View Full Version : FAN REVIEWS: 'Air, Part 1'

September 30th, 2009, 02:18 PM
<DIV ALIGN="center"><TABLE WIDTH="450" BORDER="0" CELLSPACING="0" CELLPADDING="7"><TR><TD STYLE="border: none;"><DIV ALIGN="left"><FONT FACE="Verdana, Arial, san-serif" SIZE="2" COLOR="#000000"><A HREF="http://www.gateworld.net/universe/s1/101.shtml"><IMG SRC="http://www.gateworld.net/universe/graphics/101.jpg" WIDTH="160" HEIGHT="120" ALIGN="right" HSPACE="10" VSPACE="2" BORDER="0" STYLE="border: 1px black solid" ALT="Visit the Episode Guide"></A><FONT SIZE="1" COLOR="#888888">UNIVERSE SEASON ONE</FONT>
<FONT SIZE="4"><A HREF="http://www.gateworld.net/universe/s1/101.shtml" STYLE="text-decoration: none">AIR, PART 1</A></FONT>
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When a research team is forced to evacuate their secret base, they find themselves on board a derelict Ancient vessel that is many galaxies away from Earth.

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October 3rd, 2009, 12:11 PM
I loved Stargate SG-1, and I loved the premise of this SGU. The wrong people thrust into a precarious survival situation. It provides many opportunities for character growth and self discovery. I also loved how strongly the characters seemed to be developed. Rush, Young, Scott, Johansen, and Wallace were all solidly developed and well acted. Although I have no idea what Lou Diamond Philips role was, I was glad to see the show focus on developing the core characters rather than try to introduce everyone. But these strong elements are horribly overshadowed by poor editing and sloppy camera work.

The TV show, Highlander, was the best example of using flashbacks to provide background and supplemental story elements. The flashbacks were triggered by events within the story that were shown on camera. And whenever we were about to take a trip to the past, the camera would zoom in on the character’s eyes or fade to the side. This technique provided the audience with solid visual cues that we were about to see a memory and be shown supplemental background information. The show rarely had more than 2-3 flashbacks per episode, keeping the audience firmly anchored in a single story with a single viewpoint character.

All of that was missing in Stargate Universe. Suddenly it was now, suddenly it was some unknown time in the past, suddenly were back to the present, suddenly back to the past, suddenly we’re looking at an unknown character’s marriage problems. It was like jumping back and fourth in a book. You read a page in chapter 4, a page in chapter 5, another page in chapter 4, then a page in chapter 3. One moment you see the Colonel welcoming civilians to an off-world base; the next moment he’s back at home and collapsing after an argument with his wife. You never learn why he collapsed or even when this actually happened. The constant jumping around prevents you from connecting from the characters or becoming invested in the story. When we saw Rush crying over the picture of a woman, I thought, “Where the hell did this come from? Get back to the story!”

The sloppy camera work makes matters even worse. Not only are you kept distant from the overall story arc, but the sloppy camera prevents you from focusing during a scene. Mirror neurons in the human brain are responsible for helping people identify with characters, feeling compassion for them, and keeping the viewer interested. But mirror neurons are triggered by seeing facial expressions and focusing on them for several seconds. The constantly moving camera prevents the viewers’ eyes from being able to focus on any one long enough to engage those neurons. When Senator Armstrong was holding the gun on the soldier, I wanted to sympathize with (and even respect) the character. He knew he was about to die, and he wanted to choose a death that gave life to others. But the camera wouldn’t focus. I couldn’t see compassion or reason in his face. The way that scene was filmed, I couldn’t tell if he was delirious or a terrorist.

Sloppy camera work was one of the main reasons I quit watching Battlestar Galactica after just 2 episodes. And if SGU continues on this way, I probably won’t be able to sit through an entire season. A shame for a show with such great potential.

October 5th, 2009, 10:14 PM
Very fortunate for the show, I have a lot of crow to eat. I was fearing the show was just going to be a rehash of "Lost in Space" and the many clones that followed.

It wasn't. And I eat crow.

My biggest gripe about all the shows that have proceeded Universe was the camera work. Or the lack therof. I always complained that it always seemed like the camera crew just bolted a camera down in a corner of the set and kept it there. Thankfully, Universe's camera work is very noticeably in line with the brilliant camera work done in Firefly and Battlestar Galactica. It works. It's beautiful and dear God, I love it.

The Stargate formula - it's gone. Thankfully. It was nice to see the absence of stock character introductions, whether or not they have their reproductive organs on the inside or outside. It was refreshing to suddenly be dropped into the middle of the story and it being your responsibility to figure it all out. Stargate: Universe was indeed the Stargate we have all come to love.

It was also refreshing to not see a menacing alien come bounding through the Stargate, threatening to take over the world. Although it is always welcoming to see old enemies, as we did by seeing the Lucien Alliance at the beginning of the premiere.

The Desitiny herself was simple and elegant. With a seemingly unending potential for mystery.

The cast, well, I hardly even know them.

I love Stargate: Universe. I was just about sure I wasn't going to like it. But I do. It is a very well made show. Today, I am proud to be a Stargate fan.

October 7th, 2009, 08:22 AM
I was eagerly awaiting the beginning of Stargate Universe; new characters, new situations, new everything but with the familiarity of the Stargate franchise. What I did know of the premise half concerned me (a little too Star Trek Voyager in concept; not sure of how they'd make the Stargate central if based on a ship) and half delighted (the idea of placing the characters and their development central to the story-telling, and what appeared to be a great cast). Added to that was my baggage of expectation: it had to be recognisable to me as Stargate. Ultimately, the first instalment of SGU had a lot to deliver if I was going to fall in love with it as a show: luckily, it delivered.

This is Stargate. More it feels like the franchise has gone back to basics and refocused on its original vision: to tell a story about how humans of today survive when faced with extraordinary alien situations. Everything seems designed to deliver that fundamental vision from the overall production, new filming technique, the plot and the characters.

Let's start with the filming which from a technical aspect is completely over my head so I can't comment on what logistically is actually different but what I can say is that the feel of the show has changed for me. The audience point of view now seems to be in the middle of the action rather than removed from it. It means I was engaged quicker and swept up by the story before I knew it: this first hour of a three-part story disappeared very quickly.

The technique, commonly used on dramas, also embeds subliminally the suggestion that these are real events happening now just as in a cop/legal/medical TV serial, and by doing so it underscores that this is about people just like us caught up in something that is happening now. It is the characters that truly deliver this though.

For the first time in the franchise's history, the characters are all from Earth and human. There's no Teal'c or Teyla to deliver an alien viewpoint, and the focus in Air Part One is also very much on Eli Wallace. As the young computer geek who solves the equation needed to dial the ninth chevron and who finds himself suddenly thrust into the Stargate programme, his sense of discovery goes a long way to providing that ordinary man point of view. His induction and learning also provide a neat way of explaining Stargate to the uninitiated. David Blue deserves huge kudos in making Eli immediately likeable and Eli's wry remarks provide a welcome light note occasionally in the otherwise serious plot.

The second character highlighted is Doctor Nicholas Rush. Here truly is a complex character whose motivations are murky at best. It�s an accomplishment of Robert Carlyle's acting skills that Rush's frustration, his obsession with his project, is so evident to the audience that I didn't just see it or hear it in dialogue, I felt it. And yet, there is a hint of why he may be obsessed in evident grief expressed as he looks over a picture of himself with an unknown woman. Rush is not the everyman Eli represents but he is flawed, filled with emotion: human.

All the characters are presented in a similarly whole fashion with both strengths and weaknesses on display whether on the ship or in the flashbacks told to deliver the back-story of what happened to get them there. For example, Lieutenant Scott struggles to keep control of the evacuees and shakes when his hand comes away from Young's head covered in blood yet he steps up and issues orders, organises the evacuation. Scott probably gets the third most focus out of the rest of the characters with others in the ensemble, such as TJ and Young, highlighted enough to introduce them but without too much time spent on showing their point of view.

This is very true of the Stargate alumni on show: Jack O'Neill, Samantha Carter and Daniel Jackson are all background characters here. Nicely slotted into places where it would be natural for them to be without stealing the limelight and only truly showcased in the final scene where the question is posed by Carter, communicating with O'Neill back on Earth, of what has happened to the eighty-odd people unaccounted for.

The plot of this first episode is completely focused on that; what has happened to these characters, why have they ended up in this situation, who are they. The use of non-linear story-telling actually enables this to be told while ensuring the action begins from the outset. The abrupt arrival of the evacuees from Icarus into a dark gate room means the audience is immediately in the middle of the story. The flashbacks are not signalled which was disconcerting in the first instance but appreciated as the story moves forward. Signalling would have detracted from the action and there is a sense of satisfaction that as a viewer I'm being treated as intelligent enough to get it.

The story also keeps the alien aspects to a minimum. There are no aliens: the attack on the Icarus base is shown primarily from those involved on our side of the battle rather than long shots of the alien ships in space. The special effects fit seamlessly and naturally into the production without introducing anything that feels unreal. Moreover, the main alien technology on show is the Stargate itself. It is lovingly placed front and centre of this first instalment.

Air Part One reminds me of SG1's pilot, Children of the Gods, in many ways. It is about humans not really knowing what they're doing; floundering through the Stargate into a newly alien environment and trying to survive. It has that same raw quality for me that SG1's first season delivered in spades. As Part One finished, I couldn't wait to get to Part Two. Have I already fallen hook, line and sinker? Absolutely.

May 19th, 2010, 09:10 PM
BattleStarGate Galactiverse Meets Lost in Space

Battlestargate Galactiverse with a little "Lost in Space" thrown in. Dr. "Zachary" Rush seems more like the shifty old Dr. Smith every episode. Actually he's like an amalgam of tragically inadvertent villain BSG Baltar but unlike Baltar, with an unlucky love-life, (poor Rush, no sexy Cylon girlfriend to cheer him up) + LIS Dr. Smith offset with a little Sean Connery backbone thrown in. His Scottish accent is just right (unlike a certain other SGA doctor, ahem). But if he turns into a giant spider in a future episode I think I'll scream or something.

The dark rusty ship certainly has a BG feel. No Cylons (or is it Zilons?..whatever) to keep things lively. Here we just have a struggle against entropy sapping them away and a bunch of emotional emoting as each character recites their life story and comments on the mostly gloomy mess they are in, one by one, what, about a dozen so far? Only about another forty or fifty to go. Oh well. :)

I will say something nice about DVD Disk #1 . The new menu and theme song are very artful. After going through the door, serene, even. The only other menu I actually like to sit and watch is the one for Aeon Flux ( the new one with human actors not the old tacky cartoon one). Unfortunately Aeon has severe premise problems otherwise it might have gone beyond a movie and made for a good sci-fi show... - not to go too far off topic.

I like the cleverness in SGU Air Part 1 when we are taken through the menu sequence but then get surprised by not coming to the observation room again, but the Destiny 's stargate, after which then very un-serene things start happening. Good set design with the spaceship. Quite a departure for musical genius Joel Goldsmith. They seem to be leaning more heavily on him than ever.

This kind of reminds me of couple years ago when I suggested an SG-13 series wherein the team members were both marginally qualified and unlucky. Kind of like the mirror opposite of superstars SG1. The idea is though that they would still work things out eventually hopefully with a little clever banter and insightful humor between moments of thrilling jeopardy. Maybe with Vala, Dr. Felgar or Lee. And maybe also have on the team, the incredibly nice, good-guy replicator girl, what's-her-name... what was the SG1 episode? kindred? Strong and almost indestructable but averse to violence except against other bad-guy replicators, of which there aren't any anymore, and programmed not to hurt living things, which works against them sometimes when confronted by bad-guy biological entities. Cameron Mitchel has to keep bailing them out... But I digress...

SGU: Lots and lots of unlucky characters. A little lean on clever plot twists and insightful banter, though, so far.

January 20th, 2012, 02:57 PM
Air, Part 1

The Stargate television franchise has had a successful run; starting off with Stargate SG-1 and continuing on to 212 episodes, two spinoff series (Atlantis and Universe) and two TV movies (The Ark of Truth and Continuum) at that. However, there is a moment where the franchise can produce something that's totally different.

This is that totally different thing.

This series is notable for being the first departure from the known Stargate formula; and also the one to get mixed reaction due to how different it is. Some hated it, some liked it, some people compared it to Firefly. These reviews will prove whether or not I'm in the latter or the former; lets begin.

It's a fact that this series is supposed to be radically different from prior Stargate series, involving an ensemble and having a mysterious and dramatic flair; and that's established in the opening scenes as the camera pans up and moves through the ship; but there's something a miss with this picture, all of the mystery and all of the surprise that they would of had is gone since they're showing what they're in, what we're going to be focusing on and even some of the parts of the ship. Compare this to Lost, the first scenes don't have any immediate hints, it starts in a place which could be anything and then when the plot progresses the location becomes more obvious and as the plot progresses further we get more of the situation.

Compared to that, the opening scenes seem reminiscent of Oceanic Flight 815 crashing in progress with a sense of panic that's not as executed as before; and even after we get past that, the episode focuses on the chaos more then it should; squeezing up valuable airtime that could be used to get deeper into the characters or improve the plot. While they wanted to establish the chaos that was going on, I feel like they could of shortened the scenes. I mean chaos is fine and all but if you focus on that for like ½ of the episode then it gets boring and you're just waiting for the crew to explore the ship and try to survive.

Another thing they could of done was shorten alot of the flashbacks that appear in this episode. It is our intention that this is our first introduction to these characters; we don't know anything about them and our idea as to how they are is to watch them react to the situation onboard the spaceship. While flashbacks can help if used right (even if they're used in a Lost-like way.); it's not right to use them to fill up most of the episode with stuff that is barely related to our characters. Most of the flashback scenes show us how they got there and they even reveal stuff about our characters that could of been revealed later. Even then, there are some stuff that contradicts what is supposed to be established in these flashbacks; mainly that the characters aren't 100% consistent when it comes to who they're supposed to be. It'd be better if they showed a bit more personality when they're on screen rather then during some pivitol moment as that lets us into their character a bit; I mean we're not supposed to have characters looking at a picture and then crying to let us know how they feel, they're supposed to have those things with them at all times.

Even then, the characters aren't that unique to begin with. We have the slacker-like character, the leader-like character and we even have Desmond (Dr. Rush looks like Desmond, sounds like Desmond, acts like Desmond, therefore he is Desmond.) While all of them have some sort of complexities that make them different, they don't show them alot of the time and they're dialog that seems ripped from Lost scripts doesn't help matters much either. While the actors do the best that they can do with the material they're given (creating good drama in the process), it doesn't get rid of the fact that the entire thing just doesn't feel right at all. Take for instance Stargate SG-1, even though that show isn't as dramatic and character heavy as this show; at least all of it's characters are explored, relatable and likeable. In here, I cared about none of the characters and as a result, I didn't find many of the scenes compelling and despite the good acting, their intentions go over the viewers head.

Aside from that; one of the main problems this episode has is it's need to tell us just what happened. I mean it would of been cool to know how they got there a mystery and the mystery portion of the show keeps us interested, who are these people? how did they get there? what is this ship? what is it doing? That's the main draw of the show, the mystery helps keeps us hook and it helps us to get to know the characters. The fact that they revealed how it happened whiting the first episode betrays that and tests the patience of those casual viewers watching the show; I'm sure Stargate fans will appreciate what's going on (And I've watched all of the episodes of SG-1) but the casual viewer will be disappointed. It also would of been nice if they'd kept the real world solely in flashbacks and limit the real-time action to the ship itself (including communications). It may be like Lost but there is one other series that did that; "Voyager". It didn't show much of what was going on in the real world, just Janeway and her ship trying to get home; which was what should of been focused on in the show.

So, the first episode in; it's already disappointing. Don't get me wrong, there is good acting and drama moments in this but the story is off to a poor start and the characters are off to poor starts as well; most of the characters here aren't as well defined/complex as you'd expect. their stories don't seem to be grabbing people in and there is little for anybody to actually care about, therefore making the situations around them have less weight then intended. They also take a few too many pages from the "Lost" playbook, and it shows in the dialog, the acting and the moments. So far it doesn't seem compelling but this may change as the series progresses along. Maybe the next part will help a little bit.