In a surprisingly candid interview with EW, SyFy president Dave Howe admits the cable network went off on a tangent — and that it’s time to bring back science fiction series. Of course, we all knew that when the name changed (I still can’t get used to that idiotic spelling), things were headed south. With the end of Battlestar Galactica and the Stargate series, the channel veered off into reality-show-land; speaking for myself, it’s nowhere I wanted to Imagine or go. For those of us lamenting the lack of great, original science fiction series, Howe’s and programming chief, Bill McGoldrick’s revelations and SyFy’s latest redirect is exciting, as are the five new series intended to compete with AMC, HBO, FX and other major networks who’ve jumped into the science fiction/fantasy game (to great success).
Based on the Arthur C. Clarke novel, and starring Charles Dance as Overlord ambassador, Karellen. The six-hour miniseries tracks the arrival of…you guessed it, our alien overlords (well, they’d like to be), and attempts at some sort of mutually beneficial (ha!) agreement between Us and Them. Adapted by Matthew Graham (Ashes to Ashes, Life on Mars, Doctor Who), directed by Nick Hurran (Sherlock, Doctor Who, The Prisoner), and produced by Akiva Goldsman (Lone Survivor, A Beautiful Mind, I, Robot) and Mike DeLuca (Captain Phillips, The Social Network, American History X).
6-hour original space opera miniseries that may (like BSG) kick off a regular series. Starring Tricia Helfer, Brian Van Holt and Gil Bellows, Ascension imagines an alternate 1960s reality where John F. Kennedy’s Project Orion led to a portion of the population being secreted away to live on Ascension — a self-sustained spaceship — ostensibly to populate a new planet. After a girl is murdered aboard the ship, the crew “questions the true nature of their mission.” Dun dun dun…oh, humans, why do we always have to eff things up? Written by Philip Levens (Smallville, Knight Rider, Wolf Lake) and Adrian Cruz (Splinter) , directed by Nick Copus (Arrow, The Flash, Supernatural) and Mairzee Almas (Smallville, Reindeer Games); premieres December 15th.
Based on James S.A. Corey’s books, this 10-episode series (space opera #2!) stars Steven Strait as Holden, a spaceship captain on a galactic mission to expose a conspiracy that may affect all of humanity. (After all, those *are* the best conspiracies…) Thomas Jane co-stars as Detective Miller, and Shohreh Aghdashloo, as Chrisjen Avasarala, a smart politician who I’ll guess may subvert something (I haven’t read Corey’s series). Adapted by Mark Fergus (Children of Men, Cowboys and Aliens) and Naren Shankar (Almost Human, Grimm), directed by Terry McDonough (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Halt & Catch Fire, An Adventure in Space and Time). Premieres 2015.
Based on Whitley Strieber’s Alien Hunter, a 13-episode series follows a Philadelphia detective’s hunt for his missing wife, who seems to have left (Earth?) voluntarily. His search leads the cop to a covert government group who hunt…well, I’ll let you guess. The series comes via The Walking Dead producer, Gale Anne Hurd, and will be adapted/written by Natalie Chaidez (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, V, Heroes). Premieres 2016.
Also of note was McGoldrick’s comments on attracting female viewers:
“I just went to go see Guardians of the Galaxy and it was not an audience of guys…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 [male and female viewers].”