Wednesday, January 10, 2018

TV Review: Dark Matter Season One (2015)

Dark Matter Season One (2015) created by Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie

A crew of six people wake up out of suspended animation on a twenty-sixth century space ship with no memories of who they are. As they try to figure things out, the android on the ship (who looks like a slim, blonde woman) attacks them. They manage to shut it down and slightly reprogram the android so it no long attacks them, but works with them. Though much of the ship's information has been erased, their current destination is still programed in--a mining colony on the far edge of space. The ship's cargo is a literal boatload of weapons. When they land on the planet, they discover the locals are independent miners who are about to be attacked by the Raza, a horrible race of giant lizard people who have a reputation for mercilessly dealing with whomever they are sent after. The reputation is both deserved and vague, since no one has ever survived an attack by the Raza. The amnesiac crew decide to help out the miners (the weapons in their ship's hold must be the shipment ordered by the miners to defend themselves, right?). When they get back to the ship, the android fills them in on some of the erased data that she's been able to recover from the ship's memory. They are all wanted men and women, and they've committed lots of horrible crimes. Oh, and the name of their ship is the Raza. That's where the first episode ends.

So the pilot episode make a really great story and set up for the series. The only flaws are the clear debt owned to Joss Whedon's Firefly and the mediocre writing later in the season. Two of the characters are basically Jayne Cobb and Kaylee as amnesiacs. The crew flies around doing jobs for various corporations though things often don't go according to plan, a fate they share with the crew of the Serenity. So the show is a little derivative, but if you are going to steal, why not steal from the best? The initial set up leads viewers to believe these people are horrible people who maybe have a chance at a new, better (at least morally if not financially) life. As their backstories are revealed, they don't seem like the cutthroat monsters their reputation makes them out to be. Also, the characters are occasionally inconsistent and the plots are a little ludicrous. The final episode has an Agatha Christie whodunit feel that is not consistent with the rest of the show. Logic isn't always the strongest point in the show.

Even with its flaws, the show is still entertaining. The android is endearing with its directness and seeming innocence. The characters are fun if not entirely original. The acting is okay and the special effects are fine.

Not a great or original show, but entertaining enough to be recommended. Even with its ridiculously implausible cliffhanger ending (did I say the writing is mediocre?), I'll give season two a try.

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