It’s summer TV viewing time, and I have to say that Syfy channel has actually cobbled together a pretty solid line-up of shows for its Friday night time slots. I touched on these a little bit recently, but having a glut of good sci-fi to watch just makes me happy…and now you get to read about it more.
Defiance, now in its third season, has actually gotten better in my opinion. The first season was fun but not great, especially towards the end where I thought certain elements felt rushed or didn’t quite gel right. I thought the second season was an improvement, and I think the third season is continuing that trend so far.
The show has moved away from Irisa being a “chosen one” type character, which I like. This season is focusing more on Defiance as a frontier town that is trying to survive. The Earth Republic has pulled out following the events of Season 2, and now the Votanis Collective forces are moving in to take over, which would not be good for any human residents of the town. I will say one thing I do not like about the Earth Republic vacating is that (at least so far) Viceroy Mercado (played by William Atherton) and Niles Pottinger (played by James Murray) have not returned to the show. I find Pottinger’s absence particularly strange, given how in love he was with Amanda. It would have made sense for him to stay, I think. Luckily my new favorite character from Season 2, Jessica “Berlin” Rainier (played by Anna Hopkins), did decide to stay after the Earth Republic left and took over as the lawman of the town.
This season has also gone in a darker direction than previous seasons. Already, only three episodes in, several staple characters have been killed off. On top of that Defiance has gone through a depression with its mines, the main source of revenue, being destroyed at the end of Season 2. Everything about the city is much bleaker than it was before. I think this new direction is interesting and has served to keep the show fresh in its third season.
But, outside of plot elements, the real reason Defiance shines is its actors. The writers have come up with a great ensemble group of characters, and all of them have been very well cast. Linda Hamilton joining the cast was a great addition, though I’m not sure how long her character will be around. However, I will say that I think by far the two best characters on the show are Doc Yewll (played by Trenna Keating) and Stahma Tarr (played by Jaime Murray). Yewll always delivers great biting and sarcastic remarks, and Stahma is probably the most fascinating character to watch. Always planning, always manipulating, what she will do next is always of interest.
Ever since Firefly went off the air fans have wanted to bring it back. Sadly, despite the advent of show producers like Netflix and Hulu, it doesn’t look like that will happen. However, I’m here to tell you that Killjoys is the next best thing.
When I saw the trailers for this show, I didn’t think that I would like it. But after reading good reviews, I figured I’d give it a shot, and I really enjoyed it. In fact, if you’re going to pick up a new show this summer, I definitely recommend this one. It is fun, fast paced, witty, and very well written and acted.
The story follows a team of bounty hunters. In the first episode we seem them go a little bit off-book as they try to handle a personal situation, namely one of the crew wanting to save a family member who becomes the target of a kill order. The pilot also establishes a background conflict between a controlling corporation and the rebel forces that oppose them.
The primary trio of character is very likable. Hannah John-Kamen plays the team leader, a mysterious mercenary named Dutch. Aaron Ashmore (not to be confused with his twin Shawn Ashmore) plays Dutch’s sidekick John. He has a brother D’avin, played by Luke Macfarlane, a former soldier who is a sort of lost soul suffering from some form of PTSD. The actors have great chemistry and deliver their snappy dialogue very well.
It’s only been one episode, but I think this show has a ton of potential, and I am very excited to see how it develops.
Dark Matter, the latest offering of the creators of the Stargate TV series, is now two episodes in. The first episode was a little slow, but the second episode picked things up a bit. To be totally honest, I think that Syfy should have given this show a “two hour premiere” the way they did Defiance and let us see the two episodes at once, as they were very connected. But ultimately I guess that’s neither here nor there.
The story is sort of like The Bourne Identity in space. Seven crew members wake up on a ship and none of them remember who they are. They eventually discover that they are mercenaries with criminal histories. But having no memories of their past lives, they have new agency in how they handle situations and decide that they can take moral stands…when it suits them.
The crew are mostly the kind of trope group you’d expect from a sci-fi action show. There’s the angry white dude who is entirely self-interested and likes his big guns; the moral white dude who opposes the angry guy by trying to do the right thing; the Asian guy who knows how to use swords and prefers those to guns; the creepy little white girl who kind of reminds you of River Tam; a Data-like android who doesn’t really understand humans; a black pilot (actually I guess that’s a bit different); and a take-charge Asian woman who is the defacto leader (that’s also a bit different).
Of the group of actors, I think that Zoie Palmer as The Android is the most fun. She does a really good job of playing “female Data” and brings a good deal of levity to the show. The other actors are good, but I think the show has to develop a bit more so we can see more of what their characters are about and they can get past their basic tropey natures.
But, despite its weakness of not really being anything new, the show is still enjoyable. It is probably the weakest of the three shows in the line-up, but it’s by no means bad. The actors have good chemistry, and the forgotten lives premise leaves a good deal of mystery that can be developed into some interesting things. If the writers know how to helm this show correctly, I think it could develop nicely.