Why Stargate Universe Failed

News of the cancellation of Stargate Universe may have saddened some diehard fans, but for the most part no one should really be surprised.  What shocked me even more was the fact that it lasted into a second season.  While the showmakers were quick to fall on the old excuse that bad ratings were the result of Syfy moving the show around on its schedule and, thus, not giving it a chance to build an audience, many people did indeed sample the show only to find it severely flawed. 

I gave it a chance last year and ended up calling it "the dullest, most uninspired science fiction show ever made."  I had problems with its pacing and weak stories, and especially took to task the series' creator Robert Cooper's ludicrous implication that a character-driven story meant forsaking plot, and that previous incarnations of the Stargate franchise may have been "cartoonish" or less appealing to adults. 

Cooper apparently is not the only one to put his foot in his mouth.  Stargate Universe's executive producer and co-creator Brad Wright fell into the unfortunate practice of blaming the fanbase instead of acknowledging that the show itself may have had insurmountable weaknesses in its premise and execution.  Wright said, "The fact that some of the fans that liked SG-1 and Atlantis were so angry that they have deliberately hurt us...is unfortunate." 

Stargate Universe seemed to want to be a spin-off of Battlestar Galactica rather than the Stargate franchise.  Its "lost in space" premise seemed more like Star Trek: Voyager than Stargate: SG1 or Stargate: Atlantis.  So when many Stargate fans tuned in to the new show and were disappointed by what was delivered, how is that the fault of the fans?  The showrunners wanted the benefits of the brand without delivering some of the key factors that attracted fans to the previous series in the first place. 

Despite an excellent cast that included Robert Carlyle, Ming-Na, and others, the show was doomed from the beginning by its unimaginative writing and deadly pacing.  Some fans, like myself, tried to be patient and give the series a chance, but after a while, it became obvious that it was an "emperor without clothes." 

While I hate to see any science fiction show go off the airwaves, maybe the failure of Stargate Universe will teach others a lesson and lead to better shows in the future.  Yet, as long as the show's creators continue to point the finger of blame at others rather than themselves, they run the risk of continuing to make the same mistakes again.


MediumRob said…
Depends on your viewpoint. I thought Stargate SG-1 was okay, with some good episodes around the middle seasons. But Stargate Atlantis was absolutely dreadful and we gave up on that completely mid season two. I actually agree with Robert Cooper on that - they were cartoonish, and you couldn't watch more than a few episodes of SGU without looking back at SG-1 and Atlantis and finding it unwatchable.

Whereas I found Stargate Universe grew on me after a few episodes and I actually began to like it more than BSG, since it wasn't weighed down by epic amounts of mythology, they had all kinds of problems that weren't easily solved (unlike on BSG where that food problem got fixed in about an episode, for example), pretty much whatever could go wrong did go wrong, and people were just plain old nasty. Even when it looked like something nice might have happened, something horrible ended up happening to ruin it. So I loved it on those grounds alone.
Nick said…
Rob, I tried to give the show a chance but finally gave up on it a little over halfway through the first season. My brother-in-law tells me that season 2 was a major improvement, but I was long gone by then.

Good shows can have interesting mythology arcs, like Fringe or the early X-Files or Supernatural and(surprisingly) this season's Smallville.

As I said, though, it's sad to see any genre show fail. In this case, I do think Stargate Universe had some serious flaws that the show's creators are refusing to acknowledge, and that's part of what killed the series.