Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Stargate Universe Review

Note: this blog has been migrated to Medium, with the articles here available to preserve permalinks Please see this post at https://medium.com/@ianrbuck/stargate-universe-review-6e20f7cec99a

I grew up on Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, both of which were over by the time I watched them. My parents got me each season on DVD over the course of many birthdays and Christmases. As Star Trek was for many nerds of the previous generation, Stargate was for me.

I knew that Stargate Universe was happening during my final two years of High School, but my family doesn't have cable so I couldn't catch it. I had also heard that a lot of Stargate fans disliked the series, so I wasn't in a huge rush to see it.

I finally started watching SGU with another Stargate fan last spring, and initially we had a good time making fun of the series. I think that most Stargate fans dislike SGU because it is very different stylistically from either of the other shows; the colors are very saturated, there is a lot of film grain, just a hint of shaky-cam, the show focuses more on the interpersonal issues of the crew than the big save-the-world moments, and honestly there were very few characters that I liked at the beginning. I was reminded of the episode 200 from SG-1 where they make fun of shows just like SGU. Seriously, they have "younger, edgier characters" and they "just throw the title up and get on with it."

Despite all of that, by the end of the second and final season, I had really grown attached to the characters. I can't really point to where it turned around for me, but I remember really liking the season finale for season one because it was so personal. There was also a three-episode arc towards the end of season two where they explored the what-if scenario of these characters living out the rest of their lives together much like the final episode of SG-1, but I liked this one a lot more. It was clear that they had known that the show was ending when they wrote the final episode of Universe, because they ended it in such a way that they could justify either bringing the show back in a few years or never touching it again.

My favorite thing about the show, and the thing that differentiates it from pretty much every other show that I have seen, was their willingness to kill off characters. Sure, they have their core cast of about seven that clearly weren't going anywhere, but many secondary characters kicked it throughout the series, and I really cared about some of them. It really drove home the idea that these characters were the wrong people for the mission, something that was frequently said during season one.

I really want them to bring this show back. I'd even pay money to see it.