So I finally got around to watching BattleStargate: Voyager…errr, excuse me, that was supposed to say Stargate: Universe, I’ll just chalk that up to being a nerdian slip (it’s like a Freudian Slip, just replace the mother-obsessed bit with geek-driven sarcasm). So, the pilot episode starts off with some fast flying character and story exposition, some of it more ludicrous than others, and the characters are pushed into a horribly dramatic crunch between either the complete unknown (and source of all the remaining episodes content) or certain death (the “radioactive core” of the planet is about to go ‘critical’ and blow them all to smithereens). And by the way, HUGE pet peeve there, someone in the film industry needs to look up the word critical mass, it just means it’s operating normally, kinda at power and doing it’s thing. I’ve worked on two different reactors; for four years I ate, slept, showered and became a pretty decent Euchre player all within about 100 feet of a ‘critical’ reactor and last time I checked I hadn’t died in a fiery, thermonuclear inferno. Though who knows, maybe I’m wrong.
But back to the contrived plot device, complete unknown vs. certain death. I’ll give you a hint which option they chose: there’s more than one episode. If you can’t figure that one out, perhaps you might want to go back to square one. So they rush through the whizz-bang magic door that is the heart, soul, and left kidney of the the Stargate franchise and wind up…..on a busted old ship, alone, impossibly far from home, deprived of proper medical care or even a suitable doctor and everyone just wants to go home. Sound familiar? Also, there’s a bit of man-machine conflict because the ship, whadda you know, she’s on auto-pilot and flying to god only knows where. And speaking of god; enter Battlestar Galactica, with its weird religious exploits, creepy yet brilliant scientist (SG:U has one of them AND he even looks similar. BONUS!), and one-episode need for basic vital resources that will probably never be needed again (I’m sure that makeshift CO2 scrubber you whipped up will last you for a good 9 seasons or more).
But that’s not to say that I didn’t like the show, I’m just saying, “I see what you did there.” This variant from the Stargate universe (see what I did there?) is feeling a lot more like BSG than SG:1 or Atlantis, but here’s the thing I’m afraid of, I think they’re going to fall into the same trap that they did with SG:1, wherein they constantly feel they need to surpass the previous episode and do something grander, more dramatic, more epic, more crazy, out-there, and just generally nuts…
Take a lesson from Firefly and focus on the characters. You’ve already got the first openly lesbian character, that’s great, now don’t screw it up. And the main geek kid is pretty alright too, though he might be something of a Mary Sue, so watch out there, and the plot device to get him involved was a little bit too “The Last Starfighter” for my taste (embedding a crazy, ancient alien math problem into a video game, really? Though I can’t be too skeptical since World of Warcraft’s Armor Penetration mechanic seems to require higher level calculus to be explained to us plebes…).
All in all, I’ve got hopes, but not terribly high ones. And If SG:U lets me down, I’ll always have V to keep me going, right ABC? Oh, wait….