Write Your Own SyFy Movie

As a TV reviewer, I get a lot of preview DVDs from a lot of different networks, especially on cable.

It's nice to be able to see shows like "Burn Notice" and "Rescue Me" weeks before the regular public can see them.

Unfortunately, this also means I get a steady diet of Saturday night movies from SyFy.

Sitting on a shelf at The Telegraph -- unviewed, I might add -- are the preview discs for the likes of "Mega Piranha," "Mongolian Death Worm" and "Witchville," all original SyFy movies. If you ever watch the channel, you see previews with actors you've either never heard of or are no longer A-list with cheesy CGI effects.

Anyway, if you are a fan of these productions and want to get into the Hollywood business, SyFy has a contest for you.

According to a story in The Hollywood Reporter, a production company making a movie for SyFy is letting fans get in on the "creative" process, by voting on plotlines, character deaths, costumes, settings, etc. After the fans vote, the writer will put something together based on the most popular choices.

You can read more about it here:

Screenwriting is an art that is often destroyed by a committee when producers bring multiple writers in on a project. Even though you may see one or two names credited with the screenplay on screen, in truth, there are often several writers on a project, doing uncredited rewrites. Often, the more writers you have, the more the movie suffers.

And mind you, these are top-paid, professional writers. This isn't a group of fans getting together and voting on which is the best way to kill off a character.

Frankly, as someone who has been trying to sell a screenplay for years (not to SyFy for their Saturday night movie, I hasten to add), it's a little annoying to see a movie get made this way, even if it's a cheesy movie.

More annoying is that SyFy used to really go out of its way to put a good product on the air. Responsible for shows like "Farscape" and the long-running "Stargate" franchise, plus bringing "Battlestar Galactica" back on the air in a superior form to its original predecessor, SyFy was redefining what a TV network could be. It was even retransmitting "Doctor Who," allowing for a new group of fans who don't get BBC America to watch the program.

These days? SyFy is offering second-rate series like "Warehouse 13" and "Eureka," both of which I gave up on midway through their first seasons. They are doing "reality" series such as "Ghosthunters." They even broadcast pro wrestling. That's all on top of "Mongolian Death Worm" and its ilk.

It's an annoying trend in cable where networks are getting away from their very roots in an effort to attract new viewers rather than keep the viewers that made them tune in the first place.

Cartoon Network shows live action programming. BBC America shows primetime reruns of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." A&E shows programs that are neither arts-related or entertaining.

Why can't these channels just stick with their mission statements? Why can't SyFy stick with quality original programming combined with quality second-run programming, such as reruns of "Firefly" and other sci-fi shows?

Instead, SyFy presents "Dinocroc vs. Supergator" this Saturday night.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Fortunately, there are some options for viewers who don't want to see the outcome of "Dinocroc vs. Supergator."

"Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 8 p.m.) continues its terrific run, while CBS has new episodes of "Flashpoint" and "Miami Medical" from 9-11 p.m.

On cable, one of the few SyFy shows that the network bothers to import, "Merlin," is new tonight at 10 p.m.

On Saturday, "Doctor Who" (BBC America, 9 p.m.) is new. This week's episode, in which the Doctor and Amy meet Vincent Van Gogh, was written by Richard Curtis, the man responsible for such movies as "Love Actually" and "Four Weddings and a Funeral."

CBS is also burning off new episodes of "Three Rivers" at 8 p.m.

On Sunday, ABC has new episodes of "Scoundrels" and "The Gates," beginning at 9 p.m., while CBS airs the Daytime Emmy Awards at 9 p.m.

HBO follows a new episode of "True Blood" with the return of "Entourage" at 10 p.m. and "Hung" at 10:30 p.m.

Though Conan O'Brien still can't appear on TV, Andy Richter is hosting a special with his writers on their new network, TBS, at 10 p.m.

Finally, TNT is running back-to-back new episodes of "Leverage" from 9-11 p.m.