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The news that Syfy has canceled Eureka would have already been disappointing to fans — particularly since the network also backtracked on an earlier plan to order a shortened sixth season. But more than a few viewers are taking the news as evidence that the network formerly (and more accurately) known as the Sci-Fi Channel is suffering from an existential crisis. Commenter Doug sardonically voices the complaint of several EW readers when he says, “Now they have room for another Wrestling show or ‘Reality’ paranormal special.” Exombre notes: “MTV doesn’t show videos anymore, why should ‘Syfy’ have any legitimate science fiction?” Is Syfy having an identity crisis?
Now, it’s not entirely accurate to say that Syfy has de-genrefied itself: The network just debuted the new superpowered hit Alphas, and one of its most popular series is the X-Files-ish Warehouse 13, which if nothing else is the only show currently on television to prominently feature a character named H.G. Wells. But there’s no denying the fact that the network still hasn’t found a deep-thinking critically-acclaimed sci-fi show to replace Battlestar Galactica, the bleakly thrilling space opera that will always define the mid-00s for those lucky few who actually watched it. As EW’s Ken Tucker pointed out last year, the network’s post-BSG programming has trended towards much more lighthearted fare. The network’s one real attempt to craft a dark work of philosophical sci-fi was Caprica, a BSG prequel that had its moments but could never quite find its footing.
The cynical part of me feels honor-bound to point out that Battlestar Galactica always looked out of place on the network. When I was growing up on the Sci-Fi Channel, it featured plenty of fantastic TV reruns, but besides the last few seasons of MST3k, the show’s original programming was always a mix of cheapo filmed-in-Canada fare like Mission Genesis. Farscape is the only pre-BSG show that really carved a distinctive niche for itself. (Stargate: Atlantis has its fans, but nobody’s perfect.) With its original programming, the network has always veered towards the shallower end of the genre pool. In that sense, the cancellation of Eureka and the arrival of the WWE just feel like par for the course.
Still, the future slate is not encouraging. The only big hope for genuinely good science-fiction in Syfy’s post-Battlestar Galactica period is… another Battlestar Galactica show. Viewers, does the loss of Eureka leave you feeling troubled about Syfy’s future? Don’t you wish they could put together a cheap-yet-awesome science-fiction show? Or can anything save us from the Tommy Lee show?
Follow Darren on Twitter: @EWDarrenFranich