Dec 22 2010

An Open Letter to SYFY on the subject of Stargate Universe's cancellation

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To the Executives at Syfy,

I am a long-time watcher of Syfy (and before that, Sci-Fi) and have considered Syfy one of the main, positive reasons to continue to subscribe to basic cable (in addition to BBCAmerica and Discovery Channel).  I was a fan of the original Stargate TV show for the first few seasons.  I eventually tired of the show because I felt it had explored all of the aspects of the characters it could and I didn't become a fan of the subsequent spin-off of the franchise, Atlantis.  A friend encouraged me to try Stargate Universe because it was a departure from the tone of the previous shows.

I was surprised to find Universe to be a complex human drama set within the Stargate Mythology but isolated and insulated from much of the trappings of that mythology.  Within the crucible of Destiny we could explore both the lighter and very much the darker sides of a group of characters that had deep and subtle characterizations.

It was clear from the premise that a mechanism was in place to be able to introduce new characters as needed to keep things interesting as well as a means (the stones) to provide variations for smaller stories.  And the writers have demonstrated that they are willing to be hard with the crew, abandoning or killing crew as the story demands.  It was a refreshing and welcome addition to my viewing and a real hard-core science-fiction show.

Canceling SGU is a huge mistake.

The Syfy channel is going the route of The Nashville Network (remember them?). Country music fans (myself among them) ceased to watch as the network slowly downplayed the "county" and then eliminated it altogether and re-branded as Spike TV.

Since you've "gone mainstream" you have run the risk of losing the core audience that loved and sustained you when you were Sci-Fi and while we might grumble about "siffy" or puzzle at the wrestling and Friday night schlock horror films as long as you don't forget us we are willing to forgive you. We aren't stupid and we understand that you don't see us as a viable sole audience.  

We want to help you to understand that we love these shows but we aren't willing to change our lives to fit your schedule and so we time-shift and download as a way to allow us to see the programs we love on our terms.  And, unfortunately that isn't reflected in the "traditional ratings" system. But we know where the shows come from and we support the sponsors and buy the swag and perpetuate the fandom as a way to give back to the series creators, studios and networks.

In short, fans are always there and will always be there as long as you don't screw us.  We like Eureka, Sanctuary and Warehouse 13 and will probably like the "American" Being Human.  We'll support them too. But they aren't really "hard-core" Sci-Fi like the Stargate Franchise. SGU was good science fiction. Proper and real. It has great story, acting,... characters and we love the show. AND IT IS SCIENCE FICTION

Without Caprica or SGU you will just be "siffy" to the folks that you set out to create the network for in the first place and we will look elsewhere for our sci-fi entertainment and leave you to your "mainstream" audiences while simultaneously discouraging the fandoms, the online communities, and the other geeks and nerds from even really taking anything you do seriously.

Please reconsider SGU for renewal. It might not be your highest rated show, but it was certainly the one with the most sci-fi "cred" left on your network. And we (the sci-fi fans) would like to keep you in touch with your roots for a little while longer.

You won't find people dressing up as the Ghost Hunters at a convention or buying a Haven action figure.  You aren't going to find a lot of Destination Truth, or Friday Night Smackdown conventions.  Fans continue to spend money on franchises that are dead like Firefly and Star Trek because they love them. You can't go wrong by trusting the there are people out there watching even if the "ratings" don't seem to reflect it.

Listen to the buzz coming from the fans, podcasts, websites, twitter, facebook, and blogs.  This might be a show you can "uncancel" and turn into a win for the Syfy Network.


C. David Dent