When I was growing up what we now call SyFy was known as SciFi. You know, like the actual genre that this channel focused on. It was a channel filled with hokey movies and some really captivating science fiction shows. It was a channel of hit or miss, but regardless it was always filled with things that I knew I would find interesting. When I was little both my parents constantly had the channel on. It was always there lingering in the back of his mind.
Then a few years ago SyFy went through a weird rebranding. Their programming shifted from science fiction to more fantasy. Not even epic fantasy, but practically urban fantasy for TV. While it did end up producing some shows I really enjoyed like Haven, Warehouse 13, and Eureka, it was a very different channel. The SciFi channel that I watched when I was young never would have had those shows as staples of the channel. However, that was exactly what we encountered over those years.
Now we are in the middle of a resurgence of what was their bread and butter. They are attempting to get into the hard core science fiction shows like they had in the past in the ways of Battlestar Galactica and Stargate. Science fiction is on the uptick, while the preerence towards small town fantasy is fading. Last year we saw Ascension as the first big science fiction show. It was rather interesting and held an intriguing premise. However by the end of the mini-series what drew many people in was revealed to be false and it was a massive psychological experiment that would probably be considered inhumane by many people. Even still it didn’t leave the splash that SyFy was hoping and the mini series was passed on in terms of going to series. In the long run, that is probably a good thing.
This summer held the beginnings to two shows, Killjoys and Dark Matter. Each on sporting a rather intense science fiction themes on two different spectrums. I’ve only watched Killjoys, but it’s really fun to watch a show about futuristic bounty hunters. It’s clearly science fiction, but still rather accessible to a general audience, which is what SyFy wants in part. Dark Matter, which I have not seen, appears to center on people who awake with no knowledge of who they are on a spaceship and must survive. It’s an interesting premise, clearly in the science fiction scope, and presumably has enough mystery to keep people coming back week after week. Even more exciting is the upcoming show The Expanse based on the series by James S.A. Corey and is set to premiere December of this year. It promises an epic scope set 200 years in the future and will sport both science fiction and mystery as it evolves.
If The Expanse is any indication, I’m intrigued by the new direction that SyFy is going with their programming. It’s also nice to see that when I go to watch something of SyFy I will actually get something that is science fiction. Now you may be wondering where the hate on SyFy in the title comes from. Well, it is largely because while I enjoy many of the shows it’s kind of frustrating that SyFy opts to fund a lot of shows and thus decrease budgets making for cheesy effects rather than invest and develop fewer shows that would be of greater quality. Based on the premises that have arisen from SyFy they have the potential to be great, but are held back. That is one of the curses of being a SyFy show, of late they just have not been the quality of Battlestar Galactica mainly because things are being spread too thin.
What are your thoughts on Syfy?