found scenes and moments that required some experience with the franchise that didn’t seem very well explained for a newbie. One example of this was Dr. Rush’s use of the ancient communication tech stones. Did any first-time Stargate watchers catch what happened? What they were and how they worked?
How I Came Away From The Premiere
This was supposed to be an incredible event, at least if I were to believe all the hype. But to me, something was missing.
After the excitement of the one epic space scene and everyone flying through the event horizon on the Destiny, there was a slow, distanced in feel to the episode. I wasn’t pulled in by much and parts of the presentation were very jarring.
The transitions to their numerous commercials were incredibly abrupt with no fade outs. In one scene you might be watching a man with a gun making a serious statement and BAM, I’m looking at dish washing detergent and a housewife!
It felt like Wright and Cooper employed several ideas and techniques from different shows and it felt obvious; Including the most noticeable to me, the very Battlestar Galactica like music underlying a lot of the scenes.
On the bright side, I was surprised to see scenes within sets that actually looked like the concept art released last year that we showed you.
The roles that did stand out to me were Dr Rush, played by Carlyle and Eli Wallace, played by David Blue. Like I said, I really do not like Dr. Rush. He reminds me of Locke from Lost. I found Wallace someone whom I may actually care about as he learns and discovers things through this eye opening journey through space.
In the last few minutes, the biggest question was answered: How do they explore different planets? Apparently the Destiny senses its proximity to another Stargate, drops out of its FTL travel and opens a 12-hour wormhole to the new gate.
It’s up to the crew to use that 12 hour window to hit up the new planet, look around and get back. I’m wondering who is going to be left behind somewhere down the road?
The episode of Stargate Universe ended with the ship doing just that, and an away team disembarking through the gate. I am not compelled to disembark with them. Not yet.
How did everyone else feel about this new take on the Stargate franchise? Do you think the spirit of Stargate has been changed forever or is this a new, refreshing take on an old mythos?