In retrospect, as other cable channels were getting in to the hour-long science fiction drama game, it really wasn’t that horrible of an idea for SyFy to move away from the format that once worked for them (because, for example, I still mean to watch Caprica at some point) and start producing “lighter” original series like Eureka. However, changing their name to “SyFy”, and trying to chase a Twilight audience didn’t quite work out for them. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, new SyFy head of programming Bill McGoldrick almost totally admits just that.
Mostly, SyFy’s shows in the past have felt like made-in-Canada syndicated pap, instead of the shiny fresh take on robot space operas that was the rebooted Battlestar Galactica. So how do you avoid that, and produce the next Game of Thrones on SyFy’s budget? According to McGoldrick:
We are trying to bring in directors, producers, you name it, that can execute. [sic]…the amount of resources Comcast is providing and kind of everybody up the food chain is recognizing that to pull off sci-fi in the way that we really want to pull it off, you do have to spend. You don’t have to be a reckless drunken sailor, but you do have to sometimes even outspend basic cable competitors for the shows to look the way they will.
So 12 Monkeys might actually look like it’s taking place in post-apocalyptic Philadelphia and not Vancouver. Everyone, high-five the nerd next to you.
McGoldrick was asked if SyFy is ready to show a lot of Walking Dead-level gore on its network in order to compete.
I think sci-fi can be more provocative than any other genre. We will push it wherever we think is appropriate. We don’t want to just do it to do it, to just show that, hey, we can kill a baby, or shoot a dog.
Either I really like this guy or his PR people have prepped him well for Things I Like To Hear About Stuff. Other things mentioned in the same interview:
(When insulted about Ghost Hunters‘ continued run on the network): “Come on, though, would you say that to Discovery about Ice Road Truckers? I used to watch that show waiting for one of those trucks to fall through the ice but it never, ever did. Certain shows you just watch that way.”
“At times sci-fi skews more male, but I think that’s changing and that’s an antiquated prejudice. My wife enjoys Game of Thrones as much as I do. I think if the storytelling is good and you can relate to the characters, you’ll get both.”
I don’t watch Ghost Hunters or Sasquatch Rodeo* or Ice Road Truckers, for that matter, but I like his moxie.
In addition to 12 Monkeys, which debuts in January and everyone is jazzed about, SyFy is launching Ascension, a miniseries for Tricia Helfer that might segue in to a regular series, much like Battlestar Galactica did. That starts December 15th.
Other projects they hope will lure viewers back: A mini-series adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s alien-invasion-utopia novel Childhood’s End, starring Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister); The Expanse, a futuristic space thriller based on the book series “Leviathan Wakes” — which, according to SyFy president Dave Howe, they had to fight a lot of competitors for the rights to; and Hunters, projected for 2016, in which a cop “discovers a secret government unit that assembled to hunt a group of ruthless terrorists who may not be from this world.”
That last one is kind of vaguely X-Files-sounding, and I realize that The X-Files is newly popular with the kids and all since it hit Netflix, but didn’t we just have Fringe and everything? I’m less exited about that one than I am Charles Dance in anything anywhere on my television. Childhood’s End supposedly starts in 2015 while The Expanse has no release date yet.
* You guys, Sasquatch Rodeo might not be a real show, and now I’m sad about that. Think about sasquatches riding dragons around. Or, wait. Centaurs. What am I even saying? The possibilities are endless for Sasquatch Rodeo. Lamia child-eating contest. A Wendig-off.