Lost (Interest) in Space: Two Sci-Fi Fans Watch Syfy’s “Dark Matter”

My Laddie and I both adore science fiction, so when the new series Dark Matter appeared in our Netflix queue, it caught our attention. A cursory review of Amazon showed high ratings. While we don’t expect anything will ever fill the void Firefly left in our nerdy hearts, we decided to give the pilot episode a whirl. The ensuing commentary merited a script of its own…

* * *

dark-matterINT. LIVING ROOM, THURSDAY EVENING.

Smoke and pink flashing lights fill a darkened spaceship corridor.

JK: I think I’ve been to that nightclub. Lousy DJ and overpriced rail drinks.

Half a dozen young, attractive crew members waken in their stasis pods and immediately begin sprinting through the ship. 

Laddie: Aren’t they even going to do ‘evacuation’ like in Austin Powers?

JK: Maybe they did that when they stopped at the salon. I guarantee no one’s hair looks that good after months in cryogenic suspension. Maybe this is a high-budget Revlon commercial, and the show hasn’t actually started yet.

Two of the characters encounter one another on the bridge and randomly begin fighting. Girl knocks guy on his butt with slick karate moves.

JK: Either they’re using found footage from the Dark Angel DVD Box Set, or she’s the Genetically Enhanced Soldier.

Third crew member bursts in, gun in each hand.

Laddie: Who is he supposed to be, Jayne from Firefly?

As the amnesiac crew ponders their situation, Gun Guy breaks open a crate of firearms and cradles them with enthusiasm.

JK: Apparently so. That would make the teenaged girl some kind of psychic whiz kid like River, right?

Haunted adolescent genius prattles on about her visions.

JK: As long as we’re being painfully obvious, let’s make the taciturn Asian guy a warrior monk! Ha ha ha!

The crew pairs off and begins exploring the ship. Taciturn Asian Guy and his buddy stumble into a dojo, where the former whips around a few katanas for no apparent reason.

JK: Seriously? Isn’t that a little racist?

Another recon team finds a seventh person in a stasis pod in the hold.

JK: Severe blond hairdo, skintight outfit—yep, that’s the obligatory Cyborg Chick. It’s Number Six!

Laddie: Seven. They’ve already got six people.

JK: *sighs* When are you going to watch Battlestar Galactica?

Sleeping Beauty wakes and throws her discoverers around the hold until one of them lops off her hand Darth Vader-style, revealing the circuits beneath. 

Laddie: Know who I like better? C-3PO.

Cut to sickbay. Dark Angel reprograms the android.

JK: “I know kung-fu AND cybernetics AND I look good in a crop top! Whee!”

Android attempts to repair spaceship and smugly alerts crew to incoming missiles.

JK: *launches into Galaxy Quest recitation* “There’s a red thingie moving toward the green thingie! I think we’re the green thingie!”

Laddie: *nodding off on sofa*

After evading attack, crew takes shuttle to nearby planet, pausing for camera zoom on Dark Angel’s posterior.

JK: She already looks like Space Pirate Barbie. Do we have to be that gratuitous?

On the surface, crew explores a derelict Home Depot, where a hardscrabble-but-honest mining community is trying to defend themselves from Evil Monopoly Corporation.

JK: Insurgency! “Let’s do this!”

One moral dilemma and several cases of guns later, the crew uncovers their shocking true identities as…

JK: *sarcastic* Well, I certainly didn’t see that coming.

Laddie: zzz…what? What are they?

JK: Thoroughly clichéd.

* * *

How did this show get a second season and Firefly didn’t? Both the writing and acting are dreadful, and there doesn’t seem to be an original thought in the pilot. Did I miss something? Do subsequent episodes bring dramatic improvements to the story? Let me know in the comments. Maybe you can convince me to give this piece of derivative space junk another chance.

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3 thoughts on “Lost (Interest) in Space: Two Sci-Fi Fans Watch Syfy’s “Dark Matter”

  1. amidtheimaginary says:

    OMG! I saw this pilot episode and was also like, wtf, why did that girl just randomly kick that guy? Why do strong women have to always be portrayed as incredible “B”s? I had full spasms of irritation the whole time. Two thumbs down!

    Liked by 1 person

    • j.k.ullrich says:

      I’ve noticed that unfortunate trend with female characters, too. Strength comes in many forms, not just physically-hot-but-emotionally-cold karate champion (who inevitably needs the hero to come along and soften her, ugh). The warrior princess archetype demands nuance and depth, and “Dark Matter” seemed insensible of both those things on all fronts.

      Like

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