Almost five years after a rebrand that abandoned the Sci-Fi moniker and enraged fans,
NBC Universal brass is aware that its attempt to lure a broader audience might have lost it some clout in the increasingly lucrative genre that shares its former name. Now Syfy President Dave Howe is trying to rectify the perception problem with changes in the executive ranks that will translate to new programming more familiar to its core audience
“We want to be the best science-fiction channel that we possibly can, and in some respects, that means going back to the more traditional sci-fi/fantasy that fans often say they feel we’ve exited,” Howe tells THR. “We’re going to occupy that space in a way we haven’t for the past few years.”
It’s about time. I was despairing of seeing much of real science fiction on this channel. So to help them produce a show that does not include ghost hunting, reality, wrestling, or a ghost, a werewolf, and a vampire, here is an idea I would like to pitch to the network big wigs:
The Pitch: Space Pirates!
My son and I came up with this idea while waiting for pizza, so it didn’t take a lot of time to bounce this around. I mean, we weren’t writing a novel; this is for TV.
Basic Concept: This takes place about 150 years in the future. The asteroid belt is a vast source of wealth in minerals to send to Earth. The belt is settled by a variety of miners, failed miners, nonconformists, and various religious, ideological, and ethnic groups that live in all sorts of habitats from O’Neil Space Colonies to hollowed out asteroids. They support themselves by trading minerals for supplies that they need from Earth. Although they think of themselves as independent, Earth doesn’t recognize them as such.
Pilot: Earth’s main space elevator is destroyed in a terrorist attack and a previously unknown belt terrorist group takes credit. The UN agency responsible for trading with the belt enlists a fleet of space warships from the various national space navies to get revenge on the belt and take over the mining operations for Earth. Even though the belt has no military to speak of, they hastily form a committee to prepare for the military attack from Earth and enlist mining ships and crew as privateers, offering a bounty for each destroyed or captured earth vessel and their crews, who they hope they can ransom back to Earth.
The Characters: A roguish belt captain who disdains everything of Earth and loves the freedom that his ship gives him. Think a Malcolm Reynolds type. His antagonist is a young, newly minted skipper an American warship assigned to the UN fleet. He is an earnest, all American duty-honor-country type who believes in what he’s doing, which is stopping terrorism. Think Captain America. They spend the first season in a cat and mouse game of attack-counterattack.
Subplots: Yes, the terrorist attack on the space elevator is what else? A false flag attack by “corporate interests” that don’t want to pay for the minerals they are buying from the belt, and need a reason to wipe out the belt culture so they can grab them instead of paying.
Story Arc: I prefer stand alone episodes. That’s the problem with TV today is that you can’t just sit down and watch an episode of a drama cold and know what’s going on. But I envision one story arc for the first season. The two space captains begin to find clues that the attack on the space elevator was an inside job. Over the course of the season they discover the conspiracy and realize that they are really on the same side.
Gimmicks: There should be at least one space battle per episode of the submarine vs destroyer type or the aircraft carriers sending their planes out to destroy each other type. Not to mention some good old fashioned firing broadsides at each other’s ship. This will provide variety but at the same time will be familiar enough to be understandable. Of course, the primary weapon should be linear accelerators firing… cannon balls! I tried to explain this concept to a friend of mine who found nothing remarkable about linear accelerators firing globes of iron as a kinetic energy weapon. But the point is…Space Pirates! With Space Cannonballs!
When not using their main drives to move around, the ships unfurl solar sails that both collect electricity and of course provide cheap low speed propulsion from solar radiation. Again, sailing ships, it’s all about the Space Pirates.
So there you go Syfy. One series idea for you, and I ask very little in return, merely the enjoyment of watching an entertaining science fiction TV show.
Oh and producer’s credits and a percentage of the gross.