Tag Archives: Caprica

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.

Save Stargate Universe Facebook Campaign Recruits Over 22,000 Fans…Will Syfy Listen?

stargate universe logo

Image via Wikipedia

Let’s face it, folks. Syfy has gone astray. They have lost the faith. They have sniffed the air of easy wrestling profits and been lured away into confusion and avarice. But they can be redeemed…through listening to the people that made them who they are today.

The fans.

Right now, the Save SGU page on Facebook has 22, 453 fans. That is larger than the population of eleven sovereign nations. The Stargate franchise has run continuously for fourteen years. First the hit SG-1, which ran for ten years, expanded upon the mythos and gave us new heroes, villains, and stories. Stargate Atlantis took things to a new level and took the heroes to a new galaxy. Finally, Stargate Universe drew upon new inspiration, giving a grim, gritty, and a far more desperate situation for the heroes than ever before.

SGU drew its share of criticism. Some accused it of being a Battlestar Galactica clone, and I have to admit, there is a clear inspiration there. But that criticism holds little water when you look beyond the camera-work; Stargate Universe and Battlestar Galactica are as different as night and day when you look at their styles of character development, plot development, and story organization. While both series have that “dark and gritty” feel, BSG is about the fleet, about the Cylon’s Plan, and first and foremost, it’s a religious story: angels guiding the path of their god’s children, both human and Cylon. Stargate Universe lives in a different universe, one full of aliens, the remains of the Ancients, and human heroism on a level far beyond that of Battlestar. And SGU is more than that; it is the continuation of a fourteen year tale. When you become responsible for a franchise with as much power and following as Stargate, as Syfy did after SG-1’s fifth season, you take on a responsibility to do the franchise justice. And who really feels that Syfy is doing the franchise justice?

But the problem goes beyond Stargate Universe. Caprica, a prequel to the incredible (and incredibly popular) Battlestar Galactica, received about as little support as a show could while still being on the network. The series was smart, beautifully shot and acted, but just as the fanbase was really being established, it was cancelled. Sanctuary, the immensely popular show starring Stargate’s Amanda Tapping, has been moved to late evening Monday nights…a timeslot that can easily be the kiss of death. A “Save Sanctuary” campaign has already begun on Facebook, and already has over 300 fans. This group claims to know which way the wind is blowing and is preparing for the inevitable announcement. I look forward with trepidation to the new Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome, another prequel to BSG set during the First Cylon War. From the evidence I have seen, if it doesn’t “do well enough” right out of the gate it will get less and less support from the network, get moved to less and less popular time-slots, and then finally get cancelled.

Apparently, Syfy’s new, ridiculous logic (to go with its new, ridiculous name) is that if a show doesn’t rake in money hand over fist right away, before it has even gotten a chance to establish its characters and story, then it’s deemed “not good enough” and the plan becomes “do everything that can be done to disrupt the series and assure that it will fail, then cancel it while feigning surprise that it failed”. And why are they doing this? Well, to any long-time fan of science fiction, this sounds like a very, very familiar logic. It’s the logic of Fox. It’s the logic that led to Firefly being shown out of order. It’s the logic that led to time-slots being changed. And it’s the logic that finally killed one of the best shows in years. It was the same logic used on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, as well, and Dollhouse. It’s almost like they want these shows to fail.

And perhaps they do. Fox filled its lineup with one reality show after another. Syfy is getting into the wrestling business. Is there a connection? Of course there is; these shows cost almost nothing to make, are very popular, and do incredibly well on normal television. And that is part of the explanation as well: normal television versus streaming and download services.

The networks claimed, each time, that the show just didn’t have the ratings. But ratings are done on television sets, and the audience is moving to computers and streamed services. I haven’t had cable for at least ten years, because cable isn’t worth the money and I can get my shows via streaming and download services without the commercials or the manipulations of the time-slot. The Nielsen Rating system doesn’t take anything except television into account, which means that shows that might be immensely popular look like they have little audience at all. Network executives (the same people who thought that alienating their own fanbase was a great idea) apparently can’t be bothered to keep up with all these new online systems of measuring popularity, so they increasingly target their shows towards what does well on Nielsen and ignore the rest.

Of course, what can you really expect from Syfy, whose reason for changing their name was because:

“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,” said TV historian Tim Brooks, who helped launch Sci Fi Channel when he worked at USA Network.”

Make sure you catch that loud and clear, fans and readers: the people who like science fiction and who the Sci Fi network built its business on are dysfunctional, antisocial boys living in their parent’s basements. This is what these people think of their own fan-base, the people who paid their bills and fed their children.

So can Syfy turn things around? Can they keep their fans, rather than turning into a wrestling, NASCAR, and reality-show clone? It all depends on whether they can stop looking at Nielsen and start looking at popularity tracking technology that was created more recently than the 1950s. The fans are here, the shows are popular, and if Syfy keeps them on the air and shows some loyalty to the franchises and to their fans, they will gain our support and (more importantly) our dollars. If they do not, if Syfy doesn’t regain the faith and come back into the geekdom fold…it will go the way of Fox: never to be trusted (or watched) again.

Please show your support by liking the pages below:

Save SGU

Save Sanctuary

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