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Stargate News
Episode of the Week: SGU’s Series Premiere ‘Air’

Monday - December 21, 2015

SGU: Season One
First Aired: October 2 & 9, 2009

When a research team is forced to evacuate their secret base, they find themselves on board a derelict Ancient vessel that is many galaxies away from Earth — a ship with a worn-out life-support system and hull breaches will suffocate them in a matter of hours.

“Air” Facts:

  • After 12 years in production the team behind Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis chose to take a decidedly different turn with the third series in the franchise, announcing months before it was officially picked up by Syfy Channel that the show would be called Stargate Universe. Producers wanted to push themselves in new ways, with a darker tone and more focus on the inner lives of a large cast of characters.

    Their biggest challenge was to make the show both like Stargate (to appeal to long-time fans) and also new and different, to try and draw in new viewers.

  • In the days before production began in early 2009 we knew two big things about SGU: The show wouldn’t have a main antagonist like the Goa’uld or the Wraith, and it would explore the mysterious ninth chevron — a part of the Stargate evident on screen but never explored in the franchise’s 12-year history. As it turned out, the dangerous and costly task of dialing the 9-chevron address would lead not to a distant planet, not back in time, but to an unmanned ship launched by the Ancients millions of years ago: Destiny.
  • The pre-production process including name changes for nearly all of the show’s main characters. (Take a peek at the original character breakdowns.) Nicholas Rush was originally David Rush. Tamara Jon became Tamara Johansen. Chloe Carpenter became Chloe Armstrong. Eli Hitchcock was to be Eli Wallace. Ron Stasiak was renamed Ronald Greer. And Lt. Jared Nash? Let’s call him Matthew Scott instead.
  • One of the conceits of the show’s premise: the Stargates are not a next-generation model, as humans had discovered on Atlantis, but in fact a model much older than the gates we know and love from the Milky Way Galaxy. That means that the white-chevron gates have a more limited range, and cannot dial to any other gate in their local galaxy (making it all the more difficult to keep up with Destiny when the ship jumps away without you).
  • Several of the supporting roles in the 3-part series premiere are played by actors who previously played other characters in the universe of Stargate: Ona Grauer (“Ayiana”) was recast as Colonel Young’s estranged wife, Emily. Patrick Gilmore (“Dale Volker”) had bit parts in “Morpheus” and “Harmony” (playing a Genii soldier). Julia Benson (“Vanessa James”) had played Willa, one of Lucius Lavin’s wives. And Glynis Davies (“Maryann Wallace”) had played both a young Catherine Langford (“1969”) and a Langaran Ambassador.

“Air” (Parts 1, 2, and 3) on GateWorld:

Download “Air” (Parts 1, 2, and 3) now from Amazon or iTunes!

Rewatch “Air” (Parts 1, 2, and 3) this week! Then post your comments below, or head over to the “Air” discussion forums and see what people were saying back in the day. What are your favorite moments?

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COMMENTS (7):Rules | Report Comment | Trackback

  • “Their biggest challenge was to make the show both like Stargate (to appeal to long-time fans) and also new and different, to try and draw in new viewers.”

    Unfortunately, it took them far too long to be successful in this effort. By the time they were able to make the show really appeal to long-time Stargate fans, it was too late for the ratings, and greatly contributed to the eventual premature end of the show. You can blame the network all you want, but it definitely wasn’t all their fault.

    Hey, I absolutely love SGU. I’m just saying what some people are afraid to say. That first half-season was a punch in the face to a lot of fans. (With exceptions like Air, Time, and Justice, of course.)

  • Other than the clever use of time travel in the episode “Time”, I couldn’t remember another first season episode of SGU if my life depended on it. The first season was awful, too slow and dreary like a soap opera for teenagers. I’m surprised that they were renewed for a second season after chasing away all the long-time viewers in the first season.

  • I have to disagree with Arkatox. The biggest problem was Stargate fans not giving SGU a chance. Right from ‘Air,’ people were complaining and hating. Personally, I liked ‘Air’ because it was different, gritty, and dare I say, more realistic? SGU was much more in the BSG mold of gritty drama. The idea of these people stranded on an old ship in some foreign galaxy, with no way home, was very different. And the biggest enemy was each other-Rush/the military/the civilians-3 factions that had to learn to get along to survive, especially against what they met out there. This was much more interesting than just rehashing SG-1 or Atlantis.

    With the large ensemble, it took a while to develop, but the 2nd half of the 2nd season was some amazing television. If only there could’ve been at least a 3rd season.

    But again, instead of fans not liking it and just saying so, they really started a major hate campaign. The result was only 2 seasons and then no more Stargate at all. Thanks a lot haters…

  • “decided to take a decidedly different turn”

    That’s a lot of deciding :D

    I agree with ictus75. There were a lot of fans were made it a mission to pull the show down. It’s understandable, but they were unable to fuel those feelings of hurt in a productive way.

    Announcing the cancellation of Atlantis and then announcing SGU led many to feel their show was being pushed aside.

    Syfy made the decision to end Atlantis, but the showrunners.

    But looking at Atlantis you could see the writers were aching to try different things. They seemed tired of the same old gags and went as dark as they could with the show’s format.

    I personally loved all of SGU. It was different and having never followed the new BSG tv series (I saw the miniseries), I liked the process of learning about all the different characters and their motivations.

    The show was always about how people that were never suppose to be on that ship handled the obstacles external to the ship, within the ship, between each other, and within themselves.

    But fans wanted SG-1 1.3. It may have been too much change in a short period of time when another show was cancelled, but that does not excuse blatant attacks on showrunners for things outside their control.

  • I actually don’t see who ictus75 contradicted what I said. One of us may have misunderstood the other.

  • Ictus75 – I simply stopped watching, in part for the reasons you cite. Mind you, as a UK viewer that would have made no impact on US ratings.
    SG1 and Atlantis’s slightly tongue in cheek humour aspect was part of their charm, esp the former. it was painfully lacking in Universe. As were likable characters.
    I watched 10 episodes of Universe in total. It was Battle-stargate Galactica-Universe, unashamedly so in tone and approach. As a fan of Battlestar Galactica, Universe to me did no favours to SG1 & SGA, Galactica or itself.

  • The epside where the francise died in my sentence. I felt like i was watching som **** like true blood but in space. To much drama for me as a SG fan. They stepped it up later on but then it was to late for me at least. I only watched it trough after it was cancelled just to se how they ended it. Before that only 3eps. Unfortunately it got abit better, but before that you lost me and i guess a couple more SG-fans who werent there for the love story but for the exploration and “evolution” part.

    we dont want to see two honkeys having a conflict for thier love story. We want to see an overpowered enemy who we defeat in some wierd way. Haha

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