Syfy took a big gamble last year with its series Nightflyers, setting it up for what could be the channel’s new marquee show. Unfortunately, it didn’t pay off quite how they had hoped. It was just announced that Syfy is cancelling the series, which was based on George R. R. Martin‘s novella of the same name, after only one season. That’s a pretty unusual move for a cable network, which typically has a little more leeway than broadcast to rerun their series and give them time to find an audience. However, Nightflyers was also the most expensive series ever developed for Syfy, so it had more pressure to perform.
In the hopes of sparking some Netflix-like binge-watching of the series, the season was released in full on its streaming platforms (and later, Netflix itself! But that did not save it). Also bucking traditional release schedules, Syfy aired the 10 episodes on consecutive nights. It was a bold strategy, but ultimately Nightflyers did not find enough of an audience to take off (the buzz on the show was absolutely 0 as well). According to Variety, the finale drew “420,000 live viewers, a drop-off from 623,000 for the premiere.” Those numbers aren’t by any means terrible for a genre cable series, but given its exorbitant costs it evidently didn’t make sense for it to continue.
In his review of the first five episodes, our own Vinnie Mancuso said: “The series tries on a lot of masks at once—locked room haunted house, hard sci-fi, space opera, body horror grossout—with only some executed in a satisfying way. One of the worst things a spaceship can be is crowded, and Nightflyers often packs in so many turns that even its best plots can barely breathe. Much like Peter Jackson tried to create three sprawling epics from the 100-ish-page Hobbit, Buhler has tried to craft a Game of Thrones from a 30,000-word novella. The resulting show is a hodgepodge of fascinating concepts bogged down by some tremendously dumb ideas and shaky execution [….] Nightflyers is a bit like the ship itself, reaching for the furthest reaches of space and holdings itself back at the same time.”
via Flickering Myth