I got up this morning, and after dealing with a number of comments on my last post, I saw something pretty interesting. It seems SyFy has decided to reboot the network and focus on science fiction again like it did in the old days.
The rebranding will take effect on June 19th, and will include a new look and feel for the channel and its online presence. The network’s stated goal is to become the home for fans of all stripes, not only by producing new shows, but also as an online destination for commentary and news.
The reboot has been a long time coming. In 2009, the SCI FI Channel rebranded as “Syfy,” a change that was poorly received. Fans rolled their eyes and mocked the spelling, while Time magazine named it one of the 10 worst brand name changes. But the network’s larger changes weren’t as catastrophic: it produced new shows that boosted ratings and revenue.
Still, Syfy seemed to have missed the boat on the explosion of high-quality genre shows that began to sweep television. While it was airing shows like Warehouse 13, AMC and HBO were putting together ambitious projects like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. Syfy has begun to catch up with that wave, airing critically acclaimed series like The Expanse and The Magicians, and more traditional genre fare like Killjoys and Dark Matter. Chris McCumber, president of entertainment networks for NBCUniversal, explains that the earlier rebranding was an effort to capture a broad audience. He says the corporation now understands the need to do the opposite, by doubling down on Syfy’s roots. The end goal, he says, is to create a home “for fans to come in and celebrate the genre that they love.”
In all fairness, it’s unlikely that SyFy could have done either The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones for budget reasons. OK, maybe TWD is one they could have done, but not GoT.
Frankly, I liked Warehouse 13 a lot, as well as Eureka which was in that same vein. However, that brand of campy science fiction can only serve you so far.
I’m glad they’re going to focus on shows like The Expanse, which is excellent. I’m not that big on The Magicians, but that’s probably mostly just a “me” thing.
It’s my hope that with the new focus–and the branding is staying, for better or worse, I suspect–on science fiction, I’m hopeful that there will be some excellent new television for us to watch.
I just hope they keep doing Dark Matter and Killjoys because I enjoy both of those series immensely.
But I’m a sucker for space opera.
They do have some new programming in the work, much of it as adaptations of things people already know.
Along with the new look, the channel announced today that it’s picking up two series: Krypton, a Superman prequel, and HAPPY!, a show about an ex-cop turned hit man whose life is changed by a perky, blue-winged talking horse. The network is also working on more traditional adaptations of classic SF novels such as Brave New World, Hyperion, and Stranger in a Strange Land, as well as the horror series The Purge, and a show based on George R.R. Martin’s 1980 novella Nightflyers. That story, previously adapted for film in 1987, follows a group of scientists who set out into space to locate an alien creature, until the ship’s computer complicates matters.
I’m intrigued about Brave New World and Stranger in a Strange Land personally. Brave New World has been adapted before, and it was fairly good, but it was long enough in the past that I don’t think anyone would miss it.
That is, of course, assuming they’re talking about either a movie or a miniseries. As a multi-season show, either would likely be a wreck.
Still, it’s good that at least one network will be focusing on the genre I love so much. With luck, there will be plenty to enjoy for everyone.