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A SyFy Original Series, Huh?

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Trade News | August 9, 2010 |


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We covered the indie sci-fi film Drones being helmed by Buffy alums Amber Benson and Adam Busch a few months ago when its trailers were released online. Here's the plot summary:

The Office meets The Day The Earth Stood Still...is about a guy who works in an office with a kooky, off-kilter boss/co-workers, who then discovers that he's really working with aliens who are plotting to blow-up the Earth.

There's a bit of a twatter on twitter at the moment as SyFy announced last week that it was developing a show called "Human Relations." Here's the plot summary of that one:

The Office meets Men In Black in this project featuring an office Temp who slowly discovers that his off-kilter and odd-ball bosses at the strange hi-tech "ad agency" where he works are really aliens working on plan to destroy the Earth.

And you just exploded in righteous fury all over your keyboard right? See, the catch is that there doesn't seem to be any record of that plot summary of Drones except in Benson's initial blog post on the matter. When asked by Airlock Alpha if she'd written that specific summary after seeing the "Human Relations" summary, Benson only insisted that "We've had so many different synopses of the film out there."

Benson and "Human Relations" creator Scott Prendergast seem to have touched base with each other and left it on civil terms, with Benson refocusing her ire specifically on the SyFy channel. Prendergast argues that he has never seen Drones and began working on the first outline of what became "Human Relations" at his desk job in 1995, even naming characters after fellow employees.

SyFy disposable executive Mark Stern said that the two stories are different and that one project did not influence the other at all. "To be honest, if we wanted to do a television series based on her film, we would've approached her to do that. There is no reason for us to go off and create our own version of this. Why wouldn't we have just approached her about doing it, instead of saying, 'We need to go find Scott Prendergast and have him adapt it." (source: Airlock Alpha)

Goddamnit do I ever hate it when reality gets in the way of a cleansing fury.

Here's what I think happened. The projects had nothing to do with each other, but are nonetheless similar. Benson detonated when she saw the plot description of "Human Relations." There's nothing wrong with that. Luckily for me there are no surviving recordings of my 2002 rant about how American Gods had ripped off an unpublished novel of mine (the chain of proposed plagiarism was never clear, but my frustration was). But see, when you drop an angry rant like that on your blog and you're most of us, you can just take it back down after your friends nudge you about it. But when you're Amber Benson and trade news sites pick up the story and start calling and asking SyFy network for comments on the accusations that you leveled ... you just got dropped in a minefield.


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