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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Stargate Universe - what is the missing ingredient to break the two-season barrier?

Just finished watching Stargate Universe (SGU) 2nd and final season - a bit late, I know, but I live in France and had to wait for the DVDs to reach me... (no FTL delivery here).

I enjoyed Season 2 a lot better than Season 1, but still had a few problems with it. On the good side, the characters were realistic (aka flawed) rather than cliche'd, it particularly didn't go for happy or cheesy endings, and it showed the Universe to be a pretty hostile place (as in my books :-).

On the downside, it was more soap than Scifi, and lacked plot cohesion through most of both seasons, in the sense of 'where was this going, what was the grand plot, other than going forwards?' The first season had the element of novelty - after all this was inter-galactic travel rather than intra-galactic, and there was enough antagonism between various characters to keep it edgy. In the second season however, most of the characters 'made up', lessening the tension, and the main plot device was the specter of (Greg Bear-like) drones trying to destroy the ship each time it came out of faster-than-light (FTL) travel. But rather than try and defeat the drones, the crew give up to skip to another galaxy. Also, people who got killed had a habit of miraculously coming back to life - okay, this can be done once or twice, but too much, and like the TV Series Heroes, we stop taking the death of any cast member seriously anymore, and the tension goes out of the story.

My daughter said she stopped watching SGU because it was depressing. In Season 1 there's a lot of crying, and in Season 2 there's a lot of soul-searching - but is that what we really want in a Scifi show? In Caprica, too, there's a lot of crying, a lot of intense negative emotions. Is that what Scifi viewers want?

In SGU, there was such potential for wonder, which was over-looked; so many planets looked like Earth, and the aliens were very few and far between, and not too smart either, so all we had to focus on was the 'family' onboard. Occasionally there'd be flashes of humor, but too infrequent. And what about having fun? They're on an ancient starship cruising the universe, sounds like fun to me!

One of the 'extras' at the end of the DVD included some interviews with the cast, and at the very end, they're around a table doing the very last shot. Once the shot is taken, you see them start to shout, and whoop, and laugh, like I've never seen them do on the show. Dammit, that was what I wanted! In the show, not on the cutting room floor. Every now and again, we need to kick ass and shout about it and whoop, or else we've lost out humanity.

So, please, in the next Scifi TV series, just once or twice, let the characters revel in their glory, so we can too. And let some of the main characters get killed off, because then we'll really root for the others, and well feel real emotion, you won't have to fill the screen with it. And then we'll keep watching, and Scifi series will break the two-season barrier.



Books: The Eden Paradox, apparently as good as Orson scott Card at half the price :-). Available on Amazon in paperback and ebook formats (also Barnes & Noble). The sequel Eden's Trial - space opera like you've never seen it before, coming on Ebook before Xmas, paperback in February 2012...

2 comments:

  1. I admit that season 1 got to a slow start but season 2 was great. It set everything up for an awesome season 3 and beyond. SyFy has fail the fans but cutting this show just before it was going to get good. To make it worse, I know how we can fully fund the next season or at least a movie to wrap it all up, I just can't get anyone at SyFy to hear me out. They like to pretend that they hated canceling the show but don't want to do anything to bring it back.

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  2. I'd have liked to see a Season 3, or at least a movie (as they did with Firefly). I guess it's too late now, they've moved on.

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