Syfy has been in the process of redefining itself as a network and reestablishing a commitment to producing original content instead of the glut of schlocky creature features, reality shows, and professional wrestling. Some of their attempts have fared pretty well: 12 Monkeys is decent, Helix seems to have found an audience, as has Z Nation. Others, not as much. One project they had high hopes for, Ascension, didn’t hit quite like they hoped late last year, and it will not move forward as a series.
The network first ordered Ascension as an event series, which I always used to call a miniseries as a kid, their first such endeavor in six years. While it was intended to be a limited thing initially, they always had an eye on turning it into something bigger, working it into an ongoing series, much like they did with Battlestar Galactica years ago. According to Deadline, however, that is not going to happen.
In a statement to the trade, Syfy representatives said, “We were very happy with Ascension as an event series, but with so much high profile development in the works, we have decided not to pursue a full series.”
When the six-hour event premiered back in December, it did decent ratings, attracting 1.8 million viewers, though it left many wanting more, fans and critics alike, and never really managed to connect with audiences. Just listening to comments around these parts, a lot of people tuned in for an episode or two, but, especially after the big plot twist was revealed early on, many jumped ship and tuned out.
Philip Levens (Smallville) wrote and produced Ascension. The story revolves around the titular starship, which carried hundreds of men, women, and children on a century-long voyage with the aim of populating a new world.
While Ascension is no longer moving forward, Syfy still has a ton of potential new shows in the works, including adaptations of some of the best and brightest science fiction past and present. They’re working on adapting Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End, as well as John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War and too many to reasonably recount here.
The upcoming show I’m most excited about is The Expanse, based on the novels of James S.A. Corey. I just finished Leviathan Wakes, the first book in the series, and it’s one of the best recent sci-fi books I’ve read in a long time. It’s a sprawling space opera full of great characters and high stakes, with a twisted future noir mystery at the center. It’s a damn good time, and if you haven’t checked it out, you should, it’s definitely worth your time. Now we’re just left to hope Syfy doesn’t fuck it up.