It may be hard to believe that the ever-fantastical Syfy network wasn’t always there to entertain us with otherworldly programming spanning from the arcane to the extraterrestrial and beyond. In fact, it wasn’t until 1992 that the Sci-Fi Channel, as it was originally known, graced the greater cableverse. Debuting with a screening of Star Wars, the flagship station for all that is science fiction leaned heavily upon reruns and old movies. But it wasn’t long before original programming materialized into the channel’s transportation chamber. And in those past decades, audiences have been graced by some stellar series like Battlestar Galactica and revivals of fan favorites like Mystery Science Theater 3000.
However, it hasn’t all been star stuff and fairy dust. Everybody’s favorite intergalactic TV channel has oozed out some real stinkers and some of them did not face their demise in a timely fashion, lingering for suffering viewers far longer than they should have. In fact, the channel still has some programming which simply has outlived its shelf life. Sorry, programming executives, but there’s been too many mediocre and sometimes downright awful shows flying around your cosmos for way too long. It’s way past time to hit the eject button on these falling stars. Here’s 10 Syfy Shows That Went On Too Long (And 5 That Need To Go).
15 Too Long: Eureka
Sometimes a science fiction show is just a science fiction show. In the case of Eureka, it was a whole bunch of things. It had enough laughs in each episode to make it feel almost like a comedy series a lot of the time. And sure, it had more than enough drama to keep viewers engaged. However, the show about the brainiest secret government town in the world just wasn’t always sure what it wanted to be. The main premise is that this hidden out-of-the-way burgh in Oregon is the place where all the planet’s advanced tech comes from. And accidental sheriff Jack Carter – the one guy there who isn’t a genius – retains the uncanny ability to solve any weird science crime that happens. Which then ends up turning the whole thing into a police procedural.
In a perfect scenario, this genre mashup could be very interesting. Ultimately, the idea for Eureka was to maintain a family-friendly tone, which for a lot of viewers was just way too much fiction considering all the volatile science going on. Still, Syfy kept this unwieldy bird flying for five seasons, until the network couldn’t make the audience numbers add to up to producing any more of this very-expensive-to-make show.
14 Too Long: Haven
Memo to Syfy: TV shows named after the town they happen in might not actually be that interesting. In this case, Haven takes place in its namesake, a small town in Maine. And, yeah, there’s yet another accidental police officer in local law enforcement. Special Agent Audrey Parker quits her FBI gig to be a town cop. Only instead of advanced science snafus, her beat includes supernatural threats (known as The Troubles) which also relate to her true origins.
Based on a Stephen King novel, it should be interesting, right? On paper, it should be good. The acting is decent and there’s enough scares to keep things going, but over time, the series turned out to be a by-the-numbers affair which was pretty much “meh.” You would think that a show which borrows heavily from Lost, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and X-Files would be more exciting. But it just wasn’t. By the time the final fifth season rolled around, there weren’t enough fans left to keep going. Despite a tiny, passionate core audience base, the show exited with a quick wrap-up of every character’s backstory. Presumably, we won’t be “Troubled” by the show again.
13 Needs To Go: 12 Monkeys
When the television series version of Terry Gilliam’s 90’s classic 12 Monkeys first came to Syfy, the possibilities seemed limitless. After all, with the ability to change and reshape events in the past, any combination of resulting time paradoxes could pop up, ripe for the picking. The trouble was that the first season was confusing, convoluted and boring.
While season 2 was praised for becoming more focused, did it really matter anymore?
The core mission of the show is to prevent a virus from wiping out civilization. It’s why James Cole is putzing around the past in the first place. But then all the future-drama of his friends being chased by a pack of scavengers keeps distracting us from it all. And yes, that pesky Witness just keeps on being one step ahead of our heroes, while we’re also learning that – guess what? – maybe there’s no way to alter past events in the first place. Which kind of makes the whole exercise pretty pointless. In fact, that was the exact message of Gilliam’s original movie starring Bruce Willis. The moral of that story was that no matter how hard you tried, what was done was done and could not be undone, hence the irony in the last scene of the movie. So do we really need season after season of TV to come to the same conclusion? Apparently not, as it looks like season 4 will be closing the series out. Not soon enough, we say.
12 Too Long: Ghost Hunters
If you thought there was ever a TV show where ghosts got caught on camera every week, we're sorry to burst your bubble. Spoilers: despite the title of the series, Ghost Hunters never ever once revealed the true existence of ghosts. What it did instead was reveal how overacting “reality hosts” could turn a simple shadow, house creak or natural fog into an excuse for trying to convince audiences that their “paranormal investigations” had any scientific merit at all. In fact, critics have straight up said that stars Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson don't even do things the way real paranormal investigators do.
Let’s face it, these guys were two plumbers who spent enough time in creepy basements that the idea of the series probably materialized out of thin air. It was pretty obvious that whatever else these guys were doing, they were certainly not uncovering the sprits of the undead. And yet, despite this undeniable truth, Ghost Hunters lasted for 11 long seasons, adding up to almost 250 episodes of television. Which leaves open, of course, only one mystery which is left to be explained: how did this show find success for so many years? We are guessing Poltergeist or maybe Annabelle are to blame.
11 Too Long: Caprica
What’s that you say? The longingly anticipated spinoff of the fan favorite and rightfully beloved all-time sci-fi masterpiece Battlestar Galactica went on too long? How can that be? After all, the show only lasted one season, yielding a modest 19 episodes before it was cancelled. Well, for those wishing for the greatness of Edward James Olmos’ version of Adama, the brilliant scripting of the original writer’s room, and an engaging continuation of the mythology of the 12 colonies of Kobol, there was nothing but sore disappointment in Caprica.
The prequel series was meant to expose the soap opera backstory that drove the key families of BSG 75 and the origin of the slave-like Cylons. The trouble was that there was nothing interesting enough in the series to rekindle audiences. The drama was weak. The sci-fi aspects were minimal. And, the acting didn’t even come close to the preceding series. Some things are better off left alone. Battlestar Galactica was a tough act to follow and Caprica fell so far from that mark, that perhaps it would have been better off never seeing production at all. And so, yes, just one season of this show was too long. We will just have to keep searching for a BSG follow-up we can call home.
10 Needs To Go: Van Helsing
Well, here we are again in Great Premise Gone Bad land and, this time, it’s from the family of a venerable line of monster hunters, which started with the guy who took down Dracula. Syfy’s Van Helsing follows the adventures of Abraham’s descendant Vanessa, who lives in a near future that has gone apocalyptic (again?) only with vampires instead of zombies. And yes, her blood can cure vampires (not terribly unlike Z Nation’s Murphy).
We love the idea of a badass woman taking on minions of bloodsucking freaks, but this show is just all over the place.
First of all, Vanessa makes a lot of really dumb choices, some of which prevent her from resolving some of her biggest problems (the Elder’s crypt being an example for those in the know). And there’s all the drama between the various characters, which goes from moving too fast to way too slow. While the show delivers on the action and gore, even some of that looks too cheesy and cheap. It’s like somebody out there got this great idea and either couldn’t write it up or maybe not afford the best possible version of it. After two seasons of hoping it gets its act together, we say it's time to drive a stake through this series’ heart.
9 Too Long: Ghost Hunters Academy
What could be more dopey and ludicrous than a pair of obvious fakers pretending to uncover ghosts week after week on a show which obviously does nothing of the kind? Why, starting a professional training program to hunt down those non-existent spirits with a totally made-up course, of course! We know it only lasted one season, just like Caprica. In fact, it only lasted for 12 episodes, shorter even than the poor BSG spinoff.
Not only is there nothing to teach in this supposed institution of learning ("Get schooled...in the paranormal" was the tagline), but to top off the worst cliché in reality TV history, they made this into a competition show. Yes, week by week, some of the “students” would be voted out of the ectoplasm (or whatever). Starting to see the problem here? A show about guys who allegedly find ghosts is now converted into teaching naïve fools how not to find ghosts, but if they don’t properly see ghosts which simply don’t exist, they lose. It’s a long, convoluted supernatural shuffle that only the most undiscerning of viewers could possibly buy into. Fortunately, the spirits were kind and this phantasm disappeared into the mist pretty quickly – but really, should never have haunted us in the first place!
8 Too Long: Warehouse 13
We can imagine what the pitch meeting sounded like when the creators of Warehouse 13 were presenting their idea to Syfy executives. First you take the basic premise of X-Files – create covert American law enforcement agents and assign them to a secret program that turns them into paranormal investigators. Then add a backstory which goes back centuries, explaining how this assignment actually goes back generations (wait, didn’t X-Files kind of have that, too?). Then, take it from serious science fiction into the realm of dramedy. Oh, and make sure to give one of the characters an unhealthy cookie addiction. And voila! You’ve got a hit series, right? Wrong.
While the first few episodes of Warehouse 13 scored among the highest ratings for Syfy they ever experienced, Myka Bering and Pete Lattimer were simply no Mulder and Skully. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a pretty cool concept. However, as time dragged on, the writing became more and more ridiculous with Lattimer acting like a seven year-old half the time and even the sensible Myka became silly. Did the writer’s room change? Did they run out of ideas? Was that warehouse full before the show ended? Whatever happened, it went on about two seasons too long, and we really wish it hadn’t been.
7 Needs To Go: Z Nation
Welcome to the TV zombie apocalypse. Ever since The Walking Dead hit AMC in 2010, home viewers have literally been overwhelmed with swarms of mindless, relentless programming about the Cannibalistic Recently Deceased and it shows no sign of slowing down. To be fair to Syfy’s Z Nation, it was the earliest of the mainstay copycats. Following flops like Dead Set and In the Flesh, its 2014 debut makes it the longest lasting series in the genre other than TWD. In many ways, that rep is well deserved. After all, adding in the comedy aspect truly sets it apart from the more unendingly grim Fear the Walking Dead and more formulaic iZombie.
The thing that drives the show is also the thing that can’t really allow the series to stretch too long.
Protagonist Alvin Murphy’s story is compelling as we watch him gradually lose part of his humanity. However, the whole point of the show is that if the world is to survive, then he must be delivered to a lab in California to replicate his partial immunity to the virus. And how long can we take that voyage? Season 3 got lost in subplot weeds in an apparent effort to stave off the inevitable and keep collecting that series paycheck. Now going into season 4, frustrated fans are hoping the show refocuses on the matter at hand. Really, 3 tight seasons might have made this one of the more memorable gems in the genre. Now it just feels undead.
6 Too Long: Stargate and all the Spinoffs
This may be blasphemy to some hardcore Stargate fans out there, but would you please give the rest of us a break? Sure, the original Kurt Russell movie was kinda fun. And yes, the concept of an interdimensional portal opening the human race up to marvellous and fantastical worlds is always awesome and welcome. That’s not the problem. The problem is wther we really need over 350 episodes of this thing out there? And that’s not even counting the web series, books, comics, video games and straight to DVD movies. If you add the fact that this science fiction saga was often subject to some pretty flimsy and cheap CGI effects, and you can tell they really milked this concept out for way too long.
Let’s face it, there is a limit to how much Goa'uld, Anubis and Ori one can take.
Unlike other mega-franchises like Star Trek, the writing, acting and subject matter has rarely been up to top standards, certainly not high enough to justify Stargate SG-1, Stargate:Atlantis, Stargate Universe, and Stargate Origins. It’s amazing that they found enough of fan base to keep that train chugging along as long as it did, but enough was enough. Fans would have been better served with a far tighter, more limited series. But alas, that reality might just be happening only in a far-flung corner of reality.
5 Too Long: Ghost Mine
All those seasons of Ghost Hunters wasn’t enough for Syfy to give up on the already dubious concept of finding ghosts. So, in 2013, they decided to green light Ghost Mine, which was not really about ghosts…except that it was. Ostensibly, the series is about gold miners in Oregon who risk life and limb to extract the shiny ore the world seems to covet. However, smushed into the middle of that premise is that the mine might be haunted by the spirits of past miners who lost their lives years ago while pursuing their fortunes.
What we really have here is Syfy wanting to create an excuse for trying out one of those History/Discovery shows where Rugged Folks do Rugged Things for an audience who loves seeing real people put in harm’s way. This isn't the right network for Deadliest Catch or Ice Road Truckers, so they had to stick ghost stories in there so they could have a supernatural element to fit their network. Of course, the whole supernatural aspect is just as disappointing as the drama and, like Ghost Hunters, it simply should never have been on the channel. Instead, it lasted two seasons before it was finally buried deep in the pit of forgettable television.
4 Needs To Go: The Magicians
If you can imagine what Harry Potter would look like with a bunch of fairly uninteresting 20-somethings who are just so darned dramatic all the time, then you can begin to get the idea behind The Magicians. Attending Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy (their post-graduate version of Hogwarts), the protagonist Quentin Coldwater struggles to help the universe from losing the power of magic, along with his rebellious pal Julia Wicker. It’s a pretty cool concept, but there are a variety of things wrong with the way it's made.
It feels like the writers have nothing left up their sleeve and it’s time for this show to do its vanishing act.
For one thing, every woman on the show faces such cliché characterizations that it often borders on offensive. Then there’s all those characters who suddenly show up only to be take out just as fast (or get resurrected, so what was the point in taking them out?). Considering that the show is centered around a group of people trying to save the world from annihilation by using their expertise in esoteric arts, there sure are a lot of one-dimensional and hackneyed characteristics attached to them. It makes it harder every season to care whether or not the magicians get to keep their crowns.
3 Too Long: Sanctuary
Fans of Syfy’s series Sanctuary may notice more than one similarity to the Marvel Comics mutant franchise X-Men. The show features teratologist Dr. Helen Magnus, who much like Charles Xavier does with his “school for gifted children,” seeks out “abnormals” – powerful people or animals that are really meta-human or even monsters. And well, she provides…sanctuary for them. It’s a great launching pad that could have gone in many directions. Season 1 started off intriguingly enough, despite lackluster acting and chintzy greenscreen scenes (there were lots of them).
Perhaps in an effort to disguise the shortcomings of the show, season 2 took what felt like an unnecessarily grim direction. Season 3’s expansion into more episodes meant throwing in a lot of dull standalone entries which broke up the main storyline of “Hollow Earth” very poorly. Wrapping things up with season 4 felt like a mercy at the end. One must wonder if a more tightly-conceived storyline, less focused on longevity and more focused on effective drama, could have left a stronger legacy behind. For such an intriguing concept filled with everything from Jack the Ripper to cryptids, the overall experience left much to be desired. What could have been a very interesting series probably would have done better as a limited event.
2 Too Long: The Wil Wheaton Project
We can hear the groaning now. Must we trash upon Wil Wheaton? After all, this is the kid half of America grew up with on Star Trek: The Next Generation. As tweener helmsman Wesley Crusher of the Enterprise-D, his sci-fi legacy is just about as solid as it can get. However, what about his Syfy legacy? When The Wil Wheaton Project first rolled out in 2014, the concept seemed like a slam dunk in outer space. After all, who better to run a talk show devoted entirely to the genre of science fiction? Wil is a well-spoken, intelligent and funny host who seems to have a really strong passion for the world he made his name in. However, after just one season, the show failed to find an audience and was cancelled.
Which begs the question: was this a good idea in the first place? Rewatching the show, it feels like Wil couldn’t find his feet. On the one hand, he showcased his love for giant monsters, space battles and all things creepy. On the other, he sometimes seemed to be trying too hard, often feeling like he was borrowing too heavily from Conan O’Brien. Even though it had a very short life, this one too may have been better off as a never-was other than a has-been.
1 Needs To Go: Face Off
For the first few seasons, Face Off was a pretty cool concept and it was a natural fit for Syfy. After all, the whole network is ostensibly a main congregating point for hardcore lovers of all that is science fiction, fantasy and horror, right? This is where The Expanse got its start, Farscape wowed Muppet-loving fans, and Sliders got its second chance at life. So it’s not crazy to bet that a competition gameshow about makeup masters creating amazing monster prosthetics would be a hit. And it has been. Hostess McKenzie Westmore brings with her additional street cred due to her pedigree as a member of a legendary family of makeup masters.
The thing is that since it debuted in 2011, as of 2018, there have been 13 seasons of this series. Neat trick, pulling off 13 seasons in 7 years, right?
Well, that’s because it’s spun off into an “all-star” competition show called Face Off: Game Face. One must wonder how long it writers to come up with that name! It’s been an interesting ride, but really, there’s only so many variations of makeup secrets we can witness before the whole thing becomes kind of boring. Not only that, but revealing the “magic” behind the makeup week after week becomes a glut which tarnishes the shine of watching the final products in the movies and shows we all love. Time to pull this mask off!
Which of these do you really want to see keep going? Let us know in the comments!