Our ongoing look back at sci fi / fantasy TV shows that were cancelled way too soon or pilots that never made it to series.
This third live-action entry in the Stargate television franchise focused on a group of military and civilian personnel that find themselves trapped aboard an ancient spaceship hurtling beyond their control billions of light years from Earth, and it seemed like a sure thing going in to its first season. But it ended up falling victim to miscalculations by the show’s producers as well as poor timing. SGU creator’s Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper wanted to make it “a completely separate” entry in the franchise (as opposed to Stargate: Atlantis which was a spin-off of Stargate: SG-1). They gave the show a darker, grittier feel and a more heavily story-arced approach, but that apparently did not sit well with long-time fans of that franchise who showed a reluctance to jump on board (calling it Stargate meets Battlestar: Galactica). And the series didn’t bring in enough new viewers to make up for the existing fans that avoided it, maybe because they felt they would be lost by not knowing the backstory of the previous two series. In any case, SGU just did not draw a large enough audience as it debuted with only mediocre numbers and never managed to improve much throughout its two seasons. In addition to this, the Sci Fi Channel had just gone through a rebranding in 2009 to Syfy and had switched much of their focus for scripted shows to more budget-friendly, “sci fi Lite” entries like Warehouse 13, Haven, and Being Human which allegedly appealed to a broader audience. Thus, SGU’s disappointing ratings plus the fact that it did not fit in well with the network’s new direction worked against it and Syfy cancelled it after its second season. It ended on a cliffhanger and there were plans to do a movie that would provide some resolution, but that was eventually scrapped. There were rumors that the series might continue apart from the Syfy channel (as the network didn’t hold the license for the Stargate franchise), and the producers of the show actually lobbied the fans, telling them that letters in support of the show would be nice, but DVD sales and downloads would be much better. But despite a push from the fans to keep the show going, it remained cancelled after its two season run. And even though it received much criticism early on, it has since been looked upon by many as a decent science fiction entry and one that was axed just as it was starting to demonstrate its full potential.
Aired: Syfy, 2009-11, 2 Seasons Totaling 40 Episodes
Created By: Brad Wright, Robert C. Cooper
Starring: Robert Carlyle, Louis Ferreira, Brian J. Smith, Elyse Levesque
Buy the Stargate Shows on DVD and Blu-Ray from Amazon.com: