SyFy‘s Dark Matter trailer has hit the internet. SyFy, the broadcast poster-child for shoddy science fiction televised alongside fictional wrestling, has been on a mission to increase the presence of science fiction on its network that was originally founded on the genre. Have they succeeded?
I’ll let you be the ultimate judge, but at first glance Dark Matter looks like typical SyFy quality fare . . . meaning it’s another show limited by budgetary constraints. Can quality science fiction be created on a small budget? Sure. Only only has to look as far as Babylon 5 as evidence. But when budgets are tight the difference in quality comes from exemplary writing, something SyFy has had challenges with in the past (and present). I offer no apology by saying the writers of Dark Matter do not appear to be in the same league as J. Michael Straczynski. Few are.
Speaking of the writers, Dark Matter is based on a 4 issue Dark Horse comic series of the same name. The creators, Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie, wrote the series with the ultimate goal of it being a television series. So in that regards I suppose they’ve succeeded, despite landing on SyFy, a network I’ve been at creative loggerheads with for many years.
Let’s consider the trailer again. The sell is that the show takes place in space, aboard a derelict spaceship. From the video it appears that this could very well take place in a random room, full of random strangers. Examples being . . . The Cube or Five Characters in Search of an Exit. These all borrow heavily from traditional amnesia tropes: identities quest, skills never forgotten, goal unremembered, and in the case of Dark Matter perhaps even a memory gambit where amnesia is used to trick the characters (and viewers) into believing they are a protagonist/antagonist.
Will I watch Dark Matter? I’ll give a new science fiction show a shot, I usually do. But if it doesn’t grab me I have no qualms about kicking it to the curb, because in this modern era of television chances are the show will just get cancelled with zero resolution. If a show ever does do well and reach a resolute conclusion, that’s what Netflix and Blu-ray are for. Right?!
To give you a flavor of what the show is about, I’ve attached two plot descriptions. One for the comic version and one for the television series.
Comic Plot Synopsis (SPOILERS!)
After waking on board a spacecraft with no memories, three men, two women, and a young boy arrive at a mining colony, the craft’s preset destination. They land and meet the locals, who tell the crew about a group of mercenaries being sent to kill the colonists so a corporation can steal the planet. Upon returning to their craft to discuss helping or abandoning the colonists, the crew learn from the craft’s computer they are the mercenaries the locals fear. When the corporation’s army arrives to destroy the colony, four of the crew members join with the colonists to repel the invaders. The other two take the spacecraft and negotiate a contract for the colony with a different corporation. The invading corporation leaves, and the crew return to their spacecraft, unsure of where they will go next.
Television Plot Synopsis
In Dark Matter, the crew of a derelict spaceship is awakened from stasis with no memories of who they are or how they got on board. Facing threats at every turn, they have to work together to survive a voyage charged with vengeance, betrayal and hidden secrets. The cast includes Zoie Palmer (Lost Girl), Roger Cross (The Strain), Marc Bendavid (Bitten), Anthony Lemke (White House Down), Melissa O’Neil (Les Miserables), Joelle Ferland (Twilight) and Alex Mallari, Jr (Robocop).
Dark Matter premieres on June 12, 2015, at 10/9c on SyFy.