'Grammatically-incorrect Slogan!'

'Grammatically-incorrect Slogan!'

Say what you will about companies like Nintendo beginning to distance themselves from their core audience — on Monday the Sci Fi Channel made its final split from the demographic that built their ever-increasingly-expensive glass house. Maybe this stone will finally, deservedly, bring it down.

This article in TVWeek (linked via Penny Arcade) sums up the situation very well, but to sum it up even more: Science Fiction can only ever appeal to unwashed introverted lonely men, and the President of the Sci Fi Channel fervently believes that association will forever keep the network from reaching its full potential.

I don’t think the executives at the Sci Fi Channel have ever understood the wares that they — by the very name of their network — claim to peddle. If they did, they wouldn’t (under)fund the famously poor-quality Original Productions that have become synonymous with their name. They wouldn’t air wrestling. They wouldn’t make claims that shows like Caprica or Warehouse 13 would be “more accessible” to audiences because it didn’t have anything to do with spaceships, aliens, or anything else “unreal”. They wouldn’t lament that the one big regret about the run of Battlestar Galactica is that it didn’t include a puppy as a recurring character.

It’s not just that they don’t understand science fiction — they publicly despise it. In their latest release, we discover that they also despise the (horrifically stereotyped) type of person who actually enjoys their programming. Instead of feeling constricted by the stereotypes, why not fund, create, and promote the shows that break them? If someone is having a hard time getting into a program because of the inevitable superficial oddities, why not do a little marketing and figure out what hook to proffer to bring these (apparently lacking) demographics into the fold instead of changing the shows — or canceling them to create new ones — to cater to these supposedly alien tastes?

It’s really very simple. These executives aren’t the kind of people who grew up with these shows, movies, books, comics, and assorted knicknacks, dreaming for the day when they can bring their passion to the masses. These are people within Universal who saw a way to make a buck and seized on it. That they actually ever produced anything that anyone likes is purely incidental to their intent, and the sole responsibility of fantastic show runners and production companies who sought to better a network that — time and time again — has failed to side with them when their back was to the wall.

So what spurred this latest change? Revenue is up — amazing during a recession. So is viewership; Sci Fi is now the #13 network, according to the aforementioned TVWeek article. Battlestar Galactica is about to air its final episode tonight, which is sure to be a ratings smash.

Clearly, it’s time for a change. Look how well this publicly-accessible, quasi-sci-fi direction that Dollhouse is taking.

Er, bad example?

With this new move, “SyFy” sheds any last vestige of pretense about what they’re after. I, for one, couldn’t be more thrilled. Now I don’t have to pretend to care any more.