I may not be smart, but I make up for it by being the biggest damn ham in the blogosphere.

Come to Think of it, why *DOES* the Sci-Fi Channel Suck?

Date/Time Permalink: 01/18/08 02:20:27 pm
Category: Geek Culture

I found myself nodding hyper-actively in agreement with this Open Letter to the Sci-Fi Channel. I'm glad somebody else has finally said it. When I first heard there was going to be a Sci-Fi channel, I was swooning.

Then I tuned in, and it sucked. I check back a year later - nope, still tanking. And so with the next year and ever since. It's like the whole channel is secretly controlled by a cartel of suits who hold geeks in beady-eyed, teeth-clenching contempt, and are deliberately programming it to be the sinkhole of all that is crappy in television. I'd be even less generous than the author I link to: infomercials with Billy Mays hawking gross hygiene products would be an improvement over damn near everything I see the S.F. channel currently playing.

Since, as a random blogger on the Internet, I have freaking unbelievable sway with the TV corporate elite who will hop to attend to my every command, I would like to offer the following guide. In a parallel universe where the Sci-Fi channel isn't a terrible crock of moldy fecal matter, here is a day's airtime schedule - a snapshot of...

What a typical day on the Sci-Fi channel should look like:

6 to 8 AM - The kiddie block. Insert four of your favorite animated Sci-Fi cartoon series here for a half-hour each. This should be limited to (a) retro Hannah-Barbera super-hero stuff, or (b) modern Anime series. Nothing else has real appeal.
8 AM - Sci-Fi News. Do a news show talking about up-coming movies, series, interviews, conventions, what-have-you.
9 AM - The Outer Limits. Daytime block begins here. Nothing stellar, which would be a waste, so anybody watching at this hour is probably looking for some surrealism.
10 AM - The Prisoner
11 AM - The Twilight Zone
12 AM - The X-Files
1 PM - Doctor Who.
2 PM - Heroes. Afternoon block begins here. Early shift workers are getting home, so we can ramp it up a bit.
3 PM - Star Trek. Any rotating member of the original, Next Generation, or Voyager. Alternate with Babylon 5.
4 PM - Carnivàle. Yes, the HBO original series. Buy it. No matter what you pay, it's worth it.
5 PM - Firefly.
6 PM - Now begins the Movie Block. 6 PM to midnight should be exclusively classic and/or big-box-office Sci-Fi movies. Actual CINEMA- released movies. Ones that actually made money. Made by people who actually could get hired again for anything, ever, as long as they live.
12 PM MST3K. It's midnight, so we can allow one B-movie.
2 to 6 AM This can be your ghetto block. Now you can show your crappy made-for-network-TV howling atrocities, low-budget remakes, bizarre stuff that nobody's ever heard of, and the occasional undiscovered, underrated gem. Here's a great place to start.

Note that in each and every case, WE WANT THE ORIGINAL SHOW, NOT THE SUCKY REMAKE.

As for Sci-Fi movies: I'm talking the stuff that sci-fi fans love so much, that it develops a cult following. Examples can be found in the IMDB Top Rated Sci-Fi Titles. True, this list does not hit the Bulls-eye; but at least it's somewhere in the vicinity of the wall the target is hanging on!!!

Guidelines for WHAT SUCKS:

Anything made especially for the Sci-Fi channel. Seriously, guys, rake it into a pile and burn it, and store the ashes in heavy metal drums at a long-term storage facility.

Huge blocks of series - The Sci-Fi channel is the only channel which thinks it's a good idea to make their schedule completely unpredictable, so that an entire series is shown back to back at random, then never seen again. So even if we get lucky and catch something decent, we missed the first half and cannot devote the rest of the day to catching the rest of it. We check back the next day and now it's a block of Ghost Hunters. We search forward in the program guide and discover that the show we really liked will never be on again. We hate life. How much crack do you have to smoke to think this is the right way to run a channel?


Anything blurred or cropped or bleeped out. It's science fiction; we're supposed to be shocked and amazed. We're supposed to be opening our minds to new frontiers. With all the alien species running around, how come only the humans have to wear clothes or have their naughty bits blurred, anyway? How come Vulcans can say "pon farr", but humans can't say the F-word? They mean the same thing.

Everybody currently working at the Sci-Fi channel. No, do not just fire them. Publicly list their names and photographs first, so that nobody else in the entertainment industry ever accidentally hires them again.


No, I don't pretend to have all the answers. Some fans will disagree with my picks, possibly because I'm just throwing them out there off the top. But no one can argue that even my ten-minute list would not be a vast improvement over what the channel is currently doing.

I also am aware of the market realities. The theory is that smart people don't spend money buying stuff from commercials, science fiction is just a genre, the Sci-Fi channel doesn't have the budget to be a premium channel, and so on.

The problem is that these are all self-fulfilling prophecies. If you program for the stupidest possible viewer, then that's all who will watch; the horror equivalent of the Sci-Fi channel, Chiller, is completely kicking the Sci-Fi channel's butt. If you treat science fiction like a genre, it will smell like one; looking back on the top block-buster box office earners of all time, there's tons of science fiction movies in the list. And the Sci-Fi channel can be just as much of a premium channel as it wants to be - are you telling me that it's cheaper to make new garbage today than it is to get the air-time rights to classic series from decades ago, for which there is more demand? And what justification from budget constraints is there for the retarded block-programming model with the episodes out of order?

The bottom line is, there's enough of a market for science fiction, and you have all of these science fiction fans who would be a loyal audience if you didn't go out of your way to anger them. If it's worth having a Sci-Fi channel at all, it's worth doing even half-way right. At least to the point where every single other cable channel doesn't do sci-fi better than you do.

Somebody's sabotaging this channel for a tax shelter, perhaps? Then shut the damn thing down and let HBO start a Sci-Fi channel.

Some other sites with some worthy things to say about the Sci-Fi channel:

Ways I'd improve the Sci-Fi Channel.
Sci-fi Channel; Why Do You Suck?
The Sci-fi channel truly sucks!

It came from Planet Penguin!

Side-Note: I've started a new category, "geek culture". Some past posts will retroactively be classified here, which is going to throw some old bookmarks and links for a loop.

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