Syfy Seeks The Next Big Space Opera, To Replace BSG And FarscapeS

Now that the Syfy Channel has a new name, does that mean it's abandoning science-fiction fans? Syfy president David Howe assures us that's not the case, and promises a new space-opera, along the lines of Firefly or Farscape, by 2011.

We spoke to Howe at a special event this morning, celebrating the new spelling of the channel's name, and it's brand new slogan, "Imagine greater." After Howe reassured us the channel wasn't abandoning its core audience of science-fiction fans with its new rebranding, we got a chance to talk about the future of this new Syfy Channel.

Our first question was: What's going to replace Battlestar Galactica? Clearly, Caprica is not the same type of show as BSG, so what's in the pipeline to replace this much-loved space opera? Howe replied that, thanks to Mark Stern and the development team, not only is the channel aiming to greenlight a pilot in the next couple of months for a new series (mums the word on the title) but "we're actively looking into developing the next space opera hopefully for the next year or the year after."

So after Howe dropped this stunner, we hunted down Creative Director of Original Programming, Mark Stern, to find out more about the next big Syfy space opera. Will it have alien puppets?

So you're the guy we want to talk to, the future of what's to come on Scifi. Our readers can't wait to hear from you.

They don't want to come after me with pitchforks?

Science Fiction fans are tough, you know that. They're the best, and they're loyal. I'm sure you've gotten your share of emails?

Indeed I have.

I'm sure this isn't the first time either?

Not at all.

What was worse: rebranding, or canceling Stargate Atlantis?

Canceling Farscape. Which, by the way, I had nothing to do with. That was my first day at the job and all of a sudden it was, "Mark's cancelled Farscape." No, I didn't. I love Farscape!

The fans are loyal.

I love all that, and I'm one of those people, so I get it. I take ownership of all that stuff too. I think the difference with the brand is, there's a fear that they're not going to do the programming. I think as soon as people realize that because we now have a brand that is broader, and not as niche, it allows us to be a little more scifi-specific and it allows to put shows on...I think our big frustration with a show like Battlestar Galactica has been, it's a great show. Because it's on the science fiction channel it's kept people away, that we felt like would come in and love that show. So it's made us a little more hesitant about going too hard scifi. Because hard scifi on the scifi channel is almost like this double whammy. Now that we have a brand that is a little broader and we're embracing a lot of things we're already doing. I think it also gives us a lot of freedom to do more hard scifi.

The next thing that I really want to do is find the next great space opera it's been a long time. And we have Stargate, but that's really not that show. And Caprica isn't really that show. So where's the next Star Trek or Farscape? Let's find one of those.

So what are you looking at to replace the channel's missing space opera?

You know it's so early days, I don't have anything really specific. We're talking to a lot of people that we already work with, about ideas. We don't want to do something that is the same old. You don't want it to feel recycled. So that's the challenge of doing that. I'm a huge fan of Firefly, and shows that take that idea and take that part of the genre and reinvent it in a whole new way. I'd love to find our version of, not specifically Firefly, but similar to what Joss [Whedon] tried to do with that in terms of, "lets recast the Western in space." Love that idea, and I love that show. What's another way to approach that? We're talking to a number of people about that, but at this point honestly it's about getting Warehouse 13 on its feet, getting Caprica on its feet, getting Stargate Universe going. This is a really big time for us, we haven't really had time to think about next year.