So, I assume you love space Sci-fi like Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek, Stargate but have been pining for a good show since these went off the air, am I right? Me too, bro, me too. Problem is, nothing out there that really satisfies that thirst. But last year, I came across this show – Dark Matter, that seemed to have an interesting idea, which is as follows…
Six people wake up from stasis on a malfunctioning ship only to realize, THEY ARE REMEMBER NOTHING. Ship’s data stores are all wiped, and all they find is a locked door that they cannot open, a weapons hold and an Android that attacks them on contact, who gets memory wiped too. They decide to name themselves in the order they awoke, and delve into the mystery that they are themselves.
Who are they? Where are they going? What happened to them ? Are they good people or bad?
Dark Matter deals with the nature vs nurture debate in a different way.
Based on the dark Horse comics of the same name, Dark Matter tries to do justice to this short and yet interesting idea. And let’s be honest, it is not perfect, but let me tell you why it still is worth your time!
The plot itself is a strong point and they do handle it well. It takes some time for them to find about who they are and what is happening to them, but then that feels more natural in my opinion. The strength of Dark Matter is some of the characters though.
We have here a bleeding heart, a kickass fighter/leader, a hot headed loose cannon, a Zen martial artist, a computer expert and a fighter with a conscience.
Melissa O’Neil as Two is my favorite, I must say. I like badass women in my space SciFi – Captain Janeway, Lt. Starbuck or Aeryn Sun. It just makes space SciFi more fun and satisfying to see them kick ass. While Two is not at that level, she definitely has potential. The former Canadian Idol winner shows off good range for action and acting. Plus she is so damned HOT!
Jodelle Ferland as Five is another female character that I really like. The odd person out from the beginning, she seems to have an intriguing arc that is still unraveling itself in season 2.
Zoie Palmer as The Android does a very good job. She nails the dry humor and has some nice action scenes too. Her quirky affectations play well too! Her nature’s Human vs machine battle is turning out to be quite good.
Over all the acting is good to excellent, and the chemistry is good. none of the characters really like each other, much less trust, and once Dark Matter settles in, it works very well for it. Dark Matter clearly has so much to tell about the past of these people that it can keep showing of revelations and keep chugging ahead. For example, Alex Mallari Jr.’s Four has an arc that itself can take a season to resolve on its own.
The Sci-Fi and the Effects:
The Sci-Fi portion itself is OK to excellent. Initial episodes are not something new, you have seen it all, but still makes good presentation of it in at least half the episodes. From episode 8 onward, they take it up another notch and episode 10-11 are especially brilliant.
They have spent some good money on a relatively small Sci-Fi show on SyFy that is made in Canada. It is NO BSG or Star Trek but the ship itself is built great and sets are quality too. The space, as not much present as in BSG or Star trek, is well done too.
The biggest issue for me is PACING. Seasons 1 clearly had a story that needed 8-10 episodes only , but they stretched it out. Result is, some fillers and some really dull moments in the beginning. That is really bad, because it might make you lose interest in Dark Matter. However, if you do stick with it, Dark Matter does get it right and so far has been doing MUCH better in the same department in season 2.
Another issue is the characters at times do not make the decisions which we would feel they should be making. However, that is largely dealt with as the series progresses and we know more about them.
Dark Matter could also do with more action, but I guess they spread the budget on effects more, lol. The people involved are capable of giving some great action scenes, so it is a bit of let down in season 1. Season 2, with its bigger budget , had done much better in this section too.
Plot holes. There are a lot of them in season 1. However, again, as the series progresses, some of them tend to get filled and again, Season 2 has done better in this regard.
IN CONCLUSION – does Dark Matter work?
Is is the show that will fill the empty void that BSG and TNG left inside you? NO.
Is it a good show though? YES.
It is a show that has an interesting premise. It is backed up by some really good actors and characters. Though they have a slow start, they have done well with the character arcs and seem to be going in an upward direction only. The action, though far and few in season 1, has been good. Season 2 is clearly correcting this issue as well. The sets and effects are very good. The series does do a decent job in sci-fi segment. It gives you some good guest roles like Ruby Rose.
Dark Matter is a fun, light romp that tries to be Firefly with amnesia with Farscape thrown in. While it does not succeed entirely, It STILL is probably the best Space SciFi on right now, and one that is constantly improving – story, characters and action wise. The characters’ struggle to find out what they were and them coming in terms with the past, and dealing with what lies ahead, is especially well done. The show has some promising arcs. It does have some nice twists for you and an excellent season finale.
I say , binge through season 1, there is nothing on at the moment, anyways, it is just 13 episodes. There is a high chance that you may end up liking the show – as long as you don’t expect it to be BSG or TNG.
To those who feel , NAH, I WILL NOT SETTLE. I NEED SOMETHING AS GOOD AS BSG AND TNG…
May i direct you to a show that might well be the most under appreciated SciFi there is? Farscape ( you may have read the name above, or heard it in some discussion sometime, but less chance you have actually seen it. CLICK HERE to get a spoiler free review of the same. TRUST ME, THAT show is Brilliant.