I'll start off by saying that I purely got into this by accident. I dug the original movie as a kid, and watched a little bit of SG-1 in the beginning. After a while I lost interest and went about my business. I remember hearing some hype online for Stargate Universe, but tinged with snark since it seemed to be moving away from it's more cheesy, Star Trek-esque adventures in favor of a more darker, serious endevour--a hole was in Sci-Fi--I mean--SyFy's schedule with Battlestar Galactica over, and they needed something like it to fill it. I even started watching purely by accident from channel-surfing.
So is the claims that it's just a BSG clone true? Well, it certainly has the tropes. It's a very serious show, with it's plot basically being refugees after an alien attack being stuck in an ancient spaceship with very little food and supplies on the other side of the universe. Because of this, everyone is scared--half of the group wants to find out what the hell happened and the rest want to find a way back to Earth. There's the amoral scientist with the mysterious past with aspirations as the leader of the group--most definitely inspired by Baltar. There's political intrigue over who will lead the group--the aforementioned amoral scientist or the military leader. There's flashbacks of the characters before they arrived at the point of the beginning of this episode. There is despair, sex, and a group of humans trying to figure out how to get home in a spaceship that's still rapidly falling apart.
So yeah, it's a bit of a BSG clone, but, if the pilot episode is any indication, it's a well-made BSG clone. The effects were well made (barring the ball-cameras, especially when Eli threw one up into the air), the set(s) definitely felt old and yet extremely advanced. The characters are kind-of cookie cutter--the aforementioned amoral scientist, the geeky teenager, the idealistic military officer, the female medic who falls in love with her commanding officer--but name me one pilot of a show that didn't start with their characters a bit underdeveloped.
Overall, the pilot episode wasn't a bad way to spend two hours, and there was enough in the episode and the teaser for the rest of the season to keep me wanting to see what happens next. I just hope that they'll pull off something that will set it apart from being "Stargate meets BSG."