Sci Fi Gets Dramatic

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A Battlestar Galactica prequel and a supernatural drama from Freddie Prinze Jr. are two of a slew of new series in contention to join Sci Fi Channel’s 2007 schedule, which the network is hoping will include nearly double the amount of original dramas it currently programs.

NBC Universal-owned Sci Fi is looking to launch 50 more hours of original weekly scripted dramas in 2007 than it will in 2006. That includes seven original weekly drama series for the year, up from the four it will program in 2006. The increased slate, which also includes 28 original movies slated for 2007, is a result of Sci Fi investing “more in original programming than ever,” said the network’s executive VP and General Manager Dave Howe at an upfront presentation to the New York press Wednesday.

Among the scripted series in development for 2007 are Caprica, a family-focused Battlestar Galactica prequel set more than half a century before the events in the original series; The Bishop, an hour-long drama produced by Prinze and others about a slacker who ends up having a supernatural gift; Persons Unknown, a drama from Usual Suspects writer Christopher McQuarrie about a group of amnesiac strangers stranded in a deserted, security-camera-patrolled town; Blink, a series from Will & Grace’s Eric McCormack and others about “afterlife investigators” who freeze time and intervene in individuals’ life decisions; and Snap, a thriller from Alias and Lost producer Jesse Alexander about the Internet becoming a manipulative agent of destruction.

The network, which has made itself into a top-10 cable channel on the strength of original dramas like Battlestar Galactica, is aiming to appeal to a mainstream audience by becoming more “relatable and earth-based,” Howe said, while not alienating its tried and true science-fiction fans.

Also in development at the network is the six-hour miniseries Chariots of the Gods, based on the extraterrestrial novel by Erich von Daniken; Destination Truth, a reality series hosted by globetrotting investigator Josh Gates; and two new late-night series: Carson Daly-produced sci-fi news/talk show Ground Control, and a mockumentary news sketch-comedy series tentatively titled Ministry of Unknown Science.

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