I like my science fiction dark. Not necessarily physically dark, but atmospherically and tonally dark. Dystopias, creaky starships, journeys into the unknown by flawed heroes (or, more probably, antiheroes) never fail to catch my eye, whether in a novel, movie or television series. Problem is, I have to actually be aware of them—and therein, my friends, lies the rub.
I’d never really been a huge fan of the Stargate franchise in its many forms. I saw the movie when it came out in the 1990s, and I liked it, but never watched SG-1 or Stargate Atlantis, preferring the more cerebral The X-Files (when it was still cerebral) and Battlestar Galactica for my TV sci-fi fix. The incarnations of Stargate were a bit too light and comedic for my darker tastes. Yet, the concept of a galaxy-traveling ancient civilization out somewhere in the cosmos has always been an intriguing idea to me.
So I was mildly surprised when I felt drawn into Stargate Universe (SGU for short). I’d heard little good about it from the various Stargate fan communities: “It’s too dark.” “It doesn’t feel like Stargate.” I learned, however, that much of that was due to the fact that this incarnation of Stargate was so different, so much more serious and darker in tone, that it made sense that some Stargate fans would find SGU strange and "off."
I’d not really discovered the show at all until it was six months off the air. By then, it had aired 40 episodes, pulling in about 2 million viewers each week—apparently not enough to keep a Syfy series on the air (although the numbers dropped as the series went on due to a variety of things). The network cancelled it in May 2011.
There are many things I loved about the Stargate concept even before tuning in to my first SGU episode. There is something compelling about an ancient civilization, predating us by hundreds of thousands of years. The ancients were space mariners, bent on exploring our solar system and way beyond—galaxy by galaxy, star by star.
They explored via stargates, devices able to control wormholes in time and space, and able to transport millions of light years in a moment, stepping through an “event horizon”—a shimmery “puddle” of light. They launched seed ships to place these stargates on planets distant and more distant, which would allow them access to the universe by dialing up a code controlling a series of “chevrons.”