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Stargate News
Syfy Plans Return To Traditional Science Fiction Drama

Thursday - March 13, 2014
Category: GENERAL | Tags: , , ,

This has to be good news to any fan of Stargate or quality science fiction: Syfy Channel, the cable network that took a lot of heat for changing its name and effectively walking away from the genre a few years ago, wants to get back in the game.

The network wants to do fewer procedurals and B-movies and more traditional, scripted science fiction drama — be it regular series or high-profile mini-series events.

This is according to a new story at The Hollywood Reporter.

“We want to be the best science-fiction channel that we possibly can, and in some respects, that means going back to the more traditional sci-fi/fantasy that fans often say they feel we’ve exited,” Syfy president Dave Howe told the site. “We’re going to occupy that space in a way we haven’t for the past few years.”

Execs said that shows like Defiance (which returns in June) and Helix provide a model for what the network wants to do more of going forward — and less of the light-hearted, procedural fare that the network has come to be known for over the last half-decade, such as Warehouse 13 (which ends this year) and Haven.

The network also has a priority to get back into outer space, Syfy’s new executive vice president of original content Bill McGoldrick said.

Warehouse 13 ends this year, and Syfy likely won't try to replace it with the same light-hearted fare.

Warehouse 13 ends this year, and Syfy likely won’t try to replace it with the same light-hearted fare.

“That’s the way to send a message in a big way that we’re back and we care about sci-fi,” he said. “There is enormous pressure to get that back, because we used to own it. And we’re going to own it again.”

Syfy’s first move is Ascension, a mini-series (with the potential to become a regular show) described as part Battlestar Galactica and part Downton Abbey, which will follow a shuttle of colonists fleeing an Earth threatened by the early Cold War.

The network is said to be closing the deal for Ascension now, with an eye toward the fourth quarter.

It is less clear how much unscripted “reality” fare Syfy will continue to develop. Show such as Ghost Hunters, Face-Off, and less successful offerings have been the channel’s bread and butter for some time now.

While B-movies are not currently a priority, that doesn’t mean they will fall off the air entirely. The modest-budget productions still typically draw around 2 million viewers. Last year’s Sharknado was a mega-hit in social media and multiple repeats, and will be followed with a sequel this summer. Howe said he will cut back on the 20 to 24 original movies that Syfy does each year, but will probably make Sharknado an annual event.

What Syfy is eventually looking for is the next breakout cable hit, like HBO’s Game of Thrones and AMC’s The Walking Dead. The network is painfully aware that these riskier shows that turned into monster hits (in ratings and social buzz, and in critical acclaim and awards) are both located squarely in its genre.

Syfy hasn't had a breakout hit since Battlestar Galactica went off the air.

Syfy hasn’t had a breakout hit since Battlestar Galactica went off the air.

Syfy hasn’t had a breakout hit since Battlestar Galactica left the air in 2009. Its shows typically draw between 1 and 2 million live viewers. Compare that with The Walking Dead, which recently scored more than 15 million with its mid-season premiere.

There is also a future for international co-productions and acquisitions. Syfy has found success in the traditional sci-fi genre with Canadian imports like Continuum and Lost Girl. Since such shows are partially or fully financed by their home networks abroad, Syfy can pick up exclusive first-run rights in the U.S. for a modest price.

Other scripted dramas at some stage of development at Syfy include Dominion (to premiere this year), High Moon, 12 Monkeys (both at the pilot stage), Hunters, Orion, and several others. Watch GateWorld’s sister site, SciFi Stream, for the latest developments.

This story also appeared at SciFi Stream.

What do you think of Syfy’s plans for a change in direction?

Darren created GateWorld in 1999, and today is the owner and managing editor. He lives in the Seattle area with his wife and three children. (More)

COMMENTS (38):Rules | Report Comment | Trackback

  • This is great news… I’ve been enjoying Defiance and Helix.

    I wonder if this means Haven season 5 will be its last, which is likely given that Eureka and Warehouse 13 both ended or will end after 5 seasons.

    I am really interested in seeing High Moon.

  • I know wrestling is a fantasy show, but I hope it is going away as well…

  • Syfy never gives a show more than five seasons, so yeah, Season 5 of “Haven” will be its last.

  • There’s three possible space-based sci-fi universes they could work with: Stargate, Star Trek, and Star Wars. Given that Star Trek has seen resurgent popularity recently I’d say expect Star Trek to come back to television before Stargate. Can’t say about Star Wars though, seeing how it’s owned by Disney now, they would probably want to do another CGI-style series like Clone Wars, and Syfy, owned by NBC Universal, probably won’t give air time to a show owned by ABC’s parent company.

  • I have been loving Helix. Good to see this call. I will miss Haven when it’s done.

  • Sounds like more “dark, gritty drama” they keep trying this and keep failing. Go back to what worked, SG1, SGA, Farscape etc as a core and do an occasional BSG wannabe to spice it up. I have absolutely NO faith that Syfy will do the right thing. Just another twist in the wind for this network.

  • News Flash Syfy decides to do what everyone else is doing, commission more drama. The question is with anyone and their dog after quality drama, an virtually everyone hinting at looking at science fiction and even space opera projects, will Syfy be able to capture the cream of the crop or be left with stuff no one else wanted. Helix suggests the latter is happening.

  • Sylvia, it the grittier stuff that pulling in the numbers on HBO and AMC, an big international numbers which equal big sales, the less grittier stuff, like Fallen Skies have done less well and have a much smaller audience.
    Orphan Black, Ultopia and Fades have all been far grittier than anything on Syfy and bought in a audience and media mind share that Syfy is desperate to for. Syfy still got it light hearted shows in Warehous 13. Through I never found Haven to be light hearted.

  • I’m not buying it.
    SGU was an epic failure. It represented their Farsighted blindness.
    Heroes is making a comeback
    Resurrection, all these shows are right down your genre. God knows you had to have been pictched like every other major network and you snubbed your nose at the expense. And if you didn’t get pitched it’s because everyone knows your reputation, syfy

    I got cable just because I hope SGU was going to be good because I LOVED SCI FI Fridays and hoped it was coming back. I canceled cable. I watch Youtube and Netflix because it’s better writing and programing than you’re shelling out.

    Let’s face it. Cable is dying. It cot too much, for commericals and they don’t keep the show you like. Just wait for the show to end and watch it free on the internet somewhere.

  • Excellent news. I am excited at the apparent change in direction this network is taking. They need to take some chances on new, edgy concepts.

  • The 5 season limit for their series is annoying, but I always welcome more new Sci-fi shows, even if its from Syfy.

  • As many of us have said stargate was a huge hit for a lot of people and a very huge fan following maybe you should consider doing a new stargate or if you wanna really make money try investing onto the new Star Trek series renagades it looks awesome and something that will definitely make the channel money and a huge following like they say now that’s good for business

  • This is great news, Darren.

    I’ve missed this site so much… but, I haven’t been back to GW lately as often as I used to, back in the heady days of year-after-year SG airings, and great posters arguing about this detail or that..

    But sadly- as per each of NBC/Universal’s networks/channels throughout the entire dial- Syfy Channel’s execs seemed to be annoyingly thick-headed as to what we sci-fi fans really wanted– even when we were literally screaming at them those same details of what we wanted.

    I’ve been going to AMC and HBO (and even to the primary NBC network!) lately to get my little sci-fi fix from shows like ‘Walking Dead’, ‘Thrones’, and ‘Grimm’ respectively. And since ‘Defiance’ doesn’t return until June, I’ll probably be away from Syfy even still.

    ‘Helix’ is (speaking for myself here) good enough to keep me occasionally coming back to SyFy, but the network really broke my sci-fi heart these past few years by giving me huge doses of over-excited ghost hunters, screaming hulks in colorful tights, and flying predatory fish that occasionally do battle with angry octopi.

    As a result of all that, I let my sour feelings- unintentionally- spill over to the sheer enjoyment of GateWorld, and all the colorful posters I’ve personally enjoyed chatting with for many, many years…

    I, like Sylvia, wish that some form of SG is re-started, in view of SyFy’s return to the traditional fare it once was THE KING of; but, I’d just be content with copious amounts of good *sci-fi* shows.

  • so, committing to a few quality shows for the long term… works out better than a mis-mosh of C-level movies, plus 1 or 2 good shows a year and then pushing your primary audience away for a wrestling audience that wont stay anyway? shocking…

  • another huge problem with syfy/scifi, is that the network is still pronounced “sci-fi”. no matter how good of a show they get on it, they will never achieve the mainstream-ness and ratings success of the walking dead or game of thrones. A lot of people simply will not give something branded as “scifi”, a chance no matter how good. The average anti-scifi fans, need to be tricked into enjoying a scifi show (do you realize how many people somehow dont consider shows like Lost, the walking dead and movies like the avengers and iron man, to actually be scifi? they dont see the scifi label and then dont have to think about some “nerd stigma” being attached to them and happily go and enjoy themselves. its weird but true.) IMO, if those same shows were on a channel called “scifi”, theyre come nowhere close to the success those shows saw. Change the network name to “universal” or “universe” or something that can be “scifi” without being “scifi” and then youll have a shot at having a show become a mainstream hit. (until they kill it off for no good reason after 5 years anyway)…

  • SyFy is run by out of touch *****s. I predict more failure.

  • Man it has been a long time since I even bothered to turn on scifi channel or even thought about it or stargate.

    Continuum and defiance is the last thing I remember watching. Then my TV broke I saved for an expensive new one for blurays (because anything else would have been a downgrade)

    and I stopped watching all togeather and came back to find NOTHING on scifi channel I cred about I checked the guide weeks ahead notta.

    I am not seeing the glory days of scifi shows from the 80’s/90s anymore and I miss them.

    And you would think they would be doing that since the biggist video games that sell boat loads are all SCIfi themed games. HALO, dead space, mass effect ETC ETC list goes on and on. there is obviously people that would watch but nobody is making the content.

    Continuum and defiance are good but am I getting the same oh my god this is so amazing i got from stargate battlestar and star trek firefly ETC ETC from the glory days of sci fi channel or TV scifi shows on any channel or what ever?

    No but I want it to be.

  • OH and it would be nice if they did reruns of star trek deep space 9 or voyager since they only rerun next generation on every single channel that does reruns and I want something new. I have seen every episode of next generation a million times. I have not seen the other series episodes a million times.

    But no sci-fi rather show reruns of ghost hunters or something like that. I am also sick of reality TV 13-10 years of this reality TV trend is too much. I want real TV shows again.

    We will see if syfy does what they say and make something new that is good as the old stuff they used to have like stargate sg1/atlantis/ or just bring back an older show that is good with new episodes. we will see…. based on what I have seen I do not want to watch most of scifi channel.

  • Of course this is good news if it proves to be true. I know the ratings of SGU we’re disappointing, but Syfy realty is missing the boat if it doesn’t bring back Stargate in some form. I’d prefer it not be a reboot, but it’s too good a concept to let go. There may have been stargate fatigue – like Star Trek had after Voyager and Enterprise – but a few years have gone by. It’s time for MGM / Syfy to get a great writing team together and relaunch it. By and by , perhaps we could learn what happened to Destiny.

    Helix has been interesting but a bit cryptic at times. Defiance is well acted with a very good cast and interesting characters. But neither has the potential to be a blockbuster or grab the viewer like Orphan Black.

    Ok, Syfy, one more shot – give all your former fans a great space odyssey or a quirky show as fascinating as Orphan Black.

  • Maybe now is the time to bombard SyFy with requests for that SGU movie. I’m not sure the actors would even be up for it now though. :-(

  • Come on! Is it not enough time has passed? Get the SGU back!!! But this time do it right! More action! More space! More graphics!

  • What is >conspicuously< left OUT of H.I.'s report? STARGATE !! … Darren, you guys can do some real good for the FUTURE of Stargate! Why have you NOT?
    IF HALF of the SG pages were as committed to to the return of SG as the folks at Save Future Stargate Travel are, we'd HAVE NEW SG by now! Let's all do what we can to WAKE UP "The Powers That Be", and bring it back! Sorry for yelling, but this stuff grinds my gears :( J.S.

  • Darren

    themaingmaster: Why hasn’t GW thrown its support being a “Save Stargate” campaign? The short answer is, “It’s complicated.”

    The longer answer is that for every well-organized and successful fan campaign, there are 10,000 ill-conceived and mismanaged campaigns that set utterly unattainable goals. I’m all for supporting a campaign that I think can achieve its objectives. But, say … a Kickstarter to raise $50 million to fund a third season of SGU? Ridiculous.

    The best — the very best thing that fans can do right now is simply to make noise and tell MGM that they want more Stargate (and, even better, Stargate on television). If someone wants to organize a simple letter-writing campaign (not tied to any past show or cast), we’ll support it.

  • Tell MGM and scifi channel where? They have contact places twitter/emails/ but do they listen to any of them?

  • Please bring back Stargate, and I will return my loyalty to Syfy.

  • i don’t really care about new series just bring back Stargate especially SG-1

  • I got rid of my cable when stargate SGU was cancelled and now i just wish hulu or netflix would have the balls to buy it out and bring it back, cause they have the money but no the motivation.

  • All I can say it is about freaking time but like someone else said I’ll believe it when I see it. Also just like about 90% of the comments posted bring back Stargate (the TV series)> I just read about Emmerch and Devlin getting back to Stargate and doing a film trilogy. I just hope it doesn’t interfere with any of the TV series.

  • Would love to see them go back. This would be a great opportunity to pick up Revolution. It has all the makings of a Walking Dead hit. Needs the right management and publicity. No long breaks between programs and a decent time slot. There is to much action to be in the 8 pm slot. You have a goldmine here. Your purchase does include a vast dedicated fan base that spans the world you would be able to do a rations which regular tv can’t. Also love Stargate when it went off the air I quite watching the Sci Fi channel.

  • Summed it up best for me… “Syfy Channel’s execs seemed to be annoyingly thick-headed as to what we sci-fi fans really wanted– even when we were literally screaming at them”. And for the record, SGU wasn’t a failure and was actually seeing viewership increase in the second season according to data available and discussed by exec producers. I’ve watched (no pun intended)Syfy cancel one good show after another for years and seriously have no faith in them in anymore. Sharnado? really people? This is what good Scifi has come down to? And all these reality series are mindless filler and a cash crop (cheap to make) without substance or commitment to quality TV by Syfy. But hey you can’t blame them entirely when viewers make this crap a hit and generate loads of revenue for Syfy. You want “reality” turn off the TV and go do something interesting in your own life. I think the days of reality TV are numbered anyhow and networks need to reinvest in quality dramas serials. Will surprise the heck out of me if the buffoons at Syfy pull out of this nose dive.

  • I remember vividly the first time I saw an ECW promotion, when the nature of the show was veiled in hype and mystery. I remember thinking maybe it was a robot vs. robot reality show competition. I remember the incredible amount of airtime the ads got.

    And i remember my utter disbelief, shock and horror when it turned out to be professional wrestling.

    I’m guessing that’s the exact moment SciFi jumped the shark.

    SciFi Fridays were the most amazing thing around in entertainment for a few years, and for that i’ll always have a loyal nostalgia for SyFy… but oh, how the mighty have fallen!

  • I’v have to say liked the most of your sci-fi series but nothing as great as stargate remember when you came with the SG1 awesome then Atlantis all so awesome then SG-U first season was a bit slow but damn after season 2 i was about to die when i found out the 3rd season was canceled and you stopped completely doing stargate :( i so much hope you will come back with its just the best sci fi series ever thank u …

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