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Third-episode verdict: Stargate Universe

Posted on October 12, 2009 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

A Carusometer rating of 2

In the US: Fridays, 9/8c , SyFy
In the UK: Tuesdays, 8pm, Sky1/Sky1 HD

We're three episodes into Stargate Universe (if we count the launch movie as a two-parter, which we do since the producers do), so time for a third-episode verdict.

On the whole, not bad. I'm not feeling enthused by it, but coming out of episode three – which actually made a brave stab at not being either Stargate Anything or Battlestar Galactica – I'm feeling pleasantly surprised by the whole experience.

Even if they're not quite hitting the mark with their ambitions, they're definitely trying to make this intelligent, emotional issues aren't being swept under the carpet, soldiers aren't all perfect, scientists aren't all nerds and everything isn't tied up in a neat bow by the end of the episode.

Episode three carried on where the pilot left off, with the new Stargate team searching a planet against the clock in order to find some minerals to fix their life support unit. Anyone expecting the usual Stargate tropes - humanoid aliens, lots of shooting, etc - would have been disappointed, but I was pleased to see the producers sticking to their guns and making this more a piece exploring the characters and their conflicts. There was also the addition of a possible sub-plot back on Earth involving the deceased Senator's wife, which suggests the show is going to have a West Wing component to come, which would be welcome.

Ironically, given how much of Stargate SG-1 was about gods, the injection of religion into proceedings was slightly unwelcome, although one could argue we've actually just seen a Muslim Djinn rather than anything Christian. It was all a bit incoherent anyway and as a theological argument or even hint at the signs of divinity, was as persuasive as a banana. But it didn't totally disfigure the episode, unlike the geek character, who appears to be on board purely because they needed to add some humour to proceedings and couldn't give the jokes to any of the other stoic characters.

I don't imagine this is going to be a show I look forward to every week, but I'm certainly going to be sticking with it for a while. Robert Carlyle's always watchable, the addition of the Earth-based activities to the show make it more varied than the pilot suggested, and the producers clearly are trying to produce something different from what's going before. Definitely one to try, at least.

Carusometer rating: 2
Rob predicts: Should run and run

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