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.

132 thoughts on “Stargate: Universe Cancellation Followup

  1. That’s it, stay positive.

    Besides, if things turn out really awesome, next thing you know there might be a movie or tv series for the Fuzzy re-boot. That could be fun.

  2. Dude, I will pay money to see an interpretive dance piece on the Crimean War. Actual, real money. And I bet I’m not the only one. Maybe you could get Wil Wheaton to play Tsar Nicholas I.

  3. Eh, I think the syphilis network may, quite possibly, have reached the tipping point beyond which it will never come back. It’s like MTV – remember, they used to have something to do with music, and videos? Then when they were getting away from that, they created MTV2 to get back to their roots… which lasted all of about a year, because playing music videos isn’t something the executives in charge of a channel particularly want to focus on.

    But someone, somewhere will create a channel to cover the niche. It may not actually be broadcast though, it may be completely web-delivered.

    Oh, and as for “you should watch it when they schedule it”, well, no. But a network that ignores the large percentage of its customer base who timeshift is hurting itself, and that’s something the market will eventually fix.

  4. Well if the only shows that can survive are those I watch live then I ought to cancel cable. If only online distribution for episodic content worked yet. I’d pay up from for a season in decent formats if the up front payments underwrite the production.

  5. “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.”

    Only if you’re a member of a Neilsen family. Even with our advances in technology, ratings are still calculated by extrapolating from the results of a very small number of the total households with televisions in America. According to wikipedia, there are only 25,000 households that participate in the Neilsen surveys at any given time. Therefore, there’s no need to guilt your readers for DVR-ing their favorite shows unless they’re in one of those 25,000 households (a number that represents 0.02183% of total American television households). For over 99.9% of us, there is no way to help boost the ratings of our favorite shows. Which is totally stupid, but the TV people seem satisfied with it for whatever reason, so stuff like this (and the cancellation of Caprica) will keep happening, regardless of how many of us watch and love those shows.

  6. “But a network that ignores the large percentage of its customer base who timeshift”

    Facts not only not in evidence but irrelevant. What matters is that the advertisers are ignoring that viewerbase… because that viewer base is ignoring the advertisers.

    “25,000 households (a number that represents 0.02183% of total American television households).”

    The ratio of sample size to population size is one of the smallest factors in determining the statistical significance of that sample. You only need that large of a sample to differentiate the lowest rated cable networks form each other.

  7. I cancelled expanded basic cable three or four years ago (when Skiffy first started running wrestling and soaps) and got rid of my television and basic cable this year. I’ve rarely watched a show live since I got my first VCR back in the ’80s. I have no intention of structuring my life around the clueless whims of network executives.

    Studios, television networks and cable have had nearly three decades to work up a new business model. They have not bothered. Instead, they have attempted to legislate and litigate new technologies out of existence. They have failed.

    I was approached to be a Nielsen household a couple of years ago. They were all gung-ho to get me hooked up until I mentioned that I also watched television content online. They had no way of collecting data from a laptop. My guess is they still don’t.

    The incomplete data collected by Nielsen is the basis on which networks decide the fate of shows. This is an industry which uses flawed metrics to support an obsolete business model. Just as political polls that survey only land-lines lead to republican-skewed results, excluding online and extended time shifted viewing skews results to the elderly and technologically impaired. Television and cable networks are less and less likely to reach young adult to middle aged demographics with each passing year.

    The fundamental flaw in the business model is that it treats the viewer as a product to be sold to an advertiser. The advertiser is the customer, not the viewer. A successful replacement for that model will have to treat the viewer as the customer.

    I’m sorry to see SG:U go. It doesn’t make my top 10 list, but it has improved quite a lot in this past half season, and it is among the best of science fiction shows currently in production.

  8. “Oh, and as for “you should watch it when they schedule it”, well, no.”

    Sigh. And you people wonder why your shows keep getting canceled. You DON’T WATCH THEM. Here’s some really basic information. Advertisers pay for viewers. People who torrent don’t count. People who timeshift and probably skip ads don’t count. People who watch on Hulu and online count MUCH less because of the fewer ads.

    I get that you might want things to be different, but that’s reality in TV today so if you don’t watch a show live, it will get cancelled and all your self-righteous snark won’t matter. Put more bluntly – grow up and quit whining when you don’t take the very easy action needed to keep the show on the air.

  9. Nerds either love to time shift or instead choose to download the program through torrents rather than watch it during the normal time it airs. There was a recent study done which found that two of the ten most downloaded TV shows on the Internet were episodes of Stargate Universe. So a show that was immensely popular amongst the torrent set, but couldn’t pull enough viewers when actually broadcast to justify being funded. There was a comment by Eddie Olmos as to why they pulled the plug on future BSG telemovies after “The Plan” – it came down to “someone leaked it to the Internet before the DVD release, the DVD release was funding the telemovies, DVD sales weren’t great, plug pulled”.

    I’d wager that the new BSG series Blood and Chrome will suffer a similar fate – wildly popular in downloads, but won’t be watched at time of broadcast. Result? Cancellation.

    I think George Lucas has found the only business model that works for Sci Fi given the viewing public’s habbits – make a series that is about selling heaps of toys – that way you don’t give a rats about people using torrents because you can’t torrent a Clone Walker or plastic V-Wing Starfighter.

    The reason for the ratings problem wasn’t that the show wasn’t great – it was fantastic – if the show sucked it wouldn’t have been downloaded so often – the reason for the ratings problem is that nerds today don’t want to watch Sci Fi during the actual broadcast.

    Which is why SyFy is shifting to an audience that will watch stuff during scheduled broadcasts.

  10. I’m sad to see both SG:U and Caprica go. I don’t have cable (I’m not in anyone’s target demographic; my lack of even basic cable is because I can’t afford it, not because I don’t want it–advertisers don’t care if folks like me are watching), but when high-production-value dramas have succeeded on other channels/networks, the three most important factors have been, in order of importance: heavy marketing, a regular and consistent schedule, and a consistent level of quality (as measured by audience expectations, not necessarily critical reactions). In this fan’s opinion, SG:U almost always had the third, and Caprica had it in spurts, but neither show was supported with sufficiently aggressive marketing, and though SG:U’s biggest scheduling issues were lengthy and too frequent gaps between episodes (I don’t want a 20 episode season to span ten months), Caprica appears to have been scheduled by a roulette wheel.

    Many prime time dramas are essentially big budget soaps (these were just soaps in spaaaaaaaaaaace), and once it has even a reasonably sized fan base, the success of a soap marches in lock step with the consistency of its schedule. SyFy’s scheduling is, and always has been, ridiculously incompetent. Only the most hardcore fans are going to stick with a series when the channel makes keeping track of it difficult or irritating.

    It’s a shame, I was really enjoying this season.

  11. I want the Crimean War told in interpretative dance!!! Sounds like the best idea EVAH!! Like the Gorillaz production of Monkey for the Manchester Festival, as a Chinese Opera!

    So, interpretative dance – Cossack stylee? – some great tunes and the West doing all it can to forestall the imperial aspirations of their neighbours! How could it fail??? Get Michael Bay to direct and you’ll have all the splodyness you need to get the youf in as well :)

    So when do I get to be your creative consultant? ;)

  12. Well, Google suggests YouTube isn’t flooded with Crimean War Interpretive Dance – maybe there’s a gap in the market. Less flippantly, the Crimean War seems like an underutilized source of historical drama.

    As someone who doesn’t watch any broadcast or cable TV but catches up with a handful of the best shows about a season late via Netflix, I wonder how the networks value the prospects for eventual DVD rentals and sales. I’d guess SG:U does better than average in those categories, even as it lags in Nielsen’d broadcast audience.

  13. The show was cancelled because it just didn’t get the viewers. If you follow ratings continuously you would see that Syfy’s other science fiction shows, Eureka and Warehouse 13 are much more popular. I think the shift in tone was its downfall, in the end SG1 and SGA tended towards more campy fun storytelling, something continued by Eureka and W13. SGU would have been better as a separate show entirely, the change was just too much for the Stargate fanbase. I loved the show and will miss it.

  14. Shouldn’t professional-conduct Scalzi be telling tell-it-like-it-is Scalzi to shut it when he starts taking pot shots at the network? I mean, you did say you would love to have another gig like this again some time, right?

  15. Im sorry to say this but im glad its cancelled – and for the record im a longterm stargate fan – have every boxset from SG1, SGA, and the films. but lets face it Universe, or as i called Battle-stargate Universica was absolutely terrible – never before did i find myself getting up and leaving the room during the show – it was slow, filled with endless and pointless dialogue, and was generally designed for a wider audience ie “people who dont like SciFi” – Well guess what, they didnt like it – and neither did us actual Sci fi fans – Il treasure my SG1, and Atlantis DVD’s along with the films (while im on the subject, i would add the second SG1 film wasnt brilliant, Universe made it look brilliant)

  16. I really hate advertisements, and I’m always too busy to watch TV at the time determined by a network executive. So I’ve been doing this little experiment instead, called, “Buying the DVDs.” Everyone wins! Except your pocketbook. But really. It’s worth it to keep decent shows on the air.

    I do agree with Scott @4; I would love a way to purchase each episode online, preferably not through iTunes.

  17. Friday nights have historically not been good to SF. See 1968, ‘Star Trek.’

    But apparently SyFy has decided to clone themselves a new image, incorporating DNA from TNT…

  18. Man, don’t worry about interpretative dance of the Crimean War, look at the majesty of spam bot Infrared Camera there in comment #10. The appropriation of what looks like text about teaching students to draw and study is masterfully linked to the product of, say, an Infrared Camera.

    Bravo spam bot, bravo.

    Also, SG:U only broadcast on one channel in my country, which I can’t get currently, because while I’m technically in their terrestrial broadcast zone, it’s on UHF (either as analog or digital with decoder) or via satellite TV, either paid or “free”. And it’s apparently unlikely they’ll even air the second season. And no, I didn’t do the torrenting thing, I already pay through the nose for a laughable 60G a month transfer cap, and I often blow that anyway.

    Oh, and a question for Mr Scalzi. If the opportunity came up again, would you advise any other shows?

  19. Will you release your dance and song stylings about the Charge of the Light Brigade on Youtube? That would be SO COOL.

  20. Well, that’s irritating, considering we just reached the mid-season break here in the UK. I really felt like SGU was hitting its stride; a pity we won’t get to see where the Destiny would take us. Still, thanks to you and the cast and crew for all your hard work.

  21. 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.

    I doubt I count. I watch via Hulu. This is also the second show I was interested in that SyFy canceled quite early on, so I’m currently less inclined to watch anything at all they put their hands to, because no matter how much watching I do, it’ll likely get canceled. Not because I don’t watch TV enough, but because SyFy just can’t get ratings enough for shows I like, and can get ratings for shows I think are crap.

    I’m increasingly convinced that your average TV viewer’s tastes are so radically different from mine that TV is a waste of time anyhow. SG:U was something I made time for, and if that sort of show is not popular, TV (outside of Fringe) is probably a waste of my time.

  22. I was really sad to SGU cancelled. It was brilliantly written, brilliantly acted and, (i thought) one of the more successful Sci-fi shows. The cancellation of this does not bode well for other sci-fi show.

    I stay in the UK so have no way to watch it while it airs, but I’ll be buying the box-sets and hoping for a film/miracle.

  23. I wonder if part of the reason people neglect dramas these days in favour of “reality” shows or sports events is because they know that those types of show have no real narrative to be lost unfinished if the network pulls the plug? And it becomes a self perpetuating spiral from there, low viewer-ship, plug pulled, lower viewer-ship next time because of fears of plug pulling if you get invested in the characters, so quicker plug pulling and more scheduling of quick fix shows that rely more on one off audiences because it is in essence self contained. The networks have in essence destroyed the trust in their own business model. So the question is where does the viewer-ship go? Will this prompt more independent productions like Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog as an alternative?

  24. This is sad. SGU was a great show, but the Tuesday time slot was a problem for me. SyFy has really lost it’s identity. Showing wrestling and soaps was guaranteed to impact and reduce their SciFi audience. Also, they continually play that stupid “Ghost Hunters,” which was about the worst show I have ever seen. (Never watched the whole show – just part of one!) I can’t believe there is a real audience for that .

    We need a real SciFi channel that sticks to it’s mission.

  25. liamo:

    “but lets face it Universe, or as i called Battle-stargate Universica was absolutely terrible”

    Yeah, no. It was a good show which you happen not to like, which is an entirely different thing. I recognize there’s a strain of Stargate fan out there who are gleeful SG:U was canceled because it wasn’t the sort of Stargate experience they wanted, but that’s neither here nor there about the quality of SG:U.

    foog:

    If I get another consulting gig, I’ll be hired by the TV show, not the network. And in any event, I was already working for SG:U when I wrote this, and it didn’t affect my employment any.

    Skip:

    “Oh, and as for ‘you should watch it when they schedule it’, well, no.”

    Then expect to watch what you get, not get what you want to watch. I know this is a news flash for some folks, but the advertisers who pay for placement in shows like their ads to be seen, and the person who sits through commercials on a a program they record on a DVR hasn’t been born yet. Likewise Hulu and other streaming solutions don’t kick in the same sort of ad revenue. And as long as audiences show up to support an advertising model for television, then TV will stick to that, because it’s what it knows and what it’s built to support, and it’s easier to change programming than it is to change an entire business model. And thus, Syfy has wrestling on Friday.

  26. Well, for you, I’m sorry it got canceled. I watched what I guess was the first season, but never really got deeply into it. I found it to be of the “interesting” category rather than the “ooh, gotta watch it” category, but that’s just one person’s opinion, and a person that frankly doesn’t watch that much TV, or at least doesn’t really have regular shows to watch.

    I’m also sorry it got canceled because, for whatever else I might have thought of the show, it was an intelligent, well-produced TV show that was not 1)so-called reality show, 2)a talk show, 3)a stupid comedy about dysfunctional families, 4) a cop show (hey, I love some cop shows, but…), 5) a forensic thriller (hey, I love these, too, but…) 6) a Law & Order spinoff, etc.

    If anything, I think SGU might have benefitted from more tonal colors. It was pretty much a dark, serious drama without a lot of humor. I don’t watch Fringe, but at least part of the appeal of Fringe and Eureka is that sometimes they’re serious and sometimes they’re light and goofy. Light and goofy might have been a bit tough to pull off on SGU, but I figure the characters might have tried to have some fun at least from time to time to get away from the we’re-stuck-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-with-limited-resources-and-the-two-top-dudes-both-scare-the-crap-out-of-me-for-two-entirely-different-reasons motif.

    Anyway, I’ll be looking forward to your next consulting gig. And besides, shows like SGU have a way of never dying. That’s one of the advantages of Syfy.

  27. @ Dana:
    “Friday nights have historically not been good to SF. See 1968, ‘Star Trek.’”

    Stargate (all varieties) has always done great on Friday night. It’s when they move them to a different night, suddenly the shows get cancelled. I could never understand why networks take a show that has great ratings and move it to another time slot, then wonder where their ratings went.

    SyFy (it still hurts to type that) announced that Warehouse 13 and Eureka were picked up for next season, but only mentioned that they’re in negotiations for Sanctuary. Hope they’re not killing it off too, though if they do I’m sure they’ll be quick to add another hour to WWE, which while being very Fiction, isn’t very Science. Imagine Greater indeed.

    I hope this isn’t the complete end of the SG franchise, though I suspect it is. Writing was on the wall when they sold off all of the SG:1 props, including the gate room stuff. It was a magnificent ride while it lasted.

  28. I feel like I am falling into a self-fulfilling trap, but I really don’t start getting into too many new shows until they’ve proven they will survive. After the scars of Firefly healed, I didn’t want to go through that again. So no Terminator, The Event, The Unusuals, The Good Guys, etc… shows that I would normally really like (don’t judge me for The Event!) I don’t really watch, because I know they probably won’t last a couple seasons. And I’m right, but I’m right partially because of people like me. I did make a Scalzi-related exception for SG:U.

    I blame FOX!

  29. Oh lord, not another interpretive dance piece on the Crimea. “Derivative” is the word darling, commonplace and derivative. Might I suggest a scent symphony on the Pradyota dynasty?

    On a more serious note, I’m glad (if unsurprised) to know you won’t be hurting, but my sympathies on the loss of a fun gig.

  30. I almost hate to say this because there is a level of ‘Sheldon’ here that’s actually rather frightening, but here goes: While there might be a pitiful lack of Crimean War interpretative dance there is, Lord help up, a Broadway musical: Blood Red Roses. So, there, you have music to go with your dancing.

    On the other hand, the music’s terrible so at least it has ‘camp’ going for it…

    I’m going to miss SG:U…just convince someone at SciFi (really, ‘SyFy’? Who are they trying to kid?) to turn Old Man’s War into a series…with you consulting, of course…

  31. interpretive dance piece on the Crimean War I’ve kept meaning to get around to – Well, add me to the list of people who’d watch that – but only if you dance the lead role :-)

    Thanks for brightening my morning, and nice way to make lemonade out of lemons.

  32. The problem with asking people to watch shows when they’re scheduled is the fact there are a lot of us who work when these shows are on. I work on Tuesdays until nine, I didn’t get home until 9:30, sometimes even later. Which means, by then I’ve missed half, if not more of the show. I do watch it on demand because I have Comcast. But people without cable don’t have that option, and since SyFy decided not to allow people to watch it online, until a month later, they’re delaying any sort of online watching stats they might have gained. I watch most things on demand or online (legally) because I work enough nights that I miss anything on Tuesday and Thursday nights after 7 pm.

  33. Sarah:

    “The problem with asking people to watch shows when they’re scheduled is the fact there are a lot of us who work when these shows are on.”

    Obviously, one has to have priorities, and going to work takes precedent over watching TV (or should). However, in fact, most people don’t work the night shift. So for most people the advice applies.

  34. A quick question – of course you can’t tell us what will be in the last 10 episodes, but did the cancellation notice come soon enough that *IF* the writers wanted to work in some resolution, they could? Just wondering about timing, not trying to get insight into what the writers would or would not do.

    But I loved the show and will definitely miss it. Excellent work by you and everyone involved!

  35. Here’s an idea, they should rename the SyFy channel to the G&W channel (Ghosts & Wrestling). Since wrestling is so popular, I’m surprised there’s not an ESPNW channel.

  36. It SUCKS!!! I love SGU and being Canadian it’s even harder for me as the show is made here and employeed so many in Vancover. The other reason why it sucked was I could watch it when it airs and it means SQUAT!!!!

    Well I’m not a big fan of bad new or change so I guess I will have an extra glass of “yummy” this holiday seaon and raise my glass to all involved!!

  37. Quoth Scalzi @#27, “the person who sits through commercials on a program they record on a DVR hasn’t been born yet.”

    Well, not precisely. The person who sits through all those commercials hasn’t been born yet, but people will watch through commercials that are funny, or clever, or otherwise appealing. Techdirt has been hammering the meme of “advertising is content” for about six years now.

    That said, it’s much easier for advertisers to simply rely on the “captive audience” approach to advertising, and therefore base the expectation of how much they will pay on real-time viewing, than it is to actually produce advertisements that are good/interesting/relevant. Thus continueth the business model, and I agree with the rest of the comment (seeing as how it’s all based on reality and such).

  38. It doesn’t really matter when you watch the show, unless you are one of the people filling out a survey or if you have a special device on your TV that the Nielson company sends you that documents your TV choices. My family did the survey one once when I was younger–they asked us to write down every show watched on every TV in the house. The vast majority of us who are not survey households have no voice and not vote in the ratings/cancellations. They have no way of knowing when or if you actually watched it unless you tell them. :-)

    Although I don’t want to see the show canceled, I would also say that it didn’t quite win me over, in spite of the brilliant contributions of Scalzi, which were of course immediately and strikingly obvious in all of the best parts of the show. (Yay for scary aliens!)

  39. I approve of the Crimean War interpretative dance. I expect a video involving the cats (Ghlaghee as the Tsar, maybe?), the dog, bacon and a unicorn.

  40. I should probably apologize for watching this via DVR and for being way behind. Sorry about both. If it’s any consolation I wasn’t watching something else at the time.

  41. “I had budgeted X amount of time to work on SG:U, and now I have that time freed up.”

    I cast my vote for more short stories; that is where your humor is the sharpest. Perhaps a collection of them, with of course several new stories never published elsewhere. Yes, perfect, I’m glad that’s settled. See if you can’t get that all lined up so the collection is published in time for Christmas next year. Thanks.

  42. *Sigh* Another show shot down just as it was picking up momentum. Over the last few years there have been some shows with brilliant potential (IMHO) that somehow managed to get canceled at the exact moment in their runs that things are getting so interesting that I can’t wait to see what happens next.

    I very much enjoyed SGU but sometimes wished they would hurry up and get to the meat of things. Well here we are in the meat (That sounds terrible I know but I’m already committed to this metaphor) and once again the show is canceled. So now I’m down to Sanctuary and Fringe. I do enjoy Warehouse 13 and Eureka, but I think of those more as Sci-Comedy. Fringe and SGU are drama.

  43. Part of the problem, as I see it, is that people want to watch good, quality programming such as SG:U in an ad-free (or at least ad-reduced) environment. And the core audience (in this case, SF geeks) are savvy enough to find some way to do so (torrents, Hulu, and even DVRs available from most cable/satellite systems all offer this capability to varying degrees). All the while, they expect basic cable stations to provide this programming free of charge (i.e., on a advertiser-supported basis).

    As Robert Heinlein was fond of pointing out, There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Advertisers will not continue to support programming such as SG:U unless and until they believe that people are actually watching their ads with at least half an eye or ear. Wrestling, I suspect, is the type of programming that few,if any, people bother to DVR, and hence the people who actually watch it (sadly, they are out there) will willingly sit through ads while waiting for the wrestling to come back on.

    The alternative, I suppose, would be to try to interest premium channels such as HBO or Showtime (which are subscriber-supported and hence run programs uncut and uninterrupted) in providing programming such as SG:U. But that, of course, would limit their audience to those willing and able to pay for it. ::shrugs::

  44. Hopefully, someone else will pick it up. I really liked Stargate Universe, and the SyFy channel seemed to be getting their act together after royally screwing up with Stargate: Atlantis, which in my opinion was a joke. But truthfully, what else has the SyFy channel down that is note worthy to the genre? Nothing, that I can think of off hand. The SyFy channel is one of those networks that is completely confused about what void they fill in network television, they are like the new MTV, sure they are the Science Fiction channel, but they don’t even really understand what that means and it shows by what the put on the air. Stargate Universe deserves better and will hopefully get it on another channel.

  45. Waitaminit. You write books, too? I just thought you were the bacon guy who had cats.

    I need to re-examine things.

  46. I didn’t watch SG:U (I’m not a fan of the Stargate concept or franchise; I’m not saying it stunk, it’s just not my thing), but I did want to add a little Neilsen insight. You see, in my twenties, I was actually a Neilsen family (such as a (at the time) single guy can be a “family.”) They come in two varieties, or did: people who have an electronic set-top box to monitor their viewing, and those who keep a paper diary for a few weeks. The paper diary people change constantly (this is what I did, and it’s only for a few weeks). The electronic folks change periodically, also. Thus, it’s not a static 25K, and this makes the sample a little bigger than it sounds at first glance.

    This is not to say that the concept isn’t out-dated, or that the sample size is big enough. Both of those things are problems with the model, especially in an era of so many channels and DVRs. The simple fact, however, is that that is the system that decides what gets on TV (or at least stays there). You can gripe all you want, but it won’t change anything. While DVD sales are meaningful for many franchises, very few programs make it to that level without having at least some success in the ratings. If sci-fi fans smugly refuse to watch their shows live, and convince their Neilsen buddies to do the same, they’ll spend a lot of time griping about the lack of sci-fi on TV. That may not be just, or even sensible, but it’s a fact.

    If you’re wondering, by the way, the only shows I watched during my Neilsen time were both cancelled (in the U.S., anyway) soon thereafter (My So-Called Life and the Japanese version of Iron Chef). 25,000 may be too small, but it’s not enough for a single person to skew it too much, unfortunately.

  47. SGU. Too many actors, ensemble cast, too many cliche storylines to bother with. They should have shot for a Moon-type series, one awesome actor to carry the entire franchise on his shoulders. If not Sam Rockwell, then Robert Carlyle. I found myself skipping through every other scene without Carlyle. Hamlet with interdimensional doorways instead of stage exits.

  48. Well, Ghost Hunters is cheap to produce.

    I think SyFy’s offerings are at their best when they’ve got good tongue-n-cheek dialog. Perpetual darkness (Was more lighting just too much a drag on the ship’s resources?) and fear is much, much harder to pull off. This is where Warehouse 13, SG, SGA and even Farscape probably did better. ‘The Walking Dead’ (AMC) may have the best chance of succeeding in the ‘living with a perpetual s**t-storm’ category but even then, it won’t do it for years on end. Babylon 5 & Battlestar Galactica had a compelling uber-story and predetermined endpoints that help keep viewer even when a particular episode or sub-plot wasn’t great.

    Well, here’s hoping for a Twilight Zone / Outer Limits show as replacement with very tight-writing, succinct story development and showcased authors. Even those types of shows don’t last forever but they make great watching in syndication.

  49. Bummer. I was really enjoying the show this season and thought many of the kinks had been worked out (like using the stones less, for example).You gotta wonder about a genre network that kills their flagship sf series and elevates wrestling. I know it’s all about the cash, but it still sucks.

  50. As much as I love your writing, Scalzi, I couldn’t love Caprica nor could I really love SG:U. The problem is that while the setting of the story was science fictional in both cases, the stories themselves RARELY exhibited any science fictional content. They were all about random terrorism, soap opera, and grade-B war movie themes with little real relationship to the science fictional setting. My son and I have been avid fans of true science fiction shows for many years, and we both got bored by Caprica in two episodes flat and by SG:U gradually as the first season developed. It’s the WRITING that wasn’t really good in both of these shows, and how that WRITING relates to the idea of science fiction. There is no exploration of cool alien ships, no brilliant usage of technologies to create dazzling new possibilities. These shows were pastiches of science fictional back drops with low tech, depressing, and not particularly well written human interest story lines spackled on top. I’m sorry to say this to you, Scalzi, since I love your own writing so much. But it’s true.

    And SyFy is a disaster. It is the epitome of mediocrity as the enemy of excellence: we will never have a REAL science fiction cable network for decades now because of their results have been such complete bollocks. (Yes I know cable networks will be a dead concept long before then anyway.)

  51. You wait until Spiderman is on Broadway to pull out the big theatrical guns? For shame. Unless your Crimean War dance involves actual shelling of the dancers…

  52. John,

    I’m thinking you have a good money-making possibility with the Crimean War interpretative dance. Could be worth as much as an audiobook, at least. Does your agent work with interpretive dancers? Who produces and distributes that stuff? Personally, I just budgeted in $25 for the privilege of watching when it is released on video. Let us know when that will happen, ok?

  53. @ Alan
    I think you have perfectly stated why SGU, and Caprica to some extent, failed. Stargate was the perfect SciFi procedural. Random Culture / Alien / Tech of the week with everything wrapped up clean and tidy at the end. There were some story arcs throughout; however, that wasn’t the focus of every episode. People wanted something new every week and SG1 did a great job delivering it on average, SGA less so. People who turned into SGU were expecting the same and were put off by the slow build up. SGU started in a hole and were not going to get out of it. I think the producers thought the SG fans would stick around for things to pick up, they were wrong.

    As for SyFy in general, I wouldn’t say its a disaster. Scripted television is expensive and reality TV is dirt cheap. Wrestling is extremely popular. Is it SciFI? No, but it makes money. That is why it is there and will stay there until a different networks offers to pay more. I am willing to forgive a few hours of testosterone fed soap-operas if it will bring me quality SciFi. They did that with SGU, it didn’t get the ratings, got a schedule change, and got canceled. I am willing to wait and see what comes next. If not, there is still great TV out there. Or we could read a book….

  54. I freely admit not to having read every word of the previous posts in this thread, so if I’m repeating someone else’s comment, I apologize. Just consider it independent validation of your idea.

    I suspect that the full season was in the can before this decision was made, and, thus, the season (and series) finale will be a cliff hanger.

    Perhaps a certain brilliant novelist who is affiliated with SG:U could write a novel which nicely concludes the series, and ties up all the loose ends?

  55. I had hopes for a continued series when I found the first season playing in syndication on a local broadcast station. How could they go to syndication with so few episodes, I thought, without some kind of assurance of longevity? Stupid me.

    And yes, Tuesdays are what killed it.

  56. @ Josh Jasper

    This is also the second show I was interested in that SyFy canceled quite early on, so I’m currently less inclined to watch anything at all they put their hands to, because no matter how much watching I do, it’ll likely get canceled.

    A couple of people have mentioned things like ‘the show was cancelled without a chance to develop’ and, well, might I remind you this is the middle of season TWO. A show can’t take 4 seasons to find itself. Though I hold no love for SyFy, I think SGU was given a fair shake with the exception of pitting it against a lot of tough competition on Tuesdays.

    John – Sorry you won’t get to continue doing this gig. It sounds like something yu truly enjoyed and having those gigs disappear is always hard. Hang in there, though, I’m writing some music for the Crimean war dance piece. It uses a thousand macaws, by the way – you know anyone with birds?

  57. While I agree with pretty much everything said above about the state of networks, I think the bashing of SyFy has gotten a little out of hand..

    Folks, they are a business. The mission of a business is to make money. The name of the channel is a branding decision designed to attract new viewers, not a commitment to a certain type of show exclusively. They, as a business, have no obligation to the viewer other than to fill a timeslot. They will do this with the product that either A> produces the most profit per slot, or B> attracts people into the ‘store’ to watch more of A. That’s it.

    Over the course of its existence, the channel has tried many different initiatives focused on the sci-fi world (remember Buzz?) and they have all failed due to lack of revenue providing viewers even before the advent of DVRs and torrents) SO, as a business, they stopped them.

    I actually give them credit for putting shows like W13, Eureka, SGU out there season after season, and trying things like webseries (Sanctuary, Riese are/were both partially funded by SyFy to see if they can pick up enough of any audience and given free advert space on TV that could have been sold). But, if the show is losing money for the network, there is only so long that they can keep it on the air.

    Ghost Hunters makes money. Wrestling makes lots of money. Saturday shlock movies are cheap so they make some money and act as a promo for other shows on a traditionally weak night. Right now, W13 and Eureka are making money. If this changes for any of these, they will be gone. Don’t blame the powers that be at SyFy for doing their jobs (remember, they don’t in general write, produce in, or act in any of these shows, they just buy them).

    Yes, the rating system is broken. Yes, it needs to take into account monetized online viewing. But right now, that’s not an option, so the folks at every network will do their job every season and prune the tree. We may not like it, but getting mad at them is like getting mad at your doctor when he gives you bad news. It’s his job, not his pleasure.

    Given that we can’t change the rating system, how can we get better SF shows on the air? The solution to that one is simple. Get people who don’t watch SF (a very large pool) to watch and read SF. Educate them. Promote quality shows on venues OTHER than SF discussion boards. My wife never watched SF when we met, but now she follows several shows, including a few that I don’t because I introduced her.

    And it doesn’t have to be TV. Got young kids? Volunteer to read in their school and choose a suitable SF themed book (Fantasy is fine too). Xmas? Buy someone a set of DVDs…

    Think of it this way. If over time, 30,000,000 people in this country could be interested in quality SF, if only 10% of them watched a given show, that would keep it alive for years.

  58. Scalzi @ #27: “And thus, Syfy has wrestling on Friday.

    And arguably, TV viewership is lower than it has been in a long time, particularly among the key demographics that advertisers prefer. Wrestling actually succeeds in part to the merit of being ‘appointment’ television. Shows like Lost benefited from this, but a show like SG:U, less so. For good or ill, viewers have many more options to watch shows, now. Content providers need to adapt their model, as they risk being Captains of the TItanic. If networks are truly serious about using original broadcasts as their metric, then they should stop sending mixed messages. CBS and ABC allow you to watch whole episodes of their shows (with limited commercials) on the web or iPad. With Hulu, ESPN, Comedy Central, MTV and other networks offering full content freely available over non-Broadcast services, why exactly should they continue to use purely broadcast numbers as a metric of a show’s advertising penetration.

    I routinely watch “The Daily Show” on their website. I watch one or two commercials while doing so. Many of my friends are willing to watch stuff over Hulu rather than bother with watching it live at whatever inconvenient time the content network chooses. And the shows producers have found other revenue sources, such as DVD releases, Netflix licensing fees and direct purchase over iTunes, Xbox Live and Playstation Network (among others). Joss Wheedon once explained that the reason the WB cancelled ‘Angel’ wasn’t due to ratings so much as the fact that the show was essentially an advertisement for the DVD box sets (from which the WB got not money).

    I also noticed that Syfy proudly touted the DVR contributed ratings when touting Warehouse 13s ratings for its stellar opener this year. That seems a bit of mixed message, too. That’s their prerogative, of course. I just think that it’s going to need to change somehow…and soon. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to return to playing Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. ;)

  59. Part of the problem, as I see it, is that people want to watch good, quality programming such as SG:U in an ad-free (or at least ad-reduced) environment. And the core audience (in this case, SF geeks) are savvy enough to find some way to do so (torrents, Hulu, and even DVRs available from most cable/satellite systems all offer this capability to varying degrees). All the while, they expect basic cable stations to provide this programming free of charge (i.e., on a advertiser-supported basis).

    The thing is though, I /pay/ for cable. I pay a lot more than its really worth as a matter of fact. So no, I’m not expecting it ‘free of charge’.

    But then, I think advertising in general has become an extraordinarily brain-damaged way of wasting money and resources.

  60. Count me among those who would willingly support shows I love by watching them live whenever possible…if it made even the slightest difference. But I don’t have a Nielsen box. The advertisers that support my favorite shows will never know what I watch, or how I watch. And so I use my DVR.

    Hell, I’d watch the show live AND record it to watch later (viewing all the commercials), if anyone was counting.

    I think if passion and enthusiasm had any bearing on whether shows stayed on the air, TV would be a very different place. Yeah, I’ve gotten cynical.

  61. @64 – Don’t forget that SyFy also pimped out W13 big time last season with product placement. That is an unfortunate trend that has been growing more and more over time. It’s one thing when in the natural course of a story you can tastefully add product placement, but another thing altogether when you rewrite your show to better accommodate product placement. I will give them credit for finding alternative funding streams for the show, but seriously.

  62. “I think if passion and enthusiasm had any bearing on whether shows stayed on the air, TV would be a very different place. ”

    Go read comment 64. Try to pay people with passion. Yeah, doesn’t work. We can complain about the Nielsen system all day long, but that’s what every other show uses too. If enough people watch a show, then so will enough Nielsen viewers unless those viewers are skewed against the SF demographic. Here’s the thing though – there’s no reason for Nielsen to do that and many reasons not to do it. After all, what they need to remain credible is accuracy – skewing the sample so that it seriously miscounts viewers kills their business.

  63. @64
    The network does have to make money, but they are the SYFY channel which means that their target audience are those that like watching science fiction related stuff. As much as I like Ghost Hunter it has no place on the channel because it’s not science fiction related and neither is wrestling. The fact is is that science fiction pulls in money hand-over-fist each year for large budget Hollywood films, so why can’t the SyFy channel do the same thing? The reason is because somebody gets paid to write a script for SyFy that has no plot, no story, no nothing, just explosions and large breasted women in wet t-shirts, and as much as I like the later, these types of movies have nothing going for them, they just fill space. Furthermore, it is my belief that people, whether they know it or not, like shows/movies that are mentally stimulating and keep them hooked. SGU filled this void on the SyFy channel even though most of their other programming was lacking in anything of substance. Since they no longer are keeping true to their roots, I think the SyFy channel should change their name to the IT channel, that way they can pitch shows to all kinds of viewers depending on what is “in” at the time. But one thing that the SyFy channel is not is a science fiction oriented network. I’m not sure they truly understand what science fiction even is?

    Even if a small percentage of the whole does continue to watch and thus keeps the network alive for several years to come, I think my SyFy watching does are over. No more Insane Santa vs. Giant Triceratops, or whatever their last folly was, for me.

  64. SG:U was the only stargate series I liked. The others were light hearted sci-fi. This was grittier. This may be why it did not draw as many people. The people who watched Stargate for 10 years came to like the light hearted nature of the show. Since this was different, it may not have appealed to them.

  65. It’s a sad thing. I liked SGU. Somehow they have those amazingly – AMAZINGLY – bad “sci-fi” movies of the week, but… ahh, I know. I’ll shut up.

    Who is this Nielsen guy, anyway? Would someone please remove him from the picture, with prejudice? He’s wrecked a number of good shows in my lifetime!

    In the 21st Century we should have an entirely different, and by this I’m thinking marginally useful, method of registering viewer populations for television shows. In fact, I wouldn’t mind at all paying the insane amount I do, per month, for 12 channels of my choice, instead of 186 channels of mostly [censored]. Yes, I understand, this would blow the carefully constructed tiers of the content providers, but that’s not my point. My point is that those twelve channels would be getting my vote (read; money), regardless as to whether “Mr.” – I use the term loosely – Nielsen was in the house or not. Further, I could DVR a show and not worry about arranging my schedule around Mr. Nielsen’s BS, and …well, so it goes. On this front, I was curious over WEB TV, in one form or another. Unfortunately, the internet in the US really isn’t anywhere near where it needs to be for à la carte television over broadband in anything resembling hi-def, but this is really where shows like SGU could go when the Nielsen crowd opts for the sort of television I don’t enjoy. Once Apple paves the way for such things, that is.

  66. Networks and advertisers need to kowtow to us now. At long last they’ve got more to lose than we do. Give me what I want, the way I want it, when I want it, and be quick about it. This idea that we have to turn on the television at some certain time is sooo 19th century, so to speak. Wake the f.. up.

  67. D_Blackwell:

    “Networks and advertisers need to kowtow to us now.”

    Well, no, they don’t. As noted earlier, it’s easier for them to stick with the business model they have and find programming that works with it, than it is for them to change their business model entirely. As long as the business model continues to work — and it does still work — then they’ll continue to use it. Making proclamations that they have to change their business model for you does not mean they are in fact obliged to do so.

  68. How many more? How many more uncompleted series, idiotic product placements and other Brainwashing Network TV Executive decisions are we going to face before we finally get away from the middle man? I’m probably going to disconnect my DirecTV box now because there really isn’t anything left to watch on network TV. The networks keep eliminating anything resembling creative content and continue to deprive America of some of the finest writings out there. How much longer do we have to wait before enough of us get together to form an online media company that works? I’ve got a nice monitor / computer setup. For what it costs of DirecTV for one year, I could afford a very nice Computer / Monitor setup. And if I’m patient enough to time-shift my TV, I could do the same for online content.

    The model would be extraordinarily affordable if folks were to band together. One million regular viewers of a TV series on network TV is laughable. One million regular viewers of online content is a smash hit. Add in some micro currency ($0.99 cents a month / viewer) and for twelve million a year, anyone certainly could put together a creative and production team that works. I don’t know why Network TV folks don’t take content and put it in web only mode if it works better.

    For example, SGU and Caprica maybe is a better model for the online universe. That is where the audience is anyway. So put ads up on TV saying “Exclusively online”. If viewer-ship rises enough on the web then maybe transition it back to TV.

    Why the hell does everything need to be TV centric anymore? This is the 21st century for frak’s sake.

  69. Just read an article today on how BBC America is EXPANDING thier slate of science fiction/fantasy shows (link below.) Obviously it’s MUCH cheaper for BBC America to get that programming, at least it shows that there is still an audience on the SyFy channel audience level willing to pay for it…

    http://www.bleedingcool.com/2010/12/17/british-supernatural-series-bedlam-gets-a-cast-us-screenings/

    (Incidentally, if we can have 5 (?) ESPN channels, we should be able to have BBC-SciFi, BBC-Reality, BBC-Drama, BBC-Food, etc channels. The programming is certainly there…)

  70. For the whole “watch it live if you don’t want it canceled” argument… So what happens when there are 2 shows on at the same time that I don’t want canceled? Almost ALL of my favorite shows are on 2 at a time.

    DVRs vastly outnumber neilsen households now, and should be the primary method of determining ratings.

  71. John, sorry about you losing your consulting gig. I like SGU.

    Crimean War interpretative dance? I see Florence Nightingale in front, with the Light Brigade dancers backing her up, singing the show-stopper “Cry Me a River”.

    John, I agree with you regarding the business model for TV. I am actually amazed at all the programming out there – how do they afford to make these shows that do not have very big viewer numbers. I imagine costs have to be carefully controlled and it is a fine line between putting out a good show and still making even a slim profit.

  72. #74

    You are correct, however, by doing so they seal their fate. Eventually, all TV will just cater to the lowest common denominator… Oh, wait a minute.

  73. “Making proclamations that they have to change their business model for you does not mean they are in fact obliged to do so.”

    They don’t have to do it for us, they need to do it for reality. Ad money is in the dumper and the variety of choices out there – not even counting time-shifting – has diluted the market significantly. That’s not going away, nor is time-shifting.

    Obviously they can continue to operate as if the rules haven’t changed; there’s still some market. They may have other ways to staunch the bleeding. SyFy can put product placement in Warehouse13. The Washington Post can rely on revenue from their education arm, Kaplan. But sooner or later everyone faces the music when the landscape changes.

    Sure, you can cut costs and limp on as a minor player rather that innovating or adapting. Dark Age of Camelot and Everquest continue to exist in the online multiplayer world. After the initial huge drop of folks – as they go where the new things are happening – you have a small group of people still hanging around and leaving in smaller numbers. If you’ve adjusted to the starvation diet you can keep going that way a long time.

    That sort of survival isn’t growth, though, and at some point it becomes a place you don’t come back from. There’s never any real new influx of customers because nothing new is going on. Nothing new is going on because – aside from there not being no money for innovation – nobody even looks there because it’s been so long since something different was done.

    There’s worse things, and you can look at stagnation ponds like Kodak, Polaroid, Microsoft and IBM to see that it’s not necessarily a painful or quick or even inevitable death. But it’s not what anyone would consider a business success; at least not enough of one to feed the kind of egos that go into those top jobs.

  74. “DVRs vastly outnumber neilsen households now, and should be the primary method of determining ratings.”

    AIIEEEEE!!!!

    I don’t get why so many of you can’t understand the high level business issue here. It’s not the number of viewers it’s the number of people who are view live and are this at least somewhat likely to see the advertisements that pay for the show. DVR viewers could number in the millions, but almost all of them skip the commercials so, from a financial standpoint, don’t matter. Same reason why torrent viewers don’t count.

    If we want all viewers to count, we could move the entire business model to one where a view pays a small fee to see each show and there are no ads. Oh, wait, paying for content is evil, so people will torrent them for free.

    This isn’t that complex, folks. A show costs money to make and air. Somehow, those costs, plus a profit, need to be covered by revenue. You can pay directly, you can pay indirectly (i.e. with a network getting a part of the cable fee) or you can have other people pay, in the case advertisers. But advertisers won’t pay if not enough people are watching. Or, rather, what they will pay for a small audience might not cover the costs of making the show. Even if it does cover the costs, the network may well decide that they can actually make more money by dropping a breakeven show and replacing it with one that makes a profit.

    And if two shows you want to support are on at the same time, watch live the one that is closer to the edge vs the hit show that’s doing fine.

  75. #81 – Most people do get it, they just don’t care. I am willing to forsake ever watching a TV show again if I can’t watch it on my terms. Now, if the only incentive the TV show producers have to produce shows is advertising revenue and they aren’t willing to even explore any other possible means of revenue then we have nothing left to discuss. I’ll watch that which I can watch on my terms , that which I don’t find completly objectionable, until such time that there is no longer anything suitable for me to watch and then I’ll just do something else. Or they can find some other way to get my money. The ball is in their court.

  76. “I don’t get why so many of you can’t understand the high level business issue here. It’s not the number of viewers it’s the number of people who are view live and are this at least somewhat likely to see the advertisements that pay for the show”

    I think you’re missing the real high-level business issue here. Eventually the number of people who see those advertisements – which, let’s be honest, we don’t know they’re actually doing rather than reading a magazine or taking a potty break – diminishes to a number such that SyFy is asking Palmolive to pay $29 for each real-time viewer. Asking fans to defy the way the average person does something in order to prop up this broken system is a band-aid at best and more likely completely ineffective.

  77. Ah, bummer. I just heard. I’m very sorry, Scalzi. It really has been a great show, and I think Rush is one of the best TV SF characters in quite a while.

    It’s been fun seeing your name in the credits, and I hope you get more consulting gigs like this. It’s great to know that someone who really knows what they’re talking about is behind the scenes, sometimes.

  78. Don:

    “They don’t have to do it for us, they need to do it for reality.”

    Or not, since Syfy’s ratings have been good overall and have been on an uptick year to year, and it’s consistently in the top ten of all cable channels in key demographics, like males, 18-54. And its ratings for particular programs (like their ridiculous Saturday movies) continue to grow and/or perform as they wish them to. All this information, incidentally, is easily accessible online (start with the press releases.)

    When we discuss “reality” it’s important to actually have data to support one’s points.

  79. I think Sarah’s point in #36 was less about her job and more about waiting a month before making new episodes available online. I don’t work nights, but I also don’t have cable so online is my only option to watch new tv shows. If the episodes were available within a few days, I would gladly watch them (commercials and all) on Hulu, but I don’t have the patience to wait a month.

  80. I wonder where this recent cancellation puts the Stargate franchise. Hopefully not relegated to TV/film oblivion. I suppose if SyFy doesn’t want to start up another SG series, maybe another network will buy the rights and produce another one?

    Either that, or the dreaded big budget Hollywood reboot, no doubt produced by J.J. Abrams and directed by Micheal Bay, will be next. Although if that were to happen, Stargate would potentially be uber-cool and make big bucks at the box office.

  81. If I’m not going to miss them, and they aren’t going to miss me – then good luck to them with, …well, …whatever, I guess.

  82. Someone mentioned the BBC. You can’t really use them as an example. For one, the BBC is both publically and governmentally funded. Two, they operate in a very different model (I think they have around 3 competing channels unless you get satellite signals). And they are not based on advertising. Add all of those together and they make decisions a very different way, especially since no dependence on advert revenue AND not being required to be profitable every year gives them a lot more flexibility to take risks…

  83. My humble apologies for the unclosed tag. </a>

    John, I hope Santa’s ninjas gift you this holiday with a hassle-free, WordPress-compatible preview option/plugin/thingamy, to use or discard as you deem best. Just sayin’.

    Wish you a Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime!

  84. @82, 83 and 90 –

    Sigh. You guys sound like petulant children. You’re free to watch shows on your terms… what you’re not free to do is bitch and whine about those same shows being cancelled when not enough viewers tune in and watch live.

    You’re asking them to change how they run their business to suit you and they don’t have to. They might have to in the future, but right now people like you are a tiny minority. It might feel like you’re not, but that’s because you associate with others like yourselves. It would be poor business to completely change how they run their network to support a few people, especially when they can simply cancel the show you’re not watching and replace it with something else that makes more money.

    The real issue is that I doubt you or others like you are willing to provide any alternative way of making revenue. Face it, if 3m of you would pay $1/episode, that show would probably be fine – but you won’t. You want it for free, you want it on your terms and when you can’t have that, you throw a fit. But at the end of the day, you don’t matter to the networks and you don’t matter to the creators of TV shows unless you let them make money either directly by paying for the show or by being part of an audience that people want to reach. Right now, you’re neither, so you shows get cancelled.

  85. Sorry to hear the show is coming to an end. As you get a chance to talk to the other people who worked on the show, please tell them that the fans enjoyed their work.

    I’ve enjoyed the show from day 1. I don’t have cable, so I have to watch on Hulu. I’m hoping that Syfy was counting the Hulu watchers. Hulu was running ads, so I’m guessing that Syfy was getting paid something.

  86. Another unhappy SG-U fan here.
    I actually watched it in real-time whenever possible and even paid attention to the commercials- on the rare occasions that the product was relevant and potentially of interest.. That however -was – rare.. Perhaps if more attention was paid to matching the adverts to the demographic, things might have turned out different.
    It can be done. For example, TV golf ( whatever one my think of it) does a very good job of targeting the ads to the real viewer demographic.

    Ah well..Thanks John for making SG-U better while it lasted.

  87. DVDs, guys. Advertisement-free, watch it on your terms. It does mean you need to wait the year plus, but does help support the show. I imagine if everyone gnashing their teeth right now had picked up the DVD, the show would’ve been renewed.

    I would like a way to download or stream episodes online legally. I know iTunes does it, but I don’t use iTunes.

  88. I was sorry to hear about SGU being cancelled. It wasn’t my cup of tea – I got “gritty”d out by years of being punched in the gut for an hour a week by Battlestar Galactica, and after a while gut-punches cease to be fun – but I know a number of people who enjoyed it, and who are sad to see it go. As regards ratings, I have no idea how they work outside of the United States – was there a chance that my watching of Canadian ads would have helped? I don’t watch ads, as a rule; I study, or do dishes, or whatever else when they’re on. Ideally, because I work weird hours, I’d like to watch shows online, from the company’s website (I understand there are ads ahead of those) but am usually told that the videos aren’t available in my area, presumably for advertising reasons (why advertise something that’s only sold in the States to someone in Canada, after all). It seems odd, though, that given that they already have my location, and that ad-targeting is something that’s available, they can’t just give me advertising for a product that’s sold in Canada, too. In fact, they usually show me the ad, and THEN tell me I can’t watch whateveritis – and the ad’s usually for Ford, or Chevrolet – companies with significant Canadian presence. I used to work for GM, so I know that technically GM Canada’s handled seperately from GM US, which might explain it.

    I know that streaming online doesn’t have a third of the airtime consisting of ads, but on the other hand, it’s at least SOMETHING, and it’s better than me not watching at all because a show happens to be on when I’m working one week, and then I can’t catch up, which I need to because it’s a serial.

  89. I’m really disappointed to hear about the cancellation of SG:U. Having formerly worked in the TV news business (and also living about eight miles from the long reach of Nielsen Media Research HQ…), I knew to make a point to watch the show as it aired. I’m sure your contributions helped to make it the solid, high-quality production that I looked forward to each week. Thanks! (And I’m going to miss that beautiful ship.)

  90. Well, I’m pretty bummed. I could see that this show was going to be very different from the normal SG franchise with the first episode and I’ve watched every one since. Darker, more dramatic with better science and excellent, complex characters. A huge difference between this show and something like ‘Sanctuary’ which I have stopped watching. Finally realizing that one of my favorite sci-fi authors was a creative consultant just made it all the more intriguing and explained a lot with regard to the overall excellence of the scripts. It’s going to be a long winter.

  91. @John: I’m with the “they don’t know what I watch, whether I DVR it, whether I mute the TV and read a book during ads, whether I watch with one friend or 20, etc.” set. Not (sorry!) that I was a huge fan of SGU (I was ambivalent, but hopeful)…but even so, the advertisers and Nielsen don’t even know I exist.

    Also @John: As for no one being born who watches ads via DVD…meet my other half, who will forget to skip the ads or sometimes watch them on purpose cuz he likes ads (or at least, doesn’t loathe them, as I do–even ads I like, part of me loathes). I haven’t actually figured out, when I’m not there, how much he watches ads when watching DVR’d content. I don’t understand it, anyway. ;-)

    On the other paw, he’s also advertisers’ foe since he’s taken to trying to watch two things at once, flipping back ‘n forth during ads, and basically only seeing part of each show, but almost no ads. Maybe it all balances out?

    Anyway, all that said, I’m sorry it was cancelled. :-(

  92. I’m peeved, I liked SGU, it was just getting interesting

    @89, while analogue TV in the UK has only 5 channels, it’s being phased out since 2002 by freeview with over 40 channels. But more homes have Sky than either of those, which is 300 channels

    Primeval is actually an ITV show, so you could use that as a comparison, advertising and all. Britsh TV seems to have no problem with SF programmes

    For all of you complaining about the programming on Syfy over there, it’s paradise over here, there is 90% actual Sci-fi on the Syfy channel (with a few action and/or disater movies thrown in). Which begs the question why does it work over here, but not there on the same advertising model?

  93. The main think about UK Sci-Fi is that the seasons are much, much shorter than US ones. For example Doctor Who has about 13 episodes a year which is about one US half season, but twice as many as typical BBC and ITV shows. The UK Version of Law and Order for example has only 26 episodes over 4 seasons, Primeval typically has 6 episode seasons, Misfits has 13 episodes over 2 seasons, Being Human 14 episodes over 2 seasons. So while UK shows tend to survive somewhat better than US ones it is partly due to lower costs due to not producing as much material. Comparing UK and US production models is apples and oranges.

  94. I’m going to miss SGU as well. I doubt that I will ever be able to help a show by watching it. I am not now, and never have been a Neilson family. Even if they knew I was watching, advertisers wouldn’t care, as I am not in their desired demographic – people who can be persuaded to buy something they neither want nor need by viewing advertising.

    We are at one of the times of year when I even enjoy watching some of the ads. Come next February, I will even watch the Superbowl ads online, because they are (to me) way more entertaining than the game.

    Even though I really like those Budweiser ads with the Clydesdales, that doesn’t mean I’m going to start drinking the stuff.

  95. John, sorry to hear your show was cancelled.

    I tried watching the first season and it never clicked for me. But I get the difference between “shows i don’t like” and “shows that aren’t good”. SGU seemed to hinge on keeping it a mystery as to whether the asshole scientist was a good guy or a bad guy. and that sort of story aggravates the hell out of me. I get some people love that sort of story, and that those kinds of stories can win awards and meet various definitions of “good”. its just not the kind of story for me.

    oh, and the behavior of the military personel didn’t match my expectations. but that’s an extension of the writer’s rule to beware getting details wrong about horses or guns.

    but I am still sorry to hear it cancelled cause someone I know (you) was working it. even if you don’t need the money, you obviously enjoyed working on it.

    so, again, sorry to hear it was cancelled.

  96. i have assumed that my viewing habits didn’t affect a shows rating. i thought it was based on nielsen family viewing habits only. does the cabke company monitor what i watch and report it back to the networks?

    if time shifting doesn’t count towards ratings, then all of my shows are doomed. i never watch a show live. i almost always end uo usi.g the dvr because nothin in my life is ever consistent enough that i could know that a show is on tuesday at 8 and plan on being in front of the tv for that slot.

  97. There are many reasons a show fails to succeed and often those have nothing to do with quality. Blaming the DVR ignores the fact that others shows are succeeding on SyFy and the DVR is a level playing field, since all shows have to deal with it. The demographics may vary, but I doubt the demographics between SG:R and Warehouse 13 are that different. I’m sure SG:U was a very expensive show to produce, so it would need more viewers just to cover it’s cost.

    I never watched SG:U for a reason I’ve not noticed anyone else pointing out. I watched the original movie, every episode of SG-1, the SG-1 movies, and every episode of SGA. So, I would seem to be the type of person who would have been drawn into SG:U from day 1. However, I never saw an episode. I did have a season pass set and recorded every episode. I heard nothing but excellent comments about the show. My wife watched a couple episodes and had strong positive comments about it. When I heard Scalzi was a consultant, I was even more interested. I definitely “intended” to watch it. So, why didn’t I? SG-1 came out in 1997 and ran 10 seasons. Atlantis recently ended after 5 seasons. That’s about 220 hours of programming. A problem SG:U had to contend with was that it’s a franchise spin-off show in a very mature universe. Even the most loyal audiences tend to fade over time (ask any Star Trek fan). I watched Law and Order live for many, many years, then I drifted away and only occasionally watched the new seasons. I can’t recall discussing SG:U without using the word “another”. I loved the Stargate Universe, but time moves on and we need new universes and new experiences. Scalzi felt he had done enough in the Old Man’s War Universe (then sneaked in Zoe’s Tale, which was a pleasant surprise). We all want to move on to new things, so the familiar has it’s advantages, but it has it’s disadvantages as well. Warehouse 13 may be camp, silly, and sometimes dumb, but it’s certainly fresh and new. I recognize the advantages of creating sequels, spin-offs, and remakes, but the success rate is actually pretty low for these.

  98. Only just found out about this by dropping by here and I’m really quite sad now, I simply can’t think of any decent sci-fi show on TV right now to take it’s place, especially with Caprica gone too there’s not a lot left to watch. I was doubtful about SGU at the start but now it’s really won me over and I’m gutted that the story line won’t get to be properly continued.

    I think perhaps the TV broadcast industry should start to look at what’s happened to the music industry over the last decade and take advantage of the fact they can learn from that. Unfortunately were I am I can’t view the SyFy channel “free-to-air”, that is I can’t tune in using a terrestrial aerial or satellite and view the show I want when it’s on air and watch the adverts which support it (not that by viewing it it would count towards the ratings anyway). I’d have to subscribe to a cable/satellite package with dozens of other channels I don’t really want. Somewhat akin to walking into a record store to by the new Metallica album, only to be told I can purchase it so long as I buy a CD from every other genre section along with it. Even if I could subscribe to the channel alone then it’s still rather like being told I have to but 10 more heavy metal albums just to get the one I want, and some aren’t even very metal (wrestling?).

    Well that’s the way TV works you say? Suck it up. And it’s a fair point. But when there’s the alternative of bit torrent I don’t have to. With a couple of clicks I can be watching the show advert free, for free. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m much rather be watching this show either paying per episode or advert supported with the same couple of clicks (with the added bonus that ALL views can be reported to advertisers) but I simply don’t have the option.

    Well just wait for the DVD / BluRay then you say? Well yes, but the operative word there is wait. Caprica has already been cancelled before I can even purchase the first season here in the UK, making it rather tricky to vote with my wallet for the show’s continuation.

    A while back I thought Sanctuary was pretty revolutionary simply being able to pay for an episode and watch it, and I did. Once it started airing on SyFy they dropped this so now I download it instead of paying them because they took away the option?! I love the idea of Hulu, preferably with a more expensive paid option for ad-free and I know TV licensing is complicated but I really hope they can work something out for the world market soon. I was sent a threatening legal email at one point for torrenting a TV episode, the email contained some helpful links to sites I could view the content legally. “Great” I thought, I’ll head over to Hulu / Amazon and watch this above board, only to be informed it wasn’t available outside of the US. Which is fine. I just don’t want to be accused of stealing a product which isn’t available for sale in my country. In all fairness I think I’m being slightly unreasonable but I think the TV companies are too, so hopefully we can meet somewhere in the middle in the near future where they get money for the TV I watch somehow and I don’t have to wait months or pay to support a load of content I’ll never watch but my viewings will count as accurate ratings towards those I do.

    Keeping my fingers X’ed

  99. To be able to see a show in its original timeslot, one has to be able to find it. Though SG·U may have only suffered one time change, from Friday to Tuesday, other SF shows over the years have had schedules in name only. Firefly in particular was bumped around like mad. It’s hard to become a loyal fan base when one is either searching for the time or the show is preempted “this week” “again”.

    Changing schedules on a loyal audience turns the schedule for that channel into noise, which gets lost in the expanded cloud of cable channel offerings. No wonder some people wait until they can buy or rent whole seasons of shows.

    I don’t begrudge the so-called SyFy channel a revenue stream based on Cheaters or wrestling. Or scads of low-budget and poor CGI monster movies. But if they want to be the home of SF on television, they can’t let such fare take over everything.

    Dr. Phil

  100. Though I certainly can’t fault Scalzi’s role in its production (SG:U was one of the better recent sci-fi shows science-wise,) I will say that it’s a show that very much deserved to be canceled.

    I was both one of SG:U’s loyal watchers and one of its detractors (I referred to it as “Battlegate: Lost in Space.”) I feel it had a lot of untapped potential, but more importantly that it was working far harder at jumping the shark (which I believe it managed most firmly about midway through Season 2, after a couple of solid attempts in the first season) than it was at finding or exploiting that potential. Some of the characters were interesting. Most were insufferable, unbelievably and unbearably incompetent, or both — often at the same time.

    It wasn’t a terrible show. It certainly wasn’t Enterprise or Voyager, but it wasn’t a great show either. Between that and the unfortunate idea of notionally setting it in the Stargate Universe (which could almost only act against it,) it was ultimately doomed. Better it go down now before it has a chance to fail as hard as it could given time.

  101. A side comment on the BBC messages. BBC America, while part of BBC Worldwide, does rely on advertising revenue. Their highest rated shows have been Doctor Who and Torchwood. They have established Saturdays as their night for SciFi and have done well with it and that success is why they are now co-producing Primeval for its new season, airing the episodes day and date with the UK initial airings even.

    But it is still a channel with a smaller reach than Syfy, and outside of their highly rated stuff the numbers are pretty low. Really low, like barely breaking the 100K viewership level. When they debuted the new drama series Luthor (or was it Luther?), repeats of Star Trek: The Next Generation did better than the first run of the new drama series. So while there is a British link to ST:TNG (the Captain is British and speaks with an accent), there’s not real Brit connection with the X-Files, which BBC America is adding early next year.

  102. I am a bit sad that the show was canceled in mid-season, but it doesn’t surprise me. The Powers That Be at SyFy are more interested in the ratings demographics than the title of the cable channel and what it means to the “real” science fiction fans. JediBear’s comments reflect how I felt about the SG:U in that it was a good show with a lot of untapped potential. The first season was pretty good – liked the premise – but I started getting worried when those Stones showed up and episode plots became formulaic. That was the kiss of death right there. This is too bad, but I did enjoy the show. As they say, “It was good while it lasted.” Thank you for making it an interesting show to watch, John.

  103. For all the criticism the SyFi channel has gotten for forgetting that it’s a Science Fiction channel, it’s still a business, and driving itself into bankruptcy over some amorphous principle of purity doesn’t make sense. The real problem is that televised science fiction is very much a niche market. And given the number of people on this comments thread who claimed to love televised science fiction but either never watched SGU or quit watching it… well there you go.

    If you don’t watch it, you can hardly complain that it was cancelled.

    I liked the show and I’m sorry it didn’t make it. I liked the mix of BSG style gritty realism and amorphous morality, with the Stargate mythos. Apparently though, there were only a handful of people like me, people who liked the show more than bitched about it, and actually watched it when it was on, rather than DVR it.

    Would I have liked a little more humor to the show? Sure. Would I have liked for them to cut on the lights once in a while so I can see what was happening on screen (those Ancients must have really worried about their light bill)? You betcha. But whatever the show’s flaws, I enjoyed it much more than I’ll enjoy it’s replacement, “Ghostbusters Championship Wrestling.”

  104. @106 John – I really just have to point out that SG:U was on Sky1 *not* the Syfy channel in the UK and there is *no* wrestling on Syfy UK – as I said before Syfy UK is largely actual scifi (for a broad definition that includes fantasy) Because Syfy UK owned by NBC as is Syfy USA but a separate network to Syfy USA. Most of Syfy USA’s really good stuff goes to Sky1 like BSG, SG1, SGA, Farscape etc. It’s £19.50pcm to get Sky, not really that expensive unless you have a really tight budget.

    Same with BBC America, they don’t always get what we have on the BBC and can have other thing that we don’t have on the BBC here.

  105. John Scalzi

    Im sorry but your reply is total rubbish – You say its a great show which i simply didnt like – well i watched every episode out of sheer blind faith – and i could have told you half way through the first season it would be cancelled.. I simply didnt like it, and looking at the viewing figures, “I am not alone”

    IT was Extremely slow:

    What actually science fiction plot lines there were – They were seriously weak

    When i did record it, if i happened to be out when it was on, i fastforward through most of the episodes – Which lately have been made up of Kino Diary entries

    Im sorry mate, im not trying to insult you personally, really im not. But Universe was the worst page of the stargate franchise and im not sorry to see its demise – If studios feel SG1 and SGA are unmarketable at the momen t fine – then do yourself a favour and let the franchise conclude gracefully

  106. I liked SGU after the first 6-8 episodes (can’t remember exactly when it found itself) and thought it was really starting to come into it’s own with the recent season. I actually thought it could become my favorite Stargate show if the quality was kept at current levels. Shame it was cancelled. Unfortunately, I was one of the DVR people (I would have watched live on a Friday). I have to get up too early for work, so I couldn’t stay up. Though, I did watch the commercials, as I usually serf the net or play video games while I watch TV. The commercials played the whole way through. Unfortunately, they can’t track that.

    My favorite character was Greer. He was an easy character to screw up and just make anger his driving factor, but he had good depth to him. Most shows would have taken the easy way with that type of character.

  107. Oh, and I’m very disappointed in SyFy, though not surprised. Is there any SF on the SyFy network now? Not fantasy like Sanctuary or Warehouse 13, but actual science in a fictional setting. Eureka, I guess, though that is light far compared to SGU.

  108. Networks are businesses. Advertisers make up most of their revenue. Advertisers rely on viewers to watch their commercials. If the advertisers don’t think people are watching their commercials, they take their business elsewhere, so networks continue to rely on “real time” viewing (via Nielsen numbers) to determine whether or not to keep a show on.

    That’s all pretty basic stuff when it comes to the TV business. The situation has been the same for many decades now.

    The problem is that the networks – like book publishers – are clinging fiercely to a model that no longer works. They will ride this model all the way to bankruptcy, and will only change when there is absolutely no choice (e.g. someone else comes along and does it right, grabbing market share).

    There is no guarantee that Nielsen families watch commercials. Before DVRs came around, I muted commercials and talked to whoever was watching with me. Many people use commercial time for bathroom breaks. When you group five or six commercials together, you are giving the audience a guaranteed break to go do other things.

    I have no ethical issue with recording shows and watching them later (minus commercials) because I PAY to get the networks that carry the shows I watch (I gave up on broadcast TV long ago). I assume that the networks are getting some part of my cable TV dollars. If I have already paid to receive the channel, why should I be forced to watch the commercials? I quit going to movie theaters when they started showing commercials before the movie – why should this be any different? The answer, of course, is that networks and cable providers still haven’t worked out a way to play together nicely.

    If I were to pay $1 to watch an episode of a TV show (without commercials), I would spend far, far less each month than I do on the “everything or nothing” basic plans offered by cable companies. A buffet-style menu for TV shows would give a far more accurate indication of which shows are the most popular. The cable companies wouldn’t allow that, of course.

    Just as I have switched from reading individual comics to reading bound collections, I have started moving from watching individual episodes of TV shows to buying boxed sets. The studios still get their money, but it cuts out the middleman (the cable companies). The problem with that, though, is that it doesn’t help when it comes to keeping good shows on the air in the first place.

    People complain about SyFy because they don’t deliver on the promise to deliver science fiction programming. If they were The Everything Channel, you wouldn’t have as many people who are upset with them. They have a major identity crisis that is just getting worse over time. Even when they go deliver halfway entertaining genre programming, it often isn’t science fiction (Sanctuary, for example, is really a fantasy show).

    In the end, the suggestion to “start watching shows when they air” simply isn’t going to happen. It’s not realistic, given the way today’s society works. SyFy can turn into an all-wrestling channel, which is fine by me – 95% of their programming is useless, anyway – but I would appreciate it if they would change their name to reflect that.

    On to Stargate: U and Caprica…

    I really enjoyed both shows. I do agree with previous posters who said that Stargate: U was hampered a bit by regular SG fans who don’t like a lot of seriousness in their programming. Both Stargate: U and Caprica were also hampered by the American public’s difficulty in following a detailed, complex plot that unfolds slowly. Though people seem to be okay with that when it comes to original programming on the movie channels, they are less patient with it when it is on networks that look more like the traditional broadcast ones, for some strange reason.

    – James

    On a side note, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for networks when they complain about shows that cost hundreds of millions of dollars to produce. Some of the best science fiction movies and shows have very little in the way of special effects or “name” actors. Other countries can produce great movies and TV shows for a fraction of the cost of the ones in America.

  109. The freakin’ brain donors at Skiffy screw up every good thing they touch. ‘Farscape.’ ‘Firefly.’ Now ‘SG:U.’

    “Look at us,” they brag, “we make money even though we have the attention spans of guppies!”

  110. well for a change the syfy channel did not have anything to do with ” farscape” being cancelled that was the networks here in sydney doing a similar thing- bad timeslots and in competion with live sports.
    what i dont understand is putting wrestling on a channel that is SUPPOSED to be dedicated to science fiction. the sci fi channel ( note we still spell it the correct way ) in Australia only shows science fiction programs althou there is alittle ghost hunting but technically thats still sci fi.
    its just a shame these bone heads DONT GET IT !
    whats with all these half seasons too ?…….talk about the kiss of death !

  111. After finally watching the last few episodes of Caprica and seeing the next season teasers I have to say I am excited. Will these episodes be shown? It appears as though they have already been produced just waiting to be aired. Caprica is a funny thing. I get bored with it quickly, especially the Joseph storyline but the last few episodes of the season are always good and focus more on the Zoey story. I wonder if they plan it that way.

    Someone else commented that we should buy the DVDs to keep a show on the air. I might do that. But only if the entire season was offered the day the season premieres on TV.

    Overall, I liked SGU but it was a way too “Stargate 90120” for me. I like my Scifi to acutally be Scifi and not mostly inter-personal relationship drama. That being said, any Scifi is better than no Scifi as we are quite starved for it as an audience these days. Having time to digest I think I’ll miss Caprica more.

  112. General musing –

    SyFy set itself up as the network that would focus on pandering to our specific interests as fans; they’ve shown a willingness to focus on total money rather than maximizing success of the genre.

    If they’re “just another cable network”, with some science fiction, they don’t deserve a lot of the accolades they got for focusing on a genre. The wrestling and ghost hunter content argue for that. Some of the other shows argue against it.

    If they want to be Generic Cable Network Number X (which they are, around #10) there’s no reason for them to hog a network name that’s affiliated with speculative fiction.

    What would be ideal is for them to spin off “The Sci Fi Network” as yet another network, and for it to actually focus on speculative fiction again. It’s not like cable channels don’t split all the time. The two could share programming where it’s genre, and “TSFN” could ignore wrestling in favor of some genre shows, whatever the budget and viewership do actually support.

    That won’t prevent cancellations – mismatch between viewership / ad $ equals financial folly – but would at least mean people weren’t as offended by them. Would also avoid things like the legion of SyFy fans who are horribly upset about the schedule conflicts (wrestling getting the prime nights while Speculative Fiction goes and fishes).

  113. I had pretty much decided to stop watching SGU at the end of this season (I was holding out for David Hewlett’s episode). I love Stargate, but for me SGA was a step down from SG-1 and SGU was worse again. 

    The only character who had any likeable qualities, Eli, was also a composite of insulting clichés about sci-fi fans. Rush was unsympathetic and frankly tedious to watch – there was nothing that worked to counterbalance his arrogance and general nastiness. The military characters all seemed two-dimensional and some characters seemed redundant in a cluttered cast. And i know I’m not the first female viewer to say these guys struggle to write women and it shows. 

    The story lines didn’t work either; they often seemed contrived and depended on people acting in ways that seemed unlikely. There would be a crisis, then it would be resolved in some implausible fashion, and then we’d be on to the next lot of petty squabbles. 

    As with SGA’s first season, there was much lazy recycling of old Stargate SG-1 episodes which encouraged the viewer to make unflattering comparisons. 

    Viewing figures may not always reflect the quality of a show, we all know that. But this show didn’t get big numbers, or much of a devoted following, or keep the loyalty of hardcore Stargate fans like me, or receive much praise from the critics. So when you tell the reader above that he’s wrong and SGU was a good show, you might want to offer some evidence, because one and a half seasons haven’t provided him or me with any and if this hadn’t been a Stargate show, I doubt either of us would have given it so long to try.

    I’m sorry that people have lost their jobs, and that they found out in such a crappy way. As someone else said on Twitter this week, I didn’t want this show to get cancelled, I wanted it to get better.

  114. I’ll miss Stargate: Universe. Here’s hoping another network will pick it up or at least a new Stargate series will start.

    Since you’ve already dipped a toe in the world of television sci-fi you might have shot at my dream project. I’d love to see the disaster of a show The Starlost tried again. Read his essay “Somehow, I Don’t Think We’re in Kansas, Toto” in the book “Stalking the Nightmare” for his version of the story and what went wrong. He had a great idea for a show that tells a story each episode and has a long running story.
    An outline for season 1 and the contacts you already have might get you a job much further up the television food chain.

  115. I like SGU.
    I don’t have a TV.
    I paid $70 on iTunes for the SGU Season Passes.
    I would have paid more but you can only get Standard Definition in Canada.
    I don’t know if my paying to see the show counted at all. I don’t know who gets my money, but I’d like to think it was a loonie in the bucket to pay to keep the series on the air.
    I guess it wasn’t enough.

  116. When “Old Man’s War” is made into a movie, I pray that SyFy is not involved. [Unless it is a new television show based on John Perry’s early undocumented time in the army. As much as I hate SyFy sometimes, I’d watch that!]

  117. Well, I’m late to the game, but: SG: U was not fantastic. It really wasn’t even an “SG” show because it lacked some of the frankly silly stuff that made SG so beloved. Yeah, like an entire galaxy of ENGLISH speakers.

    After watching most episodes, I still don’t care about any of the characters, except for the ones I just wanted to go the hell away. And the ones I wanted to machine gun myself. I mostly watched to see the state of the art of VFX.

    Too dark. Too boring. Not enough cheese. Too much soap. NOT ENOUGH ADHERENCE TO THE FORMULA.

    And not rigorous enough: in those case where they should be guarding the hell out of something, someone conveniently forgets to be professional. Good riddance.

  118. I’m bummed. I just found the show over the holidays, got into it and was catching up on previous seasons. There’s no point in crying about SyFy’s decision though. Scalzi is right; if the ratings aren’t there, no show is going to stay in production. The bigger problem is that the economics of television are changing, and in a way that makes it harder for shows that need time to develop an audience to survive. Reality TV (of which wrestling may be the original instance of the genre) are much cheaper to produce, so they can be profitable with much lower ratings. TV writers pretty much cut their own throats when they struck a few years ago. Networks made lots of money even airing the crappiest of reality dreck. Passionate sci-fi aficionados will have to hope that a pay network like HBO or Showtime steps up and creates something compelling. (I’ve got hope for Torchwood on Starz.) But the long-term future for shows with relatively narrow audience (like sci-fi shows) on broadcast TV or basic cable is bleak.

  119. Mr. Scalzi, you have a good head on your shoulders.

    Thank you for all your work.

    Despite a bit of understandable bitterness by others on the SGU team, I’m hopefull the Atlantis movie will see the green light in the realtively near future.

    The Direct-to-DVD movie sales for all things Stargate, I was led to beleive, were GOOD.

    So if there’s a guaranteed profit to be made, a re-vitalised MGM, and a little shake-up in the production / writing departments will lead to a seriously fun Stargate Atlantis movie. This of course followed in a few years by a reboot of the classic Stargate formula. (Hopefully it won’t be touted as being “dark”. LOL)

  120. I’ll miss SGU. There’s real talent in the cast and the episodes engaged my attention more as each one aired….but even if it was the best thing since sliced bread I wouldn’t sit through advertisements to watch it and the worst part is that my not watching the ads is irrelevant.

    That’s the real problem, which the network execs studiously ignore, that their business model is broken and things simply will not spontaneously return to the good old days. I’ll watch the last ten episodes and I’ll wish the series Bon Voyage…broadcast TV is dead, even if the execs haven’t noticed.

    I would have paid real money to watch SGU but it’s gone. Happily there’s more movies to download than I can watch in the rest of my life. SGU, RIP.

  121. I’m not a Nielson Family (I doubt there are any in Alaska), so I use my DVR for my favorite shows. It was because of that DVR that I was able to stop SGU to check out what book the driver on earth was reading. The book was OMW!

  122. I’ve been enjoying the newest episodes of SG:U, and seeking information on whether it was going to be picked up by another network led me here (rather late). I was surprised by so many negative comments about the show, but perhaps I shouldn’t be.

    Though I’m a scifi fan, I was never much of a fan of the Stargate franchise as a whole. I understand that it perfectly fits some people’s preferences for a light, playful, formulaic show with some clever ideas, and I don’t mind that… but I didn’t consider it “science fiction” so much as “fantasy”. It rarely challenged the viewer, even as much as Star Trek. I didn’t bother watching it for most of its run, though I’ve seen most of them in reruns or streaming. I get the appeal of continuity, and personal investment in a show, and there have been times when I chowed down on some Stargate on a binge, but ultimately, it was more of a snack than a meal, for me. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, but it never engaged me.

    SG:U was different, and in my opinion, better. I thought the characters were better developed (and acted), and that the plots where more intricate (if still necessarily formulaic). It was darker, yes, and more grim… characters could and did die, in a way that made me more attached to them. It made my suspension of disbelief more willing, and less escapist; ultimately, I think that’s why traditional SG fans didn’t like it… it’s not as much escapism as the rest of the shows were. So, perhaps it would have been more successful if it weren’t part of the same franchise at all, so it wouldn’t have had to meet pre-established expectations (though arguably, one might have thought that it would appeal more to an aging viewership that better appreciated nuance as they grew older, and some of the comments bear that out).

    I’m sure some people may see that as snobby. Okay, guilty… I prefer my own tastes to those of others, unsurprisingly. I don’t disdain other’s tastes for liking Stargate, but not to acknowledge that there are different tastes is silly. Others in this thread said SG:U was a less enjoyable show (or not enjoyable at all); I’m just saying, as Scalzi did, that it is a matter of taste. I enjoyed SG:U (and, yes, BG) far more than most Stargate shows. I also like Doctor Who, which is far goofier than Stargate, so I can’t be too snobby.

    Stargate: Universe was a very good science fiction TV show, with excellent writing, acting, character development, and effects, and good plotting (if perhaps not enough variety), and it was improving over time. I’m sorry to see it go. I hope someone can figure out a revenue model that can pay for shows that us time-shifting hard-scifi fans enjoy… after all, traditional TV is moving to streaming and the Web, so the business model will have to change anyway.

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