A funny thing about Hollywood: Even the biggest decisions are made well before they are announced.
And it’s always because Hollywood likes to wait for the right time to share bad news. Whether it be right before a long holiday weekend like when The WB announced it was canceling the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” spinoff series “Angel,” or like how Syfy shared with the world that “Caprica” was gone.
Just days before the announcement that it was pulling “Caprica” off the schedule, Syfy was touting another decision to move another prequel idea, “Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome” from a short web series to a full-blown backdoor pilot.
The announcement of “Blood & Chrome” had everything diehard BSG fans longed for. Space battles with the Cylons. A battlestar by the name of Galactica. Some familiar names at the helm like David Weddle, Bradley Thompson and Michael Taylor.
All of it designed for one thing: to soften the blow a few days later that “Caprica” was biting the dust.
After both announcements were made, fans started to speculate that despite the order the news was released, the decision to make “Blood & Chrome” into a television series came after the cancellation order for “Caprica” was signed.
Craig Engler, who runs the digital operations at Syfy, tried to quash that fan suspicion in his Twitter feed Oct. 29.
“We would have made ‘Blood & Chrome’ if we kept ‘Caprica,'” Engler said. “We wish ‘Caprica’ had done well enough so we could have both on the air.”
Sources familiar with the decision behind the scenes paint a different picture, however. The plan from the start was for “Blood & Chrome” to use the web as a petri dish, and prep it for a possible television run if “Caprica” were to be yanked from Syfy’s lineup. The hope was that such a move would prepare “Blood & Chrome” for a “Sanctuary”-like jump in 2012, or even better, 2013. But once “Caprica” made the move to Tuesdays, the decision to cancel was made almost immediately.
“Syfy believes in the Battlestar franchise, and ‘Caprica’ is looked at as a noble experiment, but one that failed,” one source, who asked not to be identified, told Airlock Alpha over the weekend. “The line is that [‘Blood & Chrome’] could’ve aired the same time as ‘Caprica,’ but the truth is, that would’ve never happened. We didn’t greenlight TV for the new Battlestar until ‘Caprica’ was axed.”
“Blood & Chrome” was designed as the “Caprica” backup from the start, the source said. The Battlestar franchise has provided a lot of credibility to Syfy and its original programming lineup, and continuing the franchise is paramount for the cable channel. But where “Caprica” was bold an experimental, “Blood & Chrome” is meant to try and recapture the formula of Ronald D. Moore’s original reimagination of the franchise, designed to appeal more toward the younger male demographic, rather than an older female demo — a highly desired group of viewers that Syfy has always struggled to attract.
If both shows were to air at the same time, Syfy feared there would be audience confusion over the concepts. Unlike other franchises that have aired multiple series at the same time like Star Trek, Stargate, Law & Order, CSI and others, “Caprica” and “Blood & Chrome” would’ve taken place in two different time periods, both risking cannibalizing each other.
The only way such a venture would work is to have the same showrunners and virtually the same senior writing team for both shows, and that wouldn’t have happened either, the source said.
Even though “Blood & Chrome” was designed to replace “Caprica,” it didn’t push its predecessor out, the source said. “Caprica” was killed because of its ratings, and nothing more. If “Caprica” had grown its audience on Tuesdays to levels acceptable by Syfy, “Blood & Chrome” would’ve remained a web concept, and possibly one that could’ve remained in limbo for at least a year. Since that didn’t happen, development on “Blood & Chrome” accelerated, and shifted to more traditional transmission means.
Requests to Syfy by Airlock Alpha to talk on the record in detail about the cancellation of “Caprica” have been refused going into the weekend, with the site instead being referred to statements made in the brief release from the network that announced the cancellation of the show.
Since the story was posted, a spokeswoman for Syfy denied that the decision to greenlight “Blood & Chrome” came after the decision to cancel “Caprica” was made.
The remaining episodes of “Caprica” are expected to air sometime in 2011, but in a sort of poetic justice — considering the pilot to “Caprica” was first released this way — those remaining episodes will be part of a “Season 1.5” DVD and Blu-ray release taking place right before the Christmas holiday.