The Syfy Channel (formerly the SciFi Channel) was once a major source of science fiction and fantasy content for fans everywhere. In fact, one of Syfy’s most successful shows, Battlestar Galactica, helped pave the way for storytelling science fiction and fantasy shows. However, many fans feel as though the brand has since lost its way.
In the last decade, we have seen major growth in the popularity of Sci-fi and fantasy themes, which stem from popular movies like Zombieland, the Tolkien trilogies, Star Trek, and countless comic book movies. Other networks, like A&E, FX, HBO, and the CW were quick to grab at the opportunity to increase their fan base by implementing new shows to fit this current trend. Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, True Blood and Bates Motel have all seen major success on these networks.
The president of Syfy, Dave Howe, has stated that the perceptions of the Sci-Fi genre have changed dramatically. Which is true. Just over a decade ago, these genres did not have the same appeal to the general public as they do now. The general public is more welcoming to movies and shows that were once considered “nerdy.” Oddly enough, as science fiction and fantasy have grown in popularity, the Syfy channel has become less “SciFi.” WWE’s Smackdown now plays during prime time on Friday nights. Their choices in recent years are more confusing than the opening monologue to the Twilight Zone.
Can the network that kept these genres alive during their lull become the dominant brand in SciFi and fantasy once again? Or, will they forever coast on the constant influx of B-level SciFi and horror films? Syfy executives certainly hope to bring in new audiences with their new lineup of true SciFi shows.
As of now, five shows have been confirmed. Their most anticipated show, Ascension, looks very promising. The story is focused around a secret space mission in which 600 men, women, and children were launched into space to inhabit a new planet. However, halfway through their voyage, they encounter some problems from within.
Their other shows look very promising as well. Childhood’s End follows a breed of aliens who rule earth peacefully. The Expanse is a futuristic thriller that focuses around a detective and a ship captain as they travel the solar system looking to expose a conspiracy. In 12 Monkeys, a time traveler journeys back to present day to eradicate the source of a deadly plague. The last show mentioned, Hunters, follows a cop trying to stop a group of terrorists from another planet.
These shows are sure to bring fans back to the channel. Will these shows have what it takes to compete against the genre’s titans from other channels? Only time will tell.