First of all, this is my opinion on Stargate Universe, no one else's. If you agree, great. If you don't, I'm fine with that too. Discussion of this blog and other aspects of Stargate is most welcome, just don't turn a civilised discussion into personal attacks. If you haven't seen all of the episodes so far, don't read the blog. For the rest of this blog, I will refer to SG-1 as SG-1 (obviously), Stargate Atlantis as SGA and Stargate Universe as SGU for the sake of brevity.
Many people know and love the Stargate franchise, from the movie to SG-1, Atlantis and now in the latest spin-off: Universe. SGU is seen by some as a blatant grab for more viewers with a new style and approach. While others see it as an evolutionary step in the Stargate franchise. I see it as a bit of both. For one, there isn't much competition in terms of other big science fiction shows, so they adjusted the style of the show to appeal to a "wider" audience. On the other hand, Stargate has used the same style for its previous TV series, so it makes sense that they would try a different style.
Story wise, SGU's new approach with an inclination to more character driven stories without a big bad enemy doesn't seem right for Stargate. In both SG-1 and SGA, the main enemy were introduced in the first episode. Yes, SGU's premise is different to the other shows, it's all about survival on a giant ancient ship and their enemy is death, they are fighting to survive. The difficult thing is that while, survival is an instinct, it is an ongoing objective, if the survival story arc goes on too long, it's just going to get old. One of the story highlights of the first half of this season for me would have to be "Time", it's a nice classic time travel story with the added twist of the Stargate itself as the time travel device.
The dynamic of the military and civilians was explored on SGA, but I think that the the result was not what the creators intended, Weir and Sheppard got along too well and the real military was not really in a position to lock horns with the civilian leadership, although they did on occasion. SGU presents a situation where Rush (up to now) has been toe-to-toe with Young in a number of situations. SGU is like SGA in a way, but the effect of military and civilian interaction seems to be amplified by Rush's disrespect and rogue attitude. That said, Rush is a complex character; we, as the audience don't really know who's side he is on. All of the characters also have depth or a back story that we don't know about, so it seems that we have to wait for future episodes to learn more about their past. "Earth" and "Life" were character episodes that taught the audience a lot about these characters.
Sex on SGU. Is it warranted? That is what I have been asking myself, SG-1 and SGA were marketed as shows that the whole family could watch. But, since the creators have aimed SGU at a different audience and focused it on the characters, it is warranted in some situations, not in others. Yes, sex shows the emotion and relationship between characters, but I think that there are other ways of showing it.
Previously, SG-1 and SGA both had a traditional cinematic style of shooting scenes. SGU on the other hand has moved to a "dynamic" documentary style of cinematography. Now, this may be fine for other shows such as 24, where the premise is constant real-time drama/action. It's not that the new style doesn't work, it just feels out of place for a Stargate. But for SGU I feel that the traditional style would have worked just as well, note that I am a biased traditionalist when it comes to cinematography.
While it is nice to see something different from the Stargate franchise, SGU doesn't seem as appealing to me as the other shows. I started watching SG-1 in season 3 and got drawn into Stargate, also, when SGA premiered, I got hooked on the first episode. Unfortunately it hasn't been the case for SGU. It just seems like it's not Stargate any more. I like the way that SG-1 and SGA balanced the battle with the big bad enemy with character stories, it doesn't seem to be happening on SGU. I struggle to be drawn in by some episodes of SGU, but I want SGU to be a good series and I want to like it.
In the end, it comes down to the proverb: "To each his own". Some people will love SGU and others will hate it. I'm still on the fence and will reserve judgement until season 1 is over.