We’re all slaves to what’s come before. If you have a new thought, a million people have had it before you, more than likely. Whatever language you speak, odds are it wasn’t your decision to speak that language, it was just dumb luck that you happened to be born in to the country that spoke that language. If you like Rock and not Opera, it probably has more to do with the socioeconomic conditions and time you were born in to, more than a conscious decision on your part. Everything we do is built upon a billion things we didn’t do that came before us.
The reason I mention this is because, in fact, we kind of *like* the tried and true. Certainly businessmen like the tried and true, just look at Detroit: This years model is last years’ model, only with tacky, senseless fleur-de-lis added. Just look at Hollywood: This years’ big hit is last years’ big hit, only with a “II” after the title. Just look at TV shows: Everything is the same, until something breaks the mold, and then everyone is in a mad rush to rip off the new thing, until everything is the same again. Then something else breaks the mold, and, well, there you are. If you’re taking my rambles to mean that the new Stargate: Universe show seems a bit derivative, then, congratulations, you got it in one.
Part of that is that it’s a spinoff series to the original show, which was a spinoff to a crappy movie I never liked in the first place (I have loved the Stargate TV shows, however). Part of it is that it’s a Syfy show, and those always seem a bit…well, a bit lite on the whole ’risk taking’ concept in the latter years of the Bonnie Hammer regime, during which time production on this show began. Part of it the legacy of that damn Ronald D. Moore version of Galactica. Hell, if we want to get technical, there’s aspects of The Starlost, Lost in Space, and Star Trek: Voyager in here as well, but curiously, mostly, it seems oddly derivative of Stargate: Atlantis.
‘Derivative’ isn’t bad, mind you. If it was, then the first western ever filmed would be the last western ever filmed, and there’d only have been one World War II flick ever, and Shakespear would only have written five or six plays. In a lot of ways, the SG franchise has been derivative of Trek from day one, and Trek was, itself, derivative of a zillion older serialized stories of daring do, both on and off planet. Even so, when someone wants something “Groundbreaking and new,“ what they really mean is, “I want that thing that was cool six months ago, but which most people are already sick of.“ What made SG1 so good - and what made the 80s/90s iterations of Star Trek so bad - was that Stargate was solidly dedicated to not sucking, whereas ‘Trek’s only interests were in re-capturing lightning in a bottle (Which they wholly failed to do) and didactically preaching at us about how all the fun things in life (Money, Love, Art, Religion, Politics, War, Gossip, Personal Possessions, History, Culture) are inherently bad. Meh.
Another way Stargate has been traditionally much better than that *other* franchise is that it hasn’t been afraid to screw with it’s format. Where Trek has done the same eight or nine stories in endless permutations with endlessly different casts for something like 700 hours of TV entertainment in the last 40 years, never wanting to vary from the format, Stargate has always been about “Ok, what’s the next cool thing we can do?” They don’t worry about format, or franchise, or fans, they simply try to tell a cool story and trust that audiences will find it.
So it’s a little disconcerting to suddenly find them repeating themselves, but more on that in a bit.
PLAY BY PLAY
200,000 or 300,000 years ago: The Ancients launch probes in to intergalactic space to seek out habitable worlds and plant stargates on them.
100,000 or 200,000 years ago, The Ancients launch “Destiny,” a massive spacecraft with which to explore the universe. They intend to resupply and staff the ship using a long-range stargate on board. Shortly afterwards, the project is abandoned, and no one ever actually visits the ship. It continues to wander through space at FTL velocities on Autopilot.
Some years ago, a 9-address Chevron is discovered, and the SGC