TV Review: Dark Matter

I don't speak Dutch.
I don’t speak Dutch.

Airs: SyFy Channel

Review: Season 1

SyFy is at least trying to get back to their roots with another space opera (they added Killjoys to their lineup this summer and The Expanse is coming out in December).  I just binge-watched the first season of Dark Matter, and the verdict is…still undecided.

The series opens with a spaceship adrift and a friendly computer voice saying that the life support is down to 15%.  (It was never explained who or what damaged the ship).  The crew is awakened from stasis to fix the problem, but they have no memory of who they are.  (I find amnesia to be overused in TV and movies; it can be a very effective tool – as it is here – but it is disproportionate to the times that it happens in real life.  I see you Blindspot.)  Searching through the ships log they discover that they are all wanted criminals – murders and thieves – they banded together to form a fearsome mercenary crew.

Since they have no memories they name themselves in the order in which they awoke.  “One,” as you might expect, gets a lot of airtime.  This is a problem because the character is so whiny and childish he makes Episode IV Luke Skywalker look like Episode VI Jedi Master Luke Skywalker.  “One” is a thoroughly unlikeable character – it is difficult to believe that he is a trained killer.  He isn’t – he is posing as a member of the crew to kill the man who (allegedly) killed his wife.  [“One” is “The Leader” in the Five Man Band]

As the season progresses we discover “Two” is genetically engineered – each piece of her was manufactured, and then she was assembled to be a superhuman with nanites that repair her body.  Her nanites cured her of an incurable disease, fixed a deep gash in her neck, and allowed her to survive in space without a suit, yet somehow can fix the neurons in her brain to get her memories back.  [aka “The Chick” in the Five Man Band]

“Three” is there to piss off “One”.  He is the comic relief.  So he is my favorite character, though I don’t think he is supposed to be.  It is always a problem when I like the one I am supposed to hate and hate the one I am supposed to like.  [aka “The Lancer” in the Five Man Band]

“Four” is the quiet master swordsman, heir to the throne of a planet.  You would think in a world of interstellar travel and advanced weaponry a sword would be useless, but you’d be wrong.  Apparently, no one in the future remembers Indiana Jones (though they did reference Star Wars XXXVI (36, for you non-Roman numeral people)).  He is innocent of murdering his father (though I suspect that he has several other kills to his name that he is not so innocent of).  [aka “The Big Guy” in the Five Man Band]

“Five” is the only non-criminal in the bunch.  She is a young teenager who is a wiz with technology.  [aka “The Smart Guy” in the Five Man Band]

“Six” is one of the few people that I have seen in another show (Roger R. Cross from Continuum).  He is accused of a terrorist act – blowing up a ship with 10,000 innocent people on board.  He is also innocent (of the five wanted criminals two are innocent and a third isn’t even the right person.  [Wait.  Six?  In a Five Man Band?  How does he fit in?  A little Big Guy and a little The Chick.]

They are joined by the ship’s android (played by Zoie Palmer from Lost Girl).  I was not a fan of Zoie Palmer’s acting in Lost Girl, but she plays an android here (Hurray!).  An android with feelings (Dammit!).  The android is aware that the emotions that she has is a malfunction in her programming, but we don’t get an answer in Season 1.

The crew tries to piece together their identity, taking odd jobs that helps bring in money (but only serves to worsen their situation).  As a unit, they are completely incohesive.  Why is this crew together – they don’t function well together at all.  Has their memory loss completely changed their personalities so they don’t “fit” anymore?  The season ends on a cliffhanger that is slightly dubious, but I still need to know what happened.

Dark Matter is an interesting premise that has to overcome some illogical plot points and a lead character that I want thrown out of an airlock.  In an individual episode, the plot is just fine – logical and interesting.  In the big picture, I am having trouble seeing the logic (e.g. why didn’t the nanites fix “Two’s” memory?  Why is this team such a misfit – and if they did just get together, why are they so fearsome already?)  I kept watching, hoping that it would be explained – it never was.  I guess I’ll have to wait for season 2.

WWYT Rating: 5.8

Nielsen Ratings: Already renewed for a second season


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