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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Charlotte, NC
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The problem with the SciFi Channel is they've never been able to have the courage of their convictions. In fact, they've never been sure what their convictions were. They're part of the NBC Universal conglomerate and all the machinations of how to maximize "shareholder value" has always compromised their mission, if they ever even had any commitment thereof. Have they? Ever...?
They've had exactly one great series: the remake of 'Battlestar Galactica'. We're all in agreement there, are we not? Winner of the Peabody Award, the industry's most prestigious recognition of programming quality, a couple of years back. During the subsequent year , I expected them to pimp the hell out of that award on every piece of promotion NBC Universal pumped out. Instead, I saw nothing. Nada. They seemed to have no idea how to promote this unexpectedly prestigious and original series. It was like having the best pitcher in baseball and only letting him take the mound every tenth game. Instead of building on the foundation of serious quality set forth with this groundbreaking series, they instead spent their original programming budget commissioning 'Painkiller Jane', 'Flash Gordon', and 35 "freak of the week" el-cheapo Saturday night movies per year. They had a chance to position themselves, differentiate themselves, as the "thinking man's channel". They had a gem in a series this past year in 'Charlie Jade' - a spectacular Canadian/South African series the likes of which Americans had never seen before. They rolled it out on a Friday night at 8:00 PM (CJ is a 10:00 show if there ever was one), got no ratings traction, and promptly exiled it to the coveted Tuesday morning at 2:00 AM timeslot, probably bumbing an informercial for Ginsu knives. That show is freakishly good, as the half-dozen of us who have seen it can attest. But they wasted it.
What if instead of 'Flash Gordon' they had commissioned a number of intelligent, serious, high-concept series on the same order as BSG or 'Charlie Jade'...? Whither then, SciFi Channel? Instead of the high road, they took the low road. And how's that worked out for 'em, huh? They've shot the brand with a broadside to the foot. So they try to re-brand and re-tool, as if none of us has been paying any attention. If they adopt the same paradigm, they're gonna' get the same result. Why should we, getting ready to bid farewell to the best sci-fi program of all time, believe them if they say they're going to change? I'm sorry, but commissioning 'Caprica' from Ron Moore to try to capitalize on the vestiges of 'Galactia's' corpse, ain't going to do it. No way, no how. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig, no?