With another adaptation failing at SyFy it’s time shift gears.
The science-fiction cable giant, SyFy needs to rethink their strategy. The odds of them ever landing a major science fiction brand like Star Trek or Star Wars is extremely unlikely, at least at the moment, and with the constant failures of the comic book adaptation, the network needs to stop thinking of established franchises and go back to bulk-ordering original series. Just look at the series like Krypton, Happy!, Deadly Class, Dark Matter, and now Vagrant Queen has all been canceled after one or two seasons respectively. Other shows based off of novels like Nightflyers, Hunters and The Expanse all saw three seasons or less.
Since the end of Haven, which seemed to conclude a golden era of sci-fi series on the cable giant, 34 shows have come to a conclusion on the network. One, Ghost Hunter, ran for more than a decade (13 seasons). Two more are still running (SmackDown and NXT) just on different outlets. Of the rest, only six have hit four seasons or more; Lost Girl, Continuum, Killjoys, The Magicians, Z Nation, Channel Zero, and Van Helsing.
Besides all seven of those shos lasting for more than three seasons, the only other thing they have in common is that they’re ending or have already ended. Meaning that the only active show that SyFy has on its lineup is Wynonna Earp.
What is coming next? Well Resident Alien, another comic series. There’s Five Ghosts, another comic series. Then there are the reboots in Chucky, Nightbreed, and Night Gallery.
Will these shows pan out? Probably not and why? Well, as Deadline put it;
….following the blockbuster success of The Magicians, the network scaled back on unscripted fare, instead making a major investment in premium scripted content with a focus on edgy, younger-skewing shows with offbeat, quirky, off-kilter sensibility, like breakout hit Happy!, the just premiered Deadly Class, upcoming animated late-night program Alien News Desk — also from Saturday Night Live producer Broadway Video — and the Resident Alien pilot.
See, that’s the problem. Trend following. Yes, Magicians was really good – for that one season – but to put your entire network into that basket is a bad idea. Also note, three of those shows (Deadly Class, Alien News Desk, and Happy!) have already been canceled due to poor ratings. That Deadline article is only 18 months old.
Clearly the “let’s do everything like Magicians” idea has failed.
Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t possibilities that another adaptation can work. It just won’t work anytime soon. This happens all the time. For every Star Wars, there’s a Starcrash. For every The Magicians there’s a Vagrant Queen. Now, that’s not a shot at the show’s quality, I never watched it and have only heard great things about it. The only reason it’s brought up is to show that following trends don’t work; usually.
The best idea one can go with is to revert back to original programming ideas and stay away from the same type of source material. Which in itself is hard to pull off for the network. Sure, Killjoys lasted a while and Wynonna Earp is still going strong(-ish, season four could be it’s last) but things need to change.
The targe demo and the type of show might be the problem. The flashy, stylish, and “modern” type of show may not be what this brand should be about. Think about the Hallmark Channel. They’re dominating the ratings. Not just in the average viewers, but they’re doing better in the 18-49 demo than most networks. Namely CW and SyFy channel. The two channels that cater exclusively to that demo.
Maybe it’s time for SyFy to stop trying to target the teens and 20-somethings and just go back to making good shows and hope that demo tunes in. Eureka and Battlestar Galactica weren’t made for tweens and their ilk, they were just made to be good. That’s why people found them. Pandering, catering, whatever you want to call it, has a shelflife.
When Hallmark is getting more of that 18-49 demo than you, it’s time to rethink your delivery. Stop trying to be the “cool” channel and just go back to making compelling series that fans can relate to. It worked before, it’ll work again.