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.
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.
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.
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.
- SyFy, The Killing of Science-Fiction (godofnothingnow.wordpress.com)
- Save Stargate Universe Facebook Page Just Keeps Growing (blazingminds.co.uk)
- Syfy’s Craig Engler Responds To Fans Of ‘Stargate Universe’ (tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com)