Monday, November 29, 2010

The one where I talk about SGU... forever.

I'd like to take you back to a more innocent time... 2003 when the world was young and the Battlestar Galactica Mini-series premiered and everything about it just seemed so... awesome.  It blew everyone away.  Just look at that:

Ah yes, it was a simpler time.  Back when Baltar and Six were actually in the same room and not just haunting one another's war-addled brains.  I LOVED BSG and so did everyone else.  Critics lauded the show and Ron Moore got a SciFi deal to keep on keepin on and we all jumped and down and cheered.  And why not?  There was so much to love.  We had a tough, stoic leader in Adama.  A grit and grime, gin-drinking XO in Colonel Tigh.  A brilliant but sketchy scientist and his sexy secret cylon girlfriend: Baltar and Six.  A savvy, if reluctant president in Roslin. Then we had fucking Kara Thrace. Total badass. Awesome characters like Boomer, Apollo and Galen rounded out the cast nicely.  And then we had the effects... oh god the effects.  Silence in Space! Yeah, well Firefly totally did it first.  And before that... well Cowboy Bebop had it covered.  But still... silent space battles, raptors, big massive carrier ships, zero-G piloting... ughhh. It made us all so happy.

But then came the darkness.  The show reveled in its own grit. Then it wallowed in the grimy realism that it just LOVED portraying... then all of the characters... every single one had a psychotic break and before you know it noone was safe from being thrown out the airlock. 

Ahhh... the days before everyone went to shit.
I don't know... I still have a special place in my heart for BSG but I think it got a little too wrapped up in its own mythology.  It lost the heart it originally had somewhere along the line and became more about how fucked up everyone was than about the resilliancy of humanity in the face of destruction. So when it was over... I didn't watch Caprica.  I didn't even try.  I didn't want another show to break my heart like BSG did and I was extremely reluctant to try Stargate Universe because of this.

But I'm here to tell you that I frakking (now that word is a direct descendant of the awesomeness of BSG) LOVE Stargate Universe.  I only ever watched the original Stargate in spurts... when it was convenient or when Scifi ran a marathon.  There were some great episodes and there were some campy episodes but all in all it had a TON of heart and made a lot of great points... which means that it was well and truly what Science Fiction TV is all about.  But, like I said, I was never a loyal follower.  I only saw a few episodes of SG: Atlantis.  It just didn't hook me.  But leading up to the month of October last year, S. and I kept seeing previews for SGU.

"That looks pretty good," we said. "Let's try it out."

And we did.  Immediately, we were in.  I make fun of the derivative nature of this show quite often.  I've even done it on this blog.  But honestly, I think that this show is infinitely better than the shows that spawned it.  So I'll put it this way:

It's like if Star Trek: Voyager and Battlestar Galactica had a baby.  But when that baby grew up it had learned from all the mistakes its (rightfully brilliant but ultimately flawed) parents made. 

The last two episodes, both leading up to the finale (which will air this Tuesday night) were just amazing.  And it really pushed me over the edge on the BSG vs SGU front. 

First off we have Episode 208: Malice.  Man, there's just nothing better than a pissed off bad-ass scientist and that's exactly what we get in this episode.  As you'll recall, Episode 207 ended with Simeon cornering Amanda (in Ginn's body) in her quarters and looking pretty menacing.  This episode starts off with Dr. Rush finding Ginn/Amanda dead.  Very sad.

Rush gets REALLY pissed off and immediately hurries after Simeon who's gone through the gate with a hostage. 

When Rush gets to the other side, he finds the hostage with a mine strapped to her back and after some British-professorial fumbling, he gets it off of her and throws it into the air so it can explode properly.  The next sequence of shots is FANTASTIC and I wish I had some sweet You-Tube action to plop down here... but I don't.  So, use your imagination to picture the crying hostage, then a quick crane up to show Rush already walking away (total bad-ass style) to find Simeon.

Oh, here, I'd like to break  from the action for just a second to discuss Rush's wardrobe.  Specifically: The Vest. I like to think of this little tweedy number as his Action Vest.  It, unlike the vests of his enlisted friends, serves absolutely NO tactical purpose other than to provide a possible pocket for his busted up glasses. 

But I commend Rush for sticking to his style here.  When things get action-y on the ship he stands up and says "Better get my vest." Well, not really, but I like to imagine that he does.

Anyway, he looks damn good in it and I hope it never gets destroyed in one of the many off-world explosive missions he stomps off to. 

On with the show.  Eventually Rush and Simeon face off.  Simeon is injured but he's still a total tough and nails asshole, powered by Space Douchey-ness.  So when Rush finally corners him he does the whole, "I'm going to walk calmly toward you because I know you can't make the shot with that 9mm you're obviously not trained to use." thing that bad guys sometimes do.  And he's right.  Rush can't make the shot.  But here's the thing about Bad-Ass Scientists... they know they can't.  And friends, they compensate.

Rush pulls out his detonator and Simeon gets that "Oh shit!" face.  But then, when Rush presses the trigger, it only blows up a rock face about 500 yards down the line.  Simeon gets that, "You're such a fuck up." smirk just as we hear a great and terrible rumbling in the direction of the explosion.  In my head, Rush gives Simeon a total "Fuck You." stare... though I may have totally imagined that.  In any event, that rumbling is the result of a shit-ton of SPACE DINOSAURS who stampede Simeon, Lion King Style.  He's all bet up and bloody and totally ready to make amends.  He pleads with Rush to take pity on him, that he has information and will play ball with the higher ups who want that information.  But Rush doesn't care about any of that. Rush just aims at point blank range and takes the shot without hesitation. 

Yeah... BAD ASS. 

Anyway, this episode was full of well-written dialogue.  Beautifully justified character development and interaction.  And gorgeous action scenes that are so well-conceived it makes me ache to watch it all over again. 

The next episode, is different.  It's quieter.  Mysterious.  It's eerie and slow and totally perfect. 

This show can truly do just about anything.  The characters have a ton of depth and every action they make is well-motivated and justified.  The stories are smart and surprising and the show consistently takes old, SciFi tropes and turns them inside out. 

S. and I are blown away by every single episode and it only seems to be getting better. 

I really hope it keeps going in this manner.  I really hope it stays on this path, keeps its heart, doesn't get too self-involved (BSG) or preachy (Voyager) but continues to be a story about remarkably rounded, remarkably human characters fighting to survive, to get home, to love and live and find some happiness in discovering parts of the universe no other humans have seen. 

I can't wait for the season finale.