When Syfy starts to talk about its slate of scripted programs in development, it's best to try and imagine baby tadpoles swimming in the pond, trying to find a safe haven.
So many of them are there, strong, fascinating, maybe even unique. But by the time shelter is found, most of the tadpoles are already gone.
Syfy likes to talk up a big development slate, but it should probably be called a conceptual slate. For example, at this week's advertiser upfronts, the cable channel announced nine scripted shows, but only two -- as of now -- are even in full pilot development.
That show is Rockne S. O'Bannon's "Defiance," which began filming this week in Toronto, starring Grant Bowler, Julie Benz and Graham Greene. It takes place after a huge galactic war, where Earth is transformed into a haven of its own, likely bringing together the future and the western, much like "Firefly" did so well.
Probably most surprising is one of the names in the cast list that "Warehouse 13" fans at least didn't quite expect: Jaime Murray. As H.G. Wells in Syfy's No. 1 scripted show, Murray played evil so well, that even when she's good, we're not sure if it's for real. Murray's recurring character was seemingly killed off in the most recent season finale of "Warehouse 13," although an obvious reset button in play could bring her back.
But even outside "Warehouse 13," Murray was slated to be a part of a spinoff focused on her character, back in the days of Warehouse 12 in London. However, as Jack Kenny told Airlock Alpha back in December, that show is still in early development -- and like most Syfy projects -- was probably announced a bit too soon.
In fact, of the eight shows Syfy announced still on the drawing board, the "Warehouse 13" spinoff was not among them.
But "Rewind" was. As we first reported back in January, the production team of BermanBraun will try to follow up with its "Alphas" success to bring a team of military field operatives and civilian scientists who time travel in an effort to change the future, and in the process, avoid a devastating terrorist attack.
This show has a cast, thus it has a pilot in some sort of production. It stars Keisha Castle-Hughes from "Whale Rider" as well as Robbie Jones and Keon Mohajeri. They all join Jennifer Ferrin in the pilot, which was written by "Street Fighter" scribe Justin Marks.
Other shows that are nowhere as close include "The Adjustment Bureau" (based on the Matt Damon film), "High Moon" (from the John Christopher novel), Booster Gold (from "Warehouse 13" writer Andrew Kreisberg), "Grave Sight" (from "True Blood" author Charlaine Harris), "Defender" (from Robert Hewitt Wolfe), "The Family" (from "Battlestar Galactica's" Mark Verheiden and "Total Recall's" Neal Moritz), and "Seeing Things."
"Adjustment Bureau" will definitely not star Damon or John Slattery, but it does have the writing talents of Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer from "Smallville" fame. Also George Nolfi, who worked on the "Adjustment Bureau" film, will serve as executive producer, if this project moves forward.
"High Moon" is actually from Christopher's book "The Lotus Caves," and is probably best described as Newt Gingrich's ultimate dream: human colonies on the Moon. Humans are there to mine, but that gets all screwed up when the miners discover life. This potential series also involved Bryan Fuller (who wants to bring back "The Munsters," "Hannibal" and "Star Trek" all at once), as well as his former "Pushing Daisies" producing partner Jim Danger Gray.
Booster Gold, as we previously reported, is based on the DC Comic of a washed-up athlete from the future who travels back to the present in hopes of becoming the greatest superhero of all time.
"Grave Sight," likely without a lot of the cussing and sex found in the HBO version of Harris' other work, centers on a teen -- Harper Connelly -- who can sense the location and last memories of dead people after being struck by lightning. And unlike "True Blood," this series would take place in the Ozarks (or, at least, Toronto's equivalent, likely).
"Seeing Things" is based on the Platinum Studios comic Grey Legion about a dead cop who returns as a ghost to help close his last case. Instead, he meets up with a crazy guy who realizes that this ghostly cop is not like his other hallucinations.
Wolfe, who most recently worked on "Alphas," is putting together "Defender," based on the aftermath of an intergalactic war between humans and transhumance. This would actually be a starship-based ship, as we previously reported, taking Syfy back to space for the first time in .. well too long.
"The Family" is being written by Dan Harris who did some good stuff for "X2" but not so good stuff in "Superman Returns." It focuses on an alien family that has to hide among humans -- but do it in plain sight. But it's not long before the family divides itself, debating whether they should reveal themselves -- and their superior power -- to humans.
Nearly all sound like great shows that Syfy should get into production right away, but there is only room for so many on the production slate. That means only time will tell what makes it and what doesn't.
"Over its 20-year history, Syfy has always pushed the boundaries of our genre and the entertainment experience," said Mark Stern, Syfy's president of original programming, in a release. "This new crop of innovative, thought-provoking, emotionally charged programming will propel us even farther as we imagine all the greater possibilities ahead for the powerful Syfy brand."
Syfy also announced six new reality series coming to the channel this year, with another 17 more in development.
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