Stargate is done. Now what?
On Monday night, the Stargate went dark for the final time. The last episode of Stargate Universe aired on SyFy, after the cable network and franchise-owner MGM announced that there would be no more trips through the ‘Gate.
While it was known that “Gauntlet” would be the final episode of SGU after the series cancellation was announced back in October 2010, fans held out hope that a TV movie could tie up loose ends. Two Stargate TV movies have already been produced, “The Ark of Truth” and “Continuum,” featuring the cast of SG-1, with another one reported to be on the way. A Stargate Atlantis movie was also reported to be in the pipeline that would pick up where that series left off. However, in April 2011, Stargate producer Brad Wright announced that, per MGM, there would be no further movie installments in the Stargate franchise, for the time being.
Stargate‘s departure from TV leaves a gaping hole in the sci-fi firmament. There are no longer space-based sci-fi series on television, despite the fact that the genre has dominated sci-fi TV in the last 25 years, with major franchises like Star Trek and Stargate, and also popular series such as Babylon 5, Farscape, Firefly, and the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. BSG in particular was critical and financial success for SyFy (née SciFi), and seemed to indicate the resurgence of space-based sci-fi. However, the first BSG prequel series, Caprica, lasted only one season. SGU, clearly influenced by BSG, with its dark, gritty tone and serialized storytelling, fared only a little better, lasting a season-and-a-half before its cancellation was announced.
So where does that leave us fans of space-based sci-fi? We will have to wait until the TV movie/backdoor-pilot for the second Battlestar Galactica prequel, Blood and Chrome, airs on SyFy. Given the lackluster response to Caprica, the success of Blood and Chrome is far from assured. No release date is set for Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome, which began filming earlier this year. With the BSG name attached, hopefully the new series will draw more viewers than Caprica. The show’s success will depend on SyFy’s ability to produce new episodes quickly, rather than dribble them out as it did with Caprica. If SyFy waits until after the TV movie airs to start regular production on the series, it will likely mean at least a year until new episodes hit the air. Given the uphill battle that space-based sci-fi shows are fighting these days, such a delay could kill the show before it gets off the ground. If Blood and Chrome fails, it seems unlikely that SyFy would try a third spin-off, meaning that the BSG television franchise would meet the same fate as Star Trek and Stargate.
As for Stargate Universe, the complete second season boxed set comes out at the end of the month. If that seems like a commercial, it is. The only way to continue the story will be to convince MGM that it is in their best interests to do so. Revenue from DVD/BluRay sales are almost the only way to get MGM’s attention and show them that the franchise is valuable to fans.
I, for one, am dying to know what happens after “Gauntlet.” The final moments of the show filled me with heartbreak and hope. Despite what I felt was a difficult start, the show really came into its own in the second season. Destiny’s mission is to answer the most fundamental question of human existence: “Why are we here?” That is exactly why I love space-based sci-fi: I want to know the answer! There are so many possibilities open to a show literally as big as the universe itself, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. But I imagine that there are people who do: the writers, producers, cast, and crew. I hope they get another shot.
Stargate Universe “Gauntlet” image via http://stargate.mgm.com