Stargate: Universe

11 Dec

I’ll give you guys a break on the apocalypse this week, and talk about one of my other very favorite things: Stargate.


I probably ought to clarify a bit: I’m the kind of fan who would probably make other, more hardcore Stargate fans weep. I stopped watching Stargate: SG:1 at some point. I think I’ve seen five minutes of Stargate: Atlantis. They’re shows I intend to come back to. Someday. When I get around to it. (I notice, as I type this, that all ten seasons of SG:1 are on Hulu. So maybe I’ll add it to ye olde queue.)

Every now and then, as we’re watching Stargate: Universe, I’ll turn to Greg and ask him to fill in a bit of backstory they’re alluding to. He watched more than I did.

And yet, I still count myself a fan. The original movie is one of my all-time favorites. Yes, I know it’s cheesy in places. Yes, I know there are better films out there — both in the SF genre and overall. But it’s still a movie that, if I come across it while flipping channels, I’ll put the remote down and watch.

Some of it’s easy to explain. When I was in, oh, second grade or so, the King Tut exhibit came to the Museum of Science in Boston. That sparked a lifelong interest in ancient Egypt and Egyptian mythology. Stargate is steeped in that, even if the worldbuilding and plot veer quickly away from what you and I might know about that time period.

Then there’s James Spader. I like him. Shut up.

It’s pretty to look at, it’s got action and drama and romance. In a pyramid. In space.

I liked the actors they found to replace Kurt Russell and James Spader in SG:1. Richard Dean Anderson and Michael Shanks quickly became Col. O’Neill and Daniel Jackson for me. The cast was fun, the adventures were familiar and fresh. I liked Amanda Tapping’s Carter and Christopher Judge’s Te’alc. Honestly, I think the only reason I stopped watching it was because it got moved to a different day and time when it left Showtime.

Then I sort of lost touch with it. Now and then I’d catch an odd episode and try to suss out what I’d missed. Sometimes it was easy enough, other times I was lost. (The Ori? What the hell’s an Ori?) But it wasn’t for lack of interest, just lack of time. I’m kind of a completionist, and prefer to watch a series in order, if I can.

I shied away from Stargate: Atlantis for the same reason. I’m fairly certain it could stand alone, but it felt weird, watching it without knowing what had happened with SG:1.

Along came Stargate: Universe. It had a lot going for it: I missed SG:1. Battlestar: Galactica was over, and Eureka was, I believe, between seasons. Then John Scalzi announced he’d been tapped as the show’s creative consultant, and I knew it was time to give it another go.

A season and a half in, and I haven’t been disappointed. The writing is excellent, and the actors are stellar.

Dr. Rush (Robert Carlyle) is threatening to steal Daniel Jackson’s place in my heart — a tortured genius who may or may not have his own agenda (okay, he does), who believes that the mission of the Destiny (the ship on which they’re all trapped) is more important than anything else.

Duke it out, gents.

 

I have two other favorite characters: Eli (David Blue) who is, at the start of the series, just a gamer nerd living at home with his mom. He cracks the language of the Ancients because the military put it out in a video game. Of course, that means that not only does Col. O’Neill show up at his door, but poor Eli gets teleported out of the house without even getting to put on some pants. I was nervous about the character at the start: he seems like the sterotypical awkward, overweight geek, and I was terribly afraid they’d use the character as not only comic relief, but as the butt of jokes — “haha, look at the nerd.”

But instead, Eli is the heart of the show. He’s kept up morale, he challenges authority when they’re about to do something he disagrees with powerfully, and through it all, he’s kept a sense of wonder. He’s far from home, and while he feels that keenly (there’s a great subplot with, yes, his mom. One that explains why he was still living with her. You’ll need kleenex), he’s still awed by the fact that HOLY SHIT I’M ON AN ALIEN SPACESHIP TRAVELLING FASTER THAN LIGHT AND OMG THIS IS COOL.

I love that they embrace his geekiness without mocking it. Eli will make references to SF books and movies, especially if something in the plot is similar to things we’ve seen done in other places. They’re relevant and, with David Blue’s spot-on delivery, get a grin out of me. It’s an aspect of his character, but it doesn’t define him.

I’m also a big fan of Sgt. Greer (Jamil Walker Smith).

Again, a character who would, on most other shows, be your cookie-cutter unstable badass. Don’t get me wrong — I wouldn’t want to piss him off. But there’s also no one else I’d rather have watching my back if, say, we were under attack by screechy serpent-aliens who don’t get hurt by gunfire. Just sayin’. The writers could easily have just said, “Okay, career army dude, goes a little overboard now and then, buddies with Handsome Hero Guy Lt. Scott” and had done with it. But instead, they’ve fleshed him out, and now any time it looks like he might be stranded somewhere — even for just part of the episode — I’m biting my nails. Because they’ve told us how often he’s been abandoned. Not by his squadmates. By his family.

It’s the characters that make this series, and I’m having a hell of a time watching their stories unfold. If you’re looking for something to add to your Netflix queue, you can’t go wrong with Stargate: Universe.

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2 Responses to “Stargate: Universe”

  1. sillermoon December 11, 2010 at 1:58 pm #

    I think you should give SG:1 and definitely Atlantis another go. I haven’t seen the movie since I was eleven (I know, I know, shut up) but my husband started watching SG:1 and it’s quite entertaining. Mostly for the writing and the characters. I love O’Neill and I love Sam Carter. TBH the Ga’ould “kill all the system lords” storyline was getting pretty old by the last season, but the character development was still spot-on.

    I have a feeling you’d like Atlantis more, though the one scientist dude drives me up the wall. The Big Bad in that series is the Wraith, and more of the show has a science focus. Then again, maybe that’s my bias for shows, I prefer the science to the Egyptian thing.

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    […] after I geeked out over here about Stargate: Universe, Siffy killed that, […]

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