Syfy Chief Talks Change in Direction for the Network and… Admits Mistakes?
They're not changing the name, though.
Syfy is a network that’s been struggling for a few years with, well, fans of sci fi. Ten years ago, critics ranked the network’s Battlestar Galactica among the historic television events of the decade, but the channel hasn’t been able to pull off the same kind of mainstream, demographic spanning hit since. Other networks responded to the success of BSG by creating their own serious genre dramas, paving the way for The Walking Dead, True Blood, American Horror Story, and Game of Thrones to be greenlit by executives who had evidence that science fiction and fantasy elements didn’t prevent a show from becoming a mainstream hit. Add in a 2009 rebranding to “Syfy” and a slate full of professional wrestling and ghost-catching “reality” shows, and lets just say that fans of the genre have found themselves somewhat put off by the network that’s aiming itself squarely at them.
But Syfy is starting to push the narrative that it’s turning itself around. At least in a recent interview with Entertainment weekly. Bill McGoldrick, the network’s new programming chief chatted about the network’s new head of reality programming, whose focus will be on creative shows that don’t rely on infighting for drama, and about refocusing from lighter science fiction procedurals to the big-budget drama Syfy knows is alluring to fans.
In terms of where it was before with original content and some of the series that were on the air, maybe they were more procedural, more lighthearted in tone—and by the way, those shows worked really well for a long time. I’m referring to the Warehouses and the Eurekas. What we have in development now is more of a serious tone, more back to our roots.
He’s referring, among other things, to Ascension, starring BSG alumni Tricia Helfer, and The Expanse, which Entertainment Weekly notes involves a four-story-high set and is based on Jamse S.A. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes. Says Syfy president Dave Howe, “It’s probably one of the best scripts I’ve read in the last three to five years. We fought off a lot of competitors to get it.”
Entertainment Weekly also asked about Syfy’s attitude towards female viewers, specifically, whether they’re confident that science fiction is relevant and interesting to the demographic, and McGoldrick’s answer makes us pretty happy:
I passionately believe that. When you see the things that are working … I just went to go see Guardians of the Galaxy and it was not an audience of guys. When you’re talking about big-hit content that we can provide, you’re going to get everybody. 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.
Well, Syfy, we’ll be watching, I mean, metaphorically, and maybe literally. But one last note for fans of some of the network’s old stalwart successes: while the channel turns over a new leaf, there are no current plans to revisit Stargate, Farscape, BSG, or any other old property.
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