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Old October 5th, 2009, 05:47 PM   #1
spiderr987
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Default Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

...and it's not kind...

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TV Review: Stargate: Universe
By Paula R. Stiles
[spoilers for the Pilot]


Tagline: A sudden attack on a geologically-fragile planet in the middle of a diplomatic tour from Earth forces a motley group through a stargate to a derelict ship, the Destiny, billions of light years away.

Review: Stargate: Universe starts out, somewhat promisingly, with a bunch of people being spit through a stargate into what looks like the dark cargo hold of a ship. They immediately find out that the life support on said ship is failing and they must fix it – immediately – or die. (For those of you who are newbies to the Stargate franchise, a “stargate” is a gate that leads to a wormhole and allows people to travel millions of light years in a few seconds.) Before they can really get their bearings, though, something happens. Unfortunately, that something is a flashback to the past back on Earth of one of the least interesting characters in the show, pudgy gamer-geek, Eli Wallace (David Blue).

Nor is that the last flashback. Most of the first hour feels like a string of flashbacks. Not necessarily a bad thing, except that the show is trying to establish this dark, claustrophobic vibe of people trapped in a horrible situation. How can you do that when you keep opening up the atmosphere by flashing back to the comforts of Earth? Someone on the IMDB boards compared this technique to the flashbacks on Lost. Yes, and that’s one major reason why I don’t watch Lost. No sooner do you start to get into the mysteries of the Island, but suddenly, you’re whisked back into the mundanities of someone’s previous life, which really have jack to do with whatever mystery they’re handling on the Island. You also saw a lot of this on Battlestar Galactica. BSG had moments, episodes even, of dark greatness. But it did often sabotage itself with boring flashbacks that exposed the unimaginative, 21st-century view of culture back home in the Colonies and the show’s only-partly-successful catering to people who hate SF. Why you would make an SF show for people who hate science fiction is beyond me,but then, I’m just a humble specfic writer who doesn’t work in Hollywood. I write for people who like the stories I’m giving them.

Sensawunda. That’s what Stargate: Universe lacks. The people in the cargo hold have escaped a planetwide disaster after a major attack. They were hoping to get back home from said planet, but the seismic instabilities of the planet made this too dangerous for Earth – at least, according to lead scientist Dr. Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle) – so Rush dialed them someplace else, instead, someplace random. This someplace random turns out to be an automated ship of exploration, created by the Ancients, the same race that had also created the stargate system. The ship (unsubtly called the Destiny) is so old that it’s leaking air. So, you’d think their first priority (as Rush points out) would be plugging the leak(s) and getting life support systems back up. But no. Apparently, their first priority is to lynch Rush for not sending them back to their comfortable lives on Earth (the concern that they might have blown Earth up in the process of dialing home bothers them not a jot), stamp their feet and demand he do it right this time. With a stargate that doesn’t work, on a ship that’s leaking air. And the ship isn’t even interesting to look at it because nobody involved with the show bothered to come up with a credibly alien-looking design like the Egyptian-inspired settings of the original Stargate series. Which leaves us stuck with the unpleasant characters.

This is another big problem with the show. Most of the people on the ship are unsympathetic, consisting of a witch’s brew of whinging, entitled bureaucrats and stereotypically bone-headed military cannon fodder who make little impression in the Pilot (including the alleged fair-haired leader Everett Young, played by Justin Louis). It’s a sad situation when I find myself mourning the end of ever-sultry Vancouver actress Ona Grauer’s five minutes of showtime in a flashback I didn’t even like. Carlyle easily makes the dodgy Rush the most sympathetic and heroic of the characters, mainly because Rush is the only one trying to take care of business and keep people alive. Doesn’t help, therefore, that Rush is treated like the Zachary Smith of the show by both characters and writers.

Lt. Tamara Johansen (Alaina Huffman) is pleasant (if bland), but utterly fails to do the kind of proper triage a field medic like her should know in her sleep. Apparently, the character was originally supposed to be Asian and is now a blonde Nordic-type. We absolutely needed more of those in television SF. Lou Diamond Philips isn’t in enough of the two-hour pilot to register much. Blue plays Wallace as whiny, lazy and stupid (no, I don’t care what his background infodump says about his being a mathematical genius). Bureaucrat Camile Wray (Ming-Na) stands out largely for acting like a complete nitwit who keeps getting in the way of the lifesaving efforts with a totally misplaced sense of self-importance. It’s regrettable, therefore, that she is also the token Asian and lesbian character on the show.

Senator Armstrong (Chris MacDonald) manages to be a blowhard even while dying of blood loss and leaves the show in an improbable and unnecessary act of heroism. His daughter, Chloe (Elyse Levesque), is the most annoying of an exasperating group. I dearly wanted to see her punched in the face and shoved out an airlock. Alas, she’s going to be a regular. Of course she is. SyFy must have some kind of clause in its contracts these days that all of its series and films must have at least one obnoxious teenage or young adult character. Stargate: Universe does it one better and gives us two.

Now, come on. If you’re going to have such a bleak situation, surely you’re going to make your characters as sympathetic as possible so that we’ll want to be in that bleak situation with them, fighting along. No? Well…****. But honestly? This show isn’t very dark. The early previews did a good job of masking this. But the more recent previews, with scenes of female characters skinnydipping in pretty British Columbian – sorry, alien planet – pools, let the cat out of the bag. This is the same formula Battlestar Galactica (new and old version) and Star Trek: Voyager ripped off from Lost in Space. Stargate: Universe boasts of killing off three “major” characters in the two-hour premiere. I don’t see how you can call such characters “major” when we barely meet them before they snuff it and I don’t even remember two of them, but okay. But didn’t Voyager kill off an entire ship’s sickbay of personnel in its pilot? I’d reckon there were a lot more than three people in there. And nothing quite beats the near-clean sweep of humanity that BSG does. I’ll grant you that I might be influenced by reviewing for a Lovecraftian ‘zine like Innsmouth Free Press, but then, I also have personal high (or is that low?) standards for “dark” in a show. Stargate: Universe doesn’t even come close to meeting them. Dim lighting; eye-straining jittery camerawork; unlikeable characters and a grotty, unnecessary sex scene do not a dark show make. An annoying show is what they make.

Which brings us back to the sensawunda, or lack thereof. When the first series, Stargate SG1, debued on Showtime back in ‘97, I started watching it more for completeness’ sake than anything else. At that time, I made a point of watching every SF series I could because there really weren’t that many. I hadn’t been all that impressed by the movie and the plots in season one were very stock, with problems introduced and neatly wrapped up all in 45 minutes.

But there were two things about Stargate SG1 (both of which Stargate: Universe lacks) that I found charming and, in some ways, new. One was the way they presented the worlds the team visited. SG1 was one of the first SF series to film in British Columbia and present it as a wide variety of alien worlds. Before that, with the various Star Trek series, etc., we were stuck with blah desert settings, urban landcapes and Planet Hells. One of the draws of fantasy shows like Hercules, Xena and Highlander was that they weren’t filmed around Los Angeles. The first two were filmed in New Zealand and Highlander was filmed in Paris and Vancouver. This freshness of location gave these series an exoticism that genre series of the time lacked. SG1 also traded in that exoticism, two years before Australian-filmed Farscape came along.

The second thing I liked about SG1 was that the characters were fun and likeable and made up a good team. It was so nice, after years of ****** bozos in shows like The X-Files, to get military people like O’Neill and Carter who were calm, polite, moral, good in emergencies – you know, real. Daniel Jackson was an academic geek, but he was a cute geek who carried his own weight and fit in fairly quickly with the team. Fourth team member, Tealc the Ja’fa, managed to keep his alien mystery for years, despite being (biologically) human. Special kudos to Chris Judge for creating a character so unlike himself. All of this showed up as early as the Pilot (which SyFy rebroadcast a few days ago). And while the writing for the second series, Stargate: Atlantis, never produced what you’d call brilliant television, Atlantis did boast some interesting characters (even if they weren’t the leads) and a truly beautiful city set in the middle of an ocean. Sensawunda cubed.

Stargate: Universe has none of this. Though the ship is very pretty in a Lexx sort of way on the outside, the inside of the Ancient vessel looks too human in manufacture to be exotic and is ugly as all get-out, to boot. Enjoy exploring that? Don’t think so. The previews we’ve seen of the places these people will be exploring (in between plotting against each other and stabbing each other in the back, no doubt) look equally dull. The characters are difficult to care about or root for. All of this seems to tie in with the general (and recent) trend to write SF shows for people who hate SF. I’ve always thought this was a stupid idea, but let’s face it: Hollywood’s not a cup that runneth over with good sense, tact, or respect for genre or source material. My heart bleeds for Robert Carlyle, who’s doing his manful, Glaswegian best to keep this sinking Titanic afloat, and you know, the show might well go on for quite a while. The Stargate franchise is still healthy enough to make even a piece of mopey crud viable for a season or two. But as far as being a good show, this ship looks to be dead on arrival.

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Old October 5th, 2009, 06:33 PM   #2
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

sadly enough, this about sums up the series. It had potential yet the writers wasted it so far. I'll give it another ep or two and see.
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Old October 5th, 2009, 07:08 PM   #3
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

What else would you expect from the morons who alienated the pre-existing BSG fanbase? You think they would have learned their lesson by now. The premiere got a laughable 1.7HH ratings score. ...no where but down from there.
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Old October 5th, 2009, 07:47 PM   #4
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Exclamation Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

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What else would you expect from the morons who alienated the pre-existing BSG fanbase? You think they would have learned their lesson by now. The premiere got a laughable 1.7HH ratings score. ...no where but down from there.
Spider,

You know that we don't talk about Moore's show around these parts - good, bad, or otherwise.

If it's mentioned in the article/review, that's fine but, no additional editorial comment, please.

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Old October 5th, 2009, 07:50 PM   #5
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

Sorry. Old habits die hard... Hee hee! I guess it'll be much easier once SyFy pulls their heads outta their collective arses and the new TOS BSG movie is further along. ...can't wait! I'd much rather get geeked and talk about the latter.
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Old October 5th, 2009, 11:01 PM   #6
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

Quote:
Originally Posted by spiderr987
Tagline: A sudden attack on a geologically-fragile planet in the middle of a diplomatic tour from Earth forces a motley group through a stargate to a derelict ship, the Destiny, billions of light years away.

Review:

snip

So let me get this right. this is bascially, Stargate Universe:.......

1) Stargate Voyager?

2) Stargate Battlestar Galactica (TOS)?

3) Stargate Ulysses31

4) Stargate Space Cases?

or

5) Stargate Lost In Space

Lost ship/vessel looking for Earth or a way back to Earth after getting lost originally. Hmmmm, hasn't this formula been done over and over to death in recent years. Only reason i didn't jokingly put down 'Stargate Lexx' was because Lexx's last season (4th) finally put the show at Earth too unlike its crazier but more fun earlier 'Non-Earth' seasons, then it died and came to an end as well. Stargate Atlantis was *pants*, same old same old. But at least like SG1, the characters were likable (except McKay?). Although my favorite Stargate is still the movie. Pity there weren't any movie followup sequels, cos the franchise looks firmly rooted in television because of the fight between Devlin & Emmerich and MGM and the TV series producers etc.

Stargate Universe premieres tonight on Sky 1. Although one could've easily joined the downloaders and gotten it off of a torrent or so. I gotta say though, unlike alot of new shows going to Sky, this really wasn't advertised as much as previous series from the states has?

Not nearly heavily enough.... why is that?

Does that say anything at all, in terms of how it'll be in the long run of things! SG1 and Atlantis had bigger hype when they first played. Stargate Universe got the same advertisment a minor 'sitcom' by comparison. Thats no lie neither.

It'll respond tomorrow with my thoughts after i see the pilot. But i'd rather talk about Star Wars Clone Wars: Season 2. Now there's a show thats picking up, despite my reservations about Lucas' take on the Clone Wars, that series seriously got some drama and threats ongoing within two episodes already. We'll see which can hold sci-fi fans attention spans in the coming weeks.

KJ
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Old October 6th, 2009, 08:49 AM   #7
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

I'll have to admit, out of all three Stargate series premieres, this one was the weakest of all. One of the biggest gaping holes in the premiere was the fact that there was almost no story to it. Add to that, the fact that there's a whole lot of faces in this, but hardly any of them jumped forward as standouts for a long running series. Two whole hours of screen time and not much going on will only take you so far...

I went into this series with an open mind, but when the series opener dumps you right into the action, not knowing who these people are, or how they came to be there, just made you go "huh". Of course, then came the flashbacks - it was very confusing being only minutes into the episode and getting flasbacks. I would think that for a first episode, you'd use a more linear method of storytelling to get the viewers involved from the beginning. There's always plenty of time and opportunities later on for flashbacks. I'd like to mention at this point, that the entire idea of using flashbacks to tell a story has been greatly overused in TV programs as of late - it's no longer considered very effective or interesting to tell a story that way.

In terms of ratings, the premiere did very well - there were 2.3 million viewers that watched, but of course, Stargate fans were waiting for a new series to start. The biggest question is whether SG:U can hold onto them.

As far as the opening episode, it was hard to notice that this series doesn't look or feel like either of the series that came before it. There were some brief moments where it did feel familiar, but those were only the scenes that Richard Dean Anderson were in. After that, the show adopted that "dark and gritty" feel that modern SciFi series have been adopting in recent years - again, a theme that has been overused ad nauseum. This too is no longer considered a fresh and new idea either.

I'll stick with it for a few weeks, but with hardly anything to latch onto at this point, my biggest question is whether the show will take hold of a viewing audience or not.

Bryan
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Old October 6th, 2009, 08:38 PM   #8
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

Amen!

Worst of Berman Drek (Voyager) and worst of SyFylis type other 'edgy moron" programming. (You know what I mean).
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Old October 6th, 2009, 11:31 PM   #9
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

Good review. Logical and well researched, by someone literate in the genre.

I loved the first 8 series of SG1. I liked it less when it got Orii and Farscape mixed in. Should have wound up with the defeat of the system lords.
I drifted away from the SG franchise when SG Atlantis showed up. Haven't managed to watch a whole ep of that without wanting to shout at the screen (mostly due to the characters being poor imitations of the SG1 originals..silly female pseudo Teal'c, anyone? O'neill clone without his clones' class..)

SG U looks like another dilution. The only thing in common is the gate and then thats used to set up the premise?
Nehh, whatever....

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Old October 7th, 2009, 07:55 AM   #10
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

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sadly enough, this about sums up the series. It had potential yet the writers wasted it so far. I'll give it another ep or two and see.
I agree.
I too am going to watch more episodes to see if it improves.
I don't think you can judge a series by just one episode.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 08:25 AM   #11
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

Btw, since when is a 1.7HH ratings score for a premiere considering doing well?
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Old October 9th, 2009, 10:02 AM   #12
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Stargate Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

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The second thing I liked about SG1 was that the characters were fun and likeable and made up a good team
Been a fan of Stargate since the beginning I have to say that I agree with the review. For me the statement in the quote sums part of my feelings with Stargate Universe. I was very exciting to see the new series and was so dissapointed(a first in my Stargate experience). It doesn't have the action, the feel and the characters that SG-1 and Atlantis have. The previous versions hooked me instantly in the Premieres, the same as the original movie. But the premiere of Universe left me wanting more, totally bored(first thing with anything Stargate). For me personally, the character of Dr. Nicholas Rush(Robert Carslyle) save the night from a total fiasco. His character is the one that left me wanting to see what will happen next. Also Eli Wallace(David Blue) have some Stargate potential as a character. The military was a total fiasco, bland and boring. They can dissapear next episode and I wouldn't missed them at all. And that is a shame because one thing the previous Stargate have is awesome characters.

I love Stargate, and definitely going to give them a little more time to develop into an Stargate that brings the excitement and fun again. Hopefully!
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Old January 6th, 2010, 11:31 PM   #13
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

I enjoyed the potential that this series had, but It seems to be a lost point. I emphasize "had." The characters are dirivative, one dimentional, and not really interesting at all. Now into the mid season cliffhanger, and I don't really care if *Spoiler Alert* Rush makes it back. The true star of the show is the Destiny, and for that and the work of the effects artists I will continue to watch, other than that, "who cares?"
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Old January 7th, 2010, 09:27 AM   #14
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

SGINO - what else is there to say? I gave it a season and that is that. I'd say resurrect SGA and killed SGINO. At least SGA had better ratings overall and at least "felt" like SG...
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Old January 9th, 2010, 08:49 PM   #15
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

Look, 'bun' (street slang) Stargate Universe, bun Stargate Atlantis, bun the animated series of Stargate and even bun SG1. It was always about the first Stargate 94' movie anyways.



Just let Devlin and Emmerich do the Stargate sequels already, nuff said.

You know TV networks keep the crappy shows that are bad on, for much longer than they deserve or longer than necessary etc. But if its that bad it'll be gone after or during the second season at least? Stargate Universe, and now i hear that 'Heroes' is even much worse. Hmm, and yet they cancelled 'The 4400' without so much as an afterthought (rolls eyes). Dollhouse is gone and several others still kicking about which aren't so good. And i suppose Knight Rider is still around too, does anybody even watch that series?

*Sigh* The Sci-Fi genre's been suffering real badly for a while now stateside (North America), so whats up with that exactly?

Anybody know!

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Old January 10th, 2010, 05:55 AM   #16
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

Science Fiction used to be the taboo of "mainstream media" Just look at how hard it was for Gene Roddenberry to get the Green light for Trek. But as more and more science fiction became science fact the "Leave it to Beaver" became "Leave it to Cylon." Just like Geek and Nerd used to be a derogitory term...now there is a turnabout and science is the new cool. So too is Science Fiction...which leads the Media to flood the market with anything and everything SciFi no matter how crappy. And the more out there that there is the more that you will have that IS crappy!
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Old January 12th, 2010, 08:40 AM   #17
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

Thats true, looking back its amazing the execs let Roddenberry do a second pilot after they felt 'The Cage' pilot wasn't good enough!

Although not many shows get a second pilot decades later, its not uncommon however, for a show to have more than one pliot being produced if they feel they've got a potential sure hit on their hands. Still the quality of these shows is whats so lacking mind you! Then again many start out o.k. and fall into being kept on way longer past their prime.

Yet like i've said before, nothing kills you more inside, when a great Sci-Fi/Fantasy series is cancelled when it has tons of great potential but is cut short by foolish execs wanting to put a sitcom on in its place! Plenty of shows kept on have 7 plus seasons and so few quality episodes (i.e. quanity) yet the cancelled ones have alot of quality about them and alot of depth before the plug was eventually pulled.

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Old January 14th, 2010, 03:55 AM   #18
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

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Still the quality of these shows is whats so lacking mind you! Then again many start out o.k. and fall into being kept on way longer past their prime.
KJ

Standard marketting ploy. They do the same with food: new product has the 'expensive' key ingredient and the advertising push. People take it up, then the manufacturer starts cheapening it off.. less on the advertising, cheaper ingredients...relying on lazy people buying on habit. Its always good for an extra couple of years, and its all low risk profit with minimal input.



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Old January 14th, 2010, 03:19 PM   #19
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

I don't disagree, but , I believe, there is more to it than that.
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Old January 30th, 2010, 09:44 AM   #20
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

What does GINO stand for?

Thanks
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Old January 30th, 2010, 10:26 AM   #21
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

GINO = Galactica In Name Only.

A clever euphemism coined by a friend of mine to differentiate between Battlestar Galactica and the unrelated, similarly-named show that used to be on a small cable TV channel owned by NBC/Universal.



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Old January 30th, 2010, 11:50 AM   #22
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

Thank you!
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Old January 30th, 2010, 04:13 PM   #23
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

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What does GINO stand for?

Thanks
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Dawg did a good job as to what it stands for within BSG...I used it to stand for StarGate In Name Only...
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Old February 15th, 2010, 01:19 AM   #24
KJ
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Default Re: Scathing review new SG-U GINO clone that no one cares to watch...

That whole In Name Only sure took on a life of its own didn't it!

Its a coined term; which more or less applies to any miniseries or ongoing show; remake/re-imagining of something that previously existed before hand and is now repeated but with much less success and original (even creativity) in another all-new incarnation. Ratings and viewership on TV satellite/cable doesn't nearly count as much, as say; impact within pop culture and its targeted mainstream appeal, unlike say like many original series have, in the past.

I'm pretty sure we'll get several more "I.N.O." types shows and movies this year and the next onwards, until hollywood drops this old 'fad' of remaking everything that isn't tied down, like a bad habit.

Here endeth the lesson!

KJ
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