Brian J. Smith seems fairly pragmatic about the end of “Stargate Universe,” the Syfy series in which he has starred for two seasons.
“It definitely hurts to have shows you like get cancelled—and it really sucks when it’s a show you’re working on,” he said last week on the phone from New York City. “But there is nowhere else that you can get 40 episodes of 'SGU,' or [a show like] 'Caprica' on, other than a boutique-type, specialized, genre-based network.”
Syfy begins airing the final 10 episodes of the controversial series at 9 p.m. March 7 with “Deliverance,” an action-packed hour that picks up where the series left off in December. The Destiny crew stares down an army of drone ships programmed to destroy anything in its path. Smith’s character, Lt. Matthew Scott, faces a tough decision when he suspects his girlfriend, Chloe Armstrong (Elyse Levesque), may have sabotaged the ship. (WATCH a preview by clicking the "SGU videos" link at left.)
"I love the episode,” Smith said. “I think it has a lot of [stuff] in it that the fans will enjoy. More space battles—it starts with one and pretty much ends with one, too.”
That news should please many disgruntled fans of previous “Stargate” series, “SG-1” and “Atlantis,” who when “SGU” debuted in fall 2009 complained there were not enough space battles, not enough gating to other planets, and not enough fighting the “Big Bad.” But series creators Brad Wright and Robert Cooper wanted to make a different “Stargate” with “SGU.” They wanted to get to know the characters beyond whether they are simply heroes or villains.
Whether you think “SGU” worked or not, its writers accomplished that task, Smith (and I) think, coming up with character-driven stories that gradually showed many sides of the lead characters. Sure, it was a slow build to meeting everyone marooned on the Destiny, but that only added to the realistic feel of the series. Is that not how we get to know co-workers in real life?
Smith feels it was a legitimate change-up for the franchise.
"In my eyes, it’s better to lay out the case for the characters, [to] say, this is who this guy or girl is, and this is what the issue is, and this is what is going to be haunting them throughout the series,” he said. “I think you should really establish that first. So I applaud the writers for doing that."
Now that the character motives are firmly established, we’ve seen more action-oriented, plot-driven episodes in Season 2. That continues in the final 10 episodes, Smith said. As viewers have gotten to know the crew members, so too do the crew members feel more comfortable with each other.
"It’s exploration like crazy. We shot more days on location for those last five episodes than I think we had combined for that whole year,” he said. “I think people are really going to enjoy these episodes. It has a lot to do with the team coming together, and you really see the team dynamic improve; these people become a well-oiled machine.”
Sadly, the series will end without full resolution for the friendlier crew. Season 2 ends on a “huge cliffhanger,” Smith said. But producer Joseph Mallozzi wrote on his blog that “potential movie or two” could be in the works. (CLICK for JM's blog.) Smith, who is currently auditioning for pilots and theater roles in New York, definitely is onboard the Destiny (OK, the set in Vancouver) if there is.
“I would have to be a part of it just for myself,” he said, laughing. “I couldn’t know that they were up there having all that fun without me.”
We talked more about “SGU” and Smith’s feelings about the series ending, as well as the Syfy movie he just filmed, “Red Faction,” and his dog, Cassie.
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Scott (Brian J. Smith) and Greer (Jamil Walker Smith) apprehend Chloe (Elyse Levesque) in "Deliverance." (MGM photo)
You’ve been busy lately. It seems like you were barely back in New York before you went to Bulgaria to shoot "Red Faction."
Yeah, it’s been pretty busy. It’s been—when did we finish Season 2? I don’t even remember when it was. I can’t even tell you. [Laughs.] It’s all a blur, but pretty soon after that; I think I was back for like a week or something, or two weeks when my agent called [about the movie]. (FROM CURT: I’ll have more from Smith on “Red Faction” just before Syfy airs the movie, which is set for late Spring, I was told.)