Thursday, March 24, 2011

I play one on television

I just got through watching the latest episode of Stargate Universe. The show has been cancelled after only two seasons, and I think that is potentially* a real shame. It's really good sci-fi television, and I say that as someone who has no love for any other part of the Stargate franchise (except perhaps the movie).

I was thinking as I watched it tonight that one of the things I really like about it is its portrayal of scientists. The show is about a group of people -- roughly equal numbers military personnel and civilian scientists -- stranded on an alien starship a very long way from home. It has examples of the standard scientist archetypes: the untrustworthy megalomaniac Nicholas Rush (excellently played by Robert Carlyle), and the naive boy-wonder Eli Wallace (David Blue). They're well-written, more than just archetypes, but they're familiar.

The thing I really like, though, is that there are a few more scientists on the recurring cast -- Volker (Patrick Gilmore), Brody (Peter Kelamis), and Park (Jennifer Spence) -- and they're just ordinary people. They've got personalities, they're smart without being scary or sinister or staggeringly brilliant, they're sympathetic. That sort of portrayal of scientists (and smart people in general) is rare in television and film, and I find it very pleasing to watch.

I'm sorry it's getting cancelled, I really am.

* I say 'potentially' because the show's creators have known for some time that they're being cancelled. With any luck that's given them an opportunity to wrap the story up satisfactorily, which is pretty rare for American television.

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