If you’d told me in, say, 1988 that actor Wil Wheaton would one day be a beloved geek celebrity whose writing I actually really enjoyed and who I would cheerfully buy a beer if I ever ran into him in the real world, I would have told you you were crazy. At that time, Wil was known to young geeklings the world over as Wesley Crusher of Star Trek: The Next Generation. As someone who was right in the demographic Wesley should have been theoretically appealing to, I can tell you, it wasn’t working. As far as I was concerned, Wesley was pandering; Wesley was annoying; Wesley was sure to top any list of “Top Things Wrong With The Next Generation.” But as I got older, and he got older, I began to appreciate the poor kid stuck having to deliver all those gee-willikers lines while wearing a procession of truly horrible sweaters. These days, I’m pro-Wheaton, enough that I’m actually looking forward to his upcoming Syfy series, the aptly named Wil Wheaton Project.
Wheaton announced the project in a blog post, revealing that the weekly “topical comedy” series will run for at least 12 weeks beginning on Tuesday, May 27 at 10/9c on Syfy. He describes it as “a weekly roundup of the things I love on television and on the Internet, with commentary and jokes, and the occasional visit from interesting people who make those things happen,” a sort of “Talk Soup for geeks.” As the name suggests, Wheaton will be hosting the series, as well as writing and producing it.
One interesting note is that Wheaton says a big part of the original show concept would be mocking those delightfully awful paranormal “reality” shows…you know, the sort of thing that has proliferated the former Sci-Fi Channel’s airwaves ever since the dark times…ever since the Syfy name change. The sheer fact that Syfy was on board with that speaks volumes, and further suggests that the network seems to be working hard to get back to basics, embrace their roots, and actually broadcast some quality programming.
In fact, Wheaton addressed that very intriguing prospect:
I really love that I get to be part of something that brings Science Fiction back to Syfy, and if I read correctly between the lines during our meetings with the Syfy executives, this is just the beginning of the network formerly known as Sci-Fi returning to its science fiction roots, which is awesome.
And while I might tune in even if the show was just 22 minutes of Wheaton laughing while the Ghost Hunters guys squinted ponderously at shadows, The Wil Wheaton Project has evolved from that original premise and will be tackling scripted content as well as faux reality shows — pretty much anything that fits under the umbrella of “science fiction and genre entertainment.” The show will undoubtedly be its own thing, but I can’t help but think the rise of post-show chat programs like AMC’s Talking Dead and TNT’s Falling Skies 2nd Watch (the latter hosted by Wheaton) paved the way for The Wil Wheaton Project. The way we consume our entertainment is so detached from the traditional models of TV viewing, we’ve somewhat lost the notion of the “water cooler moment.” I can understand shows like this one tapping into that desire to bring that sort of feeling back.
And Wil, if you’re reading this, I’m totally sorry about the “Shut Up Wesley (In An Airtight Box)” button I bought at that convention that one time.
Syfy has greenlit the 12-episode summer series, The Wil Wheaton Project (working title), a weekly topical comedy show hosted by actor and champion of geek culture Wil Wheaton. The 30-minute show will offer a funny, fast-paced exploration and celebration of science fiction and genre entertainment. The series premieres Tuesday, May 27 at 10PM ET/PT on Syfy. Each week, Wil provides his insider point-of-view, sense of humor and expertise as he dissects the week’s most popular and trending topics across sci-fi film, television and pop culture, as well as video games, viral videos and news. Wil is on his feet for the rapid-fire half hour, delivering sharp, straight-to-camera commentary as he riffs his way through content clips. The result is a fun appreciation for all things science fiction.