As in anything one builds, one has to have a good foundation to have a good result. A Science Fiction channel should be something tied with a good, solid foundation in order to explore both the human condition and the future. Herein lies a problem, however... what is a good foundation?
Does it take three, four, five, six tentpoles? What exact parts of the genre should it cover? What showes should be picked?
Let's take a look at a few, roughly reduced to a few simple categories; feel free to add more (if anyone out there sees this!)
1. A Space Opera: Star Trek: TOG/TNG/Ent, Star Wars, SG-1/SGA, etc. You know this one. Exploring the galaxy or universe in an attempt to better understand our selves... and to get into all those places we can get into that we shouldn't. And then, set up a shop, gas station, and everything else we need, in order to go further. Essential elements: exploration of the physical world as well as relationships.
2. Anthology series: Twilight Zone, Outer Limits. Again, a favorite of mine and well-known to all of us; this type of show may have recurring actors, but rarely has reoccuring characters (although, the recent Outer Limits had some intreguing sequal stores in various seasons). Essential elements: provoke thoughts every show.
3. Time travel series: Dr. Who, Voyagers (the 80's series), Time Trax, Quantum Leap, etc. Your basic romp through time, hopefully learning something, hopefully not sleeping with one's own ancestor along the way. Essential elements: learning about where we've been, and to be careful about horseshoe nails or stepping on bugs at the wrong time!
4. Lost world/existence: Farscape, Buck Rodgers, Andromedia, Captain Power, Battle Star Galactica, Star Trek: Voyager, SGU, Lost in Space, Lost, Jeremiah, Firefly. The world/federation/galaxy/way home is gone. The series focuses on either obtaining something that is lost, or building something new to replace what is gone. Usually, there is some sort of journey involved.
5. Brinkmanship. seaQuest DSV, original V series, Babylon 5, StarTrek: DS9, Space: Above and Beyond. Essentially allegories for the tensions of the time, and exploring how they can go wrong as a direct reflection of what is occuring now. Essential elements? Tension.
6. Mythic Dimensions: Flash Gordon, Rod Brown (and various clones), Heroes, Dollhouse, any comic book themed series or movie. Generally, these series have a character or characters that are larger than life in some fashion. Usually, they fight (or you want them to fight) the "good fight." Green Lantern would be an example of a theortical series in this fashion.
Looking at this, I have to say I'd like to see a Space Patrol/Lensman/Green Lantern (Space Opera with Mythic tones) series as one of the tentpoles of a new Sci-Fi and an anthology series at a bare minimum. Perhaps, use the anthology series to explore themed shows (kind of what the '90's Outer Limits begain to do with both the android/robot episodes and the time traveller episodes) to explore ideas for new series.
But, that being said, we need a good "mythic" dimension series going... something like what Heroes should have been, if it had followed JMS' original outlines. After that, I'd like to see what comes out of an anthology series; give the younger writers chances to test their concepts (and, let the fans grade and give feedback to refine those concepts) into shows or series.
Oftentimes, when we are watching movies, we get caught up in the movie itself, and ignore one line of dialog or movie information that would lead one to question the ending. Great endings, hero saves the day... or did he?
The two that have come up in recent conversation, have been both Total Recall and Minority Report. Both movies have a shift wherein the protagonist suddenly has everything going their way or (at least) suddenly has a run of lucky breaks. Both, incidentally, are based on two short stories written by the same author.
Douglas Quaid goes to Rekall, and gets a vaction memory implanted. However, he gets a "fun vacation" heroic member installed... and, right at the moment he is in the machine, that is where something seems to go wrong. From that moment forward, he is living the exact type of life he was wanting to have in fantasy... right after being strapped into the machine. At the very end of the movie, he even wonders if the adventure was real or not; a fade to white is the only clue we have on the veracity of the actions to that point.
Minority Report has a similar mind altering moment that might lead to a false life (or at least, a false memory).
In Minority Report, John Anderton suddenly starts winning right after an apparent unsuccessful collaring. However, a line already established in the movie states that once a person is collared, they are in a perfect world where everything works out to their benefit. Sounds familiar, eh? From the moment he fights out of the collar, everything works out. Perfectly.
If you read the short story versions from Mr. Phillip K. Dick, you get a different take on both movies; however, I do like the dystopias presented in the manner by which the movies are presented. In both cases, one is left with the questions: was that adventure real? Are those bad guys still in operation?