The term "jump the shark" is used to describe when a television series (or any other form of entertainment) outlives its welcome, usually through a single stunt or event that signals to any fans that it has lost everything that once made it appealing. When applied to a television channel, after today the appropriate phrase might very well be "renamed it Syfy."
In related news, NBC Universal has announced that it has taken the Sci-Fi Channel and renamed it Syfy. According to a jargon-laden press release on syfy.com, the Sci-Fi Channel will officially become Syfy on July 7th, when it will embrace a "wider and more diverse range of imagination-based entertainment.
"Syfy — unlike the generic entertainment category "sci-fi" — firmly establishes a uniquely ownable trademark that is portable across all non-linear digital platforms and beyond . . ." the release explains. "Syfy also creates an umbrella brand name that can extend into new adjacent businesses under the Syfy Ventures banner, such as Syfy Games, Syfy Films and Syfy Kids."
For science fiction fans, this might be the nail in the coffin for the channel, which has seen less and less dedicated science fiction programming over the last years. While it remains home to the Battlestar Galactica (the series finale of which is showing later this month, but will be getting the spin-off Caprica as a TV movie in April and a series in 2010) and Stargate (which has seen two series come and go, and will premiere a third, Stargate Universe, this fall) properties, it has drifted far from its sci-fi roots. The channel's programming has steadily expanded to include mystery and horror-themed reality shows and professional wrestling.
The new Syfy will feature not just science fiction, but "fantasy, paranormal, reality, mystery, action and adventure" genres of entertainment, all material that Sci-fi had been dealing with before. Whether the branding change means that the Sci-fi channel is truly abandoning its emphasis on science fiction and embracing broader genres, or whether it's just an ill-conceived brand renaming trying appeal to the MySpace scene because it looks vaguely like Skype, remains to be seen. We'll find out next month.
Until then, enjoy the final three weeks of Sci-fi.
— Will Greenwald