Monday, 22 June 2015

Dark Matter: S01E01

Rating: 6

In A Nutshell

Made by those who brought us StarGate, what could go wrong? Well, it's on the Syfy Channel for starters, which in recent years has felt about as Science-Fiction as a car's wheel. The trailer for the opening episode had more cheese than a supermarket, but the premise itself was enough for me to give it a go. Was it worth my time?

Overall, yes. It crossed the watchable line and a little more, although showed some signs of concern along the way. We open with more openings, in the form of people being let out of what we can assume are stasis chambers. One by one, six of them are let out and they all suffer from the same problem. Yes, they are all far too good looking. However that's not the actual issue. It's that they have no idea who they are and what's going on. They've lost their memories and us viewers feel the same during the opening section. What follows for the next 20 minutes is very questionable at times in the ways the people are working out more about who they are and saying some of the most corny lines in doing so. This wasn't the most captivating part at all. I really couldn't care at this point who they were or if I'd ever find out. It was when they awoke the android on the ship that things really kicked up a notch. After she bashed everyone in sight, before being shut down again, my interest was restarted, just like she was moments later. Seems she has a mind link to the ship, and is able to literally control and communicate with it. She's got the personality of the very early Star Trek Data, with a hint of a look of another Star Trek character, Seven of Nine about her. In fact, this show seems to resemble collections of every sci-fi show you've probably seen before, although thankfully they manage to still make everything more or less work.

After finding the ship's original course and going down to the destination planet's surface, their interaction with the people of a mining facility really brings some more genuine and human qualities to things. It gives us an environment for these memory-less people to interact, and immediately the inhabitant's predicament pulls at our crew's heartstrings. Well, not all of them, but mostly. Seems the small mining colony are expecting an attack very soon from some aliens who do other people's dirty work. These alien's masters want to get rid of the mining colony so they can take over the planet's resources. The crew are mixed on what to do; help or not? Most of them seem to be pretty nifty with weapons so you'd think they'd be useful. On their return to their mothership though, the android has managed to conveniently (if I don't say so, for plot reasons) restore some of the data that was wiped from the ship's computers when they all woke up. The bit she has restored contains the crew's details, which she almost seems to read out to them all in a rather boasting manner, revealing them all to be criminals of mostly the murderous kind. So, by now we're all thinking that maybe these people will turn over a new leaf, but then comes the final twist about who they are, when it's revealed that the name of the aliens that the mining colony told them about, is actually the name of their ship. The crew are the people who were coming to kill everyone at the mining colony!

What I liked

Well, the majority of the characters are instantly quite likeable! That helps a lot. On the other side of the coin, most of that is down to the fact that they all seem to resemble characters we've loved and met before. Straight out of firefly seems most of these characters, with the gun loving angry one, the female ship's captain with the hips, and a young female who can "see things". There's little originality in these characters, but it helps that they look good, and they all come across as likeable.

I get the feeling this show is going to be in the style of Firefly, crossed with Stargate: Universe, rather than any hard-hitting serious sci-fi. We all need some popcorn sci-fi because there's very little of it about, and even less that's been decent recently.

What I Didn't Like

The ship's interior and the CGI is of a reasonable quality standard but almost pretty simplistic. You'd think the set came straight out of Star Trek Voyager or StarGate SG-1 at times, or some budget B-movie. There were "classic" sparks and flashing lights for a "crippled" spaceship. This is certainly no hard-graft sci-fi show, but all about the space action and anything sci-fi. Not a bad thing, because lots of us liked that stuff. Just don't expect too much to be realistic sci-fi like in "Gravity" or "2001: A Space Odyssey" movies.

Leading on from above, there's a lot of sci-fi mumble jumble, that any Star Trek fan will lap up as there's talk of FTL drives, shields, weapons, manifolds etc. It also almost felt like I should be ticking off a list of 101 classic TV sci-fi words and terms.

Bit picky here, but when will TV shows bring back classic intro opening sequences? There's too little of them these days, and this show has the standard quick 5 second one. No chance of that building up any atmosphere then.


I'm nothing like Jayne from Firefly, honest ...

What's behind that big impregnable door then?

Hmm, this ship looks familiar ...

Android only has one facial expression; smug.

And Finally

A decent opener, after the cheese fest of the first quarter we had to drag ourselves through. The introduction to the outside world and the revelation about the crew at the end really did catch my attention and make me want to hang around for what I hope will be an enjoyable ride.

Rating: 6 out of 10 (Enjoyable popcorn sci-fi adventure stuff, in space. Something there's not enough of these days).

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