Stargate SG-U: 1.0 [Blu-ray]
by Various Directors
Review by Charles Mohapel
MGM Blu-ray ISBN/ITEM#: B002R8JG5I
Date: 18 March 2010 List Price $69.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
With Season 1 of Stargate Universe split into two halves consisting of 10 episodes each, releasing Stargate SG-U: 1.0 on Blu-ray and DVD gives viewers a chance to watch and review the first 10 episodes before the second half of the season begins airing on April 2, 2010.
Robert C. Cooper
Robert Carlyle ... Dr. Nicholas Rush
Louis Ferrera ... Col. Everett Young
Brian J. Smith ... Lt. Matthew Scott
Elyse Levesque ... Chloe Armstrong
David Blue ... Eli Wallace
Alaina Huffman ... Lt. Tamara Johansen
Jamil Walker Smith ... MSgt. Ronald Greer
"Air", the three-part pilot of Stargate Universe begins with General Jack O'Neill (Richard Dean Anderson) and Dr. Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle) making an unexpected house call on Eli Wallace (David Blue), a brilliant dropout from MIT. Shortly after arriving at Icarus Base, an off-world installation possessing a unique Stargate with a ninth chevron, the base comes under surprise attack by an unidentified enemy (probably the Lucian Alliance) in a fleet of Ha'tak (Goa'uld motherships) and Death Gliders (Goa'uld fighters). Orbiting the planet is the USS George Hammond commanded by Col. Samantha Carter, but the Hammond and its complement of F-302 fighters can't stop all the Death Gliders and the Al'kesh (Goa'uld medium-range bomber, converted into transports by the Lucian Alliance) they are escorting.
The location for Icarus Base was chosen because the planet's core contains a large quantity of naqahdriah, the highly unstable isotope of naqahdah, and the sneak attack on the base begins a chain reaction in the planet. When Dr. Rush realizes this, he correctly concludes that an open wormhole to Earth would also results in Earth's destruction and makes the decision to evacuate everyone to the unknown destination using the mysterious ninth chevron. That turns out to be a very old, uninhabited, huge spacecraft of Ancient design. So old that it predates all the other Ancient technology we have previously seen in the Milky Way and Pegasus Galaxies, the ship's name in Ancient translates as Destiny.
With Col. Everett Young, the group's commanding officer injured, Lt. Matthew Scott assumes command, meaning that he and Dr. Rush lead the exploration of the Destiny. Several areas of the ship have been so badly damaged, that they are exposed to hard vacuum now that the forcefields are failing, but it appears to functional for the most part. That's when they discover that they are billions of light years from Earth with no quick way to get home, limited supplies to survive on, and the vast majority of the people on board are ill-suited for the voyage. And so the adventure begins.
Running down the list of the first ten episodes, my favorites have to be "Light" (#5), "Life" (#9), and "Justice" (#10). I liked "Light" because for the first time, the majority of the people on the Destiny were actually working together for the common good. "Life" provided a deeper view into the past of Lt. Scott and it was gratifying seeing Col. Young settling his accounts with Col. Telford. In "Justice", Sgt. Spencer has apparently been murdered and the list of suspects is long and his fellow military personnel are prime suspects in the cliffhanger of the first half of Season 1.
Among all the log entries, my favorites include:
"Designing Destiny" was really cool as Brad Wright, Mark Savela, and James Robbins took us on a brief tour through the process of designing the Ancient ship Destiny.
"Kawoosh! 2.0" was way cool as we got to see how the latest version of the Stargate activation was accomplished using a superfast 1,000 frame per second Phantom HD Camera to shoot it.
"Chatting with the Cast: Shooting on the Destiny" with Robert Carlyle, Ming-Na, Lou Diamond Phillips, Alaina Huffman (Lt. Tamara Johansen), Jamil Walker Smith (MSgt. Ronald Greer), and David Blue was lots of fun and I was surprised to hear Carlyle compare the Stargate Universe set to a James Bond set (he played the villainous Renard in 1999's The World Is Not Enough).
"No Day At The Beach ("Air")" with Robert Carlyle is about the location shoot at the White Sands Missile Range, Alamogordo, NM and is an absolutely hilarious tale of how you must wear sunblock EVERYWHERE and NEVER EVER go Commando there.
In "Chatting with the Cast: Alaina Huffman", she wasn't a Science Fiction fan before doing Painkiller Jane, Smallville, and Stargate Universe, but has developed an appreciation of the genre.
"Chatting with the Cast: Brian J. Smith" features him talking about his background in theater.
"Director's Minutes: William Waring ("Water")" shows Will at his best and reminded me again of why he is my favorite Stargate director.
"Future/Past: The New Stargate" with Brad Wright, Robert C. Cooper, and James Robbins is a really cool view into the creative process of making Stargate Universe.
The Kino Video Diaries are for the most part amusing, but the only one that really sticks in my mind is Sgt. Greer having a little talk with Eli in the dining room, but you'll have to watch it yourself to see why.
Once again the commentaries are a highlight of the set. The one for "Air: Part 1" and "Air: Part 2" with Robert C. Cooper, Mark Savela, and Andy Mikita is an excellent behind-the-scenes audio tour of making the premiere episode. The one for "Air:" Extended Version with Brian J. Smith, David Blue, and Elyse Levesque can best be disguised as the rookies were having loads of fun with what is probably their first commentaries and reminded me of three kids on a massive sugar high. In their subsequent commentaries for "Darkness" and "Light", they're somewhat calmer as that sugar rush has finally worn off. "Water" with William Waring, Louis Ferrera, Brian J. Smith, and Elyse Levesque was great and is my favorite commentary by far. "Time" with Robert C. Cooper and David Blue is interesting and "Life" with Ming Na, Brian J. Smith, and Louis Ferrera showed me a hilarious interaction. "Justice" with William Waring, Louis Ferrera, Brian J. Smith, Elyse Levesque, and Jamil Walker Smith was shot at Louis Ferrera's house after Season 1 wrapped and showed how this new cast has bonded with each other and the crew just as the two previous show casts did.
Speaking as a longtime fan of Stargate dating back to the original film, I enjoyed both Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis for the most part, but like many fans, I had a few episodes that didn't thrill me. In each of those series, I found characters with whom I felt a connection, but the first time I watched Stargate Universe, I didn't find anyone I felt strongly about. Worst of all, I found that I was having trouble following the show -- and I really wanted to like this new Stargate. This all changed once I began watching Stargate SG-U: 1.0 on Blu-ray.
Being able to watch all 10 episodes of the first half of the inaugural season of Stargate Universe in a row, started to bring things more into focus, but watching each individual episode followed by the same episode with commentary really brought things into focus. Add the 31 log entries and 14 kino video diaries, and you really feel like you've been backstage in person.
While I know that many people have little fondness for the split season DVD sets, Stargate SG-U: 1.0 on Blu-ray is another exception I heartily recommend.