“Dark Matter” Season 1 – Amazing World and Premise, Just Needs More Fleshing Out

Dark Matter - Season 1

   “Dark Matter” is an amazing show…easily the best science fiction show since “Continuum” (which this show has a lot of similar themes to). The fact that the creators of the comic book that the show comes from wrote for “Stargate” is probably one reason it is so good. At the end of the day it is a character driven show with the mystery at the core driving the plot. Before I get into spoilers I seriously recommend this show. If you like science fiction, you’ll enjoy Season 1.

    The show was created by Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie.

  The premise involves the crew of the the “Raza” waking up with no memory of who they are. Each of them takes a number identity as their pasts unfold over the course of the show and deal with the threats of the Galactic Authority, criminals and competing Multi-Corps.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The World – The universe is fantastic! We have the Galactic Authority, governments and nations and Multi-Corps all in a dance for power and influence with our crew of the “Raza” caught in the middle of it all.

The Premise – The premise takes a deep high concept premise of starting over with no memory and gives us the crew of “Farscape,” or “Firefly,” a group of outcasts who clash but have good hearts at the end of the day.

The Characters – The main characters are the strongest part of this show and it is great seeing Roger Cross again, as he was fantastic in “Continuum.”

The Android – Zoie Palmer is a wonderful Android! She’s easily the best version of this type of characters since Brent Spiner’s Data and it is great seeing her choose to become more human over time. She is the one most looking out for the crew through Season 1.

One – One learns he is Derrick Moss who took the face of a criminal named Jace Corso in order to find the person who killed his family. His drive to find his past is a major part of his identity as he nearly kills Three when he suspects Three of being the one responsible. He is the idealist of the bunch too, where Three is the cynic and he at one point has a relationship with Two as the reveal of her secrets don’t change how he sees her.

Two – Two is the captain of the “Raza” and is a designed organism. She has super strength and can survive almost anything. The organization that created her made her a slave and when the crew rescues her near the end of the season it is great seeing her and the crew get revenge. Melissa O’Neil is fantastic. Her other names are Portia Lin when she became the Mercenary captain and Rebecca when she was first created.

Three – Three is the cynic who was one of the biggest criminals and murders, who also had a past too as he meets his lover early on and loses her. He has a good heart at the end of the day though and even saves One a few times, even though he hates him. Anthony Lemke has great charisma in this role.

Four – Four learns he is a fallen prince who was framed by his Step-Mother. His real name is Ryo Tetsuda and he is the most hardened of all of them besides Two. He even kills his mentor after after his mentor attempts to bring him in but lets him go after all his men have been killed by the crew of the “Raza.” His story still has a long way to go but I like the pieces in play. Alex Mallari jr. did a wonderful job of speaking with his eyes as he is the least outspoken of the crew.

Five – Five is the hacker and the glue of the crew as it her core desire for them to be family that really makes it so they all work. She is the least trusted and the youngest but is a survivor as much as any of them…She is also the one who helps them find the good in themselves and holds one of the plot “Mcguffins” that drives the narrative. Jodelle Ferland does a good job in the role.

Six – Roger Cross is an actor I want to see more of, he was one of the best parts of “Continuum” and here he is the betrayer and also one of the core members of the crew as he is the steady presence the way Five’s kindness is. His reveal is learning that he is an agent of the Galactic Authority that changes everything leads to the end of the season (this reveal is hidden until the end).

Fighting Corruption and Finding Redemption – One of the major themes of the series is the fighting of corruption and seeking of redemption. When our characters learn about who they are they usually go against it as they were pawns of the Multi-Corps who cared nothing for life. This leads to them being idealistic thieves who do their small part against it all.

The Nature of Self and Identity – The nature of self and identity is a major theme. From the Android exploring what it means to feel and have emotions, to our characters who are seeking out their past so they choose what to do in the present. In all of that choices are made and even though our characters aren’t who they were before, they are still themselves.

What if You Had  Second Chance? – Our characters start out with no knowledge of who they were and as they learn who they once were they are given the choice to become someone different. Their self without what hardened them into criminals are the idealistic ones who are fighting the good fight and it is when one chooses their past life that they lose everything.

Okay: The Minor Characters – A lot of the minor characters are pretty forgettable. They aren’t bad but none of them made the list of pros for a reason.

 The Ending and Reveal – The ending involves the crew turning on one another as it is revealed one of them is knocking out members of the crew. In the end it is revealed Six was an agent for the Galactic Authority and is taking them away to prison at the end of the episode.

Okay/Con: Early Season Dialogue – Early season dialogue is choppy and a bit to tell rather than show. It gets better about halfway but it is something to keep in mind. This was a major thing that kept the show from being great.

 Lack of Clear Antagonist – There are a lot of antagonists in this show when what really could have helped focus the early moments where it lagged could have been countered with a strong villain. This show has “Farscape” tendencies and really needed a Scorpius. Maybe they’ll be one further down the line but everyone being an antagonist in some way can only sustain a show for so long.

    This was a show that clearly has so much more potential and I’m glad that it has a Season 3 coming. The characters change and each episode we learn more about the world and mystery of it all. It isn’t as great as the graphic novel series “Saga” but it is cut from the same cloth and could even surpass “Continuum” in regards to this type of show, it really all depends on how the writers choose to handle the characters and world they’ve been given. I hope the show doesn’t go on forever, but it deserves a great end.

Final Score: 8 / 10

“Continuum” Season 4 Retrospect – Good but not Great Series End

continuum Season 4

      “Continuum” is a great series, sadly the final season is only good and brings down the overall arc and messages in the process. What were the reasons it didn’t quite work in the end and why I would rate “Battlestar Galactica” and “Star Trek: Deep Space 9” as better shows in how they finally brought things to a close? I’ll get into that further down, one thing though is that “Continuum” Season 4 only had 6 episodes to tell it’s story, so ironically a show about Time Travel had time working against it.

    This will be a spoiler review as it’s hard to write about his season without mentioning past events in regards to characters and past seasons. I will say right now that this show is worth checking out, even if the ending is merely good and not great. It is one of the few shows that handles Time Travel and Politics in a serious manner and fully explores ideologies and methods. I do plan on reviewing the series as a whole later on and individually by episode since it is just that good quality of show and some of the ideas deserve more than a paragraph of exploration.

     The series picks up where we left off with Future Marines coming through a Portal and Kiera, Liber8, Alec, Carlos and the Police and Kellog dealing with the fallout as new factions arise and choices are made as things are finally coming to a head on what future will be created.

The Pros: The Premise – The premise this season is that a bunch of factions are vying for a final future…and that is pretty cool. You have Future Kellog and his Future Marines who wants to rule our present where resources are ripe and he can get a liver transplant from his past self, you have Liber8 who wants to stop the Corporate Congress from forming, you have the Police who want to use the tech. to remove crime, you have Kellog who wants to rule, the Traveler who wants to stop the chaos in time and Kiera and Alec who want stop the other factions and get Kiera home now that Alec no longer wants to be the Corporate dictator.

Liber8 – The members of this faction of future terrorists trying to prevent the Corporate Congress never stop being interesting or fascinating and the survivors from last season being Garza, Lucas and Travis continue to be some of the best characters on the show.

Lucas – Omari Newton does a wonderful job as the nerd who leaves Liber8 to really become a non-violent fighter working with Alec to find the best way to a future as he sees Liber8’s violent tactics just bringing about the Corporate Congress faster. In the end he is killed by Brad when he goes to rescue Garza and Kiera from the Future Marines. I always liked this guy.

Travis – Travis is the violent leader of Liber8 but in the end finds something more to live for beyond fighting against the Police Force when he takes out the Future Marine’s leader from Bard’s dark timeline where Kellog is a Warlord. It’s a great scene that somewhat gives him redemption but more shows that he will do anything to protect his own. He’s the ideologue and has been in all of the timelines the show has done but in the end shows he was always more complicated and would fight, even for those he may consider an enemy. Roger Cross was fantastic!

Garza – Garza survives! She is working with Kiera at multiple points to help bring down the Future Marines and in the end she is in the final battle against them to keep them from conquering our Time. What happens to her after is an unknown though, we just know she stayed in the present and didn’t travel to the future like Kiera. Luvia Peterson did a wonderful job.

Future Kellog – Future Kellog is pretty cool. He’s this dark Warlord willing to risk everything to provide a new home for his faction as his world is dying. To this end he will trap his past self and use him in order to save the self from the future even going so far as to have his daughter keep tabs on her dad to make sure he doesn’t mess things up. Sadly, his present self messes things up.

Kiera’s Faction – Kiera’s faction doesn’t always get along but the members of her faction still manage to remain interesting, unlike the Future Marines who just felt like tropes and not fully realized characters (including Brad as his character development was just abandoned).

The Police Department – This faction worked against Kiera on a few different occasions but eventually comes to her aid in the final battle against the Future Marines. She’s also on and off worked for them throughout the course of the series.

Carlos – Carlos is in charge of the Police Department and is working against Kiera for part of it because of all the secrets her and Alec are keeping but he eventually comes around and works with them to stop Kellog and the Future Marines. He has a great moment with Kiera too where we see how much he’ll miss her with her returning back to her own time. Victor Webster did a good job and his character really did grow on me over the course of the series.

Inspector Jack Dillon – This guy was in charge of the Police but after an attack that nearly killed him went to work for Kellog. He is the man lost and looking for purpose and it is the events of this season and Kiera being honest about the Time Travel factions in play that help him come around and stand with them in the final fight.

Alec Sadler – Alec is a great character and in this we see him try to run away with the woman he rescues from Kellog and leaves him when she learns from Alec’s son that she isn’t the mother…leading Alec to go full solo and join the Police Department in order to work more closely with Kiera with finding a way to get her home as he is no longer the one bent on domination (that version of himself was killed). In the end he greets Kiera in the good future as he worked with others at the end to bring about the peaceful future. William Davis (the Cigarette Smoking Man from “X-Files”) and Erik Knudsen did a great job being one of the more compelling characters in the series.

Okay/Pro: Kiera Cameron – Kiera’s arc kind of takes a  step back and we get the Kiera from Season 1 and 2 who just wanted to go home and not work for creating a better future in the present. This was sad as we see the Kiera who has grown in her relationship with members of Liber8, Brad and the Police Force showing that she knows politics and factions are complicated but her resolve to live at the end of last season was just thrown under the rug and forgotten to give us a Savior Story where she helps create paradise by going into the future while her friends create that future in our present and in the end she can’t be with her son as another Kiera was created in the timeline of that good future…and it ends.

Okay: The Traveler and Curtis Chen – These were the guys trying to prevent the dark future as the Traveler brought Curtis back to life so he left Liber8 and worked with the Traveler to put things in play for the ending we got. Neither was explored all that well and the Traveler just felt like a plot device. He was created from a future that doesn’t exist and he can bring people back from the dead? What? At least this faction wasn’t a con unlike Kellog and the Space Marines…

The Ending – Kiera creates a good future by traveling into the future but she can’t be with her son as another Kiera already exists. This is the bittersweet (besides all the lives lost in the fight this and past season). This was good but not great, I didn’t buy an idyllic future as even “Star Trek” wasn’t paradise.

The Cons: The Space Marines – The Space Marines are all macho idiots who are in the end bent on conquest. They have no depth to them and all chances of development feel contrived. They want to bring people through to conquer…the world is more than Canada, they’d be screwed…there plan just wasn’t thought out all that well, especially since Kellog ends up hitting on and killing his daughter. Smart move guys, smart move. Worst faction.

Brad – Brad’s character development gets tossed out the door as the Space Marines are meant to be from his timeline. I hated this as his relationship with them felt so stilted and their anger at everything didn’t make any sense given that they did have relationships they were trying to rescue by creating a new Time Travel Portal. Brad of course turns against them in the end when he learns that this isn’t saving refugees, this is conquest.

Kellog – I wanted to like Kellog but he was never given any depth. Gaius Baltar became a complex character over the course of “Battlestar Galactica,” Kellog did not. He was always the manipulator and selfish hedonist. This was sad given that there was so much they could have done with him rather than making him a card board cutout villain. He was the biggest wasted potential besides the ending and Space Marines.

   This is a show worth checking out though this is the weakest season in the series. So much potential was wasted with Brad, Kellog, the Traveler and exploring different pasts and how they lead to character choices. This season was primarily focused on action and suffered for it as the Future Marines just weren’t compelling and cheapened or destroyed a lot of the character relationships that had been established prior, just as making Kiera’s focus going home again did too…last season she had demonstrated moving past that and living, all that was done away with to tie things up.

Final Score: 8 / 10. Good but not great.