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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

Sci Fi Channel becomes SyFy today

So, yesterday the FedEx man brings me a mysterious package. It was not, alas, a ransom letter or Professor Henry Jones Sr.’s grail diary or a coded message from a secret agent or anything cool like that. It was one of the most bizarre promotional items I’ve gotten in my years of being courted by PR types for coverage of whatever they’re pushing.

Inside the cardboard box was a big plastic box, about six inches along each side, imploring me to “Imagine Greater”:


Never mind that “Imagine Greater” doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue or inspire the mind’s eye. (Imagine greater what?) But what am I supposed to do with this box?

Well, I opened it, of course:

Inside was a DVD containing a two-minute promotional video featuring the stars of Sci Fi Channel shows wandering around the glorious new wonderland that is SyFy. There was also a nice branded pen and flash drive. But the “best” is the little booklet that, when you pull it out:

turns out to have the shape of the SyFy logo cut out of the middle of it.

I dunno why, but that cutout, to my mind’s eye that is now imagining greater, reminds me of Mickey Mouse. Which I’m guessing is not the intention, since Sci Fi/SyFy is owned by NBC Universal, not ABC Disney.

I wonder how much oil went into producing all the hundreds — perhaps thousands — of these white plastic boxes that entertainment journalists all over the country received yesterday. At least you can wear a T-shirt or a ballcap. But there’s absolutely nothing I can do with this box except throw it out.



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  • Oliver

    We’re sending you back to the future!

  • Mike

    Am I crazy or is this a branding nightmare?
    1) Don’t all the cool kids say “SF” rather than “Sci-Fi”?
    2) Sure, maybe the kind of people who become T.V. executives don’t care much for it, but what kind of idiot would take the “science” out of science fiction on the Science Fiction Channel? Spelling “Sci” “Sy” (without changing the pronunciation) looks like you’re trying to downplay the science, as if science would scare away the audience. Geeks don’t like to be thought of as scaredy cats, especially when it comes to entertainment.
    3) In the typeface they use, the “fy” looks like “fry” to me.
    4) The typeface reminds me of an iPod. A T.V. channel is not a status symbol, unless you own one.

    O.K. I’m done with my pointless rant for the day.

  • Judd

    Pray tell, why they had to delete the c and the i’s and make it grammatically incorrect? The whole point to Sci-Fi, was that it was the logical abbreviation to Science Fiction. This new logo is illogical. Very un-sci-fi.

    Feels like we are entering a bizarre parallel universe. Maybe we can make a show on the new “syfy” [reads like “siffy” doesn’t it??!?] that examines how something went horribly wrong where we had to start renaming our channels to dumbed down simplifications. Geesh.

  • Michael

    You could wayt until SyFy runs ytself ynto the ground, then sell the package on eBay as a collector’s ytem.

  • Gee

    It reminds me of the Watership Down rabbits going to silflay.

  • Dr Rocketscience

    2) Sure, maybe the kind of people who become T.V. executives don’t care much for it, but what kind of idiot would take the “science” out of science fiction on the Science Fiction Channel? Spelling “Sci” “Sy” (without changing the pronunciation) looks like you’re trying to downplay the science, as if science would scare away the audience. Geeks don’t like to be thought of as scaredy cats, especially when it comes to entertainment.

    A lot was made of this in the geeky blogs last winter when they made the name change announcement. I’m too lazy to go look for links, but there was a quote from some exec at NBC/Universal that translated to: “Despite how they’ve kept this network afloat for the past decade and a half, we hate our core audience. They’re mostly a bunch of basement dwellers who scare away the audience of hipsters and housewives we’d really like to attract. So we’re rebranding to try to make it more friendly to everyone but our core, and fuck the nerds.”

  • Anne-Kari

    The name change does appear to be a pretty damn stupid move. But the bottom line is this: what will happen with programming? Serious long-term ‘SciFi’ fans will come back as long as the programming is good – as in, Battlestar good – and new people will show up more and more as long as they keep adding interesting, quality shows.

    That said, I will miss the little between-show channel id’s – those little 5 second special-effects laden promos ending with the word ‘if’ as part of the SciFi logo.

    The best one I found on youtube is kinda ironic if you’ve been following the T:ROTL madness:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIH1trLDxK0&feature=related

  • Technically, the “rebranding” is so that they can trademark their name globally – typical corporate bullshit and handwaving. But there has been an awful lot of “nerds suck, and smell bad and we hatesss them” in all of their press releases.

  • Barb

    I hated the name change when I first heard it and I hate it even more now. Idiots.

  • Ken

    It sounds like they’re doing a riff on Mac’s “Think Different,” but they are neither thinking differently enough nor imagining greater, so it’s just falling flat, which pretty much fits in with the programming as of late.

  • Ken

    Shouldn’t that be “Ymagyne greater”?

  • @Ken heh. “Ymagyne greater,” indeed. It sounds like high school girls who respell their names with all ys to make them seem cool and interesting…

  • Dave

    This was a ridiculously stupid idea. Unless theres some new law that states you cant trademark “Sci-Fi”, I really see no need for the change. Its uncomfortable just to look at the font, and irks me to see this unnecessary misspelling. Somehow I feel this is all related to how everything these days is being dumbed down.

  • @dave: i work in a law firm and i am fairly certain you cannot trademark or copyright “sci-fi” (or any of its variations) because it is a common form of speech, and not a slogan or a brand — hence the renaming by the channel, so they can develop and ‘brand’ their own products (i.e., original films, games, magazines, etc) and market them.

  • cybermax

    @bronxbee: You are quite correct – When Space: Above & Beyond came to life, it was originally to be simply called “Space”. But, you cannot copyright and market with plain “Space”, hence the change.

    However, I believe most of us feel the new name is as pedantic and foolish as all the “e”-this-and-that’s that caught on at the turn of the century. It is centainly not illustrative of “Imagine Greater”, especially when get less of a name in both length and context.

    Even the new show “Warehouse 13” is far less than “Imagine Greater”; those of us that have seen “Friday the 13th: The Series” are sadly shaking heads, for WH13 is the same theme and no “Greater” a show or more imaginative. It even has 13 in the name! Is SyFy in the “re-imagining” business now? They’ve become “used car” dealers! Sorry, not “used”, but “pre-owned”…re-imagined.

    I can tell you what really need to be re-imagined:
    The Nielsen Rating System

    It is what vinyl is to an mp3. Sure, it’s nice to count that piece of plastic and marvel at how many have sold, yet there is no way to reign in the genie that allows for countless more copies to float around unchecked.

  • Nathan

    Cheese Greater

    That should be their slogan… and they could have sent you something useful.

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