Verdict: Stargate Universe stands on its own

by Paul William Tenny

Stargate Universe: "Time"Stargate Universe feels pretty good to me so far, but I've got some issues with it that I didn't really have with the previous shows. I suppose that's inevitable when you purposefully go so outside of the box, but these issues are nonetheless problematic for me enjoying the show as fully as is reasonably possible.

I'm not nearly as bothered by the rampant sluttyness of the Chloe character as a lot of people seem to be. For one thing, Lt. Scott seems to be every bit as much of a slut as Chloe is and nobody seems to care about that. I'd openly wonder why that is, but I already know the answer. An amusing definition of the word slut that I once read was a woman with the morals of a man. And sometimes that's just the way some people are. There is contradictory conventional wisdom at play here that your characters should be as deeply flawed (and yet redeemable) as possible because that's both interesting and fertile ground for exploring human conflict, the basis of drama.

The counter argument is characters should have qualities that the audience can identify with, they should be smart, witty, endearing and moral.

The problem is that those characters belong in sitcoms, not dramas. Everyone getting along is great for getting laughs but not so great for yanking your heart out through your throat.
So between the two fires, I'm always going to go for flaws because that at least means the conflict will be interesting.

With Chloe you've got someone that just lost her father in an already extremely stressful situation and right out of the gate, she has absolutely nobody to help her grieve and cope. People who don't have that support system tend to self destruct, and for my money I think that would have been a more interesting route to go with her - imagine all the problems she could cause and how many hard choices she could force people to make - but really it's not all that bad to have her bounce off one guy to the next to fill that void in some way.

Whether that says something about a male's view of the female human condition or about this particular character's condition I cannot say. If what's happening with Chloe becomes a source of conflict, and from conflict comes growth and depth, then mission accomplished as far as I'm concerned.

If not, well, she can always have a terrible accident.

The other characters I don't really think need much tweaking right now. They are not the kind of set piece you'd find on The West Wing. They may get there, at some point, but getting there is the more interesting part. Each of them seems to have enough room to become something they aren't right now and until we start seeing that happen, there's little point in complaining.

If I could go back in time, plop myself down in the writers room, and strongly advocate a change, it would obviously be the communications stones. I'd like to think that my foresight is as strong our collective hindsight on this matter. Stargate Atlantis suffered from having Earth be too accessible and for whatever reason, the producers make exactly the same mistake with the stones. Somebody should have seen that coming.

Sitting in that room, I'd have made two suggestions depending on how badly some of the other writers wanted them to be around.

A. Don't do it at all - This would have been my first suggestion but the one I would have fought for the weakest because there are compelling arguments for having the stones around.

B. If you're going to have them, either 1. Take them away at some point, or 2. Exact a price for using them.

I think either of the two choices for B offer great opportunities for storytelling and I could easily pitch two stories off the top my head to exploit them. SG-1 very briefly (and as a head fake, really) raised the possibility early on that regular gate travel could have health consequences. I actually liked that idea and think it could and should be applied to the stones. It's consistent with the mythos (the stones have never been extensively used in this way), forces you to stop relying on them as a crutch, and creates newer (and in my opinion) more interesting story opportunities that can (and primarily should) take place entirely on Destiny.

Other than that, my only other significant gripe is that "Time" wasn't a two-parter. That episode was fantastic and I wanted a real conclusion to it.

That said, the ratings are good, the show has been ordered to a second season, I'm a very happy fan, and I still desperately want to write for this franchise. And yes, FYI, I will write for free.
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