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Dark Matter: Pilot, Part 1

I enjoy dramas like Justified and The Good Wife, but science fiction is where my heart is. And Dark Matter might just be for me.

Six people awaken from stasis in a huge, battered space ship. They don't know who they are or what they're doing on the ship, although their personalities and practical knowledge about the ship are still intact. Since they don't know their own names, the woman who awoke second gives each of them a number based on the order in which they awoke:
One (Marc Bendavid) found a pendant under a pillow, a pendant symbolizing freedom that the colonists also had. He also argued passionately for delivering their shipment of guns to the miners.

Two (Melissa O'Neil) is obviously the boss. When she woke, she immediately ran to the bridge to turn the life support back on, and whacked One when he got in her way. Then she started telling everyone what to do. And pretty quickly, everyone was doing it.

Three (Anthony Lemke) is an idiot with rage issues, a talent for bullshit, and a great big gun. (Loved him knocking himself out by shooting at the door that wouldn't open.)

Four (Alex Mallari Jr.) is deeply into swords and has a puzzle box in his room. What's in the box? And hey, he knew where his room was, didn't he?

Five (Jodelle Ferland) is a teenage girl with blue-green hair (love her pants) who fixes things and has strange dreams. She wasn't listed in the data they found, like the other five were. Is she a passenger? A prisoner? Is she behind all of this?

Six (Roger R. Cross from Continuum and 24) seems like a nice guy. He took care of Five when she was injured. And he complained a lot about the bad food.

The number names made me want to put together a Brady Bunch graphic, but of course, someone already did that. I hope they're going to keep the number names, even though we found out their real names at the end of the episode. Except for Five. And the Android, who probably doesn't have a name.

The Android, whom I kept expecting them to refer to as Seven (not just because she was the seventh character, but because of her resemblance to Seven of Nine), is played by the wonderful Zoie Palmer from Lost Girl. The Android's knowledge and her link with the ship's mainframe helped our six human characters evade an attack (by the multicorps?) and figure out that their shipment of guns was supposed to go to the miners. She also lost her hand and it reattached via nanites while she was unconscious. I assume that an expressionless android would have no trouble concealing something she was ordered to conceal. So does the Android know what is going on?

The multicorps that run this 'verse (sounds like Continuum) appear to be pretty bad if they're oppressing colonists who just want to make a living. The leader of the little group on the planet mentioned that they were expecting the Raza, reptilian aliens that were enforcers for the multicorps. Except that it turns out their own ship (that looked like a waterbug instead of a Firefly) is called the Raza. Hmm.

This pilot gave us seven interesting characters and a ton of questions and set-up for what could turn into a fascinating series. Why were their memories wiped? Were the five of them really murderers and pirates, or was the information planted and false? Is this series all about rebellion, or redemption, or possibly something else? Could one of them be lying about their amnesia? If so, who?

I'm definitely watching the next episode.
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. SPOILER Warning!

    Yeah, I like it too for now, although I'm not quite sure if the characters, as written so far, can really grow into complex people worth watching. But it's way too early to judge them yet. So patience.

    I love all the questions, which you mentioned, that the premiere brought up. If One was so adamant that they help the miners, how can he be the murderer profiled in the file? Doesn't make sense, so I'm thinking the profiles were fake. What makes all these questions work so well as plot drivers is that we don't know the characters any more than they know themselves! The twist at the end that the good guys we just met may actually be the bad guys was delicious.

    I also like Roger Cross as more of a gentle giant than gun toting bad ass.

    The one thing I could do without is the bad rock and roll music soundtrack. Yuk!

  2. I'm looking forward to watching this too. I like Roger Cross, I like sci-fi, the trailer looked good and the review sounds promising.

    On an unrelated note (there was no Doux News today, so I don't know where else to ask this), are you guys going to review Sense8?

  3. Lamounier, I plan to at least try Sense8, but no one has offered to review it. But you never can tell. Maybe it will grab one of us.

  4. It's a tough show. It's such a mixed bag. Some stories are really boring, but there are these moments in which the show is so sublime and beautiful. It’s the best of shows, it’s the worst of shows. You guys should give it a try.

  5. "I enjoy dramas like "Justified" and "The Good Wife", but science fiction is where my heart is."
    that's because in the former one can see the horizon with known questions whereas the latter is so much more mysterious where one can only guess where the horizon is, if there is one.
    If only people were this interested in real world science and not just in fiction.

  6. If only people were this interested in real world science and not just in fiction. Anonymous, that's a little snarky. A lot of people are interested in science. Although I had little aptitude for it in school, I especially like to read about the space missions and I'm actively following the New Horizons mission to Pluto. July 14! Less than a month!

    And there's nothing wrong with loving science fiction. A lot of scientists do.

  7. We're in for now. This suffered from a decent bit of "pilot-itis" but the situation is intriguing enough, and I was delighted to see both Zoie Palmer and Roger Cross. My biggest problem is that the characters are so broadly drawn at this point (understandable) that I find myself mentally referring to them by their base, cliche characteristics --- "tough chick," "silent Asian guy," "pretty boy" --- or trying to assign them Firefly counterparts.

    The most troublesome character for me is Marcus/Three/"Sawyer"/"Jeyne"/"Brian Van Holt". The asshole with rage issues (and who calls women by demeaning nicknames like Doll and Sweetheart) feels completely overdone at this point, and he's too similar to types I've seen countless times before. Hopefully he'll get more shading quickly, because right now I'm kind of rooting for him to either die or keep knocking himself out in the secret door room.

  8. I just caught this show, because it's new on Netflix this month.

    I have a 10/20 rule for new TV Shows: It has 10 minutes to get my attention, and 20 min to get me to care about the show.

    I was 35 minutes in before I looked at my watch. The premise of having the crew wake up with no memory, and having to discover the ship, was a great way of bringing the audience into the story, instead of just "telling' the audience who the characters were.

    I have high hopes for this one, and I, too, mentally called the android "Seven". At least she seems more interesting than the Voyager Seven.

    Staying tuned. --JB

  9. So what's the overall take on this show? I'm having trouble finding stuff I want to watch at the moment, so I took in the Pilot and liked it better than the one for Twelve Monkeys. But I see it didn't merit further reviews, so does that mean it doesn't develop into anything interesting?

  10. magritte, I dropped it after the first season. It just didn't blow me away. I have no idea if it got better or not -- maybe someone else can answer that.

    One thing about this two-year-old comment thread that is really fun: Lamounier asking us to review Sense8. Lamounier has since joined the writing team and is reviewing Sense8, which is why I became a Sense8 fan. magritte, have you tried Sense8? :)

  11. I'm currently trying it. It has a very low budget and there is nothing in them that previous sci-fi shows like Firefly, Stargate or Farscape didn't do before. But seeing as Sapceship based shows are so rare now I'll be watching it. Let's hope it will make me hungrier for the new Star Trek.

  12. Oh, wow, this is fun. :) I didn't remember that request.

    Curiously, I still haven't tried Dark Matter and I'm not sure if I will now. I do agree with Patryk that we are lacking spaceship based shows, though.

    magritte watches Sense8. She has written some great comments on a couple of Sense8 reviews. Glad to know you've become a fan, Billie. :)

    Having that said, I suggest The Handmaid's Tale to magritte, it's my current TV obsession and I hope it wins all the Emmys.

  13. Thanks so much, Lamounier. Even though I read every comment, I often don't remember exactly who has commented on what -- sorry about that, magritte.

  14. KILLJOYS...if you like Dark Matter you will love Killjoys. Its the slighty better show IMO...Has a Firefly vibe despite being completely its own thing. The characters are are much more fun as well.

  15. No worries, Billie, I don't know how you would keep track of everyone on the site's viewing history unless you kept notes! And thanks Lamounier for your comment on my comments. I've enjoyed your reviews of Sense8.

    Thanks for the suggestions. I have seen several episodes of the Handmaid's Tale (as actual TV broadcasts, no less!) and it is well done. Elizabeth Moss in particular is outstanding and they've really nailed the atmosphere of the book. Having read the book I was able to join partway through and miss an episode or two in between.

    Not familiar with Killjoys. I will see if I can get it and have a look.

  16. This isn't properly science-fiction, but I tried The Leftovers again (after not liking the first few episodes when they premiered) and now I love it.

  17. I'm already at season 3 episode 4 and I must say that episode was so hilarious and also suddenly very dark and foreboding with foreshadowing at the end. I would compare it with Supernatural's "Mystery spot". Yeah you guessed it, it's also a groundhog day episode but just as brilliant. :)

    All in all I think the show improved from season 1 by a fair margin. There's more guest stars for the cast to interact with, no more space zombies filler and the Android continues to be awesome.

  18. I can't watch Dark Matter without a flow chart to keep up with all the numbers for names and all the different backstories. Patryk could make one for me, I'm sure.

    The Expanse spends more time on spaceships as it goes along and has some serious Firefly vibes. I recommend that one.

  19. Mallena, You are right, I do have a list of remaining enemies and foreshdowed plot elements or I would get lost too. And I guarantee I will after waiting 10 months for season 4 after I'm done with my catch-up. :)

  20. Patryk, someday I'm going to try and watch this one, again, and I will definitely have to take notes and watch this with a chart that has the character's number, picture, real name, and anything learned from flash-backs. If it has an episode like Mystery Spot, then I'm there.

    I just wish that they had made season one more exciting and easier to follow. All I remember from it is confusion. They should take a lesson from Killjoys. Ten minutes into the first episode with Dutch, Johnny, and Dav (names!) they feel like old friends. The characters, the action, and the humor had me hooked.

  21. As I'm up to date with Dark Matter now and I have to wait for new episodes like everyone I think I'll try the Expanse.

    What I really miss in Dark Matter is engaging and exciting ship combat. Here everything is done by the Android (so no divided roles like say on the bridge of the Enterpise on Star Trek) and they mostly just tank with their shields and run away or cripple ships with module targeting...

  22. The Expanse is really good. I found it a little dismal and dark, at first, but then the motivations of the characters become clear and the drama gets addictive. The show also becomes more visually stunning as it goes along.

  23. 3 weeks ago Dark Matter was cancelled by SyFy again living up to their rebranded name (the show despite being the higest rated was the only one not owned by SyFy unlike Killjoys which got a 2 season order). Mallozzi tried to sell the show to other networks but due to contractual issues (I guess we can read that: SyFy interference) the deals fell through and it's over for good.

    The 3rd season ended on the biggest cliffhanger yet so it's SGU all over again and it should be the last time the Stargate writers work with SyFy ever again (or so I hope)

  24. That's too bad. I haven't seen the third season yet, but overall I enjoyed the first two.


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