Happy -almost- Halloween stargazers! I was really hoping to review a Halloween-tinged film, but due to some atypical jet-setting of late, I’ve had little time to further wear the deep groove in my couch cushion. Instead, I will leave the scary to Pete and Justin and invite you to tour one of the newer sci-fi series available.
It may be sci-fi, but what would be scarier than waking up on a space ship, with no memories, alongside five strangers and an android. Welcome to Dark Matter!
# of Episodes: 13 ( Picked up for season 2, airs January 2016)
Time/Episode: ~ 43 minutes (8 hours, 36 minutes)
Total Series Runtime: 516 minutes (8 hours, 36 minutes)
Things to Know: Obvious draw for fans of space dramas, especially Firefly but could also be of interest for those into Lost, the Pretender, Blindspot and the short-lived Persons Unknown.
Required Prerequisite: None
Six strangers awaken from stasis to discover they have no memory of who they are, why they are aboard a damaged ship, or who the person next to them is. To impart order, they refer to each other by the order in which they wake up; i.e. One (Marc Bendavid), Two (Melissa O’Neil), Three (Anthony Lemke), Four (Alex Mallari, Jr.), Five (Jodelle Ferland), and Six (Roger R. Cross). They encounter the ship’s Android (Zoie Palmer) whose memory has also been damaged, offering no additional information as to their past. As they stumble about the ship things begin to feel familiar and they begin to assume roles and, of course, bicker over said assumptions. They also discover a locked vault and a cargo load of weapons with no manifest to explain their purpose.
That’s the premise in a nutshell. The amnesiacs’ first dilemma involves a mining planet who are awaiting assistance to defend themselves from a ruthless mining corporation. It seems the crew may be there saviors and the guns were meant for the miners…EXCEPT they need the guns to protect themselves from a band of mercenaries hired by the corporation to annihilate the colony. The crew’s divided of who they think they are, further complicating matters.
I’ll stop there and just say, a lot about everyone is revealed, but much of the revelations lead to even larger stories yet to be told, as any good series should. Dark Matter‘s creators Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, known for the Stargate franchise, pull from a vast bag of twists and turns to give each character a story worth following. Even those with seemingly simple stories become infinitely more complicated as the choices they make sans memory inevitably makes matters for them, and the others, worse.
Honestly, I picked up Dark Matter as “background binging” fare. We all have them right, shows that are decent enough to provide background noise and hopefully the occasional cool fight sequence and/or eye candy. Dark Matter seemed like it’d fit the bill, but by the third episode I found myself gravitating to the screen, drawn into the mysteries and twists developed by the show creators Mallozi and Mullie and their writers. If a show can bend your ear when it’s only half-attuned to its happenings, that says a lot.
On the negative side, I’m not sure how I feel about the revelations of the crew’s past. In most shows, a couple of characters may have notable quirks or be exceptional like River Tam in Firefly or Data in Star Trek: TNG. From what’s been revealed so far, the better question on Dark Matter may be who isn’t exceptional? Some of this may level off as the series continues and more is revealed. If not, the crew and their stories may grow irksome. That quibble aside, I’m more than happy to book my seat for the second season and I suggest you get on board before you get left behind.
As to Dark Matter‘s “bingability,” I found it was easy to let Netflix queue up one epsiode after another. It took a little over a week to polish off the first season, but for me, that’s pretty fast. I know at one point I went through three episodes easily before stopping. I’d expect you’d find it equally entertaining if you find yourself in the mood for a sci-fi series with a satisfying amount of action, mystery and sex appeal.