“It says Stargate in the title, but it’s also going to be something that is very different in tone,” Robert C. Cooper, one of the creators of the new series Stargate Universe, said in a recent interview with MGM. “It will certainly have a Stargate in it, but is going to be unlike anything Stargate we’ve ever done before.”
What does this mean to long-time fans of the Stargates? Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis were very successful with their unique tones, especially with the trademark humor and not taking themselves too seriously. Stargate Universe, on the other hand, is being aimed at a “new” audience and has been described as “edgier, darker and younger-skewing than its predecessors.” Creative consultant and writer Joseph Mallozzi described it as “a much more cerebral and mature addition to the franchise.”
SGU has also been described as a character-driven “space opera” (not to be confused with “soap opera”). Set mainly on the Destiny, the show will focus on the sacrifices, survival, and relationships of the stranded crew.
One of the challenges from the start is the casting of enough characters to man the Destiny when it gets stranded far from home. Since the ship will be cut off from Earth, the likelihood of a new rotation of crewmembers boarding Destiny is close to nil. That means that we’ll have to see several primary and secondary characters introduced practically from the start.
The two characters with the highest visibility appear to be Dr. David Rush and Col. Everett Young. Both roles are for men in their 40s. The role of Rush has been cast with well-known actor Robert Carlyle, while the casting for Young has not yet been announced. According to the character breakdowns, the actor portraying Young is to be a “name” actor as well. These two men, one a scientist, the other a military officer, must work together to help the stranded soldiers and civilians survive. They won’t always agree on how things should be done, especially since Rush feels that Young took command away from him when they found themselves in their unique situation.
“Contrary to initial reports, the Rush character is not the leader of the unplanned expedition,” Mallozzi clarified in the December 15 entry of his weblog. “That honor falls to Colonel Everett Young. For now. But things could have a way of changing on board a ship manned by a disparate group with very different agendas…”
This “disparate group” includes “mostly young and desperate explorers,” as co-creators Brad Wright and Cooper described them in the official announcement for the series. The primary members of this ensemble cast will be Capt. Tamara Johanson [aka Jon], Lt. Jared Nash [aka Scott], Marine Ron Stasiak, and civilians Chloe Carpenter and Eli Hitchcock, all in their early 20s.
Mallozzi introduced some of the secondary ensemble members to his weblog readers: “Those of you looking for a more character-centered scifi series need look no further. While Rush is still my fave, I also think Wray has a lot of potential for getting under Young and co.’s skin. She’s a definite love her or hate her type of character, one who’ll prove the bane to many a series regular, and probably some viewers as well. At present, a lot of the supporting players (James, Brody, Henry, Riley, Grearson, Volker, and dear, dear Franklin) hold a lot of promise as well. I’m reminded of Atlantis’s Zelenka and SG-1’s Lorne (hell, even McKay), secondary characters who, over time, developed into fully fleshed-out personalities and fan favorites.”
Additional characters that will need to be introduced throughout the series will be representatives of the alien cultures these explorers encounter in the far reaches of the universe. Since the Ancients got distracted with the plague and ascension, they abandoned the Stargate seeding project. The Stargates were planted on distant worlds, but humanity was not, according to Mallozzi. He concluded, “There were explanations for why human civilizations existed within the Milky Way and Pegasus Galaxies. In the case of SGU, no such explanation exists (that we know of) so the alien civilizations we will be encountering will not be human.”
Non-human aliens have been represented by actors in suits (such as Nem of Oannes), puppets (such as the Asgard), and as computer-generated (CG) images (such as Tyler of the Reol and the leader of the Lost Tribe of the Asgard). “We’ve done limited puppetry … and may explore this avenue. However, for the really out-there-looking creatures, you want to go CG,” Mallozzi explained. Stargate visual effects teams have been nominated for and have won several awards for their CG efforts over the years, including the Gemini in 2003 for SG-1’s “Revelations” that included extensive CG for the Asgard named Heimdall.
And what about the alien worlds themselves? Those who have listened to the DVD commentaries over the years know that locations in the Vancouver area are becoming scarce as developers take over. And the infamous “Medieval Village” set has been torn down. Will we see CG worlds on SGU instead? “Of the first ten episodes broken,” Mallozzi explained, “we have a grand total of 0 forested planets. I’m not saying we won’t, eventually, come across one but, for the time being, the emphasis is on the ship and some locations atypical of Stargate. As a matter of fact, Executive Producer Robert Cooper and Director Andy Mikita are in New Mexico as we speak, scouting a cool-looking alien setting.”
Stargate Universe begins principal photography February 4, 2009, and is scheduled for a July 2009 premiere on the Sci Fi Channel. Even though the opening episode, “Air”, has three parts, only the first two are likely to be shown as a two-hour movie premiere, according to Mallozzi.
Stay with Solutions as we continue to update the Stargate Universe Guide in the Stargate Wiki.