Syfy – it’s not just the network’s name that’s got sillier, reckons Dave Golder in this week’s sfx.co.uk editorial
Okay. I’ll come clean. It was me who said that.
Now, before I’m lynched by Artie and The Bionic Woman ’shippers, let me clarify that statement. It was, as those quotes often are, taken shamelessly out of context.
I don’t hate Warehouse 13 . Far from it. It’s a piece of diverting fluff, with some likeable characters, that usually raises a few smiles every week. Sure, Eddie McClintock’s “You don’t have to be mad to work here” shtick can sometimes feel a bit like being stuck in a lift with a swarm of pissed-up mosquitoes and the CG looks like it was created by Filmation sometime in the ’80s, but it’s light-hearted fun
No, what that out-of-context quote should have said was, “The success of Warehouse 13 is the worst thing that ever to happen to Syfy.” Especially since the network’s “serious” shows – Caprica and Stargate Universe – are tanking in the ratings, while the frothier Eureka continues to do well. The worry is that Syfy may now think that its shows need to be silly to succeed.
Certainly this seems to be the case with Haven , a show that on the one hand wants to be The X-Files meets The Birds but on the other has plots about stuffed animals coming to life and sentient shadows. Okay, the X-Files had its fair share of silly ideas, but the tone of the show was consistently dour; even the “comedy” episodes were underpinned with real horror and desperate characters. In Haven , though, the cast always look like they’ve only just managed to hold in the giggles before the director shouted cut, especially if they’ve just had to mention “the troubles” in that special way they have of making it sound like a euphemism for an STD.
Haven should be quirky. It should be a procedural show in the same territory as Twin Peaks . Instead, it seems be located somewhere nearer to Eureka . The result is disastrously uneven.
Okay, you might be saying, that’s one show. Hardly the empirical proof of a new trend. But let’s have a look a few other shows Syfy has in development currently. See if you can spot a potential Battlestar Galactica among them:
- BALL & CHAIN : A warring couple call their relationship quits, but are then in a near miss with a meteorite that gives them extraordinary powers. Only problem is, their powers only work when they’re in close proximity to each other. Much hilarity ensues.
- ORION : National Treasure meets Firefly in a swashbuckling space opera about an adventurous female relic hunter and her team. Much hilarity ensues.
- SHERWOOD : A Robin Hood story for the 23rd century. Much hilarity ensues.
- LEGENDARY : Kevin Sorbo plays an exaggerated version of himself as a former syndicated television series star, enlisted by a fan to combat mythological creatures that threaten to destroy Los Angeles. Much hilarity ensues.
- HUMAN RELATIONS : The Office meets Men in Black as an office temp discovers that his off-kilter and odd-ball bosses at a strange hi-tech ad agency are really aliens working on a plan to destroy the Earth. Much hilarity ensues.
Now, I’ve been very open-minded about the new Syfy version of Being Human . After all, for every Life On Mars US there’s an Office US. And I’ve got to admit, looking at the publicity pics released recently, it looks like a lot of elements from the UK show remain intact (although that may not be such a great thing for a show that needs to establish its own identity – the more similar they are the more the differences will feel irritating). But more and more as I hear about Syfy’s other future projects, I’m wondering whether the UK horror comedy is going to turn out be a US comedy horror, with a wisecracking Jim Carrey wannabe werewolf. Or even worse a Woody Allen werewolf moaning about his time of the month. Please, please, please let me be wrong, and Being Human is the show that bucks the Syfy trend. If not, hey, that’s another future column in the bag.
Oh, and strike me down with an olde English spell – Merlin used a power other than telekinesis this week.