TV - Stargate Universe

steve harris goes offworld and finds himself trapped on an ancient spaceship looking back at the cult TV series Stargate Universe...

After Stargate SG1, Stargate Atlantis, Stargate Margate, and Colgate Fluoride Protection came Stargate Universe, or SGU, as its fans almost never call it.

It's the growned-up one. So growned-up that cameos by Dr McKay or General Jack O'Neill O'Crikey screw with the mood and pace of the episodes they show up in. Daniel Jackson sort of gets away with it. And Colonel Samantha Carter...mmm...Samantha Carter...she's so smart...mmm...she understands fission and everything...mmm.

Robert Carlyle is growned-up like a Shakespearean puppet-master. Colonel ship captain Young is growned-up too. Although both are short. As is Lou Diamond Philips. He was a Native type in Young Guns, remember. Remember Keifer Sutherland and Emilio Estrogen and Lou and the other three? Now forget them again, they're not relevant.

Except Lou. He's as relevant as a pixie-faced buttmunch who turns out to be mostly ok after all. Unlike Robert Carlyle, who is a consistent git across two seasons. But brilliantly played.

Just two seasons. Unlike Stargate Watergate and all the other gates, SGU got cancelled after two seasons. No more wanking about in the vasty depths of the universe encountering inexplicable foes and even more inexplicable allies. Too convoluted for TV bosses? Too much like Lost? In space. Too much like Lost In Space only growned-up? Danger, warning, crap robot alert.

SGU doesn't have crap robots. It has about 100 folks stuck on a spaceship that was built thousands of years before any of them ever did their first interstellar poo in their universally uncomfortable nappies. The folks go to planets using the ship's Stargate. Or using a lych gate. Or a floodgate. Or a shuttle. Cock. My mistake, just a shuttle. Bad shit happens on most of the planets. Or freaky shit. Or timey wimey shit. Or alternate reality shit.

Robert Carlyle

Good bad shit, though. I like it but then I like the second Beverly Hills Cop movie so you shouldn't listen to me. I'm just as likely to throw you out of an airlock as treat you with any respect. Well, my Mum always did reckon I reminded her of Robert Carlyle. Choose life. Choose an ancient ship. Choose being a malevolent, self-interested genius. Choose zooming about in space being unpleasant to pretty much every human and alien you encounter. Choose being punched a lot of by the ship's sort of leader.

SGU is good at knowing self-awareness and flags up every stolen sci-fi riff and movie rip-off present before the audience can get there. Alien, Star Wars, 2001, Dr Who (the design of the main control room is a dead giveaway), Solaris, Bladerunner, Superman, The Matrix, Close Encounters, Battlestar Galactica...

Ah yes, that's surely what MGM were hoping for, a sexy, growned-up science fiction show to rival the runaway success and audience adoration enjoyed by the revamped Battlestar Galactica. Sadly for SGU, its least effective and most derivative tropes were generally pale shadows of the same power plays and uneasy alliances between enemies that were integral to the military v bureaucrats secondary vibe of BG.

Stronger SGU ground can be found in the impact of alien abduction on several characters and the ways in which the ship is as much a character and a mystery as any of the humans. Which is in itself not unlike some elements of another cancelled sci-fi Classic. Firefly. Only Nathan Fillion is awesomer than what many of the lead characters of SGU is. (No reason for bad grammar, I'm just tired of writing.)

The irony of the show being cancelled after 2 seasons is that it merited a longer run far more than the original SG1 series did. And now we'll never know what happened and why and how many weirdo aliens exist in the SGU-verse. Oh and Ming-Na is a very good actor possibly wasted in this show. Same as Carlyle. The actor, not the town. Spelt differently, didn't you notice? You didn't? You may be a residual echo of your formerly alive but now dead self, caught in the ship's neural mainframe like a ghost in the machine. That was a Stargate Atlantis title, you know.

Images - IMDb

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