Sad Reality: Syfy Continues to Move Further Away From Sci-Fi

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You guys love to sound off about your hatred for Syfy's push into reality programming, so get your rage ready: The network, once a haven for quality science-fiction shows such as Battlestar Galactica, yesterday announced that it has 13 more reality projects in the works. Compare that to the four scripted programs in its pipeline, and it's obvious that Syfy isn't changing its controversial course at all.

In SyFy's defense, the shift toward more reality programming makes business sense. Reality shows are cheap to make, they're fairly interchangeable, and the risk involved in developing them is far less great than that of their scripted counterparts. Don't hate the player, hate the game.

But unless we're going to get a cut of the profits, what good does Syfy's keen business sense do for us? What should scare people more is the type of reality programming Syfy is considering. Marcel's Quantum Kitchen debuted last night, and for the life of me I could not figure out why that show is on Syfy at all. Aside from the fact that there's a whole host of things wrong with the show, it doesn't really have a science-fiction element at all. And, unfortunately, it looks like Marcel's will soon have company in the non-sci-fi department. What follows are the shows of SyFy's just-announced reality slate; let's take a look and grade their sci-fi relevance on a scale of 1 to 10.

Haunted Collector

Ghostologist John Zaffis travels the world hunting for haunted objects, such as paintings and jewelry. (premiering in June)
Sci-Fi Meter Says: 6. Ghosts certainly qualify as part of the genre. But the premise seems more suited for The History Channel.

Legend Quest

Symbologist Ashley Cowie travels the world looking for relics that have mystical significance. (premiering in July)
Sci-Fi Meter Says: 3. Another one for History Channel, right?

Paranormal Witness

Docudrama re-telling stories from people who witnessed paranormal experiences first-hand. (premiering in September)
Sci-Fi Meter Says: 7. But do we really need more ghost shows?

Culture Shock with Tommy Lee

Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee travels the world to uncover rituals and other mysteries of secret societies. (in development)
Sci-Fi Meter Says: 2. What's sci-fi about this other than Tommy Lee being an alien?

Monster Man

Monster-maker Cleve Hall makes creatures for Hollywood studios. This show follows his business and his strange family. (in development.)
Sci-Fi Meter Says: 9. If Face Off works for Syfy, so does this.

Stunts Unlimited

This series goes behind the scenes of Stunts Unlimited, a company of stuntmen who do dangerous things for films. (in development)
Sci-Fi Meter Says: 0. Unless they're jumping out of spaceships, how is this even remotely related to science fiction?

Hi-Tech Hoaxes

Think Punk'd with supernatural-themed pranks on unsuspecting folks. (in development)
Sci-Fi Meter Says: 5. But boy is this a stretch!

Dinner with Deepak

Spiritual author Dr. Deepak Chopra has conversations about politics, the supernatural, and spiritual matters with other intellectuals over dinner. (in development)
Sci-Fi Meter Says: 3. There's some potential to be enlightening. And lots of potential to be utterly boring.

Tyler Shields

A docudrama following photographer Tyler Shields as he creates unusual photos of celebs and models. (in development)
Sci-Fi Meter Says: 0. A big fat zero.


Each week, two teams of four talented creators build contraptions designed to accomplish a specific task. (in development)
Sci-Fi Meter Says: 0. If the "contraptions" were robots, maybe.

Change the Day You Die

Straight from the press release: "An inspiring new reality series that uses state-of-the-art science to dramatically transport its participants into the future to face their own self-inflicted demise. Each of the seemingly healthy, unsuspecting candidates—nominated by friends, family and loved ones—will go on a 10-week transformational journey where they must master a series of mental and physical challenges designed to reverse their bad habits and add back valuable lost years to their lives. Through medical-condition simulators, life-enhancing technology, unique graphics, and special effects, each participant will experience firsthand the grim reality of their potential future so that they have the opportunity to change their ways before it's too late." (in development)
Sci-Fi Meter Says: n/a. What is this even about?

Imagination Nation

Gadget freaks Hammacher Schlemmer go on the road to talk to inventors about new products for their mail-order catalog business. (in development)
Sci-Fi Meter Says: 1. If you've perused a Hammacher Schlemmer catalog, you know there are some sci-fi-ish gizmos in there. But there are even more products to help you find your golf ball.

America's Smartest Kids

A reality competition where kids vie for the title of (wait for it) America's Smartest Kid. (in development)
Sci-Fi Meter Says: 0. Unless these kids have psychic powers or can start fires with their minds, we fail to see how this is sci-fi related.

As far as scripted programming goes, things look a lot better. Syfy has one scripted show debuting this summer, and three more in development. There also seems to be a stress on adding comedies to its lineup, as all three in the works are laughers.


A crack team of individuals with extraordinary mental and physical powers solves cases the FBI, CIA, and other agencies can't handle. (July)

Three Inches

A dramedy about people with less-than-super powers, such as the ability to move objects with one's mind... but only three inches. (in development)

In the Dark

A comedy that follows inept ghost hunters as they track down spooks. (in development)

Me and Lee

A 20-something dude has back surgery, and when it's botched, Lee Majors steps in to help him become a bionic man. (in development)

Alright, let's hear it: What do you think of SyFy's new slate of programming?

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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