How many of us have been pining for the day we could fill the Firefly-shaped holes in our hearts with some new space show? Two of Syfy channel’s newest acquisitions seem to be on track to do just that, provided they don’t crash and burn as the first seasons progress. These two shows, Killjoys and Dark Matter, air on Friday nights after Defiance, and in my opinion, they are definitely worth checking out.
Thus far, one episode of Killjoys has aired, and two of Dark Matter. But the shows start from two different places (which is good, because otherwise they do run the risk of becoming too similar). Killjoys is about a trio of bounty hunters (aka “Killjoys”) in a star system called the Quad. There is an oppressive ruling force called The Company, and of course some rebels as well, but Killjoys are special because they have no allegiance to anything other than carrying out the warrants they receive (or at least they’re not supposed to…). Dark Matter, on the other hand, begins with six individuals waking up from stasis on a ship with no memory of who they are or how they got there. Soon after waking, the ship is attacked. Things move quickly from there, but I don’t want to give any spoilers.
Both shows have moments that feel like early 2000’s gems like Andromeda, Farscape, and Firefly.
Whether it’s the slightly cheesy costuming, or teasing of some of our favorite sci-fi tropes, both shows, in their initial episodes, seem to be doing a good job of balancing humor with very serious situations. There’s a ship-based element to them, but also action happening on planets. Speaking of ship-based elements, both shows also include some sort of talking interface in their ships which provide some comic relief, very much in the vein of Andromeda.
Both are Canadian shows that air on Space and include writers from other successful shows (Stargate, Lost Girl)
I think it’s interesting how many excellent genre shows these days are being made in Canada and then picked up by Syfy in the U.S. (Lost Girl, Bitten, and I’m sure there are others). For whatever reason (and I’m not complaining), Canada seems to be leading the way in sci-fi at the moment, especially as American networks become full of superhero and fantasy shows.
Both shows have a strong female protagonist (or two or three)
In Killjoys it’s Dutch (Hannah John-Kamen), the head of the team of bounty hunters, who has a mysterious past only partially revealed in the first episode. In Dark Matter, the obvious one is Two (Melissa O’Neil), so named because she was the second one to wake up from stasis. She immediately takes charge of the ship, and ignores the macho posing of some of her shipmates with aplomb. There is also Five (Jodelle Ferland), the youngest of the six on the ship, who seems to have a lot of memories that don’t belong to her, and an aptitude for fixing circuitry. Lastly is The Android (Zoie Palmer of Lost Girl), who reminds me a lot of Lexa Doig in Andromeda, as a sort of living interface with the ship.
Honestly I could go on and make a whole list of reasons why I think people should check out these shows, but if you’re not already convinced you should give them a shot, me listing more reasons isn’t going to change your mind. I know that this particular vein of sci-fi may not be right for everyone – some people prefer shows that are more complicated, like Lost, or more high-minded like Battlestar Galactica. But sometimes it’s just fun to watch people fly around space, stand up to evil corporations, and maybe get in some cool fights. And if you’re one of those people who likes the fun mixed with the serious, it looks like we’re both in for a treat with Killjoys and Dark Matter.