Dark Matter co-creator Joseph Mallozzi has further responded to the cancellation of the Syfy drama after three seasons.
In a lengthy blog post, Mallozzi expressed his dismay at the cancellation, offered his take on why the show was axed, revealed what Season 4 would have been, and shared hopes of finding a new home for the show:
I’d like to express my appreciation to everyone who reached out over the past twenty-four hours or so to express their anger, sadness, and gratitude after hearing about the cancellation. As I wrote on twitter: “I am both touched and astounded by your passion, your loyalty, and your white hot relentless rage.”
Today, I’d like to try to shed a little light on the circumstances surrounding Dark Matter’s premature demise and let you know what’s next. Before I proceed, however, I’d like to apologize in advance if this entry feels slightly unfocused. Between the stress of the move, the cross-country flight, the jet lag, the time change, the news of the cancellation, the furious attempt to acknowledge the online response, the noisy air conditioner in my new place, and the gauze-like bedroom curtains that do nothing to shield us from the blazing night-time lights of the Roger Center, I’m a little tired. But here goes…
As we rolled through Dark Matter’s third season, I was feeling cautiously optimistic about a renewal. Although the ratings had dipped, it wasn’t a huge fall, ultimately less than 10% off last season’s numbers when all was said and done. Compared to the industry average (the last stats I saw pegged the average drop-off at 25%!) I thought we were looking pretty good – especially when you factor in time-delayed viewers (the DVR crowd). Dark Matter was consistently ranked at the top of cable percentage gainers in overall viewers and the key demos. And, perhaps most heartening at the time was the fact that we were nevertheless one of SYFY’s most-watched shows in 2017.
Working against us was the fact that we weren’t a SYFY original. We were an acquisition. For those not in the know, an original is a series that is developed by the network and, more importantly, owned by the network, allowing them to monetize the show through things like international sales, streaming, etc. The network pays a lot more but presumably reaps the benefits down the line. Ideally. An acquisition, on the other hand, is a show that will cost a network considerably less, but doesn’t offer those alternate revenue streams because there is no ownership stake. Due to the costs of originals, networks may go the acquisition route to round out a programming schedule. Also, at the end of the day, audiences generally don’t base their viewing habits on whether or not a show is an original series or an acquisition. They watch what they like. And the more who watch, the higher the ratings. And the higher the ratings, the more broadcasters can charge advertisers. So, at the end of the day, there are pros and cons, risks and rewards to both approaches.
Dark Matter was an acquisition and, as such, didn’t have the type of money typical of an original series. As such, we had to run a very tight ship – producing on the page and running a highly efficient production. This way, we made sure that as much of the money we had ended up onscreen:
So, despite the fact that we were an acquisition, our ratings were holding (and, I pointed out, really delivering in the +3’s and +7’s delayed viewers). From a creative standpoint, we were ending the season in a BIG way: a space battle and an alien invasion. Season 4 would promise to be all about that massive alien armada and the burgeoning android insurrection. Androids and Aliens! I mean, how much more SYFY scifi can you get than that?!
When we found out we were on the bubble, I offered to fly down to SYFY’s L.A. offices and take them through what we had planned for season 4: “Androids! Aliens! Dr. Shaw! Sarah! Kyrden! Wexler! TWO’s daughter! FIVE’s sister!” They thanked me but informed me that the decision would not be based on the show’s creative, so there was no point in going down to pitch.
If it wasn’t creative then, by process of elimination, one would assume it was financial. I’d heard that SYFY had invested in a lot of original programming for 2017-2018, and the recent announcement of their supernatural slate would seem to confirm as much. The production reached out to see if there was anything we could do to help on that front but, again, it was a no-go.
What do? Well, I knew that Earpers had been instrumental in getting a pick up for their show, so I rallied Dark Matter fans to make some noise. And they did in a big way. But still, we remained on the bubble.
The nature of the show I created and developed over many years wouldn’t allow for a nice, neat wrap up at season’s end. Dark Matter’s narrative was designed as a series of set-ups, developments, and payoffs, with multiple parallel storylines that would eventually cross and converge. Season 1 begins with our crew discovering they are criminals and ends with them being hauled off to prison. Season 2 begins with them inside the Hyperion-8 galactic prison and ends with their failing to head off a corporate war and deny a former ally. Season 3 begins with the crew facing off against that former ally amidst the backdrop of corporate war and ends with the alien invasion. Season 4 will begin with our crew, and humanity’s, response to the alien threat… The fact that I have a five year plan (rather than just making it up as I go along) means I know exactly where the various stories are headed. I know all the answers to all of the questions. And having that foreknowledge allows for a much more satisfying narrative when all of the pieces of the puzzle finally fall into place. It also means that no matter how much I could try to wrap things up in a season finale, many questions would remain unanswered. Still, I figured as a final alternative, I could try my damnedest and offer fans some degree of closure by pitching SYFY a 6-episode miniseries to wrap it up. This, unfortunately, was not an option either.
We, on the Dark Matter production team, tried our damnedest. And you, the fans, tried your damnedest. We ALL tried our damnedest. And still we were cancelled.
So, where does that leave us? Besides cancelled of course? Well, as many of you have pointed out, there are other options we could pursue, although finding someone to step in and take SYFY’s place is easier said than done (for reasons I’ll save for another blog entry).
For now, know that we’re doing everything possible to save the show. It may take weeks before we have our answers but I promise to let you know as soon as I hear anything. In the meantime, do you part by keeping Dark Matter alive. Tweet, retweet, post and respond! Let ’em know what they’re missing!
You ready to do this?
How do you feel about the cancellation of Dark Matter? Hoping for Season 4 at a new outlet?
Barry Etheridge says
Imagine, if you will, that J. K. Rowling’s publisher had called after her fourth book to say that they just didn’t feel like taking the remaining books in the series or Agatha Christie’s had decided in 1840 that there just wasn’t any market for whodunnits. Inconceivable, ain’t it! Yet television makes dumb decisions like this on what now seems to be a weekly basis. SyFy cutting a superior, genuine SF show is one of the dumbest of these decisions for some time showing once again that those in charge have absolutely no concern for the genre only the weight of their wallets.
Barry Etheridge says
1940 … obviously!
Georgia Hall says
Syfi sucks for leaving us hanging after 3 seasons, makes me not want to watch any other new shows they put on, why waste our time if they pull this crap! Dark Matter needs to find a new home, can’t stand not knowing what happens next….
TeArii Douglas says
I have to agree with you Barry Etheridge. Your ananology to compare the loss of a great story not being told, is tragic.
You have also hit the nail on the head, naming the problem to be fat cats who don’t care about the genre, but have obvious interests in having a fatter wallet.
I am so sick of these people who get to decide which programmes they can axe. I am such a huge fan of “Dark Matter”, and finding out that it has not been renewed, has now pissed me right off.
So many of my SyFy favourite shows have been axed. Whyyyyyyy?
TeArii Douglas says
MORRIS AMSEL says
The cast of Dark Matter was excellant. The story line was touch and go. Sorry to see it cancelled but understand.
Paul Marsden says
I think SyFy is being run by the muppets.
They cancelled Defiance when it had over 1 million viewers, they cancelled Dominion when it had almost 900,000, so their top show these days is The Magicians, on just 788,000 viewers.
They cancelled this and yet renewed Killjoys for two seasons, and Wynonna for another season, despite its viewing figures being much worse than Dark Matter’s.
Maybe SyFy should change its name, all they seem to do cancel most of their actual SciFi programmes.
Kay B. says
I totally agree with Georgia Hall above. Why bother watching any new shows on SySy when all they do is cancel them before their time? I was really disappointed when they changed the name from SciFi to SyFy and was skeptical that they would remain tru to the genre. Well, it appears my fear was well founded. There are so few good science fiction shows on TV now and it is a very popular genre, whether the “CEOs” know it or not! Really sad that they are so clueless! I have a feeling I won’t be watching SyFy much in the future.
kD Stowe says
I am still mad about the cancellation of”Eureka” and “Warehouse 13”. Now Dark Matter?
This is a new low. It’s hard enough finding original and entertaining matter to watch on cable, but watching the three shows back to back was the reason to stay home on Friday night! Come on, people!
Again I say…SERIOUSLY…do not cancel DARK MATTER…Shape up SYFY !!!!!!!!!
This, unfortunately, is a prime example of SCFY programming. They show little interest with audience enjoyment and more on gimmicks (Reality BS) and ratings for the short term new kid (story) on the block. One of the longest running shows on SCFY was Battlestar Galactia; ironically a remake of a proven success. No risk there. Most shows last 2 season or less. They seek the ratings on the curiosity of a new science fiction story, only to move on when it settles in. THIS is why I don’t go to the SCFY channel for shows. Most of them suck! I go to public reviews; loyalty, not numbers. If I see the show has an avid, loyal following, I tune in to see what they like. I am usually not disappointed. Dark Matter was a solid success, I have every confidence you will find a new sponsor.
I looked forward to every episode and season of Dark Matter. It’s a shame to see it go! I hope it gets picked up somewhere else. SyFy seems to keep the losers and cancel the clear winners….maybe they like to root for the underdog….otherwise it makes no sense to me.
Why would SyFy cancel one of the best SyFy programmes around? I couldn’t believe it when I went online to find out when Season 4 was likely to air. Bad call!
This is all very sad news. I liked these characters; what’s more – I was invested in them.
But Networks don’t listen to their fans, as I have been railing for years. It’s all “focus groups”, “back-end %”, “ROI”, which really does a total and complete disservice to the creator, the actors, the writers, and all the crew to get us feeling like we’re in space with TWO and EDO,
Networks MUST learn there is a PENALTY for canceling something are passionate about. NBC has been learning that lesson quite well since the cancellation of “Constantine”, and we don’t expect to let up on the pressure any time soon, even though it was a while the show was axed. But then just sell the character over to another network (like the CW) where DC has seemed to find a happy home, and you will see hoards flocking to watch Matt Ryan reprise his cocky, cockney “Master of the Dark Arts” role.
We, as FANS, PAY NETWORKS TO BRING US CONTENT WE WANT. When they do not hold up their end of the bargain, neither should we. And be very vocal about it!!!