Over the past few years, Syfy has found mainstream success with broad hits like Warehouse 13, Eureka and the recent social media juggernaut Sharknado. But Syfy’s president is apparently looking to the network’s sci-fi-heavy past as inspiration for a new direction — and that could be good news for genre fans who took issue with the channel's change of direction half a decade ago.
Syfy president Dave Howe chatted with The Hollywood Reporter about the network’s beefed-up slate of space-set sci-fi series and harder sci-fi projects, and said they’re trying to reclaim some ground that has been claimed by breakout hits like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. Basically: If you like new shows like Defiance and Ron Moore’s Helix, that’s only the beginning:
"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. We’re going to occupy that space in a way we haven't for the past few years.
That's the way to send a message in a big way that we're back and we care about sci-fi. There is enormous pressure to get that back, because we used to own it. And we're going to own it again.”
The network is also looking for a new space opera or two in the vein of critical darling Battlestar Galactica and the recently canceled Stargate Universe, plus some high-profile miniseries that could have potential to grow into regular series. If they're looking for inspiration, please look back to Farscape. The world needs more weird, awesome space operas.
The network will also be eyeing more international co-productions, a la the stellar Continuum, Lost Girl and new addition Bitten. This approach seems like a nice move, picking up exclusive U.S. rights to international sci-fi fare. They've found a few hits already, and considering how so many shows can work in different markets now, it can hopefully give good shows a shot at a bigger audience.
It also sounds like the long-running tradition of producing sci-fi B-movies will be scaled down soon, though there will still be a place on the schedule for some campy mashups and future Sharknado sequels. Off-network re-runs are also being largely phased out, after what Howe calls “a disaster” of trying to program Lost reruns a few years ago. In a world of streaming and DVR, reruns just don't carry much weight.
Can the network reestablish itself as a home for great sci-fi, or has that starship sailed? What shows would you like to see?
I love all my SyFy shows but Bitten sucks. What would you like to see on SyFy ONTD? Personally I think they should go back to respelling the channel SciFi imo if this is the direction they plan on taking