Being a fan of the Stargate television shows, I was curious about Dark Matter, the new sci-fi series from producers Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, and I made sure to give the first episode a try.
This proved to be a wise decision.
Dark Matter opens with a group of six individuals awakening from cryogenic sleep aboard a badly damaged starship. They have no memory of who they are or how they got there, but they do retain skills that let them operate the ship. This causes the drama and friction one would expect, but they’re forced to work together as they soon find themselves under attack by a hostile security android, and then an enemy starship.
From there, the mission is to determine who they are and what has happened to them. Early indications have them as some sort of freedom fighters, and there are hints of some sort of Continuum-esque corporate dictatorship.
The crew’s amnesia makes for an interesting experiment in characterization as their identities must be established without any back story. It’s the ultimate example of show, don’t tell, and it works pretty well. After just an hour, I already have a pretty strong impression of the personalities of most of the characters and opinions of them all — I am reminded that the characters were always a strong suit of the Stargate shows.
Five is definitely my favourite right now by a significant margin, though I grant this is likely not entirely down to her character. I always did like girls with oddly coloured hair.
On the downside, a lot of the characters do seem fairly cliche just now, but perhaps they will evolve in time.
On the whole, Dark Matter’s pilot is surprisingly smart and engaging. It manages to provide a fast-paced and exciting experience without resorting to gratuitous sex and violence or forced drama as sci-fi pilots so often do.
One other note is that I find the cast’s eclectic pedigree somewhat interesting. Roger Cross (Six) I know from Continuum, and it’s nice to see him in a very different role. He’s actually pretty charismatic when he’s not playing a psycho. Good range.
Jodelle Ferland (Five) voiced the Little Sisters in BioShock 2, which is some serious nerd cred.
And holy crap, Melissa O’Neil (Two) has really grown up. I saw her name in the credits, and I still didn’t recognize her at all.
Yes, I used to watch Canadian Idol. Don’t judge me.
Overall rating: 7.7/10 Lacking most of the opening jitters most sci-fi shows suffer from, it’s a strong start.