Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I gotta take my problem to the United Nations

This is a "Battlestar Galactica" heavy week for me. Last night, I saw a screening of the two-hour series finale -- and before anyone asks, I am embargoed from saying anything whatsoever about it (even whether or not I liked it) until Friday, pending threat of getting locked up by Brother Cavil -- and tonight I'm going back into the city for a panel discussion at the United Nations between several key "BSG" people and several UN representatives.

This is all exciting stuff, but it also takes up time I would otherwise be devoting to watching TV, blogging, column writing, etc. So after the jump, I want to do a quick State of the Sepinwall, plus link to a few notable developments out there in the TV-related world, before putting my head back down and trying to fit in as much work as possible before I have to head into Manhattan and forge a path to the East Side.

• While I've seen last night's "House," I don't have time to do a proper write-up, so a few minutes from now, I'm going to post an open thread to discuss the episode.

• Similarly, I've already seen tonight's "Reaper," but I'm too swamped to do more than set something to go live at 9 p.m. for you all to discuss it.

• Because I'll be hobnobbing with diplomats and Admiral Adama, I won't be watching "American Idol" live tonight, but will hopefully get something in before I go to sleep tonight, or else early tomorrow morning.

• Speaking of "Idol," once the results show starts going head-to-head with "Lost" tomorrow night, my allegiance is going to be first and foremost to "Lost," which means I'll be watching and writing about each episode of that before I even think of putting on "Idol." So if you need to know who got the boot at 10 p.m., this blog isn't going to be the best place. Sorry. But I'll have some sort of results show post hopefully up every Thursday morning at the latest.

• I was so busy making preparations yesterday to go to the "Galactica" screening and the Sci Fi Channel upfront that followed that I never had a chance to weigh in on the channel's plans to rebrand itself as SyFy (see new logo above). The explanations I've heard from Sci Fi and NBC/Universal people range from their wanting to bring in people outside the core fanboy/fangirl audience, to the fact that Sci Fi is a name that can't be trademarked. But the new name seems both silly and too similar to the original (it's supposed to be pronounced the same, though the critics at the "BSG" screening were calling it "See-Fee," or "Sigh-Fee," or "Syeh-fay") to really bring in anyone who's currently skeptical about wanting to watch "Eureka." And the whole move smacks of the approach TV sports coverage takes, where they assume the real sports fans will watch no matter what you do to them, and therefore gear their coverage to bring in non-fans. I hate any strategy that takes the core audience for granted, but this isn't the first time it'll be tried, nor the last.

• Finally, today marks the launch of "Rockville, CA," the online-only series for TheWB.com from "O.C."/"Chuck"/"Gossip Girl" creator Josh Schwartz and his frequent music supervisor, Alexandra Patsavas. You can watch the first four episodes here (they're around 5-7 minutes each, I believe). Basically, imagine an "O.C." spin-off set at The Bait Shop, starring Seth Cohen's long-lost identical cousin, and you get the idea. There's some comedy, some music, and some familiar faces, notably Ryan Hansen (aka Dick Casablancas from "Veronica Mars") as a character aptly known as "The Douche," and Natalie Morales (aka Dub-Dub from "The Middleman") as a club-goer who first turns up trying to "ironically" wear a pair of stripper heels.

40 comments:

Andrew said...

They are calling it Sy Fy? OK. I will watch now.

Dean Winchester said...

If they're still going to be showing made for tv movies called stuff like "Galactic Python: Rise of the Star-Snake" I don't think any amount of rebranding will bring in casual fans.

barefootjim said...

SyFy? Stupyd.

Bobman said...

Gah, you can't even say if you LIKED IT or not? That's painful to me.

Liz said...

"And the whole move smacks of the approach TV sports coverage takes, where they assume the real sports fans will watch no matter what you do to them, and therefore gear their coverage to bring in non-fans. I hate any strategy that takes the core audience for granted, but this isn't the first time it'll be tried, nor the last."

Well yeah...because they all too often get away with it. The core fans stay put.

Apparently there is some sentiment that the same thing is going on with SciFi's Stargate franchise. MGM/SciFi has dropped "Stargate Atlantis" in favor of a new show "Stargate Universe." Supposedly the logic is that the core fans will continue to watch because, hey, it's Stargate, while a younger, edgier approach to the franchise will bring in new viewers.

Guess we'll see how that goes.

Dave Wiemer said...

And while you're at thewb.com, check out Children's Hospital. Simply amazing.

http://www.thewb.com/shows/childrens-hospital

Bob in SA said...

Looks like the name of a new grocery store. It never ceases to amaze me how otherwise smart people can do such stupid things. Maybe that means there is hope for all of us dummies out there.

Andrew said...

The most consistent complaint I've heard about SyFy is that it looks like it should be pronounced "sifee" which then makes it sound like a nickname for syphilis.

Cyranetta said...

According to John Scalzi's blog, as it turns out, Syfy actually does mean a venereal disease in Polish:


http://whatever.scalzi.com/2009/03/17/the-venereal-disease-channel-imaginatizes-greatastically/

Anonymous said...

Alan,

Are you surprised that critics, etc. were allowed to see a screening of the BSG finale so far ahead of when it airs, opening up the obvious potential for leaks and spoilers?

I guess it helps writers be able to get a well thought out review put together for the day or day after the show airs, but if I was Ron Moore, I'd rather hold off on any screenings, or at least hold them the morning of the finale.

Anonymous said...

Nice Eddie Cochran reference.

Alan Sepinwall said...

FX screened the Shield finale more than a month in advance, and we all were on our best behavior.

If anything, inviting the press into the room for this sort of thing allows you to co-opt the spoilers, because the people who go do so under the agreement that they won't give anything away. Whereas anyone who didn't go who's into that sort of thing and has the resources could still be digging for the final explanations.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Nice Eddie Cochran reference.

I am nothing if not current with my references.

Jeremiah said...

Alan, what do you think about the announcement of David Chase's new mini-series for HBO, "A Ribbon of Dreams"? I'm just wondering what happened to that movie he was supposed to make.

Mrglass said...

Alan, can I have your job? Thanks.

I'm curious about this UN event. Why are UN diplomats talking about Galactica? Please post an update on the conference.

Melanie said...

You know, I totally get the whole trademark-ability thing, and if they would just leave it at that it would sound so much better than trying to get us to buy the ridiculous notion that this new name, pronounced exactly the same as the old, is somehow going to bring in new viewers.

Alan, did you have to sign something prior to the BSG viewing, or is it a gentleman's agreement?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, did you have to sign something prior to the BSG viewing, or is it a gentleman's agreement

I had to sign something, and then Ron Moore made all of us raise our right hands and swear we wouldn't reveal anything in advance.

Elena said...

Hate the new Sci Fi name/logo change. Work on programming, don't spend money on cosmetic junk and think it will bring about amazing changes.

jlf said...

I had to sign something, and then Ron Moore made all of us raise our right hands and swear we wouldn't reveal anything in advance.

I am sure the RM part of this is a joke but in case it's not, did he make you affirm with "So Say We All?"

kathy said...

I have to agree with Dean Winchester -- when your channel shows 20 hours of movies about killer seafood, spending millions on a re-branding campaign seems a poor use of funds. You can call it the Brad Pitt Naked 24 Hours A Day Channel, but if your line up is:

OCTOPUS 2
FRANKENFISH
SNAKEHEAD TERROR
CROC
SUPERGATOR
LAKE PLACID 2
SEA BEAST
EYE OF THE BEAST
SEA BEAST
BLOOD SURF

...a channel name change isn't the answer to your problems. Although "Frankenfish" is an incredibly awesome name.

Rich C said...

Please tell me the swearing-in involved the phrase"So say we all"!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Please tell me the swearing-in involved the phrase"So say we all"!

Sadly, no. It was pretty basic: "I swear not to reveal any of the spoilers we see tonight."

And now, having given that much away, I'm no doubt going to be airlocked in a few minutes.

Nicole said...

I don't see the point in having someone swear something in a non court setting, because it's only the written contract that would be enforceable anyway. It's incredibly pointless, and confirms the network lawyers don't even watch the show by not using "So say we all".

Unless New York law can enforce pinkie swears, then I stand corrected.

Pamela Jaye said...

my brother notes that the website formerly known as SyFyPortal caved and changed its name without bothering t explain why (a cable network stole our stupidly spelled name...)

akbar56 said...

Pamela, while syfy portal did change their name... they did get a nice fat check from NBC for it.

Pamela Jaye said...

Cyranetta - thank you for that link. That was awesome.

Imagine Greater!

Pamela Jaye said...

Hate the new Sci Fi name/logo change. Work on programming, don't spend money on cosmetic junk and think it will bring about amazing changes.

this reminds of a Mac commercial about Vista...

Jennifer said...

Kathy: a friend of mine came up with a Sci-Fi Channel Original Movie Generator. http://mossroot.com/scifichannel/ Pretty similar to your post...

I loathe the new name, especially since it seems designed to (a) specifically diss geeks, their current audience, and (b) bring in people who will think, "Uh, what?" and continue to ignore the channel. I have yet to hear one person say the name doesn't suck so far.

Redsmom said...

And the new motto, "Imagine Greater"? WTF does that even mean? When I saw that logo and motto heading this article, I thought it was going to be about a parody of the Sci Fi channel. The channel has, sadly, become a parody of itself.

Also, wrestling? Really? I could see maybe homemade battling robots, but wrestling?

EOTW said...

Doesn't matter what they call it. No one's gonna watch this B-grade net after BSG is over.

Michael said...

Speaking of the Skiffy channel, don't forget the "Battlestar Galactica: The Last Frakkin' Special" this week a behind the scenes look at the series and in particular the finale.

Pamela Jaye said...

Cyranetta - I have to thank you again. I loved the article - thought I'd die laughing - posted it to my facebook (thing - there's a new name for it this week) where my brother picked it up and he's just gleeful cause he "scooped Slashdot" -

thanks to you
(and Alan for having the blog)

Craig Ranapia said...

Doesn't matter what they call it. No one's gonna watch this B-grade net after BSG is over.

Well, considering that "B-grade net" commissioned Caprica -- which all the right people are hating on before they've even seen the pilot -- it's earned a little credit with me.

Andrew said...

Aside form Caprica and Doctor Who, I'm totally stoked for Mansquito 2: Electric Bugaloo

Anthony Foglia said...

Since this might the closest thing to an open thread this week, Alan, can you tell me why you deleted my comment on "Flight of the Conchords?" All I mentioned was that one actor had a much different role on a different show. Any descriptions of the character were based on events from the previous season. (Or at most episodes weeks old.)

The only thing I can think of is I mistakenly entered the wrong character name, or description, and someone thought that was a spoiler.

I just want to make sure I didn't break any rule I'm not aware of.

I'd ask you this question over e-mail, but it's not worth adding to your work inbox.

Pandyora said...

@ Dean Winchester: "Galactic Python: Rise of the Star-Snake"

@Andrew: Mansquito 2: Electric Bugaloo

That settles it. I think Alan should hold a special contest in honor of the SyFy network titled "The best name for a low budget Sci Fi miniseries that will never get a chance to air on the network now that it is updating its image."

My nomination: "Robo Nymphs from Venus: the Uranus Chronicles."

Nicole said...

Dave, I cannot thank you enough for introducing me to Children's Hospital. That is seriously the most deranged thing I have watched in a long time. So awesome!

I've already got a bunch of my friends watching and quoting from that show.

"That's just the brain tumor talking."

EOTW said...

Andrew: If CAPRICA lasts more than a season, I'll eat my shoe. Ask anyone. the lameass caprica stuff has ALWAYS been the worst part of BSG. Btter be some action on the show to justify the cost. NO, it will fail because ain't no 'splosions.

Sorry, but to say BSG is anything more than schlock TV is really crazy To compare it to THE WIRE, MAD MEN, LOST is laughable. Don't get me wrong: I like parts of the show but it peaked earlier this season with the takeover 2 parter and the revealing of the Four.

Everyone I know in the real world has felt the let down of the last few hours. Again, this final ep better be amazing. But I ain't holdin' my breath.

Bobman said...

Sorry, but to say BSG is anything more than schlock TV is really crazy To compare it to THE WIRE, MAD MEN, LOST is laughable

BSG does wonderful effects and action scenes, especially considering their budget, but if you think that's even in the running for the best part of the show, I can't even imagine why you bother watching aside from it giving you an opportunity to make hostile comments. Just because it's set in a SciFi universe doesn't automatically make it schlock; I'm not big into SciFi at ALL but I can still admit that this show is brilliant.

lizkdc said...

Sci Fi to SyFy: after a number of years in the corporate wilds, I can tell you, this is why you have to run like hell from anyone with the word "branding" in their title or their mission. It's become a stupid magnet of unholy proportions.

Science fiction is that channel's product. Making it so that potential new viewers don't know what the channel contains just means they have a bunch of idiots working for them who have given up, since they have no clue how to market the genre.