Public Service Announcement 16 of 2011: The Vampire Diaries, Stargate Universe

The steady trickle of returning shows continues. 

After several weeks off, The Vampire Diaries s2 is back tomorrow (Tuesday) at 9pm on ITV2 with its “Klaus Chapter”; he’s an Old One, but a Bad One.  Regular reviews as usual – I love my Salvatores.  Meanwhile, the officially cancelled Stargate Universe is back tonight at 8pm on Sky 1 to play out its final chapter.  Comments are welcome on the s2 thread, if there’s anyone out there still watching…..

Stargate Universe s2 ep 1

Mumford & Sons’ “After the Storm” is a lovely song and it was nice to hear it featured heavily in this season opener.  Sadly, though, it was far and away the best thing in it.

Not that the song had much competition.  The main storyline was borrowed from an old Voyager episode, a pseudo-mystical sub-plot had TJ’s baby possibly being relocated by invisible, magic aliens, and Chloe’s bullet wound healed itself.  What?!?

Oh well.  This was pretty terrible, but I’m still watching.  For now.  If you are too, comments on the entire season are welcome on this thread.

Public Service Announcement 29 of 2010: The Vampire Diaries, Stargate Universe, Fringe, The Apprentice, Nikita, Haven

To be honest, this week is looking insane. 

Tuesday sees the start of season 2 of The Vampire Diaries at 9pm on ITV2.  Hurrah!  Last we saw, Katherine came back, Damon got a little too close to Elena (but not as close as he thought he did) and I defected from Team Stefan to Team Damon.  Ooooh.   Oh, and (theoretically) there was a big mystery about what Tyler might be.  A big mystery if you’ve never ever watched tv or read any books or been on the internet before, that is.  If so, welcome!

Unfortunately, ‘Diaries clashes with the decidedly less awesome but still inexplicably watchable Stargate Universe, also returning for a second season, this time at 9pm on Sky 1.  Will everyone I hate survive the season one cliffhanger?  Almost undoubtedly.  Oh well.  I’ll start a season two thread after the first episode so we can berate them together.

Sky 1 rounds off Tuesday Sci-fi night with season three of Fringe kicking off at 10pm.  Olivia’s stuck in the Other Universe, and Other Olivia’s hanging out with Peter and co, pretending her wig looks good.  Apparently the Universes will be taking turn and turn about – one episode set in “our one”, one episode set in the Other one.  This bright idea means Joshua Jackson will appear in only half the episodes.  Because, clearly, what Fringe needs is less of the fabulous Bishop boys and more of the wretched Olivia.  FOOLS. 

Anyway, assuming our televisions make it through Tuesday in one piece, Wednesday already has Burn Notice, Mad Men, Castle and Ugly Betty, but now the long-delayed season 6 of The Apprentice is joining them at 9pm on BBC1.  We won’t be reviewing it as such, but I’ll put a thread up after every episode for comments – it’ll be like You’re Fired but without Adrian Chiles.  Oh, wait….

Thursday, by comparison, is looking quite relaxed with the premiere of Nikita at 9pm on Living.  This is the fourth take on the Nikita story (or the fifth if you count Dollhouse) but it starts with a slightly different premise; Nikita has escaped and is trying to bring down Division from the outside.  I say again, ooooooh.  It looks like undemanding, action nonsense and it has Shane “Dr Ray Barnett” West in it, so I’ll be giving it a whirl and reporting back as soon as I can.  

Also, just for the hell of it, I might dip into the first season of Haven (Syfy at 10pm, also Thursday), once a few episodes have gone by, given that Unpopculter e’s advice suggests I can safely ignore the duff ones at the beginning, but the new stuff doesn’t end there, obviously.  Jed will be along to tell you about the comedies also starting this week in due course.

Stargate Universe eps 1 and 2

I wasn’t going to sample this latest offering from the Stargate stable, but a recommendation from fellow sci-fi enthusiast/non-Stargate watcher e had me sitting down to give it a go, so here’s me sitting down to write about it.

People all over the internet have mentioned Stargate Universe being heavily influenced by Battlestar Galactica.  That would be an understatement.  The unhappy characters, the power struggles, the sets, the mood, even the lighting – everything about this SCREAMS Battlestar Galactica.  Which could be no bad thing, except that when you try to emulate something as good as BSG, you’re setting yourself up for a bit of a fall.  How on earth are you going to measure up?

So while I enjoyed this tale of a small band of humans stuck on the other side of the universe, trying to get back to Earth, struggling to understand ancient technology, mythology and (can’t escape my) biology, as well as each other’s flaws and fallibilities, and it was entertaining and reasonably well-made, was it good enough to keep me hooked?  I don’t know.  Its influences are so transparent and its tropes so well-worn, that I’m not sure whether it has anything of its own to offer. 

Ultimately, SGU is going to stand or fall on the strength of its characters.  And while Robert Carlyle makes Dr Rush a nicely ambiguous shady scientist (mercifully free of the smarm that made me want to punch Gaius Baltar every week), everyone else is just a teensy bit too dull to capture either the heart or the imagination. 

Even their flaws come across as a bit tacked-on.  Scott being a ladies’ man seems a little unlikely for one so cookie-cutter earnest, Greer’s propensity for threatening everyone within a 2-mile radius seems entirely ridiculous for one who’s not yet been dishonourably discharged, and even the reliable Ming-Na’s character Camille just seems a bit petulant for one who…um, what does she do?  No idea.  But she seems to get on her high horse about it a lot.

Anyway, the first episode, concentrating on how they ended up a gazillion light years from Earth, was better than the second, which concentrated too much on a “the McGuffin is broken/lost, we must fix/find the McGuffin or WE WILL DIE” technical-type storyline that I struggled to follow.  I’ll give episode 3 a go, because I did quite like 1 and 2, but unless everybody gets a bit more compelling, I may not stick around for much longer than that.  Discussion of any episodes at all are welcome on this thread though – I’ll post my views of future episodes in the comments.