Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Pilot Review: Dark Matter

Dark Matter (Syfy)
Premiered June 12 at 10pm

Deep-space missions always seem ill-fated, especially when members of the crew are frozen and put into hibernation for a long duration of time before they reach their destination. This new series presents a worst-case scenario of sorts, as the six people on board awaken with no memories of who they are, only unexplained crucial skills that come to them in moments of necessity. Naming themselves in the order of when they woke up helped amplify the mystery since they can’t even consider themselves to truly be people since they are designated only by a number. The android serving as a non-guide who is programmed with knowledge but doesn’t actually know anything of use is another strong device, particularly because the first thing she did was follow her programming to attack all of them. She’s also a dead ringer for Yvonne Strahovski of “Chuck” fame. This first episode was interesting but not too inviting, and then the end of the hour dropped the ultimate bombshell – they’re all criminals guilty of murder and plenty more crimes. How they embrace the identities they can’t remember should prove a worthwhile and watchable process, and up until now only the aggressive Three has seemed villainous. Two is a natural leader, while One, if only because of his moniker, seems like the show’s main star. The only cast member I recognize is Roger Cross, who played Curtis on “24” and here stars as Six, the decidedly least suspicious of the crew. This show makes me miss “Firefly,” and I hope that the second airing will be decisively engaging to make me want to stick around.

How will it work as a series? The real worry is that unfurling too much information about these characters, like their names and crimes, will make the show’s premise far less enticing. It only took the length of one episode to reveal that already, and so let’s hope that the payoff is worth it and that they’re just as strong as characters once we and they know who they are.
How long will it last? Syfy is a bit fickle with keeping some of its shows that seem designed for its network, like “Alphas,” on the air. Space-set series tend to do better, as evidenced by another show airing on Syfy Fridays, “Defiance.” Without knowing much about the ratings, I’d predict this one to be picked up soon for season two.

Pilot grade: B

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