Just look at the current schedules of both The Science Channel and Syfy. True most of the programs on The Science Channel are science based like How They Do That but any casual viewer will notice shows geared to sci-fi fans. The most recent example is a two-hour show called Trek Nation where Gene Roddenberry’s son examines the cultural impact that Star Trek has made. Other shows of note include Michio Kaku’s fascinating Sci-Fi Science, Mars Rising that explores how to get to the red planet and Prophets Of Science Fiction. Add to that the channel is also airing reruns of Firefly and ReGenesis.
Clearly there is an effort by the channel’s programmers to attract more serious sci-fi fans.
Now look at what plays on Syfy, a channel supposedly devoted to science fiction. What is found are wrestling shows and reality shows about a bunch of guys running around in the dark looking for ghosts. This is an exaggeration of course. Every Saturday night Syfy runs sic-Fi movies. Unfortunately they’re these zero budget craptaculars about giant mutant animals and disasters and feature actors whose fame are rapidly fading.
It seems that once the channel canceled more serious minded shows like Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, and Stargate: Universe it gave up. Most of their current actual genre shows are formulaic, lightweight affairs that aren’t engaging. Does anyone honestly think that Warehouse 13 will be highly regarded years from now?
There was a time that the average fan could look forward to running home and finding an oasis in the television wasteland.The channel actually catered to genre fans with fondly remembered programs like Farscape, MST3K and they commissioned new episodes of canceled shows like Sliders. Syfy or rather Sci-Fi, as it was called in it’s heyday, even had documentaries, reruns of classic shows, and making-of specials.
Well all of that is gone now. Sure they have those terrific Twilight Zone marathons and an occasional movie but it’s clear the channel is a shadow of it’s old self. It is evident that the channel will transition away from it’s original programming just like MTV. Syfy should just hurry up and do this. The way things are any real fan can find quality programming all over cable. BBC America has a Saturday night block devoted to genre programs like Doctor Who and there is The Science Channel.
With shows like Firefly on it’s schedule it won’t be long before more sci-fi shows will find a home in the channel. Don’t be surprised if Fringe or one of the Star Treks winds up on The Science Channel. And seriously they will nicely complement the thought-provoking shows like Prophets Of Science Fiction that examines the lives, inspirations and impact of giants like H.G. Wells, Philip K. Dick, and Mary Shelly. It’s very easy to imagine Michio Kaku hosting one of these sci-fi shows as he does with Firefly. This viewer cannot wait for that moment.
Lewis T. Grove