Debate of the Day: Stargate Universe or Doctor Who?

Alright, well thanks to a number of your suggestions on a recent post I made lamenting how there were no good sci-fi shows on TV, you guys pointed me to a few quality old ones I’ve missed, Stargate Universe and Doctor Who. I haven’t gotten into a show in a while (my last attempt was getting through one season of The West Wing, but that’s not the best show to watch back to back), and now I’ve got time for a new one, but only one.

So I need your help deciding which one to attempt to watch. If you’ve seen both, that would be preferable, but if you’ve only seen one, you can make the case for your pick. Here’s how I see it.

Stargate Universe: Only two seasons, which is good, but also bad because it ends in an unsatisfying Firefly kind of way because it was killed too soon. Sounds like a very cool concept to me, but I don’t know any of the Stargate lore. Would have to wiki that.

Doctor Who: Figured out I don’t have to watch 50 years of it, and can start in 2005. More seasons to get through (six total?) but they’re shorter because it’s English. Might be a bit campier than what I’m used to, but multiple generations of Brits swear by it, and I normally love UK shows.

So, which would the better option be do you think?

  • RBourn

    Well, both are good in their own way, but I would say Doctor Who. I only watched a couple of episodes of Stargate Universe as it seemed to fall into the pit of focusing more on people’s feelings than what they did.

    Doctor Who is camp, and sort of intended for children a bit, but the more recent stuff (Matt Smith) since Steven Moffat took over as head writer is far superior to the 2005 material.

    Check out an episode like “Blink” you’ll never look at a statue the same way again…

    Also the most recent ones, I can remember names but the one in the hotel where every room is someone’s worst fear, or the one with the Two Streams facility are really good, and actually have quite mature endings for 45 minute older children’s shows.

    I would try a few episodes before deciding anything. But then you can actually watch them both.

  • MajorTool

    Dr. Who by far in my opinion.

  • Sam

    Doctor Who all the way! Start with Rose from 2005 and never look back. Yes, it can be campy or childish in parts, I’m looking at you Slitheen, but when you get a really great episode, like Blink or The Girl in the Fireplace, its really rewarding. It’s one of those shows that can be hit or miss, but never do you feel like it was a waste if time because the Doctor, in all his incarnations, is a really cool interesting character.

  • Orange

    Two words; Karen Gillan.

  • Victoria

    No debate at all. Doctor Who. Although Stargate is great, it doesn’t even come close to comparing to Doctor Who. The only problem you will have is playing catchup. The best thing to do would be to start with the newest series. As far as the previous comment that it’s hit and miss…it’s not. I’ve yet to see an episode (and I’ve been watching since the 4th doctor, Tom Baker) that was disappointing. Try starting with the 9th doctor (Christopher Eccleston), through Tennant to Matt Smith. You won’t regret it.

  • Victoria

    PS, I don’t know where you go the idea that anything about Doctor Who is campy. Unless that`s just an American interpretation of British humour.

  • MZC

    for me I’d say Doctor Who, even though I’m not a fan of Doctor Who and I’ve only seen the first episode and never went back, I have seen SGU in its entirety and well the show is just crap.

    The stories are pretty much as predictable as you can get and it’s blatantly obvious they were ripping off BSG HARD. By the end of the last season I was tired of all the boring unlikable characters (save for Dr Rush, him being an asshole the entire series was pretty good) they even had a token black guy who fell into the stereotypical “angry black man with daddy issues”.

    Oh and yes you do need to brush up on Stargate lore if you’re gonna watch it, not knowing what the “communication stones ” “Ancients” or the “Lucian Alliance” are will be a problem since they never really explain the backstory behind these series staples and all have major implications in the story.

    I say stay away from SGU its bad, REALLY BAD.

  • thenottakenname

    I’m going to have to jump on the Doctor Who bandwagon. I’ve seen both shows fully (well, Who from 2005 onwards) and although SG:U is more full of sci-fi things, DW is just incredible, brilliant, extraordinary and ofttimes hilarious.

  • Sam

    @ Victoria
    There are definitely more hits than misses, much more, but I just thought I’d prepare him for the low points so he sticks with it. How can you watch an episode like Daleks in Manhattan and say it was actually good?

  • Mike_NJ


    And why are you starting with Universe, if you don’t know any of the lore?

    Start with the movie, then move on to SG-1, Atlantis, THEN Universe.

    17 seasons of episodes will last you a good few months.

  • Fabian

    Both πŸ˜€

    Stargate U is really good, but i’ve only seen season1, BUT i liked it, because it had the potential to become an epic, like, 7 season show…. now, that it has only 2…. meh…
    But you could watch these 2 in no time….

    So I’d prefer Dr.Who… though the last episode this year didn’t convince me, neither did the whole 6th season for the reason of the final conclusion being crappy. But overall its really a nerdtopia…. there are secrets to unravel, hints and mysteries you dont see by the first time you watch, catchy phrases, freaky aliens….

    And as some Americans stated on the internetz “its a kids show??!?!??” You know, i’m from germany, so i don’t know shit, but most what i see in contemporary popular (us) media, (Superman Batman CaptainAmericaa…. come on….) is much more 1dimensional-ish than this show for children. So, watch 3 episodes, and you’ll not get away from the TV for hours πŸ™‚

  • Buttercup

    Stargate all the way. I’m pretty hard core sci-fi fan and I can’t stand Dr Who. Watched some Who when I was younger (70’s 80’s) watched some of them in the last 10 years, and Who still sucks. I want to like it, I tried to like it, just ain’t happening.

  • Fabian


    “incredible, brilliant, extraordinary and ofttimes hilarious”?

    good sir, i think you wanted to say “fantastic, brilliant and geronimooooooo”

    also, its bigger on the inside. allons-y πŸ™‚

  • Allison

    Dr Who, for sure. I couldn’t agree more with the RBourn’s comment about “Blink.” Absolutely amazing.
    And on the Dr Who theme, I strongly believe you should throw in some TorchWood (as Torchwood is a spin-off from Dr Who, and the shows both reference and cross over a few times). I don’t seem to recall seeing Torchwood posted on this site before…. The first 2 seasons more than the rest, for myself personally. Though season 3 was good, and season 4 got a bit dramatic and lost a bit of the sci-fi element, but I still loved them.

  • JB

    The only Stargate ive watched was Atlantis and it was really awesome. Never seen SGU but looking to jump into that next on netflix.

  • Jake

    Doctor Who

  • Rich

    Another vote for Doctor Who here, and yes “Blink” is one of the best episode there is. “Midnight” is great too, which I think is from the same season.

  • Psychonno

    Dr. Who!

    Both good, but without the background Stargate is not half as good as it could be. Also, itΒ΄s kind of soapy the first few episodes. Was a good schow on the run to becoming awesome… got killed far too early.

  • Christopher

    Doctor Who absolutely! Definitely start with the 2005 series. Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith have all been wonderful. As with any program, some are better than others. If you do like it, you can always watch some classic episodes, if only for the nostalgic value. My suggestions would be: 1st Dr.-The Daleks, 2nd Dr.-Tomb of the Cybermen, 3rd Dr.-The Green Death, 4th Dr.-The Hand of Fear, 5th Dr.-Earthshock, 6th Dr.-The Mark of the Rani, 7th Dr.-Survival, and of course there is only the 1996 television movie for the 8th. These are my favorites. I am a long time fan and highly recommend Doctor Who to anyone and everyone. To quote the late, great Brigadier, “Wonderful chap, all of them!”

  • Gil

    I mentioned this in the original post that spawned this one, but you should be able to understand most of Stargate: Universe without having to watch the previous 15 seasons of SG-1 and Atlantis. Besides, Universe has a totally different cinematography to it with a much darker tone than the other 2 series.

    To play devil’s advocate here I will admit that I have strongly wanted to start on the Dr. Who series for a while. I’ve been a fan of British comedy so I can understand why many Americans find it “campy”. I’ve also heard great reviews for years about the series and it’s just driving me mad that I haven’t found time for it. Perhaps now that SG:U is canceled and Eureka has it’s final season coming I may have the time to catch-up on all this.

    I would say they are probably equally good in their own rights, but I think my vote still stands for Stargate. And if you like it a lot, all of SG-1 and Atlantis are on Netflix instant streaming as well as the 2 SG-1 movies.

  • Caleigh

    I tried to watch Doctor Who and got through 3 sesaons of it before I had to give up. Its a bit to ‘everybody is so nice lets save everyone’ for me. and it is super hard to watch all at one time. not doctor who.

  • Nilsilly

    Definitely the good Doctor.

  • SoloOnTheRocks

    The Doctor is in!

  • Sam

    One last thing about doctor who; when I was catching up I found it was hard to watch a large number of episodes in a row. Usually when I’m watching a new show I’ll watch like 6 or 7 episodes in a row if I’m not super busy, but with Doctor Who, I would only watch like 1 or 2. I think that is because of the episodic nature if the show. It’s not like shows like Lost or 24 where almost every episode ends on some sort of cliffhanger, almost every episode is pretty much self contained. So rather than watching an episode of Lost and saying to yourself “holy shit! I need to watch the next episode right now!” After an episode of Doctor Who its more like “wow, that was great! I think I’ll go do something else for a little bit to let it process in my mind.” So if you’re looking for something you can just blitz through in a week, I don’t think Doctor Who would quite work, at least it didn’t work that way for me.

  • Johnny D

    Stargate all the way. Doctor Who was never my thing; they are two completely types of shows. One is a time travel/weird alien britishy show, the other is an epic action adventure show with spaceship battles and gun fights with awesome, likable (and relateable) cast of characters. Dr. Who could have that, but I have no watched enough of it to give an honest answer.

    If you can, start with SG1 and Atlantis. Though you really don’t NEED to watch those two series in order to “get” SGU, it does help with some of the mythology (ie. who the Ancients were) and some of the awesome cameos that occur. Some of the best action and character building in any sci-fi series I’ve ever seen. I would describe it as a serious sci-fi show that is very funny when it needs to be.

  • Rosstopher

    I had heard of the show but never thought of watching it until Netflix recommended it with a five star rating. I was instantly enthralled. I love time travel and seeing historical figures interact with the Doctor is often hilarious. Tennant ended up being my favorite Doctor, and its a toss up between Rose and Amy Pond for favorite companion. Give Torchwood a shot, too. Not as much time travel, but set in the same universe.

  • Iain

    A pet peeve of mine, but Doctor Who IS NOT ENGLISH. Just now it’s filmed in Wales and made by a Scot, therefore I would let slide Welsh or Scottish, but this is really a British show, definitely not English. A lot of Americans etc make this mistake frequently when it comes to British TV, I feel it is my duty as a Scotsman to correct it whenever I see it!

  • crono

    Not even a question, SGU has it’s moments, but doesn’t connect all the time and is canceled. Doctor Who beats SGU in just about every category.

  • Tim

    Two words: Inspector Spacetime.

  • Galahad

    Is that even a real question? SGU was complete shit, and this is from a ‘Gate fan who’s seen every episode of SG1 and Atlantis multiple times. They were trying way too hard to be the next battlestar galactica and instead of the usual high adventure and hilarious character interaction we’re used to from the franchise we got a whiny angsty tarted up drama that fell on its face.

    The revamp of Dr Who, on the other hand took the same classic formula of lighthearted adventure of the original series and finally gave it the budget it needed to pull off the amazing things it was meant to show off. And yeah, they added some extra drama along the way but it was done homogeneously and doesn’t feel stapled on or jammed in for the sake of ratings.

    The new Dr Who is brilliant.

  • RAF

    I have watched both SG-U and Doctor Who (from 2005) and I must say that if you really want science fiction you HAVE to watch Dr. Who.
    SG-U is a good show, however for me personally is a bit dull. It has all the same elements as with all modern SF shows: everything can be explained trough the scientific theory that we know till today, classic spaceship and the “usual” aliens.
    On the other hand you have Dr. Who. Some may argue that is a show for children. Yes, there aren’t many special effects; yes, the robots might look like trash can; but it’s not about the visuals it’s about the story, the characters, the fantasy. The science used is not based on “Earth’s understanding of he universe”, but this makes it even more interesting for me. When I watch Dr. Who I always remind myself on Arthur C. Clarke’s words: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”

  • Faded

    DOCTOR WHO. No questions asked. MUCH easier to watch, fun, and yet still compelling!

    I tried with Stargate starting with SG-1…and by the time I got to season 8 or 9 I was all Stargated out and I haven’t touched it since. Its just…too heavy at times.

    So my vote is Doctor Who which is BRILLIANT.

  • Skeebo

    Doctor Who, no question.

    If you tried to watch the Stargate story from the beginning to get all the lore (the movie, the original series, Atlantis, U) you’ll get burned out on the series and the idea LONG before you got to the last series. Which is why U didn’t get enough of the fanbase from the original to last more than 2 seasons.

  • bud the chud

    I guess it boils down to if you want to watch a serious drama with some light heartedness (SGU) or watch a light hearted drama with some seriousness (doctor who).

  • Gregory

    Doctor Who and you can meet Captain Jack Harkness for the first time. Mind blown is what you will get

  • Kaz

    I haven’t seen Doctor Who (although I intend to!) but in my opinion forget Stargate Universe and go for Stargate Atlantis.

  • roger

    My vote would have to be with DrWho hands down no contest.

    However if you choose Stargate Universe don’t feel you would be terribly lost, Universe would have been a workable show if it weren’t part of the Stargate series (and in my opinion better).

  • Dr_Komeil

    I am a HUGE Stargate fan. It has amazing lore behind it, it’s all genuinely entertaining, well made television. If you have any desire to get into the world of Stargate, watch the theatrical movie, then SG-1, then Atlantis, the SG-U. SG-U is wildly different that the rest of the series, and rips of Battlestar Galactica endlessly (But it gets a pass because it does it well).

    I hate to say it, but Dr. Who is a better choice.

  • Ace

    I’ve never seen an ep of Dr Who, but I’m a huge fan of Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis. That being said, Universe was a mixed bag for me. The biggest thing missing was the sense of humor and light-heartedness infused in the first two SG series. Not to say things didn’t get serious in those shows, but Universe ended up being pretty slow and somber. Also not enough action for my taste.

  • Eric

    Casting a vote for Doctor Who. My friends recently got me sucked into it starting with what seems to be everyone’s favorite episode, “Blink.” The two part story with “The Empty Child” and “The Doctor Dances” were also highly entertaining due to Steven Moffat’s writing, plus the introduction of Captain Jack Harkness.

  • Rosstopher

    Doctor Who travels through space AND time. Stargate is just through space. Advantage, the good Doctor

  • Doctor Who. But don’t take my word for it. Watch “The Eleventh Hour” (the first episode with the newest Doctor) and if you aren’t absolutely hooked, then go watch Stargate.

    Some people may disagree with that method but I have watched almost everything available from the 50 year stretch the show has been on and that episode is the best viewer grabber any show I’ve seen has produced.

  • Mark

    Doctor Who or SGU? Doctor Who, hands down.
    Doctor Who or SG1? Now that is a tough call. I gotta say I love ’em both. So in that case, why choose? Watch ’em both.

  • Kandice

    Doctor Who! It’s a good fun ride. While it tends to be silly and it is definitely a family show, there are definitely serious and adult undertones, and the characters are all deep and conflicted. I wasn’t a fan of the first season much (Rose killed it for me), but I loved all the other seasons. My only complaint is that there isn’t a season arc, like most shows. The majority of the episodes seem to be standalone or progressing the story only slightly. However, I enjoy them nonetheless. As several have mentioned, “Blink” is a very good episode, but there are so many more.

    I wouldn’t start with the latest season (unless you start with season 5 because season six brings some themes from it), instead, I would tough it out through the first season and then bask in the David Tennant and Matt Smith.

  • Rob J

    Stargate Universe because I said so πŸ˜›

  • Steve

    Watch Doctor Who, I’m certain you won’t regret it.

  • tissmekyle

    Doctor who over SG-U. But SG-1 over Doctor who.
    thats my opinion.

  • kuros_overkill

    @Christopher: re 8th doctor, actually, If you don’t mind radio plays, Big Finish Audio Productions did a bunch of 8th doctor (10 ‘seasons’ in all) between the crap movie and the start of the ’05 series. I’m only halfway through the second ‘season’ now, but its quite good.

  • kuros_overkill

    – shoot – forgot to add – they even used the original actors from the show (Paul McGann, Nicholas Courtney and even Lalla Ward for one story arc)

  • Ethan

    Dr. Who, not even close.

  • Diva D


  • Charlie

    Anyone who doesn’t say “Doctor Who” is just trying to be different.

  • abc

    SG-U takes a while to get going, keep with it for maybe 5-6 eps and it starts to really pick up.

    I wouldnt recommend watching it though. Show was canned after the second season and it finished on a bit of a cliffhanger. So really not worth putting yourself through that.

    Dr Who on the otherhand I think is pretty overrated. Just cant get into it, I find it watchable but its usually at the near end of the list of shows to watch.

  • RBourn

    It’s funny how people think that because I said DrWho is campy that I am American.

    I’m not, I’m actually from the UK. And I find the campyness quite endearing actually.

    I’m a little confused that some people have said that DrWho has no story arc. Bad Wolf anyone? That ran throughout the whole first series of new Dr Who and related to the ending.

    If Dr Who is campy then Torchwood is a million times that. I found the beginning of the series of Torchwood to be weepy and all the characters were useless (Ianto speat the whole of the Cyberwoman episode in tears). I preferred the more recent series as it had better ideas and characters that were a bit more tough.

    More recent Dr Who stuff has had even more of an overarching plot: “Silence will fall when the question is asked” has been somewhat of a mystery for 2 series now.

  • looka

    another sci-fi lover here… I tried to watch Dr.Who many times, particually from 2005 on and I just can not get into it.. SG 1 on the other hand was/is one of my favourite shows, SG U not so much, but still better than the doctor…

  • Doctor Who. Alternatively you can watch the spinoff Torchwood, also a great sci fi series. You don’t have to watch one to appreciate the other, so just pick and choose, though Torchwood is much less campier than DW.

  • steppenhahn

    sgu or doctor who ?

    for me, it comes down to one simple question:

    which way would you prefer to travel ?
    (or in which way of traveling are you more interested ?)
    A: wormholes or
    B: timemachine ?

    the fact that i love everything connected to time travel forces me to recommend doctor who.
    6 seasons of time travel with 3 different actors playing 3 different personalities is pretty diversified.

    just make sure to watch all the specials as well ! (in correct order)

  • Spriestie

    I watched both. Doctor Who is by far my favorite show. Blink is, of course, a fantastic episode but there are so many other ones! As was mentioned earlier, the Empty Child and the Doctor Dances were terrific… and you’ll never look at a gas mask again without the phrase “Are you my Mummy?” popping into your head. I personally absolutely LOVED The Doctor’s Wife from this season, just the idea of it was so good IMO.

    I’d personally recommend you start with the 9th doctor and work your way through (don’t forget the Christmas specials!) but if that’s a bit overwhelming then go with the current doctor. You’ll miss out on David Tennant and Donna both if you do that though and they’ve both just outstanding. But Matt Smith has done a far better job then I expected him to and just the story lines alone have been really worth watching.

    Doctor Who… you absolutely will NOT regret it πŸ™‚

  • Businessyeti

    I’ve seen all SG and Dr Who 2005.

    If the choice is SGU or Dr Who then Dr Who. You will be turned off by the first few episodes but stick with it. It goes from goofy to endearing quick. SGU doesn’t pick up until second season and then ends, it’s not really worth it.

    However, if you’re willing to start with SG1/Atlantis then I’d go SG. Stargate has more lore and nuance than Who2005 and keeps track of its own history for the most part. Dr. Who is often “whew we killed the last Dalek in the universe, Oh MY GOD THERE’S ONE FINAL DALEK… we got him, the last one… EXCEPT THAT OTHER LAST ONE!! SG evolves over time. Dr who is exceptionally fun but spins its wheels to often on cybermen and daleks.

    If you haven’t already and want an in between SG 15 seasons and Dr 6 seasons I’d go Farscape or The 4400.

  • AnonymousPanacea

    Stargate Universe by an absolute mile. Dr Who is a children’s TV show, written as if fantasy and only loosely veiled with some generic sci-fi trappings. The writing is lazy, and more concerned with trying to illicit some emotional response to sickeningly likeable 2D characters than any real exploration into the human condition, which great sci-fi thrives on, and SGU has in spades. Dr Who is a show for the masses, the philistines, the ADD generation that can’t appreciate cerebral sci-fi character drama. SGU is for the people who want compelling and thought-provoking TV that doesn’t insult the audiences intelligence, and will leave you pondering the subject matter for hours afterwards.

    The only general sentiment I can agree with here is that I wouldn’t recommend SGU to most people, it will fly straight over their heads unfortunately.

  • Fabian

    @Kandice: If DrWho hasnt a story arc who has? Badwolf, lost planets, bad wolf revival (omg!), crack in the wall…. what do you call a story arc? If you mean lost or sgu, i would call that a continuous storyline, not a story arc. I think thats a pain in the ass. i liked SGU, but i cant just hop in again after i missed 2 shows. Not speaking about LOST. BSG, Dr Who, etc, they manage to have a story arc, but lack the urgent need of following it to understand the plot. More of an postmodern approach; if you follow, you see more than a casual watcher, if not, you still get the point.

    @AnonymousPanacea: Why lazy writing? Series6, ok, we can discuss that… but 1-5, no way! They care about continuity, they know, where they are going (story arc) and even if you spot an goof, you can bet, that it is intentional (example, the changing jacket in the “time of the angels” episode, which turned out to be a effect from/in the season finale) or what do you call “lazy writing”

  • tonyctitan

    I’m the Doctor!

  • TARDISCoPilot

    I would suggest Starting with the Stargate Movie from 1994 first. Then move on to SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. Stargate SG-1 has a total of 10 seasons and over 200 episodes. Atlantis has 5 season and 100 episodes. I would not suggest starting Stargate Universe without see the majority of SG-1. It will take you a good few months to get through Stargate. Wikipedia is NOT a viable substitute. If you are looking for something you can finish in about two months while still maintaining an outside life, I would suggest the revived Doctor Who. It is made with the expectation it being shown to a new generation, thus not as lore heavy. And what lore they do talk about they go over in the series quite often. Regardless of your choice I suggest you be ready to become a massive fanboy. Also, I am a massive fan of both so I am trying to stay impartial even though my tag may tell you different. Please post your initial reaction to what ever series you do choose, I have been planning on getting a few of my friends into both series.

  • Nadia

    You should definitely go with Doctor Who. While Stargate is good, it’s almost too much like other Sci-Fi shows that are on TV. Doctor Who is unique and funny and amazing. Best thing on TV right now. Start with “Blink,” practically everyone in the universe and beyond loves that one.

  • And here i thought i would have provide some deep inside on both the movies.

    Apparently everyone ( at least the ones that i have scanned over ) choose Doctor Who.

    I Would have said the same.
    Doctor is far better than SGU.
    The story is surprisingly great ( for BBC )

    But it is not short. The episodes are the same length as SGU.

    If you have time …. watch SGU since it is only two seasons and then pick up Doctor Who.

    If not, the doctor who all the way, you will not regret it !

  • Kiera

    The only thing Stargate I’ve ever seen was the original movie, so I can’t say much for that. However, about Doctor Who:

    For a long time, I was positive that there wouldn’t be a good Science Fiction or Fantasy series that I could love as much as my First loves, and that was so long ago, but my boyfriend and I were searching for a good show to watch, and we had both heard good things about Doctor Who. I tuned in, from the beginning of the new 2005 series, expecting a pretty good show, but I fell completely in love. My favorite Doctor is David Tennant, and when we lost him, I cried, but days after I mourned his loss as if I had lost a friend. They got me THAT good. I have admired all three new series Doctors, though. Matt Smith, the current one, is a delight and I adore him. So, if you’re looking for a show to really get into, try Doctor Who. It got me so into it I can’t get out. It’s like quicksand, but quicksand you’ll love being trapped in.

  • mike

    Trust Your Doctor

  • boosh

    from the u.s. here… i wouls strongly suggest doctor who. i havent seen stargate universe, but i have seen some of the original stargate tv show and i didn’t really care for it. doctor who has recently became one of my favs. it’s right up there with firefly and battlestar for me.