Editorial: Battlestar Galactica: Blood And Chrome Could Save Syfy’s Soul
Hey, Syfy, how’s it going? Yeah, I know, I don’t visit as much as I used to. Sure, I still swing by for Alphas each week, but I know you’re really busy these days, what with all the wrestling and the ghost hunting and the game shows about people bumping into things in the dark. I don’t want to take up too much of your time here, but we need to have a little talk, you and I. It’s about Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome. I think it could save your soul.
Look, Sci-Fi…can I call you Sci-Fi, just like in the good old days? No? Fine, “Syfy,” whatever. So here’s the thing. Yesterday your official Twitter feed told us that the incredibly awesome-looking Battlestar Galactica prequel spinoff, Blood and Chrome, was not dead, but would indeed air at some point, in some form. Probably. And while it’s great to hear that Blood and Chrome hasn’t been relegated to the trash bin, I have to ask…what the hell are you thinking, man?
Earlier this year, when the Blood and Chrome trailer hit the internet, the fans started frothing at the mouth because it looked badass. I’m actually one of the people who liked a lot about the admittedly flawed Caprica, but there’s no question that Blood and Chrome looks a lot more like the BSG spinoff fans were hoping for. Space dogfights. Human-on- Cylon carnage. That sucker has hit written all over it. With the right writers, it could still maintain the depth and humanity of its parent series, but up the action quotient to a degree that would keep fans hooked and coming back.
So where the hell is it? We’ve watched over the past couple of years as an exciting project has dwindled further and further every time there’s an announcement about it. First it was going to be a full series. Then it was going to be a web series. Then maybe a one-off TV movie. And now? Now all it is is “air date to be decided.” A solid concept for what could be an amazing show molders on the shelf while you keep churning out one shitty new show after another. For the love of god, Syfy, you’re about to premiere a show that airs “viral videos.” You do realize we all have the internet, right?
Look, you wanted to branch out and not be defined solely by science fiction content…fine, I get that. With the ever-increasing media landscape, you want to be able to attract as many sets of eyeballs as you can. But does that mean you have to abandon the one thing you’ve done really well several times over the years? You’re the network that gave us Farscape, for crying out loud! Does anybody seriously think Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica could have found a home anywhere but on your airwaves? And without you there’s no way Stargate would have flourished into multiple spinoffs as it did (even though you did cancel Stargate Universe awful quickly, as the show’s fans often remind me).
I realize you make all the reality shows and contest shows like Face Off because they’re cheap. That’s fine. But why not use some of that budget you’re saving on flotsam like Viral Video Showdown to greenlight one or two really strong science fiction shows? The sort of show that can be your flagship, earning critical praise like you did with BSG. The sort of show that defines Syfy as a brand. A show like Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome. Because honestly? I haven’t got a clue what that name is supposed to stand for. It just looks like somebody shook the cable landscape and all the shitty shows that weren’t properly secured slid down into your schedule.
And here’s the danger. Time was, the Sci-Fi Channel was one of the only homes for projects like Farscape or Battlestar Galactica or Stargate. But look around you. AMC, the channel that became a success on the shoulders of Mad Men, is earning dynamite ratings and acclaim with a zombie show based on a comic book. HBO, one of the most respected sources of cable programming around, is riding high with a series based on a dense, convoluted series of fantasy novels. Starz is developing a military science fiction series with the guy who created Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Those were all projects that, back in the day, we would have thought would be perfect matches for the Sci-Fi Channel. But the stigma around genre content is fading. The Avengers has made $1.5 billion worldwide, and now more and more exciting genre projects are going to other, more respectable networks, while you introduce yet another show about haunted tchotchkes.
Oh, there are still some promising lights on the horizon. I’m hoping that Rockne S. O’Bannon’s Defiance will recapture some of the old Farscape magic and become something truly amazing. I’ve got every finger crossed that you find a way to make your Blake’s 7 remake something other than a regrettable and ill-conceived footnote. You do still have a handful of genuinely good shows, like Alphas and Being Human. But with Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome, you could make a statement. You could declare that you are about more than just cramming as many horrible paranormal “reality” shows as possible down our throats. That you still have what it takes to stand behind ambitious, well-written genre content.
It’s time to stop settling for mediocrity and aim higher. It’s time to take your own advice, Syfy: Imagine Greater.