Suppose that the folks at Syfy are working on building credibility with the science fiction community, after having thrown away great shows like Stargate Universe and Eureka and Sanctuary and Blood and Chrome for shows that are merely decent, like Alphas and Haven, and a whole grid full of "unscripted" chaff that to unsympathetic eyes seems to just make itself without thought or effort required.
Suppose that with their recent cultivation of new projects like Defiance and Rewind and a half-dozen other possibilities they want to show us that, despite the evidence of all that canceled wreckage twisted and broken out back behind its HQ, Syfy really, really wants to go to the future, to go to the stars, to be a real sci-fi network.
Wouldn't they want to stay away from the one name guaranteed to conjure curled lips and darkened brows? The guy who made one great movie and then a series of increasingly unpleasant, self-important flicks, culminating in an adaptation so-wrong-headed that it amounts to a betrayal not only of its source material but of every member of its fan-base -- not to mention, on an objective level, being purely and simply a terrible movie, as if it had been made by a man who doesn't understand why movies even exist?
Looking Beyond the Grave
And yet one of the two projects just announced by Syfy is a collaboration with M. Night Shyamalan, in his first venture into television, and television producer-writer Marti Noxon (I Am Number Four, The Secret Circle, Fright Night) to script a pilot called Proof.
No, this isn't the play of the same name. The concept here involves the son of a billionaire tech genius, who offers a large reward to anyone who can find proof of life after death after the tragic accident and sudden death of his parents. Shyamalan and Noxon will co-write the project, which, if approved by Syfy, will then go into casting and production.
The Falling of Night
It's not that I hate the man because he's a smug bastard. It's that he makes sci-fi/fantasy films, and he's been making them increasingly badly. Look at his record. As a director, his Metacritic scores drop an order of magnitude with every film. Every movie he makes, he shows less and less ability and less and less respect for speculative fiction as a genre.
The concept is adaptable: it could go into a sort of parascience direction, like a Fringe or a Touch, or it could veer more toward straightforward supernatural. This could end up being a solid and workable show, so I'm not going to assume that Shyamalan's involvement means it will be terrible. Perhaps working in a new medium with a new partner will revive Shyamalan's perspective. It just always surprises me that after The Village and The Lady in the Water and The Last Airbender contradicting his projected self-image of being an insufferably great filmmaker that he manages to keep finding any work at all.
A Trip to the Moon
But Syfy does seem to genuinely want to present itself as a science-fiction network, and its other big annoucement this week shows more promise. The network has greenlit the production of a pilot for the previously reported adaptation of John Christopher's novel The Lotus Caves, now called High Moon. The project is being headed up by Robert Halmi Sr., a darling at Syfy for his hit miniseries Tin Man, Alice, Treasure Island, and Neverland, and Bryan Fuller (Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies).
The pilot, written by Jim Danger Gray (who worked on season 2 of Pushing Daisies, and wrote Torchwood: Miracle Day's effective episode 4, "Escape to L.A.") from a story he put together with Fuller, is about creates a future where the countries of Earth have established colonies to mine the Moon's resources. When a new life form is discovered, chaos erupts as various factions race to uncover and exploit its powerful secrets.
Syfy honcho Mark Stern is playing up the sci-fi aspects and how they do what all good sci-fi does, which is illuminate human nature. "Bryan and Jim have brought John Christopher's book to life," he said, "in an incredibly vivid and imaginative way. This is a fresh and compelling vision of an exotic new world driven by character, intrigue and greed." Production on the 90-minute pilot will likely commence in Vancouver this fall.