This is Good News

This looks like a positive development: Syfy is Releasing a Film, De-Rebranding, and Becoming Super Interesting

Some 18 months later, what the mandate looks like is increasingly clear. The Expanse is the network’s showcase science fiction series, taking a series of popular recent SF novels and turning them into the sort of show that hasn’t really been seen on television before. It’s also aiming for a fantasy hit with The Magicians, a series based on Lev Grossman’s fantastic trilogy, a joyously dark post-modern remix of fantasy tropes (after Thrones, Harry Potter, and LOTR, it may have been one of the hottest fantasy licenses around).

Syfy’s miniseries plans are also indicative: Last year’s Ascension and this year’sChildhood’s End are both classic science fiction, the latter an adaptation one of the best-known SF novels of all time. Just yesterday, Syfy announced two seasons of a new anthology horror series: Channel Zero. With this, Syfy has rebuilt the third pillar of speculative fiction: horror, to go alongside science fiction and fantasy. (Superhero stories have arguably become a fourth pillar of SF, recently, and Syfy no doubt would be interested in getting in on that action if possible.)

In other words, Syfy is betting on quality.

Lost its soul, indeed. I never did understand why the network abandoned the niche that they had a lock on in favor of general-market prolefeed garbage like the wrestling and “reality” shows already saturating other channels. It made about as much sense to me as what Yahoo! did to Flickr a couple years ago. And by canceling shows like Universe and Caprica just as they were getting interesting and strangling Blood and Chrome in the crib*, in favor of schlock like Camelwhaledingopotamusquito II: Chimera Boogaloo , it wasn’t merely that they abandoned the genre, it’s that they appeared to be actively working to wreck it just when other channels were discovering it and making serious efforts at serious productions.

So it’s good to see this change, but it’s just a pity that it comes too late to save several promising properties. Not only the Stargate and BSG franchises, either – had they recommitted to serious SF when it counted, they might have been able to save Fox’s Sarah Connor Chronicles the way they did SG-1, and along with it possibly spared us from the most recent franchise movie as we’ve thus far been spared another Stargate movie from Devlin and Emmerich.

* — Yes, you saw what I did there.