Stargate Universe: Season 1.5 (Blu-ray)
There has been something of a backlash recently amongst the home video community against what they see as cynical exploitation in the form of half season DVD releases, which often come with sparse extras and priced unreasonably close to what you might expect to pay for a full season set. While there is an argument to be made, and certain networks (Fox) really have no excuse, it's hard to really beat up on the Sci-fi channel. They're small, they're niche (re-brand the channel 'Jon' if you like, you still make shows about spaceships and superpowers), and they simply can't afford to order a twenty-two episode slate for a show still trying to establish a solid audience. Besides, they're not stingy on the extras, and they good about not taking the proverbial with the price. This closing half of season one of their latest installment in their flagship Stargate franchise even comes with a handy, fold-out cover sleeve to store both volumes together. And the show's not bad, either.
Picking up where volume 1.0 left off, we're still aboard Destiny; a gigantic leviathan hurtling through space at faster-than-light speeds, designed by the Ancients as a way of depositing Stargates throughout the universe. Trapped with limited resources on a ship they are unable to effectively control, the rag-tag crew must work together to survive, and, hopefully, find a way to dial home. With the cliffhanger over the fate of Robert Carlyle's shifty, treacherous scientist, Dr. Rush, swiftly resolved there is a shift in focus from what-is-going-to-kill-us-all-this-week to who-is-going-to-kill-us-all-this-week, with the introduction of a malevolent alien race bent of taking Destiny for themselves.
Each individual episode is still characterized as an interstellar exercise in low-lit problem-solving, but the conflict is oddly muted. With the central battle between civilian authority versus that of the military, played out between Rush and Col. Young (Louis Ferreira), now on the back-burner it's clear they're not trying to be Battlestar Galactica anymore. But with that decision much of the supporting cast find themselves sidelined. the defacto bureaucrat Camille (Ming-Na) is now relegated to skulking on the sidelines offering intermittent disapproval. Young's former flame, T.J. (Alaina Huffman), now pregnant has her role bumped up (perhaps as a reaction to a perceived lack of sex appeal), while other characters, notably Eli (David Blue), find their role significantly downgraded.
The tail end of this season one also sees something of an attempt to better integrate this spin-off into the larger franchise universe via the introduction of The Lucian Alliance, a band of mercenaries and smugglers, led by Kiva (Rhona Mitra), who have gone some way towards filling the power vacuum following the demise of Goa'uld. With the season ending on a note that suggests they may be here for the long-haul, this show now has a sufficiently engaging set-up built around a tenuous three-way balance of power, the returning Col. Telford (Lou Diamond Philips) – possessing of dark secrets – the potential wild card. Now if they can only find a way to better integrate the full ensemble, this one could potentially run for light years.
Blu-ray Special Features:
Solid package of extras include commentary tracks on every single episode. There are also interviews with the principle cast, on-set video diaries, production design featurettes, a look at the underwater tank sequence in detail with Elyse Levesque, and a blu-ray exclusive mini-game.
Starring: Robert Carlyle, Louis Ferreira, Brian J. Smith, Elyse Levesque, David Blue, Alaina Huffman, Jamil Walker Smith, Lou Diamond Philips, Ming-Na
Created By: Brad Wright & Robert C. Cooper