This was originally published in Watch The Skies for November 2014
“If I insult you, it’s probably because you deserved it.” Harlan Ellison
Disclaimer: I don’t have cable any more. More than two and a half years ago I got fed up with another rate increase. I had just taken my second paycut in an attempt to survive a floundering economy and things looked bleak. I was forced to take a long, hard look at what cable television programming had to offer me and that programming came up wanting. Choice made, cable cut. While the seperation was difficult, I believe much like dropping a dangerous addiction, I don’t miss it.
I have stated many times that I am a fan first and foremost when it comes to all things science fiction and fantasy. One of the things I enjoyed when I had cable was the channel where those things I loved could call home. Then came a number of very poor choices from that channel, not the least of those being professional wrestling. While professional wrestling is fiction of a sort it fails to meet the criteria for science fiction on every front. I spent a great deal of time bashing and despariging the network that once gave me a weekly dose of crumudgeon (and I still miss those rants). I was not alone.
While the channel carrying the name of my beloved genre was busy trying to shed the loyal fan base the entertainment, the core, the very shows that should have lived there dashed off to other channels where they met with wild success. There are now far more popular genre television shows on other channels as there are on the network that claims them, if only in title. There were a number of failed experiments in genre programs that I would have thought should have been on a channel dedicated to science fiction. It should have all been on a channel dedicated to science fiction. Reaching out and trying to attain something is vital. Own the subject, good, bad or indifferent. The channel didn’t, it ran and hid. It was, and is frustrating. The experiments, the thought provoking stories wrapped around circumstances not of this world were popping up anyplace other than “home”.
Giving credit where credit is due, the channel I have often compared to a sexually transmitted disease now seems to be owning the error of their ways. A recent article published by EW gives some insight into how things will work going forward and gets the new head of original programming Bill McGoldrick to answer some of these criticisms. The article is full of hope and positive, forward thinking statements.
“I think now it’s about giving our audience some fresh stuff.” Mr. McGoldrick said. He gave out some thoughts on where the channel has been and where he sees things going. I’m intrigued by what he has to say. I like the idea that the channel dedicated to science fiction will be heading back to outer space. The mini series Ascension looks like it could be absolutely fascinating. The other thing it is? Most importantly it’s not like other things that are on right now. The things that do the best, the ones that get the highest ratings or score the biggest returns are the things that give a story that’s different than what’s out there. I don’t want another procedural. I want compelling story telling.
They talk a good talk, but can they walk that good walk or are they just walking dead? I look forward to finding out.
http://insidetv.ew.com/2014/10/28/syfy/ The EW article is worth the read.