Tonight is the last episode of Battlestar Galactica. That’s not the stupid thing. I understand why the creative forces behind the show are ending it tonight with a 2 hour finale – they want to end things on their terms. They have created this fantastic show full of compelling characters and stories and they don’t want to ever ‘jump the shark’ or outstay their welcome. They want to go out on top and not linger if lingering means less quality.
Could they do ten seasons and still make such quality television? Maybe. But we’ll never know, will we?
No, the stupid thing that the SciFi Channel is doing is changing their name and branding to SyFy.
…yeah, I know. Me too. It’s okay – we’ll survive it together, all right?
This is not the first stupid thing this network has done (Flash Gordon, cancelling Farscape, putting wrestling on the schedule), and, sadly, it won’t be the last (I’m sure someone wants to remake Buck Rogers as a ‘campy’ homage to the Gil Gerrard show from the 80’s). In a statement about the change, Sci Fi officials say the new name “broadens perceptions and embraces a wider and more diverse range of imagination-based entertainment programming including fantasy, paranormal, reality, mystery, action and adventure, as well as science fiction. …It also positions the brand for future growth by creating an ownable trademark that can travel easily with consumers across new media and non-linear digital platforms, new international channels and extend into new business ventures.”
American television has no real love of SciFi – you can see it if you simply look at the network schedules where any sort of genre show is relegated to ‘death’ slots or roaming slots or is endlessly retooled and reworked and noted (network execs send notes to the shows suggesting changes – ‘Firefly’ as an example) to death. That’s not to say that the viewers have no love of SciFi – quite the contrary! It’s the people in charge of programming who don’t love it – they see it as Doctor Smith running from someone in a ‘monster of the week’ costume – silly, campy – space shit with lasers – pew pew.
Battlestar has proven that a SciFi show can be so much more. Character driven, you almost forgot the special effects were there (because they were done so well) and concentrated on the themes; war, terrorism, religion, race, family, politics, existentialism – this show was a roller coaster ride where you never knew what you were going to see from one show to the next, one season to the next. And people watched proving that this kind of show, even when it was dark and moody and in your face, connected with viewers. Give us these kinds of shows and we will watch them Mr. and Mrs. Network Executive.
Back to the SciFi Channel – when it launched, I was very excited. I actually did the ‘call your local cable provider’ thing and begged for them to add it to the lineup. I had no idea what was going to be on the channel at the time, I only knew that I wanted it to thrive and survive and I wanted to be able to watch it.
Through the years, we’ve had good (Farscape, Stargate, BSG) and bad (Lexx, Flash Gordon, Fear Factor) and all sorts of in-between but I’ve still supported the channel. One thing that has always bothered me is the lack of original programming (usually relegated to Friday nights for three hours). You’re the SciFi Channel, for godssake! You have the chance to define SciFi in this country and you don’t do it, instead, you give us Wrestling and C-movies (they apparently can’t afford B-movies?) and repeats of network shows that have been axed (Moonlight anyone?).
And now you’re changing your name? Why – want to get away from SciFi and give us more Wrestling crap because we’re asking for such things? Or are we out here, screaming for quality SciFi and being ignored? You’re changing who you are because you want to appeal to a broader audience, which means in reality you’re going to dilute, even further, the very thing that could’ve made you special and unique in an otherwise boringly normal television landscape.
So I end as I began – SciFi is doing something stupid (again).