Last week, March 18th, the Sci Fi Channel held their press upfront announcement in New York. During the even, Sci Fi announced a whole slew of new stuff for the upcoming year. I thought we would take a look at their announcements and see what is interesting to us as SF fans…
- Sci Fi Channel’s “Visions for Tomorrow” advisory board – Sir Richard Branson has joined the “Visions for Tomorrow” advisory board. Sci Fi’s “Visions For Tomorrow” is a multi-platform, pro-social campaign using the power of science fiction to inspire individuals, organizations, corporations and policymakers to meet the growing challenges of the future and advance the idea that individuals can affect positive change. Guided by an advisory board of 19 of the worlds most relevant visionaries and innovators in science, technology, design, journalism, film, television, business, government and future studies, the campaign utilizes public service announcements, educational curricula, and an interactive website to impact the future. Michio Kaku and Mary McDonnell are among the other board members. You can head over to their site and vote for your ‘Best 5’ books, TV shows, movies and things to do.
- Ghost Hunters International – GHI will be back with more episodes this summer. Surprisingly, GHI debuted as the highest rated reality series on Sci Fi, and averages 1.6 million viewers a night. I think that’s more than Galactica pulls in nowadays. For those of us interested in science fiction, this seems backwards.
- Scare Tactics – When you thing of Sci Fi, you think of ‘reality’ shows. Sci Fi will be bringing back Scare Tactics, wisely dumping Shannon Doherty and replacing her with Tracy Morgan. I still won’t be watching. Mind Control with Derren Brown will also return with an ‘extended special event’ and six 1-hour episodes. This is another show I couldn’t get in to. Apparently that was just me.
- Estate of Panic – Estate of Panic is a new game show whereby 7 contestants vie to obtain millions of dollars hidden throughout a massive estate. They must overcome a series of challenges, where 2 are eliminated each week, with the last one standing wins. Feels like Fear Factor crossed with Survivor. Meh.
- Brain Trust – Brain Trust sounds a bit more interesting. In Brain Trust, a band of geniuses know as The Trust are enlisted by everyday people to help find new solutions to some everyday problems. The Trust convenes and collaborates using their creative and intellectual prowess to strategize and solve the problem. The solutions hatched in their genius world are then put to the test. Might be worth a once over.
- Mystery of the Crystal Skulls – And now, for all you Indiana Jones fans, Sci Fi will air the special Mystery of the Crystal Skulls, on May 18th. Designed to ride the hype for Indy 4, this special will investigate the real life Crystal Skulls. I’m guessing they won’t leave you with the feeling that these skulls are, almost definitely, hoaxes.
- True Believer – True Believer is a quirky, contemporary dramedy about a 20-something comic book nerd who hires a washed-up real-life Superhero to be his crime-fighting sidekick and teach him the ropes. Together, this unlikely duo set out to save the World. True Believer will act as a back door pilot (John?) for a new series. If they can make this funny, it actually sounds rather interesting. I’ll tune in to see what it’s like.
- The Stranded – The Stranded is based on the comic of the same name, developed into a series. In The Stranded, five seemingly everyday people must face the terrifying question: what if your entire life your childhood, your family, your memories was a lie? For the stranded, Sisera, Endo, Drum, Tamree, and Cullen, its true. Each of them is from another world called Standfire, and now their past is returning to try and kill them. Now I’ll have to find a copy of the comics. This sounds intriguing to me, and is certainly very SF in plot. I’ll certainly watch.
- Deputized – Deputized is a dramedy in which an average Joe suddenly finds himself possessing special abilities after being accidentally fitted with an alien exoskeleton that cannot be removed. As a result, he is enlisted to serve on the inter-galactic police force that patrols the universe. Greatest American Hero anyone? While being definitely SF, its comedy SF, which doesn’t bode well. What was the last decent comedy SF show? I’ll watch to see, but I’m not holding out a lot of hope.
- Alice – Alice is a six-hour mini-series retelling the story of Alice in Wonderland by the team behind Tin Man. Now, I liked Tin Man, as did my wife, so I know we’ll tune in to watch. Anytime I can get my wife to watch with me is a good thing.
- Caprica – You’ve seen this before, but we’ll mention it again. Caprica has finally received the green-light to produce a two-hour backdoor pilot. Set 50 years before Battlestar Galactica, Caprica follows two rival families the Greystones and the Adamas as they grow, compete, and thrive in the vibrant world of the 12 Colonies. Enmeshed in the burgeoning technology of artificial intelligence and robotics that will eventually lead to the creation of the Cylons, the two houses go toe-to-toe. Yay, Dallas in space. I can’t wait. Oh wait, yes I can. If there’s one thing I don’t like on TV, it’s soap opera. Mixing soap and space opera doesn’t work for me. I’m out.
- Online Game Site – In mid-April, Sci Fi will open a site dedicated to gaming. The blogstyle site will be a hub for reports on all things relevant to the gamer lifestyle. With multiple daily posts from an in-the-know roster of contributors, game players and reviewers, the site covers the best and newest games, reports and industry news plus spotlights on game players and their strategies. How this site will fare in an already crowded (Kotaku, Gamespot, 1UP) market is hard to tell, but I’m guessing it’s an uphill road.
- Sci Fi Game Center – The Game Center will focus on science fiction themed casual games, featuring an ‘ever expanding’ lineup of games including Asteroids and other titles that ‘feature elements of…SCI FI shows.’ Again, I’m not sure how well this will work, but it’s certainly in keeping with Sci Fi’s mission to expand beyond the core TV property. I don’t see much overlap between casual gamers and science fiction fans.
- Season 4 of Galactica Premieres Online – That’s right, on April 4th at 12pm ET, Sci Fi will stream the season premier of Battlestar Galactica. This is a one time deal, so tune in at 12pm to see it, or you’ll have to wait until 9pm that night to catch the broadcast premier. I think this is a rather cool thing to do. I may have to stop working even earlier than usual and watch it.
- Cylon or Human – ‘SCIFI.COM is launching a social gaming experience for BSG fans who will be asked to choose a side Cylon or Human. After designating identities for themselves, individuals will engage the enemy, attempting to accrue points for their respective teams through online games and challenges. There will be a battle each week, with one of the teams being declared the victor. Users can earn personal points (cubits) on an ongoing basis as well, giving them the currency to do things like pimp their own virtual viper or raider.’ This seems, odd, and pimping your viper sounds plain silly. I can see this possibly working for fans of the show, but I think it could become goofy rather quickly. It will all depend on how it’s implemented.
- Starcrossed – ‘Starcrossed obliterates the fourth wall with its behind-the-scenes antics. Throwing in a bitter dose of Galaxy Quest cynicism for good measure, David Hewlett (Stargate Atlantis Dr. Rodney McKay) draws on his own experiences to pen this quirky Web series about life behind the camera at a long-running sci-fi space soap.’ I’m on the fence here. A ‘webisode’ model tells me ‘low budget’, then again, it won’t really need a big budget seeing as how it’s about the behind the scenes stuff of a TV show. I may check it out.
As you can see, Sci Fi is definitely committed to growing beyond being just a cable network. We’ll see if their foray into gaming will be a success. I think doing more stuff online focusing on their shows would be a wiser choice. Why nothing centered on Eureka? I know some people around here hate Second Life, but that platform seems ideal to create a virtual Eureka for fans to access. Looking at the TV series, while I’m not jumping up and down with joy, I think, for the most part, their new offerings are interesting enough to get at least one viewing from me. After that it’s up to them to catch my interest.