Then in October 2009, a new Stargate series began airing on Syfy. Though in the same setting as the previous Stargate series Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, Stargate Universe (SGU) took a different path than its predecessors. Where SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis took more of a Buck Rogers or Firefly approach, mixing high adventure with humor, SGU decided to go more for the Battlestar Galactica reboot feel with a dark, gritty, and more intimate approach.
After 15 years of adventure and humor, I think SGU felt a bit "off" for many people in its first season. One review I read said that it's like "BSG, except without any appealing characters" and that it seemed to focus on the crew's very many flaws as human beings.
Fortunately for me, I was in love with the show from the first episode. Though I loved SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis, they sometimes got a pit campy at times. SGU, though a tad morose and depressing occasionally, was much more of a reality check - something that could happen vs. something that there was no way in heck would happen. Well, it's "reality" as far as a bunch of human beings joyriding on an ancient spaceship traveling to who knows where is "realistic."
At the start of SGU, we are introduced to a distant planet with a strange Stargate on it. Unlike all the other gates encountered so far which required eight chevrons (symbols) to dial out (similar to a phone call), this one required a mysterious ninth chevron that nobody had been able to decipher yet. So they created a video game and farmed it out to online gamers to solve. One of the gamers, Eli Wallace (David Blue), solves the mathematical equation and is whisked away on a spaceship. Eli is my hero - a geek in the wrong place at the wrong time doing everything he can to help.
Eli arrives on this distant planet along with a group of delegates including Senator Armstrong (Christopher McDonald), his daughter and aide Chloe (Elyse Levesque), and IOC representative Camile Wray (Ming-Na). Already present are Colonel Young (Justin Louis), Dr. Rush (Robert Carlyle), Lt. Scott (Brian J. Smith), and others. While celebrating the impending success of the mission beyond the mysterious Stargate, the planet is attacked and all heck breaks loose.