Grudge Match: Killjoys versus Dark Matter

Ladies and gentlegeeks, it’s time for a fight to the death! Or at least until a clear winner is established!

In the red corner, we’ve got Dark Matter, SyFy’s new show featuring the crew that woke up with no memories but who apparently have some dark secrets to share.

And in the blue corner, there’s Killjoys, the one about the team of spacefaring bounty hunters, who have some secrets of their own for sure.

At first glance, these fighters look evenly matched. They’ve both got spaceships, something sorely missed on our televisions lately. Both have guns, adventure, and intrigue. And both have a group of people just trying to get by and doing the best they can with what they’ve got. Seems fair.

But upon closer inspection, one has a clear advantage. Let’s look at the breakdown of why.

First, those spaceships. In Dark Matter, I’m struggling to recall the name of the ship. I know it has one, and the android who serves as the ship’s interface with the crew is entertaining enough, but there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of real humor and fun interaction between crew and ship here. Contrast that with Lucy in Killjoys, a ship who wouldn’t let me forget her name, if for no other reason than her snark and the fact that she plays favorites. (And the fact that her favorite crewmember is mine doesn’t hurt.)

Next up, guns and adventure. On Killjoys, this is found in the job. Johnny, D’Avin, and Dutch are agents of the RAC (Recovery and Apprehension Coalition). It’s their job to track down wanted folks, and not to ask too many questions about why they might be desirable to the higher ups. But of course they ask questions, despite their motto that “the warrant is all.” So of course they get more than they bargained for, and that’s a lot of fun. On Dark Matter, general serendipity leads to the scuffles. They first run across some miners who need help. Then they meet up with some troublemakers in a casino. These adventures end up telling us more about the characters than anything else (much like on Killjoys), but there doesn’t seem to be any sort of point to them. They just sort of… happen. So, point to Killjoys again here.

As for intrigue, both shows have this in spades, but the edge likely goes slightly to Dark Matter. After all, the crew has no memory of their lives prior to waking up from stasis on the ship. That’s the definition of intrigue, right? And through the wonder of technology and their random adventures, they are finding out more about themselves by the week. There’s some sort of resident child genius on board, and she’s got some of their memories in her head, too, so there’s even more to discover. So, okay, there’s some stuff to uncover here, and it’s interesting enough. Killjoys, though, isn’t out of this round. There are two big mysteries with our bounty hunters. One, who is the guy who seems to be pulling Dutch’s strings and what does he want with her? And two, who did what to D’Avin’s brain and why? We know some about both of these things already, but there’s a lot we don’t know, and that’s fun. There’s also the more minor questions of where Potter came from and what is really going on politically. So, I’d tend to call this one a draw, but for the sake of fairness, I’ll give it to Dark Matter.

Finally, the groups. Well, for me, Killjoys slaughters Dark Matter here. I just can’t connect with the crew of Dark Matter. Sure, their mystery sometimes is appealing, but they’re mostly just a squabbling group of miscreants with no chemistry. I know chemistry is hard is make when no one has any memories, but Dark Matter just feels too much like the whole dark/gritty/edgy/everyone out for themselves thing that is so popular in some genre fiction these days. These people don’t care about one another, so I find it hard to care about them. There are some exceptions, like the kid and the big guy (since the characters don’t have names, because they don’t remember them, it’s hard to keep them straight other than by description), who seem to be friends, but for the most part, everyone is just… there. No team dynamics are present. And I need team dynamics in my shows. Killjoys has this in spades. There are only three main characters on Killjoys, but they have something that is sorely needed to make a show work for me, and that’s love. This crew would lay down their lives for one another, and it shows. The crew, including their ship, are a family, and they have all the ups and downs of any family, but at the end of the day, they’re there for each other. I respond to that. I need that sense of belonging and fun in my shows. Without it, any mystery gets really boring really quickly – yes, I’m looking right at you, Dark Matter. I can’t care about your characters, so their mystery just isn’t very interesting to me. Add the minor characters to the mix (not sure there are any on Dark Matter yet, but Killjoys has the doctor, the bounty hunter competition, the insanely fun bartender, the sinister father figure – oh, you get the point), and once again Killjoys triumphs.

So for me this is no contest, it’s Killjoys all the way.

I confess I’m one episode behind on Dark Matter, because I couldn’t be bothered with last week’s show yet, so I suppose it’s possible I’ll change my mind here, but I doubt it.

See, I’m all caught up on Killjoys, and that says something right there.

Winner is Killjoys by knockout.

GS Blogger: wabbit

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