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GateWorld Podcast: SGU‘s Anti-Heroes

Thursday - March 25, 2010
Category: FEATURES | Tags: ,

SGU "Justice" (110) - Everett Young Visit the GateWorld Podcast page for more about the show!

The heroes of the Stargate universe have done some “damned distasteful things” over the years, often walking the moral line … and sometimes crossing it. In Stargate Universe, however, the writers’ goal was to avoid the heroic archetypes and create characters who are all varying shades of grey. But can we as viewers still love these characters and engage in their stories? We can relate to their imperfections … but can we look up to them?

In this week’s episode of the podcast GateWorld’s Darren and David talk about the “anti-heroes” of SGU, and the capacity of such true-to-life characters for real heroism. If you haven’t seen the show yet, beware of spoilers through the end of “Justice,” the mid-season finale that aired in December. There are only two week remaining until new episodes return!


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DiscussionSGU‘s Anti-Heroes

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COMMENTS (47):Rules | Report Comment | Trackback

  • “But can we as viewers still love these characters and engage in their stories?” -> No

    “We can relate to their imperfections” -> No

    “can we look up to them?” -> No

  • How can you love characters with no redeeming qualities who are selfish and self absorbed. They don’t need to be heroes to be likeable, they just need to be decent human beings who are interested in something more than their own petty issues.

  • Oh, thanks – podcast is here. I’ve been checking in often! I’ll enjoy this.
    Agree with psw – I’m more into heroes than anti-heroes (though if someone is really good looking (oops being a bit shallow here), or have some redeeming factors I could like them a little. In SGU so far… Eli and that Lady “doctor” are the only ones that I find like able, so far…
    I do love Robert Carlyle but would have loved him to be a O’Neill kind of hero, but his way

  • Okay just going to pass along a few comments made on twitter about the following podcast:

    “SGU does NOT have “Anti-heroes” It’s layered, it’s a tapestry with a weave! Snip one thread -it changes!”

    “I think SGU works well because it doesn’t have the clean-cut heroes and villains.”

    “I agree and that’s what the show is all about. Cannot believe @GateWorld can’t see that. They really missed the point”

  • I don’t usually agree with you guys, but IMO this podcast is very balanced and well-done, and I think you’ve fairly represented the risk of SGU in terms of whether fans can accept very flawed characters week after week. Being able to root for them, wondering if they’ll be redeemed, it’s all relevant to discuss.

    A character can be flawed and still NOT compelling, or evocative of loyalty. That’s the issue for SGU for many of the characters.

    How can anyone (Brian’s mommy or others) say you miss the point? It’s just your interpretation, and it’s clearly based on lots of TV-watching experience. They should be grateful you’re willing to spend hours and braincells analyzing their show, instead of ignoring it like most of fandom seems to be doing now.

  • I can sure relate to comments made on Sons of Anarchy & shows of its ilk, as I just can’t get into series where the main character is just a tad-bit better than the bad guy. Dexter. Yech, sorry.

    SGU has characters who are a bit too flawed. They need to give something to the viewing audience that makes you go ‘I can relate’. Perhaps Eli and CHloe are the closest one can relate to, but Chloe gets to do basically zip except have sex. As was pointed out in another’s comments, the characters aren’t compelling yet.

    SG1 and SGA – those characters grabbed me right away. They weren’t perfect. Both O’Neill and Sheppard did some stuff that you went “whoa…”. You could understand why they did it, but couldn’t condone it.

    Right now I don’t have a favorite character on SGU. There are times I’d rather this have been a miniseres, with a set ending, than a show that is, at times, just dragging along.

  • @ Tanith

    I wonder why you decided to only post well worded twitter messages. Brian Jacob Smith’s mother also wrote in response to this podcast:

    “Because sites like Gateworld keep stirring sh*t.”

    “yeah, I wonder what the cast/crew of SGU will think about the site while they keep trashing them?”

    “they are causing trouble, for some strange reason.”

    “I don’t go anymore, but I saw the tweet about the podcast and thought since it’s the site owners should be fine. NOT!”

    “dumb ass people”

    Just to put your quoted twitter messages into perspective. I really don’t understand what made her so angry. It is not like Darren and David are bashing SGU. They are just discussing the pro and cons of flawed characters.

  • The world is full of anti-heroes taking it to the Nth degree misses the whole point of why Stargate has been successful for a decade plus. The show put our best foot forward and said yeah were not there yet but we can work hard and get there.Anti-Heroes isn’t bold new territory it is a joke and a smear on the franchises own legacy.

  • I want to watch people who try to do the right thing, even if it doesn’t turn out that way in the end. Watching people struggle to make the best choices and failing is so much more my thing than watching characters whose only goals are selfish and self-serving. One or two of those types might be OK, but everyone? Not my cup of chai tea.

  • “But can we as viewers still love these characters and engage in their stories?” -> Yes

    “We can relate to their imperfections” -> Yes

    “can we look up to them?” -> Yes (some)

    That 1st lady didn’t even know the names of the characters. I actually do relate a bit to Rush. I relate to all of them except maybe Cloe, but I don’t dislike her. Sons of Anarchy are not drug dealers, they are *specifically* not drug dealers. They *attack* drug dealers. That’s a redeemable quality. Jax and the some others do have redeemable qualities individually too. I actually don’t blame Young for leaving Rush, he was basically a mutineer.

  • The characters are unlovable, they are mildly likable and at most times annoying.

    Can we look up to them? Maybe later. I dont know. Right now they do not inspire anything in me.

    Can we relate? Maybe. I can relate so certain TRAITS of characters, not a complete character. I can relate to Rushs cynicism, Youngs hardass attitude, Elis naivety. But i cant relate to Eli, or Rush or Young as whole characters.

    Everyone has more negative qualities than redeeming ones.

    Its like you have a whole ship of Baltar clones.

  • So you can only relate to perfect characters? Perfect is unrelatable, inspirational yes, relatable no.

  • DUDE!
    would you PLEASE get off the idea that i want perfect characters.

    I dont know what you think a “perfect character” is, but i think you are confusing Hero and Mary Sue.

  • You don’t want perfect characters or flawed characters from the sound of it. What’s left?

  • I cannot relate to these people because they lie, rape, and murder and see nothing wrong with their actions. Even tptb see nothing wrong. They think Young is a hero. Do they even watch the show?

    Flawed characters can be heroes if they recognize their flaws and try to do better but they are villains if they embrace their flaws and use them to their advantage. Young and Rush are villains and deserve no admiration for their selfish actions.

  • You only know extremes dont you?
    There cant possibly be anything in between. EVER

  • Wow, I just got back from reading some of the twitter responses to your podcast and some people are incredibly defensive about this show. I truly thought you came across as fans of the show who were asking some thoughtful questions about the nature of the characters. But they took your show as a slam against SGU for even asking questions?!
    I guess they are very sensitive due to the amount of dislike SGU has engendered but to criticise you two who DO like it was very strange to read.

  • Extremes, no. There’s perfect and there’s flawed. Perfect is perfect and flawed is everything else.

  • Darren Sumner

    I agree, Sylvia — it feels a bit surreal. I don’t know how wanting to talk for an hour about the show, its characters, and how viewers might perceive them equals slamming SGU. Anyone who listens to the show should recognize that we are fans of SGU.

    If this particular podcast had been critical of the show, I would understand the backlash from its most ardent supporters. This feels like someone coming to GateWorld, looking around at all the time and effort we’ve put into content over ten years, and concluding, “Boy, you guys sure don’t like Stargate, do you?”

  • I don’t think there’s a single true hero in any of the Stargates. Jack shut the iris on Odo (sorry, can’t recall character’s name), Daniel shot a container full of Gou’ald larva, Sam… um, well, she’s as close to perfect as there might be, except for that Black Widow curse ;) McKay blew up 5/6th of a solar system, Sheppard gunned down a Wraith in a holding cell… no, we don’t have any shining white examples of heroes, but otherwise, the characters in SG1/SGA for the most part, did think of the collective more than of themselves. SGU is more like hijacking a busload of commuters and telling them “see ya” and stranding them. What they need is good leadership, which they’re not getting because there are too many agendas on the ‘leader’s’ parts.

    I didn’t see this podcast as anything negative against the SG franchise. Heck, even Superman was flawed. Perfect characters are *BORING*.

    As for the comment/tweet/whatever of ““Because sites like Gateworld keep stirring sh*t.” Well, there are sections in threads which can be downright nasty. GW had a LOT of fans visiting it, and no matter what you think, we’re not all fans of every single SG that comes down the pike. Many SG1 fans went bye-bye when SGA came along, and many SGA fans went bye-bye when SGU came along. I think if MGM could just say yay/nay on the SGA/SG1 movies, a lot of stress could be tossed aside.

    One thing that is tiresome is the B&W vision that you either hate or love SGU. SOme of us are in between. You can be critical of a show and not hate it; you just want a better product. It would nice if those fans were not lumped into a ‘hater’ category and better yet, that the ‘hater’ term just not be used. If someone truly hates something, but keeps coming back, they’re a troll. Use the correct internet term. Thank you.

  • @Darren, I don’t think the people complaining even listened to the podcast. They objected to the questions you posed, as if even asking them is disloyal to the “perfect beauty” of SGU.

    I know the production has a lot riding on SGU as the continuation of the franchise, but long-time, heavily involved fans like you have a big stake in it, too. All those thousands of hours creating and running websites, thousands of dollars spent on DVDs, conventions and merchandise… the emotional investment in the shows. So the “ardent supporters” would do well to understand fans have something to lose, too, and discussing the show is a very natural, necessary process.

    @Stunner, there is flawed, and then there is psychotic. There is flawed and paying for it, and flawed and getting away with it. There are bad acts that have consequences for the characters, and those that writers don’t even seem to recognize occurred.

  • I listened to the podcast and thought it was done very well. I never felt it was attacking SGU and instead I thought it was a nice debate on the types of characters portrayed in SGU. I think many people are just getting hung up on the title “anti-hero”.

    As for the debate on the characters and how they are portrayed I tend to side with those who find the characters uninteresting, unlikable and in general lacking redeemable qualities. I do not fault the actors for this as I think they are doing the best they can with what I consider poorly written characters and plots. What I said in prior posts I reiterate here: “if you are going to have a character focused show you better have characters people care about.” This is where I think SGU is failing and why a lot of fans are upset. If you were to take the crew from Atlantis or SG1 and put them on board the Destiny the situation would play out in a much different way than it is now. There would still be stress, drama and obstacles to overcome, but there would be more collaboration, a definite structure of leadership on board the ship, a genuine attempt to get along, etc.

    The people at Icarus base (both military and civilian) were associated with the same Stargate program that churned out the characters from SG1 and Atlantis. These people (especially the military) would have gone through much of the same training as the people from SG1 and Atlantis did. So the fact these people are struggling with ethical and personal issues makes the characters unbelievable to me. For example I cannot fathom personnel like Lt. Scott, Col. Young, Lt. Greer or Col. Telford ever qualifying for the Stargate program in the first place. To my knowledge we have not truly seen a character, except maybe TJ, who has shown any form of professionalism that I would expect from SGC personnel.

    I am not looking for perfect characters. Every character should have flaws and things that make us want to know more about them. But these flaws need to be balanced out with strengths, otherwise all you have are unbelievable, psychotic characters. I am not interested in week after week being shown how these were the “wrong people in the wrong place”. I want to see how these characters can grow and become the “right people.” Most of these people are trained SGC personnel so I would expect them to be handling the situation better than they are now.

  • I don’t think the flaws are that excessive. I’d love to see this magical training that turns you into a hero as well.
    Scott is staying stoic, doing his job oh I forgot he slept with Chloe..the very thought!

    Young is doing his best , he’s taking **** from all sides and dealing with it best he can.
    Ego’s are clashing and that is real life! It happens every day.

  • Stunner,

    I am assuming your response was to my post, so let me clarify a couple of things. No where in my post did I say training made you a hero. What I stated is that these people supposedly went through the same training as the other Stargate teams did, but this crew seems to lack the professionalism (a term I actually did use) that we expect from the military people associated with the SGC. I think back to an episode in SG1 that focused on three new recruits to the Stargate program and the hard training they were put through to prepare for off-world activity including a fake incursion by aliens into the SGC.

    Nor did I mention that my dislike of Lt. Scott had anything to do with him sleeping with Chloe. My dislike of the character transcends who he is sleeping with per week. I find Telford to be the worst portrayal of any SGC military person I have ever seen. His constant attacks at Col. Young I find unrealistic in any military institution. Col. Young I find to be an inept commander for allowing so much discourse on the Destiny, not to mention him leaving Rush (their best chance at getting home) alone to die on a planet. Lt. Greer comes across as a sociopath that I can’t believe would pass a psychological test to become a member of the SGC.

    Basically, I find the characters and their constant internal turmoil too unbelievable. And yes, egos clash in real life especially in the work place. However you don’t find many people leaving their co-workers to die (Col. Young) or planting evidence to accuse their co-worker of murder (Rush) when they don’t get along. Most adults just figure out a way to work through their differences and deal with it. To me the actions by this crew are very unprofessional and speak poorly on the quality of people attending Icarus base.

    You obviously like the show and I don’t begrudge you that. But I am allowed my opinion as well even if it differs than yours.

  • It wasn’t directed at you.
    The thing is if it was SG1 O’Neill would shout and say something and everyone would fall in line, but that wouldn’t really happen with civili

  • It wasn’t directed at you.
    The thing is if it was SG1, O’Neill would shout and everyone would fall in line, but that wouldn’t happen in real life, not with civilians on board. Young is injured and being attacked on all sides, which including Rush setting him up for murder pushed him over the edge. SG1 and SGA both, always built up to a happy ending which isn’t going to happen with this show. I love what SG1 brought to the table, but that was a 20th century show , SGU isn’t.

  • no stunner it would happen with civilians on board b/c they’re military scientists, therefore they fall under military command. They were on the base and they are on the ship and they all understand that.

  • @Mentat
    maybe he is the true identity of Hong Kong Fuey?

  • Yes I am. I also know where you lot are from. ;) I think Emily is overmindone.
    There are more than military scientists on board, Wray for one.

  • Very good posts jjs.
    If I’m not interested in the characters then I have no interest in what happens to them. As I said they don’t even have to be heros to be likeable and this is where I think Brad Wright and co and have gotten it all wrong. They keep going on about not wanting flawed characters, as others have said all the previous characters were flawed in some shape or form but they acted for the greater good and put others needs before theirs. The SGU characters have no qualities I could admire or look up. They are unrealistically portrayed. Brad Wright seems to think that the more issues they have the more interesting they are, well for me thats not the case. I have no interest in their petty issues and their squabbles, they can’t even work together for the greater good of the Destiny. They all have their own agendas and we are meant to believe that this is the kind of person that is accepted into the SG programme. If Brad wanted to do drama and get his critical acclaim, then he should have left the Stargate name out of it. Even his wife sees SGU as a drama show and not a scifi show, that just sums up how unlike the previous shows SGU is. If the writers want to fill their latest incarnation with the worst of the worst and hightlight every selfish and self absorbed aspect of human nature then he should have branched away from the franchise to do this. Don’t moan and complain when fans don’t like that you have utterly changed everything they loved about Stargate. Move on with your new audience and those that like unlikeable characters. But adding in loads of action and making it “more Stargatey” won’t change a thing for me as its the characters that are the problem. I really wouldn’t be bothered if the Destiny and her crew were blown up tomorrow, I sadly wouldn’t miss any of them.

  • “but Chloe gets to do basically zip except have sex.”

    I can’t believe that people are still saying that after “Justice”.

  • @angel. What a load of nonsense SG1/SGA didn’t have flawed characters, what have you been watching? Being a nice person isn’t a job requirement.
    You don’t like it don’t watch it. How many times does that have to be said.

  • @stunner
    you departed from our last conversation without explaining how chloe could visit her loved ones by using the kinos. care to clarify what you meant by that?

  • I found the so called “shallow” (as defined by SGU producers themselves) heroes of SG-1 to much more inspirational and lovable, and they are the ones that made me love the show.

    Picking pathetic characters as heroes is a characteristic of a reality show (e.g. big brother etc).

    Also, SGU is so obsessively keen on copycatting BSG, but on BSG there were in fact a lot of admirable characters!

  • jjs wrote:
    I find the characters and their constant internal turmoil too unbelievable

    ^^ Exactly, the real science fiction in SGU is the human interactions!

  • @stunner
    what did you mean then? as i thought that she was going to get eli to fly a kino to the shuttle where her dead dad was so that she could see him preserved by the vacuum of space for eternity

  • @stunner
    any chance that you will be revisiting the forum where you deleted all of your posts?

  • Missed the boat.

    Other than Ely and maybe Rush, there’s not a SINGLE character I have the slightest interest in.

    I can’t even name most of the SGU characters. They are not just flawed, they are uninvolving.

    As a fan with all the SG1 and Atlantis DVD’s, this should be a cause for concern for the creatives running SGU.

  • Kudos for what I believe to have been the most thought provoking and objective podcast you guys have ever done. That said, I was surprised you didn’t mention the SG-1 episode “The Other Side” (Jack slamming the iris shut) or “Abyss” (Jack beating the Jaffa mercilessly) as examples of grey. That said, you both pointed to the most important aspect of a television series – the need for compelling characters. That’s what brings us back week to week. We need to connect to these characters in order to follow them on their journey.

    And yes, I too find Col Young the most compelling and am worried that his character was sacrificed for the sake of story in Justice. Fingers crossed.

    I really want to like SGU, I trust Brad Wright to tell a great story…but I need to have at least once character to latch on to if I’m going to stay tuned. Fingers crossed Young pulls it together and redeems himself.

  • @Prion

    Carter gained the trust of Fifth, the human replicator, only to trap him in the time vortex after he helped them escape. There you go, Carter’s flawed too :)

  • Hi. I don´t think they have no redeeming qualities…..We don´t know enough of these characters. It´s been just 10 episodes! I like Lt. Scott and Col Young seems a fine officer too. It´s not what they expected and yes, sex is a stupid idea while working and yes, it´s not a good idea to leave you best scientist in a planet. You are dooming yourself and the ones by your command. As jjs mentioned wisely….military personnel at least in Icarus should have been veteran SGC members. They didn´t expect to be in Destiny, but they knew they were offworld. The same goes for the scientists. Most of the Atlantis personnel were civilians too, and they were cut off from Earth, and they kept on working.
    I guess it should work for drama. I think they are redeemable….some of them


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