A blog by Jacob
I recently viewed the premier for the new SyFy Channel series, Stargate Universe. While I generally felt pretty excited about it, I’m cautiously reserved because I think the new series has potential to disappoint–however, I hope I never see that disappointment.
I’ve come up with 5 things that Stargate Universe must do in order to avoid disappointment.
1. Don’t become a Stargate meets Battlestar Galactica series. I very much appreciate the sentiment to make Stargate Universe a fresh spin on an old franchise, so don’t ruin it by becoming a Battlestar Galactica clone. Already they’ve adopted the “lost in somewhere in the universe trying to find our way home” theme from Galactica, and when combined with many of the same lighting and camera shooting techniques as Galactica, it looks less original. I would like to think that part of the reason that Battlestar Galactica was so good and popular (at times) was that it was a very fresh Sci-Fi show. Copying something that was fresh doesn’t mean that it still is. Stargate Universe must be its own show if it wants to succeed.
2. Don’t forget the Science in Science-Fiction. Although you air on a network which changed its name to SyFy, it doesn’t mean the science is gone from science fiction. One of the things I really liked about Stargate SG-1 was that I felt that I could relate to it because it was set in present-time. A problem for Stargate Atlantis was that the setting was to alien, and hard to relate to. Too many times, including in the finale, Atlantis presented some miracle tech to save the day at the last moment. Keep the Stargate Universe tech and science to a reasonable level that the audience can more easily relate to.
At the same time, don’t leave out the science and tech by making the series all character based. I think audiences like feeling like they are learning, even if they aren’t learning anything real. The first Jurassic Park movie was entertaining because they explained the whole cloning thing, while the sequels were just dinosaurs eating people. Keep enough science involved so that people feel they are being educated a little bit.
Stargate Universe characters need fans, just like athletic stars and Facebook. Create characters worthy of having fans.
4. Don’t be depressing. I watched every episode of Battlestar Galactica right up to the point where I recognized that the show was making me depressed. I talked to other former Galactica fans, who said they also stopped watching because the show got to dark and depressing. Don’t let Stargate Universe find the same fate.
I feel this could be especially a trap for this show. If too many characters become obsessed with, “We will never make it home, what is there worth living for?” the audience will adopt those sentiments with “What is there worth watching for?”
Relatedly, turn on the lights. If the setting is always too dark, such as on your ship with little lighting, then it will feel more depressing. Also, dark scenes don’t look as great when viewed on a low-cost home projector.
5. Give it a little humor. Stargate SG-1 was packed full of little humorisms. I could feel that the actors really enjoyed the show. Their enjoyment, when combined with little facts (Teal’c's favorite movie is Star Wars) make the show very enjoyable to watch.
Bonus. Keep the camera shots stable. No one likes getting motion sick from a show where they couldn’t keep the camera still.
After just two weeks of tuning into Stargate Universe, I can’t quite claim that it is a winner. I’ll keep tuning in, unless, of course, I feel like the show had betrayed my many years of Stargate fan-dom.
Stargate Universe airs Friday evenings on the SyFy channel. (I still think the renaming of Sci-Fi channel to SyFy was dumb).