SyFy. Not a Mispelling, Just an Awful Channel.

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For those of you who don’t know, the Science Fiction channel changed it’s name to SyFi some time ago.  The rebranding occurred apparently because they wanted to make it clear to anyone who didn’t already know that they frequently play things other then Science Fiction.  I had actually already noticed.

There are a lot of reasons for a Science Fiction fan to dislike the channel.  One would be that several nights of the week, they play professional wrestling in prime time.  Even the worst space operas are more realistic.

Some of the brilliant and short-lived ideas that they’ve brought to the screen involved remaking Flash Gordon as a series.  The movie remake of Flash Gordon was a camp comedy, something which is rather difficult to emulate.  Apparently they didn’t notice and redid Flash Gordon as straight adventure. It didn’t last.

Of course it’s easy to find awful television these days.  The SyFy channel producing awful television is certainly not unusual, at least not if its awful because it’s stupid and boring.  Naturally they’ve started a line of reality television shows, since those are so incredibly cheap to make that it doesn’t really matter whether the ratings are good or not.  That is the secret of the dominance of reality television.  For the most part, not that many people even like them, but they’ve spread from channel to channel simply because they cost very little to make.  Even if almost nobody watches, they still make a profit.

Unfortunately they recently broadened their horizons, and spread into irresponsible, but at this point the viewing public is so jaded i’m not sure anyone will notice.  Now they air a show called Paranormal Activity.  It’s a difficult show to describe because they actually don’t take the time to explain it much themselves.

Every week, a person introduces himself, usually with one name, like “Steve.”  They never mention where he’s from or his last name, but he presents himself as though he’s describing something that really happened in his life.  The event usually involves a ghost or demon ho infested his house, and the problem is solved with lots of faith, praying, and occasionally an exorcism.

As I speak of this, I can already hear the chorus of voices saying that it’s just a show.  I can tell you exactly when this sort of thing stopped being acceptable to me.  It was the day I came home from a trip to see my father who was trying to deal with cancer, and was told that someone had called for me while I was gone because he needed help.  When I wasn’t there, he called the only other people he knew who might help him.

He has a long history of schizophrenia, and his symptoms returned.  He heard voices and felt desperate.  They told him that his problem was that he was being possessed by a demon, and he should stop taking his pills and have an exorcism.  When I came back to town, my next stop was to go see him at the Acute Trauma Unit, because he’d slit his wrists after he had a full psychotic break.  It occurred after he’d been off his meds.  At some point he decided that if he was possessed, the right thing for him to do was die.

The first time I saw this garbage show incidentally, was when I went to see him and his friends.  They were watching Paranormal Activity.  They regarded it as a documentary, which is excactly how Sy Fy presents it. They in fact go to great lengths to prevent each show as if it’s something which actually happened.

This incidentally, is not the first ‘exorcism’ I’ve heard of.  I’ve worked around people with schizophrenia for years, and increasingly people with religious beliefs have felt that it appropriate to interject their opinion on how mentally ill people should be handled.  It’s a difficult problem to study, because people with schizophrenia never want to be revealed.  This desire for privacy is very understandable, but that and medical privilege makes it very difficult to know just how often this sort of thing happens.  Some of the clinicians at the mental health clinic have told me they think it’s a problem which is exploding, but privilege denies me any useful statistics.

If you think that people don’t take the things they say in these movies and shows seriously, then let me tell you that you are wrong.  I know that they do.  I’m one of the people who gets to clean up the mess when someone decides it’s fine to tell someone experiencing a moment of weakness that they should stop taking their anti-psychotics.

(Ed.  Note:  “Steve” Davidson- Amazing’s publisher – does not receive the SyFy channel in his cable bundle.  Thank goodness.)

11 COMMENTS

  1. Syfy belongs ABC group who belongs himself french group Vivendi Universal. When you know the trashcan tv show broadcasted by private network in France, i’m not suprised Syfy attampt to reproduce the model.
    When you know the heart of target of french TV is less forty years miseducated housewives, you don’t no surprise than the channel broadcast bad shows.
    If you think advertisement cut the shows you are wrong. It’s the shows who break the ads.

  2. Unfortunately SyFy has become synonymous with some indie film producers as a place to make a quick buck by dumping a low budget SyFy film.

    In the battle for content, SyFy seems to have shallow pockets to fill the 24 hour a day need for filler. Ratings are down, which makes the war chest even lighter. It seems to be on a downward spiral that will not recover without a major restructure. (And commitment of money and a new vision.)

    They are making one or two attempts at decent content, but some might argue even those attempts are poorly done.

    I used to watch the channel weekly. Now I can’t remember the last time I had it on for more than 30 seconds. (My morbid curiosity has a short attention span.)

    I hope they can find a cure. Maybe a parade of classics like AMC or TMC, but with science fiction themes. (If the, price is right.)

    RKT

  3. This channel shows cheesy B movies like SHARKNADO and fairly standard for TV space opera and a few funny sf shows like WAREHOUSE 13. “Reality” ghost shows like PARANORMAL WITNESS aren’t so bad if you look at them as cheesy horror, and some are genuinely scary. If you don’t like the channel, don’t watch it. Simple.

    And the idea of demonic or spirit possession has been around as long as man. The ancient Greeks, Chinese, and American Indians believed in it, and it’s mentioned in the Bible.

    (This post edited by Steve Davidson)

  4. The syfy channel has a lot of junk on it, and the camp MST was some of it. They even said they were running trash. That channel has never been in sf’s best interests, and it’s been disputed behind the scenes right along whether it should exist as such, as we found when they were putting about anything on it.

  5. Syfy’s problems really flared up when Bonnie Hammer took over as the top dog of the network. She began cancelling profitable shows with huge fan followings; e.g. Farscape, and replacing them with cheaper shows or crap.

    Of late, it seems to me that the rebranding was not to show that show more than science fiction, but as a wink and nod to feminists that this is now a network for Womyn. (google it). I know that might not sit well with a bunch of folks for me to say that, but look at their lineup since the rebranding. It’s all HBO sex and LGBT in space.

    I miss the Scifi channel that reran classic scifi from the past, like Land of the Giants, The Magician and Lost in Space. And I miss the successful shows that The Hammer axed, like Farscape and Tremors: the Series, that did exceptionally well, but clearly didn’t push the kind of feminine Oxygen-esque lineup we now have. Personally, I’m amazed we have as many terrible B Movies with bimbos in bikinis as Syfy presently shows. Surely that doesn’t conform to the Wrassler/Reality lineup Syfy now hawks.

    Thank goodness for Netflix. It’s far more Scifi, than Syfy.

    • I want to clarify my gripe with Syfy is how inappropriate most of the shows are anymore for my kids. I get sick of Nick/Boomerang/Disney, etc. I wish they still showed clean, wholesome shows, even old ones, I could watch with the kids, instead of stuff that would be better on HBO.

    • Maybe after amazing experiments like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, Netflix can take some risks with science fiction shows! ^,^

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