The Stargate franchise is to originality, what Smallville is to canon; but Stargate Universe steals from so many places at once that it becomes hard to keep up. Its two hour pilot shamelessly borrows the structure of Lost’s pilot, beginning with the emergency evacuation, accompanied by flying luggage, and then proceeds to tell the story of how they got here, accompanied by flashbacks to the evacuation, and the character’s personal lives. In other words it’s the Lost pilot taking place in the Stargate universe. Robert Carlyle’s Dr. Rush, with his determination that the Destiny is the most meaningful thing in the universe and has a plan for them, obviously echoes Lost’s Locke. Except Destiny is the Hatch. There’s even a countdown timer that kinda resembles the Hatch timer.
But it doesn’t end there. Stargate Universe mixes that up with some of the look and plot of Battlestar Galactica, and pads that out with a cast that owes something to Lost by way of the CW, including Eli, a Seth Rogen lookalike who gets on board by solving a puzzle in an MMORPG that looks a lot like Mass Effect, talk about pandering to your SciFi channel audience, a Senator’s daughter who spends half an episode naked in the shower, and a soldier who hallucinates in Catholic symbolism, crossing Supernatural with Battlestar Galactica for pretentiousness fail.
The thing is that underneath all those layers, the show isn’t bad. It’s just uneventful. The cast works reasonably well and so does the premise. But with no aliens in sight, there’s nothing of interest except ship malfunctions. Air was a fairly decent follow up to a reasonably strong pilot, but even so it doesn’t really capture your attention. Darkness was so boring that the producers felt the need to throw in gobs of eye candy to try and keep viewers from switching the channel. And basing a show around crazy people yelling at each other only works if you manage to convince a bunch of the alpha dorks and the IO9 crowd that you’re selling brilliant drama, ala the Battlestar Galactica reboot, something that Stargate Universe doesn’t have a shot in hell of pulling off. That means Stargate Universe needs an enemy fast to survive.