SyFy Looking For the Next Great Space Opera

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It’s going to take me a while to get used to SyFy, the terrible new name for the SciFi Channel, but while I’m wrangling with that very small adjustment the heads of the network are up to a bigger task: looking for the replacement for Battlestar Galactica and Farscape. Quite a task, since Farscape was the core geek magnet, while Battlestar broke out into the mainstream. The network wants another large-scale ‘space opera’ to anchor its lineup, basically one science fiction ring to rule them all, and (thankfully) doesn’t see Caprica as the thing. io9 talked to Mark Stern, creative director of original programming at SyFy, to get some insight.

First, though, there are statements from Stern that reiterate the reason for the rebrand, in case you missed it: SciFi was too genre-specific, and may have pushed viewers away. “…hard scifi on the scifi channel is almost like this double whammy. Now that we have a brand that is a little broader and we’re embracing a lot of things we’re already doing. I think it also gives us a lot of freedom to do more hard scifi.” Granted, part of the rebrand also has to do with ownership. SciFi was too broad to copyright, while SyFy is not.

Anyway. This is what you want to read:

The next thing that I really want to do is find the next great space opera it’s been a long time. And we have Stargate, but that’s really not that show. And Caprica isn’t really that show. So where’s the next Star Trek or Farscape? Let’s find one of those…I’m a huge fan of Firefly, and shows that take that idea and take that part of the genre and reinvent it in a whole new way. I’d love to find our version of, not specifically Firefly, but similar to what Joss [Whedon] tried to do with that in terms of, “lets recast the Western in space.” Love that idea, and I love that show. What’s another way to approach that? We’re talking to a number of people about that, but at this point honestly it’s about getting Warehouse 13 on its feet, getting Caprica on its feet, getting Stargate Universe going.

Notice no mention of Alien Nation, which was recently reported as a possible candidate for reinvention. But Alien Nation wouldn’t be the big space opera the channel wants. Let the guessing begin. Will the channel adapt existing material, which seems likely (*cough* Larry Niven’s Known Space) or go for something all new, more in the vein of Firefly? What do you want to see become the cornerstone of the new SyFy?

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