The SyFy Network premiered the newest spin-off of the beleaguered Stargate franchise this weekend. The new series “Stargate Universe” is considerably darker and grittier than the previous Stargate properties, all of which were campy and suffered from cliche after obvious cliche.The bottom line: Stargate Universe is a huge improvement over previous efforts. If producers can maintain the quality and the writers can develop compelling stories, then SGU may finally be a series worthy of the name Stargate.
The best science fiction series use technology or alien species as allegory for the human condition and current events while weaving a story that could essentially be trasnposed to any period of human history. Battlestar Galactica for example could have easily been told from the perspective of a World War two aircraft carrier surrounded by a Japanese fleet and cut off from all allied support. Stargate has leaned entirely on such devices to camouflage a plot line that had long ago run out of steam.
The direction and industrial design of Stargate Universe owe an obvious debt to the success of Battlestar Galactica, but falls short of replacing that series which had been praised as “The best show on television”. However, the changes in lighting and film style are a welcome change from the two earlier series Stargate and Stargate Atlantis.
Appearances from familiar faces like Richard Dean Anderson and Amanda Tapping do create a sense of continuity but in the end that very continuity only serves to highlight how truly terrible previews iterations of Stargate have been.