When Syfy changed upper management, much was made of the “marching orders” given to new VP Bill McGoldrick: get the network back into space opera and big-budget miniseries. And Ascension seemed like it was poised to be both.
And then it actually aired.
The six-hour miniseries premiered with 1.8 million viewers, and while it may have ended on a science fiction-esque cliffhanger, the bulk of the show (as we detailed in our review) dealt with soap opera drama. The show itself seemed to be based on a false premise. Viewer reaction was mixed, at best.
Written and executive produced by Philip Levens, the show centered around a group of people aboard the generation ship Ascension, launched in 1963 and sent on a century-long voyage to begin the first Earth colony. Only they weren’t. Instead (spoilers), it was revealed to be nothing more than an elephantine experiment in deep space psychology. The “ship” was actually in a warehouse on Earth, with its occupants carefully monitored (and eventually manipulated) by a team on the outside.
“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,” Syfy said in a statement to Deadline.
One of the project’s executive producers was Mark Stern, whose tenure as Syfy’s head of programming made him a favorite target of fan ire as the network seemed to drift away from its core audience in the wake of decisions made under Stern’s oversight.
No word on whether Universal Cable Prods., Lionsgate TV and Blumhouse Prods., will try to re-launch the show on another network.