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Is Stargate Universe taking a cue from Firefly?

by Mike Moody, posted Apr 28th 2009 2:02PM
Stargate Universe logoThere's been a lot of talk in the nerd world about the upcoming Stargate Universe, the second spinoff to Sci Fi's long-running Stargate: SG-1. Most of it has been pretty negative.

Some fans aren't too thrilled about this new approach to the Stargate franchise, which will reportedly feature more character-driven drama versus action-adventure romps, a darker tone, a few younger characters, and at least one gay character.

I don't get the skepticism. I'm really looking forward to the show. Actually, I can't wait to watch the franchise try to evolve from fun, lighthearted adventure to a dark sci-fi drama. I'm not saying it'll be any good – I'm just curious.

Months ago, consulting producer Joe Mallozzi compared SGU to Battlestar Galactica and Lost. Now, show creator Robert C. Cooper is saying SGU is somewhat inspired by another great sci-fi show – Joss Whedon's Firefly.

At the recent Stargate convention in Vancouver, Cooper and partner Brad Wright said SGU is shot documentary style, with handheld cameras and camera crews filming from unconventional locations and angles.

"So rather than just necessarily waving the camera around, we're trying to put the camera in places where a documentary crew might have to go in order to capture the performances or the action," Cooper told Gateworld.

BSG was also shot in documentary style, but Cooper said he doesn't believe his crew is simply emulating BSG's style. Instead, he pointed to Firefly as a reference.

"It's not intended to be style for style's sake, or to emulate any other show," Cooper said. "Although, to be honest with you, one of the shows we both love that we did look at and say, 'That's a style we would love to try and approach,' is Firefly. That's how Firefly was shot. There's a lot of hand-held stuff. Cameras were placed in places that were non-traditional or [not] typical of film-making. But we examined that quite closely and looked at other dramatic shows that are shot like that, as well."

So the new Stargate show is gonna be heavy on character-centric drama, like Lost, have a dark Battlestar-esque tone, and a visual style influenced by Firefly? That's one ambitious nerd cocktail.

Of course, I don't think SGU will be anything like those other shows. Hopefully, it'll be a mix of the unique and the familiar, something I think most Stargate fans would welcome. But as far as influences go, the show runners could do a lot worse than studying shows like Firefly and BSG.

SGU premieres October on Sci Fi (Syfy?). Are you excited?

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I love Stargate SG-1 seasons 1-8, I like/hate Atlantis on an episode-specific basis, and I can't stand SG-1 seasons 9 and 10 (for the most part).

What we should have had, after season 8 of SG-1, was a Stargate non-team-specific series. They should have moved the gate to a more "world-centric" location, made it public, and focused on many different teams and groups involved. The series should have become about the Earth missions through the gate, not about an ancient races' left over city, or about people stuck on a gate-seeding ship. The series could have easily encompassed both those ideas. Give us a handful of episodes out of Atlantis per season. And a group stuck on the Destiny would be fine too. Just stop limiting the whole thing.

The worst part about Universe is it's inherent limitations. It will be just like Atlantis, and Star Trek Voyager, in that it won't work well enough on it's own, and they'll be in constant contact with SGC by season 3. Since the setting of the series is supposed to be survivalist, this will just undermine the show, and be proof against its' ill-conceived design.

I want a "Stargate Chronicles" series, that gives us a more encompassing picture, rather than the same group saving the world every year or so. I want the credibility of a huge cast of characters in multiple teams, on multiple planets.

July 06 2009 at 3:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bryan Price

Having John Scalzi as a creative consultant I think should point the series to a higher quality plane. I, for one, am looking forward to this new series.

April 30 2009 at 1:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm truly looking forward to it. I didn't know Robert Carlyle from a hole in the wall, but only because after researching, I didn't like the type of movies he's been in. Not my cup of tea... But an edgier Stargate... I'm all for it! LDP just gives the star power that some people seem to need, but I'm in it for the Sci-Fi!

And how can you judge an entire series from a couple of 15-second teasers?

Was Atlantis cancelled because SGU was in the picture? No... just look at the ratings. They'd been way down since Dr. Weir left, and they killed off Carson (and with an obvious soap-operatic move, they brought him back.) That combined with a lackluster 4th season despite a move to save it by using Amanda Tapping, it was done. Over. Finito. Same with SG-1. The last 2 years of the series were, for the most part, awful.

April 29 2009 at 1:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I will be honest. The entire reason that I will not be tuning into SGU is how betrayed I feel by the franchise for cancelling Atlantis in order to produce their new baby.
I am still angry at them and have no intention of supporting anything other than the SGA movie.
I'm that bitter.

April 28 2009 at 10:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Morjana Coffman

I'm looking forward to Stargate: Universe.

The cast alone is exciting -- Robert Carlyle, Lou Diamond Phillips, Justin Louis, Ming Na, David Blue, Brian J. Smith, Alaina Huffman, Elyse Levesque and Jamil Walker Smith.

Add that it IS a Stargate production, with the talented staff and crew from the previous Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis series -- which I enjoyed immensely -- there is a good foundation.

April 28 2009 at 7:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Problem is this:

Stargate - 28 days later. Wohoo.

The preview looks like a pile of manure, that's just it.

And it looks like the young version of Teal'c would still "Tap that", if you know what I mean.

By the way, I like DS9 the most of all Star Trek Shows but it only grew on me once it aired every weekday after Season 3. The first two seasons were horrible, slow character development, too many Ferenghi episodes, just sucky TV. But don't even get me started on Voyager. I dropped that one after Season 3 altogether. The double episode where two decks got destroyed and the different enemy tribes came on board was so over the top idiotic - and "Enterprise"? I liked season 1, the next two were horrible, and when it finally got back to what made Star Trek great, namely NON-timetravel episodes, it got canned.

But whatever. I have my reasons why I think this show will suck and I'm entitled to call it sucky before I see a single episode because I have 20 years of TV experience to know that the chance of this being totally horrible are high. I would've taken an 11th Season of SG-1 over Atlantis and this show in a heartbeat.

But the problem, of course, with that is production costs and nothing more and that's my main gripe about all this. It's not about ratings. It's about the almighty dollar and that's what pisses me off the most. This show got into production because it will be based on actors who aren't well known and therefor cheap to hire. Which cheapens the whole thing. But whatever.

I hope you now "get it" why we don't like it, you got a couple of good explanations.

April 28 2009 at 3:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to StillBash's comment
Alicia R.

Oh wow... I didn't know Robert Caryle and Lou Diamond Phillips were of the 90210 set. Good to know. Oh and that they aren't well known. That's good to know too.

Go ahead... judge a show by a preview. People do it all the time. So while fans of the Stargate series are enjoying the next installment, you can jump onboard midseason. That happens all the time too.

April 28 2009 at 4:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Our fears aren't that the show will resemble Firefly, BSG, Lost, or DS9...

The fear is that this was simply a recipe into which several ingredients were thrown without consideration to how they fit together, but rather how they would reach certain demographics...

To many of us it has seemed from the beginning that they took Voyager's main plot, threw in some BSG gritty action, a smidge of Lost's character drama, and then a nice sheen of 90210 prettyboys.

And that just doesn't sound very good...... but we'll see.

April 28 2009 at 3:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Part of the problem is that a lot of long time fans felt that Stargate Atlantis was dumped so that Universe could move forward. Mainly because the announcement for Universe came something like the day after the cancellation of Atlantis was announced. Though really Universe had been in the works for years and Atlantis was on it's fifth year so it wasn't much of a surprise to me. The only reason SG1 lasted for 10 is because it moved from Showtime to SCIFI channel in year 5 - so really SG1 lasted 5 years on SCIFI as well.

Another issue is that the early press releases seemed to emphasize Universe being for the younger audience - so a lot of older long time fans felt as though they were being told they're viewership meant nothing. And in addition the Character descriptions that were the casting calls sounded REALLY BAD - really over the top immature and stereotypical for a lot of things.

There are also a number of fans who feel that the writers and producers really messed up with Atlantis. Lots problems with the show that have resulted in fans not wanting to trust the producers/writers again with a new show. Which is kind of where I am - not sure I want to bother watching another Stargate when I think they failed the characters of Atlantis. Are they going to focus on one character again at the expense of all others? Are they going to shove characters of color and the female characters to the side and make them simply window dressing? Are they going to resort to childish slap stick humor because they think it's funny to mock the arrogant obnoxious geek?

I think I'll give them a chance so that I'm not dismissing the show without having tried once, but I'm not expecting much.

April 28 2009 at 3:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Count me in as a big SG fan that is excited about the new series. I do get the feeling it will be pretty original, but also pull in some of the great concepts that we seem to love.

April 28 2009 at 2:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I dont' recall Firefly (what I did see of it) being shot in any kind of 'documentary style.' The clip I saw in the one ad reminded me more of the jerky photography of "Cloverfield."

April 28 2009 at 2:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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