Whenever a new series premieres on the Syfy network, it has a 50/50 shot at being decent. OK, maybe more like 40/60. The channel has actually produced some pretty good shows on occasion, but a lot of crap too. Unfortunately, ‘Dark Matter’ is decidedly the latter.
Credit where it’s due, at least ‘Dark Matter’ is an actual science fiction show – one set in space and everything. (And unlike the ‘Ascension‘ miniseries, this one seems to be in space for real.)
Floating somewhere out in the void, a spaceship is in distress. Alarms are going off, random sparks are flying all over the place. A six-person crew is suddenly awakened from hypersleep, and one is able to get the crisis under control. Unfortunately, every last one of them is afflicted with amnesia. None remember who they are or why they’re on the ship. The ship’s computers aren’t much help. They appear to have been deliberately wiped. Fortunately, everyone still retains useful skills and abilities, such as piloting the ship or being good at shooting stuff.
Distrustful of each other, the members assign names based on the order they woke up – One through Six. They search the ship and find some mysterious clues, such as a puzzle box, a necklace, and a locked door they can’t open. In storage, one accidentally activates a female android that tries to kill him until someone else on the bridge remotely deactivates its security protocols and reprograms it. Thereafter, it/she becomes quite friendly and useful, if also oblivious to what has happened.
The characters are all hoary stereotypes: the gruff badass, the handsome guy who talks too much, the Lara Croft wannabe, the stoic black guy, the teen punk girl who’s good with computers (and may be psychic), and the ninja. Yes, a ninja. He has swords and everything, as if those would ever be useful on a spaceship. The Terminatrix android annoyingly blinks her eyes a lot whenever she makes a neural connection to the ship’s computers. I call her Blinky the Android.
Eventually, the ship takes them to a preprogrammed destination at a remote mining colony. A group of the characters take a shuttlecraft to the surface and meet some pathetic inhabitants who tell them a sob story about an evil “multi-corp” that plans to come in and take everything away from them. They were waiting on a shipment of guns to defend themselves with. Hey, didn’t one of our heroes discover a big stash of guns in the cargo hold of the ship? What a coincidence!
Handsome of course makes the connection that they were supposed to deliver the guns. He wants to stay and help the miners. Badass wants no part of that. He wants to sell the guns somewhere else and make a cool profit. They debate and hold a vote, then have to vote again about which of them should actually get a vote. At episode’s end, nothing is resolved, except that Blinky restores a deleted video file from the computer and our heroes learn that, in fact, they’re all actually murderers and thieves. They weren’t supposed to help the colonists. They’re the bad guys who were supposed to kill them. Zoinks!
The show borrows liberally from ‘Firefly’ and ‘Pitch Black’ and a lot of other sources. The plot seems awfully familiar too. Roaming warriors visit a rural village and have to reluctantly help defend the villagers from an oncoming threat. Where have I heard that before? Hmm, how many of them are there? One, two, three, four, five, six, and robot makes seven. Wait a second, are they like samurai or something? Oh, how clever…
The cast are all basically nobodies. The only recognizable face is Roger Cross, who had a recurring role on ’24’ for a couple seasons and more recently appeared in ‘The Strain’ and ‘Arrow’. IMDb tells me that the actress playing Blinky was in 70 episodes of the cheeseball fantasy series ‘Lost Girl’, if anyone remembers that. Punky the hacker was in one of the ‘Twilight’ movies and (as a child actress) that shitty ‘Silent Hill’ adaptation from a while back.
The show is cheap, and looks it. The dingy, dimly-lit sets are generic as hell and could have been recycled from any of countless crappy syndicated sci-fi series from the 1990s. Once the heroes visit their first inhabited planet, the only thing we see there is the inside of a warehouse. I have a feeling that warehouses will prominently feature in most episodes.
The writing is garbage. The characters are annoying. The plot is stupid. I had a next-to-impossible time finding a halfway memorable quote to use in the headline to this recap, and the one I resorted to is part of a really lame attempt at humor.
This is bad TV. Please don’t watch it.