Well, here's the problem with your thesis: BSG
hasn't been a huge ratings success and now SyFy seems to be dropping it as a franchise in favor of shows that are more in their USA-lite style.
I wouldn't use BSG
as the template for Star Trek'
s future success. Instead, Game of Thrones
and The Walking Dead
are better inspirations, since those are two of the biggest ratings successes on TV right now, and even though they aren't space-based, they have managed to convince millions of viewers who aren't necessarily genre fans to accept a fantastical premise, and also that sf/f is not incompatible with quality drama for grownups.
The lesson that those two teach is that Star Trek
shouldn't be afraid of complex storylines and characterizations, byzantine politics, adult themes, and mega-violence. In fact, those are the elements that will help it thrive on cable, which is the only place it can thrive anymore.
The Walking Dead
in particular demonstrates that the lead characters do not need to be dark or immoral people. If the plotline puts some kind of extreme pressure on them, they might do sketchy things, or at least talk about doing them. But they need to be free to make moral choices, to pull back from the brink if that makes sense for the story.
I'd stay away from homosexuality as a topic unless it's cast as a metaphor. Homosexuality in the Federation should be no big deal and therefore can't be the basis of a dramatic conflict. I don't know why the Klingons would get bent out of shape about a gay Klingon, either. As long as he/she is honorable and blahblahblah, it's all good, right?
As for zombies, that's the Borg. No need for other space zombies, just dust those guys off and treat them with respect this time.
I agree with C.E. Evans
, the 60s were plenty dark. Political assassinations, cities exploding in race riots, lots of bad shit happening.
The dark/light thing on TV is more a product of how TV is splitting up. You still get the lighter stuff on broadcast - Grimm
and Once Upon a Time
- and cable skews way darker - GoT, TWD
. SyFy is falling on the more broadcasty end of the cable spectrum, along with USA and TNT. On the other end is FX, AMC and the premium cable channels. Don't worry about whether the world is dark or light; look at the individual channel and what kind of audience they're catering to.