TV Recap: Dark Matter, ‘Episode One’ (Series Premiere)

Written By Aaron Sarnecky

Dark Matter


Based on the comic book series of the same name. A group of strangers band together after waking up on a spaceship with no memory of who they are or how they got there. As they learn that they all have special talents they don’t remember having, they begin to grow suspicious of one another.

Syfy is sort of an odd channel. Sometimes it airs lousy shows (see my Olympus review). Other times, it airs things that are purposely bad like Sharknado. But still, other times Syfy airs legitimately popular series like Battlestar Galactica. As for Dark Matter, so far it seems to share the most with the third category.

Photo Credit: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy
Photo Credit: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy

Amnesia plotlines are fairly commonplace in TV and movies, yet audiences don’t always like them, especially if they take place in the middle of the story. Often, viewers only embrace amnesia if it’s part of the premise. And while that is the case with this show, it subverts it slightly by having several characters all suffering from memory loss, which is pretty uncommon.

Now obviously the reason for its rarity is that it would not make sense outside of science fiction. But regardless, Dark Matter pulls it off, for the most part. While it’s debatable if someone would retain his or her personality and skills, it makes for a good mystery. And the question of whether or not anyone is faking adds a nice level of tension.

If there’s any downside to the amnesia, it’s that, for the first episode, we don’t know any of the characters’ names. Instead, they go about calling each other by the order of when they woke up from hyper-sleep. Therefore, it’s hard to remember who’s which number. I only remembered Six (Roger Cross) because I know the actor. Three (Anthony Lemke) is the only amnesiac so far with any clear personality traits; he’s the selfish one who’s kind of a jerk. If any character stands out though, it has to be the android (Zoie Palmer) they discover aboard the ship. Palmer gives a very solid performance as an emotionless robot, and while that sounds like a bad thing, it really isn’t.

It’s hard to tell exactly where the show will be going, though it seems that the crew will learn everything about their identities sooner rather than later. But it all probably won’t come together until the season finale. That might leave the show in a tough spot, however, as it might make it hard to differentiate it from the other shows on the channel, or Friday nights, for that matter. Syfy has no shortage of space-themed shows.

Photo Credit: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy
Photo Credit: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy

Unfortunately for the show, it could also face the opposite problem. If it waits too long to disclose all the details about the crew, it could burn out its audience. The show has to somehow find the proper balance. Perhaps it depends on how much the show draws from the comic book series.

There’s really not much else to say about the show. It’s not unremarkable, but not much else happens in the first episode, which makes the premiere hard to rate. Given the twist at the end of the episode though, it does seem like it will explore some deep questions about identity, such as what qualifies as your true self. Maybe that’ll give Dark Matter what it needs to stay afloat.




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