03 June 2010

TV Meme: Day 3

It's TV meme day 3, and the topic of today is my favorite show of the new television season, which is sort of a tuffy.

This past season, there were three new shows that I started watching: Justified (on FX), Stargate: Universe (on SyFy), and V (on ABC). I like Justified plenty, but I'm not yet fully in love with it - although I wager a component of that could be the fact I'm behind a few episodes. My thoughts on the first six episodes of V has already been chronicled, and my interest in the program has only regressed since then. So that leaves Stargate: Universe, a show that has so much potential if only the writers recognize the beautiful concept they have and do it justice...which they're not entirely accomplishing at the moment.

The concept of the show is that a group of civilians and military personal are trapped billions of light years from Earth on a ship called Destiny, crafted by the Ancients (who are basically us, but - er, ancient and powerful), with no real way to get home. Day by day, they need to survive however they can. The show is dark, gritty, realistic, and has a good cast playing rather bland characters.

SG-U started off promising with a gorgeously shot, written, and acted three-part premiere titled "Air". Those episodes were freakin' awesome. Unfortunately the following bunch, with the exception of "Time" and "Justice", just weren't up to par. But again, they had to spend that time establishing the characters that inhabit this ship, setting up life support systems and creating food, etc. Y'know, all the necessary things for people to survive on a alien ship.

It's almost season finale time for the show (each season typically running 20 episodes instead of the usual 22 order), and the show is now delving more into plot than 'jeopardy-of-the-day' that existed in the first batch of episodes back in October. Thus far we've encountered a alien race that has its eyes on Destiny, a trio stuck behind on a planet while Destiny jumps back into FTL (faster-than-light) drive, almost being obliterated by diving into a sun, and a group of shipees getting killed over and over by indigenous creatures on a visiting planet (but thanks to time travel, they're able to beat it).

In a nutshell, here's my thoughts: interesting story ideas that are unfortunately not given adequate enough time to develop; so-so characters that really need to define themselves and break out of their stereotypical roles; pretty cool cinematography, but can sometimes be too shaky cam (this is for all those Paul Greengrass haters); and the character of Eli Wallace is by far one of the coolest sci-fi nerds in awhile.

For fans of the Stargate saga, the show hasn't been well received. That's mainly due, I gather, to it's more edgy, darker tone, no longer playing along like a fun action-of-the-week program with witty banters (although there is some) and strong comradery. It's not as good as Battlestar Galactica, but it could, with growth, be nearly as entertaining and captivating.

You don't need to be a Stargate fan to enjoy the show. No prior experience with the franchise is necessary, although it by no means hurt. I'd recommend doing a quick Wikipedia search for some key Stargate terms, like "the Ancients" and the chevron devices.

Is it the best new show of the 2009-2010 season? Nah, but I like it. It's cool sci-fi for people who enjoyed the re-imagined BSG and like pretty space ships, 'cuz Destiny has one hell of a gorgeous design.

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