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SGU Stargate Universe (2009)
Most Compelling Sci-fi show on TV
Remember how you used to love watching sci-fi shows as a kid? But as time went by you sort of grew out of it but the fond memories are still there. As kids, we were more receptive and engaged in all that crazy imaginary stuff. Back then the world to us was something truly fascinating and we couldn't wait to explore it even if its only in our tiny heads. If you are looking to reprise those childhood sense of enchantment then this might be the show for you.
Stargate Universe is surprisingly that kind of show, the one that blends the inspiring sense of awe in old sci-fi shows with the complex mature character drama. The sci-fi elements of the show are pretty fantastic; the science involved feels fresh and involving. Forget the techno-babble, there is none of that. It's character-based and the main focus is how these characters deal with their dilemma with a disregard for the scientific discoveries involved. And thats a good thing, here's why:
Characters are diverse, each exist to make it tough for the other and thats how the drama usually unfolds from episode to episode. This is all one big story being unwrapped through all SGU's episodes. As the story concerns the survivors from an attack by rebel organisation hellbent on undermining the power Earth has on the galaxy. Here the show injects real-life politics onto interplanetary scale, with espionage and intrigue elements, all revolving on characters who are flawed like us being forced to compromise their moral principles to achieve their goals, but how far can they go with that mindset unscathed?
Dr. Rush being the scientist with a messiah complex, he's got his own hidden agenda and the rest of the crew suspect that but at the same time he's a genius, without him they might as well be goners. His complex in that the viewer never really knows if he's got good intentions or not and whether he puts himself ahead of others. He believes in the greater good and Robert Carlyle, the actor playing him, does a great job at showing us the many facets to this very determined scientist. Carlyle portrays that monomania with such an audacious certitude. Opposite him is Col. Young, a sentimental leader to the lost crew faced with the difficult job of maintaining order without breaking his principles, he fails over and over and it burdens him even more. He torments himself for every bad act he does, but that itself makes him less able to control his violent impulses.
Recent episodes especially embolden the contrast between these characters, and it touches you on a intellectual and emotional level. To see such characters drown in their own vile actions and how guilt affects them. Both are guilty of many lives lost but they stand their ground, deluding themselves that their way is the right way and sacrifices were inevitable. That internal conflict is poisonous and the dire effects of it is clear in their faces as it culminates as the show progresses. Tensions have never been so violent, Young and Rush clash like street gangs at times and other times they are civil to each other in a cunning way. Rush is the calculated concocting one and Young is finding it frustrating dealing with someone deceptively smarter than him who questions his leadership, so its no wonder Young resorts to the only thing the military taught him to do well, use violence. This is when SGU flourishes, ideals and morals tested and consequences impact the storyline greatly. Nothing gets resolved by the end of the episode, however they do get closure at the end, but that shouldn't be mistaken for resolution. Ever encounter or clash they face still permeate throughout the show in the unfolding multi-threaded drama. Rush for instance, is so haunted by past event in previous episodes, he forever suffers from nightmares, nightmares that reflect what he's going through and how he's planning on overcoming it.
The visual style of the show is sexy and hypnotic. No unnecessary shaky cam, you get a good sense of "geography" and overall, its darn good cinematography. It manages to combine that sci-fi sense of amazement in juxtaposition with conveying characters' emotions in a solemn manner. Its nonchalant style lends to certain flaws. Its a much darker show, and viewers might get a cold detachment aura from it. On the surface, its very subdued and well, cold. And that might turn people off. But once you passed that, you will realize that the realistic dark style of the show is way better than the campy characterization of other shows. And least we forget, the visuals are effective and grandiose as well in a good way, you get energized as you see things like seeing the stargate rotate especially in desert or rain forest locations and seeing Destiny come out of FTL and the inside of the ship. There are many beautiful shots, each feels is symbolic in its own. Giving you that sense of awe in a non-cheesy fashion. Thats one of the things that keep astonishing me most. And the music is the best I heard for a sci-fi show, probably as memorable as the LOST one and serves the gravitas of the dramatic scenes and keeps your heart pumping in action scenes.
SGU even though being the third incarnation of the stargate franchise, it stands on its own well. The viewer doesn't need to be familiar with the previous shows. And for old fans, it will be like re-discovering the awesomeness of stargate in a new way. The simple story of being lost in space quickly becomes entangled with captivating drama and surreal realizations. The ship they are on shrouded in mystery, becomes their hub for self-discovery but also compasses their vulnerabilities. The depth of characters, science and unpredictable stories gives this show a unique look and feel that is compelling to watch at the very least.