Syfy’s About-Face: Nine Shows That Might Help The Network Redeem Itself

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Earlier this year, Bill McGoldrick, Syfy’s executive vice president of original programming, made the bold claim that the network was headed in a new direction, and that they wanted top notch scripted programming that could compete with well-respected cable entities such as AMC and HBO. Ascension was one of the first projects announced that suggested Syfy might really be trying to reform after years of cheesy TV movies, paranormal “reality” shows, and inexplicable wrestling.

A six-hour space opera “event series,” Ascension imagines an alternate history where, in the heat of the 1960s space race, the U.S. launched the titular starship on a top secret mission of colonization. Fifty years later, the vessel is still en route to its distant destination, loaded with hundreds of men, women, and children hoping to make a new home on another world. But when a young woman is murdered, the inhabitants begin to wonder about the true nature of their mission.

The first trailer, which you can see below, is a moody and effective teaser, imagining how a small, contained society might have developed over five decades, with traces of 1960s culture mixed with more futuristic trappings (check out that flag!). Mysteries often make a good mix with science fiction (see: Leviathan Wakes), helping ground the fantastic elements with the uglier elements of human nature. Whether Ascension will blend those disparate parts into a satisfying treat remains to be seen, but hiring Battlestar Galactica‘s Tricia Helfer is a nice start. Ascension was created and written by Philip Levens, who previously wrote for Smallville and the 2008 Knight Rider reboot. Those credits suggest this could go either way, but we’re cautiously optimistic. – David

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DMZ’s Military Dystopia Comes To Syfy Courtesy Of Gravity And Mad Men Producers

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dmzA few weeks ago, Bill McGoldrick, Syfy‘s V.P. of original programming, stated his intention to turn the network into something beyond a place for impossible sea creatures to get caught up in intense weather patterns. His vision is for a future filled with the genre’s top minds turning great ideas into series. While there are zero guarantees on how this will turn out, McGoldrick is making good on his goals by acquiring the rights to the DC/Vertigo comic DMZ, from writer Brian Wood and artist Riccardo Burchielli. The network is already bringing in big talent to develop it. Through their deal with Warner Bros. TV, former Mad Men executive producers André and Maria Jacquemetton will partner with Gravity producer David Heyman in an attempt to spin this war-torn dystopia into cable gold.

First published in 2005, DMZ was inspired in part by the volatile aftermath of 9/11. Set in a near-future where the country has split into two factions—the standard U.S. and the seceded Free States of America—this becomes the setting for a second civil war. The titular demilitarized zone is Manhattan, now only a shell of what it once was, with 1/4 of its population still intact, the majority of which is comprised of the poor and the neutral. There are also some independently war-minded folks that form DMZ militias.