Baltimore Sun

Has Syfy channel lost its way?

- By Rich Heldenfels

Q: I have been a longtime fan of the Syfy channel as horror, sci fi, thrillers and so on are my favorite shows. I have seen a decline in the variety and focus on this genre. For example, the same “Harry Potter” movies were shown four consecutiv­e weekends! What is going on with this channel and how did they lose their way?

A: Some channels do indeed change: Bravo used to feature serious cultural programs, for example.

But Syfy would argue that it did not lose its way, even if it no longer calls itself Sci-Fi. It still proclaims itself “a global, multiplatf­orm media brand that gives science fiction fans of all kinds a universe to call home. Celebratin­g the genre in all its forms, SYFY super-serves passionate fans with original science fiction, fantasy, paranormal and superhero programmin­g, live event coverage and imaginativ­e digital and social content.”

Syfy is not alone among providers in offering day after day of some movies and programs — but they do so because they need to fill a lot of hours, they own the rights to those production­s and they believe — as with the “Harry Potter” films — that the fans will indeed watch them over and over. NBCUnivers­al, which includes Syfy, spent a reported $250 million to get the “Potter” films and has used them to draw viewers to the NBC broadcast network, USA Network and its Peacock streaming service.

Q: On the “America’s Got Talent” auditions, a male singer went through, I thought.

His wife died in the plane crash with Kobe Bryant. Did he decide

not to go on?

A: You are rememberin­g Matt Mauser, the husband of Christina Mauser, an assistant basketball coach at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy. She died in the helicopter crash that also killed Bryant, his daughter Gianna and six others. Matt Mauser gave a muchpraise­d vocal performanc­e of Phil Collin’s “Against All Odds” in the auditions but did not advance to the live shows. He was included in an “AGT” wild-card competitio­n on Peacock, but did not advance from there, either.

Q: I recently watched “Gran Torino.” Toward the end when Clint Eastwood was lying on the grass, his open hand had some kind of medal. What was the medal and its significan­ce?

A: Since that movie is more than a dozen years old, I am going to be bold about a spoiler. At the end, Eastwood’s Walt Kowalski confronts a gang of hoodlums. He puts a cigarette in his mouth, says that he has a light for it and reaches into his jacket; the gang thinks he is going for a gun and shoots him dead. But he has in fact reached for a lighter (with a military insignia on it), and the gang members are arrested for killing an unarmed man.

Q: After enjoying classic “M.A.S.H.” episodes, I am hopeful that the future brings us the equally classic “Cheers” and “Six Feet Under.”

A: You can find both those shows with a little work. The complete series of “Cheers” and “Six Feet Under” are on disc. (You may want to see if your local library has them.) Both are also available as downloads on Amazon Prime. And “Cheers” is on the streaming service Paramount+, while “Six Feet Under” is on HBO Max.

Q: Where is Scott Van Pelt, the ESPN late-night commentato­r?

A: Your note arrived just about the time Van Pelt went back on ESPN after taking his usual vacation for most of August. But it can be tricky to find his late-night “SportsCent­er” telecast because it is often at the mercy of live sports events leading into it. A long match in U.S. Open tennis recently put Van Pelt on the air 100 minutes later than scheduled.

Do you have a question or comment about entertainm­ent past, present and future? Write to Rich Heldenfels, P.O. Box 417, Mogadore, OH 44260, or brenfels@gmail.com. Letters may be edited.

 ?? WARNER BROS. ?? “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” and the other films in the series have been airing on Syfy.
WARNER BROS. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” and the other films in the series have been airing on Syfy.

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