MGM and Syfy Feel the Pain as Fans Call to Save Stargate Universe

MGM has released their [amazon_link id=”B004TJ1H3C” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]full second season of Stargate Universe[/amazon_link], and like many fans I have a hard time bringing myself to call it the “final” season. And like many of the fans who posted to the wall of MGM’s innocent question, I had nothing good to say. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the show. Yet, somehow, I knew it was too good to last.

MGM hit by SaveSGU

Click the wall above to go look at the comments. They are pretty telling...these fans want their show back.

I had the same issue with Caprica. It was so full of nuance and power, it had so many layers of character development and plot…and the whole time Caprica was running, my wife and I were wondering how long it would last. And, in my not-so-humble opinion, I think there is something really wrong with a world where the surest sign a show will soon be cancelled is its own excellence.

I know it’s trendy to make fun of everything, to play the cynic about everything and be ironic in even our most cherished experiences. And I am no different, in many ways, than most of my generation. I am cynical, sometimes to a fault. I don’t believe that, in the end, the good, the right, and the true will win. I think there are very few “good guys”. There are definitely “bad guys”, and there seem to be some “better guys”, but the truly good are few and far-between. I didn’t believe Obama would bring us change I could believe in…and he hasn’t. I didn’t believe that Prop. 19 would pass, and I didn’t believe Steve Jobs when he said he was going to start opening up the Apple platform. I don’t believe in karma, the idea that people get what they put out into the world. If that were true, schmucks wouldn’t run Washington and some of the sweetest, most wonderful people I know would catch a break once and a while. I don’t believe in happy endings and triumphant victories. The real world, with all its vicissitudes, just doesn’t work that way, and life is so complex and muddy that even wanting those things could be considered dangerously naive.

But not in science fiction and fantasy. When I watch a truly good show or movie, or let myself sink into a good game or book, I believe. I believe in Superman, and that he will always find a way to save everyone. I believe in Dr. Who, and that sometimes, just sometimes, everybody lives.

And I believe in Stargate and the crew of the Destiny, a ship flung out across space and time to find the very secrets of existence itself.

This is the power of science fiction and fantasy. It can make the most cynical of us weep with hope and joy. That is what is threatened by Syfy’s shift in programming and its ongoing cancellations to make room for things like wrestling and reality television.

Click the wrestlers to join the Save Stargate Universe Group on Facebook!

Click the wrestlers to join the Save Stargate Universe Group on Facebook!

Syfy, back when it was SciFi, seemed to understand this capacity that their programming could have. They stood behind shows and took on flagging shows from other networks. They cultivated their connections within the world of science fiction conventions and had no problem associating themselves with geeks. Things have changed over the years, until we now get quotes like this:

“What we love about this is we hopefully get the best of both worlds,” Mr. Howe said. “We’ll get the heritage and the track record of success, and we’ll build off of that to build a broader, more open and accessible and relatable and human-friendly brand.” -Dave Howe, president of the Sci Fi Channel

“The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that, as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular,” – TV historian Tim Brooks, who helped launch Sci Fi Channel when he worked at USA Network.

and there is even an indication that this was the plan the entire time:

“We spent a lot of time in the ’90s trying to distance the network from science fiction, which is largely why it’s called Sci Fi. It’s somewhat cooler and better than the name ‘Science Fiction.’ But even the name Sci Fi is limiting.” -Tim Brooks again

So, with this we see the roots of the @Syfail phenomenon. The network intended to build itself on the fans of science fiction and fantasy, and then “distance the network” once it had the backing and stability to do so.

Click above to join the Syfail group on Facebook!

Click above to join the Syfail group on Facebook!

If this was the plan all along, then this goes far beyond any one show or franchise. This is about the genre as a whole. Because where do the rights for all the old science fiction and fantasy shows end up? Syfy. Who “rescues” shows that are flagging on other networks? Syfy. Who is determined to “own the imagination space”? Syfy.

“We really do want to own the imagination space,” Mr. Howe said. “We want to get the credit for the range of content that we already have on our air and that we’ll be doing more of in the future.”

Now, look at their current lineup. Look at the choices they have been making, the shows they have been backing, and ask yourself this very, very important question: Do you want them to? Do you want them to own your favorite shows, just to “get credit” for them, and then replace them with wrestling? Sanctuary is next. It has moved to Monday…the night shows go to die. What’s next?

And as a final thought, I want to preemptively answer all the people who are going to say they don’t care about Stargate Universe or who want to argue its relative worth in comparison to SG-1 or SG-A…this isn’t just about Stargate. This is about the whole damn “imagination space”, and if we, the fans, don’t defend it, who will?

Thanks to this post for all the quotes.

19 thoughts on “MGM and Syfy Feel the Pain as Fans Call to Save Stargate Universe

  1. G

    Kudos.

    I have been wondering about SyFy for quite some time, and it’s good to find kindred spirits on the internet.

    But alas; I don’t think SyFy is listening; it’s all falling on deaf ears!

    Oh well.

  2. Kevin

    Sad but true.
    Been Posting about Save SciFi (not SyFy) for a long time….
    Now there are no more Science Fiction shows…..
    …. I have nothing to do on Fridays.
    Much less the rest of the week.
    Makes one want to run up to those Execs and shout it out point blank.

    1. Neal Jansons Post author

      No. I know it’s tempting to engage in such confrontations, but it just hurts the cause in the long run. It’s important to remember that we have logic and facts on our side. My “bad metrics” argument, Caprica Times’ “switched days, summer launch” argument, Dean’s rather simple but telling “look at the shows and follow the money” argument, which ends with things like wrestling and reality TV…all of these are valid points and good arguments. We have to be willing to let them stand on their own.

      To a certain degree, this is one of the appeals of social media and e-government…we can be very civilized, thus avoiding all those silly animal dominance displays. I’m on the first page of the SERP for “Stargate Universe” and closing fast…give it a few more weeks and anyone who sees Syfy’s page for SGU will also see my pages. That’s when their reputation starts to really suffer. They are already on the defensive. Keep up the Plan, keep up the push. That’s how you can fight the good fight. The crew posts something, submit, stumble, RT, like, and push the hell out of that post. Get us to where we permeate their search results, their pingbacks, their comments. Do this from behind a screen…even verbal assault can be surprisingly jail-causing when the victim is a network executive.

      As always, I appreciate your help and thanks for reading.

  3. David Jonas

    Its really messed up that this show will be canned.
    This really shows just the level of great performance by the cast and crew had on viewers and the impact of the entire SG franchise.

    I still have my doubts about how things are being handled and promoted, the best thing people can do is buy the DVD’s (mostly used ones) and donate them to their local library anonymously.

    Good luck to the cast and crew!

  4. essy

    i have found it is show that make people think that get cancelled, the establishment doesnt want thinkers in our midst, so they curtail the things that force “out of the box” thinking.

    1. Maria

      One thing I love about the internet is that so much is prveeresd over time. Much like all the complaining remarks about Star Trek Enterprise and BSG when they tried to change their formulas. The writers on one hand, were going for critical acclaim (which has little to nothing to do with the fans and what viewers need), and the studios on the other hand was trying to make sure the shows got proper exposure and marketing. But in the end, it was all about the fans and viewers, just like it is now. Stargate Universe will be cancelled after its second season and possibly before.FACTS:1) This show premiered at 2.3m Live+7, and by episode 10 it had steadily dropped down to only 1.3m for the mid season cliffhanger. Along with that is all the negative criticism and absence of any forthcoming critical acclaim .2) Season 1 has already been filmed, edited and is in the can waiting for April. This fact has two subtexts: a) This is to promote selling of the DVD which is flat, and is also getting negative reviews at most online retailers. b) Savvy BSG and Stargate fans realize that TPTB are copying BSG’s marketing strategy as well as DVD split season tricks, but its not working for SGU.3) The original flippant dismissal of the Stargate fanbase by producers because of their foolhardy changes to the successful formula has been replaced with reserved reconciliation and promises of changes in the back half of season 1 and all of season 2 (this is the rub). This show is on a much faster track for cancellation than ST: Enterprise or Defying Gravity or BSG was, because there is absolutely NO real support from the Stargate fanbase for this show. The curious drama lovers trickling in from BSG dont like SGU because the soap drama elements are nowhere near the level of BSG. The tiny group of SGU-lovers is nowhere large enough to support long-term airing of this show and both the Producers and the Studios know it. Viewership is so low that many cable stations have dropped it from their lineup. So all the preposterous commentary about SGU being so mature and gritty will be fodder for jokes and I told you so blog entries to be posted after the show is cancelled. No amount of praise from the emo fanboi set is going to magically create acceptable ratings. Observably, it appears that for every 1 SGU lover, there are about 1000 Stargate fans who hate SGU. And the grave will be dug with the back half of season 1. By the time season 2 comes around, the ratings will have tanked to unacceptable levels and preparations for the show’s cancellation will be made. By the second half of season 2, the show will be choking and/or cancelled.But these are mere words .watch the show play out and then come back to this thread. LOL

  5. Donna

    The Obama quote was weird, but all in all good editorial. Thank you for keeping up the fight and creating/producing/maintaining this campaign against Syfy. Sometimes I wish companies like this would relent with profits and just let little things (good things!) take a hit for the team as a show of customer appreciation, good faith (or something like it).

    Anyways, thanks again and great, valid article.

    1. Neal Jansons Post author

      Thanks, Donna!

      As for the Obama statement, it was more of a way of saying I don’t believe in those sorts of things; as an amateur historian, when a politician comes along selling “hope” and “change” it just makes me reach for my wallet to make sure it’s still there. It’s not about him as a person, it’s about politicians as a whole (and people who set themselves up to be other people’s savior and hero). I don’t believe in politician-heroes…in order to get where you have the money and position to run at all you already have to be bought and paid for several times over. If “hope” and “change” are to come, they will come through citizen groups mobilizing (see the civil rights movement in the 50s-60s, the women’s liberation movement, the open source software movement, etc), not through some magical politician who will make it all better.

      As for Syfy (#Syfail)…well, that’s the issue any company has to deal with, and there are different ways to talk about profit. One of them is called “customer goodwill” in economics/business circles, and is one of the things that I have always believed to be more important than the bottom line. Customer goodwill is what keeps Apple fans buying products even with failures like MobileMe and AppleTV…the fans love Apple and are willing to stick with them. Science fiction fans are often more loyal than other types; hell, I still defend Star Wars, even after the prequels came out. It only makes sense that a company that makes its living on our loyalty would show a little loyalty to us.

      Thanks for reading and your wonderful comment!

  6. Steven

    Distancing from Science Fiction …
    Becoming known to cancel shows …
    Shifting all programming focus on ratings …

    The viewing public is well aware of what “SyFail” is.

  7. Don The SyFy Guy

    I know I have spelled SciFi, SyFy, and that is more due to timing than anything. Anyhow… I have to say, I have never liked the fact that they put wrestling on the network. Those neckless brutes were the ones shoving geeks like us into lockers, and trash cans in high school, so why would we want to put THEM on OUR network? Makes less than no sense to me.Some of the reality stuff is at least genre themed, so I can give that a pass. Why, though, is the network continually axing solid, intelligent shows, that show people the best aspects of science fiction? The major networks are doing a better job. The doom of Caprica, and SGU seems to be that they didn’t fit into the bos SyFy has built for themselves. too bad. If they want a non sci Fi network, shouldn’t they create one? I could boost their ratings across the boards, day, and night, if I were allowed to program the week. They sure can’t seem to pick right. Sad.

  8. Lloyd

    aybe SyFy needs to remember its all us geeks and nerds that love SCI-FI THAT are the ones that made them big enough to ignore us and cancel our favorite show. There is only 1 power we the powerless have…. BOYCOT! Wrestling did not make them mindless reality shows did not make them. WE DID!

    1. Neal Jansons Post author

      Nice comment, Lloyd. I like your point and think you should blog about it, come back here, and comment again so I can give it some link-love.

  9. Marin Kvasina

    Anyone considered suing syfy for false advertising?

    I don’t really see how a cooking show is related to science fiction?

  10. Sean Brazell

    Amen to everything you had to say about the syfy network! I hope that the cable networks like HBO or Showtime decide to finally create a Scifi show…they’ve made something for just about every other genre, so my fingers are crossed that they’ll come out with something awesome soon! As far as syfy goes,no crossed fingers, only a lone middle one.

  11. Chris

    Great analysis. Especially loved the third and fourth paragraphs. I never thought of science fiction that way, but you hit it right on the mark. Nicely said.

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