Stargate: Universe Cancellation Followup
So, to answer some of the questions and comments I’ve seen here and various other places. Bear in mind I’m speaking for me and only for me.
Why was the show canceled? I’m not privy to the inner workings of Syfy’s corporate thinking, but I would expect it was because the ratings weren’t what Syfy wanted them to be; the ratings for the show dropped as a whole this season. I expect that some of that was due to Syfy deciding moving the show (along with Caprica, which was also canceled this year) from Fridays to Tuesdays, in order to make room for that science fictional classic, WWE Smackdown.
I’m not going to argue that Friday nights are intrinsically better than Tuesday nights for science fictional TV watching (note the great wailing when Fringe was moved to Friday nights), but I do know that since SG:U’s second season began, it’s had to contend with being scheduled against baseball playoffs, the election and Dancing With the Stars. So I don’t think it was a great night to be on, no. Lots of folks DVR’d the show and watched it later, but actually showing up for a TV show when it runs for the first time still matters if you want to keep a show on the air.
Add it all up, and it seems like the numbers just weren’t there for a third go-around.
What have we learned? Well, that Syfy likes its wrestling, and that if you want to support a TV show you like, you should watch it when they schedule it.
You wish to rant about Syfy and its non-science fictional practices. Go ahead, but you know what, if you want Syfy to run science fictional programs and not, say, wrestling or ghost hunting, you have to show up in numbers greater than the number of wrestling/ghost hunting fans who show up to watch that. Mind you, I don’t like wrestling on Syfy any more than I like the fact that it’s been, what? nearly two decades since MTV actually showed music videos. But then it’s not my job to program a cable network to bring in the largest number of viewers in a particular demographic lest I be fired.
I suspect at this point the sooner people recognize that cable networks once dedicated to one genre of programming now see that previous focus as something of an inconvenient guideline, to be ignored when expedient, the happier (or at least, less disappointed) they will be.
What will happen with the second half of the second season of SG:U? I have no idea. It does appear that Syfy currently plans to air the remaining episodes, but I honestly have no inside information as to what the plan is at this point. Syfy doesn’t call me to tell me what they’re planning. This should be obvious.
Will the remaining episodes [insert thing you want the remaining episodes to do]? Sorry, folks, my “no spoilers” policy is still in effect, so you won’t get any details out of me. What I will say is that I think the remaining episodes will take you places you’ll enjoy going; the writing is strong, the characters continue to grow, and there are some surprises and cool things coming. It’ll be worth it for you to make the time for the rest of the series.
How I am taking the cancellation: Well, you know. It’s sad for me. I enjoyed working on the show, and I enjoyed my role in the production process. I was a lot of fun to get the early versions of scripts, give the writers and producers notes, and see those notes incorporated into later versions and then ultimately into the show itself.
As I’ve noted before, my role is to be invisible to the viewer — that is, if I do my job right, the viewer doesn’t notice what I do — but when I watch the show I see my work there, in the science of the show but also in the characters as well, since I consulted on both. It’s nice that I’ve seen SG:U get credit for trying to make its science and situations as plausible as they can be given the nature of the show and the fact we still have to entertain people.
I will also miss working with the SG:U folks. My interaction was primarily with the producers and writers, and it was a ton of fun when one of them would come to me with a situation they’d want to put on the screen, and I’d get to help find a (reasonably) plausible way to make it happen. It’s problem-solving on an interstellar scale, and that’s a blast.
I didn’t work directly with the actors, but inasmuch as each of the major characters carries a very tiny bit of me in them (to the extent that I gave notes on each character, and those notes were used), I felt invested what they did as well. It was a pleasure to see the characters go from words on a page to people on screen, thanks to the work the actors did. I’ll miss that too, and them.
So yeah, I’m sad. This was a lot of fun, and now I don’t get to do it anymore. I hope I get to do it again one day; I’d love to be a consultant on another show.
How the cancellation has an impact on my life: As I briefly mentioned in an earlier entry, SG:U being canceled is sad for me, but it doesn’t cancel my family’s Christmas or otherwise put us in a bad situation. I’m a busy guy, and in addition to the consulting I did on the show I also write books (which you might have known about me), bang out a weekly column on film, do other freelance work, and have a few other projects out there that I can’t tell you about now but which, I assure you, are really spectacularly cool. I’m busy, and happily so.
Also (and importantly), I practice what I preach when I bang people on the head about money, and as a result, and without going into any particular detail, we’re financially sound and barring a major catastrophe will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. So, we’re cool. I do appreciate those of you who had concern for us about that, though. That was very kind of you.
In the short run, it does mean I have to reassess my 2011 work schedule; I had budgeted X amount of time to work on SG:U, and now I have that time freed up. It may finally be time to do that interpretive dance piece on the Crimean War I’ve kept meaning to get around to. Or, uh, maybe something else. We will see.
So, that’s everything I’ve got on the SG:U cancellation at this point. If you have other questions, go ahead and leave ’em in the comments and I’ll try to get to them. Note I’ve scheduled this post to go up at midnight and will probably be asleep then, so it might be a few hours before I start to get to answering them.