TV Party Tonight

I watched the latest episode of Stargate Universe this morning. For those of you that don’t know, it’s a sequel to Stargate Atlantis, which was a sequel to Stargate SG1, which itself was based on the 1994 film of the same name.

At first, I thought the show was simply Battlestar Galactica for those suffering from Battlestar Galactica withdrawals. All the elements are there. They’ve got a version of Gaius Baltar, Dr. Rush. They’ve got the factions of military and civilians. They’ve got a need to locate supplies. They’ve even got a sleeper agent, apparently, though I’m guessing she’s Mossad or something rather than Goa’uld. The only thing they lack as of yet is the element of pursuit, but more on that later.

My next thought was an obvious analogy. If SG1 was like Star Trek: The Next Generation (both long-lived series based upon an earlier work), and if Atlantis was like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (both series based around a distant outpost), then SGU would be like Star Trek: Voyager (both series based around a ship lost in deep space.) Other than being lost in space, what was Voyager most known for? Why, taking Trek‘s scariest foes, the Borg, and inflicting them with terminal villain decay.

So I have to wonder what scary foe’s going to pop up on the far side of the universe? The most likely candidate is a version of the Replicators, since Ancient robotic factories are the reason why there is going to be a stargate on every planet of the week.

Let’s also speculate on what the next installment of the franchise might look like if SyFy continues the pattern.

After Voyager came Enterprise, so… the series will have to be a prequel. Like any “good” prequel, it will have to invent a thoroughly implausible way to get the main characters together ahead of time, and yet give them the ability to act as though they were meeting for the first time in the original series’ pilot. And they must discover a way to use the gate without upsetting the established canon. Urg, forget it! We’ll set it in an alternate timeline and just not tell anybody. We’ll just laugh when fans start to point out the continuity holes to one another. And then at the end we’ll tell them that the entire series was a hoax, an imaginary story, or a dream sequence.

Okay, so maybe predicting the next spin-off to be just like Enterprise is kind of depressing. On the other hand, it it were to be set in the Thirties or Forties, we could do something like this…

Nope, no Crystal Skull here.
Nope, no Crystal Skull here.

I admit, last summer I had dared to hope that the fourth Indiana Jones movie would be as I’d imagined above. I don’t think it would necessarily ruin Dr. Jones’ previous adventures to later discover that the Sankara Stones were ancient batteries, that the Grail was full of medical nanobots, and the Ark of the Covenant was actually an ancient computer with particularly aggressive anti-intrusion features. Oh, and the Crystal Skull? A map of the galaxy and key to operating the gate.

Instead, the movie we got, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, was best considered a hoax, an imaginary story, and a dream sequence.

As for SGU, I’m hoping it will skip out of the Voyager/BSG mold and into unexplored territory. Though I believe I can identify one other source of inspiration, which could be rather interesting if explored further. The AD&D campaign setting Spelljammer was based around a legendary magical spacecraft, the Spelljammer, which resembled a giant manta ray with a city on its back. The city was inhabited by factions, some human, some not, some merely powerless stowaways, others struggling to take control of the ship. The current master or masters of the Spelljammer were unknown in the inital release of the campaign setting. (Though I’m betting subsequently published adventure modules definitively revealed their identities.)

So, with great sections of the Destiny currently inaccessible to the humans, who knows what other stowaways the crew may someday encounter?

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