And that’s the show’s initial problem and perhaps its most glaring: the world and action on the ship – and eventually a mining colony – are drawn so thinly that any moment of high drama is easier to laugh at rather than gasp along with. The “action” scenes – mostly fistfights in the pilot – don’t help, either, with cringe-worthy choreography in which you can practically see the punches being pulled. Nothing feels real here, or earned, and when the show attempts to pull the rug out from underneath you in the final scene, you’ll never even lose your balance. It makes sense in the context of the show (a possible win?), but engenders no need to continue watching. It’s an anti-cliffhanger.
The women here as well are portrayed in an uncomfortably poor light, all erring in extremes of either overly-sexualized bad-ass or quiet, mousy nerd. Then again, the men also don’t fare very well, either, being painted in broad, cookie-cutter swathes of likability or proving overly prone to toddler-level fits of anger. The show’s memory-loss premise perhaps excuses such blandly realized personalities, but sticking around for a full 13 hours to see their arcs fully fleshed out sounds like more of a threat than a reward.
With any other attempts at hooking you, from hilariously bad sexual tension between One (Marc Bendavid) and Two, to your token quirky sci-fi tech chick with mysterious physic dreams and a green mop-top, Dark Matter flounders. When Five (Jodelle Ferland) begins mentioning weird dreams of a large, metallic door, Six (Roger Cross) asks, “What’s inside?” Five’s bare bones, no frills response – “secrets” – is a shining example of the show’s shoulder-shrugging laziness. Dark Matter doesn’t want to challenge you or warp your mind, and as far as summer shows go, that can be okay. What’s not okay is insulting you by assuming such vapid, low-stakes drama could ride on the backbone of something as shoddily assembled as this.
A grand misfire on nearly all accounts, Syfy's new show Dark Matter is not only the network's worst original series in years, but hangs dire hopes on the company's "gritty" pivot that was promised last year.