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How Did You Like the Series Premiere of Stargate Universe?

What did you think of the Series Premiere of Stargate Universe?

My short answer is: I liked it wand will tune in for at least the next few episodes.

Here are my brief-but-semi-spoilery thoughts after the 2 hour series premiere:

  • We’ve seen the “Stranded group of people trying to get home” premise before. (Star Trek: Voyager and even Stargate Atlantis, right? Heck, even Gilligan’s Island.) And while that will be what primarily drives their actions in the long run, I’m anxious to see the exploration side of their journey. The premiere seems to leave lots of hope in that regard. Not only will their ship make occasional stops, but even the spaceship Destiny itself is a big unknown.
  • The characters seem complex and interesting. Sure, there are archetypes: scientist with ulterior motives; fish-out-of-water geek; loose cannon military…but they still seem realistically flawed. I’m glad to see Eli (the resident geek and court jester) being helpful, but then, I’m a geek.
  • I hope that the back story of the Ancients will continue to be a source of wonder. The back story of Destiny was enough to whet my appetite.
  • The fact that the Dr. Rush was able to somehow communicate was cool, but the off-screen happenings leave me to the obvious conclusion that he is not telling the truth. Which is all fine as far as plot setup goes, but can someone explain why the others did not force him to renew communications? They let that matter drop way too easily.
  • The shaky cam reminds me of Battlestar Galactica. But the sound heard in space does not. And, did Galactica have marble floors? Man, those Ancients knew how to build spaceships!
  • More Lou Diamond Philips, please.

That’s my 2 pennies. What did you think?

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

18 Comments on How Did You Like the Series Premiere of Stargate Universe?

  1. It reminded me a lot of Battlestar Galactica. Not just the handheld camera and the general dark, depressing look, but specifically the melodrama. Every decision met with great, significant emotional response. Every utterance a portentious pronouncement. Weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth everywhere.

    One of the big strengths of the other Stargate shows is the way they used humor as an antidote to melodrama. Whether it was O’Neil saying “Come on, nobody talks that way,” the antics of Vala and Daniel, or Rodney ever dependable for a laugh, you could tell that everyone involved didn’t take themselves too seriously. I’m afraid that SG:U seems to be taking it all way too seriously.

    Some of the homages to Alien were nice, but also added to the Oh-So-Serious air. The beginning, with a shot of space and the slow approach of an enormous starship, panning through empty hallways; the shot of the scientist picking up ooze with his pen.

    I’ll keep watching for a while, because the Stargate people have proven that they can tell good stories. I just wish they’d get back to what they’re so good at, and leave the sturm and drang to BSG and its clones.


    2.  We all don’t ADD.  There’s no need to cut every 1/2 second to a different view of what’s going on.

    3.  Richard Dean Anderson looks like he has put on some weight.

    4.  Dr. Rush desparately needs a shower, haircut and a shave.

    5.  Amanda Tapping–smoking hot as ever.

    6.  Seriously, STOP SHAKING THE F*CKING CAMERA.  It amazes me that technically-capable historians have presented a stabilized version of the Zapruder film, but producers go out of their way to make the show look amateurish.  To all you naysayers out there:  Don’t tell me that VomitVision gives the show a “realistic, documentary look.”  SGU is not a documentery, and the need to take Dramamine before the show starts doesn’t add realism.  It takes me out of it.  STOP IT!  I BEG OF YOU!  STOP SHAKING THE F*CKING CAMERA!

    That’s my two cents.

  3. Alexander S. // October 3, 2009 at 10:44 am //

    As a fan of Stargate SG1 and Atlantis, I was anxious to see this first episode of the new series. I was expecting it to be mind blowing… But as we all know, when you expect too much from something, it usually lets you down.

    From the start I hated their idea to go back and forth with the story, to juggle within timelines. The story buckled from the beginning… Goa’uld attack? Really? All of a sudden? Lucky the Hammond was there… How convenient!

    On to the ship. Looks nice, deffinitely NOT Ancient. Anyone had the feeling it resembled a Mayan city, with the big pyramid right on top of the engine section?  Anyway, the inside is horrible and doesn’t resemble the Ancient way of building things. There’s a grotesque lack of order.

    Characters… oh please. I didn’t feel any attraction to any of them. It’s like watching a show of Muppets. The senator’s sacrifice was obvious since the moment they concluded that someone must manually close the door. The main scientist, forgot his name, seems like a lunatic gone wild. The addition of hot girls, and the introductory sex scene seem to define this new series (BSG wannabe).

    Dialogues. Bleak… without substance. NO HUMOUR!!! I didn’t laugh once. SG1 was a great series because of the perfect blending of techno babble, jokes and seriousness. Atlantis had a deal less humour than the original series and now it seems they decided to eliminate it completely.

    The story and its timeline. It’s shaky. The technology aboard seems to indicate a construction date close to that of Atlantis (I’m talking about the HUD) however other pieces of technology such as the consoles seem more like Traveler technology (from Atlantis) than actually Ancient design.

    I feel that at least an episode similar to “Before I Sleep” (Atlantis 1×18 if I’m not mistaking) is mandatory. Or at least something like “Aurora”.

    Bottom line. I am more enthusiastic of Flash Forward than of Stargate Universe at the moment. I will watch the next episodes of course, and really hope that I will get hooked like I was with SG1.


  4.  Carlyle/Rush created a solution incorporating the problem embedded in the video game in a single night? And then they brought everyone out to the Icarus site before seeing if it worked? Say what?

    Did that Senator give a “dismissed” order to the military chain of command?

    What the hell kind of uniforms are they wearing? Since when did SG personnel quit being in the Air Force? Why would they design distinct uniforms?

    “Away team”? Since when? Why are we suddenly using Star Trek lingo and ot as a joke?

    How many damn commercials was that?

    In the initial episodes of SG-1, people were walking into the Gate, and being flung out on their ass, at high speed, just like in this first episode of SGU. SG-1 rapidly stopped having that happen. It would have been inconvenient, as well as boring, to keep having that happen, a thought that hadn’t seemed to have occurred to the producers until after a while. I have a Strange Feeling the same thing will happen this time, as well.

    (I have a vague memory they might have given some explanation at some point early in SG-1 about better tuning the Stargate, or some such, but I’m definitely not going to try looking for a source to confirm that.)

    This time they can explain that it was the great distance traveled, I expect.

    Jeebus, how many commercials is that?

    You can’t really try to solve multiple, separate, scientific/engineering problems at once: why doesn’t Rush say “I can either work on finding a way to scrub the air, or I can work on the far more unlikely idea of figuring out a way to gate back to Earth: pick one”? Character point of Rush’s?

    Nice flip of exposition between medic and Senator’s daughter.

    Eli says of ascension: “that wasn’t in the video.” Rush: “there was more than one video.” But we saw Eli montage through many videos of Daniel Jackson.

    Jeebus, there really were commercials about every five to seven minutes.

    Nice cameos by Amanda Tapping, Michael Shanks, and Richard Dean Anderson. Nice touch in keeping continuity with the Hammond.

    I liked the more serious tone; liked the actors. Liked Robert Carlyle particularly. Eli could easily wear on nerves and become what Wesley Crusher was initially disliked for (not your fault, Wil! I totally blame the writers and producers!). One hopes they’ll steer away from that, although having a boy genius in the first place is not a point I put in the Favorable column. Yes, it’s good to attract your teen demographic, but, sheesh, talk about an sf cliche. Arguably a necessity, I don’t have to like it.

    “Goa’uld attack? Really?”

    They were Hataks and Death gliders; no telling who was flying them.  Highly unlikely to be Goa’uld, since the System Lords were wiped out.

    And, people: yes, this isn’t a clone of the previous shows.  Yes, it’s more serious and slightly more realistic.  Like it or not.  If you don’t like it, fine, but complaining that it isn’t as funny as the other two shows is complaining that it’s what the producers said it was going to be.  Meanwhile, you can watch the DVDs of the previous two shows if that’s what you want.  Plus more DVD movies of SG-1 and the SG Atlantis folks, I gather.

  5. I agree on the handheld camera crap — STOP IT!!! NOW!!!  AM I SHOUTING? YOU FRAKING BET!  I barely made it through the final ep of BSG because of the increasing use of the handheld camera.  I dunno, is it the mark of being K-K00L or something?  Comes across to me as being extremely amateurish; can’t you guys afford a tripod? Send me your mailing address, and I’ll send you a few bucks!

    – m

  6. Overall, I liked this pilot better than SG-1’s. The change in tone also doesn’t bother me, in fact I’d say it’s a point in SGU‘s favor. Eli didn’t bother me much at all. He’s a smart guy, knows it and isn’t afraid to let others know how smart he is. I see it as defense mechanism. Hopefully he doesn’t turn into Wesley and instead becomes a good character.

    Maybe I’m inured to the whole shaky cam thing, but I hardly noticed it at all so it didn’t bother me. See mom, all those hours playing FPSes  paid off at last!

    I also really like the idea of an Ancient ship wandering the universe. That certainly opens up a hugely wide array of situations for the characters to be in. Let’s hope it doesn’t devolve into a Voyager clone. 

    What I didn’t like: The swapping between “present” and “past”, especially at the beginning. It was too fast, never stopping long enough on one perspective before swapping. This lessened as the show went along which was good. This is not LOST so stay away from all the flashbacks.

    Too many characters to shoehorn into the pilot. As a result, the story felt somewhat rushed. And yes, the Senator’s sacrifice was obviously telegraphed, but I did like how they swapped between the medic and the daughter, that reminded me a bit of The Fifth Element. Too many characters could be a problem going forward. We’ll see.

    I also felt Rush was able to figure out this Ancient machine waaaaaaay to easily. Sure he knows the alphabet but he figured out the systems fast enough to have 9 DB searches going? That map of the Destiny‘s path through out the Universe was really cool though.

    Lastly, the Ancient’s plan just seems weird. Why bother to send out ships to seed galaxies with stargates and then send out another ship to follow up? Why not just send people with the first ships? This smacks of the story needing to serving the plot. IE- There needs to be stargates on the planets for our heroes to get off the ship and onto the planets.

    I’ll definitely stick with it though.

  7. Nice pilot. While there is surely room to improve the show, overall I really liked it.

    No problem here with the shaky cam and I actually liked Eli. I don’t see him becoming another Wesley Crusher, because first he seems quite a bit older (maybe 10 years?) and second he is much more a geek and less the skinny swot that Wesley was. Anyway, I could kind of root for him. 😉

    Over at they all seemed to hate Rush.. don’t know, I kind of liked him more than all the military personell. At least he will certainly be the more interesting character to follow.

    I had no problem the the humour, I think 10 Seasons SG-1 were enough, it’s actually good that they try to make a different show and not clone their own franchise. If it works in the long run remains to be seen. But the possibility to tell both stories of visiting new worlds AND meanwhile exploring the secrets of this ancient ship and repairing it’s failing systems will hopefully provide enough material to steer a bit away from known sg-1 territory. Again I consider this a good thing.

    I would rate the pilot between 7 and 8 out of 10.

  8. I did not enjoy Stargate Universe,  Weak story line,  poor choice of actors.  Why would MGM cancel a series like Stargate Atlantis which had excellent character depth, great acting and plots to bring this show to air.

    We watched the first hour and just got fed up.

    I do not see this show lasting, and would love to see Stargate Atlantis brought back.

  9. I give this show a 3 out of 10,  It was very poor in regards to the acting,  The plot was not believable.  The other Stargate series were wonderfull, this one was quite a letdown.  I would prefer to see Stargate Atlantis brought back, rather than suffer through this series.

    All of us who watched the Premier were very disappointed and feel no desire to watch any further episodes.

    Hopefully there will be Stargate and Stargate Atlantis movies in 2010 to fill the void,  it certainly will not be Universe.

  10. Most pilots suck. ST:TOS had what? Two? Three? Four? I can’t stand ST:TNG’s “Encounter at Farpoint”. DS9 was OK, but Voyager’s pilot was so bad I skipped the entire season, went back for the second season opener and gave up on the show. So pilots generally suck.


    I did not mind the camera work so much as the fractured timeline. Huh? What? What’s happening? Where are we now? Maybe it’s the cold medicine.


    So, all those military personnel and we have only two officers? Of course we need to have a psycho soldier as well. And then the old argument about who is in charge? The military! The scientist! The congresscritter! Yawn.


    Rush looks like Gaius Balthar without the sexy sidekick.


    I’ll give it more chances, because it is SG, but so far, well, OK, but my socks are still on my feet.

  11. Joshua Corning // October 4, 2009 at 7:08 pm //

    What did you think of the Series Premiere of Stargate Universe?


    I think creative consultant Skalzi missed that part about using the floating remote controlled balls to close the air lock door rather then kill someone off to do it.

  12. Ouch!  And…good point!

  13. As I mentioned on Joe Mallozzi’s blog, I liked the first episode a lot and intend to continue watching.  (Like there was ever any doubt?)

  14. I LOVE THE SHAKY CAM!  KEEP IT!  It really doesn’t bother me and I get a certain kind of joy listening to people complain the show wasn’t made EXACTLY how THEY liked it.

    I liked Eli.  It was nice to see he wasn’t completely intimidated and could speak up a little, yet wasn’t entirely comfortable.  He is a geek, but not completely.

    I liked the added realism and the commander.

    Dr. Rush was a little over the top.

    A few plot holes, but nothing completely outlandish. 

    Is this BSG?  Not even close.  Everyone that is complaining about this being dark and gritty like BSG needs to go back and watch BSG again, as it is far far darker and dramatic.  I like that SG:U has uped the realism quotient.  Not that I didn’t enjoy the other SGs, but no one can’t be deluded into thinking the other SGs were in anyway intelligent escapism.  Fun escapism, yes, but intelligent, no.

    I didn’t laugh once during the show, but I did laugh reading some of these comments.

  15. john wiese // October 9, 2009 at 7:00 pm //

    I did not like this pilot, the plot seems to be a rehash of the old star trek voyager series they both have exacty the same premise  how to get home from billions of light years away. did not see much potential in this one.  yeah I do  wonder if richard dean anderson in his cameo appearence really did gain weight.  I hope that Brad Wright or Robert Cooper get the next stargate sg-1 or stargate atlantis movies going soon before richard dean anderson gets to old. And I thought by a long shot  both of those series were way far better acted and had much more interesting and indeph charecters. In the end I think that stargate atlantis or sg-1 to go on would have a better choice.


  16. Garbage.  If it’s called Stargate it should be in the style we’ve come to love as Stargate:  likable characters, light drama with humor, colorful uniforms and sets.  If it’s a dark Galactica wannabe it should be a clean slate drama, not a Stargate spinoff.  What a waste.  And yes…  ENOUGH WITH THE DAMN WOBBLE-CAM!!!

  17. This show had the bigger named actor die just like at the beggining of Atlantis.  Although Atlantis did it way better: “oh no we can only shut the door from the inside, someone has to sacrifice themselves.  If only we had a flying robot that had a camera on it that could do exactly that then Shooter Mcgavin could live to get that golden jacket!”  ohwell.

  18. I’m willing to give the Stargate franchise a lot of slack in that I loved SG-1 and liked SG-A but having watched the first few episodes of SG-Universe at this point, the writers need to lighten up.

    Yes, the characters are in an unexpected and dire situation, but humor and sarcasm (key strengths of the prior two series) are natural reactions to stress.  With the exception of Eli, the crew is coming across as a bunch of angst driven jarheads who can’t decide whether to wallow in self pity or beat each other senseless squabling for the sake of argument.  I have a lot of experience working with both academics and the military (even in life threatening situations) and the character’s reactions are pathetic, unprofessional and unrealistic to the point of undermining the entire conceit of the show.  If I saw professional, elite soliders acting the way these people have been scripted, I’d bust them down to butterbar and take away their sidearms until their judgement could be trusted. 

    As for Ross, he’s an ass.  That’s okay, so was McKay and half the bureaucrates on SG-1; but in those situations, even with a sun about to explode or aliens lauching the final invasion of Earth, there was always humor, chemestry and an interplay that gave dimension to the characters playing off the jerk even if the jerk himself was shallow and one-dimensional.  Ross needs to be wrong, in public, in a big way and frequently reminded that he’s not infallible the same way that McKay was taken down a rung or two in SG-A.  The whole “I’m so smart I don’t have to explain myself to anyone” thing just isn’t working.  It’s not dramic tension, it’s just plain annoying.  It feels contrived and I really expected bettter from the people that brought us Stargate in the first place.

    As the camera work, (and I know I’m asking for trouble here, I’ve been flamed by film students and directors alike but…) GET RID OF THE HANDHELDS.  Shakey cams are not artistic, they are a distraction.  I hated them in BSG, I hate them on the big screen, I hate them on the small screen, I even ran scenes from Gladitor through an image stabilizer program to take them _OUT_ of the fight sequences and the movie was just so much better without them.  PLEASE, for the love of god, stick to booms and dollies and if someone ever suggests that going hand-held would be edgier, slap them upside the head.  Bad camera work _NEVER_ improves a scene, focus on engaging the audience with emotion and situational tension, not distracting them with reminders that the sceen took place in front of a camera.

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