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STUDIO:
MGM
MSRP: $27.99
RATED:
Not rated
RUNNING TIME:  minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES:

- Commentaries on all 10 episodes from cast and crew
- Kino video diaries
- Extended premiere episode
- Deleted scenes


The Pitch

Stargate: BSG.

The Humans

Robert Carlyle, David Blue, Justin Louis, Brian J. Smith, Elyse Levesque, Alaina Huffman, Jamil Walker Smith, Ming-Na, Lou Diamong Phillips.

The Nutshell

Continuing the Stargate TV franchise, this third installment centers on a team of SG personnel and scientists who were exploring the purpose of the Ninth Chevron
that all stargates possess, but so far had remained a mystery.  The project took place on a distant planet, Icarus, and was headed up by Dr. Nicholas Rush (Carlyle) and Col. Everett Young (Louis).  They recruited (more like Shanghaied) Eli Wallace (Blue) onto the project when he deciphered a crucial step to uncovering the chevron’s secret that the Air Force secretly embedded into an online video game. 



…as a small moon…



When an attack by an old foe, the Lucian Alliance, forces the expedition to dial the ninth chevron, without knowing where it goes, the team finds themselves stranded on an ancient ship, the Destiny, which is on the other side of the universe.  With no clear chain of command in place and a constant clashing of personalities, the team looks for any way to get back home while being stuck on a ship whose purpose they don’t yet know and of which they have little control.

The Lowdown

Upon watching this latest Stargate installment, there’s one show upon which it’s clear – blatant even – upon which it’s patterned: the recently wrapped Battlestar Galactica.  The atmosphere of the show, the look, the tone, and even some of the characters, all recall that prior show to the point that one might initially think this is some half-baked attempt to recapture the formula to BSG and apply it to the Stargate franchise.  From the outset it’s apparent that this show is very different in style to both SG-1 and Atlantis.  And while those comparisons to BSG have their basis, SGU does manage to distinguish itself fairly early on and has turned out to be, in a short amount of time, a very watchable heir to the Stargate name.



Yeah, those Stargate raves really rock, man.



First off, many of the Stargate standards are carried over to this new show: the stargate itself, references to events in both previous shows, and a frequent interaction with Stargate Headquarters via the long distance Ancient communication stones discovered back in Season 9 of SG-1.  Utilizing these, Young and other members can transfer consciousnesses with willing participants back at headquarters in order to report their situation and take some shore leave.  This has led to further confusion and power struggles between Young and Col. Telford (Phillips), who differ in their command approaches and definition of what the mission is now that the expedition is stranded millions of light years from Earth.



“We just finished the run, sir.”
“How fast?”
“11 parsecs.”
“Ha!  Han Solo can eat it!”



Another source of internal conflict, and some of the more interesting character work, occurs between Rush and just about everybody.  Hands down, Rush is the most complicated character on the show and Carlyle is playing him with another level not typically seen before on Stargate shows.  Rush is an egotist and seems to waiver between being trustworthy and unscrupulous.  He clearly has his own agenda; and when that coincides with the survival of the group, then he’s cooperative.  But when his desires clash with what Young or Telford or the International Oversight Committee’s (IOC’s) Camille Wray (Ming-Na) want or need with him, then they know they have to watch their backs.  This single-minded focus of Rush on his own plans has gotten him into altercations, both verbal and physical, with several members of the team, not the least of whom is Young.  The final confrontation between them before SGU went on hiatus (“Justice”) and that involved a death of one of the crew was a game changer definitely. 



Years later and millions of light years away, Renard finally got that “Christmas comes once a year” joke.  And still he felt nothing…



The character work being done by the others is also good, especially Blue as Eli, who is the lighthearted center of the show and the de facto fan avatar, who sees things as we would generally see them, mostly because he’s a regular guy who happens to also be a genius, but also a slacker.  He’s useful to Rush in a scientific capacity, but also able to connect with the crew where he can’t.  Young particularly relies on him to keep tabs on Rush and also facilitate decisions and operations of the ship and crew.  He also manages to pine away for Elyse Levesque’s Chloe in his spare time.  Of course, though, Chloe has her eyes on Lt. Scott (Smith), which is another fly in the ointment.  Ming-Na wasn’t being given much to do until the episode, “Life,” where she gets a chance to visit her lover back on Earth, via the stones and someone else’s body.  Not to spoil with whom Camille is shacking up, but it adds a twist that is welcome, and probably long overdue. 



“Take me around the world again.”
“No, way! Did you just quote Moonraker?!”



Regarding what Stargate series are known for, namely the high adventure and sci-fi heavy stories, the adventure and definitely the sci-fi are both still there.  However, the reality is a bit grittier here, and the adventures, while still really out there, are scaled back ever so slightly to focus more on the interpersonal dynamic of the crew.  Most episodes so far concern finding a much needed supply for the crew (“Air”, “Water”) or trying to survive an impending danger, such as flying into a sun (“Darkness”, “Light”), all the while keeping an eye on the ship’s ironclad 12-hour window when nearing a stargate before jumping back into hyperspace to continue whatever its mission is.  The civilian / military conflicts once again echo BSG, while the clock element actually harkens back more toward Sliders.

I caught Stargate: Universe from the beginning and was quickly satisfied with how it started, even though it came at the expense of Atlantis, which unfortunately became a victim of its own budget.  I like the premise of the show, although at this point, it’s none too different from those of both BSG and Voyager.  Be that as it may, it’s got some good writing, interplay between the cast and hopefully, a lot of potential.



“Hi, we’re going door to door asking for a small contribution for the families of fallen servicemen and also if you might possibly know how to figure out the activation code for the ninth chevron on a piece of alien technology that generates stable wormholes through space-time…”



The Package


The look of the episodes are good.  As stated, the show has a look very similar to what BSG had and it transfers nicely.  Audio is also fine in English Dolby 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Surround, with English, Spanish and French subtitles available.  They also added a nice amount of features, the least of which certainly aren’t the commentaries for every episode by cast and crew.  Disc 1  also has Kino Video Diaries, which are five short snippets of the characters, as seen from one of the kinos, which are flying orbs that can record and playback. 

Disc 2 has eight more Kino Video Diaries, and also three quickie interviews with the cast of the show: Ming-Na, David Blue and Alaina Huffman.  There is also Stargate 101: Presented by Dr. Daniel Jackson, which is a six-part primmer for the Stargate-verse given by Michael Shanks as Dr. Jackson.  On a side note, not sure if it was deliberate, but the look of this feature is really washed out for some reason.  Disc 3 has more interviews with the cast: Robert Carlyle, Louis Ferreira, Lou Diamond Phillips, Brian J. Smith, Elyse Levesque and Jamil Walker Smith.  Plus there are three more Kino Video Diaries.  There’s plenty to keep both new and veteran Stargate fans happy on this offering. 


8.3 out of 10



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