Dy’er Sez: For years I had seen an episode here or there of the TV show, Stargate SG1. While I liked what I saw (as well as having enjoyed the original movie), I always resisted getting into the show because it seemed to me that I was a little in the dark about where the show was in its story arc, as well as having some of the impact of what I was seeing lessened or missed entirely due to not knowing the back-story. Thanks to Netflix (a GREAT service which I highly recommend – and no, they didn’t pay me to say that) the entire show became available to me on DVD. So I watched…every…single…friken….episode over the last year or so. And I’m not at all sorry at all that I did.

For those of you who may not have tuned into the show thus far, let me offer a very brief and basic plot synopsis:  Stargate SG1 follows the exploits of a secret Air Force program called “Stargate Command”, which has the control of an portal (the Stargate, of course) which allows them to travel millions of light years instantly to any other Stargate in the universe. While the gate is used for exploration to set up cultural and economic trade, it also opens up a conflict between Earth and the Go’a’ould (I’m not sure if that is spelled correctly, but it looks right), a race of powerful and advanced ancient beings who proclaim themselves as gods.

Along with a superb cast, which gelled perfectly and had great chemistry (even through some personnel changes), there was some excellent writing and an amazing eye for detail and continuity. Like any good high adventure, I found that I cared about the characters, despised the villains, and enjoyed the exotic as well as the familiar viewed through the lens of the universe created for the show. It was a very well done show; if you like science fiction or adventure with some humor and a detailed world, I would suggest checking it out – but you have GOT to watch it in order or you miss out on a lot.

I am also planning on watching the first spin off, Stargate: Atlantis. Like the original, I’ve seen a few episodes, but realized that I had no idea what was going on. Hopefully it lives up to the quality of its parent show.

Now  a quick word about the third spin-off, Stargate Universe, now in its first season on SYFY.

I really, really wanted to like this show. The previews made it look like a darker take on the Stargate franchise, one filled with mystery and tension. Unfortunately my expectations were apparently way too high, and I found myself profoundly disappointed in the program. After watching the pilot plus three episodes, I simply gave up watching.

The show centered around a large group of people who used the Stargate to jump to an unknown ‘address’ in order to escape destruction. They find themselves on an ancient space ship which is falling apart. Unable to control the ship or to gate back home and finding themselves short on supplies, the ‘crew’ endeavors to do what they can to survive and maybe find a way back to Earth.

What might have started out as a good idea with a great deal of potential quickly deteriorated into a complete train wreck of a show. First off, within the first half an hour of the pilot the audience was treated to a graphic and gratuitous sex scene – considering I was watching this with my young daughters (who enjoyed SG1) and that the scene had no purpose as a plot device or character development (other than to be shocking, apparently), I felt that not only was it out of place but also inappropriate.

Also, the behavior of some of the characters was not believable. The supposed Air Force cream of the crop which one would expect in such a secret program like Stargate (established in the first series) were nowhere to be found, which really hurt the suspension of disbelief that one needs to get into this kind of show. Most of the uniformed folks behaved childishly or stupidly, and in one case one of the officers has severe anger management problems which I would think would keep him from being in such a specialized program in the first place…but apparently looked like a good plot device to the writers of the show.

Problems with the characters don’t end there, unfortunately. Although the cast is very large, I couldn’t find one character I was either sympathetic with or even cared about. After five hours of viewing, some kind of connection needs to be made with the audience through the characters, but no attachment could be had. It wasn’t that I particularly disliked any of the characters, I just really didn’t care either way.

Also, the plots have been really thin. There’s no sense of excitement, adventure or exploration. Instead the scripting seems to be character driven, trying to bring out angst, drama, and emotion (more in the way of a soap opera than a space opera) in the viewer. Unfortunately, when you have no connection to the characters,  it’s nearly impossible to grow a series that way.

In the end, Universe seems to be a poor use of a great franchise, and will do much to tarnish the reputation of the Stargate world. I think the show will be lucky to make it past two seasons, and I can only hope that it does not leave a bad taste in the mouths of viewers and industry executives which would ruin another foray into the world of Stargate.

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