Stargate Universe: Season 1.0 (2009) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Adventure / Science Fiction
MGM || NR - 436 minutes - $69.98 || February 9, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-02-13


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): Robert C. Cooper & Brad Wright (creators)
Cast: Robert Carlyle, Louis Ferreira, Brian J. Smith, Elyse Levesque, David Blue, Alaina Huffman, Ming-Na


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Episode Commentaries
  • Featurettes


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French

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.::THE FILM::.

“Stargate Universe” is a bit of a, well, moderately hated series thus far amongst “SG” fans. I will admit up front that I was never a fan of either the original or “Atlantis” series; in fact I have never seen a single second of it. My experience with Stargate is limited to the original movie. To answer why begin with “Universe”? With so many of my favorite shows either off the air (“Monk”) or declining in quality (“CSI”), I decided to give some sci-fi shows a shot and “Stargate Universe” just so happened to be debuting at that time.

The story for this series is fairly simple: A group of people mixture of military, scientists and civilians are forced to use the Stargate to escape from inevitable doom after their base is attacked. But their escape, via the unknown “Ninth Cheveron” on the Stargate, takes them to an abandoned ship called Destiny, built millions of years before by the Ancients. However, the Stargate on this ship cannot be used to dial back to Earth and now they are stuck together, with the ship in warp drive, only stopping when a Stargate is nearby.

I won’t go too much into the cast ensemble, but the core cast includes Robert Carlyle as Dr. Rush, the chief engineer and a man with questionable objectives as to whether he really wants to return to Earth or make the grandest discoveries of all-time; Justin Louis plays Colonel Young, the ranking member on the ship and essentially is the leader; Brian J. Smith is Matthew Scott, Young’s second-in-command; David Blue plays Eli Wallace, the green civilian who had been recruited to unlock that “Ninth Cheveron”; and Elyse Levesque plays Chloe Armstrong, the daughter of a United States Senator (CHRISTOPHER MCDONALD) who, with her father, was there to observe the breakthrough.

The first 10 episodes in the first part of the season feels a lot like “Lost”. You’ve got a group of castaways trying to make by in a strange environment. They encounter various difficulties surrounding the ship’s maintenance from the air, water supply, electricity, etc and each episode takes them through the issues and how to resolve it all while also dealing with the typical politics you find in these close quarters as Rush and Young often butt heads.

The biggest complaint I’ve read on message boards about “Stargate Universe” is the lack of, ya know, the Stargate, and on that point I do agree. During the first 10 episodes, I think they only traveled through the SG maybe 5 times; the rest of the time is your basic character development and arguments that arise amongst them. Personally, I liked some of those aspects. I don’t know if it’s because I like character-centric stories over the science fiction things, but I found myself enamored from the series premiere to episode 10. I liked each of the characters and Robert Carlyle, who you may or may not remember as the villain in The World is Not Enough, is the best actor amongst the ensemble.

For those like me, who don’t know much about the Stargate mythos, might find “Universe” to be a worthy weekly venture. Like most freshmen series, “Stargate Universe” has its struggles but it shows promise that if it gets past season one, it could find its stride. Those who are deeply entrenched into the previous shows will most likely be disappointed, however.

EPISODE LIST (favorite episodes with an *):
01. Air: Part 1
02. Air: Part 2
03. Air: Part 3
04. Darkness*
05. Light*
06. Water
07. Earth
08. Time*
09. Life
10. Justice

THE DVD:
So, MGM has adopted the practice that begun by Universal and the “Battlestar Galactica” series by splitting up the seasons into two parts, thus getting the most money out of the consumer. There’s two ways about this. Currently, Season 1.0 on Blu-ray is selling for around $38, so together it’s about $76, a tad high even by Blu-ray season standards. However, regardless of the price, it would be nice to have the full season in one case, and I assume that the 20 (?) episodes would fit onto four discs and then one single wide BD case. Instead, we’ll get 2 single-wide BD cases, which is fine, but for those of us where shelf space is a premium, it still sucks.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Audio Commentaries – Each episode, save for “Air: Part 3”, has a commentary with various members of the cast and crew. Here is a rundown: “Air: Parts 1 & 2” has Writer/Creator/Executive Producer Robert Cooper, Director Andy Mikita and Visual Effects Supervisor Mark Savela ; “Air: Extended Episode”, “Darkness”, “Light”, “Earth” features cast members Brian J. Smith (Matthew Scott), David Blue (Eli Wallach) and Elyse Levesque (Chloe Armstrong); “Water” has cast members Smith, Levesque, Louis Ferreira (Everett Young) and Director William Waring; “Time” includes Robert Cooper and David Blue; “Life” with Smith, Ferreira and Ming-Na (Camile Wray); and “Justice” has Smith, Ferreira, Levesque, Jamil Walker Smith (Greer) and Director William Waring.

-- For the most part, these tracks are pretty entertaining but I was most impressed with the fact they got so many of the cast members to record on the majority of the episodes. For me, I prefer cast commentaries but the trade-off is, you’re not going to get a whole lot of a technical commentary.

Destiny SML (69:42) – With this, you can go through the “Star Map and Log” and play a mini-featurette on each cast or crew members as well as taking a behind-the-scenes look at some of the on-set filmmaking or set design. There are 30 of these vignettes.

Stargate 101 (6:08) is the video Eli Wallach watched in the series premiere. Actually, this isn’t a bad primer for those not in the know.

KINO Video Diaries (23:37) – I guess these are outtakes from the KINO camera. Not 100% sure, but I assume they originally aired on SyFy.com. This also includes an explanation (on disc 1) about what the KINO is.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

“Stargate Universe: Season 1.0” is presented with a 1.78 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition. As far as I can tell, it looks about on par what I saw on SyFy HD. The picture itself tends to be a little soft at times and because it’s a dark series in general, there’s not much of a punch to the visuals. That said, it still looks decent and might be worth grabbing over the DVD.

The Blu-ray has a more than half-decent DTS-HD Master Audio track which gets some good usage be it with the amount of dialogue per episode and the sound effects like the Stargate “woosh” or within the foreign planets. This isn’t one of the better TV-on-BD releases audio-wise, but it should suit most.



.::OVERALL::.

Yes, it sucks that MGM chose to mimic Universal and what they did with “BSG” by splitting “Stargate Universe” into two parts, but taking the price out of the equation (with the hope it will go down in the future), I was impressed with these first 10 episodes. I know most fans didn’t care for the change in style or pace, but as a newcomer, I got into it right away. The video and audio isn’t anything amazing but serviceable while the features, especially including a commentary on every episode, are quite good.