The best laid plans of mice and men often go sci-fi, and such was the case with Syfy’s miniseries Ascension, the first of its kind in several years. Though the network attempted to build a foundation on top of which a deeper extended series could be erected, Syfy decided not to move forward with a full first season of Ascension.
Here’s how Syfy execs put it in a statement, according to Deadline.
We were very happy with Ascension as an event series, but with so much high profile development in the works, we have decided not to pursue a full series.
There probably aren’t a lot of shocked and awed faces out there, since Ascension didn’t really burst through the cultural zeitgeist as Battlestar Galactica had in years previous. But considering this was supposed to be their re-entry into brain-building event series, Syfy really didn’t handle Ascension’s release as well as they could have, which may have played a sizeable role in it getting swept beneath the rug.
The six-hour miniseries was originally scheduled to premiere in November 2014, with an hour-long episode aired one night a week for six weeks. That’s a pretty normal plan for such a show. Instead, Syfy scrapped that and ended up airing it in the middle of December as a three-night event, airing two episodes back-to-back each night. While we admittedly do live in binge-friendly times, Ascension’s schedule (even with repeats) didn’t make much sense from a network standpoint, as the series had zero time to build up buzz between airings. I mean, it was on when most networks were airing repeats, but still.
To be expected, the episode ratings left much to be desired, though they could have been worse. The first episode pairing brought in around 1.7 million viewers for the first night, with a dip the next night to 1.3 million, and then a slight rise back up to 1.5 million for the finale. Not exactly numbers that print money for a cable network that is on almost everyone’s TVs.
Still, it would have been nice to see where the story went, considering how many twists and turns it took in its six-hour span. Starring Tricia Helfer and Brian Van Holt, Ascension was set on a spacecraft that was supposed to be the saving grace for humanity, spending over 50 years on a mission to find a distant planet to plant new roots. A murder is discovered, and then the “true mission” of the ship is unraveled. It would have made for a more solid feature, assuming some of those oddball story shifts got left out, but the series still stood up to a lot of unimaginative modern sci-fi out there.
It’s entirely possible that Universal Cable Productions, Lionsgate TV and Blumhouse Productions will try to make an Ascension series happen on another network, but there’s no telling how that will end up. For now, we’re just sitting back and hoping that Syfy doesn’t screw up The Expanse.