Monday, October 10, 2011

Good enough computing comes to SyFy

I started watching Warehouse 13 on Netflix this weekend and I must say I am impressed.  The special effects are not the best I've seen... nor are the actors and acting.  With regular levels of suspension of disbelief, however, the show is fun, interesting, and most of all has a conspiracy theorist vibe that is quirky and avoids taking itself too seriously (see the strange neutralizing "goo", that, when asked "what's it do?", it is responded "I don't know", heh).

If you've watched any of the too-many-to-count original SyFy movies you will see that they are so cheesy they are hard to watch without crackers (please point me to the exceptions and I will happily ammend this post to include them).  Usually there is some monster crocodile, dinosaur, or swamp monster that is killing people, usually beautiful, which humans have brought upon themselves through meddling with the environment, science, or other.  The stories are not intoxicating but I will admit they are fun to watch while intoxicated.

Through much trial and error, SyFy has discovered a few actors that are easy on the eyes and sufficiently believable.  SyFy has then spread these actors across multiple series, thereby scaling their value within the SyFy franchise.  For people that love a genre that is large-but-still-niche, greatness is not really expected (Firefly was an indulgent luxury, not a need, for SciFi lovers).  But it can't be a joke - i.e. laughter from wives or husbands that are not so in love with the genre still stings - Science Fiction junkies have absorbed enough ridicule to know how to avoid it.

The SyFy channel is now benefiting from the effect of "Good Enough Computing" - that is that regular amounts of computing resources make special effects that are "good enough" to be believed (under regular levels of suspension of disbelief :).  Netflix seems perfectly willing to pay to stream shows from SyFy, and if these shows are good enough to watch, then Netflix gets ever closer to having enough content that is good enough to disconnect cable (thereby creating a high value proposition through consumer savings).

It used to be that SyFy's low level of resources were only enough to create lame movies, but through acquisition of actors and the improvement of technology they are leaving the lameness behind.

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