WTF @Syfy? #Eureka canceled

Good grief.

“After painstaking consideration, we have had to make the difficult business decision to not order a season six of Eureka. But Eureka is not over yet. There is a new holiday episode this December and 12 stellar episodes set to debut next year, marking its fifth season and six memorable years on Syfy. The 2012 episodes are some of the best we’ve seen, and will bring this great series to a satisfying end. We are very grateful to Bruce Miller and Jaime Paglia, their team of incredible writers, and an amazing cast and crew who have consistently delivered a series we continue to be very proud of. We thank the fans for their support of this show and know they will enjoy its final season in 2012.“

The marginal good news in this is that I’ve never sat down and done a full watch of the series in order, so this gives me a chance to catch up. But still, what the hell, SyFy?

This makes me really nervous about Warehouse 13. It’s easily the best show on SyFy and rivals BSG in my opinion.

At some point SyFy will have no science fiction left and the only game in town will be the BBC. Perhaps any television industry where profit margin comes first is doomed to sacrifice plot and regress? Actually that kind of explains the anime industry too, come to think of it…

UPDATE here’s SyFy executive Craig Engler’s tweets about Eureka on August 5th, just 4 days ago:

and so, the (Stargate) Universe ended

In the Beginning, the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. — The Hitchhiker’ Guide to the Galaxy

This is pretty depressing news – Stargate: Universe seems to have been canceled. They are midway through their second season run and the final ten episodes will air in the spring, they will also modify the plot to wrap up the storyline early (since it was originally scripted for a five year run).

That shows like ST:Voyager get dragged out for years but the great shows like Firefly and SGU get dropped before they’ve had a chance to build a wider following is massively frustrating to me. It’s amazing to me that Galactica was permitted to survive long enough to finish. Sadly, most science fiction (and SGU was no exception) have tried to imitate Galactica’s formula of oversexed characters to try and draw in the mainstream male demographics. I expect the lesson of SGU’s demise, as far as TV producers go, is that there was too much plot and not enough skin. SGU was one of the few shows out there that could credibly be called a successor to Galactica; even Caprica Galactica’s own designated heir already got the axe. The future of American science fiction is dim.

We still have the British franchises, namely Doctor Who, and if the stars align more of Sherlock. And Warehouse 13 seems to have survived the chopping block, though for how long?

Meanwhile, the SyFy rebranding is revealed to have indeed been appropriate. SyFy doesn’t have the patience that Sci-Fi channel did for good science fiction. They just want shows that look like science fiction. It’s just “siffy” now. I’m disgusted, and if I had the option to choose cable channels a-la-carte I’d drop Siffy entirely.

Incidentally, this is an example of why cable should indeed be a-la-carte. Niche channels will regress towards the mean of television norms instead of staying faithful to their niche as long as they are subsidized by general cable premiums. If these niche channels must justify their existence, however, to the niche audience, they will take more risks – and the niche audience will be more willing to pay. Right now I pay about $40 for hundreds of channels; I’d happily pay $50 for just a handful, and Siffy could get a much larger share of my money.

I hope at some point that we can skip able distribution entirely and see a future where TV shows are marketed directly to Netflix and Hulu plus.

At any rate, the long drought of American science fiction has begun.

after Galactica: what to watch next?

somewhat inspired by Mark’s list of games, movies, and anime he intends to watch next, I wanted to list some of the upcoming (and older) series on television that I am going to sample to try and replace the gaping void that Batttlestar Galactica’s ride off into the sunset (literally) has left behind. In no particular order:

  • Stargate: Universe. This takes the Stargate franchise into a fresh direction, into the unexplored universe far beyond the scope of the previous series (SG1 and Atlantis). The plot premise sounds like a cross between Quantum Leap and Star Trek Voyager – but wit the Stargate writers, the extreme suckage and wasted potential of ST:VOY will hopefully be avoided. This is,however, the Stargate franchise, so expecting the series to take actual risks or bold storylines is probably wishful thinking indeed. Unlike BSG, Stargate plays it safe – characters never die, there are never any major changes to the status quo, and the series prefers technobabble exposition to simple character interaction (a failing it has inherited, though to far less degree, from the Star Trek-ification of science fiction).
  • Caprica. This prequel series to BSG is styled as a soap opera/drama rather than an action and adventure series. Still, it will be interesting to see how they respect/extend/desecrate the BSG canon. One thing that worries me off the bat is the insinuation that we will be seeing humaniform cylons instead of toasters. Still, with Ron Moore aboard as a producer, hopefully they will avoid the temptation.
  • Chuck. I caught an episode of this engaging series on a recent United flight and I found myself intrigued. I barely know what it’s about apart from what I inferred from the episode, but Chuck appears to be an ordinary schmoe who somehow has some super classified database implanted in his brain, neccessitating protection by the CIA and involvement in all sorts of silly capers with foreign agents who are trying to learn his (protected) identity. In teh meantime he works at a Best Buy (suitably modified for trademark purposes). This is funnier than it sounds,but it also had some honest emotion too. A major appeal was seeing Adam Baldwin (Jayne from Firefly) playing major supporting role.
  • Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles. I know this series is rumored for cancellation, but it’s got Summer Glau.
  • Warehouse 13. This is probably the most anticipated show on my list. The basic idea is to try and mix X-Files with Raiders of the Lost Ark, with two (FBI?) agents assigned to Warehouse 13, a desert government facility where all manner of supernatural objects are stored (think the big warehouse where they stored the Ark in Raiders). The agents are tasked with going off around the world and retrieving more of these objects. The previews suggest that the agents are a lot more interesting, personality wise, than Sculder or Mully ((I mean, they were both deadpan and taciturn. Even Scully’s supposed cynicism about the paranormal became hollow by the end of the first couple of seasons. The only characters with any genuine warmth were the Lone Gunmen)).

I’ll take this moment to ridicule SciFi Channel’s universally-panned name change to (or, as I like to think of it, Siffy). Then again, despite being home to 3 of the 5 series listed above, there’s barely any science fiction on the channel anymore. Most of the time they are showing bad horror flicks like Anaconda or whatnot.