fri 01/12/2023

Stargate Universe, Sky 1 | reviews, news & interviews

Stargate Universe, Sky 1

Stargate Universe, Sky 1

Latest Stargate boldly goes where almost everyone else has gone before

Considering that Stargate began as a colossally silly Roland Emmerich movie about ancient Egyptians with magic wands and spaceships, it's proving astonishingly resilient. The Stargate SG-1 TV series created a booming fanbase so eager for more that it spun off Stargate Atlantis. There have been straight-to-DVD movies, computer games, books and animated series.

Now here's Stargate Universe, which – judging by this double length opener – creators Brad Wright and Robert S. Cooper might equally well have called Stargate Galactica, Stargate Trek, or even Stargate Lost.

Or why not McStargate, since it's clear that much of the saga is going to revolve around Dr Nicholas Rush, played by Robert Carlyle in unadulterated Glaswegian. Discussing his character, Carlyle observed that "he's absolutely not to be trusted in any way", and already we're seeing disturbing hints that he's nursing one or more secret agendas behind his ratty-haired, scruffy-boffin exterior. It's all several million light years from Hamish Macbeth, though maybe Carlyle's brain-damaged villain Renard in The World Is Not Enough might offer more clues.

However, like it or not, the Stargate cast are going to find themselves relying on the fiendishly brilliant Dr Rush to dig them out of many an unearthly scrape, such as the one they were left dangling in last night. Having undergone an emergency evacuation through a Stargate portal from a secret base under alien attack, our carefully-cast troupe of soldiers, scientists and civilians find themselves aboard a huge spaceship countless solar systems away from earth. This is because they set the Stargate controls using the newly-decoded (by chubby, precocious techno-whizz Eli Wallace) Ninth Chevron, which has catapulted them to regions unknown. It would have been far safer, though fatal to future plot development, to stick to a routine seven chevrons. The intergalactic Stargate network is what Subscriber Trunk Dialling could have been if the GPO hadn't been so hidebound by bureaucracy and bakelite telephones.
So anyway, this giant spaceship is unmanned (or was, until all these characters unexpectedly landed on it), and was programmed thousands of years ago to...
Oh, to hell with it. They're lost in space and can't get back to earth because they can't dial a Stargate connection. Assuming they can solve the pressing problem of the on-board air supply running out (and don't get lost in the director's confusing and unsignposted flashforwards and flashbacks), they're going to be confronting endless trials and challenges involving many strange planets and bizarre civilisations. And, because everything now has to be like Lost at least a bit, the characters are going to have lots of reveries about their lives and how they came to be here.  We've already seen Dr Rush sobbing over a picture of his dead wife (oops, plot spoiler, sorry about that) to the strains of Puccini's Vissi d'arte.
Staggering under such a crushing tonnage of cliches and echoes from other sci-fi series, can Stargate Universe survive? Probably. There's an ocean of fans willing it on, and although most of the characters look about as interesting as a bunch of Subbuteo footballers, Carlyle (especially) and David Blue as Wallace look good for some solid mileage. Not exactly TV's last frontier, however.
They can't get back to earth because they can't dial a Stargate connection

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters