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The Dream Team: Six Writers Who Could Make Syfy Great

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Fans have had a love/hate relationship with Syfy — formerly the Sci-Fi Network — for two decades now. And let’s be honest, that relationship has tended toward the “hate” end of the spectrum more often than not. For every Farscape or Battlestar Galactica or Stargate, there are dozens of shows along the lines of Self-Professed Paranormal Investigators Overreacting to Random Sounds in Night Vision or Talented Cold Reader Convincing Grieving Families He Can Talk to the Dead.

But, all evidence to the contrary, I do still believe that Syfy could be saved, and could rally to become the network we all wish it was. There are a few lights in the darkness. Two of the talents responsible for some of Syfy’s greatest shows are returning with new projects: Farscape’s Rockne S. O’Bannon is back with this spring’s Defiance, and word broke just this week that Battlestar Galactica’s Ron Moore is working on a sci-fi thriller called Helix for the network. That’s a good start, but it got us thinking. If, through whatever unlikely sequence of events you care to imagine, we were handed the keys to Syfy tomorrow, which creative talents would we bring in to restore the Syfy name? Or rather the Sci-Fi Channel name, because the first thing we’d do is get rid of that god-awful moniker. Either way, here are our picks (and we’re not including Joss Whedon, because he’s way too obvious and his dance card is full anyway).

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Ron Moore May Be Back At Syfy With Thriller Helix

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Moore

It’s been almost two years since Ron Moore has had a sci-fi series on the airwaves. The guy has written and produced for various Star Trek films and TV shows, Syfy’s Battlestar Galactica and Caprica, as well as Roswell and Carnivale. He’s even supposed to be writing I Robot 2, because that version of Asimov’s book needed further introspection.

But before that, Moore may be returning to the small screen with the thriller Helix, which is nearing a deal with the network Syfy for a 13-episode order. Since Syfy has taken to just ordering full series straight out of the gate, eschewing pilots for already fleshed-out stories, they’ve gained ground in attracting audiences who don’t solely want to make fun of gigantic mythical creatures going head to multiple heads. Not that I watch any of it, but anecdotal evidence tells me Continuum, Haven, and Lost Girl are pretty good shows. I even watched an episode-and-a-half of Warehouse 13 before turning it off.

While most of those shows are a little campy, Helix sounds like it’ll be going the more serious route. The plot revolves around a group of scientists working at an Arctic research facility, and their discovery of a potential disease outbreak that could rapidly spread and destroy the world. It sounds like The Thing, only with germs instead of shapeshifting monsters. I withhold all immediate judgement, but the plot could be interesting, and Moore’s name gives it a definite sense of narrative clarity.

Hopefully hitting TVs later this year, Helix comes to us from Sony Pictures TV, from a spec script written by Cameron Porsandeh, who serves as co-executive producer alongside Moore and Lynda Obst (Hot in Cleveland).

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New Defiance Trailer Seethes and Explodes

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On the surface, Defiance seems like a bored kid’s wet dream of a concept. It’s Earth, but it’s not really Earth anymore. There are loads of different kinds of aliens all forced to put up with one another. But there are gonna be fights. And explosions. Maybe even explosions that fight one another. But the babes are gonna be ugly. Ha! Just kidding! The babes, even the ones with weird alien features, are all gonna be fit. Oh, and guess what else, wish-granting Sandman Tooth Fairy? It’s not just gonna be a wicked exploding show, it’s gonna be a video game as well. And they’re gonna mix. I’m thinking if a babe shows boobs on the game, she’ll show boobs on the show, but I don’t know what network this is going to be on when I wake up.

Well, it’s Syfy, kid, so keep dreaming. Another new trailer for Defiance is out, and it’s shorter, sweeter, and more action-centric than the previous one, which focused more on story and personal relationships. It drives home the fact that this is a place that people are going to fight over, as well as fighting over how to remain peaceful. They use the phrase “new world” a couple of times, but it sounds like the same world to me.

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Syfy Celebrates 20 Years (For Good Or Ill) This Week In Science Fiction

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Syfy 20th Anniversary Special
Monday night, 9/8c

Like many a science fiction fan, I have mixed feelings when it comes to the network known as Syfy, formerly the Sci Fi Channel. Its current incarnation often caters to the lowest common denominator and seems disinterested — at best — when it comes to actually airing any original science fiction. The fact that Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome premiered as a web series while shows such as Haunted Collector get prime-time real estate sums up the sorry state of Syfy quite nicely. If the network once was a haven for geeks like us, now it’s trying hard to become one of the cool kids and refusing to take our phone calls.

But still, we had a lot of good times with the Sci-Fi Channel, didn’t we? Back before it got the stupid name change and started cluttering its schedule with awful “reality” programming. The Sci-Fi Channel brought us Battlestar Galactica and Farscape and Stargate and even a pair of pretty decent Dune miniseries. I’m thankful for the times when the Sci-Fi Channel actually lived up to that name and celebrated the genre we all love. There was a time when Sci-Fi genuinely did invite us to look upward and share the wonders. It’s just a shame the network was killed so young, only to be replaced by an unconvincing doppelganger that doesn’t seem to have a clue what it wants to be.

At any rate, if you can sit through it without being stirred to anger or dragged down into a deep depression, you can check out Syfy’s anniversary special tonight. Or you could just rewatch Farscape instead.

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Syfy Announces Real Steel-Style Robot Fighting Show

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Whether you liked Hugh Jackman’s robot-boxing flick Real Steel or not, you have to love the core concept: remote-controlled robots beating the ever-loving snot out of each other. It takes the brutal appeal of boxing or MMA fighting but adds the ability to punch your opponent’s head off or rip his arms out of their sockets. We are still not at Real Steel levels of tech, but we just inched a little closer. Syfy has unveiled a new robot-fighting series called Robot Combat League that is, for all intents and purposes, Real Steel: The Reality Show.

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New Defiance Trailer Offers More Explosions and Oddly Shaped Eyes

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Next year, if you weren’t already aware, SyFy will be premiering what could be a revolutionary experiment combining the worlds of gaming and television…but it probably won’t be, given Syfy’s lack of anything revolutionary beyond misspelling. Four years in the making, Defiance aims to combine televised storytelling with the personal experience of playing an MMO game. You can’t tell, but I’m trying really hard not to scoff while saying any of this, though I could be eating these words by April of next year, when the show debuts.

With “Watch the show. Play the game. Change the world,” as its tagline, the show still isn’t selling me based on premise alone, but the trailer actually does a good job of presenting a series that, while caught up in something gimmicky, isn’t going to rely on gimmicks alone. Hang onto your hat, and watch it below.