Skip

The Crying Game
May 18, 2011 11:52 AM   Subscribe

After 14 years, a movie and 17 seasons Stargate has left our screens forever- falling ratings dooming it's latest incarnation, Stargate: Universe, just as the series was finding it's feet. But what would have happned had the series continued? (contains spoilers for show you probably didn't watch)
posted by Artw (181 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Universe did start out a little shaky but it turned out AMAZING, I was as upset by this as by firefly. (A lot of it is on hulu)
posted by Blasdelb at 11:54 AM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I never really liked it as a TV series, although I thought the movie was genius. But 17 seasons? I guess they were doing something right.

like being the only scifi thing around much of the time
posted by GuyZero at 11:56 AM on May 18, 2011


I've never watched much Stargate, but I did watch Stargate: Universe out of desperation for something sci-fi. Saying it was finding its feet in season 2 is kind of comical. While the time travelish plot line of the last few episodes has been quite interesting, the rest of the season has been terrible even by comparison to season 1, let alone any other show I've ever watched. Not only is the scientific proof that god created the universe thing ridiculous, but the execution of the dynamic among the cast has comical in a bad way.

I do like the latest 4ish episodes though, that was quite cool :P
posted by Chuckles at 11:57 AM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I should have done more editing :P
posted by Chuckles at 11:58 AM on May 18, 2011


It got better? I gave up on it half way through the first season when it was a sad little imitation of BSG.

As sci-fi fans live for disappointment I will give the rest a try so I can be upset.
posted by munchingzombie at 12:00 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, I wish Futurama had done N+3 seasons in N years rather than the reverse.
posted by DU at 12:02 PM on May 18, 2011


As a family the growlers have watched Stargate from start to finish including the formerly hard to find Stargate Infinity (netflix streaming) It will be sadly missed by us all.

Hopefully Stargate TNG is only a few years away... please...
posted by mrgroweler at 12:02 PM on May 18, 2011


I'm slowly catching up on SGU. I really liked SG1 and to a lesser extent Atlantis. I think the concept of traveling the galaxy and encountering aliens while still at our current level of technology is pretty cool, even the fact that humans, as the scrappy underdogs, always won.

SGU is a bit too post-BSG for me.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:06 PM on May 18, 2011


'finding its feet'? I hope your kids don't take 14 years to do that.

mrgroweler: "Stargate TNG"

It turns out that Data is actually a woman.

out of place 'Crying Game' joke, please don't hurt me
posted by mwhybark at 12:09 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Serious question: Was Stargate ever good?

I would catch episodes here and there, but it all seemed very meh. Tried the original, then a few of the Farscape reunion episodes, Universe and Atlantis and again, very meh.

So what were the good seasons or episodes?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:10 PM on May 18, 2011


I thought the dynamics between the characters was fantastic. The complexities were shown through who they were rather than trying to develope them through arcs that take forever to get to know them.
There was a little bit of plot seepage from BSG but I like to think they did a good job in making it their own.
Overall the show was a good watch and I'm a little surprised it is cancelled. It still had a ton of potential.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:10 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


They should have stuck with Atlantis, it wasn't perfect but it was much closer to the type of show that built the Stargate audience in the first place.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:11 PM on May 18, 2011


Since the Smackdown ratings haven't been doing so well though I heard they are going to introduce T'ealc as a heel managed by Daniel Jackson, should be pretty good and keep the franchise in people's minds.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:13 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


This was the best Stargate SG-1 episode (towards the end of season 8).
posted by Gator at 12:14 PM on May 18, 2011


I always thought the strength of the SG franchise was that it didn't take itself too seriously. Seriously enough to keep long plot arcs going, but willing to be make of itself and just have fun. My problem with SGU (until the last half of the second season I suppose) was that everything was so goddamn serious to the point of unintentional ridiculousness (if that makes any sense).

But yes, when I heard that it wasn't going to be renewed (that came out months and months ago) I wasn't terribly broken up. But then the writers decided to finally get their act together and make it good, and now I'm sad.
posted by selenized at 12:20 PM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, at least it was better than Lexx.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:22 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


*GASP*
posted by Artw at 12:23 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was enjoying the series -- especially the last half of this second season. For most of the first season the characters had little ambiguity and depth. But I thought they had better character development this season. Plus, there was something very satisfying about the show's realism (such as it was) -- they had to worry about basic things, like air and water. Ongoing issues with limited supplies, like bullets and food. They didn't have a lot of medications on hand, so their medic (who was not a fully-trained doctor) had to scrounge for herbs and plants on the planets they visited and try to find workable substitutes.

People died and (more often than usual in a scifi show) didn't come back. Injuries happened and had lasting consequences. The main characters were experiencing painful, drawn out goodbyes to people back home.

The level of acting ability varied widely. (I thought Ming Na in particular stood out.) But similarly to BSG, SGU's strength was that it was a character-driven show and when they focused on that, it was engrossing television.
posted by zarq at 12:24 PM on May 18, 2011


Yes. That's going to need some backing up there. LEXX rocked.
posted by longbaugh at 12:25 PM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


mrgroweler: " Hopefully Stargate TNG is only a few years away... please..."

Each time a science fiction show is cancelled in its first or second season, it occurs to me that if TNG were being produced today, it would never have made it out of its infancy. For those first three seasons, the acting was hammy, the dialogue was stilted and the storylines were ridiculous.

It takes many shows (scifi or not) time hit their stride. I wish networks like SyFy would give the ones with potential a chance to develop properly. For the sake of the viewers.
posted by zarq at 12:27 PM on May 18, 2011


Hm, I quit SGU halfway through the second season, but it sounds like maybe those last few episodes are worth seeing.

I always thought the strength of the SG franchise was that it didn't take itself too seriously.

Agreed. I watched all of SG-1 and I'm slowly working my way through Atlantis right now. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, "Why do these aliens from another galaxy speak English and dress like 16th century European peasants?" but then I just put it out of my head. It doesn't work as a show if you try to think of it as genuinely good.
posted by something something at 12:30 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, at least it was better than Lexx.

HOW DARE YOU!
posted by P.o.B. at 12:31 PM on May 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Lexx was awful.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:32 PM on May 18, 2011


but willing to be make of itself and just have fun.

I swear there is a scene where Carter and O'Neill are confronted with some borken technology and O'Neill searches through his pockets and pulls out a paperclip. I can't find a clip though.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:32 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lexx was awful.

It was uneven and often nonsensical, but lets face it it was imaginative and often funny show about a bunch of amoral europervs aboard a spaceship that eats planets - how can you not love that?
posted by Artw at 12:35 PM on May 18, 2011 [10 favorites]


but willing to be make of itself and just have fun.

Dammit I really should have read my comment through again before posting, that sentence makes no sense. Should read:

but willing to make fun of itself and just have fun.

Or, you know, substitute something really witty and pretend I said that too.
posted by selenized at 12:36 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


just as the series was finding it's feet.

It is indeed feet - stinky feet. A droll metaphor indeed!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:36 PM on May 18, 2011


Can someone write a summary of the Stargate shows for someone who's only seen the movie? I enjoyed it (and in fact, I think it was the first DVD I ever purchased), and I can sort of picture a greater storyline. But I'd be interested to know some of the directions they took it. Was it all Anachronistic Egyptology? Did they un-Egypt it up?
posted by Plutor at 12:37 PM on May 18, 2011


Plutor for the first few seasons the enemies were all other Egyptian gods, but they also included gods of ancient Greece and other parts of the middle east. The places they visited also varied in technological development from tribes like the movie all the way up to about 1940s technology.

They also had random other aliens that were stand-ins for Norse gods, and so on.

It was sort of like Star Trek in that they were at a new planet each week with a new society that all conveniently spoke English.
posted by selenized at 12:42 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, after a point, they sort of got bored with the old gods and went off in new directions that had little to do with earth mythology. The entire Stargate series is monstrously long and I'm not going to try and summarize all of it here.
posted by selenized at 12:44 PM on May 18, 2011


Can someone write a summary of the Stargate shows for someone who's only seen the movie?

Stargate SG-1: You know the alien in Stargate? There are lots more like him and they're assholes. Also the Stargate goes to lots of other planets. Many of them look like British Columbia.

Stargate Atlantis: Also the aliens are underwater.

Stargate Universe: "Boy, wouldn't it suck if using a Stargate got us stranded? Oh."
posted by mightygodking at 12:45 PM on May 18, 2011 [28 favorites]


SG:U pretty much just has the gates and that's it.
posted by Artw at 12:45 PM on May 18, 2011


Huh. So basically, exactly like TNG, DS9, and VOY.
posted by Gator at 12:46 PM on May 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Lexx was awful.

The third season of Lexx is brilliant and by far better written than most of what I hear people blather on about as great.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:46 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


So basically, exactly like TNG, DS9, and VOY

People on a spaceship that sometimes stops off at planets? Yeah, it's like that one show.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:48 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The damned political intrigue and infighting sub-plot is what killed SGU for me. I wanted adventure, not military plots.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:49 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The early appeal of SG:1 is that it's like a light hearted Star Trek but the team is entirely technologically outmatched. The technology evens out as the show goes on and you get more pew pew lasers and spaceships stuff but by then you stick around for the characters if you are still in to it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:49 PM on May 18, 2011


It was sort of like Star Trek in that they were at a new planet each week with a new society that all conveniently spoke English.

That was explained away by saying the feral humans on earth were actually the dumbest species in the galaxy, which I kind of liked.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:50 PM on May 18, 2011


It takes many shows (scifi or not) time hit their stride.

In practice, I agree. In principle, I don't. Why can't shows be awesome out of the gate? Many British series (scifi or not) are, even when they have minuscule "series" runs by comparison, with US TV, e.g. six shows in which to make or break. Then again, maybe that's the problem?

The whole SG thing didn't appeal to me a lot, but it seemed to be efficient at telling stories and staying on the air, so there's that.
posted by dhartung at 12:51 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


In time Stargate will be resurrected. One can only hope that it finds a capable resurrector who can make what was a silly, at times entertaining, but more often deeply boring franchise into something exciting and fresh. SG-1 felt stale right out of the box.
posted by Electrius at 12:52 PM on May 18, 2011


Selenized mostly hit all the main beats, but the main thing that Stargate suffered from (SG-1, that is. I never really followed the others) was enemy power creep. You thoung the Goa'uld were ridiculously powerful, but then those plucky Earthlings found ways to master technologies previously unthinkable to them and defeat a few!

And it happened again and again, until the Priors basically had the mysterious and unexplained ability to do anything at all for any reason without any limits. Then I stopped watching, and it was cancelled not long after.

SGU seemed like an attempt to get away from this, and back to the original theme as seen in the movie, which is a sort of Indian in the Cupboard meets the Manhattan Project feeling of playing with powers beyond our control, and putting our ape-descended stink on them in the progress.

The feeling of awe in SG1 when the Prometheus, Earth's first starship, is unvealed, was absolutely amazing, and only in retrospect can I realize that, like the rest of the series, it was hackneyed and unamazing. But goddamn it, SG1 KNEW it was silly, and didn't care, and that was what made it great.
posted by LiteOpera at 12:52 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge one of my favourite moments in SG1 is when they try and explain how the team could beat back the replicators with their guns, while the massively technologically advanced Asgard could not. I think Thor says, basically, they would have never thought to do something so stupid as build a weapon that launched bits of metal with explosives.
posted by selenized at 12:53 PM on May 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Heh. SG-1 took the weird sci-fi convention that futuristic guns would of course fire extremely slow moving blobs of glowy light at a low rate of fire and took it to the max - all those alien weapons were rubbish.
posted by Artw at 12:57 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thing that the Stargate franchise suffered from was a production leadership that was increasingly out of touch and out of ideas as the shows progressed. This became pretty clear with SGU.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:01 PM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I liked SGU quite a bit and will miss it. I did think it improved as it went along, at least until the last few episodes, when they seemed in a hurry to wrap things up.

At least SyFy didn't burn all the remaining episodes in one day like they did with Caprica (which got worse as it went along) just to get it over with.
posted by lordrunningclam at 1:04 PM on May 18, 2011


The replicators were Imo, a pretty cool enemy up until that one humanoid replicator fell in love with Carter, that was like the apogee of the "there is something unique and special about humans over all other species and they will always triumph" that made the show goofy at times. I supposed them SGU "holy shit we are fucked" was a violent reaction to that trope.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:08 PM on May 18, 2011


Does anyone else have the sg1 complete series on dvd?

SHOULD be fantastic...if it werent for the shitty packaging. Why not just plastic cases, you marketing assholes? Why not just simple plastic cases?
posted by hal_c_on at 1:08 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really liked Stargate: Universe. I honestly think it was the best of the stargates, and one of the best sci-fi series of modern times. Yes, it was dark and brutal. People got hurt, and sometimes even died. I liked that they had to worry about food, water, air and the ship slowly getting battered to pieces without a magic reset button after every fight.

One of the things I liked most was that the crew wasn't some bunch of ultra-organised hand-picked always-get-along best-of-the-best crew that usually live in sci-fi. They were there by accident. The commander was a washed-up martinet, the scientists thought and acted as if they could do a better job of running things and the military guys only just managed to resist shooting their own people at times; and Robert Carlyle was simply outstanding in playing a complex, conflicted, secretive and untrusting character who often had his own reasons for doing things his way. Unlike Mr mcwhiney McKay vs boyscout Sheppard, the clashes between Young and Rush hurt. You really got the feeling they didn't like each other one little bit, but were forced to try and find some kind of accomodation because they had no other choice.

While the 'message from God' stuff frankly wasn't very strong, at least it wasn't anywhere near as bad as battlestar galactica reboot, where it completely overwhelmed the latter seasons.

I guess dark and gritty character driven sci-fi just isn't very popular these days. So instead, we get for example warehouse 13 renewed, a passable but pretty banal light comedy sci-fi show.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:09 PM on May 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Essentially what went wrong with SyFy (Aside from the name and wrestling) was trying to turn shows that were not BSG in to BSG when BSG itself was never even as big a hit as it was made out to be. SGU and Caprica both would have been better off as new franchises. I certainly would have given SGU more of a chance if I wasn't still pissed about the other Stargate cancellations.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:12 PM on May 18, 2011


The main thing that I remember about Stargate (apart from the movie) is from the science fiction-themed scavenger hunt at the British Museum I signed up for last year. One of the clues obliquely referred to Stargate, and the general consensus on our team was that we should go and have a look in the Egyptian galleries.

The one voice of dissent was the rabid Stargate fan, who kept insisting that "If it's Stargate, it doesn't have to be Egyptian--it can be anything!" I pointed out as politely as possible at that point (it had been a long day) that "It can be anything" didn't leave us any starting point to go from in a building the size of a fucking small town, and made my way to the Egypt exhibits, where--hey presto--we found the item we were supposed to look for.

The next clue referred to Norse mythology, and the same person wanted to go look for Thor's hammer. It's at this point where my wife and I gave up and went to the pub to drink heavily.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:14 PM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I guess dark and gritty character driven sci-fi just isn't very popular these days. So instead, we get for example warehouse 13 renewed, a passable but pretty banal light comedy sci-fi show.

With the recent purge taking out V and The Event I think it might just be Fringe, Doctor Who and a handful of weak SyFy offerings left as explicitly Sci-Fi shows go.
posted by Artw at 1:16 PM on May 18, 2011


Oh, and the general lack of 'new planet of the week that has a medieval village right next to the gate' was a real change. Some episodes, they didn't even use the stargate. It was more about Destiny, and the crew, than what was on the planets they passed by.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:17 PM on May 18, 2011


I really liked that they made an effort to have some alieness to their aliens.
posted by Artw at 1:22 PM on May 18, 2011


I really liked SG:U. I hated BSG for it's insistent othering of the enemy and use of torture as a strategy, and bailed out after a couple of seasons. I haven't had that visceral a reaction to a television series ever. I know it's not a popular opinion around here, but I don't give a shit. Any television show which has me unconsciously pulling toward fetal position during a good number of the episodes doesn't get to be part of my life.

But SG:U seemed to take a lot of the lessons which BSG was teaching us about SF narrative and was applying them in a kinder-gentler way. I really liked the "brilliant video game player" hook used to draw us into the plot. I really liked Robert Carlysle as the antagonistic crew member. I really liked that it had gay characters who were simply gay and not hinted at under the table like on BSG or used as a Major Plot Point...

I was heartbroken to hear it had been canceled, because I thought it had (wisely) taken its time establishing characters and rules in its universe, and was starting to lift off in unexpected ways... right as they announced it was cancelled.

The producers saw the writing on the wall and filmed a season-end cliffhanger which functioned well as a series finale, sort-of.

I wish it had been given more of a chance. But it was given as much of a chance as many shows I love and which disappear. More even, than Twin Peaks or My So-Called Life or Huff! or Rome.

I am starting to feel like I'm hopelessly out of step with what others feel is quality television. Even the series I love which stick around end up irritating to me after they run past their initial burst of inspiration. (Dexter, I'm looking at you.)

So, yeah. I mourn the passing of SG:U. At least Fringe has continued to be interesting. And Doctor Who... well, that's more of an institution than a show at this point. I do look forward to the new Torchwood series coming on some random pay channel later this year. Other than that, there's not a lot of SF television I consider worth my time. SG:U was one, and it's gone now. Oh well.
posted by hippybear at 1:22 PM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I hated BSG for it's insistent othering of the enemy and use of torture as a strategy, and bailed out after a couple of seasons.

I think that was the point they were trying to make.
posted by GuyZero at 1:25 PM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


hippybear YES.
posted by selenized at 1:26 PM on May 18, 2011


I think that was the point they were trying to make.

The point was that they were going to lose viewership due to their plot construction? That's a brave series that will do that.
posted by hippybear at 1:27 PM on May 18, 2011


You can hate BSG, just try not to be revisionist and sully your memories of the awesome first season by the later seasons.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:28 PM on May 18, 2011


With the recent purge taking out V

There's a good question, was V better/worse than SGU? Personally, I think V started out really horrendously offal, but got a little better when they brought back Jane Badler. I haven't seen the latest episodes, so who knows if the Beastmaster guy worked out as well.

Post BSG, the only good sci-fi show I've seen is Sarah Conner Chronicles.

hippybear, torture is out, but being a serial killer is okay?
posted by Chuckles at 1:30 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did they ever find the light switch in Stargate: Universe?
posted by robtoo at 1:30 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's a good question

And by good question, I don't actually mean "good" :P
posted by Chuckles at 1:31 PM on May 18, 2011


P.o.B.: I quit watching at about the time there were camps established on some planet which most of the main characters were living in. So I'm not sure what you mean by "awesome" or "later"... I stopped before it got too late, and wasn't impressed by what I'd watched up until then.
posted by hippybear at 1:31 PM on May 18, 2011


Chuckles: Interesting point. Dexter never had me physically cringing and feeling sick to my stomach. Maybe if BSG had been produced differently the torture wouldn't have bothered me. Maybe if Dexter was made by the people who made BSG I never would have stomached even the first quite-excellent season. I'm certainly not squeamish about blood and death, so there must have been an extra something in BSG which hit me wrong. Perhaps it was the echoing and rhyming I was seeing between BSG and the real world, while Dexter has never had anything in it which suggested that it was trying to symbolize the world around me through its storytelling.

Still, interesting point. One I find worth considering. I hope you meant it that way and not just as snark.
posted by hippybear at 1:35 PM on May 18, 2011


Having head the articles, I think I agree that SG:U might have done better as a completely new franchise. If you went in expecting SG1 series 11, you were in for a hell of a shock.

The thing is, well done smart anti-heroes are damned rare. Rodney McKay, Zachary Smith, Ben Linus, Baltar (both versions); they pretty much all tried and failed and usually ended up being the comic relief.

About the only other one I can think of that didn't quickly end up as a complete joke was Garak from DS9; and he was mostly a bit part. I have to take my hat off to Carlyle for making Rush (mostly) work without ending up as comic relief or a complete prick.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:39 PM on May 18, 2011


Post BSG, the only good sci-fi show I've seen is Sarah Conner Chronicles.

I just watched the pilot show to that the other night, and I hope it gets better or I'm going to be seriously wondering what people are smoking by thinking that was a good show.

So I'm not sure what you mean by "awesome" or "later"...

I'd say somewhere around the begining to mid 2nd season is a good place that "awesome" should be stopped being used as a descriptor for the episodes. The rest of the series was kind of autopilot. Seriously though, 33 is like one of the best peices of sci-fi television around.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:39 PM on May 18, 2011


Did they ever find the light switch in Stargate: Universe?

They didn't have enough power to turn it on. Hey, they said right up front that it was going to be dark sci-fi show...
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:45 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think V started out really horrendously offal

It got better but IMHO never really hit its stride. Not surprising to see it canceled, but it would have been nice to give it more of a chance. (Particularly after the events of the season finale, which seemed to me a mixture of "let's clear the decks for next season" and "we're done for anyway, let's go out with a bang".)

Very glad Fringe managed to hang on.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:47 PM on May 18, 2011


I think that was the point they were trying to make.

The point was that they were going to lose viewership due to their plot construction? That's a brave series that will do that.


The point was that torture and othering of the enemy are really, really horrific and once you step away from being the one doing it you can see how awful it is.
posted by GuyZero at 1:51 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I watched 2 episodes of V in the hope of seeing some dog lizard alien action - the ones where the aliens decided that they needed to exterminate the human soul and built a special soul extracting machine. They were beyond awful, and according to people who actually watch the show those were good ones, so I think with V we are talking about a whole different dimension of bad than SGU's emo-and-resets period.
posted by Artw at 1:54 PM on May 18, 2011


The only way another season of V could work for me, is if they keep the tone of the season finale this year, and just have Morena Baccarin stomping about fiercely and fucking things up. That was the only thing that worked on the show- none of the other characters were in any way appealing, the alien invasion premise seemed designed to appeal primarily to Tea Party types, and the Fifth Column was the least competent resistance movement since the SLA.

At least they finally shot Tyler, that poor dumb bastard.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:56 PM on May 18, 2011


GuyZero: it's a shame that isn't actually the point which the series made, then. At least not in the minds of my (generally liberal, thinking, US-policy-questioning) circle of friends.

Most of them were cheering it on when it was happening in BSG.

So... either I'm one of the few who got that point, or the producers inadvertently made a show which ran directly against the point they were trying to make, or they failed in their quest.

In any case, a show which actually was making that point and made it clearly wouldn't have stayed on the air as many years as BSG did. I think that wasn't the point, or else we need to have some kind of touchstone marker we can use to sort out the people who claim to be sensitive to these matters but still found BSG a show worth cheering.

Maybe THAT is the point. That if you kept watching, you really don't find it as horrific as you claim.
posted by hippybear at 1:56 PM on May 18, 2011


It sounds like I saved myself some time and heartache by not continuing to watch V. Caprica was just ridiculous by the end of season 2 and I couldn't bring myself to keep going.

In any case, a show which actually was making that point and made it clearly wouldn't have stayed on the air as many years as BSG did.

How long was 24 on the air? Oh, wait, people actually enjoyed the torture stuff in that show also.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:00 PM on May 18, 2011


BSG was the type of show that got right wing cred for having a good guy use torture, and later had them use suicide bombers. It wasn't as simplistic as some other depictions.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:01 PM on May 18, 2011


SG-1 took a full season to find its rhythm. Seasons 2-6 pretty much hit the balance every time out: humor, great chemistry between the leads, lots of stuff blowing up, and some pretty substantial story arcs. The producers/writers knew exactly what they were doing and what their audience wanted. After season 6, Michael Shanks was off for most of the season and they couldn't quite get their balance. Then Richard Dean Anderson got tired of it and starting showing up less, it all went down hill. But for 5 seasons it was far more entertaining than the film ever was.

Atlantis had a shakedown period too, but once they figured out that David Hewlett and Joe Flanigan could replicate the bromance that Shanks and Anderson had, it was off and running.

Universe was a tough sell but I could see why they did what they did. Repeating the formula a third time was not a good idea, not in the wake of BSG. So they experimented with their dark side. It didn't connect with audiences but I am sure that the producers thought they went down swinging rather than phone it in with a replay of what they had done before.

17 years of often solid and sometimes great entertainment, most franchises should be so lucky.
posted by Ber at 2:03 PM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, wait, people actually enjoyed the torture stuff in that show also.

SOME people enjoyed that. I watched exactly one season of it and never watched it again.

How much audience overlap was there between 24 and BSG? THAT would be the interesting subject of study, I think.
posted by hippybear at 2:05 PM on May 18, 2011


I watched SG:U, but skipped over much of the second season. I was extremely disappointed with the finale. They only thought they made a season finale that could substitute as a series finale. I pretend Atlantis never happened.

That being said, I'll always love SG-1. I feel like they got the tone just right. Usually jocular but serious when the situation warranted. The four original members of SG-1 just worked well together. When Michael Shanks pulled a TV's Frank for season six they lost the rhythm a little, but pulled it back together when he returned.

When they made the transition from Richard Dean Anderson to Ben Browder, I was skeptical even though I enjoyed Farscape thoroughly. Browder's portrayal of Col. Mitchell contained just the right mix of firm leadership, extreme competence, and joke-cracking wise-ass, and I wound up enjoying seasons nine & ten as much as the first eight.

Finally, I just want to go on record as saying that the best SG-1 episode is obviously, Season 2, Ep. 21, 1969. Don S. Davis never really got the credit he deserved for his portrayal of Gen. Hammond.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:12 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can someone write a summary of the Stargate shows for someone who's only seen the movie? I enjoyed it (and in fact, I think it was the first DVD I ever purchased), and I can sort of picture a greater storyline. But I'd be interested to know some of the directions they took it. Was it all Anachronistic Egyptology? Did they un-Egypt it up?

Stay tuned for massive spoilers:

Stargate SG-1

SG-1 begins where the movie left off. There are now multiple SG teams going through the gate, exploring new worlds. The first is SG-1, headed by Jack O'Neill, Daniel Jackson and a new Scientist/Air Force Captain character: Samantha Carter. They are joined by a turncoat Jaffa named Teal'C. The Big Bad remains the Goa'uld (and Egyptian mythos) for the first few seasons. They also introduce other aliens from which Norse and Greek mythologies were supposedly based. Story quality varied widely, but was more irreverent and somewhat self-deprecating.

Around Season 5, the show took a big turn. They switched from Showtime to SciFi channel. The producers killed off Daniel Jackson with no warning to the fans, which turned into a huge scandal and nearly tanked the show. The producers made an assumption about their fan base which was totally wrong. They thought their fans were men ages 18-34, and it turns out that the show was mostly watched by women who liked Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Shanks and Christopher Judge. Oops. Massive fanbase revolt.

In addition, there is the Lucian Alliance, a group of mercenary humans who have acquired Go'uld ships and technology, and established their own empire.

Season 5 introduced a new Big Bad, and a very long-term storyline that introduced a race of Ancient humans (creatively called "Ancients") that had created the Stargates, had begun exploring the universe before ascending to a higher plane of existence and become pure energy beings. From this point forward, all Stargate series become centered in some way around Ancient technology, conflicts and ascendance. The new enemy, named Anubis, was a partially ascended being, with all sorts of unusual powers.

In Season 8, Anubis is defeated. A new Big Bad was introduced: a race of evil ascended energy beings named the Ori. The Ori have portrayed themselves as gods to humans living in another galaxy, formed a powerful religious cult and are intent on converting the Milky Way. They remain the Big Bad until the end of the SG-1 series.

Stargate Atlantis:

Canon, established in the movie, is that a 7 chevron address is required to connect one stargate to another.

As it turns out, to reach a stargate in another galaxy you need an 8 chevron address and massive amounts of power. During explorations, an SG team discovers an 8 chevron address, which connects to a stargate in the Pegasus galaxy. The stargate is located in an Ancient city named Atlantis.

This show was markedly different than its predecessor. New characters, new crew, different baddies. Similar feel.

The Big Bad in Atlantis are the Wraith. They're telepathic, humanoid alien creatures that evolved from a large bug and feed off of human life energy through their hands. (Think vampires who have to lay hands on you to suck out your life force.) They live in hive ships and prey on the Pegasus galaxy. When the galaxy's human population dies off, the Wraith hibernate for hundreds of years and allow the humans to repopulate. They then awaken to feed, attack each other and expand their numbers.

Atlantis the City becomes the base of operations for an SG team and a group of scientists hoping to learn about the Ancients.

Stargate Universe:

So... canon has now established that 7 chevrons are required for in-galaxy travel. 8 chevrons are required for galaxy to galaxy travel... what would a 9 chevron address do?

On a planet where a stargate is wired directly into the planetary core with the ability to dial 9 chevrons, a team of researchers tries to figure out how to enter a correct address and open a wormhole to Someplace Else. They have an address, but can't quite figure out how to manage the power fluctuations without blowing up the planet. The base is attacked by the aforementioned Lucian Alliance, and instead of evacuating to Earth, a scientist decides to try One Last Time to dial 9 chevrons... and makes a connection. The gate overloads, the planetary core goes critical, everyone jumps through the gate before the planet blows up.

The evacuees exit the gate to find themselves on a ship called "Destiny," billions of light years from home. The ship ancient in every sense of the word: designed by Ancients, following other ships that are seeding the universe with stargates.

SGU was a very different sort of show. Very little humor. Very dark. Much more in BSG's style. Much more character driven, rather then by technology or alien encounters.

My wife tends to dismiss most scifi as "people wearing rubber heads." This show had none of that. All aliens were CGI. And the show was mostly about people, dealing with being stranded with no real hope of going home. The ship is incapable of powering a stargate to send them home. Its life support is failing. The crew has nothing more than what they brought with them. And they have no control over the ship: they're locked out of the mainframe by a very complex code. So the ship flies using an FTL drive, dropping out to refuel or to pause by a planet that has a working stargate for a set period of time. (Usually 12 hours.) That's all the time the crew has to send an expedition to the planet to retrieve supplies. Like ice, so they'll have water. Or calcium carbonate to replenish the filters in the life support system. Or medicine. Or food. Etc.

Hope this was helpful. :)
posted by zarq at 2:13 PM on May 18, 2011 [18 favorites]


The thing that killed SGU for me was those stupid "communication stones" or whatever. Ridiculous. Why set up a premise in which isolation would seem to be a prime factor and then go ahead and destroy that isolation with a crazy Deus ex Machina?

I gave up around the time Rhona Mitra and some people I didn't care about attacked the ship in an extremely drawn out and boring fashion. If I stop watching because Rhona Mitra is on screen too much, you have a problem. Because that has never happened before.
posted by Justinian at 2:15 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I love the 3rd-degree reference to the Crying Game. 'Cause SGU is related to the original Stargate. Which had Jaye Davidson in it. Who starred in The Crying Game.
posted by Justinian at 2:21 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Justinian: "The thing that killed SGU for me was those stupid "communication stones" or whatever. Ridiculous. Why set up a premise in which isolation would seem to be a prime factor and then go ahead and destroy that isolation with a crazy Deus ex Machina?"

This is a big spoiler, but they blinded a B-level character (Dr. Park) in one of the last episodes. There was a scene in the finale where she uses the communication stones and is standing in someone else's body on Earth, looking out at the sky and crying.

For that powerful moment alone, the deus ex machina was worth it, imo.
posted by zarq at 2:21 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eh. I don't think one scene could possibly justify gutting what should be a great strength of your premise. The show should have become increasingly claustrophobic, paranoid, and isolated as time passed and they had no contact with anyone else. Instead we were constantly treated to crappy Earth scenes. In a show about a group of people stranded thousands of light years away on a ship with rapidly dwindling supplies.

They made a lifeboat story and then let people teleport to shore. Yeah, yeah, it's actually consciousness transfer and not telep.... snooze.
posted by Justinian at 2:27 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Justinian: "The show should have become increasingly claustrophobic, paranoid, and isolated as time passed and they had no contact with anyone else."

Yeah, but then they'd have to call it Star Trek Voyager. ;)

I see your point, but still, I didn't mind the Communication Stones.
posted by zarq at 2:31 PM on May 18, 2011


Justinian: While most of the using the communication stones to visit your friends and relatives story lines were total crap, the ones with Camile were gold. I think her relationship with her girlfriend back an earth was one of the most believable, or at least the only one that I actually became invested in.
posted by selenized at 2:32 PM on May 18, 2011


The SF channel execs killed Farscape in order to spend the money on more Stargate. This is not Stargate's fault. Still, I cannot help but despise them and all their works.

On the plus side, my last girlfriend agreed to go out with me primarily on the basis of my emailed diatribe about the "fucking Egyptian MacGyver show", so who says misguided rage doesn't pay off?
posted by Errant at 2:34 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Justinian: you say you haven't watched the whole show, but you're willing to define it. I think that's faulty behavior on your part.

The communication stones are an interesting twist, but they weren't used that much and they were used quite interestingly, especially in the second season. Which, oops, is after you quit watching. Pity that.

There were some odd things about the stones and how they were used, some of which annoyed me (like why they didn't get a bunch of the top researches on board using them and try doing hard-core problem solving on the ship). But the levels of exploration of character which they allowed were excellent, and while it was a bit of a device, it was used well in the context of the series.
posted by hippybear at 2:34 PM on May 18, 2011


Unfortunatly the communication stones were established in SG1, so for fans it would have been just as big a WTF if they didn't bring them, but they could have had them not work because they were in a totally different galaxy.... On second thought, did they use the stones in Atlantis? They could have figured something else out.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:35 PM on May 18, 2011


Ad hominem I thought Atlantis spun off before the communication stones became a thing. Which is why they did the whole lost in space thing for a bit before communicating via the gate.

Also: In later Voyager they also start communicating with the rest of starfleet which leads me to think that writers just get bored of having such an isolated community of characters to deal with.
posted by selenized at 2:38 PM on May 18, 2011


The communication stones were an excellent expository device.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:38 PM on May 18, 2011


I can't view them on my phone, but there are three videos on YouTube that apparently show the relationship between Camille Wray (Ming Na) and her girlfriend Sharon (Reiko Aylesworth)

1, 2, 3.

I could be wrong, but I think they were the only people on the show shown to be in normal, loving and supportive relationship.
posted by zarq at 2:39 PM on May 18, 2011


Justinian: you say you haven't watched the whole show, but you're willing to define it. I think that's faulty behavior on your part.

I watched at least 20 episodes. How many episodes do I need to watch before I can form a conclusion? Watching over half the series isn't enough? I don't think I can accept that. Maybe if it ran 12 seasons you could argue, well, it was a different show in the last six years, but I'm not sure it's fair to say that, hey, only watching 22 out of 40 episodes isn't enough to decide anything.
posted by Justinian at 2:47 PM on May 18, 2011


I love dark sci-fi! (I quit watching BSG when it went from "We're running out of water, you guys." to "Hey, let's all head over to the nightclub ship for some karaoke.")

Some of the complaints here are making me think that maybe I should check out Stargate: Universe. Which is a shame. I am the demographic of abject failure and early cancellation.

:(
posted by thehmsbeagle at 2:50 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I gave up around the time Rhona Mitra and some people I didn't care about attacked the ship in an extremely drawn out and boring fashion.

Ditto. I heard it got better in Season Two, but because Season One had become such an effort to watch I never got round to checking out the s2 opener. S1 had potential (Young and Rush fighting off-ship in the mid-season cliffhanger was nicely vicious), but the continuous faffing about with irrelevent earth plotlines involving stones and revolutionaries etc killed it for me.
posted by Sparx at 2:52 PM on May 18, 2011


Artw : ...an effort to have some alieness to their aliens.

I agree. They really should bring back Farscape.

I liked SG-U. My initial complaints that it wasn't as much fun as SG-1 and Atlantis were mitigated by the fact that I really like Robert Carlyle and I enjoyed the complete asshole he was playing. The show was going interesting places there at the end, and I wouldn't be surprised if they turned out a TV movie or two.

Lexx was awful.

Yes. It was. And that's what I loved... no, loved about it. The characters were often unlikeable, petty, and it existed in a universe where death on a planetary was always a capricious possibility. You just don't get sci-fi like that too often.

I miss Lexx and its everything-is-a-metaphor-for-sex way of looking at... well, everything.
posted by quin at 2:57 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


SG-1's Window of Opportunity is on Hulu.
posted by zarq at 3:01 PM on May 18, 2011


The SF channel execs killed Farscape in order to spend the money on more Stargate. This is not Stargate's fault. Still, I cannot help but despise them and all their works.

Yeah, I kinda loved Farscape, goofy as it was... though I can understand people not being able to get past 'the fucking muppets' and despite watching it all (on terriestial tv! often video taping eps that went out late at night to watch later! just like Buffy! you tell this to kids today and they just don't believe you...) I've never gone back to re-watch

What I saw of it Lexx was just wrong and... dirty, in every way. Far too European.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:12 PM on May 18, 2011


Farscape was one of the best science fiction TV shows ever. Far better than many give it credit for. The character of John Crichton was pitch-perfect and, looking back, the Eli Wallace character in SGU owes quite a bit to Crichton. They both react to the absurdity of the situation by falling back on the only references they can; written and (particularly) media SF. It's certainly how I'd react.
posted by Justinian at 3:18 PM on May 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


V was incredibly bad. My husband and I watched three quarters of the way through the second season because 1. We like giggling at bad TV and 2. I'm a sucker for alien sex. But eventually, we realized we weren't even enjoying it in a gleeful, bad-natured way anymore. In fact, watching had become a boring chore.

(I heard they kind of ripped off Octavia Butler in the end. I really wish someone would make a Lilith's Brood TV series.)

Lexx was camp (though surprisingly dark, deep camp). Saying it's "bad" misses the point completely.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:20 PM on May 18, 2011


IT IS A FARGATE!
From the makers of Findependace day!
posted by Senor Cardgage at 3:37 PM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


With the recent purge taking out V and The Event I think it might just be Fringe, Doctor Who and a handful of weak SyFy offerings left as explicitly Sci-Fi shows go.

Terra Nova (people colonizing the dinosaur past) is coming in fall, but who knows whether it'll be any better than, say, Earth2.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:38 PM on May 18, 2011


The thing that the Stargate franchise suffered from was a production leadership that was increasingly out of touch and out of ideas as the shows progressed. This became pretty clear with SGU.

In the extreme. The level arrogance exhibited by executive producer Brad Wright is astounding and his dogsbody Joe Mallozzie is astounding. I'm a longtime fan, starting with SG-1 and then Atlantis. I've seen bits of SGU, but I hate the show both on principle and because the producers were incredible, enormous douchebags regarding the cancellation of Atlantis. Female fans weren't good enough for them, older female fans especially.

The producers basically killed Atlantis because they were tired of doing it and wanted to move on to their space soap opera BSG clone. They stopped caring after season 4 of Atlantis and didn't even bother to write a proper ending to the series. It was left at a cliffhanger, then they strung us along with talk of a direct-to-dvd movie along the lines of SG-1's Ark of Truth and Continuum.

But guess what? SGU cost twice as much to make as Atlantis, didn't bring in twice the numbers, never, ever got cemented that coveted male 18-35 demographic - and the economy tanked. MGM's bankruptcy means they couldn't afford to do an SGA movie to wrap up the series and after they started working on SGU, but by that point they didn't really care about the fans they left out in the cold. Nope, Brad Wright was hell-bent on pursuing his dream of critical acclaim, tired of giving a shit about his goofy team-oriented show even though fans still loved it and it had good ratings.

The producers (and some of the writers) reaped what they sowed, though. Their shitty attitudes towards SG-1 and Atlantis fans was repaid in low ratings for SGU. Their dismissive anti-woman stance, when so many of their fans were female, was put paid. They got every single bit of what they deserved and I will never, ever feel sorry for them. They ruined a good show to make their new shiny and they failed to deliver any actual shiny. It's entirely their fault that they ruined the franchise and all the cast and crew are out of work. Boo-fucking-hoo.
posted by i feel possessed at 3:39 PM on May 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


Holy cow, typos ahoy. Sorry.
posted by i feel possessed at 3:41 PM on May 18, 2011


the only good sci-fi show I've seen is Sarah Conner Chronicles.
I just watched the pilot show to that the other night, and I hope it gets better or I'm going to be seriously wondering what people are smoking by thinking that was a good show.


It had its ups and downs, and some of the downs lasted for several-eposide story arcs, and I really wish they had dropped the voiceover, and whiny I-don't-want-to-be-the-savior John Connor was hard to take. But the first season is about him growing up and accepting it. And the series developed a really interesting situation in which we realize the war has become far more about revising history than about robots vs. humans in the future. And that there are more sides than just Skynet and the resistance.

The end of the second season was really good, and led to a really, really interesting situation, and it's the only series cancellation I can think of that I, personally, really wish hadn't happened.

Of course, maybe it's better this way, because more seasons might just have revealed that there was never a plan, and none of it ever made sense, and I would hold for it the hatred in my heart I now have for BSG and Lost.
posted by Zed at 3:50 PM on May 18, 2011


The show was going interesting places there at the end, and I wouldn't be surprised if they turned out a TV movie or two.

Looks like that's pretty much not a posibility, though the last link there hints at what might have been in the movies if it had been.
posted by Artw at 4:01 PM on May 18, 2011


The damned political intrigue and infighting sub-plot is what killed SGU for me. I wanted adventure, not military plots.

That's sort of what held my interest for me in the show for a while because I'm a big fan of a well-scripted and well-planed lifeboat plot. For a while, you had The Caine Mutiny in space, with a barely competent commander vs. a brilliant guy who knows better but just can't pull off the whole leadership thing.

But Lost did a better job of delivering conflicts between personalities struggling for trivial bits of authority while weird stuff happened around them, while Fringe did a better job of keeping you guessing about character morality.

And then, I stopped keeping up with the episodes as they started to drop off the Hulu queue, read a review that it was pulling yet another "God did it" thing, and completely lost interest.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:04 PM on May 18, 2011


The SF channel execs killed Farscape in order to spend the money on more Stargate. This is not Stargate's fault. Still, I cannot help but despise them and all their works.

I had exactly the same reaction for the same reason, and also will forever despise it.

...though I can understand people not being able to get past 'the fucking muppets'

I never understood this reaction because I thought it was the best part of the show. I thought, "Finally, aliens that aren't all just humanoids with funny faces."
posted by dhalgren at 4:05 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Finally, aliens that aren't all just humanoids with funny faces."

See, I feel that way and *still* had the "Ugh, Muppets!" reaction. Maybe I'll try again sometime.
posted by Artw at 4:07 PM on May 18, 2011


I had a, "Yay! Muppets!" reaction.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:10 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


See, I feel that way and *still* had the "Ugh, Muppets!" reaction. Maybe I'll try again sometime.

You really should try, because Justinian is right. It was definitely one of the best sci-fi shows ever, muppets or no.
posted by dhalgren at 4:11 PM on May 18, 2011


See, I feel that way and *still* had the "Ugh, Muppets!" reaction. Maybe I'll try again sometime.

Didja feel that way about Yoda, too?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:13 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, you know how some people are all "yum! Brussel sprouts!" and other people are more "I can appreciate that you think that's yummy, but they taste like boiled sick to me?" - It's like that. As I say, someday I'll probably give it another shot in case I have a different reaction.

(Also, TBH, from what I saw they didn't seem very alien to me, just puppets that act like people instead of dudes with head bumps that act like people)
posted by Artw at 4:15 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Didja feel that way about Yoda, too?

Kinda.
posted by Artw at 4:15 PM on May 18, 2011


What the hell is wrong with muppets?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:19 PM on May 18, 2011


Cos it's quite clearly a goofy looking puppet, and somehow that blocks my buy-in.

(And yet I don't get the same thing with R2-D2 or the robots from Silent Running, so I guess if it's got a dwarf or an amputee inside of it then it's okay. /shrugs)
posted by Artw at 4:21 PM on May 18, 2011


Farscape had some of the most mental plotting evah. It's a cliche to say 'what had the writer's been smoking?' but for Farscape... well I think the meeting may have gone something like 'yeah ok so we've got to split up the cast for budget or some other reason... lets just clone the lead so he's with both sets. Yeah that'll work...oh wait a minute what about the Vadar knock-off villain, do we clone him as well? No... well ok, letls copying him but just put a copy in one of the leads' heads. So he can talk to him all the time. You know, virtual. Yeah that'll work. And we can do surreal dream like stuff... hey isn't the guy who plays him a drummer of something. Yeah! He can do so drumming some time as well....'

I don't think there will ever be a sf series again where the main leather clad bad guy takes time out to be a bit of jazz drumming.

And the bow-wielding warrior women from Mad Max was in it as a blue plant. Perhaps I should think about a re-watch at some point...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:30 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's probably a variation on the uncanny valley problem. Their a little too close to real, but not really enough. Robots don't have that problem.

And the bow-wielding warrior women from Mad Max was in it as a blue plant.

That's actress Virginia Hey. She quit Farscape because the makeup was causing her kidneys to bleed (cite). Fucking hell, eh?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:36 PM on May 18, 2011


"Kill her! Then we'll have pizza, and margarita shooters!"

"No one... has margaritas... with pizza!"

"*sigh* You're out of your mind, John."
posted by Errant at 4:38 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, man. Every time sone said "Farscape" I was picturing Andromeda in my mind and wondering what the heck you were talking about.

because no one watched Andromeda, right?
posted by GuyZero at 4:41 PM on May 18, 2011


Yeah, I really hated all the moping storylines in the first season of SGU where they used the communication stones to make one last desperate grab for their old lives on Earth. Once they settled in to the business of keeping their lifeboat alive it picked up. A bit. Some. I just think they could have done with a couple more examples where, like.... See, this ship is Ancient technology! It has Mysterious Powers! Booga booga! Here's this room with an ancient database! When this guy with the Ancient DNA sits in the command chair, something happens! etc etc etc. Play around with the premise a bit. Hell, the whole solution where they used the stasis pods had been nagging me for the last few episodes. The refugees are causing a drain on your resources? Stasis 'em! Thaw one out as needed but otherwise put 'em on ice!

Instead it felt like they were on the Prometheus with a bunch of locked doors. Being character driven was OK, but it tended to be at the expense of advancing the storyline. And then they neutered Rush in the last half of the 2nd season anyway when he discovered his higher calling or whatever.

Now I want to make an effort to actually watch the rest of Atlantis. The 2nd or 3rd season just lost me while they figured out what they were going to do with the characters and while I came back for the last two seasons, I know I missed a chunk early on.
posted by Kyol at 4:45 PM on May 18, 2011


They're a little too close to real, but not really enough. Robots don't have that problem.

Well, unless they're the robots from The Black Hole.
posted by hippybear at 4:46 PM on May 18, 2011


Ironically, I always confuse Andromeda with Earth: Final Conflict.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:47 PM on May 18, 2011


Well, unless they're the robots from The Black Hole.

You shut up. Those robots were the best ever. I had nightmares for ages about that movie - it was the most intense kids' movie ever IMO. And no, you can't have my commemorative glasses from Burger King (kidding, but I wish I still had them).
posted by GuyZero at 4:55 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Instead we were constantly treated to crappy Earth scenes. In a show about a group of people stranded thousands of light years away on a ship with rapidly dwindling supplies.

Well.. Crappy Earth scenes and Janelle Monae.
posted by Chuckles at 4:57 PM on May 18, 2011


Well, if Eli has got his math right, the show should be back in 3 years. I reckon he should be getting on the job at hand if he wants to be in the next series though. Not standing on the deck staring out the window.
posted by unliteral at 6:14 PM on May 18, 2011


I've been trying to catch up on this thread but it feels like its 14 years long.

Stargate (pre-universe) was pure jazz, rough, at times terrible, sometimes complete improvization, yet it always blended out in something fantastic in the end and somehow even the mistakes were generally re-appropriated and reevaluated into success. Contrast that with Babylon 5, which was classical music, basically centrally planned and dictated by one (awesome) guy.

There's a throw away line in one episode of SG1 where Carter says "technobabble this technobabble that, and as a result we occasionally have to have crossovers into parallel universes to preserve causilty". What's fantastic about it is that in that one line they explain the previous instances where the parallel universe stuff had happened, which honestly they probably did at the time just because its a sci fi trope and they were low on ideas.

Universe tried to drink from BSG's well, but that well was already dry before they even started. 4th season of BSG? Basically the worst television ever. That universe episode where they're basically just reading the archive of their time travel duplicate lives was awful. Had it been just a little more awful it could have been hilarious.
posted by Chekhovian at 6:32 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, at least it was better than Lexx.

No way.
Liked the Stargate movie. Seen a bit of SGU. Can't believe how long the franchise is running.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:43 PM on May 18, 2011


Determining whether it was SGU or Lexx was the worse show is a hard calculation. Like which infinity is bigger. SGU was about half good and half fantastically terrible (like the episode where the missing crew members mysteriously appear in a new shuttle, then mysteriously die, but hey we got a replacement shuttle! I know its hard to believe that that sentence could have been an episode, I wrote it and I hardly believe it, but it is).

On the other side of the equation I've only seen one episode of Lexx and just wow, that was terrible. Terrible enough to perhaps balance out some of the utter shit episodes of SGU. Its hard to say.
posted by Chekhovian at 6:58 PM on May 18, 2011


and as a result we occasionally have to have crossovers into parallel universes to preserve causilty

I actually rather liked SGUs "fuck causality" approach to time travel... Though it's less cool that duplicates are quite so obviously narrativly doomed.
posted by Artw at 7:03 PM on May 18, 2011


Artw well they did kill Col. Telford's original and kept the duplicate back on Earth, sort of hitting the resent button on him travelling out to destiny in the first place I guess.

But yeah, when the writing got tough SGU went back in time to try again.
posted by selenized at 7:07 PM on May 18, 2011


Since I discovered that all ten seasons of SG1 are available on Netflix, I've been making my way through them--I'm partway through season 7 right now. I am inevitably comparing it to Firefly, which has a special place in my heart. But while SG1's dialog is usually blander than Firefly's, I enjoy the long range plot arcs. Things developed slowly, but now there is a richness to the universe. You never know which alien representative is going to drop in on a particular show, be it Tok'ra, Jaffa, or Asgard. (I think there was an episode with both Jacob and Brei'tach appearing together, which was pretty cool.)

They also show an unusual willingness to poke fun at themselves and sci fi in general, like in this scene.
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:08 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]



On the other side of the equation I've only seen one episode of Lexx and just wow, that was terrible. Terrible enough to perhaps balance out some of the utter shit episodes of SGU. Its hard to say.


Lexx was just stupidly fun. You had an idiot, a half-lizard former sex slave, a horny robot and a badass zombie crewing a ship that could destroy the world. Everything was surreal and strange. It seems like the opposite of SG1, but I didn't watch much SG1.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:11 PM on May 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seemed to me like it wasn't so much "fuck causality" as it was, something clearly miraculous always intervened here to save us at really desperate moments, but just barely e.g. somehow the first destiny just happened to travel back to the right moment where first rush could tell everyone the plan didn't work.

I guess they were trying to build to some grand idea of what the mission was or something I don't know. I guess they had to journey around enough to eventually impress god enough to save them? I don't know why they had to take the same pills that the BSG writers took.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:12 PM on May 18, 2011


There is plenty of stupid funny in the SG world, but its more about humor through people's responses to things than through contrived situations.

At one point Sheppard is interviewing one of the enemies, basically as a space vampire:
Sheppard: Sorry if I woke you. Just came by to see if there was anything you needed- magazines, fresh towels.
Wraith: You hide your fear poorly, Major.
Sheppard: You know, we've been having these conversations for a couple of weeks now, and I don't even know your name. You guys do have names, right? Let me guess- Steve?
Wraith: I am your death. That is all you need to know.
Sheppard: I prefer Steve.
posted by Chekhovian at 7:32 PM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


I loved SG-1, but it felt to me that throughout most of the show they just couldn't do an ending. The action stops and then "welp! it's over! (roll credits)".

I loved universe. What struck me most, towards the end, was how natural it seemed when people were interacting. When I go back and watch TNG, it seems so wooden and forced when they're trying to have the crew be friendly together. It was nice to see a science fiction show where the people seemed relatable, natural.

Also, I don't mind the "message from god" plot. At the end of Contact (the novel, not the movie), Ellie starts searching for messages hidden in irrational numbers. After six months of crunching, she finds a message in base 11 buried deep in pi - a circle made of zeroes and ones. I kind of figured that Universe was going in a similar direction. I dunno, maybe it's best that it ended while it can still be a mystery.
posted by heathkit at 10:25 PM on May 18, 2011


The notion of a message from God buried in something apparently random doesn't bother me that much. The absurd reactions of the "crew" were painful to watch though.
posted by Chuckles at 11:36 PM on May 18, 2011


Wraith: I am your death. That is all you need to know.
Sheppard: I prefer Steve.


My favorite is the episode where they travel back in time to the 60s, when Cheyenne Mountain was still only a NORAD installation. They get gussied up in hippy-type clothes, and hilarity ensues, etc. THEN they are hitchiking and flag down some kind of technicolor Magic Bus. I think the guy is even on his way to Woodstock.

Hippy Bus-Driver Guy: Wow, man, what's that? Some kind of tattoo? (referring to the gold inlay on his forehead)
Teal'c: It symbolizes slavery. To False Gods.
Hippy: (clearly impressed and amused, laughing) Right on.

RIGHT ON
genius.
posted by LiteOpera at 11:40 PM on May 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Chekhovian: "4th season of BSG? Basically the worst television ever."

"Oh my god, we have so many plot balls in the air! However will we catch them all?"

"Meh. Pick one, but fumble the catch so the ball flies out of your hands and hits Felix in the head. Let the others drop; we need more screen time for Adama to stare wildly at girders!"
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:07 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can someone write a summary of the Stargate shows for someone who's only seen the movie?

Stargate was an awesome movie that had Kurt Russell and some nerds kicking ten kinds of arse in a fight against super cool interstellar Egyptian slavers, with awesome ships and awesome weapons and awesome tech and awesome costumes and an awesome plot and awesome action.

Things go down hill from there, until by the time you get to Stargate: Universe, you have a show about people using magic rocks on one side of the universe to act out scenes from Days of Our Lives on the other.

They should've made SG:U about the tensions between Scientists and Soldiers in Space, and fucked off all the civilians, everything back on Earth, the entire Lucian alliance, magic space angel babies, etc.

And Eli. Fuck that guy. Grow a pair. No, I don't mean man boobs, you cry baby. You're only there because they wanted to tap into the Seth Rogen vibe without hiring Seth Rogen.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:53 AM on May 19, 2011


All this thread has done is make me long for the days when there were several space opera type scifi programs on every week. I liked SGU, but I was never quite sure if it was because it was the only bug spaceship show running and I have a need to fill that void.

Also, fuck Syfy (pronounced siffy) for their lack of commitment to actual scifi and their slide into reality tv garbage. Even Quantum Kitchen, which could have been a cool science based cooking show, was drama laiden crap. I hope that some day a network with a real love for the genre, both good and bad, comes along and decides to do what syfy cheaped out on, and the viewers leave in droves.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 5:27 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll definitely be missing any varation of Stargate on the tube. I always appreciated the aspect of the show in that it's not taking place in the future, but it's main characters are people from our time thrust into situations often amazing and sometimes horrifying.

I enjoyed both seasons of SGU (still waiting for the last three episodes to appear on Netflix), and did think there was an improvement in the second act. The communicator stones added an interesting element to the isolation of the crew of Destiny. They had the opportunity to reach out to their past lives, but really, never the ability to return to them. One of the best episodes is when Eli tries to visit his Mom and she refuses to believe him when he (in the body of another) tries to tell her the truth. Likewise, the setup in this season when two visitors from Earth initially refused to return out of the realization that their bodies back home had been lethally poisoned with radiation. All together, the stones emphasized their isolation in the deep of space.

It's a shame, I think, on the part of a lot of Stargate fans to have automatically dismissed it as a BSG clone. The aspects that set Stargate apart from other science fiction shows were generally still there in the premise of Universe. While some may not have enjoyed the Lucian Alliance aspect, I thought it was a nice touch in that the Stargate universe established by SG1 was still ongoing, even if mainly off camera. Somewhere out there, perhaps an SG Team (headed by a Colonel Carter?) was pushing the boundaries of possibility to stave off one more alien attack.

It seems a fair part of the demise did have to do with the time slot. After it was booted, in part to make way for...wrestling, the show suffered a decline in ratings. The Amanda Tapping vehicle, Sanctuary, which recently was moved from the Friday night slot has now apparently suffered somewhat similar droppings in ratings. People like their Friday night sci-fi!

It seems that if Stargate is to return, it'll be a long time doing so, but hopefully not that long. I certainly enjoyed joining the show on weekly adventures.
posted by Atreides at 8:27 AM on May 19, 2011


I'll definitely be missing any varation of Stargate on the tube.

You only have to be missing that if you're only looking for new episodes. There's some form of Stargate running on some random channel on my satellite schedule pretty much every day, often multiple times a day.
posted by hippybear at 11:06 AM on May 19, 2011


I'm going to have to give Farscape another go. I watched the first few episodes and kind of thought it was corny, but maybe that was the muppet reaction. It basically looked like Buck Rogers to me though.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:04 PM on May 19, 2011


P.o.B After reading this thread I spent last night having my own personal Farscape marathon. I think all I accomplished was reigniting the embers of my rage over the show getting cancelled. But then again I like the puppets.
posted by selenized at 12:14 PM on May 19, 2011


It embraces the corn, which leads to some great humor and amazing freedom for the writers.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:14 PM on May 19, 2011


I think there's divergent ideas on what it means to actually be aware and embrace the corniness of which a show produces. Lexx was intimate with it's own corniness and celebrated it, but I felt Farscape like it served up the corn as some high grade stuff that should be appreciated and taken as a realistic device. Then again I only saw the first few episodes, so I'm going to have to go back and watch some more eps this summer and get a better feel for it.
OTOH, there's Andromeda which had a a lot of potential to be really good but ulitmately suffered under the weight of it's main actor delivering a crap ton of corn in the form of "Hey, guys remember when I was Hercules?! *punch-punch-kick* _____INSERTSTUPIDGAGJOKEHERE_____".
posted by P.o.B. at 12:52 PM on May 19, 2011


P.o.B.: " OTOH, there's Andromeda which had a a lot of potential to be really good but ulitmately suffered under the weight of it's main actor delivering a crap ton of corn in the form of "Hey, guys remember when I was Hercules?! *punch-punch-kick* _____INSERTSTUPIDGAGJOKEHERE_____"."

Sadly, Andromeda hit its peak in the sixth episode, "Angel Dark, Demon Bright." It was all downhill from there. After Robert Hewlitt Wolfe was dumped from the series, it got worse: the third season was a complete mess. Continuity problems. Characters acting contrary to established canon.
posted by zarq at 1:56 PM on May 19, 2011


Although... I DO wish Keith Hamilton Cobb would be cast in more scifi roles. He gave a great, lengthy interview to Republibot last month. Here's an excerpt:
Of course, the opportunities for this are not always utilized, in fact, most often not, in plot-driven television, which I'm afraid comprises the majority of televised sci-fi, and certainly soap opera (Let me here exempt the latest incarnation of "Battlestar Galactica," only the first season of Chris Carter's long dead "Millennium," the original "Star Trek" and the first couple of "Star Trek" films). I read some of your other interviews in preparation for this one, and I can't remember if it was Joe Straczynski or John Varley who was, to some extent, lamenting the nature of plot-driven as opposed to character-driven TV, but I could certainly relate. It's one of the most prominent places in this business where creative integrity is regularly eviscerated on the alter of the business model.

Speaking of... I've just gotta stop here to note that I very recently watched the DVD of Danny Boyle's film, "Sunshine." Okay, so here we have a group of astronauts from Earth on a mission to the Sun, because the Sun is dying, and they've gotta drop some sort of nuclear device into it in order to bring it back to life so that it can continue to serve as life-giver to the Earth. It's already far too much science-fantasy for my taste, but I'm with it, because here's the thing: They're flying behind this huge umbrella-like shield to protect them from the killer force of infinitely intense solar heat and power. Any course deviation from the nose of the vessel first, and their back end is exposed unless properly compensated for, and from the very beginning they've shown how the Sun's rays will vaporize anything that is exposed to it in a nano-second. Well, of course, they are compelled to deviate from their course to answer a distress signal, and the navigator does not feed the data to the ship's computer in a way that changes the vessel's trajectory with sufficient compensation for the rear, exposing it to the Sun as it begins to peak from behind the protection of the shielding umbrella. The first thing to go is a rotating radio antenna, that terminates their communication link with Earth. And on and on... Fantasy notwithstanding, I was hooked. I'm thinking, "You've got the perfect built-in villain. You've got to get very close to the Sun, and the Sun don't play! What sort of things do you have to do to deal with this deadly enemy in order to get to it, get back home, and make it your friend again? You don't need any more jeopardy than that to build a truly compelling adventure story." But, of course, in a textbook case of formulaic, Hollywood, plot-driven bullshit, some studio exec must not have felt that the science within the fantasy was going to be interesting enough to the target audience. The next thing I know, there's some creature on-board ship messing with them. As if they don't have plenty of nearly plausible problems already, right? And he's like some guy who's been out there exposed to radiation too long and he's ugly and pissed off, but his prosthetics are bad, so they can only really show him in quick jump-cuts. So it becomes this story of this thing chasing these poor slobs around the ship which, ya know, you could have done in some house on Earth and saved yourself the FX budget. They had me at "Hello," and then... Plot-driven vehicles, and creativity by committee. Forgetaboutit!! Okay, another tangent. Sorry. Thanks for letting me rant.

posted by zarq at 2:08 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


The really enemy was SPACE MADNESS.

(and shitty, overdone editing)
posted by Artw at 2:11 PM on May 19, 2011


I really wouldn't have guessed the size of the market for cheesey television, cornball acting, and general middling camp until I read some of these comments. Here's what I understood some of these statements to say: "Show X [Lexx, farscape, V, whatever] wasn't really very good, but you see it knew it wasn't very good, so it didn't try very hard and relaxed into its own low quality, and that made it good"

Is the market for camp larger than the market actual quality work? What a depressing thought. Or is the difficulty of producing decent scifi so high that no one really tries and all that is pushed is the usual crap?

Regarding the developing God/sky father plotline in SGU, yes the way Contact did it was fantastic. Sagan's deity written into the structure of the universe was so much more profound than any bronze age burning bush. SGU's implementation of this plotline was 4th rate at best however.
posted by Chekhovian at 2:11 PM on May 19, 2011


Chekhovian I think it might have something to do with the narrative constraints of a campy genre show: Everyone in your audience already knows roughly what's going on, and this gives you more room to try something fun (because you don't have to waste time explaining). Yeah they're really formulaic but I think shows more that writing a complex and nuanced piece of sci fi that is not boring and appeals to a broad audience is incredibly hard.
posted by selenized at 2:20 PM on May 19, 2011


Zarq, seriously that's confusing me on a couple points:

1. Republican SF? WTF? Libertarian SF is not unusual, but socially conservative, technophobic SF...just...how?

2. Did the Andromeda people write Tyr's lines or just let Cobb talk? Damn.
posted by Chekhovian at 2:24 PM on May 19, 2011


Well, there was that shortlived show Defying Gravity, which was near future with abortion outlawed. I thought it was a pretty interesting idea to consider. Too bad the show couldn't really get it together.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:26 PM on May 19, 2011


I take Sunshine as two seriously great first acts followed by me getting drunk and pretending that what is happening in the third makes any sort of sense, followed by the last two minutes which resolves the film.

Works surprisingly well for maintaining a high level of enjoyment with the movie.
posted by quin at 2:36 PM on May 19, 2011


1. Republican SF? WTF? Libertarian SF is not unusual, but socially conservative, technophobic SF...just...how?

About. They seem to define themselves more as a safe zone for conservatives to talk about sf without fighting political battles.
posted by zarq at 2:43 PM on May 19, 2011


"Show X [Lexx, farscape, V, whatever] wasn't really very good, but you see it knew it wasn't very good, so it didn't try very hard and relaxed into its own low quality, and that made it good"

I think you misunderstand the context in which the term corny has been used. One thing I've realised by talking about shows and movies is that either people accept aesthetics of the fictional reality that the narrative takes place in or they don't. They then go on to critique it from that vantage point. The decision to accept those aesthetics or not usually doesn't make sense. You could make a long sundry list of every sci-fi show or movie out there about the proposed aesthetics, but in the end it's kind of a stupid argument.

Personally, I don't think Lexx is bad and I don't like it because it's bad for bad's sake. I accept, and actually like, it for what it is: a bungling low-level security guard, a human/lizard sex slave, a long dead warrior/assassin trapped on a stolen ship that is a living entity capable of destroying worlds. Compared to some other popular sci-fi shows, the premise is completely ridiculous but it still contains substance that far outpaces those other shows. Like I said above, I believe the third season of Lexx is far better than most sci-fi television output. You can dislike Lexx all you want, but that doesn't inherently make it bad.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:47 PM on May 19, 2011


Just as a follow up, I think the Stargate franchise was such an easy watch because most of the aesthetics were easily acceptable, or at least built upon an acceptable explanation. Not to mention the intiatial casting and character dynamics were really well setup. SG:U was an inevitable conclusion in the franchise to make Stargate into something that could be accepted by a larger audience.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:54 PM on May 19, 2011


I take Sunshine as two seriously great first acts followed by me getting drunk and pretending that what is happening in the third makes any sort of sense, followed by the last two minutes which resolves the film.

This strategy actually works with a great majority of movies released by Hollywood these days.
posted by hippybear at 3:02 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hippybear, that's essentially Quentin Tarantino's take on the film, which he chose to present (with review) along with There Will Be Blood when Sky Movies roped a bunch of famous directors and such into showing their favorite films. He thought the first two acts were 2001 level brilliance and the third act crashed and burned in terrible fashion.
posted by Justinian at 3:11 PM on May 19, 2011


that's essentially Quentin Tarantino's take on the film

Well, my feelings about Tarantino have been mixed across the years, but the way he ended Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds lead me to trust the man implicitly when it comes to the final act, so yeah. It's probably the best way to regard a lot of movies.

Although I will say, having seen 2001 when it was reissued to theaters in a restored print, on the third-ever light-through-this-print screening at the Castro Theater, having consumed a pot cookie the size of my face during the live theater organ recital warm-up... I'm not inclined to agree with him about that particular film.
posted by hippybear at 3:22 PM on May 19, 2011


P.o.B., wow that wiki summary of third season seems to cover the core of the single Lexx episode I saw about 15 years ago, as far as I remember it. Reading that I'm not sure how anyone could describe a show with that foundation as having any redeeming qualities, unless it was directed by David Lynch or Terry Gilliam.

I loathe Eureaka, Sanctuary, Lost, umm most of those type shows. My guess at the unifying factor behind those shows is capricious arbitrary plot points that seem to written with no thought to the future or the foundation of the show/characters. Its not that I'm not terribly obsessed with the "in space" or "real science" part of it. TNG was about 10% good and 90% terrible, the episode where everyone turns into a child and has to solve everything that way, seriously, why? Or the one where they reverse evolve in to monkeys and lizards? Weasley Crusher?

I thought the Dresden files TV show was actually generally pretty good, and much better than the fanfiction quality books it was based on (though I've only read 1.75 of them).
posted by Chekhovian at 3:35 PM on May 19, 2011


hippybear, yeah, there's something to be said for seeing 2001 in a theater with good sound, altered or not. The journey isn't the same, even on a big screen TV.
posted by Kyol at 3:40 PM on May 19, 2011


For me, the Dredsen File books did get better. Butcher could build a believable world and write an action scene but his initial attempts at dialog were horrible and cliched. But it did improve, unlike the Anita Blake series, which went from entertaining to "seriously, what the fuck were you thinking when you wrote this".

One of the best episodes of SG-1 is still "Window of Opportunity". Teal'c and O'Neill get caught in a timeloop, living the same day over and over again. The script was too short and there was 10 minutes of footage needed. And so we had ten glorious minutes of the two realizing, not unlike Bill Murray's character in Groundhog Day, that whatever they did had no consequences. Watching them tee up and drive golf balls through the open stargate was hilarious. Indeed.
posted by Ber at 3:45 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Watching them tee up and drive golf balls through the open stargate was hilarious.

Jack: How far away is Alaris anyway?
Teal'c: Several billion miles, O'Neill.
Jack: That's gotta be a record.

Hammond: Colonel O'Neill, what the hell are you doing?
Jack: In the middle of my backswing?!

Scene.
posted by zarq at 3:57 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, I never got tired of Don Davis getting called "Hammond of Texas" by Brae'tac.
posted by Ber at 3:59 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Has Hammond of Texas fallen in battle?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:01 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


An enjoyable silly and fun episode certainly, but it can't be compared to Tangent, Failsafe, or any of the Serpent's ____ episodes. Or that moment when the Prometheous first rises from its silo? Those were amazing. And frankly had more of the episodes been light and silly they would have been less funny. Window of Opportunity is as funny as it is partially because of the contrast with the rest of the series.
posted by Chekhovian at 4:03 PM on May 19, 2011


Here's what I understood some of these statements to say: "Show X [Lexx, farscape, V, whatever] wasn't really very good, but you see it knew it wasn't very good, so it didn't try very hard and relaxed into its own low quality, and that made it good"

Farscape is a great show with good characterization. People make a big fuss over the use of puppetry, but given a chance, this fact generally fades away before the great characters that emerge from the effort.

It's a disservice to wave one hand and claim all the shows mentioned fall into the same category as cheesy and mediocre.
posted by Atreides at 4:57 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The real problem with new viewers coming to Farscape is that the first season is, by and large, completely awful. I mean, really really bad, with way too much emphasis on "here's this awesome puppet monster we made" which gives the impression that it's all about puppets, and with way too many standalone episodes that don't seem to matter or communicate much. There are about 6 "important" episodes in the first season, about 3 more "inessential but entertaining" ones, and the rest are pretty bland. It ends on a real high, though, and the shift in tone and style at the beginning of season 2 is dramatic and makes the show much more watchable. So if you can clip your way through the first season, maybe an abridged version, and then start in on the second season, you'll have a much better idea of whether it's a show you're going to like or not.
posted by Errant at 10:35 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't get the criticism of puppetry as a way to create creature effects, but then again, I grew up on the Muppet Show which drew most of its magic from human guests treating the Muppets like real performers. I also think the performance style carried over to the non-puppet aliens, who all had very different body language which helped to sell the species.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:56 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the muppet thing is a non-issue for me, when I first started watching the show I was a little intrigued at how they might be operated so I looked at them as things, but within an episode or so, they just were characters with fully realized performances.

Pilot, for example, is amazing in many of his scenes, and Rigel is a right bastard.

In some ways, it's like playing a new video game. At first, you are very conscious of the fact that you are using a controller, because it's not doing exactly what you want, but within a couple of hours, it is a totally transparent extension of your intent. The muppets are the same, they are novel at first and will draw your attention, but quickly they'll just be a part of the cast.
posted by quin at 11:17 AM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


quin: "The muppets are the same, they are novel at first and will draw your attention, but quickly they'll just be a part of the cast.

Totally agree.

The quality of certain characters' makeup hit a pretty wide range, though. The better it was, the less distracting. The generic Scarran makeup was clunky and fake-looking. Staleek and Akhna's makeup was much more expressive. After a short while, Scorpius and Ka D'argo seemed absolutely real -- and when Wayne Pygram (Scorpius) showed up on Lost during the third season, I was surprised to see someone who looked so normal with 'that voice.'

Plus, there was Natira. Never has a woman with a predilection for eating eyeballs looked so enticing. Heh.
posted by zarq at 11:58 AM on May 20, 2011


I watched Farscape on and off. I wasn't terribly bothered by the puppettery. The inane and bizzare plot choices did bother me though. Remember the episode where the guy had the thing would emerge out of his arm and envelope cast members and clone them? This was brought up earlier. That was just random and silly, which maybe some people consider virtues in a show, but I do not.

Maybe that whole cloning thing was desperate response to a budget issue, but compare that to the clip shows SG1 resorted to when faced with $$$ problems. Was it the end of the 4th season when Kinsey is again trying to shutter the program and they show a bunch of clips, then Thor beams down and totally annihilates him? That was quality television.

I suppose this farscape stuff is just the scifi equivalent of daytime soap opera tropes: evil twins, amnesia, etc.
posted by Chekhovian at 12:01 PM on May 20, 2011


I'm not sure how anyone could describe a show with that foundation as having any redeeming qualities

Chekhovian, I'm not quite sure how anyone can make a statement like that based off of a half remembered viewing from over a decade ago of one random episode that probably has nothing to do with what I was talking about. The premise is very far fetched and takes place in a whole different universe, and when the characters (supposedly) entered this universe the writers intentionally created an atmosphere of preposterous happenstances. It's meant to be outrageous to the nth degree, if that's not your bag then by all means the show isn't for you. I wouldn't say it's Gilliam brilliant, but I would say it was created with the some of the same attitudes that you just have to accept what happens onscreen as it comes.
posted by P.o.B. at 12:30 PM on May 20, 2011


I suppose this farscape stuff is just the scifi equivalent of daytime soap opera tropes: evil twins, amnesia, etc.

Well, they've sort of done the evil twins / "Mirror, Mirror" thing, but the episode you're referring to wasn't that. It was the setup for a half-season long plot arc which asked: what if there was another you, who was exactly you, and what if he got what you wanted? What if what you wanted was a woman, and she came to love him? Does she love you? Would you be jealous, should you be?

What if there was another you, who was exactly you, and while you are with the love of your life you can't help but wonder if she's thinking about him? Does she love you because you're you, or because you're him? Is there a difference? What if one of you died, would she mourn? Should she?

What if you loved someone, and then there were two of them? Do you love them both? What if you came to love him, and then you were separated, and then you had to be with the other one? Could you bear losing him again? Could you still love him, knowing that he doesn't know you anymore, because you're different now for having loved him in a memory only you still have?

I think all that stuff is really interesting and those are cool questions to explore in a science fiction context. You may disagree, of course, but if that's what daytime soap operas are doing, I guess I should watch more soap operas.
posted by Errant at 1:07 PM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


All I can say to the Muppet Haters is that you should never, ever, under any circumstances watch Dr Who.
posted by Justinian at 2:26 PM on May 20, 2011


Okay, zarq is right. I made a mistake in my earlier post: The best episodes of SG-1 are obviously a tie between 1969 and Window of Opportunity.

Finally, just in case that was a serious question furiousxgeorge, sadly Don Davis passed away in 2008.

P.S. It's funny how much I still enjoy the theme music. SG-1 has played at the dinner hour for years and years and I've eaten many a meal while watching it.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:33 PM on May 20, 2011


You know the SG-1 theme song has lyrics, right?

CAUTION: Once you hear these lyrics, you will always hear these lyrics. You have been warned.
posted by quin at 3:00 PM on May 20, 2011


"It's been a long road..."
posted by Artw at 3:01 PM on May 20, 2011


P.o.B. I think our factual descriptions of the show agree:"...preposterous happenstances...outrageous to the nth degree...outrageous to the nth degree". That was exactly what I garnered from my original viewing.

I recall a line from one of Ebert's movie reviews that went something like: "This film cannot be evaluated as a traditional movie. Rather it must be taken a serious of moving images accompanied by sound"

You posit that: "The third season of Lexx is brilliant and by far better written than most of what I hear people blather on about as great." The failure in my understanding is how you can connect these two comments.

If Lexx is in fact what my singular viewing implied it to be, what the wikipedia entry described, and what your later comment depicted then I think that just like that movie Ebert reviewed Lexx has to evaluated under different rules than more conventional shows. Kirk vs Picard would be more answerable (joke).
posted by Chekhovian at 3:12 PM on May 20, 2011


Regarding Farscape's clone-a-rama-bama, and pivoting back toward the original topic a bit: I thought the later SG1 episode where all the alternate universe versions of the team appear due to blackhole magic was pretty amusing. Would you steal critical life sustaining materials from an alternate version of yourself? In one of the earlier episodes Teal'c murdered his alternate universe double.

Then there's the Atlantis episode where the other McKay (Rod) comes across and it turns out he's a fantastic person that everyone prefers over the normal version. That might be grounds for murder.

My criticism of the Farscape version would be that they really soaped it up, and the mechanism and reason by which they instigated it was beyond my capacity for disbelief suspension. I honestly would have preferred that someone cast a magical spell.
posted by Chekhovian at 3:19 PM on May 20, 2011


Chekhovian, it's perfectly okay if you don't like Lexx, but since you haven't really seen it I'm not sure why you're bent on a) disliking it and b) convincing others it is somehow intrinsically bad. Whatevs.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:58 AM on May 21, 2011


Update: since the "this show was too dark and gloomy!!!" comments made me think I should check out, we've started watching SG:U on Netflix instant.

It is awesome. Why didn't I know about this? I never checked it out because I assumed it would be cheesy and full of Muppets or faux team camraderie and aliens with latex foreheads. Instead it's full of dark tortured people with secrets. Who have nervous breakdowns! And are possibly bad, bad people!

So far I'm mostly really enjoying it. There are some clunky scenes now and then and some of the characters aren't that interesting (yet), but... still.

Thanks for hating this, Metafilter. I would never have known about it, otherwise. Thumbs up!
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:37 PM on May 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


« Older Not your average, everyday locust swarm...   |   What It's Like To Get A Breast Reduction Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post