SyFy—Please, Please, Imagine Greater. Science Fiction Reality.

blog post #61 by Science Fiction Author Clara Bush

Back in the 1990s, when our family first got Dish, I was a huge fan of the SyFy channel. Stargate,  Battlestar Galactica, Farscape, and Firefly provided me with a regular dose of sci-fi to satisfy my craving for the genre.

Then something happened to the Sci Fi Channel. They became SyFy and they went all reality. Up until recently, it was hard to find anything other than reality junk (and junk is being polite) on SyFy.

Over the past five to ten years, when I punched in the numbers on my remote for the SyFy channel, there would be nothing but real people doing fake things to look real.

What happened to my go-to-escape-from-reality channel?

Me, not a fan of anything remotely reality. And I venture to say that not many SyFy lovers are enthusiasts of reality TV.

My husband is a big, big fan of The Voice, and it’s a good show that gives singers an opportunity they would not have otherwise. As for me, my heart breaks for those singers who get voted off. It’s like a writer getting her tenth rejection email in a day. Can’t watch it. Too real. Same for me with Face Off, though I do enjoy the monsters.

But things are looking up for us SyFyers. Over the last couple of years, the channel added Haven, Helix, Defiance, and Dominion. Of those, I watch Haven. The few times I watched Helix, I was impressed.

The problem, other channels jumped on the popularity of off-beat, sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, scripted dramas and offered series like The 100, The Walking Dead, The Vampire DiariesGrimm and summer favorites like Falling SkiesUnder the Dome and Extant.

We now have choices and the SyFy channel has competition.
The reason I was unable to follow Helix—there were too many scheduling conflicts.

SyFy Plans

Totally unlikely the channel will ever publicly disclose their missed opportunity to stay true to their fans instead of jumping on the reality bandwagon, and as a writer, it is a lesson worth learning. 
SyFy, under the direction of their new programming chief, Bill McGoldrick, has a plan to recoup their fan base with a winter featuring more of that for which we SyFyers are searching.

The Big Five

Five titles have been given the go-ahead by the network and they have my attention.
 Ascension stars Battlestar Galactica favorite, Tricia Helfer.
1.  Ascension premieres December 15, 2014 at 9:00/8:00 central and is a six hour mini-series with the potential to develop into a regular series. It airs in two hour episodes on three consecutive nights. 

The Story

It is inspired by the real-life Project Orion that existed under the administration of President John F. Kennedy. In an alternate version of reality—in 1963—President Kennedy and the U.S. government,  launch a covert space mission. They fear the Cold War will become not so cold and destroy earth.

Six hundred men, women and children are sent into space on a century-long voyage aboard the Ascension, a massive, self-sustaining generation ship. (A generation ship is an interstellar ark starship that travels space and is home to generations of descendants.) Their mission is to populate a new world, known as Proxima, and assure the survival of mankind. When the travelers are nearly 50 years into their journey—point of no return—the murder of a young woman aboard their starship—the first homicide since their departure—causes them to question the true nature of their mission.

2. 12 Monkeys is scheduled for January 16, 2015 and is a series with thirteen episodes.

The Story

Time Traveller James Cole travels from the year 2043 to present day in order to stop the release of a deadly virus by the cryptic organization known as Army of the Twelve Monkeys. In Cole’s original timeline, the virus killed 93.6% of the world’s population. 

The SyFy series is said to depart from the 1995 movie directed by Terry Gilliam. 
In an article for, Kaitlin Thomas reports:
One way the TV series will differ is that there won’t be any ambiguity about whether Stanford’s Cole is actually from the future or just a little bit crazy. “He is a time-traveler,” said Fickett [story editor]. But that doesn’t rule out the latter option, of course, as Ficket also noted that “we’re not saying he’s not an insane person [too].” Matales [story editor] went on to call the character an antihero, because “[Cole’s] not out to save 7 billion people, he’s out to save himself.”


3. Childhood’s End, another six hour mini-series, is slated for sometime in 2015 and is based on the science fiction classic by Arthur C. Clarke.

The Story

A breed of aliens, known as the Overlords, manage to peacefully invade and rule Earth, and create a pseudo-utopia that comes at the price of human identity and culture.

4. The Expanse is a ten expisode series with no launch date for release.

The Story

A thriller set two hundred years in the future, The Expanse follows the case of a missing young woman who brings a hardened detective and a rogue ship’s captain together in a race across the solar system to expose the greatest conspiracy in human history.
Based on a series of books by James S.A. Corey.
5. Hunters is a thirteen episodes series scheduled to premiere in 2016.

The Story

A Philadelphia cop’s search for his missing wife leads him to the discovery of a secret government unit. The objective of the unit is to hunt a group of terrorists who may not be from this world. Based on Whitley Strieber’s book, Alien Hunter.

Just Sayin’

I’m interested. The line-up would bring me back to a steady diet of SyFy.


1. Some of the mini-series develop into an actual series like Battlestar Galactica did.


2. Programming is done to avoid conflict with already established sci-fi series and/or other popular television shows in which I (or a family member) already have an invested interest. 
Like what is the deal with Monday and Tuesday nights. Everything is scheduled on those two nights. I had to give up Sleepy Hollow. Why would you even attempt to compete with The Voice, Dancing With The Stars, or NCIS?
And yet, what do I notice right off the bat? Ascension is scheduled for a Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night starting December 15. Monday is the season finale of The Voice—one of the most viewed of all TV programs on that night.

McGoldrick, what are you thinking? Could we please imagine greater? It’s not rocket science. 


3. They give the series a chance to grow an audience. I am sick of developing an interest in a story line and its characters, and then it’s canceled after just one season. Currently, I am not watching any of the new series that premiered this fall, unless it is on The CW channel. I’m afraid the networks will cancel their new programs without giving them a chance to establish a fan base.

A current favorite of mine The 100 on The CW.
That is one of the reasons I am a fan of The CW. Look how long Supernatural has been televised. The CW seems to be doing it right. And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

(For more on what The CW is doing right check out: Monday Morning Critic: ‘The 100′ and What The CW is Doing Right |
Monday Morning Critic: ‘The 100′ and What The CW is Doing Right
by Ryan McGee)

It makes more sense to wait to see if a series makes it before becoming invested. If it is renewed, we can always catch up on Amazon or Netflex. 


What do  you think of SyFy’s new line-up? Will it be enough to pull back into their fan base?
To prove I love hearing from you, for those who share a comment, your name will be placed into a magic jar. If you comment and link back to my blog from your blog, your name will be placed in the magic jar twice. On November 20, 2014, my alien friend ( or ghost) (or Walk-In) (or whoever is hanging around at the time) will reach into the jar and pull forth a name. That person can claim one of the following:

1. A Wyso/Danny ring handcrafted by my Native American friend, Neal Paquin of Santa Fe, NM, especially designed for my first novella, Wyso and the Other Creepy Kids on Gerard Street. (Picture to be posted some time. I need an attractive finger. Eddie, my cat, won’t cooperate. Neither will Cassidy, Sunny,  Stella, or Apple (the last two are dogs). And I’m not much on selfies, especially, a selfie of one of my fingers.

2. A $20 gift certificate to Amazon via email.

3. My opinion of the first twenty pages of your novel or novella. (Not that my opinion is worth anything, but it is someone else’s opinion. Something I look for every chance I get. Just thought you might be looking also.)

The Science Fiction Reality blog is a little science, a little fiction, a little about writing, a little real, and a lot of weird.

Clara Bush
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7 replies on “SyFy—Please, Please, Imagine Greater. Science Fiction Reality.”

I LOVE a good Sci Fi mini series, almost more than an actual full blown multi-season series. A Mini usually has better acting, better graphics, and the story is well developed (hopefully/usually).. as apposed to a series full of fluff and nonsense episodes. That being said, I am excited to watch Ascension.. hoping it is a sexy Sci Fi “mad-men,” (as apposed to campy 1960s doo-wap). Also, Childhood’s End sounds awesome! How can you go wrong with Alien Overlords?! I guess we will have to see 🙂 Thanks, Clara, for the handy lineup

Gosh two comments from you today. How lucky am I? Your name goes into the magic jar twice. Thank you for commenting. I love hearing from you.

And you are right a Sci Fi mini series is hard to beat. I am just so glad the SyFy channel seems to be re-establishing their roots. I’ll take mini-series or full-blown series as long as it’s sci fi, edgy, creative, characters to love, good acting, great special effects, a thought-provoking story…

Sorry, I hit submit too soon. As I was saying…

I abhor reality TV Shows. I couldn’t agree with you more, I have enough reality in my life. I like to watch Sci Fi in order to escape. Face off is a fun show, and I enjoy the creativity involved, but the drama of it and they way they portray some people by highlighting their worst moments makes me queasy. I once met an ex-fashion designer who was on project runway and was booted off early. She explained how she gave up fashion design after being on the show and they way they portrayed her. Then, after they show in her post – series interviews they continued to slate her in a way she felt completely defeated. So she gave up her dream. Its can be too heart breaking.

As for your line- up, I would love to watch more sci-fi, I was always happy the channel existed. It feels like a channel for me. It would be nice if they rebranded as the channel that develops long story arcs and series instead of short, low budget one offs that always leave you hungry for more and; at the same time, somewhat unimpressed. Ascension definitely has my vote. I love Tricia Helfer and thinks she is so incredibly sexy. I’ve also always loved stories set around escaping the eventual demise of Earth and relocating to another planet. I imagine this is because I see this as an inevitable part of our future. (But not our reality… yet, so still not reality tv… yet hehe).
I am intrigued by The Expanse… I am pretty interested in seeing what this “utopia” looks like that is created.
I have to say, Hunters sounds right up your alley.
Thank you for the information, I always am interested in seeing a line up of new and exciting shows and it looks like this one was hand picked for me!

DilloKid, Thank you for joining us. Your name just went into the magic jar.

It’s so great to find someone else who hates reality tv. I’m sorry for the experience your friend encountered in her Project Runway drama. Mainly, because she gave up her dream.

Dreams—good ones—are hard to hold on to. Life gets in the way. So hold tight. Hold tight, my DilloFriend.

Wow, TV showing real stories???? You mean no more Honey Booboo? Wow I just don’t know…. These actually all sound like promising series. I am with you though. It is hard to take it when a series that you just became addicted to is put on the chopping block.
I will probably wait to see if they stick so I don’t feel like I am left hanging. A couple years back I was on a focus group talking about Sci-Fi(I refuse to use the new name). Everyone on the group hated the direction the were taking. There was a cooking show they tried to get us to like. It would have been cool on a different network but if I wanted that I would be looking at a reality channel. I am hoping your new line-up means we are turning a corner.

Hi Jenny- thank you for commenting. And such a great comment. I’m like you, if we want cooking or reality we’ll go to a channel that offers cooking or reality.

I go to the Sci Fi channel to escape and I am hopeful this new line up offers us that and more.

Get back to your old roots Sci Fi, we’re here waiting.

Fun, Jenny. Thanks. I just put your name in the magic jar. Good luck!

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