sf/f TV development news - 2013

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Temis the Vorta, Oct 10, 2011.

  1. AviTrek

    AviTrek Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    That is exactly the plan. Air the pilot on TV as a movie to make back more of the production costs. Then produce a digital series on the cheap given the lower revenue stream of online shows.
     
  2. xortex

    xortex Commodore

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    The bait and switch.
     
  3. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    That would be a good strategy if eye candy doesn't turn out to be one of the chief attractions of the series pilot. The writing and acting really needs to step up and hold our interest, and the jury is way out on that.

    Especially since there's something about it that failed to impress SyFy. If the writing and acting were that good, why didn't they fall all over themselves to greenlight a TV series? Judging from the trailer that was released, whatever didn't pan out, it wasn't the eye candy part.
     
  4. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Interviews with executives have repeatedly stressed that it's too expensive for the network to produce. Digital sets were employed to try and keep costs down, but it seems as if they just made the show even more expensive. Having said that, in all likelihood "expensive" for SyFy is chump change compared to the massive costs of producing Terra Nova. Of course, one comes with a proven audience of about seven million viewers and the other doesn't.

    (And it's entirely possible that "too expensive" has just been a smoke screen).
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    I doubt it. SFTV has always been difficult to get or keep on the air because of the expense of creating it, especially if it's something ambitious with a lot of action or exotic settings/characters. That's been a perennial hurdle for decades, so there's no reason to doubt it's just as true here as it's always been.

    I mean, let's compare it to its predecessors. BSG had its share of big action, but was mostly character-driven storytelling on standing sets and Earthlike locations, and most of its Cylons were just human actors. Caprica had a lot of digital scenery to dress up Vancouver as Caprica City, but it too was mostly more down-to-earth drama, and it only had a few CGI Cylons, comparatively. But Blood and Chrome, apparently, would be a full-fledged combat-driven series spread across many locations and chock-full of all-CGI Cylons all the time, and it's a cinch that would be costlier than the previous two series.
     
  6. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    That's my suspicion, too. Why don't they make a serious investment in an expensive marquee show that they think will lock in a big audience? (B&C may not have been that show, but another one could be.)

    Isn't the reach of AMC and SyFy about equal, both on the basic cable tier? How is AMC able to get 9M viewers with The Walking Dead while SyFy tops out around 4M or so for scripted programming?

    That suggests to me that SyFy could invest more in at least one breakout show to bring in a larger audience, rather than continue to play in the minor leagues like they've been doing, with shows that get adequate ratings because they're cheap to produce, but rate zero on the buzz-meter.

    Space opera is expensive to produce, but I see no reason why there couldn't be one that is as big a sensation as The Walking Dead. If people will accept post-apocalyptic zombies, what's the problem with robots or aliens?
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    If Syfy's going to make a big investment in a marquee space show, I'd much rather it be Untitled Robert Hewitt Wolfe Project than Blood & Chrome. I mean, I don't think B&C is a story that would add much to the BSG/Cap universe -- not unless it picked up on some of the lingering cultural/political threads from Caprica, but I doubt that's the way it's going. But RHW's project has the potential to be pretty interesting.
     
  8. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    SyFy hasn't cared about critical buzz for the past two or three years. I see no reason why they should now; low-budget movies of the week, reality programming, and Earth-based procedural shows have been doing as well as any of their "prestige" programming ever did. Why make the investment in something expensive like Blood and Chrome?

    (Which, I should clarify, I do think was too expensive for the network to produce. The more probably smoke screen, I think, is this business about a "digital series." If it cost too much to produce for TV, there's no reason to expect a web-based series that can't bring in as much money to happen.)
     
  9. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    It's also worth pointing out that Caprica, a show you would have expected to be less expensive than its predecessor, actually cost so much more to produce than expected that the episode order was cut down from 20 hours to 19. The producers blew the budget before the end of the season.
     
  10. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Same here!

    It's not just critical buzz, it's turning buzz into profit by gaining a much larger audience than they've ever had before and funnelling that audience to their other shows.

    Success breeds success. They could use (let's be optimistic) RHW's space opera to be their Walking Dead and then advertise the rest of their lineup to a whole new audience. Sure, their lineup wouldn't meet the same standard but some people might decide to sample more of their wares.

    At least they could advertise a lineup in the same general genre category. Beats the situation AMC is in, desperately trying to convince TWD viewers that Mad Men is "the same type of show." Gotta love the chutzpah. :rommie:

    BSG isn't the ratings standard here, because it never got better ratings than SyFy's cop shows; TWD is what they should be shooting for. The risk is, do they know the difference between the two, why BSG's audience was inherently limited and TWD has blown things wide open?

    SyFy doesn't "have" to do any of this. I'm sure they can remain solvent with their sci fi cop shows indefinitely. But why make some money when you can make mo' money? No risk, no reward. AMC took a mammoth risk and has been greatly rewarded.
     
  11. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Has anyone heard of crackle.com? Well, they've got a show now! Everbody's got a show! When are Facebook and Twitter going to do shows? (I shouldn't say that out loud.) :rommie:

     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    ^The casting budget for a Twitter-produced show would be enormous, since it would need to have 140 characters. ;)
     
  13. xortex

    xortex Commodore

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    An original idea/concept for a show would help. RHW's untitled thing just sounds so uninspired without a title you have to wonder why they bothered revealing it. RHW is a solid writer but is he an innovative creator? His space show doesn't even have a title. Sounds slightly generic to me and is still looking for one. They keep looking in the same box and stale stable of writer's for the same four or five ideas to reshuffle. That's laziness and an unwillingness to strech or risk their jobs and fifteen hundred dollar suits on anything or anyone else. It's stagnation. They still get rich doing nothing while at the same time not risking their cushy jobs like Berman.
     
  14. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Shows often go without titles during the development phase and the description of RHW's show is so vague that it's impossible to judge how it would turn out. It's basically Cops in Space, maybe a throwback to that aspect of TOS.

    And simplicity may be a benefit. What's The Walking Dead, after all, but a simple show about a few characters struggling against zombie mayhem? The very simplicity of that concept may have been the secret of its success. It lured back the elusive young male demographic with the prospect of lots of blood & guts, and then hung onto them, and everyone else, with solid storytelling and a strong cast.

    RHW's series could be a big hit with this same combination, the allure of violence and graphic mayhem combined with a simple premise about the border sheriffs of the future patrolling the nasty, chaotic frontier.
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Where are you getting "violence and graphic mayhem" from? The description is, "The drama from Universal Cable Productions is set in a postwar era in which a newly formed Unity Democracy orders a volatile mix of humans and trans-humans to lead the Starship Defender on an expedition in search of lost worlds requiring law and order." That doesn't suggest excessive violence to me, just some degree of anarchy.

    I'm not sure it's necessarily a "cop show" either. If anything, it sounds kind of like what Andromeda might've been under Robert's guidance after the Commonwealth was restored -- a show about a starship bringing civilization to a post-collapse frontier. And I'd imagine that's not just about arresting bad guys, it's about helping the local worlds set up their own legal and judicial systems, like the way US forces in Iraq guided the Iraqis toward self-sufficiency.
     
  16. AvBaur

    AvBaur Captain Captain

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Well, do you? What, in your opinion, is the significant difference that made BSG a niche show and TWD a mainstream success?
     
  17. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    My guess is what I posted above about simplicity of premise + lots of mayhem. (And that's being optimistic and assuming there isn't something about outer space and aliens that is inherently off-putting.)

    Sci fi's trouble is that the young male demographic has abandoned TV in favor of movies, video games, etc. Then along comes The Walking Dead and gets great male demos - why? Because they saw "zombies" and figured there would be crazy fun bloody mayhem, like a video game. The fact that the show is actually much better than that sounds is icing on the cake - it means people will watch even if mayhem isn't a particular draw. But the mayhem is what got a large number of viewers to sample it to begin with.

    If I were launching a new space opera series, I might swipe the basic premise of Lockout with a two-hour premiere episode that's an aggressive, bloody story about an outer space prison riot, maybe with some aliens or mutant humans in the mix who have dangerous and scary abilities. Our Heroes are the Starfleetish characters who have to put down the riot and restore order.

    After that episode, the story follows the Starfleetish people as they attempt to enforce law and order in an insane, out of control frontier area of space. Basically, take the TOS aspects of RHW's premise but strip away all the nice, polite, sane, broadcasty aspects in favor of violence and action, interspersed with character and plot development.

    Emphasize the camaraderie and idealism of the Starfleetish characters, so that the underlying tone is more optimistic than BSG. Go easy on liberal breast-beating and political metaphors. Include strong and interesting female characters and make sure the male characters are at least passably attractive, so you can lock in the female demographic, too.

    I honestly think this approach is the best shot at getting a space opera back on TV, with good enough ratings that it can afford the expense of decent production values. (If they can't afford decent production values, it's a non-starter.)

    If anyone wants to take a crack at How I'd Get Space Opera Back on TV, the floor is open to spitballing. :D

    That's not from his description. That's my theory on what's needed to lure the young male demo back into the fold. Without them, it's going to be hard to make a go of it. SyFy already has the female demo with their sci fi cop shows. My theory is that you need both to get the numbers up to a level that can support an expensive production.

    The sherrif patrolling the frontier part is what I'm calling a "cop show." I'm not thinking of a police procedural, more like what Kirk & co were doing when they were visiting Federation outposts - they're checking to make sure law and order is being upheld because there's no other authority out there on the frontier.

    Setting up legal and judicial systems sounds interesting to me, but I don't think the show can afford to get too bogged down in non-action-based story elements. Besides violence and gore, the other important factor is simplicity. The young male audience is antsy and quick to change the channel when they feel the least bit bored. When The Walking Dead slowed down this season, the audience numbers dropped, then surged at the end when all hell broke lose.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    Okay, that sounds more reasonable, but then it's odd to use police metaphors to describe that. In any case, a frontier marshal or Texas Ranger would be a better analogy for that than a sheriff, since they have broader jurisdiction.
     
  19. xortex

    xortex Commodore

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    at this point I think it's gonna be about anything and everything and will change completely season two. That's just my theory. It's wide open to suggestion and will be something specific only when it is.
     
  20. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Re: sf/f TV development news - 2012

    When is TrekBBS gonna do a show? :mallory: