Dark Matter is a wonderfully original show from Canada that stretches the boundaries of Science Fiction is how I’d love to introduce this little gem. In some ways that’s true. The show is about six people who can’t remember who they are and know nothing more about themselves save they’re apparently hardened criminals and the galaxy’s most wanted. They don’t even have names or rather they don’t use them, preferring instead to go by numbers in order, which they woke up, from stasis. Even the ship’s android is referred to simply as Android. On the other hand last night’s episode (they don’t appear to have names either) had our heroes finding a derelict freighter full of Space Zombies.
Thankfully, unlike Star Wars: Deathtroopers, Dark Matter pulls this off with aplomb, revealing itself to be a series that, for all that it screams Firefly from every frame, has just enough about to be worth watching. For most part this comes in the form of the characters, who despite referring to each other with numbers, are both believeable and quite endearing. One and Three are an odd couple in the Spock and McCoy mould, their curious friendship overcoming distinct differences in personality; one is Simon whereas Three is more Jane Cobb (and blackmailing one over a secret. Naturally). Two was a merc or something else that involved being able to kill people very quickly, but she’s softening now that young five, who’s dreaming of who they all used to be, is around to bring out some latent maternal instincts. Four is more of a stone cold killer (‘he’ll slit your throat’ Three warns One as their odd couple bromance blossoms) who may or may not have killed his Emperor father. Rounding out this motley bunch is Six, the strong and silent, but also compassionate type who saves Two from an early death at the hands of Four when she gets bitten by one of the Space Zombies.
Funnily enough the most likeable and interesting of the show’s seven characters is Android. Like TNG’s Data she’s full of misunderstandings about human speech which make for some well timed comic moments with five. Curiously she’s also the only one, besides possibly Two, whom Five might fully trust. The machine being a more welcome confidante than the others, if only because, unlike them, Android doesn’t have anything to hide.
It is that latter aspect that, like Firefly and to an extent Farscape, makes Dark Matter worth watching even if you don’t like Space Zombies. Even as our Dirty Half Dozen band together for mutual survivial, they are things each of them is keeping from the other. One has a doppelganger, the real him; our one had himself surgically altered but for what purpose? Three, who’s blackmailing him over this, uses it every time one gets a bit smug, pointing out that he shouldn’t get so smug just because he might not be a criminal. Three of course has secrets of his own, including the fact that he tried to get into a restricted area of the ship.
Whether or not the two of them will come to blows I’m not sure, but I will say its unlikely they’ll kiss and make up entirely, not least because each has the hots for Two, who kind of fancies Three, even though he knows she should really be with One. Two’s problems are a bit more complicated than having to decide between potential suitors however; when she lasts longer than she should after being bitten by the zombie, Android does a scan of her to find the zombie virus is gone. Later when Two peels away the plaster covering the wound the only trace of it is that her skin is a little redder than it should be. She’s shocked. We’re shocked. Just who, or what, is this woman and does the answer to that, and all the other mysteries lie in Five’s dreams?
Dark Matter then is a fantastic addition to Monday night television and, if the ratings stay strong, should become a nice little earner for the Syfy channel. It certainly has all the elements needed to go the distance, with good characters and a sense of mystery underpinning the story. My only regret; I missed the first four episodes.