Stargate Universe - Premiere & Comparisons to Battlestar Galactica

I've always been a reluctant sci fi geek. When I try a show I embrace it and geek out all the way, however I'm generally reluctant to try new shows that have a very hard line sci fi look and feel without a specific recommendation.

Since Battlestar Galactica took its final bow I've been itching for a new sci-fi show to fill the empty spot on Friday nights. Many reviews claimed that this new Stargate resembles BSG in with heavy militaristic themes and darker content. This comparison was so prevalent that the creators of the show addressed this in an interview with INNERspace (

I'm not familiar with the previous Stargate franchise and that put me at a serious disadvantage. There was no point at which I was able to grasp a comfortable understanding of the rules that governed the SGUverse. It was either not explained or so quickly skimmed over certain key points that I'm still scratching my head over.

- What exactly is a Stargate; is it the wormhole or the ship itself?

- Who are the "ancients" and what is their significance or relation to the contemporary society?

More importantly, who are these people, and why should I care? Maybe I'm being too harsh, but none of the characters really appealed to me as relatable. Even Eli Wallace (David Blue) seemed difficult to really grasp as the everyman.

For me there was a sincere lack of the sense of urgency despite the dire circumstances the people on the ship were facing. We saw little consequences of the events that catapulted the ship carrying military and civilians into the depths of space. I didn't believe in the desperation, and disconnectedness (communication stones anyone?). Everyone and everything was just a little too polished to seem real. Perhaps in the SGUverse everyone's hair stays neat and clothes clean regardless of the situation.

I prefer my sci fi dirtier and grittier, I wasn't surprised, but felt a bit cheated by the reviews that promised a semblance to BSG, which didn't deliver. I definitely think my feelings toward this show were partially mired by this expectation. But more importantly I felt there wasn't enough room for a new viewer such as myself to enter into this world in the premiere and probably wont be returning to the show in the near future.

Do you think that as a new viewer there should be more exposition defining the rules in a series premiere?

Will this series suffer or gain from the constant comparisons to Battlestar Galactica? Or as the series chugs along maybe the comparisons will taper off.



Oct 9, 2009 5:04PM EDT

Having prior knowledge of the SG universe was a must because they assumed that you know what it all was. What old SG fans hated was added another Chevron the most. I think the show has alot of potential and I hope it starts to show it soon otherwise it will lose views quickly. The characters in this show are all new, not been in previous SG's and yeah didnt show enough background on them all, but I guess thats later episodes.
The real show name should be Stargate: Battlestar Voyager. The series probably got alot of viewers hoping it will be similar to BSG but only time will tell if it goes its own direction

Default avatar cat
Oct 9, 2009 5:21PM EDT

There we go - "chevrons" another thing I didn't quite catch what it was. I could see there being potential if I had a better idea of what the ---- was up.
I saw an interview with the creators who shrugged off the comparison as (and I'll paraphrase) "If you're accusing me of trying to make quality television, then I'll accept the comparison".
Based on what you're saying it seems that this new SG has alienated both new and old viewers alike. For those fans out there I know how painful it is to see a series canceled because not enough people are into it, so for your sake I hope it get's better!

Default avatar cat
Oct 9, 2009 10:43PM EDT

Well, with the new viewers like yourself, maybe the show will appeal more to them within the next few episodes, it’s hard to make a show called stargates without adding in a bit about stargates and their creators
Basically the ancients were a very old civilisation that were very technologically advanced race, who created the stargates, ways of instantaneous transport between wormholes within each galaxy. The reason they can’t simply gate back to earth is to far away from earths galaxy.
Certain addresses dial certain planets obviously and typically only 7 “chevrons” were used when travelling within a galaxy, and I’m not sure but 8 chevrons were used to transport to another galaxy, although it required a lot of power.
And the whole nine chevrons bugged me a little to, but worse rewrites have been done in the history of sci-fi so I’m not going to worry about it to much
There you go there a crash course in stargates, there’s a lot more stuff but I’m sure as it comes up in the show it will explain.
P.S – Travel is one way through a stargate & the ancients were incredible smart

Default avatar cat
Oct 10, 2009 6:15AM EDT

As a fan of Stargate AND BSG I must say that the comparison between the two is a bit of a stretch anyway an won't help new viewers as yourself understand the special "mood" of the Stargate Franchise.
For one, I love the very realistic and grimy depicturisation of humankind and extreme emotions in BSG - but that's just not going to happen in any Stargate show.
The first of he Franchise, SG-1 was especially in the beginning very light-hearted and somewhat superficial geeky with a nice portion of action thrown in. Which I loved, btw!
It became gradually more serious and complex when new enemies popped up, but never crossed the line to take itself completely serious as a drama show. That's in my opinion the main difference to BSG.
I can however understand the willingness to make the comparison as this Stargate show is the first one to take place mainly on a spaceship. But do yourself and the people who made that thing a favour and forget it! The similarities are there, but the don't grasp the character of the show - as you have seen yourself.
For the old viewers who haven been watching SG-something for some time: Come on, guys, give it a chance!I was a huge fan of SG-1 and very reluctant at first to embrace Atlantis; when I finally got over my grudge concerning the cast changes and Mj. Sheppard's hair, I fell really fast for that show, too. Also, SGA had the advantage of "old" SG-1 supportive cast: Rodney and later Woolsey& Carter.
We didn't get that much information on "the team" in SGA at first, too, so that doesn't bother me. In fact I think it will be interesting to find out if there's going to be a team as in SG-1 and SGA or rather a uncertainty to each ones motives that will prevent the whole bonding-theme.
For the new SG-viewers: SG-1 was a more or less permanent 4 member-team for incredible 8 seasons -albeit the odd death and ascension. SGA followed that pattern, but the supportive cast was in general more present than in SG-1 (I only say Beckett + Woolsey).
So that's another difference to BSG: Stargate was always very much about the chemistry between the team-members and their individual way of coping with the fiend of the day.
Oh, yeah, and before I forget: The ancients were very advanced, very clever and in some ways totally stupid and regardless of their heritage. And arrogant as hell.
So we can expect some serious imperfections in that oh-so-awesome ancient bird of theirs...
I'm staying tuned, for one!

Oct 10, 2009 7:56PM EDT

that's right about the chevrons, from my knowledge, in my opinion, the show could be compared to atlantis, like you said, but im sure people mostly are doing it because it's a new sg show with a similar background story to atlantis
for example, i thought star trek enterprise would be similar to star trek voyager, in the manner that they were exploring an all new galaxy, or what would be an all new galaxy for them, but i found out even though it got some elements, if you could call it that from voyager, it's very different, i hope this is the case in this new series, and it already looks that way

Default avatar cat
Oct 11, 2009 11:17PM EDT

im really excited about SGU its got real potential in my opinion. I believe when they were comparing it to the AMAZING BSG they were saying it was alike in that it was a character driven series. like one of you guys said before its going to take itself more seriously and delve into the characters pasts alot but i hope its not all flashbacks all the time because that doesnt work if you do it all the time unless your LOST of course
im really not sure about the whole ancient communication stones thing though. did they ever clearly explain that? what exactly does it allow them to do? kind of an astral projection thing or are they actually kind of posessing somone else body because they can physucally touch other poepl on earth and stuff when they use them. i was just confused.
you guys are right though, i think they show is going to have a hard time getting new people to get into it without atleast some kind of SG knowledge aven just the original movie would help alot. but i think its potential lies in building a dense mythology. i think that the characters are going to find they were somehow chosen or find that its their destiny to be on the ship in some elaborate way much like battlestar how the mains played a role in the prophesy.
btw did anyone notice at the very end of this weeks episode? that wierd transporter that hopped off the ship in the last few seconds? do you think there is someones spying on them. probably an insider whose been working undercover at the base long before they actually figured out the algorythm for the gate.
i have to disagree with janiejones though i find some of the characters very relatable. i especially like eli and the planet of the apes joke in the desert was hilarious. and i hate the one ahole soldier dude though. the one who was locked up at the mountain base before they left. he just pisses me off that hes such a douchbag and angry all the time. i know eventually were going to get an episode that goes into his past and shows us why hes flips out at everyone all the time but i just dont like him at all and its hard to change my mind.

Oct 12, 2009 8:59PM EDT

I just stumbled upon this show last night, and being an old Stargate fan I checked it out. I hadn't heard any comparisons to BSG beforehand, and it didn't occur to me from watching the series, but after thinking about it I can see where the comparisons came from.
As mentioned before, Stargate SG-1 (I'm referring to the pre-Ori seasons) had a very different tone than BSG. BSG was focused on action and interpersonal relationships. SG-1, on the other hand, was focused on a action and fleshing out a detailed universe, as well as exploring philosophical issues (in a way that could have been inspired by early stark trek). The SG-1 cast consisted of four main characters and a handful of minor ones, and while they certainly had their disagreements, serious internal conflict and division wasn't really present, whereas it was a main theme in BSG. BSG had religious undertones which became increasingly prominent as the series progressed, whereas SG-1's take on religion was cynical if anything (the primary villains in the early seasons were the Goa'uld, parasitic aliens that used their advanced technology to pose as gods to less developed societies).
I think where the comparison came from is that SGU seems to have taken some inspiration from BSG. Right off the bat, we have a larger cast, main characters with serious character flaws, and potential for group conflict - these things are more or less new territory for Stargate. We've also spend much more time on character development than Stargate has in the past - in SG1, even the episodes that seemed focused on character development at first glance were at least as much if not more about universe development. But I wouldn't say that it was like BSG in the sense that a BSG fan unfamiliar with Stargate might expect.
And I second the characters being relatable. Actually, I found them on the whole much more realistic and (gasp) mature than I've come to expect from TV. While having a hotheaded heroine smacking her alcoholic "superior ***hole" in BSG's pilot certainly makes things interesting, it also makes one wonder if Galatica had the most dysfunctional crew in the colonial fleet...

Default avatar cat
Oct 12, 2009 9:30PM EDT

I've loved reading everyone's comments, especially from you seasoned Stargaters.Nothing makes TV more enjoyable than a good discussion to follow!
I actually did watch the third episode once I realized that the premiere was actually a three-parter. My opinions haven't really changed all that much, I'm still chalking my not enjoying it up to my unfamiliarity with the Stargate franchise and this kind of sci-fi TV.

dpaugh & WillW - When I said I couldn't relate to the characters I didn't mean in relation to BSG.I think instead of saying I didn't find the characters relatable I should have I should have written that I wasn't able to identify with the characters in a way that made me feel more deeply invested in the fate of the people on the ship.I think the third hour of "Air" did a better job of creating more sympathetic characters.Maybe I'm just a real sucker for romance but I really liked the "thing" between the soldier and the politician's daughter in hour 3.
BSG Tangent:I would imagine that the Galactica did have a difficult crew, but if we're going to get into this in a slight aside, I feel that the raised tensions of the nuclear holocaust and bleak future had a major impact on Kara's (and the rest of the crew's) actions and behaviours.

Oct 12, 2009 10:18PM EDT

Touche - I imagine a nuclear holocaust would raise tempers a bit. My annoyance is more with television's preocupation with rebellious testosterone ridden heroes than specifically with BSG. And BSG was much better than most in that regard.

Default avatar cat
Oct 15, 2009 5:26PM EDT

AdrianH, I'm glad you picked up on the BSG/Voyager theme! This really isn't Stargate as fans who have been watching from the beginning know it. It feels like the fusion of Stargate with BSG and Voyager is an attempted to attract fans whose favorite shows are no longer on the air. The whole feel of the show is completely different. Stargate (especially SG-1) was very light-hearted and fun, full of irony, and surprises (like, all those ancient gods were really Goaulds?!).
In SGUniverse Sam Carter, Daniel Jackson, and Jack O'Niel are given airtime, it seems, just to connect old fans with the new show -- but their presence in the show seems only to be a bridge and nothing more, since they don't really play into the central storyline of SGU. But they are the reasons I watched Stargate in the past. These new characters need some time to form and grow, but they are of totally different brand. I loved interactions in SG-1, such as when Teal'c made a reference to the Bible, which Jack didn't understand, and he said, "Colonel O'Niel, have you not read the Bible?" Jack replies, reluctantly, "Uh, yeah, I'm reading it. . . Don't tell me how it ends."
This new brand of Stargate doesn't have that comical core that SG-1 and Atlantis had. I've seen the first few episodes, and am willing to give SGU a chance, but it feels like a tarnished attempt since I'm all the while wishing for the smart, funny, and imaginative camaraderie of SG-1.

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