In recent days, the Syfy network has become most known for its schlocky creature features that you can catch most Saturday nights. While there is admittedly a certain giddy charm to titles like Sharknado and Mega Python Versus Gatoroid, would you really rather watch the latest installment of Octopotamus, or insightful, interesting episodic television? (Admittedly, I would watch would watch Octopatomus if that was a real thing.) Shows like Defiance and, at least concept wise, Helix have been a nice step, and hopefully Syfy’s upcoming endeavor Ascension is a sign that they are returning to the scripted, hour-long format that was their niche for so long.
The network has given the green light to Ascension, a 6-hour event series that will reportedly hit the airwaves in November of this year and continue through December. Created and written by Philip Levens (Smallville), the show will also bring along Jason Blum, of Blumhouse Productions, the folks behind low-budget moneymakers like The Purge and Paranormal Activity. This sounds like a good move, since Blum and company are good at getting their money’s worth out of every available element.
Here is the official synopsis:
In 1963, the U.S. government launched a covert space mission sending hundreds of men, women and children on a century-long voyage aboard the starship Ascension to populate a new world. Nearly 50 years into the journey, as they approach the point of no return, a mysterious murder of a young woman causes the ship’s population to question the true nature of their mission.
While the concept is big and ambitious, it also sounds totally doable as a television series. It doesn’t appear that there is going to be much action that takes place outside the confines of the ship, so you have a relatively contained environment and limited number of sets and characters to contend with. This limited scope can cut both ways. On one hand, you keep production costs low because once you have all of your primary sets constructed, you’re good for a while. On the other hand, however, bringing in new characters becomes difficult, unless you want people to inevitably ask where the hell they’ve been hiding all of this time. Then again, in six episodes, this likely won’t be an issue.
Syfy president Dave Howe said:
Syfy is more committed than ever to bringing to life epic event television. We have a rich history in this arena, from Steven Spielberg’s Taken to the highly acclaimed mini that launched the Battlestar Galactica series, to reimagined takes on classic tales such as Alice and Tin Man. In keeping with that grand tradition, we are delighted to bring this thrilling, provocative and intelligent event to our fans later this year.
While we’ll have to wait to see how Ascension turns out, it’s nice to see Syfy actually dedicating themselves and their resources to producing quality, interesting content. That is a much better use of their time than launching another crappy reality show. And I have to add, on a personal note, that it’ll be nice to get some space-themed sci-fi on the airwaves. As much as I like a lot of the genre stuff that’s going on, it’ll be nice to mix things up with some deep space adventure.