Over the last 13 years, one name has ruled the television science fiction world. Believe it or not, it’s not Star Trek. It’s also not Star Wars, which has had several famous cartoons of late. The big name in science fiction television has been Stargate.
It started out as a science fiction movie in the vein of Star Wars 15 years ago. A few years later, Showtime came out with a show called Sg-1, starring Richard Dean Anderson as a much more entertaining Jack O’Neil than Kurt Russell ever portrayed. Micheal Shanks played Daniel Jackson. Finally, we got two new characters Teal’c and Samantha Carter. The show changed the focus of the movies from one planet and Ra, the sun-god of ancient Egypt to many planets and an alien species that had masqueraded as the Egyptian gods, Greek gods, and even the Devil.
The show lasted ten years and inspired a follow up series entitled Stargate Atlantis. It also had two follow up made for DVD movies, before it was put on hold during this economic slowdown. Meanwhile, Atlantis lasted five years. It featured John Sheppard and Rodney McKay leading a group of humans to fight against aliens called the Wraith. They even got alien allies in Teyla and Ronan. Unfortunately, that show bowed out last year to make way for a new show, called Stargate Universe. Now, before I discuss that show, I must make some points about why these two shows are so special.
Both featured a developing universe that shared much in common. The Ancients, an alien race that designed the stargates, showed up infrequently, but were often the subject of discussion. There were the crossovers between the shows, which showed that old characters weren’t necessarily forgotten. Even more importantly, though, was the sense that all of the characters cared for each other. Yes, Jack and Daniel argued bitterly, and no one could be more different than Rodney and Ronan, but they were always there for each other. The characters were willing to sacrifice themselves for each other or the greater good.
Meanwhile, now fans of Stargate, are left with a new show. I have had problems with it since its first three part episodes. It just doesn’t feel like Stargate to me, sadly. A simple problem is how dark the show is. Although I do mean that metaphorically in a sense, I actually mean literally. Half the time the screen is pitch black almost. I am sorry but the same Ancients that designed “Destiny” built “Atlantis,” and its bright enough, I assure you. Also in Universe, the characters hardly seem to strike me as having any meaningful relationships. Yes, the new “hero,” Matthew Scott is in a “relationship” with Chloe, the young daughter of the deceased senator from the first few episodes. But I get no real sense of a relationship, just the fact that they have a physical relationship. Eli, the most decent character in the show, really has little character development to this point other than the fact that he has a crush on the aforementioned Chloe. The character originally named Psycho in casting calls, Greer is just a gun happy grumpy character with none of the emotional resonance of Ronan, much less the brilliant Teal’c. The Colonel, Colonel Young, has been cheating on his wife and hates the other member of the main cast, Dr. Rush. Which leads us to Rush. He is scum. Now to be honest, he is my favorite character on the show, as I feel he has the most potential currently. But he has shown a complete lack of care for anything or anyone except for his dead wife. The cast seriously needs an upgrade. Atlantis wisely featured members of Sg-1, which also crossed over with Atlantis. Technically, this new show has featured Jack and Daniel, and briefly they let Sam show up. But what about all the developments with Atlantis? It’s now on Earth, but you can’t tell from anything you see in this new show. When they needed super-science brains, they had the chance to bring Sam or Rodney in, but instead created some new character to briefly visit Destiny, and then promptly leave. John could be a brilliant asset, with his experience in leading an expedition galaxies away. Ronan, Teyla, or Teal’c could also help with making contact with new species, but we get nothing.
All is not lost however. In the most recent episode, the doctor’s child seems to have ascended, which could lead to a meeting with the ancients, the essential Stargate alien. There was an episode last season that featured an alien species similar to one seen briefly in the previous two series. It was also nice to really see the stargate in the last episode, which surprisingly doesn’t show up much in this new show. Still, I really feel like begging MGM and Sci-fi (I refuse to call them by their new name) to bring back my Stargate shows. PLEASE?