Last night Dark Matter, based on the comic by Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, had its premiere on SyFy in the US and Space in Canada. One might recall the names of the creators from their days writing and producing on Stargate SG1 and Atlantis, which is how I choose to remember them rather than the Battlestar Galactica (reboot) clone Stargate Universe. The Dark Matter opening episode had vibes of Firefly, FarScape, and Andromeda, but this is not necessarily a bad thing, (despite my previous swipe at SGU. That was bad. It just was. I’ve heard the excuses and protestations that it wasn’t a rip off of BSG and no, just no. It was. They even copied the camera movements.) But tropes exists and I can find shades of Firefly in almost anything. (Leverage, SHIELD, probably even Mad Men if I bothered to watch that one…) And I’m sure there are hints of other shows in Firefly (Cowboy BeeBop). It’s what the writers do with them after the tropes have been laid out to make the story distinct, unique, or just plain fun is what, uh, Matter(s). (I apologize for that.) So far, Dark Matter is fun.
When I first heard of the new show I immediately ordered the comic it was based on so there were no surprises in this opening episode except to delight in how the actors brought the characters from the page to life or to appreciate the small changes that were made, like the android now being in the shape of a female. I’m ok with that alteration, but hope they do add more women to the ship’s crew at a later date. Right now it stands at one adult female, one nearly adult (and yet childlike in her creepiness) female, and four adult men (of whom “Four” is my favorite so far). The spectrum of masculinity is pretty varied while on the feminine side you have two: woman, girl.
The ship is typical. Dimly lit hallways with obvious lighting, workstations with many computer screens, sleeping quarters, med bay, lounge, flight deck, cargo, and one giant ominous locked door. Oh wait. That’s new! (Unless I’m forgetting another previous work.) (It’s possible.)
The mystery of their identities is the main crux of the first episode. All wake up without names or any personal recollections so we in the audience get to find out their skills and personalities along with them and explore the ship as they do. It was a clever trick to get us to empathize with the crew from the get go. Then the android chooses their course, which offers both conflict and purpose. By the end they discover who they are and with that knowledge realize they now have a choice.
What will this crew of six with no memory of their past decide to do with the barest of information about a situation? And does that choice, taking away all of their personal experience, say more about who they are then their past actions displayed on the screen? How much of who someone is dictated by what has come before? I love all of these questions and can’t wait to find out what the answers are, for this crew at least. Plus there’s a space ship with guns, swords, creepy little girls, androids, snark, sarcasm, and wit. I’m in.