Last month, a post made by a site called deadline.com stated that Syfy, a station allegedly for science-fiction television, was going to cancel 1 of the few shows, on their quickly depleting list of original programs.
Stargate Universe (aka- SGU) cast & crew learned this news not thru a phone call, but a tweet. A 140 character or less update on their livelyhoods & careers. While the utter lack of class Syfy station has shown to their possible former employees is appalling, and should be a red flag warning sign to anyone who in the future thinks of working on a project for them, what is actually more disturbing is that they let this news slip out to a website to tell the world first. They didnt even have the respect, decency or professionalism to tell those who it affects themselves. They let a website tell it, then later used a 140 character or less post on twitter to confirm it. It really makes you wonder how Syfy president Dave Howe was ever given the job if this is how he handles such major issues.
The amazing part is that the station has currently 6 actual sci-fi style original program shows to its list. Of it, there is really only 3 they have that can without question say they outperform SGU at this time.
"Being Human" 1st season- Unproven
"Caprica" Already Cancelled
"Eureka" which started with 4.1M for the shows premiere episode, and is down to 2.5M now in its 4th season.
"Haven" in only its first season Unproven.
"Sanctuary" one show that has managed to capture an audience.
"Warehouse 13" which started with a 3.5M opening & has dropped off to 2.4M for its S2 closing.
While the numbers for SGU are below that of Eureka, Sanctuary & Warehouse 13, the fact still remains that Syfy had very few shows they can call their own & are often filling their television voids with marathons of shows that fans have very likely watched already, dont care for specifically, or more likely, already own the box sets of. Even the most ardent Star Trek fan can only sit thru their favorite versions of the show so many times.
This is a station thats been so desperate to fill time, it has resorted to adding Professional Wrestling & a reality game show about video game players to its table of shows. While I have been in the past a pro wrestling fan & have nothing against those that still are, reality is, it has no right being on a network solely devoted to sci-fi programming. But, it is a ratings juggernaut for a station & has low costs to them as WWE picks up much of the production costs. There in lies the problem. Syfy has sold out. Its no longer about creating programming for a subsection of society that tend to be loyal to a fault for products they like. Its about whoring themselves out for ever last penny they can, even at the cost of the stations soul.
This station has very few of its own shows, so why cancel 1 that has held its own in season 2? While season 1 saw a sharp drop in ratings, season 2 has been steady. There is something to be said about a show, on a station where almost everything it airs has massive ratings drops, is holding its own & not losing viewers. While season 1 was finding its feet & at times, may have been a bit long in getting to its points, season 2 has been intense, full of action & arguably amazing. If S1 was "decent", season 2 has been "absolutely amazing". If fans from S1 were to rejoin, they would be blown away at the changes & character development that has happened since then. but we may not see it develop beyond, because as it stands right now, its to be terminated at seasons end... despite being probably the best show currently on the network & arguably, one of the top sci-fi shows on all of TV.
The question is "what now?" for the show.
Various campaigns thru twitter & facebook have popped up to "Give SGU another season" & it certainly is a campign that has garnered a lot of attention. One campaign has garnered over 8500 fans on facebook (probably be 10,000.. if they hadnt spit in the face of the fans by alienating them thru actions depicted by the leader whom told a cast members mother to 'fuck off" in a disagreement), while smaller campaigns have popped up ranging from a few dozen to several hundred. These campaigns are so passionate about what they are doing, they now find themselves at odds over how to best promote the concepts & gameplans to save the show. But I am not going to get into the politics of fandom in here...this is about coming up with a gameplan for the show. This does show however, excessive devotion. To fight this hard, so hard you are even fighting with yourselves, means you want to see the idea succeed. It might be self destructive, or, it might be healthy.
While shows that are cancelled arent all that often saved by their networks, or new networks, it does happen. I can vouch for that on 2 different fronts. Two of my all time favorite shows, Dead Like Me, and Robson Arms both came back from essentially being dead for short lived returns.
DLM managed a straight to DVD movie to quell its fans & while it was not anything near the 3rd season fans screamed for, petitioned for, wrote into Showtime & MGM for, and even held rallies for outside the offices, it was something...even if it was a hack version of something (try to not rant about Sarah Wynter's lack of acting skills right now...*deep breath*). The shows fans fought hard and got something.
While Robson Arms was the little show that could. It first fought just to get on the air. After season 1, it sat, with no 2nd season announcement for over a year. Its second season aired 19 months after the final episode of S1 aired. It fought & clawed its way back from death to manage not just a 2nd season, but a 3rd too, before again, meeting an unjust fate by CTV. The fanbase for them was admittedly far smaller than DLM or SGU. But they were devoted & let the station know what they wanted....and they got it. The reality is, fighting sometimes works.
All that being said, stats dont lie, lots of shows have campaigns to resurrect their programs, and most fail. But I can tell you, from my personal experiences, it can happen.
SGU is 1 that could have that lifeline to draw from. It has some things going for it, such as it is a Canadian based show. This means a Canadian station could look at a show, with an already developed fanbase & jump in & just fine tune things to their liking a little. The most likely choice for this is "Space" the Canadian version of Syfy (they have many of the same programs on), but Space isn't known for creating its own shows too much. In fact, they have already come out & said its not feasable. Like Syfy, who gets their approval from the pursestrings of a bigger media conglomerate (NBC), Space also is under the umbrella of a media conglomerate, CTVglobemedia, arguably the largest such television empire in Canada. Besides Space, the CTV empire is responsible for over 20 other stations from basic cable to pay per view channels in Canada. It is, without question, the most viable solution for a home for SGU to end up on if a Canadian company steps up.
The question becomes, how to convince them to run with the show.
Well, the first fact is simple. SGU is filmed in Canada. As a Canadian station, Space is obligated to show a minimum amount of Canadian content. Sure, they have quite a bit already, including EVERY...SINGLE...SHOW Syfy carries right now, but this would give the CTV empire 1 more, which they also could move to their flagship station CTV for any variety of schedule filling needs (a weekend afternoon filler, or late night marathon materials)
The second fact needs to be about financial potential. They are business people afterall. Can they make a profit from this? Or, at least make it financially sensible thru selling off international distribution?
The U.S. has 10Xs the population of Canada. It is also the primary financial centre for television. Ratings in America count exponentially more than ratings in Canada. So for a Canadian show to do well, they theoretically need far beyond 10% of the domestic numbers to warrant labelling something a success...unfortunately, the budget of the show still needs to stay comparable...so suddenly, you need to have better results than even that assuming U.S. numbers struggle to rise. That is where it gets complicated...proving that is possible without being able to show it first. I dont know what the numbers are on SGU showing on Space, but theoretically, if its doing about 150,000 households or more, it would be doing approximately 1.5Xs better here than in the U.S. currently, where its doing about 1.0M households a week. Those numbers may not be enough for CTV to take a chance on it by itself. This is where the idea of a split cost idea with a foreign station may come in.
Why couldnt the Canadian company work on a split deal with another country that admires their Sci-fi programming? Hello U.K?? We might have a business proposition for someone there. With a split cost between two stations in two different companies, it becomes quite financially feasable...then take into consideration distribution rights still in the rest of the world...well, how could it NOT look appealing?
The complexity of striking a deal to get the shows rights might be confusing as well. If Syfy has the rights, what might happen could be a deal where CTV, for the Space Channel, buys the rights from Syfy, in agreement, they give Syfy a deal on the U.S. rights for broadcasting it, taking away some bargaining power for looking for the best financial situation in the U.S. market.
Maybe, there is even a deal, like how other shows from other networks have done it. Where CTV, for the Space Channel, doesnt actually buy the rights, but instead puts up some $ for the production costs to Syfy to continue making the show.
If MGM is the owner of the shows rights, what do they want? Do they barter a deal where they get to choose the U.S. distributror? Do they get a nice deal on DVD sales? Or do they simply look at it as a dead asset that they can turn into liquid asset now & sell for whatever they can get?
Theres still even outside all of those question, the possibility that maybe they cant work out a deal to generate a 3rd season...so what about a few straight to DVD movie like Dead Like Me or Firefly managed? Simply to wrap up loose ends & complete the story? Correct me if I am wrong, but the sales for Dead Like Me: Life After Death were financial gold for the company. I vividly recall it being in the top 3 in Canada & top 10 in the U.S. opening day on Amazon. In the top 5 in Canada after a week & top 20 in the U.S. Unfortunately, Firefly was not something I followed when it did its movie, but I recall hearing a lot of buzz about it, I am sure its sales were just as incredible. If they put together a 2 or 3 movie set to wrap up the storlines (although its being suggested the creators are saying they cant do it with anything less than a season...you take what you can get).
How can you, the fan get involved? The obvious answer- BUY SGU PRODUCTS. But also, make your voices heard. Let the stations know, let advertisers know, hell, even let the cast know, that they are wanted back.
Any potential suitors will want to see a healthy show. So alienating & abandonning it is not the best avenue. Support is. Buying the DVDs is good, buying episodes online is good, but in the end tv viewers matter the most. ALSO, key battle point people often overlook.....
MAKE NOTE OF WHAT PRODUCTS ARE PAYING FOR ADVERTISING TIME!!
Seriously. This can make a difference. If you see a product being advertised during an episode, whether its first run, or a repeat, make note of it, and definitely let that company know that you saw their ad on an SGU broadcast. Whether its a short email to their site, or a phone call into a comments/questions/complaints line, let them know. They are, afterall, the ones who pull the pursestrings open or closed. DO NOT take commercials lightly, they have more influence than most board members. If the products tell Syfy, or other stations "we are getting a lot of recognition off this show..." trust me, they will find a way to magically come up with the $ in their budget to keep making it.
Theres a lot of questions that I personally cant answer, but this does show that there are a multitude of potential options still out there for SGU to breathe more life. It is just a matter of whoever is holding the keys, to hand them to someone willing to take over.
Saving SGU is a real possibility. It will just take all hands on deck to steer the Destiny to that outcome... to complete its mission.
Buy SGU Blu-Ray, DVDs & single online episodes on Amazon
(U.S.) http://amzn.to/fNmE0K (Canada) http://amzn.to/elGBzq
Want to learn more about the campaign or the cast? Check them out on twitter or facebook.
Helping to resurrect SGU campaign twitter accounts.
Cast's twitter accounts
http://twitter.com/AlainaHuffman - Alaina Huffman (Lt. Tamara "TJ" Johansen)
http://twitter.com/AtleastLevesque - Elyse Levesque (Chloe Armstrong)
http://twitter.com/BrianJacobSmith - Brian J. Smith (Lt. Matthew Scott)
http://twitter.com/Cpbinder - Carl Binder (crew- writer)
http://twitter.com/DavidBlue - David Blue (Eli Wallace)
http://twitter.com/Ivonbartok - Ivon Bartok (crew- producer/director)
http://twitter.com/jbowyerchapman - Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (Private Darren Becker)
http://twitter.com/Julia_Benson - Julia Benson (2nd Lt. Vanessa James)
http://twitter.com/JulieMcNiven - Julie McNiven (Ginn)
http://twitter.com/limajamil - Jamil Walker-Smith (Master Sgt. Ronald Greer)
http://twitter.com/LouDPhillips - Lou Diamond Phillips (Col. David Telford)
http://twitter.com/MingNa - Ming Na (Camile Wray)
http://twitter.com/PatrickGilmore - Patrick Gilmore (Dr. Dale Volker)
http://twitter.com/PeterKelamis - Peter Kelamis (Adam Brody)
http://twitter.com/SpenceJen - Jennifer Spence (Dr. Lisa Park)
Want to tell MGM or Syfy or Space how much you want this show to continue (being respectful works better than crude & angry letters with these people....and thats coming from ME)
Email Charles Cohen Executive Vice-President of MGM firstname.lastname@example.org (also believed to be a Stargate fan)
Email the Syfy Station email@example.com or post on their facebook wall http://facebook.com/SyFy
Contact Space Channel on their facebook wall http://facebook.com/SPACEchannel