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by BEN KROMER & r & & r & The Sci-Fi Channel & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & S & lt;/span & ci-Fi Channel has drunk deep from the cup of failure. The basic cable station's soul-death was finally manifested in the form of having Extreme Championship Wrestling appear on the Sci-Fi Channel once a week. Having pro-wrestling on Sci-Fi means the people in charge have admitted not only that they're out of ideas, but that they've given up on the idea of ideas.





Long ago, Sci-Fi Channel launched a two-pronged attack on its viewers' happiness -- the first prong being its awful, awful original movies, and the second being its reruns. Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, The X Files and others are all widely available on DVD and elsewhere on cable. There's simply no point in having a channel specialized for genre fare and then using it to rerun genre programs that can be found on non-specialized channels.





Still, most people would prefer a well-worn Twilight Zone episode to any Sci-Fi Original Movie. Made on the cheap in foreign lands, these 90-minute disasters all follow essentially the same formula: The titular monster kills most of a group of clich & eacute;s before being killed itself, all while looking stupid because it was poorly rendered on a computer. As a genre fan, what stuns me isn't that Sci-Fi Channel has made nearly a dozen CGI movies about giant spiders, but that none of them are any good. How could anyone go so wrong, so many times, when their subject is giant spiders? This is beyond me.





But it might also explain the cynicism that led to putting ECW on the schedule. When you've made movies about every species of snake known to man, most varieties of insect and also dragons, it might feel like new ideas are an impossibility.





I have one for them. It's cheap and it's not even that new. How about hiring someone with a good voice to read old sci-fi stories aloud? There are only about a million to choose from. And to keep it from turning into a radio program, Sci-Fi could commission fantasy artists to spice things up with illustrations. Fantasy artists, if you're unfamiliar with them, are the ones who drew and painted cool-looking things for little money and acclaim while Jackson Pollock got rich barfing on canvas.





That seems like a good idea. At least it's better than pro wrestling.





TiVo-Worthy





Sci-Fi Original Movie Theme Day


Sci-Fi regularly has theme days. Here's this week's offerings: Dragon Dynasty, Dragon Storm, Basilisk: The Serpent King, Grendel, Ogre, Dragon Sword and Dungeons and Dragons: Wrath of the Dragon God. Past themes have featured dinosaurs, natural disasters, squid, various reptiles and bugs, sharks and surprisingly few aliens, considering. (Sci-Fi, starts 9 am Saturday)





Mystery Science Theater 3000


A long time ago, Sci-Fi rescued MST3K from Comedy Central, and it lasted 10 beautiful, geeky seasons. People loved it so much they were willing to buy individual episodes for $20 each when Sci-Fi stopped showing it. Every episode is an unwieldy two hours. Where could Sci-Fi find room for that in their busy schedule? (Sci-Fi, the nostalgic past)





Paid Programming


Who is most likely to be watching TV in the middle of the night? Way to not know your audience, Sci-Fi Channel. Just because you managed to produce one objectively good show (Battlestar Galactica) doesn't atone for a decade of failure. Now bring back MST3K, you soulless bastards. (Sci-Fi, middle of every damn night)

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