According to my personal rating standards sci-fi movies either fall into one of three categories, great, horrible, and fancy eye candy that flopped. Hollywood has a subtle way of transforming potentially great sci-fi into sub-standard, watered down sci-fi in an attempt to make it appeal to the masses. Sub-standard and watered down how? Take your pick; cookie cutter plots, stereotypical characters, old stories with new technology mixed in, predictable endings, etc.
I find myself lowering standards on some sci-fi so it will fall into the great category just because it is unique. Other movies that have great production and effects but are mutilated by the Hollywood syndrome and generally get put in the 'fancy eye candy that flopped' category because it's worth watching even though the story is disappointing. If you don't like sci-fi then your standards are probably high and everything that a I would bend the rules on you may put into the horrible category.
Hungry for some new and original sci-fi I watched the Pioneer One pilot episode that was featured on a recent Slashdot posting. Once the preconception of it being a low budget film was overcome I was surprised at the story and professional content. The story is original and sets the stage for a drama that is realistic and can incorporate some fascinating sci-fi themes. I've seen my share of horrible sci-fi movies but the pilot episode of Pioneer One easily falls into my great category despite being low budget.
I've already donated to the project, what about you? Do you think it's worth $5 to see the story unfold?
Because it followed the Doctor Who series my hopes were high that this would be an exciting alternative while waiting for the next Doctor Who installment. Just as the Tardis is bigger on the inside than it appears on the outside, so is the disappointment I feel inside greater than what my mind could possible contain. Torchwood might as well burn - I wouldn't miss it. I'd be thankful for not having endured the filth of the series and the agony of the let down.
Torchwood is less about science fiction and more about liberal drama. All of the actors pursue sexual relationships with each other and the highest sense of accomplishment and purpose for living is to not be alone. Sure, Gwen comes on the scene as a compassionate heart who wants to help everyone but that is soon replaced with a character who is empty and seeking physical contact to fill that emptiness. I don't even want to admit to having watched some of the eipsodes. I'm sorry, episodes like "Day One" and "Countrycide" were just too raunchy and grotesque and should have been a clear indication the rest of the episodes weren't worth watching.
I'm a sucker and wanted to give it one last chance so I started watching the "Children of Earth" season 3 miniseries. <rant>I can deal with time travel, regeneration from the dead, crazy inventions, but what is REALLY unbelievable is the gun fights in day 2. Torchwood explodes, Gwen and Ianto crawl from the wreckage and each manage to evade a well placed sniper who is watching for survivors. First of all, the sniper wouldn't use a laser sight for a distance shot thus revealing his position and allowing the characters to notice the marker and realize, 'Oh, look, a light dot, someone is pointing a gun at me, Duck!" Second, a few minutes later Gwen manages to shoot the front AND back tires out of an oncoming vehicle from a free hand position over 50 yards away. Really, I thought this was SCIENCE FICTION not FANTASY!</rant>
Don't waste your time with Torchwood. If Doctor Who gets as raunchy and grotesque I might shed a tear.
As of this articles writing Stargate Universe episode 5 "Justice" just aired. This post about Stargate Universe can be summarized in this thought; instead of being something to someone Stargate Universe is on the path of being nothing to everyone.
Exploring the unknown, meeting new species, discovering new technology, and portraying how it all impacts our society is what science fiction is all about. Those of you are trekkies, wasn't this the same reason why Star Trek is so fascinating? The original Stargate movie and Stargate SG-1 story line provided the same sense of science fiction as Star Trek. Instead of considering the future Stargate dealt with the present and provided exciting story lines that had an interesting tie in to human history. The episodes were (except for some of the very early season 1 episodes) were modest and didn't contain gratuitous nudity, sex, or profanity. The SG-1 team was civil with each other and the unique personalities of Richard Dean Anderson, Amanda Tapping, Michael Shanks, and Christopher Judge were a source of positive character development and wry comic humor. Unrestrained equines could not remove me from posting about the enjoyment the original SG-1 team provided. Not even if you used a swiss army knife *grin*.
It pains me to give Stargate Universe bad press because I liked Stargate SG-1 so much. If I only "liked" Stargate Universe just a little I might focus on it's virtues. Sadly my feelings towards Stargate Universe can't be stretched enough to say it is likable.
Stargate Universe isn't science fiction - it's a drama... dare I say, a soap opera? It is a struggle to find the virtues in Stargate Universe (SGU) that I found in SG-1. The characters are bitter and aggressive with each other, there is only a minimal sense of exploration, and there is too much gratuitous sexuality. I don't want to see overtly sensual over tones in my science fiction unless it directly applies to a specific situation. Don't characters have private lives anymore? Other genres exist for these types of interpersonal "explorations". I admit, given the storyline these types of issues arise but there is way too much focus on it and instead of focusing on the science fiction of what could be there is more emphasis on the drama with a science fiction storyline.