Syfy orders some actual shows

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    Syfy finally fesses up: they forgot what sci-fi is and how to make it. [LINK]

    Syfy knows they messed up. Now they have a plan to win you back.

    The cable network’s top executives won’t say this in such blunt language, but they acknowledge that somewhere along the line, the network missed an opportunity to have more great scripted dramas. It happened sometime after the name change from Sci Fi Channel to Syfy and the conclusion of Battlestar Galactica—the acclaimed series that was once mentioned by critics alongside titles like Mad Men and The Sopranos as representing TV’s top-tier of storytelling. Once the weary Battlestar crew decided to settle on Earth in the show’s 2009 series finale, Syfy did much the same thing by launching terrestrial-based dramas like Warehouse 13, Sanctuary, Haven, and Eureka.

    Let’s be clear: Syfy executives do not regret those titles; many were successful. The mistake wasn’t the dramas Syfy made but the ones Syfy did not make—acclaimed, must-see high-end “serious” shows like Battlestar that would get a lot of buzz and super-passionate fans.

    The post-Battlestar shift made sense on paper. Broad-targeted female-friendly fantasies like Twilight and Harry Potter were dominating the box office while breezy crime dramas on USA and TNT ruled cable. So Syfy doubled down on light, sci-fi-themed procedurals.

    Yet while Syfy was seeking TV’s version of Twilight (like Being Human), or an “Imagine Greater” version of Burn Notice (like Warehouse 13), other channels jumped into the serialized hard sci-fi/fantasy turf trail-blazed by Battlestar. AMC’s The Walking Dead—a premise that nobody in the industry thought would deliver a broad audience—became TV’s highest-rated series among adults 18-49. HBO enjoyed huge hits with True Blood and Game of Thrones. FX unleashed American Horror Story, and A&E got in the game with Bates Motel.

    “We saw an explosion of sci-fi/fantasy content across every cable and broadcast network out there,” said Syfy president Dave Howe. “Perceptions of the genre have shifted dramatically. What that speaks to is an opportunity to re-own the genre and be at the forefront of high-end buzzy, provocative storytelling — and the epiphany of that was Battlestar.”

    Epitome. Not epiphany. Dunno if that was Howe or the Entertainment Weekly writer who has no grasp of the English language.

    But at least the guys at Syfy are finally acknowledging that their particular flavor of screwing the pooch was to allow the pooch to get out of the house and go have lots of nice puppies at other networks. Getting the audience back will take more than dog treats. Later in the article, in the Q&A section, EW asks if Farscape or Galactica will be coming back in some form, and the answer is no – and frankly, it should be no. I think we’re ready for something new, and something that doesn’t get shitcanned after three weeks of us getting attached to it. So say we frellin’ all.

    Steve W
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    Aw, come on, Brian Henson is working up the idea for at least a pilot movie for a new Farscape series based on D’argo Crighton, I wouldn’t mind seeing that one get greenlighted.

    Television executives are idiots, especially those running an entire network. Science fiction fans are generally more intelligent than most TV viewers, so don’t insult them by putting on wrestling because the woman in charge of the network is a ratings whore and doesn’t comprehend science fiction. Sure, it brings in ratings, but so does quality programming as other channels have discovered (Walking Dead, Game of Thrones). Don’t endlessly ruin your reputation in people’s minds by churning out dozens of low quality movies every year for something like 15 years until the phrase “Sci-Fi Original Movie” becomes a pop culture phrase meaning “unwatchable shit with the lowest production values possible”. You can’t win good rating by constantly playing it safe, you have to get experimental and gamble sometimes.


    This just in: no more wrestling on Syfy as of next year! [LINK]

    “SmackDown” will move to USA in the first quarter of next year. USA already carries “Monday Night Raw,” and NBCU cable execs decided it made sense to put all of its WWE fare under one roof. Syfy had carried “SmackDown” since 2010.

    USA and WWE are in the midst of a splashy new image campaign — tagline: “For the Hero in All of Us” — designed to make the WWE’s raucous brand of live entertainment more palatable to advertisers who have shunned it in the past.

    Peter Lazarus, USA’s ad sales chief, said it is now focused on “educating the marketplace about WWE’s positive attributes,” including the fact that it is mostly DVR proof through its live weekly airings and continuing storylines, and that it draws a healthy amount of family viewing.

    Not to piss all over wrestling – I know a lot of people who enjoy it quite a bit – but let’s face it, it was just a bad fit for Syfy.

    Maybe they could put something, oh, I dunno…science-fictiony in that time slot? Wild thought, I know.


    Stargate writers Malozzi & Mullie are back…with…what looks like a rehash of Mission Genesis? [LINK]

    Syfy’s return to harder science fiction continues this summer with Dark Matter, a new 13-episode series debuting June 12th. The series comes from two veterans of the network, Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, who served as executive producers and writers for the multi-series Stargate franchise and is based on Mallozzi and Mullie’s comic book, Dark Matter, from Dark Horse Comics.

    Dark Matter follows the crew of a derelict spaceship who are awakened from stasis with no memories of who they are or how they got on board. Facing threats at every turn, they have to work together to survive a voyage charged with vengeance, betrayal and hidden secrets.

    The series stars Melissa O’Neil (Broadway production of Les Miserables), Marc Bendavid (Bitten), Anthony Lemke (White House Down), Alex Mallari Jr. (Robocop) and Jodelle Ferland (Twilight) with Roger Cross (The Strain) and Zoie Palmer (Lost Girl). Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis’ David Hewlett will appear in a four episode arc, reuniting with this SG colleagues Mallozzi and Mullie.

    I went back and double-checked my own guides, and sure enough, Syfy has lapped itself: this is almost the same plot as the first Sci-Fi Channel original drama series, Mission Genesis (known in Canada and abroad as Deepwater Black, after the novel it was based on).

    Steve W
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    That doesn’t mean much, that forgotten identity trope has been all over science-fiction for a long time. I immediately thought back to the aliens on the planet Rupert from the final Hitchhiker’s Guide book, Mostly Harmless. That doesn’t mean they’ve lapped themselves as much as it means they’re hiring a bunch of hacks to write their shows.

    I always wanted to see Mission Genesis since reading a magazine article about it back in the day, and the Sci-Fi network people talking about how cheaply they made it. Plus, Nicole de Boer. Yowza. But alas, I probably didn’t have the Sci-Fi Channel at that point, I think I’d finally gotten it right after the show was over.


    And Syfy’s “bold new direction” of Defiance bites the dust.

    Syfy has opted not to go forth with a fourth season of “Defiance,” Variety has learned.

    The show’s cancellation comes just days after the cable network axed fantasy drama “Dominion.”

    “Defiance” was Syfy’s big experiment with transmedia storytelling as the series’ storylines were specifically designed to mesh with the narrative of the video game of the same name, produced by Trion Worlds. The TV series revolved around the battles of seven alien races existing on a much-changed planet Earth.

    After delivering good ratings on Mondays during its first season in 2013, “Defiance” fell off sharply in its move to Thursdays in 2014 and then again when it shifted to Fridays this summer. Its Aug. 28 finale averaged a 0.51 rating in adults 18-49 and 1.925 million viewers overall in Nielsen’s “live plus-3” estimates.

    How many bold new directions are we up to now? P.S. Friday is a death slot, Syfy. Even the Syfy audience socializes now and again.

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    I was expecting it to be cancelled since, in previous years, they quickly announced the renewal shortly after the season finale and they didn’t in this case by dragging out the announcement by nearly a month after the season finale.

    I think their bold move was cancelled out by several bonehead moves when they moved it to Thursdays and then – the death blow – moving it to Fridays.

    It was a decent series, although I think it dragged in a couple places. First third of season three, for example and well, most of the second season.

    Of course now the fans have to deal with a huge season three cliff hanger with the sheriff heading out into space with all those evil aliens in the hold.

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