Moving on to the contentious third part of the SGU viewer questionnaire – I asked fans: What aspect of the show would you prefer to see minimized? A multitude of fans surveyed. Top five answers on the board:
Those F**king Stones!: One of the things I loved about writing for both Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis was the scope of the storytelling when it came to tone (action-driven, humorous, tear-jerkers, etc.), scale (epic space battles, run ‘n gun ops, quieter character-driven stories, etc.), and location (off-world, shipboard, Earth-based,etc.). In a sense, we were making a mini-movie every week and what allowed us to tell those bigger, flashier (read: more expensive) stories were the smaller, less flashy (read: less expensive) but no less engaging tales we would tell along the way. And just as important as the kind of story we told were the types of places in which they were set. Back on SG-1 or Atlantis, having the team set off on an off-world adventure EVERY week would have been as tiresome as, say, doing an SGC/city-based bottle episode EVERY week. Tiresome, not just in terms of narrative but visual styling as well. Mom was right after all. You can’t be inside all day. You need to get out every once in a while. Breathe some fresh air.
Especially if you’re trapped on some dark mystery ship on the other side of the universe. Getting off that ship on occasion is important, not only for the well-being of its crew, but the home audience as well. Trust me, if every episode of Stargate: Universe was set aboard Destiny, fans would be very quick to complain. Which is, I’m sure you’ll be quick to remind me, what the stargate is for. And, yes, we have gone off-world and visited strange new worlds (the desert planet in Air III, the ice planet in Water), and will continue to do so in the back half of season one and beyond, but one of the elements Brad and Robert wanted to avoid as much as possible with this new series were the forested planets that became a hallmark of the other two shows as well as the accompanying human-form English-speaking aliens. Never say never but, to date, we’ve been pretty good about keeping our alien landscapes alien-looking and our aliens, well, alien-looking as well. But at the end of the day, CG landscapes and alien life forms don’t come cheap (especially some of the stuff we have in store), so it’s the occasional Earth-based episode that allows us to bring you those alien vistas and encounters. And they also allow us to reveal aspects of our characters that may not necessarily come to light on board Destiny. Take the character of Camile Wray for instance. At first blush, given her shipboard behavior, some may write her off as a humorless hard-ass and yet the episode Life uncovered a whole other side to the character – a compassion and vulnerability her crew mates aboard Destiny are unaware of (for the time being at least).
What several of you have pointed out, however, is that your objection lies not so much with the stones but the way they are used. Instead of using them for home visits, why not tells stories in which they’re used for more calculated ends? Or stories in which they malfunction or their use results in undesired SF consequences? Or, given what they can do, why not introduce a situation in which an expert or experts are brought aboard Destiny to deal with an issue our crew is wholly unprepared for? In response to these questions, I say: You’ll be downright delighted with what we have in store for you when SGU makes its April return.
Sex and Soap: On SG-1 and Atlantis, the personal interrelations between our characters often took a back seat to the adventures at hand. Yes, character relationships were developed over the course of many years of many missions, but the focus was always on defeating the goa’uld or thwarting the wraith. There wasn’t much time for falling in love, much to the displeasure of fans of various romantic pairings (Sheyla, Shweir, McKeller, ShepKett, and Muppet). Unlike SG-1 and Atlantis, however, those aboard Destiny are trapped together with no hope of returning home. As a result, it makes sense that they will eventually find comfort in one another. Over time, relationships will develop and, yes, some of these relationships may eventually become physical. Honestly, the aim is not to titillate but to show that these are real people trying their best to cope with highly surreal situations. As for what the future holds in this regard – relationships (romantic and platonic) will continue to develop as the focus shifts to exploration and discovery.
Darkness and Despair: Yes, Destiny can be a bit of a gloomy place at times which is why it’s nice to contrast those shadowed corridors with bright alien worlds or the occasional sunny day on Earth. But what many of you seem to be saying is “These people should suck it up! I would kill to be in their shoes!”. Well, let me start off by saying “YOU are special.”. Being stranded on a space ship with no hope over ever returning home would be a hard pill to swallow and, in the beginning, most (if not all) of those trapped in such a scenario would be understandably upset. But, like a hot bath or an annoying uncle at Christmas dinner, it’s a scenario they’ll have to adjust to and, if not embrace, then find a way to accept. They just got on board, people. Don’t rush ’em!
Stop shaking the camera!: I remember talking to Ben Browder about the shooting style on Farscape and him telling me that the directorial approach to every episode was to “keep the camera moving!”. Doing so lends a scene or shot a certain dynamism lacking in the more staid or static approach to visual storytelling. Having said that, a little does go a long way. For instance, the type of shooting style that worked so well in Cloverfield would no doubt induce nausea on anyone watching our show.
Pick up the pace!: One of the challenges of starting a new series is establishing the narrative framework, everything from concept to characters, rules and relationships, backstory elements and future prospects. And it’s doubly challenging in the SF realm because we’re often dealing with scenarios and technologies the average viewer may be unfamiliar with. The trick is to lay this groundwork while still moving forward, telling engaging stories like Darkness and Light that not only entertain but inform (Hey, the ship is solar powered!), picking up the tempo as the series develops and our characters evolve. Justice kicks off a run of terrific episodes, culminating in a taut, fast-paced three parter that closes out SGU’s inaugural season.
One of the things I’ve been told by several fans who watched the show live and then screened those same episodes uninterrupted was how some of the elements they’d taken issue with on first viewing were no longer problematic the second time around. For them, it was like familiarizing themselves with a narrative shorthand (ie. the visual style, the pacing of the storytelling) that, once acquired, allowed them to enjoy the show on a whole other level. If any of you have re-screened those first ten episodes (or plan to do so when the DVD hits stores shelves February 9th) let me know if you had a similar experience.
Tomorrow, we move on to your favorite “story moments” from the first half of Stargate: Universe’s first season. And, time permitting, I’ll even hit the mailbag.
77 thoughts on “January 29, 2010: What aspect of the show would you prefer to see minimized?”
Hey speaking of mailbags this is a very important life and death question…
How is Fody and the pups?
Wow that sounded so wrong… I meant that as a silly joke and I’m beyond sorry… I hate it when things come out wrong.
I simply meant to ask how is Fondy and the dogs. it’s been awhile since we have heard about how they are doing.
O God I’m going to go sink into my whole now and not speak for a very long time…
I’ve read several times that Universe would have non-human-looking aliens, but so far all we’ve seen are bugs(the kind that stole the ship’s water and the ones from “Time.”) When will we see some aliens that aren’t bugs or other similar creatures?
I have to agree.
When I first watched darkness, earth, and life I really disliked them. However after rewatching them multiple times, I knew the pace and what was coming and got to take a deeper look into the character and plot bits I missed the first time.
Still it wouldn’t hurt to up the pace a tad. 🙂
Thanks so much,
Major D. Davis
And, yes, we have gone off-world and visited strange new worlds (the desert planet in Air III, the ice planet in Water)
Personally, I don’t consider those to be very good examples of “strange new worlds”. It’s not as if sci-fi fans have ever seen desert planets *coughTatooinecough* or ice planets *coughHothcough* before. (Now, if the sand had been blue, or the ice had been acidic…) Come to that, why is it that alien planets usually seem to have the same ecosystem covering the entire planet? How is that realistic? Granted, this is hardly a Stargate-local phenomenon. And yes, I realize that creating truly alien-looking worlds takes a lot more money. But personally, I find a forest planet more interesting than either ice or desert, because at least there’s some sort of landscape going on to break up the monotony.
Also, I don’t think the interpersonal relationships in SG-1 and SGA at all took a backseat to the action. Just because they weren’t all hopping into bed with one another all the time didn’t mean that relationships weren’t developing. Where would SG-1 have been without the friendship of Jack and Daniel, or the awkward “we really can’t be together even if we admitted we wanted to” romance/friendship between Sam and Jack? Where would SGA have been without the friendship of Shep and McKay or the geekship of McKay and Carson? These kinds of things are what I’m missing from SGU.
Re: the “Sex and Soap” topic: I think many of us have objected not so much to the increase in relationships – yes, the less-military atmosphere and less-disciplined situation of the Destiny is bound to lead to more linking-up – but to the in-your-face way it was pushed to the front, right from the first episode. The old clinch-and-fall-out-of-frame technique would have let everybody know just what was going on, without making the show embarrassing to watch with kids. Old-fasioned, I know. Just sayin’.
Along this line, I’d like to express sympathy for Brian J. Smith. His character took a lot of heat right off the bat, with some of the unreasonably over-heated making it personal. Lt. Scott was used as the symbol of change: Look! Look! We’re different! New! See? Overt Sex! Religion conflicting with sex! And look at this – sex with somebody else now! Scott, and by extension Smith, bore the brunt of the shock tactics used by the production to differentiate Universe from the past. Hang in there, Brian! You’re good, and Scott’s a good character, it’s just taking time for the shock reactions to cool. Personally, I look forward to Scott’s development.
SGU, it’s a show much much bigger then oldies. And thanks for it new beautifull show. More thanks for invaiting great actor Robert Carlyle. It was really big news, when I read in early last year about your desigion.
5. What element (I’m leaving this one wide open) would you like to see added to the series as a whole?
What abaut talkig Rush and O’Nill in pilot, when Rush used the stones? What did them both knew or thouth about 9 shevron?
Sorry for my english and thanks for answering.
There is also the issue of the military personel.I don’t know if ya’ll decided not to have a consultant from the armed forces or not on the show , but there are alot of military personel and veterans(Myself included) I’ve seen that are slightly put off from SGU’s inaccuracy’s.I would agree that the scientist’s and civilians are more realistic in the current situation.I would have to disagree on alot of the behaviors of the military personel.Yes some are flawed in real life , yet in SGU the majority of them are flawed not just slightly flawed.Plus some point out things like TJ she’s a paramedic in the Airforce , yet Airforce paramedics are not Officers.Unless she was Pararescue or an RN , a Doctor , A PA , or Nurse Practitioner.SGT Riley , has Senior Airman rank on his collar. MSGT Greer would never be called just plain ole SGT it would be Master Sergant , or Top.Thats to name a few.
“For instance, the type of shooting style that worked so well in Cloverfield would no doubt induce nausea on anyone watching our show.”
Well, that’s already happening. 🙁
Perhaps not to *anyone*, but to too many.
I’ve watched all of Farscape recently, and while that was certainly a bit harder than the average show for me, SGU is MUCH, MUCH shakier. There’s no comparison. Having a camera moving and having a camera taped to the head are not just slightly different things. (Yes, I took the extreme example again, but still. Most scenes are bad enough, and during action-filled scenes I probably have my eyes closed more than 50% of the time.)
If Farscape gave the impression of them having a camera moving around on wheels, SGU feels like someone using a handheld camera at arm’s length, while running.
I appreciate both the darkness and the relationships shown thus far. To be honest, those were my complaints (“complaints” being used loosely here) about SG1/SGA. Mainly, SGA. Because real people do have sex and people aren’t always happy and bad things should affect people on an emotional level for more than the episode it happens in.
As for the camera, I don’t even notice it shaking. It just seems…real. And no, it didn’t work in Cloverfield. Nothing about that movie worked.lol For me, anyway.
And to Shawna Buchanan’s comments about alien worlds…we don’t usually see blue sand or acid planets because they’re not habitable to humans. So a Stargate isn’t likely to connect to such a world. Convenient, but also true. Obviously, Star Trek had a few more odd worlds, but in order for humans to “land and explore” it can’t be an atmosphere that will kill them within seconds on a regular basis.
ça va today? moi oui j’ai fait un bon dodo 🙂
Moi je vous l’ai déjà dit, je trouve qu’on se penche trop sur les personnages…De plus c’est vrai que les flashbacks et les histoires qui dure plusieurs épisodes, c’est pas terrible .
J’ai quelques questions pour vous…
1) Quelles parties du porc préférez vous?
2) Quand stargate Resistance sera sorti, ça vous intéresserez d’y joué?
3) Selon vous, de quel pays viennent les plus belles femmes du monde =P ?
can we await to get more information about SG-1 and Atlantis character relationships in the coming movies?
Thanks and have a wonderful day!
Joe, you state that the show on second viewing, all those things that people took exception to, became less of a problem. That’s a bit much to ask isn’t it? For the average viewer I mean.
I love them. I see the point of the people who say that the stones should be used in a different way, not so many home visits… so, why not bring Rush’s wife to the SGC and let her work there(example!)? It could also mean to give us glimpses of relationships between people aboard the destiny and people back in the SGC (or the rest of the Earth)for example. I love the storyline that is going on between Young and his ex. That grief makes him the most dubious chara on SGU. We know too little about the motives that drive Rush (probably that’s the reason why I’m not really interested in him…yet.)
I like black and white painting, but I hate black and white presentations. Humans should show the will to do good things but the show should also focus on the problems that arise even when everyone tries do do that. Additionally, that would allow to bring the military/civilian aspect to levels that can touch subjects that are as actual as today’s politics.
As a kid I grew up with Stargate, Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis and now Stargate Universe. For the bigger part of my life I have been following the series and from my generations point of view, SGU fits in completely with where we are now.
I am a South African film maker, something I also credit to the Stargate franchise, as it completely made me fall in love with the art of film and television.
I understand the divide between the fans of SG with the new format and story line of SGU. The fact that we no longer have the exciting adventures of O’Neill or Sheppard kicking some Ori and wraith butt whilst running through paradoxical villages and / or forests is something the previous generation has grown extremely fond of. I dare to say, the SGU style is something which that same generation will not understand. But the evolution to SGU is a very necessary step. According to the latest audience ethnography studies. Audiences desire a larger amount of character interaction and development. A more in-depth understanding of the character.
Our generation has grown up with technology and puzzles as a daily occurrence, hence, we find it dull to view such things watching TV. Our main focus has shifted from the action being performed, to being intrigued to understanding the person performing the action. What strives that person, or enables that person to perform the task that is happening.
We ask these questions, because with our access to google and the internet, any task is possible for any individual in our minds, but what makes people different from each other, is our histories, our circumstances, which allows us to take the data and information available to us, and to output it and process it into something extraordinary.
Okay, all of that said, I am enjoying SGU just as much as I have always enjoyed SG-1 and Atlantis. I would however love to see the team taking more control of the Destiny. Even with full control of the destiny, their return to earth is unlikely. BUT, with control of the destiny, there will be much more exciting things for to experience or even wonder about… Oh, and Eli must meet Daniel face to face.
I would love to see a South African Stargate though. Our rich history of our Zulu warriors etc will make for a very interesting journey through the galaxy. Who must we speak to, to get something like that going?
Keep it up.
I must say, I am quite pleasantly surprised at you reaching out to us after rejecting us out of hand a few months ago. I understand why you lashed out…we werent giving you a chance. But now, we have watched 10 episodes of the show and we now have definite concerns and praises. You have read enough complaints elsewhere, Im sure so I wont discuss any of those. But lets address your question:
“What aspect of the show would you prefer to see minimized?”
1) The STONES. Not just the devices themselves, but also the earth-based dramas which ALWAYS accompany them. If you go back to earth, you need to make those visits make sense. Why no scientific assistance from SGC? Why no mention of Atlantis or ideas about how to use the Ancient technology? Its irritating to say the least. It wouldnt be if you hadnt also included the SG-1 characters in the pilot. Why hasnt Daniel visited?
2) The heavy soap drama. You cant really expect good drama if we dont care about the characters yet. Like the “tension” which was supposed to be set because Lt Scott was dangling in an ice crevasse…so what if he fell? At that point, he was just the “dude who banged the big boobed chick in the broom closet”. Same with the skinhead dude who offed himself. So what? Why should we have “gasp” moments regarding Young’s wife or Telford sleeping with her? We dont know them and we dont really care.
3) PLEASE stop trying to develop the love triangles and betrayals within the crew. It makes them adversaries and takes away from the show. But this seems familiar…BSG? If the military splits from the civilians a la BSG, most of the fans will simultaneously hit the channel button or access their DVR playlists tio delete the show from the recording schedule.
PLEASE minimize all the BSG-derived ideas in the storylines, visuals and shooting style. Stargate fans for the most part were not BSG fans. I would go as far as to say that most science fiction fans were not BSG fans either. Critical acclaim is lavished on DRAMA works, because most critics cant even operate their Blackberrys properly, let alone understand SCIENCE fiction. They have NEVER been able to properly critique it, and BSG was not the “one to beat”. The Stargate franchise is far far more successful than Battlestar Galactica. I can only conclude that your team looked at the critical acclaim and misinterpreted that for fan popularity. WRONG.
But this statement from you bothers me:
“In response to these questions, I say: You’ll be downright delighted with what we have in store for you when SGU makes its April return.”
I thought that the entire season was already filmed, edited, and “in the can”. If that is true, then you are just HOPING that we will be delighted. Unless there have been rewrites or revamps or additions and revisions, how can that be true? Sure, season 2 has some promise, but how will the second half be a 180 from the first when you have already filmed the entire season? Best to just discuss the upcoming episodes and wait to see if there is delight. Nothing worse than broken promises.
Ok, I underxtand the reasons why you want the stones in the storyline. But still don’t like them, still think they are providing too much of a crutch to the writers, and still don’t think that they are being used in a logical or efective manner.
Which brings up a point about the characters trapped on destiny. A ig point has been made of the fact the crew of Destiny are not the right people. Yet they were selected to serve offworld on a mission that was top secret even beyond the classification of the Stargates themselves. Many would seem to be vets of other offworld missions. Have the standards slipped so bad in the program that people whose psychological profiles are so fragile now assigned to such missions? And ignoring that, why would the PTB on Earth permit the breech of security by alloiwing the exiles to communicate with loved ones? It makes for drama moments but doesn’t make sense from the show history. Or are you finally going to reveal the Stargates to the people of the SG universe Earth? Oh, and why is it that out of almost 100 people we’ve only seen one suicide, and that partially induced by drug withdrawals? Again, if this group is so ill prepared, I’d expect a couple more people to end their own lives, or have accidents that are suspicious in nature.
The sex thing doesn’t bother me other than the fact that they cut off a segment of the fan viewing base. that’s a decision the producers have made, and I don’t have kids to ban from watching the show. I do have a tweak of concern that the sex isn’t so nuch about demonstrating relationships, but is being used to say “see we’re edgy just like BSB was”. With the darker tone of Universe, you invite comparisons to that series. I don’t want Universe looking like a cheap imitation of that show however.
For the most part the camera shots don’t bother me, other than the amount of time the kinos are used. But as far as rushing things, had this show not been the heir to the Stargate franchise, I’d have switched it off by episode five. Only the last two episodes have livened up the pace to where I can feel actual excitement. i enjoyed aspects of each episode, but the whole was not enough to sell me on the show. I fear you have lost a number of viewers because of the pacing. From thse sounds of it though, that is a moot issue in the last half of the season.
thanks for taking so much time to dive into all the responses, and put up with our pontificating, grumblibng, snarking, and blathering. Looking forward to a mailbag. Now, the snow has started so it’s off to work before the six or ten or one inch that we get finishes falling….
You asked if anyone had screened the 10 episodes of SGU. I’m on my third go round since Space is showing the eps for the third time. However, I’d have to say that the reason I have watched them more than once is more because I missed so much the first time due to the shaky cam. I had such a rough time watching the episodes that I spent most of the time looking away or just listening to the show, creating almost a radio play for me. Since this is television and the show really was meant to be watched, I felt that, if it had been any other series other than a Star Gate series, I would have abandoned it long ago.
Also, after the first shock of seeing sex in the show with Lt. Scott being all over two different women, seeing the same thing a second time around was not as much of a negative experience. Not that I think it’s okay to keep tossing that at viewers, it’s just not as much of a shock the second time.
And, yes, I do feel that I’m watching a prime time soap opera. Who will shoot J.R for the end of the first season Cliff Hanger?
As an aside, since POW’s stuck in prison camps often find ingenious ways to make hooch, I’d expect some of the boys on Destiny to try the same thing. To me, that would be more real than the stones and traveling back to earth all the time.
Thanks for your perspective on using the stones, I must admit to a certain amount of trepidation I feel when watching stone-based stories, they unfortunately take on a “soap-y” atmosphere however I will endeavour to get my head outta my ass long enough to appreciate your perspective and see it for what it is meant to be, a rare opportunity for the crew to touch base with their loved ones and for us to see some important backstory to the characters.
Roll on April!
@german raf: Try the PROMT online translator.
I use it when I write to a friend in Dresden, with good results.
@Joe: Really enjoying the show-centric posts this week. Always like to learn more about “backstage”.
any news about stargate revolution?
no news so far…
@pg15: Thanks back atcha. 🙂
Joe – Possibly too small for you to bother with amidst the furor, but my last post exceeded my customary indiscretion. Sorry about that. I should know better than to consume, then comment.
Now to go talk to a horse about a man . . . a nice, patient horse; and for the rest, hopefully the human equivalent.
– Well, bye again. Greatly looking forward to SGU kickin’ into gear again.
Joe I know you are tackling the comments here and you are brave, but I was wondering, should I get the ab circle pro, I mean the tv promo says it works…I put the tv on mute, coz I just can’t think with all the talking. lose this,works,get sexy abs,could I look as great as those girls running up the beach in their bikinis, they make it look so easy and they are smiling. 😉 what would we do without the infomercial,,, sorry I got off subject here. So ..SGU, I am pleased with the progress, character development, the hard part is the wait, but all the shows seem to make you wait,anticipation, like the ketchup bottle, must be the way the business is run.
I am looking forward to the more action, alien encounters,space battles, all the stuff that makes me keep watching.(and I will) thank you… In the meantime ,what about the ab thingy,,
Fav “story moment” from the first half of SGU’s first season? A choice of three – Eli beaming beamed up; ship flies through the the star; and, Rush being left behind on the planet.
I’d like to throw-in the least liked, even disliked, “story moment” which for me was, yeah, to do with the Stones, man – the messing around of Young, wife and boss. Like you said, it’s how they’re being used that is the crux to whether they are working for viewers/blog-responders. Some back story on their discovery, experiments with use, etc, would be good.
Icarus project needs explored more, too. In that context there would, possibly, be insight into the attackers.
To throw this in, too, about the characters’ difficulties at being seemingly hopelessly removed from Earth – what did these guys think they were signing up for when working off-world, trusting in eternal ubiquity of kit not built by themselves, and knowing the history (SG-1, SGA) of problems ‘out there’? Come on, they were not all after guaranteed cushy, assured returns and so where’s the mettle in these people who chose such careers, missions and work? There were risks. Doesn’t this perspective have to come out through points of view of some characters to others’ whining? For sure, they didn’t know they’d be SO FAR away but if they are zipping all sorts of places then, again, they had to have a perception of risk. Like Rob Carlyle said about growing the beard as episodes advance, the astronauts weren’t shaving on missions and you had a sense of time passing, difficulty – but, to add, you also knew they were, and still are, taking risks they might not come back. Every time. The astronauts had beards, and B***s.
I have had a similar experience in watching the show for a second time around. New things that surprised me the first time, such as the sex scenes, no longer surprised me the second time. They actually fit very nicely into the story.
With respect: I don’t want to have to watch an episode multiple times to “grasp the narrative shorthand.” The only reason for me to rewatch something, be it a TV show or a movie, is because I liked it. If you don’t manage to reel me in the first time around, I’m not giving you a second shot.
Of the shows that are as slow in establishing the narrative framework as SGU has been so far, most get cancelled before the first season has finished airing. I’m happy for you that you got the go-ahead for a second season, but you might want to think about stopping to make excuses for the valid concerns your fans (your loyal audience!) have raised and starting to change a few things instead.
Slowly building up to a compelling narrative is one thing. Asking for suggestions on how to improve your show, only to explain everything away, is quite another. There are obviously some things that aren’t working for your audience. I suggest you fix them.
for ever one who bitches about the sex scenes is a babby it give the show more life . there makeing a good show it only in it first season stop pick it a part becuse of the sex scenes .
p.s this show rockes
i think that the sex should be minimized
can you help me please if you read this i want you to read a story that i wrote. all i want is for you to take a look at it Professional eyes and all that
please please please please please
i wish we could see more of the Ancients seens the last 3 show have been base around them make the stargate . maybe a movie about them and there ship that what was good about of Atlantis in it first seasn they where exploring finding about what the Ancients they as they got to season 3 it start to lose the fact they were billion of light years away from earth .
Ok, some guestions for your mailbag :
1) Any word about some SGU season 1.5 trailer?
2) Now, when some of SG props are selling by e-bay, what you will do, if tese props are necessary for filming third SG-1 movie or first SGA movie? Make new ones?
3) Are you planning opening theme for SGU´s S2? At least for DVD releases? I know, that there is no theme because of episode length, but Joel Goldsmith makes wonderful job and SGU just deserves some opening titles…please.
4) Will be in future episodes (I hope sabotage is gonna be the one) desctibed, how exactly FTL works and what´s the difference between FTL and Hyperspace?
5) I´ve just wondered, if having longer and longer hairs in every episode is creators´s decision (because there are no scissors on the ship) or actors´s decision?
How about some Doggie pics???love those dogs…
As someone with a severe astigmatism, I do have problems watching certain things on TV/ movies. For example, if I’m going to see a big SF special effects blowout, I know not to sit right up front. And I spend a lot of time with one eye closed to minimize the visual “confusion” I get from both eyes not agreeing on how to process what they see. Avatar was a very interesting film (what I saw of it!), but I will not be going back to see ANYTHING in 3D ever again unless I have my eyes fixed first!!
That said, I don’t really have any more problems watching SGU than any other show that shoots with tight angles and lots of action, hand to hand sparring, or any shots that pan from side to side. Wait, that’s EVERY show on TV except Law & Order…. and the standard sitcom. Want to send me reeling? Do those crappy love scene shots with the couple in the center and the camera doing a 360 degree shot around them…
For anyone else who gets bothered by that stuff, try the close one eye thing -(if you have an astigmatism, close THAT one!) or put one hand up to block that eye. It helps me quite a bit. People look at me funny, but then again they do that anyway LOL
Joe, you had answered a couple of production questions earlier – here’s a related one. How does casting work in conjunction with the writing? If you have a particular actor in mind, like for a cameo, do you have to get them on board before going ahead with writing the episode? How much involvement do the writers have during casting for parts for episodes you’ve written?
Waves to Mom Mallozzi and the family dogs!
at the end of your post, you mentioned people re watching uninterrupted.
I’ve found over the course of watching the show that it works much better without interruptions.
for instance, I enjoyed/followed along/picked up a lot more watching the premier the first time around in the theater with you, than I did the 2nd time, at home, with massive commercial breaks between non chronological scenes and lots of small children running wild.
obviously most of the show has had less non-chronology since the start (sans Time, which is the best ep, IMO), but I still found the breaks to be more disruptive of the story than say, sg1/atlantis.
also, why does every kino have the same grit on it? all the camera shots have the same dirty grain applied overtop, suggesting that the kino is aged…but they’re all the same, not different ones, ever.
Thanks. I think.
I appreciate you taking the time and effort to give us your perspective on the use of the stones and the back-on-earth stories. And although I understand your viewpoint, it doesn’t make those stories any more enjoyable for me. I am just not a fan of prime-time soaps, space-based or earth-based or in any other format. And that is how some of the stories feel to me.
But I haven’t entirely given up on SGU and I’ll watch the remainder of the season.
Thanks for listening.
@ Joe – What Sparrowhawk said reminds me…(This is gonna be long… 😛 ):
As everyone probably knows, I don’t like those nighttime dramas (or soaps), either. But I don’t mind a certain type of ‘drama’ – the sort you get with an action movie, for instance. Just watched The Bourne Identity for the first time today, and – wow – sorry I missed this one earlier. It bathed me in drama without leaving behind the soapy scum. 😉 I think this is what SGU is missing for me, why I’m still not totally sucked in. We already have enough evening soap-like dramas. We already have enough people on tv whining about their ‘relationships’, fretting over whether or not their co-workers like them, wondering if they’ll ever hook up with the cute girl next door, arguing over who works and who stays home with the kids, etc. When I see ‘sci fi’, I expect action-related drama, the sort you’d see in war movie, an action-adventure movie, or a spy flick. I also expect a lot of suspenseful problem-solving. I think those of us who are not 100% sold on SGU but are still holding on, are holding on because we are hoping for a bit more adventure, a bit more ‘action’-related drama, and some good ol’ fashioned shock ‘n awe moments.
Now, that’s not to say that action-related drama automatically equals things blowing up, or gunfire. It can be a desperate moment to save the ship or a person, it can be a damn good foot chase (that one at the beginning of Casino Royale comes to mind), it can be one person threatening another to follow orders, or die. THAT’S the sort of tension I was expecting…not a hissy-fit catfight over a boy! 🙄 Sure, the catfight might reflect real life, but does it reflect real life WORTH WATCHING??
That all said, SGU has given me some of what I want (otherwise I wouldn’t still be watching). The whole scene when picking who goes on the shuttle in (Darkness/Light – forget which) was excellent. That was good drama without crossing the line into ‘nighttime drama’. I’ve also said before that I loved the Greer/Eli/Rush bit at that gate in Air III. The mid-season cliffhanger was spot on. There have been some excellent moments. And I haven’t hated EVERY ‘soapy’ moment…Eli with his mom was very well done, and I liked that bit where you saw flashbacks to Scott’s past, when he was talking with the priest. Those worked well for me, but the Chloe dating drama, Young’s relationship mess, and sappy scenes between Wray and her lover just about lost me. NOT because they’re in the show, but because…well…because of the time spent on those things. To me (I realize not to everyone) it’s b.o.r.i.n.g. It drags. And it doesn’t do a thing to make me like the characters, nor does it enhance my viewing experience.
What does make me like the characters (or hate, in that love-to-hate kinda way) is to see how they act under pressure – Rush having his little fits, Young socking him in the mouth, Wray turning into a snake, Telford tormenting Greer…that sort of thing I just love, and it’s those ‘survival’ moments that are keeping me here, and not the soapy moments.
Still…in a show like this I realize you need those dramatic personal relationship moments. Thing is, I think they should be very minimal. Obviously, in SGU they are not, otherwise people wouldn’t be complaining. There needs to be a better balance, I feel, to keep people watching, and attract new people who – like myself – watch sci fi for the action and the adventure.
What’s the answer? I don’t know. However, as I said, I just watched The Bourne Identity, and in that two-hour movie you had maybe 10 minutes of relationship or soapy ‘drama’ (if that), which is about the same we’re getting in 45 minutes of SGU (if not more at times).
Somewhere there needs to be a balance. I think some episodes did find such a balance – Time, where the ‘soapy’ moments – the times people revealed their feelings, etc. – were hard to distinguish because they were mingled into the action. And, to me, that’s the secret. MIX IT IN, don’t have one or the other.
If I had to say what went wrong for me in the beginning with SGU was that the new elements didn’t blend – didn’t meld – with the old. This may change as time goes on, as writers become more comfortable with the characters, and the new directions the show is taking. But in the beginning, at least, I – the viewer – felt like I was given information in distinct parts. “Here’s the sex bit!” “Now, here’s the emotional boyfriend/girlfriend bit!” “Wait! Here’s the brush with death bit!” etc… (in a way, the stones add to this feeling of ‘formula’, since their use usually results in some yawn-inducing personal drama, somewhere).
Many eps just felt…choppy. However, Time did not. There was so much going on that I didn’t have time to notice the injections of personal drama, etc…they just happened and everything blended smoothly and effectively. Light had a similar feel, as did Justice. The storytelling elements blended much better, and I felt like I was presented with a finished show instead of the separate ingredients.
One element that the show has used, and that – for me – is an effective way to handle the ‘soapy’ bits without dwelling on them and slowing down the pace is by showing, not telling. I forget which episode it was that had in the beginning and end a little montage of people doing what they do best (having sex, working, etc) – but whichever one it was, it worked. We also saw something similar in Light, and people loved it! Remember how everyone went crazy over the naked Greer facing death moment?? How different (and boring) it would have been if we had to HEAR Greer confessing his inner feelings about death! ACK! I would have wanted him to die! Heck, I would have killed him myself! 😆 But instead you SHOWED it, and THAT’S what won over hearts.
I hope I’ve made some sense. I think the bottom line for me is that if you are going to continue to include the personal drama, minimize it, blend it so it’s not so damn distracting, and – whenever possible – try showing it instead of telling it. I just think it would work much better, and allow more room for the intrigue, the suspense, the action, and the adventure that most of us want from a good sci fi fix.
(As you can see from this, I’ve included more favorite moments, elements that work, and things I’d like to see – mostly because during the week when you asked the question, I was incredibly busy, but today we have a snow day! about 4-5 inches, and counting! WEE!! 😀 )
Have a good one!
*packs up snowball, and tosses it at Joey* DOINK! HA!! I beaned ya! 😀
I’m excited to see how the stones play out. I predict someone will be censured because of body swapping misuse. At least that is what I’m hoping for.
Hubby is going through airport hell because of the storm fronts. He was supposed to be home last night but they canceled his flight. A thick layer of ice is coating the trees here. An elderly friend has a tree crash through her roof at 4:00 this morning, narrowly missing her grandson’s bed. I’m glad they are all unhurt but their house is a different story. It will be months before she can move in again. Does Montreal/Vancouver have these kinds of ice problems?
Das: I’m so sorry your hubby has ruined your bar plans. 🙄 You are too funny!
I’d like to see less camera shaking too. It’s annoying when overdone and gives my son, the fighter pilot, motion sickness (go figure…) when we watch the show using a projector on a 96″ screen. (He couldn’t watch Cloverfield either, except on a small screen.) People have a wide range of tolerance and you’ll lose viewers if they find show unwatchable for such a silly thing.
WRT the sex scenes, just don’t make it gratuitous like BSG did, just because you can, or something parents would be uncomfortable watching with _their_ parents or pre-teens.
My favorite moments? Eli beaming up the spaceship and when Young K.O’d Rush in Justice.
>> we move on to your favorite “story moments”
Probably Time. In my opinion the most Scifi episode out of the first 10 episodes thus far. Meaning it had a more classic Stargate vibe to it.
Long time reader, first time poster. I have a confession to make. Growing up, I always thought that Stargate was a tad too cheesy. I am a hardcore Star Trek/BSG fan and I always seemed to prefer the more serious science fiction. When SGU was first announced though I was intrigued and decided I would give the show a watch as I was curious to know where it would go. As all good things come to those who wait, I have fallen in love with SGU and when the show went on break and at the behest of one of my RAs (I am a Residence Life Coordinator at MacEwan University in Edmonton) I went back to the very beginning of Stargate and started from scratch. I am now a fullblown fan. I have consumed all of SG-1 and am now halfway through Atlantis and I have to say, I am so glad I waited to watch everything in one large chunk. The brilliance and scope of the series is something that I adore. I wish I was more like Daniel in so many ways but most importantly, SGU is what kicked all of this off for me. Don’t change a thing about the show. Don’t toss aside the stones, or stop moving the camera, or reveal too much too quickly…I love SGU just the way it is. I have a problem with comments such as the ones from Overmind One. I have trouble accepting the fact that something that is so brilliant and such a personal thing can be torn to shreds so easily based on the first 10 episodes. The first two seasons of Star Trek the Next Generation were completely awful. It was given the time to solidify itself and I would challenge all those, especially Overmind One to be patient with SGU. The best things in life come to those who wait. I am by no means thrilled about waiting until April to step onboard The Destiny again…but I can live with it and I am beyond excited to see where things go from here.
Also, the only request I have to make is…can we please see the bridge or command centre of the Destiny? It was/has/always been my favourite part of any ship and I look forward to seeing how grand the Destiny’s is.
Thanks very much!
“One of the things I’ve been told by several fans who watched the show live and then screened those same episodes uninterrupted was how some of the elements they’d taken issue with on first viewing were no longer problematic the second time around.”
Actually, I tried the rewatch thing. I figured, maybe I am missing something and I really wanted to give it another chance. However, I did not make it through all the episodes. The more I watched, the more I got annoyed with all the whining. I just can’t take this earth visit drama stuff a second time. I honestly don’t see how that makes the characters more interesting. To me it makes them less likable. How does it help the story, if you know that Young has a problem with his wife? How does it inhance the quality of Young as a character? How does it make you understand his actions any better? So, he is dreaming about T.J. and a few minutes later he goes back to earth begging to his wife. What does that show us? Do you want him to appear as unstable? And if so, how does that now inhance the story? IMHO if I want to see good character developement then I watch something like naruto/naruto shippuuden. These characters have a lot of depth to them and they actually succeed to bring up very dramatic scenes without all that whining around it. And if they have any of those heartache drama parts, they fit into the story as a whole. I am guessing that some people will have problems if I compare SGU to some anime, but keep in mind that I make this statement as someone who loves anime.
As of now I really don’t mind waiting until april. It could be june for all I care. Well, you promised more action and more aliens for the second half of season one. Once more I will try to stay open minded as I will watch the second half. It does however get increasingly difficult to do so. I think it’s almost impossible to come up with something so interesing that it will make me fall in love with SGU. Basically it would require a complete change in pace. I don’t think that’s something you would consider to do. Here’s what SGU did for me so far… I watched all the episodes of SG-1 and SGA as well as all the movies several times. I could never wait to see more. Now after some episodes of SGU, I don’t even care if Stargate:Extinction will air this year or next year… or when ever. A part of me is starting to wish I would not have liked SG-1 or SGA, then I sure would not bother to get interested in SGU. So, to me the second half of season one better be insanely good or I just can’t keep watching as not to ruin the franchise (for myself) as a whole.
I wish I would have found this place while SG-1 or SGA was still alive. I could have made some much nicer posts. It’s not like I have a personal problem with any one here 🙂 I would actually like to write something nice. So, I will at least try… I think it’s awesome that you ask for viewer feedback on your blog. I think this sort of interaction with your fans is very commendable and will go a long way. (It’s actually one of the reasons why I try so hard to like SGU.)
I had to answer since I read a statement here that SG fans were mostly not BSG fans… Well, I adore BSG. The idea behind is amazing, the way the story was told is uniqe.
BUT: It’s not Stargate. BSG is great to watch, it included political issues (what I love about SciFi) and much more, but Battlestar Galactica is just not Stargate. I don’t know what it is, but although I couldn’t stop rewatching the BSG episodes, I never really “felt” the characters. Maybe I’m too old for that now, but they didn’t become “friends”, they stayed there, in the tv. And that’s pretty much what I heard from other BSG fans (I don’t know many, but the ones I know were more interested in the story, as well as in the politics or the religion of the show than they were in the characters).
@ Tammy – Oh, my husband hasn’t ruined my bar plans (he flirts with everyone, straight, gay, and in between – even old ladies! I think the word is ‘charming’ – he just can’t help himself 🙄 ).
The guy who’s buying the bar is the one re-doing it. Nice guy, I’ve known him for years. But he’s gonna clean the place up, transform it from the local hangout bar/restaurant it is, with the bands playing on weekends and sports on tv, to a more family-friendly, less ‘bar-y’, restaurant. The pool tables are going, the bands are going, and – if it suits him – even the packaged goods section will be going. I’m just kinda bummed about it. On one hand, since we’re away from the touristy area we don’t have as many quality restaurants (mostly pizza joints and Chinese take-out), so I’d like a nice place around the corner with reasonable prices and alcohol (the new menu does look great!); but on the other hand there’s nothing cozier than a local watering hole where all the average Joes flock, and you can sit for a couple hours if you want, just chatting, or watching a game on tv. I like that sort of atmosphere. I’m a bit of a barfly, I suppose – not for the alcohol, but more for the ‘socializing without commitment’ setting it provides. I can go out, talk to a few strangers or locals, and go home…perhaps (and sometimes hopefully 🙂 ) to never see them again.
@ Das, what the heck are snow days? I guess it is snowing so hard you can’t leave the house? Am I right?
😀 No, I’m not that ignorant. Really, I’m not.
Oh, and I finally watched Invictus. Cape Town is MY town, and it looked really good on film. Matt Damon made it even better, although he is only half as tall as Francois Pienaar. You meet the Springboks in real life and you look up.
Waay up. They are tall and most of them are built like Brick…
😳 … ahem. You get the picture, I’m sure.
Hey, South African Singularity? Howzit my China!
I’ll just second everything [b]das[/b] said! Very well done, my dear. 🙂
Favourite moment/s… would have to be the Young and TJ moments. I, personally, find their ‘relationship’ very intriguing for want of a better word.
Queston for the mailbag: Are you getting the h*ll out of dodge while the Olympics are on? I know I would. 😀
Das: your hubby sounds nice. Flirty guys are fun if they are “real”. “Fake” flirty is bad news.
We loved all the Bourne movies! Sorry about the bar.
Hubby is home! I made his favorite dish, chicken and dumplings (with lots of veggies hidden throughout). I don’t like them but….I’ve got cookies! He complains I make it hard for him to diet. I told him to get some will power, I’m not giving up my cookies. 😳 That sounded kind of dirty 😉 .
One of my friends posted something cute on his Facebook: “was born free, but he’s higher priced now”. Thought I would share that deep thought.
Good night or good morning!
Hey, was this blog a rerun? I thought I read it before *g*
“I thought that the entire season was already filmed, edited, and “in the can”. If that is true, then you are just HOPING that we will be delighted. Unless there have been rewrites or revamps or additions and revisions, how can that be true? Sure, season 2 has some promise, but how will the second half be a 180 from the first when you have already filmed the entire season?”
Uhm … I might be going out on a limb here, but perhaps what they wrote, filmed and have in the can for the rest of season one actually happens to be the kind of things that a lot of people have been asking for? And Joe is pointing out that fact by stating that he thinks people will be delighted and not just “hoping”. In past posts he’s mentioned that they also started evolving their season one writing/story spinning based on things that *they* noticed. It’s what happens with shows during a first season, anyhow.
You, on the other hand, seem to be making a statement based on something akin to you having seen or read the scripts of the upcoming 10 episodes.
Granted, this is my perception of both. I could be wrong. I could be right. Time will tell …
@Tim Lade – Go Edmonton University residences! 😀 (I work in the UofA residence system.)
@ deeinsouthafrica – – Yup – a snow day is when the snow keeps you at home because it’s too dangerous to drive. Around here the term comes from schools being closed due to snow. For instance, my old high school was required to be in session 180 days, from September-June. They used to factor in three ‘snow days’, bringing the schedule up to 183 days. If the school year was scheduled to end on the 17th of June (with days off for snow), and we used NO snow days, then it ended three days earlier, on the 14th. BUT, if we had more than three snow days, then it would push back the school year, ending later in June. So, we always wanted one or two snow days so we’d have extra days off in the winter ( WEE!), but NEVER more than three, or then it would cut into our summer vacation ( 😡 BOO!)!
Here’s a pic I just took at dusk of my backyard – we’ve gotten about 6 inches, which is a lot for us:
The ocean keeps us fairly temperate, and anything more than an inch or two is rare (we’ve had blizzards/nor’easters that have dumped a couple of feet of snow, but those are few and far between). Because we’re not used to getting a lot of snow, many people don’t know how to drive in it, we don’t have the proper tires on our cars, and many communities don’t know how to effectively clear the streets. On top of that, this is a seasonal resort area with a lot of empty houses in the winter, which means no homeowners around to clear their sidewalks and such, making walking around a bit treacherous as well. So it’s just best to stay home unless necessary (my husband had to go to work, but the little bridge he takes onto the island is partly closed, so he may have to stay at my parent’s house tonight). Many businesses close down as well, and the State often tells us to stay off the roads until they can be properly cleared. Another reason we just stay home is because of our more temperate climate, snow usually melts pretty fast, so it’s best to stay at home and wait for everything to be clear in a day or two.
Oh … and just as a general response to people who keep claiming SGU is aping BSG. It’s really not. It’s not in *so* many different ways, the first being … it’s not the end of humanity. The second … well pretty much most of the themes in the show.
And if you really want to blame shaky cam in sci-fi (specifically during space shots), at least blame it’s source … FIREFLY. FARSCAPE may have had lots of camera movement – and having just rewatched the entire series this past month, it really is kinetic – but FIREFLY really brought that COPS/NYPD BLUE shaky cam vibe to sci-fi.
(Off the high horse to let the fun commence again.)
Personally, I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far. It’s had me hooked from the announcements that Robert Carlyle & Ming-Na were cast in it. It had me intrigued before the end of SGA. And knowing that pretty much most of the writing staff that had brought me my favourite eps of SG1 & SGA were bringing on the SGU, I was intrigued.
I’m a huge fan of the fact that “Time” ended the way it did. I thought it nicely unconventional that Cooper wrote it the way he did. 🙂
The only thing I’ve been “disappointed” in was that the episodes following “Time” & “Life” weren’t called “Book,” “Series” or “Magazine”. But to each their own … ;D
PS @ deeinsouthafrica – RE: Invictus and rugby players. When I first started watching, I figured rugby players were between 5’10” – 6’0″…perhaps because they were so muscular they just appeared to be average in height on the screen. I figured a little scrum half was only about 5’8″. Then during one match I heard that the average height of an international rugby player was 6’4″. I was really surprised – I mean, that’s taller than TODD! 😮
@ Tammy – Hubby is a nice fella – most everyone likes him. I wouldn’t have married him if he wasn’t nice and compassionate – AND kind to animals. That’s tops on my list. Sure, he can be moody and stuff (and when he is he shows it…like the aforementioned pallid fella 🙄 ), but he’s usually very sweet. He’s not fake with it, but…yeah…there is just something about him that DOES remind me of Shawn from Psych! 😆 I think it’s because – sometimes – he tries too hard to get people to like him (he has his insecurities), so he tends to schmooze a bit. Funny thing is, people LIKE his schmoozy side, while I’m frowning at him, a lot like Gus. 😉
Lots to think about, blog and comments both. I… oooh, look, shiny.
Wait, what? Nevermind, my brain still hasn’t come home from the trip. Maybe by April.
I’m having pineapple-coconut green curry with chicken for supper.
Hope you and the pups are all doing well… No more problems on the health fronts? We were pretty worried about Bella the other week ’cause she was eating her food and started making this awful noise.. We think she may’ve choked on a piece of food or something – we’re softening it up now, but definitely freaked us out…
It’s kind of hard to believe the Olympics start so soon… It’s going to be just brutal. With all those closures of Lions Gate in the last couple weeks, it just underscored to me how bad it’s really going to be…
Hope your weekend is off to a good start. Mine’s okay, but we played a soccer game last night – against Ashleigh’s team again – and they beat us. Kind of crappy way to start a weekend, but Ashleigh had her parents’ pug with her, and she is absolutely *adorable*! Have you met her?
Grabbing people’s hearts and minds within the first few episodes of a new show seems to me, critical, in order to keep folks coming back for more.
I am the type of viewer or fan who will watch a beloved movie or tv show many times – once I am attached to either the characters or to an intriguing/ingenious story line. And some of my favorite shows/movies deal with emotional or moral grey areas.
Though I have enjoyed some parts of the initial SGU episodes, I am sorry to say that I am not interested in re-visiting those episodes again. Why? Because I couldn’t seem to get emotionally attached to the characters or their stories. I find alot of their backstories overly complicated and I hate to say this, contrived.
It was the right move for the Franchise to go in a more dramatic direction with a new show – and perhaps with a large ensemble cast. (Kudos to all the actors who have delivered stellar performances.) But with so many characters to develop, you have to figure out which ones to use in order to “hook” the audience early on.
Aside from Eli, who else can we all really identify with at this point? Yet we got to watch this important character in silly night club scenes hoping for sloppy seconds with Chloe. (It was the misuse of those f***king stones again).
I think the communication stones are a great plot device. But after watching years of Stargate, I can’t believe that they would be allowed to be used in the manner we have seen in SGU. To quote Gen. Hammond in Upgrades,” If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time here, is that there’s nothing wrong with a little prudence when dealing with alien devices.” No kidding. Nothing like some military pragmatics to clarify things.
Justice seemed to turn a corner for me and from what you describe, we should see a much more action packed second half of Season 1. Oh, I really do want to see how Rush gets off that planet.
But I wish this episode had happened earlier on. I think if it had, a lot more people would have much less to complain about. And, you at the Franchise might not have to worry about eroding audience numbers during an overly-long hiatus.
Now – if we could only get SyFy to air new episodes way before April. That would really help.
learned some sad news today…Bill McLaren, legendary Scottish rugby announcer, passed away. 🙁 He was still announcing matches when I first started watching the game, and there was many a time when he had me laughing out loud – very witty man. Here’s a little clip of some of his funny way of putting things:
“All arms and legs, he’s like a mad octopus!” 😆
And here’s a tribute song to Bill, quoting several of his famous lines:
Funny stuff! (Joe, you will at least appreciate the song’s title 🙂 )
PS to my above comment – LOL…”He’s like a demented ferret up a wee drain pipe.” Most rugby announcers have funny lines like this, but Bill was absolutely the best of them all! There are some other funny quotes of his in this article:
@Tim Lade and Brandon W – So cool you guys are virtually around the corner. I’m in Cold Lake and my son is in the B of Psych program at the U of A.
@ DeeinSouthAfrica – snow days are more an American phenomena. Here in Canada it practically takes an ice age to close down our schools. That is, unless you live in Vancouver. Those people are wimps. Right Joe? 😀
I find nothing at all wrong with the stones. It was ridiculous for me to watch everyone go crazy about them. I think they’re a smart storytelling device.
Of course you know this already, but an artist needs to create the work that they need to create, not pander to any specific audience. I loved SG-1, and although Universe is totally different in tone and style, I love it as well. As someone who himself aspires to support himself through creative work, I am more than happy to follow you and the other SG writers through your explorations of different means of storytelling.
Universe is not “slow.” It is not “boring”. It is somewhat smaller in scope than previous shows, but that is a fascinating DIFFERENCE, not an inherently NEGATIVE change. It allows for the actions and emotions of a specific set of characters to become the focus of the story, rather than external conflicts with alien enemies and killer technologies. Once again, neither of these things are better or worse than the other, just DIFFERENT. If you didn’t challenge yourselves to push into different modes of expression, I could easily see SG-1 or Atlantis becoming a stale assembly-line product somewhere around Season 12 or 20 or 120. One of the best things that happened to SG-1, one of my all time favorite programs, was the ending of the Goa’uld storylines and the introduction of new enemies in the Ori and new characters in Vala, Mitchell, and Landry. The old stories are great, but nothing can last forever, and the changes convey a dynamic creative element that is still searching for new ideas, rather than relying on old cliches. (In a related not, I am also a big fan of Law & Order, and frankly one of the reasons it still seems vital to me is the ability to change the characters while maintaining the integrity of the show.)
I suppose you could pander to the kind of sci-fi superfan that is very vocal on the internet, but it’s the internet itself that gives these complaints the illusion that they are more prominent among the fanbase than they really are. Anybody who has ever worked a retail job has been told that 100 satisfied customers don’t make nearly as much noise as one dissatisfied customer. You can’t please everyone, but that one who isn’t sure will complain about it.
As for pandering, and soap-opera comparisons, and the idea that sex is being shoved down people’s throats… well, I just don’t get it. Conflict between characters is a necessity for drama, soap-opera, science-fiction, or any other kind of show you can imagine. Frankly, the idea that people forced into tight quarters under dangerous circumstances might chafe under the pressure strikes me as fairly authentic. The same thing goes for conflict between the military and civilian factions. I don’t know how anybody could read the news on any given day and still argue that the military always does what’s right.
As for sex… You guys are absolutely right, sex exists. It’s ridiculous to think that young people thrown together won’t have sex. Go visit a college dormitory on any campus in the country. Even in the military. I mean, Lynddie Enlgand came home from Abu Ghraib pregnant after appearing in numerous photos of detainee abuse! (Complainers also don’t seem to realize that 18-24 is the average age in the REAL military.)
I wonder if certain members of the internet community don’t see THEMSELVES having a lot of sex, and then bristle at the idea of sex portrayed on screen and declare it “unrealistic”. (perhaps they see a little of themselves in Eli!)
Full disclosure: I’m not exactly getting lots of sex myself (more’s the pity), but I don’t begrudge others the opportunity!
Sex on Universe has been handled tastefully and with a certain amount of authenticity. For an example of TRUE gratuitous use of sexual material, please refer to Star Trek: Enterprise. They had a room in the ship (the “decontamination room”) whose function seemed to be to provide a place for the characters to strip to their underwear and rub oil on each other. In one episode, Hoshi jumped through a doorway, and “just happened” to catch some kind of snag leaving her topless from the waist up. This for absolutely no reason that was either plausible or pertinent to the plot.
KEEP the stones and the earth-bound stories. Glimpses of the character’s lives apart from the Destiny allows for greater understanding of their circumstances AND their behavior back on board. Stories of Earth’s attempts to intervene on behalf (or in opposition) to the Destiny crew keep the series rooted in our own experiences living on Earth in the early 21st century even as our contemporaries on the show travel to distant galaxies.
KEEP the character-based story-telling. We’ve had 15 years of killer robots and space vampires. They were great years, but its’ time for something new. Some complainers seem to think that every show should be 45 minutes of things blowing up, and every discovery should be exposed and explained in the first 5 minutes. This is patently untrue. It’s fascinating to watch mysteries and clues slowly unfold. I don’t need to know what the chair will tell people the moment it’s discovered. Presenting it as a potential danger os far more provocative than having the first guy to find it sit on it and steer the ship home. It is also obvious that we are watching writers who have honed their craft over years. I am intrigued and fascinated as revelations are carefully made clear. I am certainly not frustrated and bored.
The shaky-cam? I’m not so sure. I can’t say I’m in love with it, but at the same time I can’t say that it distracts me very much. I guess for me it’s a non-issue.
All that being said (and I thank you if you took the time to read all this), I am a little worried about the future of Universe. Writing specifically to sci-fi fan boys is a sure way to ratings failure, but on the other hand, it can be pretty hard to break out of the science-fiction “ghetto”. Universe strikes me as a show that many people would really like if it ever occurred to the to watch a science-fiction program. Frankly, you seem to be writing a show specifically for me, and whoever else out there might have the exact same tastes as me. I’m a huge fan of SF literature, but have mostly been left cold by science-fiction on television. Universe combines the best elements of good drama with all the best elements of science-fiction. Unfortunately, experience tells me that products of real quality don’t necessarily fare well in the lowest-common-denominator world of television.
I’m thrilled that season 2 is on its way, but will Universe last much longer than that? I sure hope so, but I wonder.
Favorite story moment???
Hands down, the episode “Earth”, where Telford tries to insinuate himself back into control of Destiny only to run home with his tail between his legs after Rush scares the hell out of everybody. VERY satisfying when Young, who had basically been kicked to the curb, is finally able to speak back TO authority WITH authority. Young is by far my favorite character on the show!
@ Brandon W
With all due respect, Brandon, if the SGU production team had the fans in mind when they created the show, they would have aired episodes to focus groups which included fans of their target audiences and they did not do that. The list and a few basic synopses are available online. Here is one:
“I might be going out on a limb here, but perhaps what they wrote, filmed and have in the can for the rest of season one actually happens to be the kind of things that a lot of people have been asking for? And Joe is pointing out that fact by stating that he thinks people will be delighted and not just “hoping”. In past posts he’s mentioned that they also started evolving their season one writing/story spinning based on things that *they* noticed.”
LOL. Joe and Co. expected a blastoff premiere, and a universal slam dunk with fans of Stargate, BSG and what…Melrose Place, and who knows who else…Lost? Didnt quite go down as expected, did it? Thing is, the declining ratings and negative commentary all over the internet has prompted them to ASK US what we really want. This thread is proof of that. A scant few months ago, we were told to suck it up and be quiet because SGU was in for a “looooooong haul”. Well, I am a businessman myself, and I know that the length of the haul is based on revenue. Without viewership (and thus acceptable ratings), the show will not haul past season 2. The advertisers MUST buy slots either here or on Hulu or wherever. The DVDs MUST sell a certain percentage to be profitable.
I want the show to succeed, but the first season was created thinking it was going to be a runaway success and that did not happen. And unlike season 2 which has still not yet taken shape, season one is “in the can”. I feel like he is placating us, because it seels as though he is merely explaining away the complaints without intentions of actually making any changes. The ratings will surge for episode 11 and that will allow them to leverage the advertisers, but what about after that? Lets see…
Aah, pretty pic Das. 🙂
Thanks for the info. Interesting and pretty useless piece of information – our school year runs from January to December.
Ok, tis 5 am here so let me sleep before dawn arrives…
@ das: Very accurately and eloquently stated! I also enjoy the dramatic aspects of action movies like the Bourne series. They have a very different feel from TV dramas. But clearly, judging from the success of those nighttime TV dramas, a lot of people do like that sort of thing. To each his own.
@Artic Goddess – don’t let your son know you watch any Stargate & post online. You’ll end up the subject of one of his papers. ;D
Speaking of … an actual question for Mr. Mallozzi: Have you ever been the subject of a study of you as a writer, outside of any basic article for a magazine? (I recently was interviewed for an industry magazine and it was really wierd seeing myself in print talking about something I haven’t even seen a finished product of … and wishing that more of what I’d put on paper had ended up in the article.)
Joe wrote, “One of the things I’ve been told by several fans who watched the show live and then screened those same episodes uninterrupted was how some of the elements they’d taken issue with on first viewing were no longer problematic the second time around.”
Is this the arguement of if a tree falls in the forest with no one around, does it make a noise? Just because no one heard the tree fall, it still made a noise when it did.
If your house stinks you can live in it, get use to it, and not smell the odor. But your house still stinks.
I got TEN inches!! 😀
Of SNOW!! (So get yer minds outta da gutter! 😡 )
*Packs up another snowball…and flings it at Joe* *THWAAAP!* HA! Right on da butt! 😈
@das…Fair notice…I plan to return to NJ this May for 35-year high-school reunion.
@ Sparrowhawk – Thanks, milady. 🙂
Yes, it’s sad that so many people like that sort of thing. In real life I hate it, so prefer not to be ‘entertained’ by it. But I know people that are just like those in the nighttime dramas – always meddling in people’s affairs, always getting involved in what’s best left alone, and always with the personal drama and conflict. And those people never seem to have any peace in their lives – always unsettled and in turmoil, often over the smallest of things (‘So and so didn’t say hello to me today. OMG! Did I do something wrong??! They’re so mean to me! WAAAAH!’ 🙄 ) I have to keep people like that at arm’s length, otherwise they drain me. I guess that’s why I have no tolerance for the same sorts in my entertainment – they’re just too damn irritating!
While I understand -why- you think the characters should be getting busy, I’m still not happy about it. You say they’re real people reacting in the way real people would react. Well, I don’t know -anyone- who would hop into bed with someone just because they’re feeling lost or scared. I mean, that’s not how real people are. I think that’s why I don’t like that aspect of the show – not everyone so loose they’re willing to sleep with whoever’s kind of attractive just to make themselves feel more comfortable.
And yes, I understand that being trapped on a ship in the middle of nowhere with no hope of getting home would cause tension and angst, but a lot of people would be able to take a breath and say “Okay, we’re here and we can’t go anywhere. How do we improve our situation?” instead of complaining and whatnot.
As for my favorite story moments, I enjoyed all of Greer and Rush, a lot of Eli, Young, and Telford, and very little of anyone else. That’s not to say they won’t grow on me, it’s just that they haven’t grown on me yet. I look forward to every scene with Greer, Rush, Eli, Young, and Telford, but I find myself zoning out when someone else is being angsty. I also really liked the planet with the alien creatures. It reminded me of the good ol’ days when there was an enemy to fight…
@ Gilder – Fair
warningnotice – I’m crazy. 😀
(Which part of Jersey – North, Central, or South?)
Wait, what? who doesn’t like the shaking camera?
Well, I disagree with that. I love it – it has the great effect of looking like the whole show, not just bits of it, was done with Kinos. It’s never distracted me, it’s a distinguishing feature. Someone could be flipping channels and know it’s SG-U in a moment, just like a color scheme.
Hi there! Very big of you to ask the fans what they think 🙂 I like the show…and hopefully by the end of season one I’ll love it. I agree with almost all of the likes and dislikes. Greer is my favorites, and Eli (Can he PLEASE get a new shirt). Telford leaving Rush behind was shocking! Loved it! I kept thinking No! Surely not! But then he did! AH! Less Earth, less stones, more Destiny, more aliens, more accurate military protocol (for some reason that really bothers me), stop looking for supplies. I personally don’t care about the shaking camera thing. I hardly notice it. Thanks for listening to the fans! It makes me feel more a part of the Stargate…universe ha ha!
One thing I disagree with: My husband and I HATE Chloe. ANNOYING. Kill her, please. Please. I was so excited when I thought you’d killed her, but you took it back 🙁
@ Tim Lade
Hi Tim, Im not sure why you took issue with my comments. I am obviously no troll, and I have 15 years and hard earned money and countless hours of watching time invested in Stargate. Im over 40, and a Computer Scientist.
“I have a problem with comments such as the ones from Overmind One. I have trouble accepting the fact that something that is so brilliant and such a personal thing can be torn to shreds so easily based on the first 10 episodes. The first two seasons of Star Trek the Next Generation were completely awful. It was given the time to solidify itself and I would challenge all those, especially Overmind One to be patient with SGU. The best things in life come to those who wait. I am by no means thrilled about waiting until April to step onboard The Destiny again”
I dont understand.
What is brilliant about taking 15 years of a successful formula (which had gotten a bit stale) and then DUMP the formula instead of tweaking it? What was wrong with the previous characters of the Stargate franchise? Even a new crew on the same sets changes the dynamic tremendously. Atlantis was never explored, and it was a complete city. But we were entertained to battles, intrigue, betrayal, and a tiny bit of real drama. I was completely ready for a darker, grittier Stargate with more drama. I was NOT prepared to be subjected to a BSG-esque knockoff with even more drama and MUCH less science or exploration or action. Too many things borrowed from BSG, and the extenuating circumstances of SGA being canceled and BSG ending its run were a definite influence no matter what is claimed. We know what we see. The BSG fans are not pleased, and the Stargate fans are not pleased. But I was right there for the premiere.
I watched the first 5 episodes live, and then began to DVR them to remove the “interruptions”. The episode “Earth” scarred me! I was watching Stargate, but on the screen is a girl crying in a car…drunk…in somebody elses body. After leaving a club? Ill never forget it. But I have since watched all 10 episodes, and of those, “Time” was far and away the best one of the lot. I like the premise (even though the way it was set up was against SG canon in many ways). I wanted to see this show in a marathon style to better stitch it together in my mind. I noticed things that I missed before, but some of them made things worse, and others filled in blanks. But I was not watching so much as analyzing.
I will be right there live in April, but only to see if the promises made by the producers are going to come to pass. If they dont, I wont feel guilty if I disown it for good. I guarantee, the April episode will get ratings close to the premiere episode, but then what?
Would you have honest CONSTRUCTIVE criticism silenced just to feel that everything is hunky dory in the SG Universe of things? I admire Mr Mallozi for opening his blog to dissenting commentary. It shows he has a set, and a spine.
You also said:
“The first two seasons of Star Trek the Next Generation were completely awful.”
Perhaps, but as compared to what? Star Trek has never had to borrow from other franchises, but Stargate HAS borrowed much from Star Trek in the past, and now it borrows heavily from BSG. Deny it as you may, but the overwhelming perception by fans from BSG and Stargate alike invariably compare this show with BSG. Regardless, it has become a formidable franchise in its own right and I include myself in there as a loyal Stargate fan.
This show is not Stargate to me. It could be gritty and edgy and even have some shaky cam, but the “skeleton” of the show needs more science and more exploration and especially more HOPE. This show conveys feeling of despair, paranoia, depression and angst. Why should I like it? These “realistic” characters in the show are unlike anyone I know in real life, nor would I want to know them. AND, I met their counterparts in BSG already. If there are changes in direction which are fleshed out by the next episodes, I will be there to see at least a couple of them.
My favorite story moment in the first half of the series is in the episode “Time” when Greer is having a conversation with Young about not being interested in what has not happened. ( next thing we know, people are starting to get sick on the ship).
Hi there Joe!
I have a couple of questions 🙂
1. I’ve seen all Stargate episodes so far except for the animated series, and I’ve been wondering about something. When you dial from a planet, how does the gate ‘know’ when to close the connection? Often we have seen 3 out of 4 SG-1 members come through the gate while the last one is a little bit late (under fire and such), but the gate doesn’t shut down until the last one is through. And often it shuts down the very second that the last one steps through. It can’t be a coinsidence every time, can it?
2. In most of ‘Justice’ I expected the framer to be Telford, using the stones switching bodies with Young while Young was sleeping and therefore doing his thing unnotised. (To get revenge over the assault in ‘Life’). I later realised that of course the stones had to be activated in both ends, and he would have to have an ally onboard the ship to tell him when it was a good time to strike. Did you ever consider him arranging his revenge like that or do I make him too evil now?
3. Stargate: Extinction. I understand it’s a money-problem? Can’t you put out a call for donation? I’m sure a lot of fans would be happy to help out paying the producion costs. Many small streams make a big river, you know.
Keep up the very great work! I’m looking forward to whatever you bring up!
Regarding “shakey camera” syndrome,
I am sure you can have the camera move in a scene without it being the sea sick nausea inducing wobble that you get in Cloverfield and the like. I seem to remember that in Farscape the camera was always moving, but in the most it was more of a smooth gliding motion than a “wobble” which made you feel more like you were ghosting along after the characters rather than vibrating down the corridor.
Is there anyway that you could keep the camera moving to give it the animation you want but have a more smoother movement that is easier on the eye? and cut the crash zooms because visually they really hurt:/.
I am curious I haven’t heard squat about the Stargate: Atlantis or Stargate: SG1 movies have they by any chance been cancelled?
I seem to be noticing a pattern of reduced negativity in regards to this SGU in the comments to your blog. But I am pretty sure there are still a fair share of complaints about the show that you have not seemed to make mention. I wouldn’t discount though when you essentially said you wanted to hear no negativity on about the show (Very Rush Limbaugh like by the way). There were probably a good chunk of people who said well then screw this. Now you have been praising the second half of the season which, obviously not to many have viewed as of yet. But just as a gentle reminder don’t start thinking because you’ve expelled some negativity people all of the sudden fell in love with the show. Only ratings in the first half of season 2 and the back half of one will tell.
Though since your asking for a little constructive criticism well I have some for your show.
1. I know time and time again you half said monster of the week is sacrilegious in the Mallozzi universe but lets face it you have got away with a lot of pretty uncreative story lines in the first half. Can you please take a look at some other Sci Fi shows that indeed have a lot of character development and stories that are at least semi entertaining. Fringe, Lost, The X files, The View (just kidding). They have plenty of heart to heart moments between the characters and are still able to use some good old writing resource on a little bit of excitement. is that too much of a compromise.
Also If you insist on this character driven deal never forget the importance of an occasional monster of the week. Seemingly one of the most popular episodes so far was ‘Time’, which took place on a planet with trees no less and was a monster of the week episode and it was a good episode.
2. Man for god sakes staying on line with the stories a little connection would not hurt either to the people (yes they exist) who say the show is boring. I think a lot of that comes from the fact that in character development shows the stories tend to flow the episodes we have seen so far seem to end like the monster of the week episodes of SG1 and SGA with none of the perks of the monster of the week phenomena. Meaning at the end of almost every first half episode things remained status quo and that excitement or interest to return for viewers just isn’t there. Since the stories so far have not really connected (for the most part) to one another people just don’t come back. And there is some evidence of this in that ratings dropped off a steadily (No DVR ratings don’t count because no one actually watches the commercials that fund the show on DVR).
3. And as the final caveat I feel I should include make the damn characters more dynamic. So far a lot of the characters could have been sized up pretty quick I’m talking first appearance that lasted longer than 5 mins. of an episode. Rush for example is (excuse the language) a bastard and thats for the most part the only side we’ve seen of Rush. But dammit Joe, why can’t he be a bastard with a heart of gold. I mean most of these characters so far have been stagnant in there personalities and not dynamic.
Here is my much belated response, hopefully someone will see it.
To be perfectly honest I disliked much of the early episodes. Starting with the episode where Rush was left for dead on the planet with the alien ship I’ve liked the show more. The reality show talking to the keno stuff, and some of the soap opera style stuff didn’t quite work for me.
The grim attitudes people have most of the time is a problem. In the 15 combined years of stargate activity on the previous shows, we have seen that the program is chock full of people who will have a sense of humor even in life and death scenarios. Seems to me there ought to be at least one or two people like that on the ship.
The early problems with the show haven’t been featured in the latest episodes I have seen.
Here are a few thoughts I have.
With the exception of the quadraplegic FTL engine expert episode, the stones have been misused most of the time. They are trapped on an advanced ship they can’t control. It seems to me in real life the stones would be used to have the best experts back on earth to have a first hand look at this version of the ancients technology to help figure the ship out. Aside from going back to give reports, that would logically be the focus for the lions share of stones activity.
For lack of a more descriptive term, I didn’t care for the pointless grab assery back on earth. The whole Telford, the Colonels wife and the Col. storyline did nothing for me. Personally I don’t care what happens with Telford and her. To be blunt she is much like Pete from SG-1, completely unconnected from anything except one of the main characters. The fact that there has been none of that in the past several episodes is a plus for me.
That brings me to another point about the stones. Misuse of other peoples bodies for sex without their expressed permission to do so. Immoral. Period. No way around that fact in my opinion. There should be a strict protocol in place for how the stones are used. An unrelated point, that IMO has a bearing on this. Sam and Jack didn’t hook up for years because of their working relationship in the Air force. It seems to me that if folks in the Stargate program are going to mind their P’s and Q’s that well at least one person high up in the chain of command would have figured on a proper protocol for the way for the stones to be used.