Syfy has traditionally done a Sci-Fi Friday, putting all kinds of sci-fi shows on a night that really gets very little viewership because the usual audience is out on Friday nights. Of course, geeks spend their Fridays at home, they have no dates, they’re not out at parties, they have nothing better to do than watch TV and that brings us to this week’s season wrap-up, freshman show Dark Matter.
Strangely enough, Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie wrote Dark Matter as a pitch for a TV series but when it wasn’t picked up, Dark Horse Comics picked it up as a comic series, then, after seeing the comics, Syfy ordered 13 episodes as a TV series, so it goes around and around in circles. So was this TV pilot-turned comic series-turned TV series any good? You’ll have to read on to find out.
After a crew of six awaken on a mysterious spaceship with no knowledge of their lives before going into suspended animation, they need to learn who they are and who did this to them before all the people hunting them get to them first. It turns out that they are all mercenaries, sent to destroy a mining colony, but when they fail to carry out their mission, the corporation gets quite upset and starts trying to kill them. But what’s really happened and how can they reclaim their memories and their lives?
Conceptually, it’s not the most original thing in the world, actually caught my eye pretty early on. While none of the characters were necessarily likeable from the start, all of them had at least a hint of positive characteristics and over time, while nobody every got to be a good guy, they all earned a certain amount of respect. That’s certainly better than a lot of modern shows where every character is reprehensible, without a single redeeming characteristic.
I’ve talked about jealousy playing a major role in a lot of TV series this summer season and unfortunately, even here, we’re seeing jealousy rearing its ugly head, but that when that jealousy comes from the resident android, it gets to be a bit ridiculous. Yes, eventually they decide that the android has a faulty personality, but I’m really getting tired of characters doing stupid things because they’re jealous of what someone else has or what they’re doing. Okay, sure, these characters are, by and large, villains, we can understand that they’re not the most psychologically healthy, but when the jealousy bug reared its ugly head, it almost always felt out of character.
So, even though I really enjoyed this season, it wasn’t without problems. I’ll just throw some of them out there. In episode 12, Wil Wheaton shows up as Two’s creator (she’s a super-advanced human clone), but I really didn’t find Wheaton’s acting at all credible. In fact, assuming that he’s just being himself on Tabletop, his character her was pretty well indistinguishable from Wil being himself. That was a bit disappointing. Then, the actual season finale was pretty lackluster, it felt like an afterthought. Sure, they answered a couple of longstanding questions, we now know that Five erased all of their memories and we know that Six was the traitor all along, but of course, we just don’t know why and won’t learn unless Syfy and Space order another season.
And honestly, I hope they do. It wasn’t perfect by any means but it certainly is better than some other things I’ve watched this summer, I don’t utterly detest the characters, as I do with some other shows, it kept me coming back for more and I was at least mildly interested in where the plotlines were headed. That’s not an enthusiastic recommendation, but summer shows are usually hard to recommend anyhow, so at least it falls toward the top of the heap.