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Review: Stargate Universe - Time

by Mike Moody, posted Nov 14th 2009 11:49AM
stargate universe time
(S01E08) So that was bleak. But don't worry, Stargate Universe will hit the reset button next week, and everything will be peachy. Well, as peachy as things can get aboard The Destiny.

While some fans have been pushing for SGU to ditch the drama for more action and adventure (like SG-1 or Atlantis), this week's episode tried to offer a compromise: An off-world adventure that turned dark and caused a lot of drama for the characters.

The crew faced death – you know, like they do every week -- but this time they were struck by a dangerous virus and attacked by a pack of nasty fang-toothed worm things. But this episode wasn't really about combating a virus or an evil alien entity. It was about seeing how the characters would react after staring into the dark abyss of certain death.

Like Rush asked Eli in the cave: How did discovering his own mortality change him? Did it inspire him to make something of his short existence? I'm not sure if we really got an answer from Eli, but we know what discovering death did for Rush. He chose to spend his life taking risks and searching for something more, the key to ascension to be exact. Now we know why he got everyone stuck on the ship.

While the notion of viewing one's own death and dealing with those emotions is an interesting one, it's not all that compelling to watch. Mostly, the crew just looked sad and defeated while scanning the Kino footage. I probably would have preferred a more traditional off-world mystery adventure, with more action and less grim naval gazing, instead of another slow-paced downer from SGU.

While some of the death scenes were a bit shocking -- and I'm sure some of you SGU haters loved watching everybody get killed – the deaths didn't really add up to much. We already knew Eli was in love with Chloe, so we didn't need to see him confess his feelings by her deathbed. We already knew that Greer was a tough soldier who would probably die defending his life in combat. And we all knew that Scott would go out trying to save the day for everyone -- which is what will happen next week.

Thanks to Scott's quick thinking, the Kino will jump back in time through the solar flare to warn everyone about the dangers in the water and on the planet. But does that mean everything that happened in this episode will be erased? That's a little disappointing.

Still, despite all the slow moments, I mostly enjoyed this episode. I'm convinced that SGU will probably never become a great show. It'll continue with its awkward blending of (not very compelling) dark drama and sci-fi adventure, but that's OK with me. I like the characters, and I'm looking forward to seeing what else they find out in the far reaches of space.

Other observations:

- Filming the opening scenes in Kino-vision was a nice choice. It added a certain spark to the first act. I like how Eli's choice to document everything really came in handy in this ep.

- So Greer likes listening to Saul Williams? Who knew the guy had such good taste in music?

- I'd agree with most of Eli's desert island movies. And I'd definitely add Back to the Future to the list.

- Loved hearing Rush quote Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. We need more quirky character moments like that.

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Goodbye Stargate Universe. I was looking for a good science fiction show in SGU but found a sex and lesbian sex show instead.

November 30 2009 at 2:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think some people have already hit on what I consider the perceived problem with SGU. (Personally, I don't think there is a problem and find the show to be very good; my replacement for BSG now that it's done.) Fact is, it is an entirely different type of show from SG-1 and SGA. While I like SG-1 (never did get into SGA), I view it more as escapism entertainment. My ex-wife would translate that as SG-1 being more childish. SGU, as stated, is a darker show more like reality. As such, it doesn't have that fast-paced action you usually get in escapism type sci-fi. It's more about the characters and how they interact and cope. The fan base of SG-1 and SGA seem to be having a hard time accepting the change in direction. Comparisons to BSG and Lost certainly seem valid to me. I would hypothesize that the fan base from these two shows might be happier with SGU. And, of course, you have the "how do you please everybody aspect to SGU. For example, I have seen comments that Eli is the best developed, etc. character and also ones stating how utterly idiotic and unbelievable he is. Obviously, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but to generate such entirely opposing views on a subject would suggest to me that the writers and producers are getting it right more so than not.

November 15 2009 at 8:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

SGU is a very good show.

It just has a different feel than the others. I was a huge fan of SG1 and I still like SGU.

SGU has more of an emphasis on the individual than just the team or expedition.

The human element is great with this show.

I think it is much better than the at times corny atlantis or at the end boring sg1.

November 15 2009 at 6:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

All I can hope is that the Keno had the previous recording still on it, plus the bit Scott added at the end. That will give them enough info to change the 'future of death' while still having them know those death-confessions.

I agree with whoever noted that most of the female characters are pretty good. We just haven't *seen* much of them. Chloe gets all the screentime, and aside from teasing the male demographic, I don't know *why*. I may be in the minority, but I put Scott into the same category. He's competent and a good soldier, but sort of dull. I call them nympo!girl and god!boy. And hope they both go soon so other characters can fill the huge blocks of screentime they get (TJ, Greer, Wray, Eli that other female soldier who is also rocking the fact that Scott totally dumped her for nympho!girl...)

Destiny sentient? A little expected, but I'm really hoping that an ascending being in the Ona-camp is hanging around tweaking events to give them the change at saving themselves. I'm loving how it's like a videogame: Everything they resolve leads to more problems, and Destiny gives them just enough help and just enough clues in order to figure it out for themselves.

Eli should shine! But he's not really the narrative center of the show as his character would seem to suggest. Except to be 'Keno' boy. Here's hoping he becomes invested in the mysteries soon, and serving Young and Rush helps him grow up and commit.

November 15 2009 at 5:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So were the ancients incapable of creating a Fast Forward button on their floating video cameras or were the whiny, emotionally-trapped-in-junior-high "crew" somehow able to learn how to get them to record, playback, edit and fly but not able to figure out in a time critical emergency how to play back at anything faster than real time with long breaks to freak out and ponder the meaning of the universe?

November 15 2009 at 1:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mike's comment

The Kino remote has a Fast Forward button. Eli even uses it when Chloe asks him to fast forward past her corpse.

They simply don't think to use it to skip ahead to the end to find solutions when people aboard ship start dropping like flies, because everyone except Rush and Eli are dumb. Perhaps if Chloe had asked Eli to help, that would have happened, but it wouldn't have been as _dramatic_.

November 15 2009 at 8:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Alasdair Lumsden

I agree mostly with the last paragraph, I'm just not sure how long I will be able to watch it. The series should be one or the other.

Time travel should be an end of series twist *maybe* to do something far more subtle and potentially interesting. The series here is going to do best when it tries to remain as real as it can be. Gun shots with sepsis, recurring scars, moral having a real role in how the show gets shaped, e.t.c.

This show will have to try harder to be more like battlestar.

November 15 2009 at 8:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joseph Bones

I think the pacing of the new show is throwing many people off kilter. The first SG shows were action adventure driven but SGU is not about battling dominant alien races and kicking ass. It's about the human condition surviving and enduring.

It's a very organic and unique approach and I applaud the show for having the moxy to do it.

November 15 2009 at 5:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Joseph Bones's comment

Your right, we have traded sci-fi action for reality TV drama.
But that is exactly the problem. Sci-Fi stands for Science fiction, so giving the show a more real feel, ends up making it hypocritical unto itself.
The best part about science fiction is the things that are outside of the norm. Things that stretch the limits of our imagination. The only thing that has come close in this series, has been the ship, and even that has not been well presented. Lets face the basic plot here , it's a futuristic broke down POS car, and the cast from "Scream" and "The Blair Witch Project" is stuck aboard and boring us to death. - AdamZ.

November 15 2009 at 7:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Speaking of continuity from the "Water" episode, where they retrieved the ice (some of which contained microbes), what happened to the armored space suits from that episode? Wouldn't they have been more resistant against the flesh-eating, flying cracken when going back that second time?

November 15 2009 at 4:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

love the episode
love the acting
love the characters
love the direction of the show

I seriously think this show is very similar to Firefly.

very different from SG1 and SGA which is good b/c the series would have felt like one of the many CSIs

What I also like is that the entire show is heavily centered around exploring the truly unknown [the universe]. This means we could be seeing totally new or unexplored things that the Asgards never found after all they even admitted that they were only able to learn a fraction of ancient tech.

SG1 and SGA basically had a community set up when their teams arrived which is not the case in SGU. All the characters are misfits but I believe that they will all find their own place/purpose on the ship. This is a totally new direction of the show which I like. I no longer see the immortal heroes on the sg1 team, but instead I see the "real-ness" of a group of forced explorers out in the unknown.

Hope this goes for at least 5-7 seasons!!!!

November 15 2009 at 2:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This shows sucks because they casted wrongly. David blue is unfit. Fat genius?. Only mallozi's fantasy!. His humor is sucks and childish.

Robert carlyle is acting too much and going mad on every line he speaks and gives all viewers headache.

So two main characters not doing well is the main reason for show's failure.

Writing bad? What do you expect ? after 200 episodes of sg1 they ran out of ideas.

November 14 2009 at 11:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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