Syfy’s New Shows: Killjoys and Dark Matter

Killjoys

Synopsis: Dutch and John are bounty hunters. But as much as they’d like to get back to business as usual, John’s brother getting a kill order put on him involves them in his problems, and Dutch’s mysterious past is starting to catch up to her. The powder-keg political situation back home isn’t particularly promising, either. So the team’s probably going to have to tackle some unusual, and personal, circumstances in the near future.

Series: First season is airing.

I’ve Watched: First 3 episodes.

Verdict: Fun.

Borrowed from threeifbyspace.net

This was really engaging, which is a relief, because I’ve been waiting for Syfy to get back to airing shows I like after last year.

I really appreciate that the beginning isn’t just setting up the status quo of the show, so we can slide into an easy mission-of-the-week format. It’s also setting up the longer term plots. And that, I love. Sure, they’ve got different missions each week. But those missions build their character dynamic, and their off-time builds up on these major plot bombs that will no doubt explode.

The opening scene for the series was not the best–it tried to rely on subverting expectations as a mechanism of drawing us into the story. But they’ve already created the opposite impression in their promotional material, which takes out the surprise. But let’s say I haven’t seen a single poster or promo for the show, and I totally buy this set-up before it’s subverted. It wouldn’t be a pleasant experience for me. And the reveal at the end wouldn’t nullify that initial dread they’ve created. So maybe we should start thinking about how subverting expectations means you have to set up those expectations first, which can alienate people who don’t share them. Also, the logistics of any plan that involves getting tortured are dubious.

Other than that, though, I’m having a lot of fun. It’s not flawless, but it’s entertaining sci-fi actually set in space. And we don’t have a lot of quality shows like this.

Dutch is great. She’s professional and knows what she’s doing, but also willing to put herself out there to protect her partner. She’s trying to escape a dark past, and has managed to form some strong principles along the way. I’m really interested to see where her story is going–she’s juggling a lot of problems right now, but she’s determined to tackle them on her own terms. It should make for an interesting showdown, in the future.

John is Dutch’s partner. He’s loyal, he’s steady, and apparently he makes friends with all of his hookups. As opposed to Dutch and his brother, he doesn’t have any dark secrets. But he does have friendships that drag him into other people’s problems. He’s fantastic.

D’avin is John’s wayward brother, who somehow went from a military career to indentured cage fighting. And got a kill order out on himself, too. So, someone’s definitely trouble. D’avin is going through some PTSD and we don’t really know what he’s looking for yet. But the show is setting us up to find out.

I also love how snarky the ship is. And the recently introduced doctor is looking to be a promising character as well.

All in all, this is a fun sci-fi show that’s pretty intriguing, and I’m getting really into it.

Favorite Quotes:

“You’re either really brave, or really dumb.”
“Well, I don’t want to live in a world where I have to choose.”

Dark Matter

Synopsis: Six people on a spaceship wake up with no memory of who they are. So they name themselves One through Six.

Series: First season is airing.

I’ve Watched: Episodes 1 and 4.

Verdict: Eh…

This is another Syfy show with spotty execution. The premise has potential, but the dialogue seems unnatural, and the characters feel empty. It just comes off as forced.

The plot is also oversimplified, not making use of a lot of potential conflict. It’s like the show thinks there’s two paths to take for any solution, the right one and the wrong one. But there are six main characters, and all of them should have a unique perspectives. They should agree on the same thing for different reasons, not the same exact one.

Take for instance, the first episode. The characters meet a group that they think their non-amnesiac selves were supposed to give weapons to. One camp argues that they should give these people the weapons they need to defend themselves, because it’s the right thing to do. The other argues that they could sell the weapons instead.

That’s it. Those are the only considerations on the table. No one mentions that they were hired for a mission they can’t remember, and there might be consequences for not following through. No one brings up the idea that these people are the best chance they have for learning something about themselves, or at least pointing them towards someone who might know them. The characters hardly ever talk at all about the potential consequences of the things that they can’t remember–they don’t know who their enemies and who their friends are.

And they have no good plan for finding out. It makes them all come off as not very smart.

In addition to that, the characters don’t have much going for them.

Borrowed from ytimg.com

Six is unique in the main cast, because he actually feels like a real person. He keeps a lot to himself, but he’s also got some core of compassion that shines through. One, on the other hand, is supposed to be the quintessential nice guy, but instead comes off as kinda pathetic and more focused on his principles for their own sake than any actual human compassion.

Two is confident and competent, and that’s pretty much all there is too her. She does at least do pretty much the only intelligent thing any character on the show does, which is to tell both One and Three that she needs them to watch the other guy because she doesn’t trust him. Three is a one-dimensional jerk, with the only explanation for his jerkiness being an oversimplified idea of “practicality”. Four hardly ever talks, or does much of anything. I think he’s supposed to be mysterious, but it’s heavy-handed and kinda other-izing. Five is quirky and young, supposedly the most normal person on the ship.

Most of the characters don’t feel authentic. I couldn’t even get into the intricacies of their personalities if I wanted to, because they don’t seem to be there. And not just because the show is only starting–they aren’t even hinted at. It’s not like the show can’t make good characters, either–Six is fine, and One’s alter ego is pretty good. The android is probably the most believable character of all, though that might have to do with her being a machine. There isn’t supposed to be too much too her.

I don’t know, maybe it’ll get better as it settles in. But I’m not going near the first season again. If it gets a second season, I might give it another chance.

I will be watching Killjoys, though, gladly.

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3 Responses to Syfy’s New Shows: Killjoys and Dark Matter

  1. Pingback: Killjoys, and Actually Progressing the Plot (TV still does that?) | Bardic Impulses

  2. Pingback: Killjoys | Multi-screen MO-T-Vision

  3. Pingback: TV Tuesdays- Dark Matter | Multi-screen MO-T-Vision

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