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David Blue Talks 'Stargate Universe' Season 2, Ship Romances and David Hewlett

by Mike Moody, posted Nov 9th 2010 4:20PM
david blue stargate universe 'Stargate Universe' has come a long way since it premiered last October. Now in its second season, the Syfy series has mostly ditched the tedious slow-burn plots that marked the first half of its freshman year for more action, adventure and space madness (CGI aliens! Space pirates! Starships that frak with your mind!).

But not everyone is a fan. 'SGU' still struggles with low ratings and with fans of the previous, sunnier 'Stargate' shows who, for whatever reason, aren't happy with the series' darker tone and character-based plots.

TV Squad got a chance to chat with David Blue, who plays slacker-genius Eli Wallace on the show, recently about 'SGU''s ratings vs. its DVR numbers, the angry fans and, of course, what we can expect from the rest of the second season.

Congratulations on season 2. The show has been really good this year.
Thank you. I really feel like you guys haven't seen anything yet. With episodes 6, 7, 8 and on, it really become this really cool show that -- I'm already proud to be on it – but it becomes a show that ... I'm like, I can't wait for you guys to watch these episodes, and I can't wait for people to really see where it's going. You know, it's so different now than it was even 10 episodes ago.

Yeah, it seems like that with every episode there's a major development that just pushes things in a whole new direction, and that's one of the things I'm really enjoying about the show this year.
Yeah, and you haven't seen anything yet. There's a lot of big changes that you can't even guess that are coming up pretty soon.

Sounds good ... So we saw Eli go through a pretty rough time recently when he visited his mother, and it looks like he's really growing more and more as the challenges pile up for him. What's it like getting the chance to take Eli in these new directions now?
It's incredibly exciting for me. I had no idea where we were going to be heading in season 2, and now we're shooting episode, like, 18, and it's amazing to see how much he really does change this season. And a lot of it, I think, is attributed to the episode 'Pathogen' (season 2, episode 4) and how much leaving his past behind can really change him as a person and really help him grow and accept his situation instead of being the person who's sitting there complaining and waiting for Rush (Robert Carlyle) or Young (Louis Ferreira) to save his life. He's part of the solution now, and he really does start growing up and becoming his own man.

sgu david blueTell me about Eli's love connection with Julie McNiven's character Ginn. How is that going to play out and what's it like working with her?
It's really cool ... I was looking forward to it at first. I was a little concerned because, well, "What about the whole Eli and Chloe thing?" and from the beginning they said, "Don't close the door on that," and I like that. However, you'll be the judge of it, but I think it's such a realistic, sweet thing, and it makes sense and it was so much fun to play. Julie is an amazing actress, so every day on set with her was a blast. And I really do like that storyline, and it goes back to what we were saying earlier; there's so much happening with Eli that really does enable change in him, and she's a huge part of that.

The show has been on a creative high this year, and I think it's one of the best, if not the best, sci-fi shows on TV.
That's nice! I like that. Can I quote you on that?

Yeah, go ahead. Put it on the DVD cover! ... Yeah, it's one of the best sci-fi TV shows right now, but it's still kind of a ratings-challenged show. What's it like working on 'SGU' with the threat of cancelation kind of looming in the background?
Well, you know, I don't think that any of us look at it as a "threat of cancellation," but I do think that a lot of us feel disappointed that the ratings aren't higher. It's hard ... before we got the DVR ratings back we were all, like, surprised, like, "Wow, what happened? I don't really get it." Because, as you said, we were really proud of what we'd done this season and we've got some of our best stuff coming up, you know, and it's kind of disappointing to think that people might not be watching it.

And then we got the DVR ratings and we realized that we jumped, like, 78 percent, and it was kind of like a slap in the face – a reminder that people don't really watch live television as much anymore. If we're not a destination show, then we're very obviously a show that people want to watch and catch up with after, when they can. I respect that. I'm somebody who works so many hours Monday through Friday that on Saturday at 8 in the morning until 8 o'clock at night I'm catching up on all my favorite shows.

I wish and I hope that more people give us a try, because I feel like people who wouldn't expect to like sci-fi or people who didn't think they'd ever watch a 'Stargate' could give it a shot and really get sucked into the show.

And I do think that as much as people want to hold a grudge against this show because of decisions made about past ('Stargate') shows, or think that we have anything against anyone from the past, which is not true -- you can ask David Hewlett (of 'Stargate Atlantis') who just guest starred this season and who I respected to no end and told him to his face, "Part of the reason I took this job was because of you." They even enjoy the show. Ben Browder (of 'Stargate SG-1') was kind enough to tell me that he's really enjoying 'SGU,' and I think people need to let go of hate and let go of anger and just watch it. If you like it, great, if you don't, you don't -- but just don't hold a grudge, you know?

I think that's a huge part of it. I hate getting on a soapbox, but that's the one thing I don't get as a fan of sci-fi – don't have hate against a franchise that you've grown to love because then all you're gonna do is hurt the franchise. Why do that? You don't have to watch it, but just don't hurt the franchise.

Yeah, it seems like a natural progression for the franchise to move into this direction ... I know a lot of people maybe don't share that opinion or just miss the fun action-adventure style of the old shows.
Well, that's the funny thing, you know ... If you watch the special features from season one (of 'SGU') on the Blu-ray, (show creators) Brad (Wright) and Rob (Cooper) say it in an interview, I think with (cast member) Alaina (Huffman), where ... people forget – they created 'SG-1.' They want to hate Brad and Rob, but they started this franchise that everyone's in love with. They created these characters that people love, the stories that people can recite now by heart, and they've been doing it for a long time. They wanted to do something different – they wanted to go in a different direction. You have to let them have that, since it was them who started it.

And I respect them for trying something new, and I think a good amount of people do, but at the end of the day it's like getting mad at your dad for wanting to try a new career. It doesn't really make a lot of sense -- he's still your dad.

A lot of what I was missing as a fan of the previous 'Stargate' shows was the rich character development, which has become a hallmark of modern TV with shows like 'Lost' and 'Battlestar Galactica.' I think a lot of people thought that the original 'Stargate' shows lacked that rich character development.
sgu david blueThere comes a point where I think, and I don't want to speak to Brad and Rob, but I think they wanted to get back to a newness ... They wanted to bring it back to a sense of newness and awe, and I think they did that. Even more so, I think they wanted to explore fault and weakness and see people who weren't supposed to be there and how they'd thrive in a situation, and I think that's really what's driving shows these days.

Maybe it's why reality television is so popular, because we like to see the catharsis of a flawed character either failing or growing. And that's what made shows like 'Lost' or Gaius Baltar in 'Battlestar' popular. It's because, you're like, "Oh, this guy's not supposed to be there."

And if you have somebody that can solve every situation at the end of an episode, maybe they're not the ones you want to follow in this type of show, you know, and that's where they tried something new, and I respect them for it. I'm enjoying the ride as much as I loved the previous ones.

Well, on that note, I know we have more than half the season ahead of us. Without spoiling too much ... how about you tell us about some of the big developments coming down the line this season.
Well, season 1 had a lot to do with surviving, getting to tomorrow, trying to find a way home. And I think people are gonna be really surprised and possibly happy with season 2's purpose – well, there you go, "purpose!" I think season 2 has a lot more to do with, "OK, we're here. Where do we go from here?"

You haven't seen the last of any aliens, and you're gonna see more (along with) some really trippy, great storylines and some amazing action.

Can you tell us about any other projects you have in the works besides 'SGU?'
At the moment I'm really focused, I'm writing, producing and directing a short that I'm trying to get into Sundance next year. And then I'm also co-producing a feature called 'Fireflies." It's kind of a coming-of-age road trip drama. We go into production in December, wow that's soon (laughs), ... and, I don't know, I just love telling stories.

I've even written a few 'SGU' episodes for fun that I'll never ever show Brad and Rob because they'll judge me. But who knows, maybe down the line, if they'll have me, they'll let me direct an episode like they did Carlyle or maybe write one. Who knows? Maybe if you guys can convince them they'll let me.

Yeah, there's a great tradition in sci-fi of actors going behind the scenes after a few seasons and doing that, writing and directing episodes. They did that a lot on 'Star Trek.'

Yeah, you know, I mean, I've known David Hewlett for a little bit now and, as I said, I really respect him. When he guest-starred on the show, we actually sat down and talked over the possibility of maybe working on a project together, maybe writing something. So keep an eye out for that maybe down the line.

'Stargate Universe' airs Tues., 9PM ET on SyFy.

(Listen to some audio from this interview at TV DeathRay.)

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Whilst I applaud the efforts to change the 'tone' of Stargate my feelings about SGU are that, in their quest to do something different, the writers have created Battlestar Galactica III with a bit of Lost thrown in.

Dark and gritty with 'shades of grey' characters I get enough of in real life. Too many of the choices made by the characters in SGU are morally suspect and too many of them are simply un-likeable as 'people'.

That does not mean that the story cannot be an enjoyable one (we are have not yet given up hope in our house, praying for a ray of light :D) and some of the characters are definitely interesting.

Eli is one of those few; tho' we are just waiting for the writers to give him some heinous 'flaw' or 'dark secret' because they think that is what makes for a good tale.

Character driven does not mean reprehensible and amoral. A thing the SGU writers need to recall is that people have to like your characters if they are going to watch them.

November 14 2010 at 7:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What utter nonsense. Its completely obvious from this interview that in fact Wright is in fact Blue's daddy, controlling his pay check & making sure that he spews forth the party line.

The fact that Blue & his agent have managed to pick yet another turkey of a show for him to devote his time to (what is this, number 4 in a row that's tanked?), should tell you something about his ability to judge quality programming. Bottom line - its all about money, Blue wants a pay check & so does Wright & neither of them will have one shortly unless the ratings go up. Unfortunately, dissing potential viewers & demonstrating that you haven't the sense not to be Wright's puppet isn't going to help that happen.

November 11 2010 at 1:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i for one am loving the new SG-U. i like character based shows, not the previous garbage when you just watch like a zombie with nothing invested.
i guess the majority are still too dumb to enjoy complex and long plot lines.

November 11 2010 at 3:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Phish's comment

When you're right, you're right! That's it, in a nutshell!

November 11 2010 at 9:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My thoughts exactly. Most of the shows I find myself liking these days are apparently too deep and multi-faceted to be appreciated by the all mindless adrenalin junkies out there. Non-stop action and cheap humor do not make a good show in my opinion. Complex, evolving characters in a difficult situation do.

November 11 2010 at 10:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Its also the only scifi show. (I know some of you call everything 'scifi' but you are also wrong there)

November 10 2010 at 9:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Dear David,

please go buy a clue. Cooper & Wright aren't the father of all - Stargate & the original characters were created by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich. Ever heard of them?

And no, Wright is not like my father - he's a TV producer trying to sell me a product which I don't care to buy. I don't owe this franchise anything, least of all my viewership given they can't even put out a watchable show. And that's before consideration of all the misogyny & glorification of rape culture these writers dish out on a consistent basis.

Oh, & my own father, BTW, has the decency to discuss major changes in his & my mother's life before he makes them.

November 10 2010 at 2:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Athena's comment

While, yes, Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich created the original Stargate movie and the basic world, Cooper and Wright turned it into the the world that people wanted to watch week after week with SG-1 and Atlantis.

November 10 2010 at 7:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oh here we go again. I guess David needs to read what the fans said to Brad Wright. No one has a grudge against SGU. They don't watch SGU because they DON'T LIKE IT. Loads and loads of fans gave it a chance and they didn't hang around because it was boring and plodding with forced drama. All shows are DVR'd and downloaded, this is not exclusive to SGU. Atlantis was the most downloaded show whilst it ran. The terrible ratings reflect the audience's lack of interest in the show. Even if some fans of the previous shows won't watch because of how deplorably SGA was treated by its producer, a handful of fans who frequent the internet will have NO effect on the ratings.
It's the general audience out there that are not interested in the new "Stargate". Isn't that enough evidence that not even a new audience like this new direction that Stargate has taken.

November 10 2010 at 12:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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