So, has anyone noticed the recent change to our basic cable lineup? Rest in peace, Sci-Fi Channel, I enjoyed you while you lasted. I know, I’m a chick. I’m not supposed to watch sci-fi on TV. But the fact is, I have gotten more hours of mileage out of the former Sci-Fi Channel than I care to admit. As of yesterday, the Sci-Fi Channel changed its name in an attempt to both shake the geeky image of science fiction and free itself up to pursue programming that goes farther afield from sci-fi and fantasy. I’m a little dubious about the value of freeing the network up to bring their programming back to the mainstream stuff that every other network (how many hundreds are there now?) is already doing, but I can understand the desire to do some PR for the image of the sci fi viewer as teenaged, geeky, and male. (I’ll note that it’s an increasingly inaccurate image of science fiction readers and viewers to the extent that it was ever accurate in the first place, but that’s a whole different discussion.)
My problem is this: is “SyFy” supposed to seem cooler? This is possibly the stupidest network name I have ever seen. It sounds and looks even more idiotic than the National Geographic Channel calling itself Nat Geo. I think I actually even like “Spike” better as a network name, and Spike is, well, lacking in nuance to say the least. In this article from TV Week, the president of the former Sci-Fi Channel had this to say about their decision to change to SyFy:
When we tested this new name, the thing that we got back from our 18-to-34 techno-savvy crowd, which is quite a lot of our audience, is actually this is how you’d text it… It made us feel much cooler, much more cutting-edge, much more hip, which was kind of bang-on what we wanted to achieve communication-wise.
Seriously? They feel cooler by changing the name to conform with text message spelling? (Number 536 on my list of signs of the apocalypse…) Am I supposed to LOL at this point? Dear God, people. I don’t normally feel self-conscious about watching sci-fi on television, but it’s hard not to see that quote as just pitiful — he sounds like the confused middle-aged dad trying to seem cool with the kids.
The name change was timed to coincide with the premier of the new “SyFy” original series “Warehouse 13″ yesterday. While I haven’t seen it, the reviews I’ve seen of Warehouse 13 have been uniformly terrible and have said that it is derivative of… pretty much everything from Raiders of the Lost Ark to X-Files in the most obvious possible way. I’ll note that the reviews for their real science fiction series like “Stargate SG-1″ and “Battlestar Galactica” were generally very good. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?