Stargate Universe is cancelled. Caprica is cancelled. Lost Girl and Merlin are acquisitions from other countries, and Sanctuary can’t run forever (it’s currently in its fourth season). So just what is the future of scripted drama on Syfy Channel?
The network announced its development slate of three new original dramas this week, including — wait for it — a much-needed return to outer space.
Robert Hewitt Wolfe, who worked on Star Trek: DS9 before shepharding Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda, is developing a currently untitled series from Universal Cable Productions, set on the Starship Defender. “After decades of war, the newly formed Unity Democracy orders a volatile mix of humans and trans-humans to lead the Starship Defender on an expedition in search of lost worlds requiring law and order,” says Syfy.
The setting sounds a bit close to Andromeda — or maybe Firefly told from the point of view of the evil Alliance (“worlds requiring law and order” sounds like it could have a bit of colonialism / Manifest Destiny in it) — but I’m excited to see how Wolfe develops the series and gives it a unique stamp.
The network’s real bread and butter right now, however, are earth-bound shows set in the present day that follow the adventures of seemingly “ordinary” people — supposedly more relatable to a wider audience. (Just look at Warehouse 13‘s ratings.)
In Seeing Things (working title, from Fox Television Studios), “a cop becomes a ghost after his violent death and the only person who can help close his last case is a socially awkward man who realizes that the hallucinations he’s had all his life may not be a figment of his imagination.” The series comes from writer and executive producer David Slack (Person of Interest, Lie to Me).
And in Ghost Projekt, based on a comic series, “a female KGB agent and male American weapons inspector form an unlikely partnership when a deadly force is unwittingly unleashed from a Siberian research facility.” Brett Matthews (Supernatural, and before that Joss Whedon’s assistant on Buffy, Angel and Firefly, according to IMDb) is writing and producing the show for CBS TV Studios.
There is no new Stargate series in the works yet, likely due more to franchise owner MGM’s own business strategy than to Syfy.
Syfy’s summer originals Warehouse 13, Alphas, and Haven have been doing well, and will each return in 2012. Eureka also has one more year left in it (story). In the wintertime, Syfy has a remake of the U.K. monster show Being Human (premieres Monday, January 16, followed by Lost Girl). But what about the important fall and spring seasons, when basic cable has to go toe-to-toe with the best of the big networks?
The network knows that it’s taking a much bigger risk by programming its dramas in the fall season, especially on nights other than Friday. That contributed to the demise of two-thirds of the scripted, dramatic hour category on Syfy this time last year.
A third Battlestar Galactica series, Blood and Chrome, is at the pilot stage but hasn’t been picked up to series yet.
While Syfy seems committed to keeping its original offerings relatively diverse, there’s no guarantee that the series currently on the development slate will make it to the pilot stage or to air. Read the original release at Syfy’s news site, Blastr.