Well, there are a few differences, but the big one is the US SciFi channel actually makes new shows. Admittedly, the UK channel does, too, but they’re either video review shows or they’re “Tales from the Conventions”. Plus there’s that new one with Michael Ironside that they’re co-producing with Canadian TV. But other than that, they don’t make shows.
In the US, they make lots of shows. They make really god-awful B-movie sci-fi films, usually starring the likes of Joe Lando (remember him from Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman?) and Bruce Campbell. They make silly shows about alien abductions and psychic powers. But they also make shows like Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis.
Just to ram their American superiority in our faces just a little bit more, they’ve unveiled a new slate of programming. To really start kicking sand in our eight-stone faces, they’re launching a prequel to BSG called Caprica that focuses on the times leading up to the creation of the cylons. While the phrase “television’s first science fiction family saga” sends chills down my spine, so did “remake of Battlestar Galactica” until I actually watched the new show. So I’ll flag Caprica as ‘sounds bad, will probably be very good indeed’ for you to note in your calendars.
Then there’s Snap about ‘a Federal agent who uncovers a deep-seated and seemingly unstoppable conspiracy’. Now that does sound pants and probably will be, too. Persons Unknown (‘a surreal mind-game of a series centering on a group of strangers who awaken in a deserted town with no memory of how they arrived, only to realize that there is no escape’) could be good, although I suspect I’ll spend most of the time looking for bits they may have half-inched off The Prisoner.
The Bishop just sounds inherently amusing: ‘from executive producers and writers Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Conrad Jackson, this one-hour drama revolves around a young slacker whose charmed life is disrupted when he discovers that he has a supernatural gift’. The power to carry a crook. In fact, I could swear Monty Python did a sketch about a fake crime show called ‘The Bishop’ – so best to steer clear of that one I think unless you fancy a laugh.
Blink again sounds like a rip-off, this time of Canadian show The Collector: ‘A group of Afterlife investigators try to help those about to make the wrong choice, in the blink of an eye before destiny is sealed forever.’ Could be good, could be bad, but as if having a show exec produced by Freddie Prinze Jr weren’t enough, this one’s exec-produced by Will from Will and Grace. What next? Shows produced by the Crazy Frog?
Last show of interest is a mini-series based on classic piece of 70s cobblers, Chariots of the Gods. Since that was in some way the inspiration for the worst movie ever made, Hangar 18, I’m dead set against it from the outset.
Nevertheless, compare that with the UK’s SciFi channel and you’ll have to admit, it’s a damn sight more impressive. Curse those Americans, their advanced economy and their high production values.