After all the cancellation dramas that periodically beset its older brothers in the franchise, Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, perhaps it's just as well SGU has been spared the trouble.
Ming-Na and Robert Carlyle in Stargate Universe, which will end after it completes its second season.
While it will air the balance of season 2 on schedule, Syfy has decided to not renew Stargate Universe for a third season. The series has 10 episodes remaining in its second season and Syfy will air these episodes as planned next Spring.
As usual, it boiled down to the numbers for Syfy, which is a unit of NBC Universal. Stargate Universe has recently averaged a 0.5 in 18-49, below the averages for the Syfy series that have been renewed.
Creators Robert C. Cooper and Brad Wright had planned a loose, five-year storyline for the series, starting with initial stories about simple survival -- progressing into more adrenaline-fueled conflicts first from home-galaxy enemies (the Lucian Alliance) followed by more alien threats in their own far-distant locale. Possibly, Syfy has lowered the axe now rather than later, so that the creative team can do what retooling is still possible to provide a partial resolution for the Destiny and its accidental crew.
The news comes two months after the abrupt cancellation of Caprica. But while the Battlestar prequel had never gained much traction with fans, SGU had overcome initial skepticism to build a (very) small but loyal fanbase. Also, unlike Caprica, SGU emerged from its deliberately measured early episodes to add significant new layers of peril and conflict--though its "message from the universe" storyline didn't work as well as some of its other developments.
Two cancellations do not make a house-cleaning, though. Syfy is continuing its three popular summer series, Warehouse 13, Eureka, and Haven, plus Sanctuary, even as it adds Being Human, Alphas, and the potential series Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome.
This is a real waste of potential. The acting has been excellent--Robert Carlyle won a Best Actor prize for his role in the show at the 2010 Gemini Awards--and so have the writing and production values. Where I never had any sense that Stargate Atlantis was going somewhere, with SGU there was a real feeling of progression, and the immersion of these characters into a new and progressively deterrestrialized existence. I can understand folks not finding themselves as drawn in as I was, but this is a quality series whose steady build toward a five-year climax would have been a great journey for the characters and fans alike.
A million years ago, Syfy (then the Sci Fi Channel) picked up Stargate SG-1 after it got its start on Showtime. How cool would it be if, in a karmic display of sci-fi symmetry, Showtime picked up SGU after it got its start on Syfy?
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