Sci-Fi Fodder

Is SciFi Dying Out?

The Website at the End of the Universe posed an interesting question today: "Is sci-fi a dying genre on television?"

There is a ton of evidence to support the theory that Sci-Fi TV is on life support. Airlock Alpha lists 16 shows that will not be returning next year (for the record, they are “Lost”, “Battlestar Galactica”, “Dollhouse”, “Defying Gravity”, “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles”, “Stargate: Atlantis”, “My Own Worst Enemy", “Reaper", “Kings,” “Kyle XY”, “Pushing Daisies”, “Eli Stone”, “Eastwick", “Life on Mars”, “Merlin”, and “Primeval”). Only "Lost" and "Battlestar Galactica" ended on their own terms - everything else was cancelled or cut short.

The list is still likely to grow. It does not include the shows that have not technically been cancelled yet, but are in the "likely-to-be-cancelled-unless-something-special-happens" category. This includes some shows that I think will make it ("V", "Demons", "Saving Grace") and some that probably will not ("Heroes", "Flash Forward", "Torchwood"). However, if we count all six - that's a total of 22 shows that would not be back this fall.

If all of that carnage occurs, what's left? Per the article, the following Sci-Fi shows are still active:

  • “Caprica”
  • “Stargate Universe”
  • “Warehouse 13”
  • “Eureka”
  • “Sanctuary”
  • “Doctor Who”
  • “Being Human”
  • “Fringe”
  • “Chuck”
  • “Smallville”
  • “Supernatural”
  • “Vampire Diaries”
  • “True Blood”
  • “Legend of the Seeker”
  • “Being Erica”

It's a good quality list. "Supernatural" and "Doctor Who" are consistently among the highest quality programming on TV. "Eureka" is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. And, "True Blood" has exceeded my expectations by far. Even the compelling "Caprica" seem to have strong support from SyFy, despite pretty abysmal ratings.

The main problem that I see is that the major American networks (i.e. ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX) are not well-represented on this list at all. I see "Fringe" and "Chuck" and...that's it. Without enough perceived viewership for new Sci-Fi shows, the major networks will not take a chance on a promising new genre show. The fallout from the lack of representation on those networks could be dire - Sci-Fi could fall back into the old geeky niche it used to occupy, rather than be part of the mainstream (like "Lost" or "Battlestar Galactica").

I obviously don't want to see Sci-Fi programming marginalized to solely the SyFy Channel and late night filler fodder. But, there is hope, and that hope comes in the form of new pilots for the fall season. I'll have a listing of shows that could be 'The Next Big Thing" up later this week - and, hopefully, a few of those will transform into the blockbusters that we all want to see. The calvary is coming...let's hope they can ride.