It was brought to my attention recently that, for the first time in several decades, there are no American network programs featuring people on spaceships. There're still scifi shows, and the more vague 'genre' shows', being put out, of course. But nobody is going boldly at the moment, and it doesn't sound as though that's set to change any time in the immediate future. But does that matter?
Personally, I would argue no, and that's coming from someone who would personally punch out every last SyFy executive over the cancellation of SGU. The reason for that is that scifi, particularly television scifi, is never really about its setting anyway. The best programs make full use of the potentials of their setting, of course, but at its core scifi is simply using its setting as a metaphor for current realities. That being the case, then, why does it matter if the issue of the day is represented by an alien who's black on one side and white on the other, or an artificially gestated 'tank', or a group of monotheist terrorists? The story is what ultimately matters, and while I enjoy a good space opera as much as the next scifi fan, the fact that people are travelling through space on a ship to make for a good series. I'd take an episode of Eureka over Andromeda any day, and as great as Firefly was it could have been just as great if they'd had an airship instead of a spaceship. It's not the setting that really matters, it's what the creators do with it.
And the scifi creators out there are doing a pretty good job of it. Eureka, Miracle Day, Outcasts, Falling Skies, Chuck, Sanctuary, they're all doing varyingly well critically, though in some cases that hasn't been enough to save them from cancellation, a fate every scifi fan knows to expect and dread in equal measures. And with Terra Nova coming up, scifi television is making a pretty solid return to the major American networks. Just because it doesn't have spaceships in it doesn't mean it's not worthwhile science fiction, after all.