This isn't your usual getting saved at the last second, making jokes while being tortured kind of Stargate we are used to, and that's a good thing. The previous Stargate TV franchises consisting of SG1 and SGA which used the same formula and had the same tone, and don't get me wrong, I love these shows, but ratings had dropped and a change was required for SG to survive.
Some compare SGU to Battlestar Galactica, it has more drama like BSG, it's set in space like BSG, they are far away from home like BSG, but other than that the show even with its darker feel has a completely different tone and is far less political. The show also has beautiful special effects with the gate opening procedure looking much better than previously. The special effects aren't in abundance, but when they are there, they're fantastic.
This is a show about survival, with real emotions and fear coming to the surface throughout, people behaving irrationally with different agendas. But, it's the potential of the show that stands out, with a huge ancient ship to be explored, no doubt riddled with cool technologies, not to mention the galaxy they are stuck in, billions of light years from home with new aliens to encounter.
The show has had its fair share of slower episodes. So What? What show doesn't? The haters of the showwould have you believe it's a soap, they exaggerate greatly and need to give it a chance. This show doesn't want to be an SGA clone, it's a serious scifi drama. The creators of the original movie weren't happy with SG1's light hearted tone, so folks saying SGU is an insult to SG need to remember that fans hated Star Trek: TNG until the Borg came along, they hated Voyager until 7 of 9 came along. With all this in mind and being a long time scifi fan, this show will only get better and with season 2 already commissioned it will be here for a while yet.
This isn't a show to casually watch but one to savour, if you want burger and fries stick with the originals, if on the other hand you want something with more depth, give this a try, you won't be disappointed.