Thursday, April 21, 2011

If I ran the SyFy Channel

I'd stop thinking small....

The Channel that bears the flag for the genre has a hard time even living up to it

I'll grant you that the Fy part nowadays stands mostly for Fantasy and by that I mean horror/occult monster movie of the month or creeped out reality shows. Not exactly the Fantasy storytelling of The Hobbit or the Chronicles of Narnia or even the Nine Princes of Amber, but hey, people watch it, it makes their advertisers happy and to quote a well used meme... profit!

What galls me is that there is so little attention actually placed on Science Fiction and Fantasy works that got us all wonked on the genre to begin with.

You could have an "old school" approach and get the rights to classics like The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone. Hell, I can do a rundown on all sorts of stuff that may appeal to folks, old MST3K riftages on old SF films, Buck Rogers, the old cinematic shorts and the TV series, The Invaders, Land of the Lost, Land of the Giants, Time Tunnel, Lost in Space, Battlestar Galactica, Quark, Space 1999, UFO, Space Patrol, Farscape, Firefly, Babylon 5, Quantum Leap and I haven't named them all yet. That's without even touching upon the iconic series and its spinoffs.

there is loads of fiction out there to be mined, the genre is healthy and has a bit of something for everyone, space opera, military SF, hard science, inner science, alternate history and some plain old storytelling in a "different" environment. The support industry is out there, all those years of Star Trek and Star Wars have provided the TV and movie industry enough folks doing special effects, be they of a video or computer variety or even advannces in makeup that allow otherworldly and fantastic visions to achieve a reality, cost effectively.

The works range from Jim Butcher's occult/fantasy detective fiction to Niven's hard science approaches to Ringworld. There's plenty of old school authors out there to be mined, Asimov, Dick, Heinlein, are just some of those that have passed who's stories should be accessible, the same holds true for many others its just a matter of vision and desire, something sorely in need for a network that is supposed to represent an entire genre. there are many stories that scream for series treatments, say David Brin's Uplift War, Cook's Garrett P.I. stories, Weber's Safehold series, just to name a few, I'm sure others could offer more (maybe even better ones) ideas.

Also one note to my network executives, read the frickin story before you start casting. Sometimes the description of the characters matter, sometimes it doesn't. Case in point the works of Stephen King.... on one hand, we have the Shawshank Redemption, Red is described as a lifer, but the type of character is important, so casting Morgan Freeman was inspired and intrepid and it worked like a charm. They kept the dialogue and matched it with an actor who could lend the common sense reality and grittiness that the narrator needed. One the other hand, The Dead Zone... you have Christopher Walken as John Smith, great pick, Brooke Adams as the girlfriend who moved on, Herbert Lom as the doctor... all well done. The thing is, the heavy, the villian of the piece is completely wrong. The Greg Stillson character is described as a beefy, hearty, man-mountain kinda guy who is full of false bonhommie up front and underneath is a sinister, sociopathic nutjob. Martin Sheen was cast. No offense to Martin Sheen, who is a very accomplished actor, what he isn't is six foot four and and big in the shoulders, Martin Sheen isn't menacing anyone. You dig?

So find some short stories of note, perhaps some old classics that cause you to think, perhaps something like H. Beam Piper's Omnilingual ( as an example, not too many people familiar with it, but would or could make good television or at least they would be trying to do better versus some of the pedantic fare that they are peddling now. I'm okay with cheesy monster flicks, just not a steady diet of them.

So just in case, I'm currently out of work and could use a job, just in case any network wants to pimp out their programming....