Sep 8, 2010

SGU: Stargate Universe.

Stargate Universe is the last sequel of the original Stargate SG-1 TV series, which was based on the Stargate movie released in 1994. 
It is quite clear that after Stargate Atlantis the creators of the series wanted a new and fresher story to continuate the saga without using the same resources and themes that they had been using so far. SG-1 and Atlantis deal with the events that follow the discovery of the Stargate and what it represents to mankind: the exploration of new worlds, the encounters with alien races, the acquisition of new technology and ultimately the journey to Atlantis, in the Pegasus galaxy, where an Earth team is pretty much stranded and has to face new dangers on its own. The tone that these series set is quite a light one, they are usually classic adventure shows with a lot of sci-fi action and good special effects (specially in the case of Atlantis) and some really special characters that create the comic relief -great Jack O'Neill and Rodney McKay played by amazing Richard Dean Anderson and David Hewlett for example. These two will hardly go unnoticed if you ever watch the show. Of course there we can find darker episodes and themes, and both of them have their deal of tragic moments and can create tension quite well. However, SGU is something else.

So, what's different about Stargate Universe? From my point of view, this series targets a much more mature audience than the other two did. I think that the creators of the Stargate franchise realised that the show was beginning to be a little repetitive, even in the case of the much newer Stargate Atlantis where the plots in the last season weren't getting any better -if not worse. People who have been growing along with the saga are not youngsters anymore, and even if they still love the show -which I´m quite positive that they, like myself, do- they might start losing interest in it in favour of more mature and complex shows. This is where SGU kicks in. From the very first episode we lose almost all connection to what we were familiar to when dealing with a Stargate show. When I watched the first episode it almost felt like it was a totally different show after the first minutes. The story has no continuity with SG-1 or Atlantis, and this independence gives it much of its value and the liberty of creating a new atmosphere. It begins with the destruction of a base out in a remote planet where experiments are being performed as to being able to dial a nine-chevron stargate address, something that had not been possible before because of the energy constraints. Due to the attack on the base the survivors escape through the gate into the unknown, finding themselves on the starship Destiny, built by the Ancients several million years ago. The ship is almost a wreck, many of its systems damaged or failing, and the team is unable to control it or take it out of its pre-established route. We learn that the ship was sent from Earth into space on its own, preceded by previous ships which planted stargates on its way.  The Ancients planned to use it as a means to explore distant galaxies by using its Stargate to board the ship when it was far enough out into the universe. However, they started looking into ascension before they carried out the plan, abandoning Destiny to its programmed route and not caring about its mission anymore. 
This is the scenario that the team encounters when they arrive to the failing ancient ship that can barely sustain life in its state. Quickly, tragedy strikes, and we are led into thinking that the comic relief to which we were used to until now might take a while to come this time. If it comes at all.

The starship Destiny
We are soon taken deep into a dark and tragic story that focus on its characters more than it does on its adventures, and we find themes that were not present in previous Stargate shows, such as sex. They are facing a limit situation to which they were not prepared. Their flaws and personal issues and different situations play a very significant role during the series, and we will find that distinguishing good characters from the evil ones is not as easy a task as it used to be in previous shows. And I really like that. This deeper set of characters in a limit situation creates a very rich story in which we will find people, actions or situations to which we can feel identified in several ways.

I really like SGU so far, and I am very eager to see how the second season develops itself after the cliffhanger ending of the first one. It will begin next September 28 on SyFy for you guys living in the US of A. If you have not given it a try I strongly recommend you to do it if you have enjoyed any Stargate movie or series so far, or even if you like sci-fi in general and specially darker shows like Battlestar Galactica. For starters, you might like to take a look at what it looks like here and check out the mood. What do you think?:

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