[Contains faulty stasis-pods and SPOILERS!!!]
For the past few weeks I’ve been working my way through both seasons of Stargate: Universe, which follows a bunch of random soldiers, scientists and civilians who escape an exploding planet by leaping through a stargate that had just dialled the fabled “ninth chevron”, and wind up on an ancient, ailing starship, untold light-years from Earth. Low on power, supplies, morale and control of the ship they’re stuck on, hilarity definitely doesn’t ensue. Apparently the rebooted Battlestar Galactica was a big influence on the writers (one they’re happy to acknowledge on the back of the DVD cover, via a press quote), but I haven’t seen that, so if I had to describe this series to someone like myself, I’d say it’s kinda like Farscape, if the main characters were all snippy humans who spent most of their time sitting on the ship bickering about who was in charge, instead of having fun adventures. Meh.
What I want to talk about here, however, is the physical disparity between the male and female cast members… especially as it pertains to the crew’s number-crunching, computer-bashing “geeks”. On the male side you have a short, shifty Scotsman played by Robert Carlyle, and a stout, schlubby “boy genius” played by David Blue… while their respective love interests (‘Amanda Perry’ played by Kathleen Munroe and ‘Ginn’ played by Julie McNiven) were both very pretty, and far less distinct. I’m not saying that Carlyle and Blue aren’t attractive in their own way*, or that beautiful women can’t count to eleven without taking their shoes off… I just think it’s a shame that the male shipmates come in a variety of shapes and sizes, while the women all fit a very narrow mould. Add to that the story of the “stunning and sexy” senator’s daughter (‘Chloe Armstrong’, played by Summer-Glau-lookalike Elyse Levesque)** who gets abducted by antagonistic aliens during the first season, and finds herself developing super-intelligence in the second, as she slowly morphs into an ugly alien… only for the external transformation to be completely reversed by a quick operation, which magically leaves her with all of her unearthly maths skills intact! Because god-forbid she go through life with icky scales on her pert boobies, amiright?
On the other hand, I have to give the show credit for including two Asian actresses in its recurring cast. Not only that, but Ming-Na Wen’s character, diplomatic HR manager ‘Camile Wray’, is an out-and-proud lesbian, whose long-term relationship with her Earth-bound partner is incredibly sweet and affecting. Meanwhile, I’d say that ‘Lisa Park’, played by Jennifer Spence, was probably my third favourite character overall (after Carlyle’s and Ming-Na’s), and I’m glad that they eventually gave her more to do than just be cute and upbeat in the background. I’m not particularly broken up about the series ending on a massive cliff-hanger, but I would kinda like to know if her character ever recovered, and if Wray ever patched things up with her girlfriend.
** I only mention her resemblance to Glau because at one point her character also develops super-strength, which made her seem like a rip-off of ‘River’ in Firefly/Serenity. Come to think of it, McNiven also seemed to be giving off a serious Felicia Day vibe… and Blue’s character often came across as a poor man’s Xander-from-Buffy, when he was babbling away or making rather stale pop-culture references (he only ever quoted the most famous lines from the most successful and mainstream sci-fi flicks of the 70s/80s… and even then, the other characters just paused and looked at him like he was talking Klingon. It was deeply annoying).