My memories of the Sci-Fi Channel/Syfy
by Doc on Dec.10, 2012, under Television
Since tonight is time to reminisce about Syfy/Sci-Fi Channel, I figure I should add some of my own memories of the channel.
I didn’t get to watch the channel it the earliest days. I seemed to have the problem that wherever I lived, it was an older cable system that couldn’t add channels until they did a system upgrade, and when that happened, I moved within a couple months to another old system. So it was a couple of years before I even saw it for the first time. I’m not entirely sure when I was first able to watch it regularly.
I remember on I believe it was Saturday mornings there was a bizarre show hosted by Dr. Franklin Ruehl, called Mysteries from Beyond the Other Dominion. It featured clips of purported UFOs, aliens, etc. Dr. Ruehl himself was a character…to this day, I’m not sure if he intended for the show to be taken seriously or not. Some years later I saw him on a short lived game show called Identity uttering his sign-off “May The Power of the Cosmos be with You,” and I’ve seen him sporadically since.
On the more serious side, it was followed up by Sci-Fi Buzz, a news-type show about all things science fiction, hosted by Mike Jerrick with regular segments by Bob “It Came From Bob’s Basement” Burns and Harlan Ellison (who often said he refused to say the name of the channel on which it aired).
One of the more unusual things the Sci-Fi Channel had was a show made up of many short interstitial segments, called FTL Newsfeed. It presented as a news blurb from the future, introduced by a “blue talking head” anchor, and featured issues around politics, drugs, genetic engineering, civil rights, etc. – all from 150 years in the future. The outfits were rather cartoonish, but overall it presented an interesting story. It stopped abruptly around 1996 after several years.
And of course, there were all the favorite programs from my youth being shown – Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, etc.
But by far the best thing about the channel was when it showed programs that despite their quality didn’t make it long on broadcast TV – shows like Probe (just an example, it was the first one I could think of), which only had a handful of episodes, and otherwise would never have been seen again.
Sadly, those days are long gone. The channel has grown up. And like many such cable channels that start out as a niche channel, it eventually gets to the point that it needs to have all original programming to make money and earn to right to stay on a cable system. Showing re-runs of 30-40 year old programs is not where the money is – especially with the increase in later years of on-demand video and the Internet, plus the biggest fans buying DVDs and being able to watch the old programs whenever they want.
Then again, that evolution has brought us a whole lot of new original programs – we got several more years of Stargate SG-1 after it moved from Showtime, plus two more series, plus Sanctuary, and the new Battlestar Galactica, and Eureka, and Warehouse 13, and Haven and Being Human others. And there are more to come, like Defiance. I miss the old, but I like the new. Syfy and I haven’t always agreed on things, but Syfy’s also taken the time to make me understand.
And through Syfy, I’ve made friends of the actors and producers and executives…it only took 10 years of running this site…but it’s been worth it.
Thank you, Syfy, for feeding my addiction for the past 20 years.
December 11th, 2012 on 3:12 pm
I am a huge SciFi fan. But not so much a SyFy fan lately. Im tired of all the reality TV shows and the really really bad monster movies of the week. I just dont watch the channel at all anymore. But all it would take for me to come back: 1) A classic SciFy movie of the week with a knowledgeable host talking about the movie with a guest (TCMish.) 2) An effort to make true quality B grade sci fi movies. Movies based upon a script, not C grade monster/catastrophe of the week. I really think it could be done.
December 11th, 2012 on 4:23 pm
I agree with what you say, but right now the environment is such that it is not likely to happen.
Many of the old classics don’t draw in ratings to warrant them being shown on Syfy any more.
And the Saturday Night Movies do great ratings wise, at least vs. their cost. Yes, they are cheesy…but plenty of people are watching them. Some are just fun to watch and root for the monsters 🙂
Hard SF material, especially space-based stuff, is expensive. The more expensive it is, the higher the ratings need to be. Economics of television, unfortunately.