Sunday, October 04, 2009

Analysis of Stargate Universe Series Premiere: "Air, Parts 1 & 2 (of 3)"

Spoiler Warning: This post contains mild to massive spoilers. Do not read if you haven't seen the premiere of SGU but plan to.

Friday night (October 2) was the premiere of the new Stargate Universe series on SyFy. I've been looking forward to more Stargate but was a little worried about the new show.

I was relieved that the 2-hour pilot didn't suck. In fact, I liked it. But, as I, unfortunately, just proved as a guest on a podcast (SciFiPartyLine), I have a little trouble explaining *why* I liked it. I watched the pilot for the 2nd time earlier today and typed out six pages of notes, including specific likes, specific dislikes, mysteries & unanswered questions, similarities to other shows, random observations, nitpicks, etc. I can easily dissect the show. And, I can overlook or forgive the negatives & nitpicks for now. I just can't quite verbalize why *overall* I really did like it.

Well, maybe I can now...
(1) I liked it because I simply liked the sum of its parts (see list below).
(2) I like the overall Stargate franchise, and the pilot episode did nothing that spit in the face of where it came from. It's different enough to feel fresh, but it still feels like Stargate. So, it'd be hard for me to not like it.

Here's my analysis of the episode in list form...

Things I Liked
  • The premise.
  • Most (but not all) of the characters.
  • The performances.
  • Everything about Chloe Armstrong, daughter/executive assistant to Calif. Senator Armstrong, and the performance of her by Elyse Levesque.
  • How well a lieutenant, Matthew Scott, took command when Col. Young was injured. Stargate hasn't shown too many junior officers taking command of situations. Scott did well.
  • The scene where Dr. Rush cries (I love it when characters cry).
  • The all-too-brief battle scene.
  • The cameos of SG-1 characters.
  • The dangling of a few mysteries & unanswered questions (see that list below).

Things I Didn't Like
  • Some of the transitions between scenes weren't that smooth.
  • The Sergeant Ronald Greer character (but, I think it might be intentional that he's not that likable).
  • Not enough space battle.
  • Major "Half-Spoiler": As soon as someone said the airlock to the shuttle (which was leaking atmosphere from the whole ship) would have to be closed from the inside, it was totally predictable who would close it.
  • With multiple locations, multiple flashbacks, a lot of characters, and a lot of premise to set up, I wondered how confusing it might be to those not already familiar with Stargate.
Questions & Observation About Technology & Equipment
  • Why do people get flung out of the Destiny's stargate when they walked into the stargate on the Icarus base?
  • Why does the Destiny's stargate vent steam after the wormhole closes?
  • Dr. Rush says the ship travels faster than light but not in hyperspace. So, what kind of propulsion is it?
  • Why does everything shimmer as the Destiny enters or exits FTL travel?
  • They figured out how to make the stargate on the Icarus base outgoing only. That's neat. No more need for an iris like the Cheyenne Mountain gate or a force field like the Atlantis gate.
  • After evacuating from Icarus base onto the starship Destiny, the survivors only have 23 guns & limited ammo. I wonder how long that will last.
  • They have only the batteries they have in their walkie-talkies. How long will they last?
  • The have limited food. I think they said they have little or no water. They do have seeds. Will they grow food onboard?
  • They learned how to control the Ancient "communication stones" with a man-made base instead of the Ancient cone base "thingy." Plus, they figured out how to pass a visual signal through them too.
Mysteries & Unanswered Questions
  • Does Dr. Rush know more than he's letting on?
  • In Colonel Everett's flashback, why did he collapse? Does he have a health problem, and will that become a complication later on, since they only have an Air Force medic & probably little or no medical or surgical tools?
  • Who in the photo is Dr. Rush crying over? Wife & daughter? Sister & niece?
  • What are in the Ancient crates onboard the Destiny?
  • Will they handle supply shortages & the searching for food & supplies better than Star Trek: Voyager did?
  • Before being interrupted, was Dr. Rush about to imply that the ship is sentient? He already claimed the ship was aware of the needs of its inhabitants & making stops at habitable worlds accordingly.

Similarities to Other Shows
  • Lost: The chaos of the first few minutes, people being flung out of the stargate & tripping over each other, felt like the first few minute of Lost's pilot episode (okay, granted not as cool as Lost did it).
  • Lost: Will the flashbacks continue, or was that just for the pilot (to establish the characters).
  • Lost: Could the civilians & minor non-coms be cannon fodder like background characters on Lost have been over the years?
  • Star Trek - Voyager: A starship stranded in uncharted territory with potentially limited supplies.
  • Sliders: A countdown clock before each subsequent FTL jump.

Nitpicks (I wouldn't be me, if I didn't have nitpicks)
  • The Stargate program seems to give out non-disclosure agreements like candy. They gave one to Eli Wallace, but before he had a chance to read the first page, they already beamed him to the George Hammond (a Daedalus-class Earth starship named after General Hammond, a character from SG-1 that died off screen after the actor that played him passed away in June 2008).
  • In a flashback, IOA representative Camille Wray is talking to Air Force medic Lt. Tamara Johansen, and she makes a reference to *Colonel* O'Neill. Jack O'Neill was promoted from Colonel to Brigadier General in SG-1 season 8 episode 2 and is already a Lt. General. So, by calling him a Colonel, either the actor slipped up, the script writer slipped up, or the flashback was from a whole *five* years ago, which is plausible but not likely.
  • Colonel Telford (the barely seen Lou Diamond Phillips) is seen in an F-302 during an air battle. Would they really have someone as highly ranked as a full Colonel out in a little tiny fighter during an intense battle?
  • Massive Spoiler: Woops!!! No one had to die. They found onboard the Destiny remote control floating cameras that they named Kinos. When going through the crates of supplies, they found a whole crate of something that looked like rolls of tape. Surely, somewhere on the ship, there is a pointy thing. They could have taped a pointy thing onto a Kino, remote controlled the Kino into the shuttle, and pressed the button for the airlock door remotely. The senator didn't have to sacrifice himself by going in and pushing the button. But, then, there would have been less drama. :)